Harry entered the Gryffindor common room and smiled to himself when he saw the curled up form on the couch by the fire. Ginny had been waiting up for him to return when she fell asleep. Harry sat down carefully and stroked her hair softly. Ginny stirred and opened her eyes. She smiled when she saw Harry looking down at her.
“I fell asleep again, didn’t I?” she said as she sat up straight.
“Yeah. You really don’t have to wait up for me, you know.” Harry said, even though he knew better. He knew Ginny never wanted to go to bed until she had seen him.
Ginny merely shrugged at his last statement. “So, Jacinta will live with you and Sirius then?” she asked.
Harry nodded. “She already told you?”
“She told all of us.” Ginny laughed. “Well, me, Ron, Hermione and the twins at least.”
Harry smiled. “She seemed really happy about it.”
“Of course she did!” Ginny said. “She’ll finally have a home. A real home.”
“Well, it’s not exactly the brightest home.” Harry grinned. “I wonder how Sirius and Lupin are getting on with the redecorating.”
The two Marauders were planning to renovate Grimmauld Place by the time Harry would return for the summer.
Ginny laughed. “Mum wrote me about it. She’s helping them, but I think she didn’t know what she was getting into. I think Lupin is fine, but Sirius has horrible taste apparently.”
“I can imagine.” Harry laughed.
“So how was Dumbledore?” Ginny asked when they were done laughing. “Did you guys think of anything new for the last two… you know?”
Harry looked around the common room quickly. Although it was empty except for them, he casted a quick Muffliato charm before he answered.
“He still doesn’t think Voldemort found relics of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, but we think we know what one of the remaining two is.”
“Nagini?” Ginny asked surprised. “That’s his snake, isn’t it? Why would he do that?”
Harry shrugged. “Because he’s a Parselmouth, I think.” he said. “He inherited the ability to talk to snakes from Slytherin himself, so it would be a powerful symbol for him.”
Ginny nodded slowly. “You may be right.”
She stretched out on the couch again and Harry cuddled next to her, hugging her from behind.
“Are you smelling my hair?” she said after a few minutes.
“Maybe.” Harry mumbled and she laughed. He loved the smell of her hair. It always made him think of carefree summer days at the Burrow.
Ginny turned around on the couch so she would face Harry. She cupped the right side of his face with her left hand. “I love you, Harry.” she said softly.
“I love you too.” Harry muttered. He gave her a soft kiss on the lips.
“Will Dumbledore really take you with him then? When he tries to get hold of a Horcrux?”
Harry nodded. “He said he would.”
“It could be dangerous.” Ginny said.
“Perhaps.” Harry said slowly. “But I’ll have Dumbledore with me. I’ll be fine.”
“That’s just the beginning though.” Ginny said softly. “The Horcruxes. Even if you can destroy all of them, you will still have to beat him.”
“Better not to think about that too much.” Harry said.
“But I have no choice, Harry.” Ginny said more loudly now. “I can’t help but think about it. I think about it all the time.”
Harry pulled Ginny towards him and she buried her face in his shoulder. He felt Ginny crying against him, something that didn’t happen often.
“I can’t lose you, Harry”, she muttered. “Not now I know how it is to finally be with you.”
Harry hugged her silently until she had calmed down and then said: “Look, Ginny. I can’t promise you that we will all see the end of this mess, no one can. But I can promise you one thing. I will do everything I can to stop him, whatever it may take. But I will also do everything I can to come back to you, so we can have a future together.”
Ginny looked up at him silently.
“That’s why we’re doing it.” Harry continued. “That’s why we can’t just stand by and let others do the work. That’s why we have to fight. Because none of us can ever think of a future as long as Voldemort is alive.”
When Harry woke up the next morning, he instantly realized they had fallen asleep together again. Harry looked at Ginny’s peaceful face for a few moments until someone nearby cleared their throat. Harry jumped. He had thought they were still alone in the common room. He sat up and saw his godfather sitting in an armchair nearby, watching him with raised eyebrows.
“We fell asleep last night.” Harry said quickly. “We didn’t… Nothing happened or anything.”
Sirius grinned. “Well I had guessed if you chose to take your relationship a step further you would have found a more appropriate place for that.”
“It’s nothing like that.” Harry said.
“Relax, Harry. I know it’s not.” Sirius laughed. “We never had that talk, did we? Maybe we should do that soon.”
To his consternation Sirius seemed to mean the last part.
“What are you doing here anyway?”, he quickly asked before Sirius could start to tell him everything about the birds and the bees.
Ginny started to stir on the couch and slowly opened her eyes.
“Who are you talking to, sweetie?” she mumbled.
“To me, pumpkin.” Sirius said dryly.
“Sirius! What are you doing here?”
“I was just about to say.” Sirius grinned. “Dumbledore sent me a Patronus this morning, asking me to meet him as soon as possible and to bring you, Harry.”
Harry looked stunned. “Why? Is it about Jacinta?”
“No idea.” Sirius admitted. “But we’d better go and see now. See you later, cutie pie!” he called to Ginny as he followed Harry through the portrait hole.
The scatter pillow missed him only by an inch.
Harry entered Dumbledore’s office with Sirius in his wake.
“Good morning, Professor.” Harry said politely.
Only then he saw that there was another man in the room. He seemed to be around Sirius’ age and he looked slightly familiar to Harry. Dumbledore and the man were both looking very pale and had heavy bags under their eyes, as if they hadn’t slept at all that night. Harry turned to Sirius, ready to exchange a clueless look, but his godfather was staring at the stranger with wide eyes.
“This isn’t possible.” he muttered.
“Hello, Sirius.” the stranger said. His voice trembled slightly.
Sirius plumped down into one of the chairs in front of Dumbledore’s desk.
“How?” he asked.
“It’s a long story.” the stranger said.
“What the hell is going on?” Harry asked urgently. “Sorry, sir.” he added quickly when he realized what he had said, but Dumbledore smiled at him.
“Maybe you should sit down too, Harry.” he said. “It is indeed a long story and I think you should both here it.”
“Who are you?” Harry asked the stranger.
The man turned to him and said: “My name is Regulus.”
The name was certainly familiar, but he couldn’t place it immediately.
“Regulus Black.” the stranger added.
An image of the Black family tapestry flashed before his eyes and he remembered what Sirius had told him about his family. He also realized where he recognized Regulus from. He looked very much like his mother.
