CHAPTER ONE - OWL POST
James Potter sat in his bedroom with his three best friends, Sirius black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, planning their mischief for their second half of their seventh year having gone home for the Christmas Holidays. It was mostly revolved around their archenemy, Severus Snape, but there were also pranks aimed at *all* of the Slytherins.
“Done,” the most resourceful and calm of the Marauders announced as he picked up the old piece of parchment they were huddled around.
“Finally!” the tallest of the Marauders said lying back down on the bed.
“Let me see, Moony!” the most reckless of the Marauders instructed and Remus handed him the old parchment. “It’s perfect!”
“I agree with Sirius, finally!” The not-so-brave member of the Marauders said as he leaned back in the desk chair. There was a comfortable silence as James scanned the parchment with interest.
“So, what are we to do now?” Sirius asked from the bed. “I don’t know,” James said shrugging, the excitement of their accomplishment leaving them.
“We could always call Prong’s girl friend,” Peter teased.
James just grinned. “We could. Lily always has one thing or another thing going on-“
“JAMES!” Mrs. Potter shouted from downstairs.
“Yes, Mum?” James called back trying to sound innocent.
“THERE IS A GIRL AT THE DOOR FOR YOU! SHOULD I LET HER GO UP?”
James shared a glance with the other Marauders. “Sure, Mum, send her up!” There was a pause where they could hear a set of feet running up the stairs. After what seemed like a millennium, someone knocked on James’ door and he instructed his visitor to come in.
As he had expected, it was his girl friend, Lily Evans. He grinned stupidly at her and she gave him a peck on the cheek before turning serious.
“James, I found this book that you have *got* to see!” She exclaimed reaching into her bag.
“Lily, you came halfway across London to show me a book?”
“Yes, but, James, this is no ordinary book-“
“But you came halfway across London to show me a book?”
“James, if you would just look at it you would understand-“
“But you came halfway across London to show me a book?”
“Oh for Heaven Sakes!” Lily exclaimed as she took the book out of her bag and read aloud, “The book is called, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. See why I went halfway across London to show you?”
“Harry *Potter*?” Remus asked and Lily nodded tossing the book to him. It was blue with a cartoon picture of what looked like James with green eyes. “This was the only book?”
“Uh-huh,” Lily answered. “So, who’s Harry?” she asked turning to James.
“Er- I don’t know,” James said, shrugging.
“Whoa!” Remus said suddenly who had the book open to one of the first pages. “This book’s copy write is in 1999! That’s more than twenty years from now!”
“So… this book is from the future?” Lily asked with interest. All Remus could do was shrug.
“Well, then! Let's read it! I, for one, want to find out who this 'Harry Potter' is!” Sirius suggested and the others nodded in agreement. “Who’s reading?”
“Remus, because he has the book.” Peter instructed. Remus looked at him a moment then shrugged.
“The first chapter is called Owl Post.” Remus read.
Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways.
Peter – Wonder why.
For one thing,
Sirius - He was related to James.
