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This book grew out of my recent entry (Chapter One) in a contest to write the opening of the future Book 7. Eventually, it became quite an endeavor as the story developed in my head. Plus, there are simply some things that I want to see happen in the real Book 7. :-) Don't we all? I hope you enjoy this, and please feel free to leave a comment and recommend this site to your friends.

So much of the room was familiar. There was the twin bed; the table lamp alongside with the yellowed lampshade belying its age; a beat-up closet that a frantic but valuable house elf once visited; a precious white owl in her cage; all sorts of magical textbooks not-so-magically piled everywhere; and a teenage boy. Not just any boy, but The Boy Who Lived.

Harry Potter sat at one end of the bed, his hair mussed, clothes wrinkled, and a new shadow making itself known to parts of a face famous throughout the wizarding world. Across that face were looks that changed as regularly as the waves breaking upon cliffs of stone. That image from just a few months ago, like so many others, was never out of Harry's mind for very long. Looks of sadness, looks of consternation, looks of wonder - all had a right to be there, and each owned his face at any given time.

Here he was, 'home' at the Dursley's once again, keeping a promise to that great Wizard, Mentor, Protector, Friend: Albus Dumbledore. Try as he might, almost every thought, every plan, every decision was made with images of Professor Dumbledore flashing through his mind. Memories constantly brought tugs to his heart, and Harry could not see himself clear of that. In fact, he really wasn't sure if he wanted to avoid them. He was now driven, with only one goal in mind. The Prophesy stated that Harry must kill the evil Lord Voldemort, and as part of that process, Harry also wished to extract revenge on Professor Severus Snape. Snape, his tormentor. Snape, the killer of Professor Dumbledore. Nothing else truly mattered, nor was anything or anyone truly safe, until both of these were accomplished.

This was not the summer of years past, in which Harry suffered at the hands of his relatives. Harry was different. The world was different. Even the Dursleys were different. Harry's cousin Dudley was changed. Already grown stronger and leaner than his piggish younger days, his countenance had matured. Harry attributed this to his and Dudley's encounter with the dementors a few years earlier. The terror turned into a blessing that Harry was thankful for. Uncle Vernon had grown quiet, as if his verbal exchanges with members of the Order of the Phoenix had convinced him that there was much more out there that threatened him, and he had better pay attention. Aunt Petunia, sister to Harry's mom Lily, was just plain scared. She clearly knew more than she was letting on, and Harry felt confident that in time all she knew would be revealed. All this was trivial at the moment, though, for Harry had many things of great consequence to deal with. Harry felt, whether it was correct or not, that he was in charge; and even if he wasn't 'in charge', he was very well going to do what he thought needed to be done. After all, everything depended on him in the end, anyway. Or so he thought.

Harry and his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, had ended last term at the funeral of Professor Dumbledore. At that time they made a pact, a commitment to each other. Whatever it took and wherever it took them, they would do what was necessary to accomplish the mission. To kill Voldemort was the goal that every living thing counted on, whether aware of the fact or not. Evidence of this mission was everywhere around Harry.

Strewn across the bed were dozens of messages and correspondence that were coming in from all corners of the earth now. On the table and below the lamp, always within Harry's reach, was a gold coin. To the untrained eye, it looked like your normal Galleon, if you could consider those coins normal to anyone but a wizard. Along one edge of the design, barely noticeable, were the letters "DA" written in ancient runes. Harry's idea, Hermione's expertise. This was the emergency communication method for the growing numbers in 'Dumbledore's Army'. Harry had put his best friend Ron in charge of organizing the DA. Ron would help in another chess game with very real outcomes. After the years of head-in-the-sand neglect by the likes of Cornelius Fudge, former Minister of Magic, it was time for all the pieces, and more, to be put into action. Most important to Harry was the large piece of parchment hanging on the wall across from the bed.

For the moment, all that was written on the parchment was visible. Harry had asked Remus Lupin, member of the Order of the Phoenix, werewolf, close friend of Harry's father, James, and one of the original creators of the Marauder's Map, to help Harry make a similar parchment for the war at hand. Harry picked up a recent message from the bed and read it. A quick glance at just the related part of the 'war parchment' revealed boxes and circles with such labels as "Giants", "Schools", "House Elves", and "Order of the Phoenix". Three other messages brought Harry's eyes to other parts of the parchment, all equally revealing and no less important. In particular, "Horcruxes" was written in bold.

Things were happening, and for Harry to get the normal life that he had always craved, he had to make it all succeed. This was a summer like no other, as Harry organized and planned with the gathering storm clouds overhead. This would also be a year like no other, as the battle lines were drawn in the effort to defeat the most evil wizard in history. Outright war was approaching.

Harry's heart pounded as he picked up a quill and a small piece of parchment. He sighed as the realization struck him that his whole life had brought him to this moment. Clenching his jaw, Harry began to write yet another message. Many such moments were coming, for the war had now begun.

My thanks to the plano-potterheads for their expert input and help in laying out the story line.

"We have him, my Lord."