“You’re Sirius’ brother?” he asked dumbfounded. He looked at Sirius who was still frozen in his seat. “But didn’t you – I mean – weren’t you…”
“Dead?” Regulus said and for the first time a hint of a smile appeared on his face. “Yes, that’s what I wanted people to believe.”
He turned to Sirius and said solemnly: “I am really sorry, brother. I owe you an explanation.”
“I would think so.” Sirius grumbled. “Why don’t you start with the time you decided to join the Death Eaters!”
Regulus nodded. “I know that came as a shock to you. We may have had very different believes back then, but you knew I didn’t agree with the methods Voldemort used. I never dreamed of joining him.”
“Then why did you do it?” Sirius asked.
“Because I found out Voldemort’s secret.”
Harry quickly glanced at Dumbledore who nodded almost unnoticeably.
“It was at the wedding reception of Lucius and Narcissa.” Regulus continued. “We were in the garden of Malfoy Manor – me, Lucius, Narcissa and Bellatrix. Lucius was bragging about something of extreme importance Voldemort had given him to keep safe. I must admit I was quite curious and I persuaded him to show it to me.”
“The diary.” Harry said.
“Indeed.” Regulus said with a short nod in Harry’s direction. “I recognized it immediately for what it was.”
“How did you recognize a Horcrux?” Sirius asked.
“You know about the Horcruxes?” Harry asked surprised.
"I informed a few select members of the Order about the Horcruxes after our last meeting." Dumbledore explained.
“This is all really confusing.” Harry grumbled and Dumbledore smiled.
“So, how did you recognize it?” Sirius insisted. “You weren’t planning on – “
“No of course I wasn’t!” Regulus said firmly. “But I had come across the term once when I was reading and I admit that it quite intrigued me. I asked our father and he knew everything about it. But I would never sink to such low deeds, you must know that.”
Sirius looked at him sceptically and shrugged. “Then why would you keep quiet?” he asked. “You knew I had joined the Order of the Phoenix after I left Hogwarts. You could have told me and then Dumbledore would have known.”
“I didn’t trust anyone, Sirius.” Regulus stated. “I knew Dumbledore had spies among the Death Eaters and Voldemort had spies within the Order. I think you can imagine what would have happened to our family if Voldemort heard from one of his inside men I told Dumbledore about his greatest secret.”
Sirius sighed. “And you thought the next best thing would be joining him?”
“I thought that it would place me in a position to find out more. And I did. I found out about at least three other Horcruxes. One of them is in my possession.”
“What are they?” Harry asked eagerly. “Which one do you have?”
Regulus gestured to Dumbledore and the latter opened the top drawer of his desk. He pulled out an old golden locket with a snake-like S on the front.
“Slytherin’s locket!” Harry said. “Where did you find it?”
“It was hidden in a cave somewhere up north.” Regulus said.
“A cave.” Harry mused. He turned to Dumbledore. “Was it – “
“The same.” Dumbledore nodded.
“The protection was rather effective.” Regulus continued. “It would have been my death if it weren’t for Kreacher. He apparated me away when I was attacked by Inferi.”
“Kreacher?” Harry asked involuntarily.
“He was our house elf back when we were kids.” Sirius explained. “Nasty piece of work, he was.”
“What happened to him anyway?” Regulus asked.
“He died.” Sirius said. “Right before I moved back into Grimmauld Place, by the looks of it. I think he might have seen it coming that I’d return.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Regulus said.
“Yeah, you would be.” Sirius grumbled.
“So you had found the locket.” Harry said. “What were the other two you knew off?”
“Firstly, there’s his snake, Nagini.” Regulus said. “I can’t be one hundred per cent sure of that one, but Voldemort has an unusual control over her, even for a Parselmouth. The only logical explanation seemed to me that a piece of his soul resided within her body. But Dumbledore told me you already thought of that too.” He nodded to Harry again. “I am afraid I never got the chance to kill the beast though.”
“What about the other one?” Sirius asked.
“Yes you have not told me about that one either.” Dumbledore said.
“Well I don’t really know what it is exactly, except that it once belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw. It’s supposed to be hidden here somewhere.”
“What do you mean, here?” Harry asked. “Here in the castle?”
“At Hogwarts, yes.”
Harry looked at Dumbledore. All this time they had been discussing places of significance to Voldemort, but they had never thought of Hogwarts.
“But how did he get it here?” Sirius asked. “Surely, this was a long time after he graduated. And you don’t simply walk into Hogwarts.”
“Of course…” Dumbledore said. “Voldemort visited me all those years ago to ask for a job. I was certain that he knew I would never hire him, but he still came. I was convinced he had a reason, but I never found out…”
“So now you did.” Regulus said.
“You have to explain one more thing to me, Regulus.” Sirius said after a long silence. “I believe everything you told us, but why did you disappear. Why did you make everyone believe you were dead. If you were really opposing him, than there was no reason to hide after he disappeared, was there?”
“Lucius and Narcissa caught me when I was trying to steal the diary from Malfoy Manor.” Regulus explained. “I knew my game was over. Once Voldemort heard about it, he would know and he would be able to use other measures to maintain his immortality. I narrowly escaped, but I knew I had to flee the country. I went into hiding in Belgium for a long time. I didn’t return when Voldemort fell, because I knew the Malfoys had talked their way out of Azkaban as expected and our cousin Bellatrix hadn’t been caught yet either. We both know what she’d like to do to me now that I betrayed her master.”
Sirius nodded grimly.
“I only returned briefly once to ask Kreacher to spread the rumour that I had been killed by Voldemort himself shortly before his downfall.” Regulus continued. “That way I was sure our family would be left alone by the remaining Death Eaters and Voldemort wasn’t there to contradict the rumours.”
“Why didn’t you ever contact me?” Sirius asked.
“The whole world thought you had changed sides shortly before Voldemort disappeared.” Regulus said. “And I was silly enough to believe them. Probably more evidence of how little we knew each other.”
Sirius nodded slowly. “You seem a different man than you were before.”
“I am.” Regulus said. “I have learned a lot over the past years and I see now how insignificant lineage and origins really are. I know we had a lot of problems in the past, Sirius, but I hope we can get that behind us now.”
He held out his hand and after shortly hesitating Sirius shook it.
