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Rated: E · Article · Fanfiction · #687822
Harry Potter and the Princes of the Magi - Fanfiction novel
The last few days before returning to school seemed to fly by for Harry and the others. For the most part they kept to themselves, spending the multitude of rainy days hanging around the house playing exploding snap, wizard’s chess or Gobstones; Hermione, of course, had her nose in a book at almost every opportunity.

The couple of sunny days they did have were spent wandering around the local village of Ottery St Catchpole looking at its quaint little cottage houses with their well-kept gardens full of a riot of colours, while they talked about events happening in the wizarding world and the muggle world.

Surprisingly, Voldemort didn’t crop up as a conversation topic nearly as much as Harry thought he might. Since he had attacked Mr Malfoy, dark thoughts were banished with a silent agreement between everybody. Fred had told Hermione that he had overheard Mr and Mrs Weasley talking about what might happen to Harry (Mrs Weasley taking the emotional approach and almost bursting into tears every time the conversation arose and Mr Weasley looking on the bright side of things and saying that it would all work out for the best).

Harry rarely saw Mr Weasley and Percy, so busy were they at the ministry, but on the day that they were all due to go up to London he had managed to take the day off to go with them to Kings Cross.

Harry was looking forward to getting back to Hogwarts for that morning he'd had had another dream about Voldemort, the first since arriving at the Burrow. He had yet to mention this to Ron or Hermione simply because everybody was too busy to do anything else and the one occasion he had tried the three of them had been interrupted by Mrs Weasley and ushered downstairs to breakfast.

After breakfast he was just helping Ron carry his trunk down the stairs (muttering under his breath about how badly Ron had packed it so all the weight was up the top down one end making it an unsteady load) when a sudden and loud yelp startled him to the point he dropped the chest.

“Watch it!” cried Ron as the chest thudded heavily down on the floor, turned onto its side and spilled its contents across the landing.

“Sorry,” muttered Harry, but both his and Ron’s attention had moved off the trunk and onto the door to Ginny’s room where the yelp had come from.

Moving up to the door and getting ready to knock, Ron jumped back a little in surprise when the door flew open and Ginny came flying out of the room, a pale look on her face and fear in her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Ron demanded, grabbing a hold of her arm as she tried to push past him.

Ginny made no response she just looked at Ron, twisted her arm from his grip and ran down stairs calling for mum and dad.

Harry had found that his hand had gone up his sleeve automatically, grasping for his wand, only to find it not there. Mrs Weasley had suggested to Harry and Hermione that they not carry them around, and had all but demanded Ron, Fred and George give up theirs for ‘safe keeping’.

Harry ignored Ginny and ducked past her and Ron and into the bedroom, only to come to a stop just inside door.

Hermione was standing rigidly with her back to the door, staring out of the window, Ginny’s wand in her hand and the end smoking slightly.

“Hermione?” Harry asked as he quickly took in all the details.

The large, and only, window in Ginny’s room was shattered. The frame blasted to smithereens and pieces of glass scattered over the carpet glistening in the low sun that was still crawling its way up the sky as morning aged. “There was someone at the window,” Hermione said, her voice tight with an attempt at emotional control.

Harry launched himself across the room to look out the window just as Mr Weasley burst into the room, closely followed by Mrs Weasley. Harry paid them no mind as his eyes scanned the garden and the fields beyond, looking for something out of the ordinary. Down below the window on the grass, shattered bits of window frame lay scattered amongst more glass fragments spread over an impressive area.

“Step away from the window Harry,” said Mr Weasley as he moved up next to him.

Harry backed away and looked over to see Mrs Weasley gently pluck Ginny’s wand from Hermione’s hand. It was then that he noticed both Mr and Mrs Weasley had their wands out.

“What did they look like?” asked Mr Weasley seriously as he continued to look outside.

“I… I’m not sure,” Hermione replied a little shaky. “It all happened so fast. There was just this dark shape at the window.”

Mr Weasley leaned further out the window, looking down at the ground. “Back inside you two!” he called out sternly, presumably to Fred and George.

Harry heard a distant reply that sounded something like, “checking the garden.”

“There is no one out there,” Mr Weasley replied, his voice even more stern, “Now back inside!” He stayed leaning out the window for another moment, then, as he began to back away from the window he glanced over his shoulder. “Did you see anything Harry?” he asked.

Harry shook his head. “Nothing.”

Mr Weasley frowned while he waved his wand. The glass and wooden splinters on the floor of the room flew up into the air and began to re-form as a solid window, joined momentarily later by those pieces that had been on the ground outside.

Fred came into the doorway then. “Ginny didn’t see anything either dad,” he offered before closing the distance and leaning closer to his dad’s ear and lowering his voice to the point where Harry could only just hear it, even though he was only eight feet away. “She was just scared when Hermione grabbed her wand and blew the window away.”

Mr Weasley turned and looked down at Hermione, his face more serious than at any time Harry had seen it. “Are you sure there was someone there?”

Hermione looked down at her hand, then up as the window. A moment passed. Then two.

“Hermione?” Mrs Weasley pressed.