At those words, the large wooden door swung silently open, and a tall figure cloaked in black entered the room. Seemingly gliding across the floor, all that was visible were bony, almost taloned fingers, creakily extended from equally white hands, and two red eyes glowing ominously from beneath the hood.

Bound by a rope that seemingly had no knots, the man sitting in the chair glanced up. Though he could see little but those eyes and hands, he had seen enough; more than he ever cared to, for the knowledge that accompanied what he saw sent shivers up his spine.

Beads of sweat began to gather across Fudge's brow, and the shivering cascaded throughout his body as Voldemort approached. When he got near, Voldemort leaned over and faced Fudge. The sound of Voldemort's breath, slow, raspy and almost inhuman, was practically drowned out by the pounding of Fudge's heart. Though scared countless times throughout his life, Fudge was discovering a whole new meaning for the concept of fear.

"Minister, welcome," Voldemort hissed. "How kind of you to accompany my two Death Eaters on their travels to join me." Voldemort did nothing else to acknowledge the two, who stood at attention behind Fudge. Though full of anticipation, both knew better than to let their excitement show when the Dark Lord was possibly circling in for the kill. Unless told otherwise, these moments with special enemies belonged to him and him alone. As Voldemort spoke, his fingers constantly curled and opened. Fudge watched those fingers do their slow dance front of his face, and he could not help but feel like a fly in a web being gloated over by the spider. The moment was not lost on Voldemort either, and he swooped lower, now face-to-face with Fudge.

Looking into those narrow red eyes, Fudge was vaguely aware of that hissing voice speaking once again. Wishing beyond all hope to be anywhere else but here, he knew he must focus if he were to have any chance at all. " woman worked at the Department of Mysteries," the voice hissed. "Although she and her miserable husband deserved to die, I had wanted to save her for but a few more minutes so that I could extract the information I needed. Unfortunately, she chose to sacrifice her life for her son. And although he did not die just then, I promise you that he will soon." Voldemort stared into Fudge's eyes and continued, "I need to know, Minister. What is behind the locked door adjacent to the room that contains the Veil of Death? Rumors abound, but you know how rumors are. So tell me, Minister, what is so well guarded there? It does concern horcruxes, I hear."

Fudge caught his breath, and the words practically choked in his throat as he tried to speak. "I, I am sorry Tom. I cannot tell you that. It is a secret so important that no more than a dozen wizards and witches even " The sentence was never completed as Voldemort's rage erupted.

"Idiot. Do not think that you can avoid telling me the truth."

Fudge mustered up every once of strength he had, which was never known to be very much to begin with. "No," he stammered. It was barely more than a squeak.

Voldemort stood up, his eyes wide and glowing red, his breath even sharper. Without ever taking his eyes from Fudge's, he spoke to the tall blond Death Eater. "Lindgren, come out from behind the Minister." Lindgren obeyed and moved around to Fudge's right, just within his view.

Voldemort leaned forward once again. "Minister," he spat, "I want that information. Nothing will stand in my way of getting it." With that, a tortured sinuous ribbon of green light forked its way from Voldemort's wand and struck Lindgren square in the chest. He dropped on the spot, dead.

"Not even, Minister, my servants."

Fudge's eyes bulged. The point was taken.

Voldemort backed away from Fudge, whose color was a crimson red slowly changing to blue as he fought himself to take a breath. The Dark Lord's fingers began to curl once again.

"Let me introduce you to my other Death Eater." She stepped over Lindgren's body and came forward without so much as a word from Voldemort, and Fudge could see a pale slender face framed by straight glossy-black hair. "I took her years ago, before my unanticipated demise, from a muggle leader in Europe. The fool considered himself to be a great leader of muggles. So much so, in fact, that he named this daughter after the daughter of another muggle king. An ancient king, one who lives on in muggle lore even today. He named her Electra. Not only did he not realize how insignificant he was, but he had no idea about the power within this girl . . . but I did. From miles away I sensed her potential, and I took her away the first moment I could. I trained her in the dark arts, making her more powerful than any other of my Death Eaters. And not until my resurrection in the cemetery did I even allow her to be seen by any other of my followers. But now, here she stands, ready to do my bidding."

Voldemort stepped back, and Electra stepped in front of Fudge, mercilessly staring into his eyes. As she reached into her cloak, Fudge could see a necklace around her neck. The chain was silver with sapphires, and hanging from it was a silver eagle with black enamel claws. The incongruity of such beauty being in a situation like this amazed Fudge, and he forget for just an instant the grave danger he was in.

"Crucio," Electra whispered. A jet of red light shot from her wand and struck Fudge. He screamed as needles of pain shot through every nerve in his body. Never had he felt anything else like this, and never would he again. The terror and the pain were too much. In perhaps the bravest thing it had ever done, Fudge's heart ended the agony.

Voldemort and his Death Eater stood there, silently contemplating the prone lifeless minister before them. Finally, Voldemort spoke. "It seems that you are in death, Minister, as you were in life. Worthless. No matter. It is an inconvenience, but nothing more."

As he and his Death Eater left the room, a small glint of silver could be seen reflecting off the hand of a shivering terrified object hunched deep in the recesses of the dark corner.

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