Dumbledore seemed extremely pleased about the reunion of the Black brothers. “Alright.” he said after a few silent moments. “We finally have a Horcrux in our possession. I think it is about time we got rid of it, don’t you?”
They all nodded. Suddenly Harry realized that despite the fact that he and Dumbledore had talked about the Horcuxes for hours together, they never really discussed this point. “Er, how?” he asked.
“Pardon me?” Dumbledore said politely.
“How are we going to destroy it? It won’t be as easy as just to smash it, will it?”
“Oh no, certainly not.” Dumbledore agreed. “But surely, you remember how you destroyed Tom Riddle’s diary in the Chamber of Secrets, Harry?”
“I stabbed it with a Basilisk fang.” Harry said slowly.
“Indeed you did. Basilisk venom is one of the few substances that can destroy a Horcrux.”
“Do you mean we have to go down there?” Harry asked.
He knew there wasn’t any danger anymore in the Chamber as the Basilisk had been killed, but it wasn’t a place he fancied to visit anytime soon.
“Heavens no.” Dumbledore chuckled. “Although that might be a solution for the future when we have no other choice. But for now, I think we can use this.”
He walked over to the wall and took down the sword of Godric Gryffindor.
“The sword?” Harry asked puzzled.
“Yes.” Dumbledore said simply.
“I don’t understand.”
“That’s the sword you killed the Basilisk with, isn’t it?” Sirius asked as he was looking at the sword in awe.
“Of course...” Regulus said. “The sword is Goblin-made, I guess?”
Dumbledore nodded encouragingly.
“Then it should work”, Regulus agreed.
“Sorry, what does the fact that it’s made by Goblins have to do with it?” Harry asked.
“Metal that has been forged by Goblins repels all substances” Dumbledore explained. “Therefore the sword never needs to be polished or anything of the sort. Dirt and rust don’t have any influence on it.”
“There are some substances that it would absorb. In general, anything that makes it stronger.”
Harry was speechless for a moment, but then he understood. “The sword’s impregnated with the Basilisk venom!”
“Exactly.” Dumbledore said. “And therefore I would think it is capable of destroying Horcruxes.”
He walked over to a three-legged table by the window and put the locket on it.
“Who would like to do the honours?”
Regulus and Sirius looked at each other briefly.
“I’ll do it.” Sirius said.
He took the sword from Dumbledore, lifted it above his head and struck the locket. Except he didn’t.
“I can’t touch it.” Sirius frowned as he was seemingly probing the air surrounding the locket.
“Of course.” Dumbledore said. “It has to be opened.”
“I tried that.” Regulus said. “Dozens of times. It won’t budge.”
“No, it would not." Dumbledore said slowly. “I think there’s only one way to open it.”
“How?” Sirius asked impatiently.
“We will simply have to ask it to. In Parseltongue.”
“Well, we’re screwed then." Regulus said. “The only known Parselmouth alive is Voldemort and he’s not bloody likely to help us, is he.”
“You forget who’s with us." Sirius grinned and he looked at Harry. Regulus looked at him disbelievingly.
Harry looked intensely at the snake-like S on the locket and imagined it to be a real snake.
“Open.” he said with a low hissing sound. The locket clicked open and Sirius stepped forward with the sword ready.
A terrified scream came out of the locket. Harry felt his insides turn to ice. He knew that scream. He had heard it hundreds of times in his dreams or when he was near Dementors, when he was forced to relive the last moments of his parents’ lives.
Sirius paled as he stared at the locket. “Lily.” he muttered.
“Don’t wait, Sirius. Stab it!” Regulus said firmly, but Sirius was staring as if he was in a trance at the two figures that rose out of the windows of the locket.
“Why did you kill us?” the form of James said, but he spoke with the voice of Tom Riddle.
“I – I didn’t.” Sirius stammered.
“You told us to change Secret Keepers.” the Riddle-Lily said. “You told us to choose him. You murdered us.”
“I thought we were best friends, but you couldn’t even do that for us when we were in danger.” the Riddle-James continued. “You could have kept us safe. You could have saved us. But you killed us instead. Murderer.”
“Murderer.” the Riddle-Lily repeated with a high unnatural voice. “Traitor!”
With an agonizing scream Sirius forced the sword into the locket. One last shriek and the Horcrux was destroyed. Harry looked at his godfather. He was white as a sheet and he had tears in his eyes.
“I’m so sorry, Harry.” Sirius said. “But it’s true. I did kill them.”
He collapsed into a chair and put a trembling hand before his eyes. Harry sat down beside him.
“It’s been almost fifteen years and still not a day goes by that I don’t think about what I should have done differently back then. If I had used my brains your parents would still be alive today and you wouldn’t have this horrible burden to bear.”
“I don’t blame you.” Harry said. “You told me what happened the first night I met you and I have never blamed you for it. And neither do they. Those weren’t real. It was just one of Voldemort's sick, twisted tricks.”
Harry looked at his headmaster. Dumbledore was as white as a sheet too.
“I have made many mistakes back then too, Sirius.” he said. “And it’s keeping me awake just as much as it does you, I think. But we cannot live in the past. They have moved on. And so should we.”
“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world” – Mercedes Lackey
Chapter 27: O.W.L.'s and Surprises
“That was great everyone. Thank you. We’ll see each other next year.” Harry said.
It was the end of the last DA meeting of the year. The next week, fifth and seventh years would already start O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams and the other years would start their own exams not much later. None of the DA members seemed to be in a hurry to leave however, and they all hung out in the Room of Requirement for a while.
After they had been chatting for a while, Seamus suddenly said: “What if something happens during the holidays?”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“Well, if the Death Eaters attack somewhere during the summer… I know we’re not going to fight all the time, but if there is an attack and one of us is in danger. We should have a way to warn each other, right? Owls are too slow.”
“You’re right.” Harry said. “But I don’t know…” He looked helplessly over to Hermione.
“I already thought of that.” Hermione said.
“Of course you did.” Colin Creevey grinned.
Hermione gave him a warning look before she said: “I have been working on a variation of the Protean Charm. You know the one I used on the coins? I think I might alter them so we can send each other small messages.”
“But there is no known variation on the Protean Charm, is there?” Michael Corner asked. He looked at the other Ravenclaws who all shook their heads.
“Well, no.” Hermione admitted. “I kind of – you know – invented it myself.”
She reddened slightly when they all watched her with open mouths.
“You invented your own spell?” Fred asked weakly.