James - Hey!he hated the summer holidays more than any other time of the year. For another, he really wanted to do his homework, Peter - Why would anyone want to do their homework? Lily - I like doing my homework. Peter - Why? Lily - Because it's the only thing I have that reminds me of the Wizarding World. Maybe he's Muggle-born. Sirius - A Potter? Muggle-born? Impossible! but was forced to do it in secret, in the dead of night. And he also happened to be a wizard. Sirius – But that’s not weird! Lily – To Muggles it is. Remus – At least he isn’t a squib! It was nearly midnight, and he was lying on his front in bed, the blankets drawn right over his head like a tent, Peter - ::dreamily:: I love camping. Sirius – I *hate* camping. Remus – And we don’t care. Now can I read? a torch in one hand and a large leather-bound book (A History of Magic, by Adalbert Waffling) propped open against the pillow. Harry moved the tip of his eagle-feather quill James – Oooh! Those are nice! High-dollar quills. Remus – How would you know? James – I have some. Remus – You spend that much money on *quills*? James – ... down the page, frowning as he looked for something that would help him write his essay, ‘Witch-burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless - discuss’. Peter - With whom? Remus - They mean write an essay about it, Pete. Peter - Discuss it with an essay? Remus - ::sigh:: The quill paused at the top of a likely looking paragraph. Harry pushed his round glasses up his nose All - ::stare at James:: James – ::pushes glasses up the bridge of his nose:: What!? All - ::snicker:: and moved his torch closer to the book Sirius - ::snicker:: He’s just a bit blind. Remus – Just a bit. and read: Non-magic people Lily – Also called Muggles. (more commonly known as Muggles) were particularly afraid of magic in medieval times, Remus – Also known as the Dark Period for us wizarding folk. Sirius – All those magical people who were hung… nothing you can do when you’re being hung! It really sucked. Remus – Yes, but at least it’s not like that now. All - ::nods:: but not very good at recognizing it. James – Because they’re Muggles, naturally. On the rare occasion that they did catch a real witch or wizard, Peter – Which was very slim. Remus – And didn’t matter much as they were usually able to magic their way out. burning had no effect whatsoever. The witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame-Freezing Charm and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying gentle, tickling sensation. Indeed, Wendelin the Weird enjoyed being burnt so much that she allowed herself to be caught no fewer than forty-seven times in various disguises. Sirius - I've always wanted to learn how to do that! Lily - Why? Sirius - To freak Muggles out, of course! Harry put his quill between his teeth and reached underneath his pillow for his ink bottle and a roll of parchment. Slowly and very carefully he unscrewed the ink bottle, dipped his quill into it and began to write, pausing every now and then to listen, because if any of the Dursleys Lily - The Dursleys? Oh Merlin No! Others - What? Lily - You'll see, I think, continue Remus. heard the scratching of his quill on their way to the bathroom, he’d probably find himself locked in the cupboard under the stairs for the rest of the summer. James – That’s inhuman! Sirius – I *hate* the Dursleys. The Dursley family of number four, Privet Drive, was the reason that Harry never enjoyed his summer holidays. Uncle Vernon, Lily – Oh Merlin No! Others – What!? Lily – You’ll see later, I think. Aunt Petunia Lily – Oh Merlin No! Others – WHAT!? Lily – You’ll find out later, I think. Others - ::groan:: and their son, Dudley, Others – Oh Merlin No? Lily – Erm… no. Others – Oh. were Harry’s only living relatives. They were Muggles, and they had a very medieval attitude towards magic. Harry’s dead parents, Lily – Awwww! Poor kid! James – This better not be my son! I don’t want to be dead! Remus – Don’t worry, it’s probably not you. You can’t die. You’re too stubborn, James. James – Hey, yeah! Oh—wait a minute… who had been a witch and wizard themselves, were never mentioned under the Dursley roof. For years, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had hoped that if they kept Harry as downtrodden as possible, they would be able to squash the magic out of him. James - Impossible! You can never squash the magic out of a person! Sirius - Unless you squash them so much they die then they can't do much magic, now can they? James - ::smacks Sirius:: To their fury, they had been unsuccessful, James – Of course! and now lived in terror of anyone finding out that Harry had spent most of the last two years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The most the Dursleys could do these days was to lock away Harry’s spell books, wand, cauldron and broomstick at the start of the summer holidays, and forbid him to talk to the neighbors. Peter – Wouldn’t that make them even *more* suspicious? Remus – You would think, wouldn’t you? Sirius – Jeez! Muggles are stupid! This separation from his spell books had been a real problem for Harry, because his teachers at Hogwarts had given him a lot of holiday work. Peter - Tell me about it. One of the essays, a particularly nasty one about Shrinking Potions, was for Harry’s least favorite teacher, Professor Snape, Sirius/James - No-- Remus/Peter - Way! Marauders - Not Snape! who would be delighted to have an excuse to give Harry detention for a month. James - It must be genetic to have all Potters hate Snape. Others - ::nod:: Harry had therefore seized his chance in the first week of the holidays. Whilst Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley had gone out into the front garden to admire Uncle Vernon’s new company car (in very loud voices, so that the rest of the street would notice it too), Harry had crept downstairs, picked the lock on the cupboard underneath the stairs, grabbed some of his spell books and hidden them in his bedroom. Sirius – Ah! Very clever! He must have gotten that from his mother. James - ::smacks Sirius:: As long as he didn’t leave spots of ink on the sheets, the Dursleys need never know that he was studying magic by night. Harry was keen to avoid trouble with his aunt and uncle at the moment, as they were already in a bad mood with him, all because he’d received a telephone call from a fellow wizard on week into the school holidays. Lily - Hopefully it wasn't as bad as the phone call from James. James - Hey! It was my first time using a feletone! Remus - It's telephone, James, telephone. James - Oh, I knew that... ::laughs nervously:: Ron Weasley, who was one of Harry’s best friends at Hogwarts, came from a whole family of wizards. Lily – Oh, then this should be good. This meant that he knew a lot of things Harry didn’t, but had never used a telephone before. Lily – Yup, just like James. Most unluckily, it had been Uncle Vernon who had answered the call. ‘Vernon Dursley speaking.’ Harry, who happened to be in the room at the time, froze as he heard Ron’s voice answer. ‘HELLO? HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME? I - WANT - TO - TALK - TO - HARRY - POTTER!’ Lily – Ugh. I knew it. Remus – Hate to see how his relatives take this… Ron was yelling so loudly that Uncle Vernon jumped and held the receiver a foot away from his ear, staring at it with an expression of mingled fury and alarm. ‘WHO IS THIS?’ he roared in the direction of the mouthpiece. ‘WHO ARE YOU?’ ‘RON - WEASLEY!’ Ron bellowed back, as though he and Uncle Vernon were speaking from opposite ends of a football pitch. Sirius – Football pitch? What the hell is a Football pitch? Remus – It's a Muggle sport. Sirius – Sounds like all you do is kick around a ball! Remus – Er—that’s what you do. Sirius - ::blink:: Damn, Muggles need to learn to fly! ‘I’M - A - FRIEND - OF - HARRY’S - FROM - SCHOOL -’ Uncle Vernon’s small eyes swiveled around to Harry, who was rooted to the spot. ‘THERE IS NO HARRY POTTER HERE!’ Peter – But I thought we were just talking about Harry? Others - ::exasperated sigh:: he roared, now holding the receiver at arm’s length, as though frightened it might explode. ‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT SCHOOL YOU’RE TALKING AbOUT! NEVER CONTACT ME AGAIN! DON’T YOU COME NEAR MY FAMILY!’ And he threw the receiver back onto the telephone as if dropping a poisonous spider. Sirius - ::shudders:: I *hate* spiders. The row that had followed had been one of the worst ever. ‘HOW DARE YOU GIVE THIS NUMbER TO PEOPLE LIKE - PEOPLE LIKE YOU!’ Uncle Vernon roared, spraying Harry with spit. All – Ewwwww! Ron obviously realized he’d got Harry into trouble, because he hadn’t called again. Harry’s other best friend from Hogwarts, Hermione Granger, hadn’t been in touch either. Harry suspected that Ron had warned Hermione not to call, which was a pity, because Hermione, the cleverest witch in Harry’s year, Sirius – Do I sense a crush? James – How can you sense a crush when this is the first time that he has mentioned her? Sirius – Well, he is friends with this girl, so it could lead to something more- Lily – What about that Ron kid? His friendship with this girl could lead to something more! Sirius - *Sorry*! I was just saying… had Muggle parents, knew perfectly well how to use a telephone, and would probably have had enough sense not to say that she went to Hogwarts. James – Sounds a lot like Lily, doesn’t it? Marauders – Yeah… Lily – Is that a compliment? James – Er… sure! Lily - ::roll eyes:: So Harry had had no word from any of his wizarding friends for five long weeks, and this summer was turning out to be almost as bad as the last one. There was just one, very small improvement: after swearing that he wouldn’t use her to send letters to any of his friends, Harry had been allowed to let his owl, Hedwig, out at night. James – That is an improvement. Remus – Yeah, poor owl. Uncle Vernon had given in because of the racket Hedwig made if she was locked in her cage all the time. Harry finished writing about Wendelin the Weird and paused to listen again. The silence in the dark house was broken only by the distant, grunting snores of his enormous cousin, Dudley. It must be very late. Peter – Actually, it’s only one o’clock in the afternoon. Remus – Uh, Peter, he wasn’t talking about… Oh, never mind. Continuing… Harry’s eyes were itching with tiredness. Perhaps he’d finish this essay tomorrow night ... He replaced the top of the ink bottle, pulled an old pillowcase from under his bed, put the torch, A History of Magic, Sirius - ::snore:: his essay, quill and ink inside it, got out of bed and hid the lot under a loose floorboard under his bed. Then he stood up, stretched, and checked the time on the luminous alarm clock on his bedside table. It was one o’clock in the morning. Sirius – Isn’t that exactly what Peter just said just with afternoon instead…? Others – Yeah… weird… Harry’s stomach gave a funny jolt. He had been thirteen years old without realizing it, for a whole hour. Sirius – Damn he’s slow! Remus – Try tired, Padfoot. Sirius – Even if I were tired, I would still know exactly my birthday started! James – That’s because you have a stinking alarm clock that screams its head off every midnight! Yet another unusual thing about Harry was how little he looked forward to his birthdays. Remus – That could be another reason why he didn’t notice it was his birthday. He had never received a birthday card in his life. The Dursleys had completely ignored his last two birthdays, and he had no reason to suppose they would remember this one. James – Unless they turned over a new leaf? Remus – Probably not. James – Hey! I can hope! Harry walked across the dark room, past Hedwig’s large, empty cage, to the open window. He leaned on the sill, the cool night air pleasant on his face after a long time under the blankets. Hedwig had been absent for two nights now. Harry wasn’t worried about her: she’d been gone this long before. but he hoped she’d be back soon - she was the only living creature in this house who didn’t flinch at the sight of him. Lily – Sounds like Petunia. Harry, though still rather small and skinny for his age, had grown a few inches over the last year. His jet-black hair, however, was just as it always had been - stubbornly untidy, whatever he did to it. Sirius – Yup, he defiantly is related to James. The eyes behind his glasses were bright green, Remus – And Lily for that matter. Sirius – Wait a minute… This is from the future, right? Remus – Yeah… Sirius – And Harry’s last name is Potter but he has green eyes, right? Remus – Yeah… Sirius – Then… Remus/Sirius – Harry could be Lily and James’ son! Lily/James – What!? Peter – ::blank look:: and on his forehead, clearly visible through his hair, was a thin scar, shaped like a bolt of lightning. Sirius – Let's see… do either of them have a lightning shaped scar on their forehead. ::examines Lily/James closely:: Lily/James - ::smacks Sirius:: Of all the unusual things about Harry, this scar was the most extraordinary of all. It was not, as the Dursleys had pretended for ten years, a souvenir of the car crash that had killed Harry’s parents, Sirius – I change my mind. I don’t want Harry’s parents to be you two! Remus - Me either… because Lily and James Potter had not died in a car crash. James – What’s a car? Lily – James! We’re dead! James – Huh? Oh yeah… Damn, that sucks… Sirius/Peter/Remus - ::stare at Lily/James:: Sirius - ::jumps on James and starts sobbing:: I d-don’t want you t-to die!!! James - ::pats Sirius’ head:: Can’t change the future…. but let’s keep reading to see how I died. They had been murdered, murdered by the most feared Dark wizard for a hundred years, Lord Voldemort. Harry had escaped from the same attack with nothing more than a scar on his forehead, where Voldemort’s curse, instead of killing him, had rebounded upon its originator. barely alive, Voldemort had fled. Sirius – That’s it! I’m going to go and kick Voldemort’s arse! Lily – Don’t be dense! You’ll be killed! Sirius – I don’t care! He killed my best friend! James – Hey! If I die, you have to take care of Harry, so you can’t die! Sirius – Okay… ::pause:: Where am I? Remus – If I can continue reading, maybe you’ll find out. But Harry had come face-to-face with him at Hogwarts. Remembering their last meeting as he stood at the dark window, Harry had to admit he was lucky even to have reached his thirteenth birthday. James – I thought Voldemort was dead. Lily – Maybe it was his spirit? He scanned the starry sky for a sign of Hedwig, perhaps soaring back to him with a dead mouse dangling from her beak, expecting praise. Sirius – I hate when owls do that. Gazing absently over the rooftops, it was a few seconds before Harry realized what he was seeing. Silhouetted against the golden moon, and growing larger every moment, was a large, strangely lopsided creature, and it was flapping in Harry’s direction. Peter – Close the window, Harry, before it’s too late! He stood quite still, watching it sink lower and lower. For a split second he hesitated, his hand on the window latch, wondering whether to slam it shut. but the bizarre creature soared over one of the street lamps of Privet Drive, and Harry, realizing what it was, leapt aside. Lily – It’s a bird! Remus – It’s a plane! Lily/Remus – No! It’s superman! Others - ::blank stares:: Lily/Remus – Muggle thing… Others – Right…. Through the window soared three owls, two of them holding up the third, which appeared to be unconscious. Peter/Lily – Aw… poor bird! They landed with a soft flump on Harry’s bed, and the middle owl, which was large and gray, keeled right over and lay motionless. There was a large package tied to its legs. Lily – Poor bird! All this over a package. ::shakes head sadly:: Harry recognized the unconscious owl at once - his name was Errol, and he belonged to the Weasley family. Harry dashed to the bed, untied the cords around Errol’s legs, took off the parcel, and then carried Errol to Hedwig’s cage. Errol opened on bleary eye, gave a feeble hoot of thanks, and began to gulp some water. Peter – Poor bird. Harry didn’t recognize the third owl, a handsome tawny one, but he knew at once where it had come from, because in addition to a third package, it was carrying a letter bearing the Hogwarts crest. Sirius – I hate the Hogwarts letters. The only good one that they ever send you is the one that states that you were accepted. When Harry relieved this owl of its burden, it ruffled its feathers importantly, stretched its wings, and took off through the window into the night. Harry sat down on his bed and grabbed Errol’s package, ripped of the brown paper, and discovered a present wrapped in gold, and his first ever birthday card. Lily – I have just decided to kick Petunia’s arse when I get home. Marauders – Cool! Can we help? Lily – Sure, why not? Fingers trembling slightly, he opened the envelope. Two pieces of paper fell out - a letter and a newspaper clipping. Sirius – *That’s* his birthday present? Lily – No, that was just in with the letter. Sirius – Okay, it better *not* be his birthday present. The clipping had clearly come out of the wizarding newspaper, the Daily Prophet, because the people in the black-and-white picture were moving. Harry picked up the clipping, smoothed it out, and read: Ministry of Magic Employee Scoops Grand Prize Arthur Weasley, Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office at the Ministry of Magic, has won the annual Daily Prophet Grand Prize Galleon Draw. James – My Great Aunt Julie won that last year. Remember, I went to Japan for the summer? Sirius – Oh yeah! And when I left school for the summer I couldn’t come here so I had to go to Rem’s… Remus - ::grins:: Yeah, that was fun. James – Are you *ever* going to tell us what happened? Remus/Sirius – No. A delighted Mr. Weasley told the Daily Prophet, ‘We will be spending the gold on a summer holiday in Egypt, where our eldest son, bill, works as a curse breaker for Gringotts Wizarding bank.’ The Weasley family will be spending a month in Egypt, returning for the start of the new school year at Hogwarts, which five of the Weasley children currently attend. Lily – Aw! Good for them! Harry scanned the moving photograph, and a grin spread across his face as he saw all nine of the Weasleys Sirius – Nine? Peter – Nine. Sirius – Damn! How do they afford to feed themselves? Lily – Sirius! ::smacks Sirius:: waving furiously at him, standing in front of a large pyramid. Plump little Mrs. Weasley; tall, balding Mr. Weasley; six sons; and one daughter; Lily – Poor girl. all (though the black-and-white picture didn’t show it) with flaming-red hair. Right in the middle of the picture was Ron, tall and gangling, with his pet rat, Scabbers, on his shoulder and his arm around his little sister, Ginny. Remus – And the youngest too. Lily – Double poor girl. Others - ::nod:: Harry couldn’t think of anyone who deserved to win a large pile of gold more than the Weasleys, who were very nice and extremely poor. Sirius – See? I was right! They can hardly afford themselves! Lily – Shut up! He picked up Ron’s letter and unfolded it. Dear Harry, Happy birthday! Look, I’m really sorry about that telephone call. I hope the Muggles didn’t give you a hard time. I asked Dad, and he reckons I shouldn’t have shouted. All – Nah, you think? It’s amazing here in Egypt. bill’s taken us around all the tombs and you wouldn’t believe the curses those old Egyptian wizards put on them. Mum wouldn’t let Ginny come into the last one. There were all these mutant skeletons in there, of Muggles who’d broken in and grown extra heads and stuff. James – What’s so bad about that? Lily – Nothing really, but when you are the youngest girl your parents tend to be overprotective, and being the *only* girl has really got to suck. James – Ah, I see. Continue, Remus. I couldn’t believe it when Dad won the Daily Prophet draw. Seven hundred galleons! Most of it’s gone on this trip, bit they’re going to buy me a new wand for next year. Peter – Why? Remus – If you let me read, Peter, you may find out. Peter – Oh, sorry, Moony. Harry remembered only too well the occasion when Ron’s old wand had snapped. It had happened when the car the two of them had been flying to Hogwarts had crashed into a tree on the school grounds. James/Sirius – They flew a car to Hogwarts! Remus – That’s what it says. Sirius – We have so got to try that! James – Agreed! Others - ::moan:: We’ll be back almost about a week before term starts and we’ll be going up to London to get my wand and our new books. Any chance of meeting you there? Don’t let the Muggles get you down! Ron PS Percy’s Head boy. He got the letter last week. Lily – He doesn’t seem too thrilled about that, does he? Sirius – So? Lily – Well, why shouldn’t he? His brother is Head boy! Sirius – So? Lily – Ugh. Never mind! Harry glanced back at the photograph. Percy, who was in his seventh and final year at Hogwarts, was looking particularly smug. He had pinned his Head boy badge to the fez perched jauntily on top of his neat hair, his horn-rimmed glasses flashing in the Egyptian sun. Sirius – Thank God you didn’t act that way, James, or else I would have had to strangle you. Lily – If he would have become Prefect in fifth year, I have a feeling that he would have. James – Hey! I wasn’t that bad!… was I? Remus/Lily – Yes, you were. James – Oh… Sorry? Harry now turned to his present and unwrapped it. Inside was what looked like a miniature glass spinning top. Sirius – Must be a Sneakoscope. I *hate* Sneakoscopes. There was another note from Ron beneath it. Harry - this is a Pocket Sneakoscope. Sirius – See, told ya! If there’s someone untrustworthy around, it’s supposed to light up and spin. bill says it’s rubbish sold for wizard tourists and isn’t reliable. but he didn’t realize Fred and George had put beetles in his soup. Marauders - ::laugh:: Lily – I don’t see what’s funny about trying to poison your brother! Marauders - ::pause:: ::start laughing again:: Lily - ::rolls eyes:: boys… bye - Ron Harry put the Pocket Sneakoscope on his bedside table, where it stood quite still, balanced on its point, reflecting the luminous hands of his clock. He looked at it happily for a few seconds, and then picked up the parcel Hedwig had brought. Inside this, too, there was a wrapped present, a card, and a letter, this time from Hermione. Sirius – His *girlfriend*! Lily – She is not his girlfriend! Dear Harry, Ron wrote to me and told me about his phone call to your Uncle Vernon. I do hope you’re all right. I’m