“No,” she replied so softly that Harry almost didn’t hear her. “No,” she said again, this time louder but hanging her head.

Mrs Weasley squeezed her shoulder gently. “It’s alright dear. We’re all a little on edge and there was no real harm done.”

“I’m sorry,” Hermione said again, her sorrow plainly evident in her voice as it was a little shaky.

“Don’t worry about it dear,” Mrs Weasley repeated again, giving her a little hug about the shoulder. “The boys have broken more than one window in their time.”

“Yeah,” replied Fred. “Like the time George flew straight through one on his broom.”

“I heard that!” came a call from down the stairs.

Mr Weasley smiled, though Harry thought it looked a little faked. “I think we should all finish getting ready,” he said, “otherwise you’ll miss the train.”

In near silence, everyone finished getting their trunks and other supplies down the stairs and into the kitchen.

“How are we getting there?” Harry asked to break the tension that now seemed to be thickly laden around the Burrow.

“I’ve arranged the transport this time,” answered Mrs Weasley proudly. “Edna Prang owed me a favour.”

A half forgotten memory flitted through Harry’s mind and he was about to press for more details when, all of a sudden, a tremendous BANG sounded outside.

“Oh no,” Harry muttered under his breath, the sound being all too familiar.

Mrs Weasley opened the kitchen door and Harry got a good look at a sight he hadn’t seen in two years.

Standing in the yard was a triple-decker, violently purple bus. The knight bus. It was exactly as Harry remembered it, gold lettering above the windscreen and all.

Now he remembered where he had heard the name Prang before. It was the name of the driver.

And speaking of the crew who staffed the knight bus, the door opened and Stan Shunpike stepped from the door. He was almost exactly like Harry remembered him too, except he was not in his purple conductors uniform now. Rather he was dressed almost normally in jeans that were a little too worn (the left knee had a hole in it), and a garish orange jumper that contrasted violently with the purple of the bus.

“Mornin’ Mrs Weasley,” Stan greeted with his typical cockney accent.

“Good morning Stan,” she replied as she stepped out of the kitchen into the yard. “Thank you for agreeing to this.”

“’s no problem. Soon as I ‘eared you’d ‘ave Harry Potter with ‘choo, I said to Ernie ’ed better do as ‘is wife told him.”

Mrs Weasley smiled, knowing full well how formidable a woman Edna Prang was, and doubted for a second that Ernie would have turned down the ‘request’ from his wife. “Would you mind helping us get all the trunks on board?” she asked instead of speaking her mind.

“Sure,” Stan replied and sauntered across the yard, into the kitchen and over to the nearest trunk. He glanced at Harry before he picked it up. “mornin’ there Neville,” he offered with a wink.

Harry offered a weak smile and waited his turn while Stan helped load Ginny’s trunk. Fred and George helped carry each others while Mrs Weasley repacked Ron’s ‘properly’. Mr Weasley was about to help Harry load his when Stan re-entered the kitchen. “’s’allright,” he said. “I’ll ‘elp Harry with ‘is.”

Harry and Stan picked up the heavy trunk between them, manoeuvred it out the door and across the yard.

“Remember the day we picked ‘choo up like it were yesterday,” he said proudly. “You know, you never did tell me why you never gave you’re real name.”

“It was a long story,” Harry said.

Stan frowned like he was hoping for something more than that, but Harry didn’t offer, and Stan didn’t ask.

“Morning Mr Prang,” Harry said as he stepped onto the bus, placing his trunk next to the bed behind the driver once more, just as he had two years ago.

Ernie gave a nod and a hint of a smile before turning back to a clipboard that he was writing on with a quill.

“Don’t mind Ern,” Stan said. “He’s got tha’ paperwork to do for last night’s run.”

After half an hour, everyone was loaded onto the knight bus and sitting on several of the beds nearest the front. “Right then,” said Ernie. “Lets get this show on the road.”

With a loud BANG the knight bus launched itself down the dirt track driveway of the Weasley’s home knocking Ginny, Hermione and Ron flat back on the bed they were sharing due to the acceleration. Harry had braced himself and stayed upright, as had all the others.

With another loud BANG, the countryside had disappeared and was replaced with a motorway. Six lanes of traffic, three heading in each direction, were teeming with early morning traffic of commuters going into and out of London, which could be seen stretching out across the horizon as they rounded a corner.

“Where did this guy learn to drive?” asked Ron under his breath as a particularly nasty swerve sent him careening into Ginny who pushed him off her.

Harry wasn’t surprised to see that Ern had yet to manage to learn how to drive properly. The knight bus dodged across the traffic heading into London with little regard for the other users of the road, yet as the knight bus neared them it was like the cars suddenly appeared in another lane, leaving the route clear for the bus. With another loud BANG, the bus jumped another several dozen miles and into London proper, allowing Harry to immediately recognised some of the local landmarks and estimated that, in just five minutes or so, they would be outside the station.

Once on the train it would only be a matter of hours till he was standing on the doorstep to Hogwarts. Being at Hogwarts meant being home and near Dumbledore. And being near Dumbledore meant being truly safe from Voldemort.

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