“Well it wouldn’t be the first time.” Harry said. “You discovered that four point spell last year. But this is far more advanced, isn’t it?”
“It’s not really a new spell.” Hermione said modestly. “I just changed the formula a bit. And I’m not even sure it will work.”
“Of course it will.” Ginny said confidently. “You’re absolutely brilliant Hermione.
The others nodded agreeingly.
“We should have a place where we can get together outside of Hogwarts too.” Ron said slowly. “I mean if something happens over the summer and we need to get together, we won’t be able to get into the Room of Requirement. We should have a fixed place where we can meet safely before we do something. Even when that charm of Hermione’s works, we will only be able to send very short messages.”
“What about Grimmauld Place?” Ginny asked.
Ron nodded, but Harry shook his head.
“Not everyone can get in there. The only fireplace that’s connected to the Floo Network of Grimmauld Place is The Burrow. For obvious reasons. Otherwise anyone could get in.”
“Hogsmeade?” Parvati proposed.
“Too dangerous. It would be kind of suspicious if we suddenly turned up with all of us in the Three Broomsticks during the holidays.” Hermione said.
“What about the Shrieking Shack then?” Ron offered.
“I’m not going into the Shrieking Shack!” Lavender said immediately.
“It’s too dangerous anyway.” Hermione said. “Wormtail knew how to get in there. He probably told Voldemort. Don’t you think it would seem like a good hiding place for the Death Eaters?”
Harry nodded. “Well, I’ll talk to Dumbledore about it. Maybe he’ll know something.”
“You’re going to have to give us detention, Hermione.” George smirked.
“Otherwise we’re never going to learn.” Fred added.
It became quickly clear that the last D.A. meeting was the last fun they would have for a very long time. All that was happening in their lives was studying right now. Harry had one last lesson with Dumbledore planned on Thursday. His last lesson with Snape had already passed. Harry could push Snape out of his mind now if he tried to invade it and he had learned a lot of useful spells from him too. The only thing that still troubled him was Legilimency. Snape had told him that he definitely had an aptitude for it, but he just needed practice. He already promised him to try and come by Grimmauld Place as much as he could to continue his lessons.
When Harry met with Dumbledore for his last lesson, he was disappointed to hear his headmaster hadn’t found the time yet to search for the rest of the Horcruxes. Apparently there had been a lot of problems at the Ministry lately, because it had been infiltrated by several Death Eaters and Scrimgeour seemed to count on Dumbledore to clean up his mess. Therefore, there wasn’t really new information for them to discuss and they just talked about the investigation of the Aurors and the progress of Dumbledore’s Army. Dumbledore seemed to be extremely pleased about the latter.
Right before Harry would leave, he suddenly remembered something he needed to ask Dumbledore. “Professor, could I ask you something?”
“You just did, Harry.” Dumbledore said and Harry smiled involuntarily when he thought of the memory of his first year. “Go ahead.”
“Actually, it was something Ron said at our final meeting.” Harry said. “We were talking about communicating with each other over the summer in case one of us was in danger. Ron said that we should have a place outside of Hogwarts where we can meet safely. We thought of Grimmauld Place of course, but well, no one can get in there except for members of the Order.”
Dumbledore nodded. “That is quite perceptive of Mr Weasley.” he said. “And as for sending each other messages…?”
“Oh, Hermione already took care of that.” Harry said. He quickly explained about the Protean Charm and the alterations Hermione managed to make. Dumbledore looked genuinely impressed.
“Very impressive.” he mumbled. “Very clever indeed. Of course Miss Granger is one of the cleverest students Hogwarts has seen in decades. But still…”
Harry smiled to himself as he thought of what Hermione’s face would look like if she had heard the headmaster.
“So you have already overcome that problem.” Dumbledore said. “As for the second part, may I suggest the Hog’s Head?”
“The Hog’s Head?” Harry asked surprised. “We thought of Hogsmeade, but we thought it would be suspicious if a large group of students suddenly appeared there during the holidays.”
“Indeed it would.” Dumbledore said. “But you could use the Floo Network or apparate directly into the bar for those of you who can. The Hog’s Head is rarely full and those who go there never ask many questions.”
“But still...” Harry said slowly. “It’s kind of public, isn’t it?”
“Well yes, but I am sure the owner can provide you with private quarters, if needed." Dumbledore said. “He won’t mind.” he added when Harry wanted to interrupt.
“You know him well?”
“We are quite familiar, yes.”
“Well, I guess that will be it then." Harry said, still not really sure about the whole idea.
“Great. I will ask Aberforth myself, but I don’t think he’ll have any problems with it. He can be a bit blunt, but he’s a good man.”
“Aberforth?” Harry asked, remembering the name Dumbledore had mentioned once before. “Wasn’t he – ?”
The next two weeks were dominated by the exams. The first exam for the fifth years on Monday would be Charms. When they entered the Great Hall where the theoretical part of the exam would take place, they saw that the staff table and the house tables had disappeared and were replaced by dozens of small tables for the students to take their exams.
Although he never suffered much of school-related stress, Harry felt slightly nervous when Professor McGonagall handed out the exams.
All the fifth years turned over their parchments simultaneously as Professor McGonagall told them they could start and turned around the giant hourglass that stood in front of them. Harry breathed out slowly and started to read the first question:
How does the Protean Charm work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
Harry quickly glanced at Hermione who was seated two seats in front of him on the left. He saw that she was already smiling at him knowingly. He smiled back, turned back to his parchment and started to write.
After the first week had passed, Harry was relatively content about his exams. Charms had been quite easy for him, as was Care of Magical Creatures. Divination had been a disaster of course, but Herbology and Astronomy had gone fairly well.
They still had four exams left after the weekend and the first two were the worst. Professor McGonagall had told him which N.E.W.T.’s he needed to get into Auror training and Potions and Transfiguration were two of them. He would need at least an Exceeds Expectations to get into McGonagall’s N.E.W.T. class and he knew he didn’t receive that mark from her much. Potions seemed to be the biggest problem. Despite the fact that Snape had been much more lenient towards Harry, he still refused to let anyone into his N.E.W.T. class who didn’t receive an Outstanding on his O.W.L.. Harry’s potion making skills had improved drastically, thanks to a lot of useful hints from Snape, but he still didn’t quite reach that level.