on holiday in France at the moment and I didn’t know how I was going to send this to you - what if they’d opened it at customs? - but then Hedwig turned up! Remus – Smart Owl. I think she wanted to make sure you got something for your birthday for a change. I bought your present by owl-order; there was an advertisement in the Daily Prophet (I’ve been getting it delivered; it’s so good to keep up with what’s going on in the wizarding world). Did you see that picture of Ron and his family a week ago? I bet he’s learning loads. Marauders excluding Remus – Learning?? Remus/Lily – There’s loads you could learn in Egypt! I’m really jealous - the ancient Egyptian wizards were fascinating. There’s some interesting local history of witchcraft here, too. I’ve rewritten my whole History of Magic essay to include some of the things I’ve found out. I hope it’s not too long - it’s two rolls of parchment more than Professor binns asked for. Marauders excluding Remus – Oh God! A bookworm! Ron says he’s going to be in London in the last week of the holidays. Can you make it? Will your aunt and uncle let you come? If not, I’ll see you on the Hogwarts Express on September first! Love from Hermione. Sirius – See! Love from! She totally likes him! Lily – I always say Love from when sending you or Remus letters, does that mean I like *you*? Sirius – I know you do, admit it! Lily - ::rolls eyes:: PS Ron says Percy’s Head boy. I’ll bet Percy’s really pleased. Ron doesn’t seem too happy about it. Lily – See? She noticed it too! James – Yes, but we already established that you and Hermione were alike. Lily – But that still doesn’t justify Ron for not being proud of his brother! James – Lil, just give it a rest, will ya? Lily - ::sigh:: Harry laughed as he put Hermione’s letter aside and picked up her present. It was heavy. Knowing Hermione, he was sure it would be a large book full of complicated spells Sirius – Even when Remus sends us presents we don’t automatically think it’s a book! Lily – What about me? Sirius – Er- no comment. -but it wasn’t. His heart gave a huge bound as he ripped back the paper and saw a sleek black leather case, with silver words stamped across it, reading broomstick Servicing Kit. James – I want one! Lily – Sorry, James. It’s from the future. James – No fair! “Wow, Hermione!” Harry whispered, unzipping the case to look inside. There was a large jar of Fleetwood’s High-Finish Handle Polish, a pair of gleaming silver Tail-Twig Clippers, a tiny brass compass to clip on your broom for long journeys, and a Handbook of Do-It-Yourself broom care. Apart from his friends, the thing that Harry missed about Hogwarts was Quidditch, James – No Potter can live without it! Sirius – And that isn’t an understatement. the most popular sport in the magical world-highly dangerous, very exciting, and played on broomsticks. Harry happened to be a very good Quidditch player; he had been the youngest person in a century to be picked for one of the Hogwarts House teams. Remus - ::thoughtfully:: How young was he then? James - ::in awe:: He was a first year! A first year and a Chaser! Wow! Sirius – How do you know that he’s a Chaser? James – Why wouldn’t he be? One of Harry’s most prized possessions was his Nimbus Two Thousand racing broom. Harry put the leather case aside and picked up his last parcel. He recognized the untidy scrawl on the brown paper at once: this was from Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper. Lily – Aw! That’s sweet of Hagrid to think of Harry on his birthday. He tore off the top layer of paper and glimpsed something green and leathery, but before he could unwrap it properly. The parcel gave a strange quiver, and whatever was inside it snapped loudly-as though it had jaws. Lily – It’s going to kill my son! James – No, it’s not. Hagrid wouldn’t send him anything that could kill him… right? Remus – Of course not, Lily! Probably something that could put you in the Hospital Wing, but that’s it! Lily - ::nervously bites her nails:: Harry froze. He knew that Hagrid would never send him anything dangerous on purpose, but then, Hagrid didn’t have a normal person’s view of what was dangerous. Hagrid had been known to befriend giant spiders, buy vicious, three-headed dogs from men in pubs, and sneak illegal dragons into his cabin. Sirius – Damn! Why didn’t he get the dragon when *we* were in school? James – We still have half a year, don’t worry, Sirius. Harry poked the parcel nervously. It snapped loudly again. Harry reached for the lamp on