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It was dawn in the forest – the chirping of the birds, the freshness in the air and the rapidly shrinking blanket of darkness were sure signs. In a flash, Harry was awake,alert and ready for any signs of danger. He relaxed after looking at the foe-glass, which showed nothing, and the sneakoscope, which was normal. This process was just a precautionary measure, because the tent had most of the protective spells on it, to keep away intruders, of both the muggle and magical kind. Harry would,however, have been happier, if the tent was hidden under the Fidelius , but he couldn’t perform the charm yet, and there was no question of finding a secret keeper.
Harry looked around-was it merely coincidence, that these woods were the same in which the events of the Quidditch World Cup Finals had taken place-the first omens, first signs of things to come. Sometimes he wished he could grab hold of a time-turner and go back all those years, just to see those whom he yearned for-Sirius, Dumbledore, Fred, George, Mr. Weasley,Neville, Luna-who were now the casualties of the raging war against Voldemort, which had led to the disbanding of The Order a few months ago-due to the loss of many of it’s members -and the others who turned traitor, going over to the dark side. After the Battle of Diagon Alley a year ago, in which Fred and George had fought, heavily outnumbered, to defend their shop till the very end- Harry had lost all contact with the Weasley family-he knew that they were not dead, for The Daily Prophet would have gladly reported it- Voldemort had, after taking over the Ministry, made it into his official mouthpiece-his instument for the torture and eradication of muggle-borns and half-bloods-not to mention the non-magic folk, whose Prime Minister was murdered in his office the very day after Voldemort conquered the Ministry.
There was not even a day when Harry did not think about Ron and Hermione, whom he prayed and hoped were alive, well and in their own way, putting up some sort of resistance against Voldemort. Of course, thinking about Ron and Hermione brought another memory to his mind-Ginny, that blazing look in her eyes, her beautiful face framed by her wonderful red hair as she ran across the common room to kiss him; that contented, happy feeling he’d get whenever they were together-that everything was alright with the world, and that he had finally found his home. He did not regret breaking up with her after the funeral-it was, after all, for her own safety. However, as he thought about his decision now, he wondered about it’s relevance in the present circumstances. Would it really have mattered? Couldn’t they have had a few happy moments together before all hell broke loose? Harry had never stopped loving her, and even now, he hoped that she was safe and well;he knew that she was smart enough to take care of herself-he would give anything for the warmth of her embrace, or to just see her beautiful face.
Harry’s anger mounted as he thought about the one responsible for all this- Voldemort, the name he hated, and that which he was not allowed to speak- the Death Eaters had jinxed the name of their Lord, so that the ones bold enough to speak his name, hence opposing him, could be caught and neutralized. It had worked well too, and many of the brave Order members had been caught in the net, and sent to their graves. There had been a ‘raid’ on the Burrow a few weeks after the battle in Diagon Alley, but it was empty and had a deserted look to it. The last time Harry had spoken to his friends was on the day of the twins’ funeral;he had made up his mind- none of the surviving Weasleys and Hermione would be a target because of him:he knew that Voldemort would never stop torturing and killing innocent people until he got to him. The loss of Mr. Weasley during the Ministry raid still haunted him-he was reportedly tortured for information on Harry’s whereabouts. From that very day, Harry had taken an oath to fulfill his destiny and rid the world of Voldemort.
The trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione had not returned to Hogwarts for their seventh year-intending to search for and destroy the remainder of Voldemort’s horcruxes. It was proven to be a good decision, as Hogwarts was taken over by Voldemort, Severus Snape was made the new Headmaster, and the Carrows were teaching ‘Defence Against the Dark Arts’– Harry thought ‘Dark Arts’ would suit the subject better. The advent of the Blood Status rule automatically prevented muggleborns from attending Hogwarts-or from applying for jobs at the Ministry. Regular ‘flushing out’ of muggleborns would take place by the so-called Aurors and Law Enforcers, due to which those who were still safe took to fleeing the country with their families to remote places like Australia and New Zealand, where they could live as muggles in safety.
The hunt for the Horcruxes had started off well, with Hermione figuring out that R.A.B. was Regulus Black, and locating Slytherin’s locket at Grimmauld Place, with Kreacher’s unwilling assistance. They had tried every possible way of destroying the locket, every spell in their knowledge, but were unsuccessful-the Locket, was at the moment, in the trunk in Harry’s tent; however, before they could make any further progress, it was Bill and Fleur’s wedding-the very day on which the Ministry fell into Voldemort’s hands. Immediately after that they had gone into hiding, returning for the Battle of Diagon Alley, where they tried to bolster the dwindling ranks of the Order and the last stand against the Death Eaters. After Fred and George’s funeral, Harry had left the Burrow, wowing not to return until he destroyed Voldemort. The sad, lost look on Ginny’s face during the service was almost too much for him to bear. Harry had borrowed a trunk from Remus the day after the funeral-he was the only one who knew of Harry’s plan; and since then Harry had been moving from place to place, keeping a low profile, using Confunding charms to nick food from unsuspecting muggle stores, and searching for the other Horcruxes.
Harry kept his mind occupied by focusing on the remaining Horcruxes-those which he still had to find and destroy…..The Cup……The Snake…..something of Ravenclaw’s or Gryffindor’s…… this was his motivation to fight-to keep battling, even when the chips were totally and utterly down-to honour his wows to the Weasleys and all the others who had fought and died to bring Voldemort down. However, deep down, Harry knew that these were insurmountable odds-all that was standing in front of Voldemort-who had the power of wizarding Britain with him, was Harry, Hermione, the Weasleys and a few other stubborn souls who were unwilling to give up the good fight. Harry forcefully brought his mind back to the present -the mind, if allowed to stray, could lead him into very dangerous waters indeed. He had discerned the location of Hufflepuff’s Cup-it was in Gringotts-in the vault of the Lestranges-he had to get it out somehow; but the perfect plan never seemed to enter his mind-how he wished Hermione was here. As Harry Potter geared himself up for another long day in the wilderness, he found himself hoping for some kind of a miracle….something that would balance the equation……a little help-somebody or someone who would lessen the weight on his shoulders.
Little did Harry know that his wish would be granted…