Monday evening after their Potions exam, the Gryffindors were complaining loudly in the common room. Even if the exam hadn’t been made by Snape, it still was one of the hardest, probably the hardest, they had had so far. Harry didn’t say much. His exam had gone surprisingly well and he was silently hoping he managed to get that O.
Transfiguration made him a lot less optimistic the next day. He managed to succeed in all the assignments during the practical exam, but he knew he had made several small mistakes. His examiner seemed to be unsure of his judgement until they came to the part of animal transfiguration.
“Now Mr Potter, if you would please transfigure this book into a small animal? Your choice.” the examiner said.
Harry pointed his wand and quickly looked over at Malfoy who just started his practical exam next to them. He knew Malfoy hadn’t really done anything to him lately, but he just couldn’t resist. “Viverra Mutatio!”
The examiner clapped into his hands enthusiastically as he watched the white ferret scurry around.
“Very good, Mr Potter! Very fine, indeed!”
Malfoy seemed a little less approving.
History of Magic the next day was another disaster, as was to be expected. The last exam was the only exam Harry had full confidence in and he actually looked forward to: Defence Against the Dark Arts.
Harry never thought he would ever enjoy an exam, but the practical part in the afternoon was rather a piece of cake. Various DA members were doing their practical exam at the same time as Harry and he was proud to see that they had little to no difficulties with the spells. Harry had taught them much more advanced magic during their meetings, way beyond O.W.L. level.
The end of the exams brought an exuberant atmosphere into Gryffindor common room that night. The next day they would return home for the holidays, but that night the common room finally hosted one of those famous Gryffindor parties again.
Harry and Ginny sat down on the couch and discussed their plans for the holidays. Seeing as the Death Eaters were openly showing themselves, they probably wouldn’t be able to leave the house at all for two months, but the fact that the Weasleys were staying at Grimmauld Place made a big difference. He wouldn’t be separated from Ginny at all this summer.
His eyes were drawn to the entrance of the common room when the portrait of the Fat Lady opened. He was surprised to see Albus Dumbledore climbing through the portrait hole. The noise in the common room ceased at once. The only teacher who they had ever seen in the common room was Professor McGonagall and she was head of Gryffindor. The fact that the headmaster was there now couldn’t mean good news and that foreboding wasn’t negated by the solemn look on Dumbledore’s face. Seamus Finnigan quickly stuffed two bottles of Firewhiskey under the cushions of an armchair.
“I am sorry to disturb you everyone. Harry, could you come with me for a moment please?”
Harry slowly stood from the couch and followed Dumbledore outside. His first thought was that Dumbledore had found another hiding place of a Horcrux and had fetched him to go and get it, but the troubled look in his headmaster's eyes confused him.
“I do not really know how to tell you this, Harry, but I do not have much time.” Dumbledore said. “Grimmauld Place is currently under attack.”
“What?” Harry asked. “What do you mean under attack? It’s protected by a Fidelius Charm.”
“I do not know how, but I received a Patronus from Remus Lupin ten minutes ago. Hagrid, Minerva and Nymphadora have already left to help them there. I need to leave too.”
“I need to go.” Harry said immediately.
Dumbledore sighed, but Harry knew he had expected him to say that. “I told you this because I thought you and the Weasleys should know as your families are there, but you will be safe here, Harry.”
“I don’t care.” Harry said stubbornly.
“Alright then.” Dumbledore sighed again. “But we cannot use the Floo Powder. We will take a Portkey from my office. Go fetch your friends.”
“My – my friends, sir?”
“Yes, Dumbledore’s Army.” Dumbledore said. “They will not thank you for it if you go there without them, Harry. I give you the choice to do what you think is best. You should not deprive them from the same choice.”
“But most of them don’t know anyone who lives there right now.” Harry said. “Why would they come?”
“Do it, Harry. Quickly.”
Harry looked at his headmaster for a moment and nodded. He jumped back into the common room and ran over to Ron, Hermione and Ginny.
“Harry, what’s wrong?” Ginny asked anxiously.
“They’re attacking Grimmauld Place, the Death Eaters.” Harry said quickly. “I have to go and help them. You guys can come if you want. You don’t have to.”
But the three of them had already jumped up and were making their way out of the common room, calling Fred and George on the way out. Lee Jordan immediately followed them.
“Grimmauld Place?” Neville asked. “Your house?”
Harry nodded and Neville walked towards him. “I’m coming with you.”
He was immediately joined by the rest of the fifth years and Alicia and Katie.
Harry looked at them surprised. “You all want to come?” he asked.
“Of course, you prat.” Seamus said. “Let’s go!”
Harry thought of resisting for a moment, but he immediately knew it wouldn’t help.
“How are we getting there?” Katie asked.
“Portkey.” Harry said. “Dumbledore’s arranging it.”
He quickly left the common room with the rest of the DA members from Gryffindor in his wake. They were watched leaving by the other students admiringly, sometimes enviously.
“Good, there you are.” Dumbledore said relieved. “Let’s go, quickly.”
Crossing the seventh floor towards Dumbledore’s office, Harry said to Hermione: “Shouldn’t we send a message to the rest? Luna would probably want to come.”
“Already did.” Hermione said. “And they’re all coming. The only one that didn’t respond was Zacharias.”
“Weaseled out, did he?” Dean said.
“Hey!” Ron and Ginny shouted together.
When they arrived at the gargoyle that led to Dumbledore’s office, the rest of the DA were already waiting for them.
“Zacharias?” Ron asked.
“He didn’t see the message and we didn’t tell him what was going on.” Ernie responded. “He’s – er – he’s not feeling too well.”
Harry raised his eyebrows at Justin. Justin grinned and mouthed ‘drunk’ to him.
“What about Colin and Dennis?” Luna said as they entered the office.
“Oh they had already gone to bed.” Hermione said. “We didn’t actually think about it… Should we have woken them?”
“Well, it’s too late now. We don’t have time.” Harry said.
He was secretly happy about it. He didn’t want Dennis fighting Death Eaters just yet if he could help it.
Meanwhile, Dumbledore had taken two books from his desk and gestured everyone to gather around him.
“Portus.” he said as he tapped both books. “This will take us to the highest bedroom of Grimmauld Place so we won’t appear in the middle of fighting. Before we go, I want to say that I truly appreciate that you are all here, but I have to ask you not to take unnecessary risks. Our primary concern is to protect each other and the inhabitants of Grimmauld Place.”
They all nodded and lay their finger on one of the books.