his bedside table, gripped it firmly in one hand, and raised it over his head, ready to strike. Then he seized the rest of the wrapping paper in his other hand and pulled. And out fell- Lily – Oh! I can’t watch! *covers eyes* a book. Lily – Huh? Marauders – Huh!? Harry just had time to register its handsome green cover, emblazoned with the golden title The Monster book of Monsters, Remus – This can’t be good. before it flipped onto its edge and scuttled sideways along the bed like some weird crab. All – Uh-oh. “Uh-oh,” Harry muttered. All – Double uh-oh. The book toppled off the bed with a loud clunk and shuffled rapidly across the room. Harry followed it stealthily. The book was hiding in the dark space under his desk. Praying that the Dursleys were still fast asleep, Harry got down on his hands and knees and reached toward it. “Ouch!” Sirius – James, your son is being killed by a book. Lily – No! Harry! Don’t die! James – He’s not being *killed*, bitten maybe, but not *killed*. The book snapped shut on his hand and then flapped past him, still scuttling on his covers. Harry scrambled around, threw himself forward, and managed to flatten it. Uncle Vernon gave a loud, sleepy grunt in the room next door. Lily – Hope he doesn’t wake up! Sirius – Who cares if he wakes up! Lily – Harry could get in trouble if he wakes up! Sirius – Oh. You’re right. Lily – Of course I am. Hedwig and Errol watched interestedly as Harry clamped the struggling book tightly in his arms, hurried to his chest of drawers, and pulled out a belt, which he buckled tightly around it. Peter – Smart boy. The Monster Book shuddered angrily, but could no longer flap and snap, so Harry threw it on the bed and reached for Hagrid’s card. Dear Harry, Happy birthday! Think you might find this useful for next year. All – How in the world could he find a biting book useful? Won’t say no more here. Tell you when I see you. Hope the Muggles are treating you right. All the best, Hagrid It struck Harry as ominous that Hagrid thought a biting book would come in useful, All – That’s what we said! but he put Hagrid’s card up next to Ron’s and Hermione’s, grinning more broadly than ever. Now there was only the letter from Hogwarts left. Sirius – I *hate* the Hogwarts letters. James – You’ve already said that. Plus, you hate everything, so it doesn’t count. Sirius – I don’t hate *everything*. I don’t hate any of you! James – You hated Remus for a while. You nearly hated Peter. You definitely hated Lily. And me… well, nobody could hate me! Remus – Except Lily, James. Noticing that it was rather thicker than usual, Harry slit open the envelope, pulled out the first page of parchment within, and read: Dear Mr. Potter, Please note that the new school year will begin on September the first. The Hogwarts Express will leave from King’s Cross station, platform nine and three-quarters, at eleven o’clock. Third years are permitted to visit the village James – Yay! He gets to go to Hogsmeade! Sirius – Awesome! He will get to visit Zonko’s! Remus – And Honeydukes! Peter – And Madam Rosmerta at the Three Broomsticks! Lily – And all the historical sites! Hogsmeade on certain weekends. Please give the enclosed permission form to your parent or guardian to sign. A list of books for next year is enclosed. Yours sincerely, Professor M. McGonagall Deputy Headmistress Harry pulled out the Hogsmeade permission form and looked at it, no longer grinning. Sirius – Why not? Remus – Maybe because someone actually has to sign it? Sirius – Oh yeah. It would be wonderful to visit Hogsmeade on weekends; he knew it was an entirely wizarding village, and he had never set foot there. but how on earth was he going to persuade Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia to sign the form? Remus – See? Sirius – Yeah, yeah. He looked over at the alarm clock. It was now two o’clock in the morning. Deciding that he’d worry about the Hogsmeade form when he woke up, Harry got back into bed and reached up to cross off another day on the chart he’d made for himself, counting down the days left until his return to Hogwarts. Lily - I have a chart as well! I just can’t wait till we go back to school! Then he took off his glasses and lay down, eyes open, facing his three birthday cards. Extremely unusual though he was, at that moment Harry Potter felt just like everyone else – glad, for the first time in his life, that it was his birthday. Lily – Aww! That’s so sweet! Remus – Well, that’s the end of Chapter one. Lily – Continue? Peter – Yeah!