“Everyone ready? Three, two, one…”
Harry felt the familiar pull behind his navel and they were transported instantly to Grimmauld Place. They landed in a bedroom where the floor was covered in feathers.
“Didn’t Buckbeak stay here?” Harry asked Dumbledore.
“I did not think of that, to be honest.” Dumbledore said apologetically. He looked at the open door. “Seems like he left.”
“Buckbeak? Wasn’t that the Hippogriff that attacked Malfoy back in third year?” Seamus asked as they made their way to the door.
“Yeah, long story.” Harry said.
“Oh dear.” Dumbledore muttered as they came into the hallway.
Buckbeak had apparently cornered two Death Eaters who were searching the house and they were both cowering against the wall at the end of the hallway.
“This way, quickly.”
He led them to the staircase and they descended the stairs following the noise coming from downstairs. It became quickly clear that the fighting took place in the living room.
Dumbledore walked straight through the open door without a hint of fear or cautiousness with an anxious Harry in his wake. Dumbledore immediately took out four Death Eaters with one spell.
“It’s him!” one of the masked men shouted in panic and without another word he jumped out of the nearest window.
Harry saw Sirius battling a giant blond Death Eater who had pulled of his mask and he quickly jumped to his aid.
“About time!” Sirius shouted as they took the Death Eater on two against one.
“You mean you didn’t expect me to stay safely at Hogwarts?” Harry asked. “Protego!”
“Stupefy!” Sirius shouted. The red beam of light missed the Death Eater by an inch.
“Expelliarmus!” Harry shouted. The Death Eater’s wand flew into Harry’s outstretched hand.
“Incarcerous!” and the Death Eater was bound in robes and fell down. “You’re a Potter.” Sirius said simply. “I would have been baffled if you stayed safely at Hogwarts.”
They saw Regulus laying in a pool of blood by the fireplace and a hairy man scurried over to him on all fours.
“What is he doing?” Harry asked puzzled, but Sirius was already hurrying over to them.
“Greyback!” he shouted.
The man – if it was a man, he didn’t seem to be quite human – growled and turned around.
“Impedimenta!” and Greyback was thrown backwards over two people duelling viciously.
“Stupefy!” the masked person of the two said and the other, who Harry now recognized as Sturgis Podmore fell . The Death Eater pulled of her mask and Harry recognized her immediately.
“Well well, if it isn’t my two dearest cousins.” Bellatrix sneered. “You don’t look so good Regulus. Surely you knew you were choosing the losing side when you defected?”
Sirius attacked immediately. “Sectumsempra!”
Bellatrix jumped out of the way and her smile faded. “You dare use such spells, dear Sirius? Taken a fancy to our magic at last?”
“You’re insane.” Sirius growled. “Stupefy!”
Bellatrix blocked him and smirked again. “You can’t win from me, cousin. You never could and you never will. I think your time has come. Avada Kedavra!”
“No!” Harry shouted. He jumped towards Sirius and they both crashed into the ground on top of each other. Bellatrix’ killing curse skimmed over their heads and hit the wall, a few inches of James’ and Lily’s portrait.
Hermione’s voice came from nowhere and Bellatrix was thrown backwards in the same direction as Greyback.
“Thanks” Harry muttered.
“Bloody noble Potters.” Sirius mumbled. “You could have been killed.”
“So could you.” Harry rebuted.
Sirius slowly started to grin, but then –
“Quickly behind that couch!” he shouted.
The three of them jumped behind the couch as two more Killing curses came their way. The two short Death Eaters – they looked like brother and sister – came their way, but were taken out by Cho and Luna.
“Nice one.” Sirius said, receiving a sweet smile from Luna that seemed to threw him of his balance for a bit.
They looked around them and saw that the fight was almost over. A lot of the Death Eaters had fled when Dumbledore arrived. Harry saw Ron take out the final Death Eater with a well-timed stunning spell and he quickly bound him so he couldn’t escape too.
“Where’s Bellatrix?” Sirius said.
“She’s gone.” Dumbledore said walking over to them. “She fled the moment she saw me.”
“Bloody coward.” Sirius grumbled.
“If she was brave she wouldn’t be a Death Eater.” Lupin said calmly while Tonks and Mrs Weasley were taking care of Regulus. Harry and Sirius kneeled beside them.
“Will he be alright?” Harry asked with a look at the white, concerned face of his godfather.
“He’ll be fine.” Mrs Weasley reassured them. “But he has lost a lot of blood. He will have to rest for a while.”
“How did they get in?” Ron asked sharply. “The Fidelius Charm didn’t just stop working. We must have been betrayed. Who is the Secret Keeper?”
“I am, Mr Weasley.” Dumbledore said calmly.
Ron turned red immediately. “But – but then, how?” he stammered.
“A question I have asked myself also.” Dumbledore said, turning to Sirius, but it was Bill that answered him.
“The Floo Network.” he said. “They used the Floo Network.”
Harry frowned. That was impossible, wasn’t it? You could Floo out of Grimmauld Place, but the only place from where you could Floo in was…
“The Burrow.” Dumbledore said, just as Harry reached the same conclusion. “We didn’t turn off the Floo connection with the Burrow after the Weasleys moved in here.”
Sirius cursed loudly. “I’ll do it immediately.”
He left the living room and they heard him descend the stairs towards the kitchen.
“So they got into the Burrow?” Molly asked weakly. She and Tonks had just returned from bringing Regulus to his bedroom.
“I am afraid so.” Dumbledore said. “I am very sorry, Molly.”
“The important thing is that we weren’t there.” Arthur stated, putting an arm around his wife’s shoulders. “We’re all safe here now. They won’t be able to get in again.”
Meanwhile Harry was already checking up on all the DA members. He was extremely relieved to see that all of them were unharmed, accept for some scratches and bruises. After he had made sure everyone would be fine he turned back to Dumbledore.
“Why did they attack?” he asked. “They knew I wouldn’t be here.”
Dumbledore quickly glanced at the other DA members before he answered and Harry knew he was wondering how much he had told them.
“I think they wanted to drive you out of here. Voldemort wants you to think you’re not safe here. He wants you out in the open so he can finish this.”
He seemed to thinking for a minute before he said: “He wants to finish this before you get stronger. I think he is more afraid of you than you are of him, Harry.”
A long silence followed. “What?” Harry asked, half laughing. “Why would he be afraid of me? He’s one of the most powerful wizards in the world. I’m not even sixteen years old yet.”
“Age plays a small role when it comes to power, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “Just as small as ancestry does. You survived when he tried to kill you as a baby and he has been trying to get to you ever since. You stopped him from stealing the Philosopher’s Stone when you were only eleven years old... There is something about you, Harry, that Voldemort does not understand, nor match. And I am fairly confident that that will be the reason of his demise.”
Harry looked around him at his friends and family and saw they were all looking at him with a mixture of pride and awe. “But still”, he said stubbornly. “I’m not nearly as powerful as he is.”
“Oh you have a power, Harry, that exceeds all the powers Voldemort has combined.” Dumbledore said earnestly. “That power has saved your life on numerous occasions. It saved Sirius’ life when he was caught and it saved Ginny’s life in the Chamber of Secrets.”
“What power?” Harry asked puzzled.
“Love, Harry.” Sirius said from the doorway. “Love.”
“Love is not the opposite of power. Love IS power. Love is the strongest power there is” – Vironika Tugaleva
A/N: So this is the final chapter of this story. I know the story isn’t finished, but I decided to start a new story, so this one wouldn’t get stretched out too much. The new story will be titled ‘This Is The End’ and as the title says it will lead up to the final confrontation with Voldemort.
I want to thank all of you who read this story and especially those who left kind reviews. I hope you stay with me for the sequel and I hope you like it too.
Chapter 1: The Chosen One
HARRY POTTER: THE CHOSEN ONE
by Rita Skeeter
Rumour has it that there is only one person on this earth who is able to release the wizarding world from the grip of He Who Must Not Be Named and his Death Eaters. We from the Daily Prophet can now confirm that the rumours are indeed true.
We have received the information of a reliable source that there has been made a Prophecy that concerns both Harry Potter and He Who Must Not Be Named. The Prophecy was made shortly before The Boy Who Lived was born and it said that he would be the only person who would be able to kill the darkest wizard of all time. It would also say that he has powers He Who Must Not Be Named has not, nor has any knowledge of. It is hard to believe that the fate of the wizarding world lies in the hands of an underage wizard with no exceptional talents.
Augusta Longbottom, respected member of the wizarding society and grandmother of one of Potter’s close friends – continue page 3 column 5
Sirius Black sighed and threw the Sunday Prophet back on the kitchen table. He knew the news of the Prophecy would leak out eventually. Harry had told him he had only revealed the contents of the Prophecy to his closest friends, but he was sure that some of the members of Dumbledore’s Army, the group Harry had founded during his fifth year at Hogwarts, had guessed more than they let on. He looked at Remus who had just finished the article himself. Remus was the only other Order member who knew exactly what the Prophecy said. Sirius had told him after verifying with Harry if it would be alright. He never felt good about keeping things secret from his only school friend that was left.
Remus whistled through his teeth. “Skeeter.” he mumbled. “It was a matter of time, I guess.”
Sirius nodded slowly. “Harry’s not going to like this. He hates all the attention from being the Boy Who Lived as it is.”
“Well, he’s going to find out either way. He might as well hear it from us.”
“You’re right.” Sirius said. “I expect he’ll be down soon.”
Harry was always the first one of the teenagers to get up in the morning. Most of the time he was even downstairs before Arthur and Molly. The Weasley parents had apologized tremendously for being a burden on Sirius by staying here, but to be honest, he loved having a house full of people. He had had enough time on his own to last him a life time.
Harry entered the kitchen, yawning broadly. He set down with Sirius and Remus for breakfast.
“Any news?” he asked when he spotted the Sunday Prophet.
“Yes, actually.” Sirius said. “But I don’t think you’re going to like it.”
Remus pushed the paper across the table towards Harry. It was silent for a few minutes while Harry quickly scanned the article and Dobby poured him a bowl of oatmeal. Dumbledore had agreed to let Dobby work at Grimmauld Place, now that there were so many people there. Sirius had taken him in and paid him of course. Harry calmly folded up the paper when he was finished and took his oatmeal.
“Well, we’ve got that out of the way. Thanks, Dobby.”
Sirius and Remus looked at each other surprised.
“You – you don’t mind?” Sirius asked.
Harry shrugged. “I would have preferred it would never get out, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.”
“Do you have any idea who blabbed?” Remus asked.
“I don’t think we have to look at our side, actually.” Harry said.
“What do you mean?”
“Voldemort knows about the Prophecy. I thought he would have made sure that it got out much sooner. He’s just trying to put more pressure on me.”
The two older men nodded slowly.
“You’re probably right.” Sirius said. “He wants you to act rashly.”
“You won’t, right?” Remus asked.
“Of course not.” Harry said. “I’ll talk about it with Dumbledore. He’ll probably stop by today after he saw this.”
“He probably will.” Sirius said. “Oh right, you got a letter too.”
“O.W.L. results?” Harry asked nervously.
“I don’t think so, Ron didn’t get anything. And it’s probably still too early too.”
Harry tore open the envelope and started reading the letter. It was short and to the point and the handwriting could have rivalled Ron’s in untidiness.
My brother has told me about your request to use my pub as a meeting point for your organisation. I’d be happy to allow you to meet here whenever you need to. Albus told me about the ingenious method you have to communicate with each other. If it’s not a problem, I think it would be wise for me to have one of those too, so we can also communicate and you can warn me whenever you need. Stop by anytime you want.
As he finished the letter, the four youngest Weasleys entered the kitchen, still yawning and stretching.
“Where’s mum and dad?” Ginny asked the kitchen in general after kissing Harry briefly on the lips.
“Order duty.” Sirius mumbled, while he was quickly reading the rest of Rita Skeeter’s article.
“What you got there, Harry?" Ron asked.
“It’s a letter from Aberforth.” he answered. “He’s agreed to let us use his pub if we need to.”
Ron looked at him puzzled. “For the DA.” Harry explained.
“Great.” Fred said. “We should let the rest know.”
“I’ll write Hermione.” Ron quickly said, receiving teasing looks from the twins and Ginny.
After breakfast, the five of them wrote short notes to all the DA members to tell them the news.
“Why can’t we just use the coins. That’s what they are there for, right?” Ron complained.
“Because we can only send short messages, Ron.” Ginny said. “And you won’t die from writing a few sentences.”
When they were finished they divided the notes between Pigwidgeon and Hedwig and sent them off. Harry hoped Dumbledore would stop by soon, so he could share his hunch about Voldemort leaking the Prophecy with him and ask if he could go to the Hog’s Head to meet with Aberforth. Sirius would probably want to go with him too, but he kind of wanted Dumbledore there as it was his brother.
“Any news today?” Ginny asked as they watched the two owls fly away.
“Yeah, actually.” Harry said.
He told his friends about Rita’s article and showed them Sunday Prophet.
“Bloody hell.” Ron mumbled. “This can’t be good.”
Ginny grabbed his hand and squeezed it softly.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
She knew how much Harry hated to be the centre of attention and this wouldn’t really help it.
“Yeah of course.” Harry said. “It was bound to happen. Now everyone knows.”
He took the paper again and glanced at the headline once more. “The Chosen One...” he mumbled. “Not as inventive as she used to be. Maybe she’s losing her touch.”
Ron and Ginny still looked at him a bit concerned, but Fred and George grinned.
“So it’s really true then?” Fred asked.
Harry nodded and to his surprise Fred and George burst out laughing.
“Sorry mate." George said. “But it’s always you, isn’t it?”
Harry couldn’t help but smile himself. “Yeah, it appears so.”
“Don’t you have to be at the shop?” Ron asked, clearly annoyed with his brothers’ reaction to the Prophecy.
The twins had bought premises at Diagon Alley with the money Harry lent them last summer. They had opened their joke shop at the beginning of the week and business was already very good.
“It’s Sunday...” Fred said with raised eyebrows.
“There’s nothing funny about Harry having to take on Voldemort on his own.” Ginny said sternly.
“What are you talking about?” George said. “He won’t be on his own.”
“It says that he’s the one who has to kill the bastard. It doesn’t say he has to fight him on his own.” Fred added.
“And I have a hunch Dumbledore’s Army will be there.” George concluded.
“Well, we don’t have to think about that yet.” Ron said. “Come on let’s go fly around a bit.”
Grimmauld Place had a backyard where they could practice Quidditch. It wasn’t as big as at the Burrow however and they all missed the orchard where they played so many games of Quidditch before. Jacinta joined them with her brand new Nimbus 2002 that Sirius got her as a welcoming present. They passed around one of Sirius’ old Quaffles until Dobby called them down for lunch.
“Mum and dad still not back?” Fred asked as they entered the kitchen.
Remus shook his head. “They won’t be until late tonight, I expect.”
They were joined for lunch by Tonks and Kingsley. Tonks had returned to the Auror office after last term. Dumbledore had explained to Harry about the curse Voldemort had put on the DADA position. He tried to sidestep the curse now by only appointing teachers for a year to avoid other injuries. Still, Harry regretted that Tonks had left. She and Remus had been the only Defence teachers that had really learned them something. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise that Kingsley announced over dinner that he would come to Hogwarts to teach Defence for a year.
“But keep it quiet for now.” he warned them. “You’re not really supposed to know yet.”
Shortly after lunch, Dumbledore stopped by at Grimmauld Place. He and Harry stayed in the kitchen as the other inhabitants of the house spread out.
“I trust you have already seen that someone must have been careless with certain information.” Dumbledore said.
Harry nodded. “Do you really think it was someone on our side, Professor?” he asked tentatively.
Dumbledore smiled encouragingly at Harry’s words. “Go on, Harry.”
“Well. Don’t you think it’s possible that Voldemort chose to make the Prophecy public himself?”
“That is exactly what I think.” Dumbledore said. “Voldemort expects you to panic now that everyone knows you are – as Rita Skeeter put it so colourfully – ‘the Chosen One’. He expects you to recklessly seek him out. You should not forget that Voldemort still has no idea that we know about his Horcruxes.”
“He thinks I’ll go and look for him?”
Dumbledore nodded. “And he expects you to do so alone. Now I do not think you really consider that, but I want you to promise me that you will not, Harry. Whatever happens, do not act rashly before talking to me.”
Harry looked at Dumbledore, who he saw less and less as his Professor and more and more as a confidant and even a friend.
“Of course.” he said.
His eyes drifted away from Dumbledore’s face and he smiled inwardly when he saw five flesh-coloured strings by the door.
Dumbledore nodded contently. “So Harry, have you already received word from Aberforth? He told me he would write to you soon.”
“Yes.” Harry said. “I got a letter from him this morning. Actually, I wanted to ask you if it would be okay to visit him. Then I could immediately give him one of our coins.”
“I think that would be fine, but you cannot go alone, naturally.” Dumbledore said. “I could take you there now, if you’d like.”
“That would be great.” Harry said. “Do you think it would be okay if my friends came too?”
Dumbledore smiled. “I think that will be fine.”
The headmaster turned to the door and shouted: “You can come in now!”
The door immediately opened and four embarrassed Weasleys came in closely followed by Jacinta.
“We’ll better take a Portkey if you are all coming.” Dumbledore mused. “Harry, why don’t you get that coin for Aberforth in the meantime. And ask Sirius if he wants to come with us. Maybe he could connect Aberforth’s fireplace to Grimmauld Place, as neither of you can apparate, with the exception of Fred and George.”
Harry nodded and ran up the stairs. He entered his bedroom and opened his nightstand where he kept the extra coins Hermione gave him. After hesitating for a moment, he took two of them and ran back outside where Sirius and Remus were sitting. They both decided to come and together they returned to the kitchen.
When they got there, Dumbledore nodded approvingly and held out an old kettle that he probably found in the kitchen. A few moments later they landed just outside the Hog’s Head. Harry had never been there before and he found it hard to believe that this was the bar of Dumbledore’s brother. The windows were filthy and when they followed Dumbledore inside he thought that the floor probably hadn’t been cleaned in decades.
The pub was completely empty, but the door after the bar opened immediately when the door closed behind them.
“Oh it’s you Albus.” the old barkeeper said dully. “Oh!” he said when he spotted Harry.
He walked towards them and gave Harry a firm handshake. “Aberforth Dumbledore, call me Abe.” he said.
He greeted Sirius and Remus as old friends and seemed rather pleased to see the Weasleys. Apparently he got along with their parents quite well and Arthur and Molly had been loyal customers of him in their younger years. Their offspring seemed rather surprised to hear that.
“And you are?” Abe asked finally.
“Jacinta Malfoy.” Jacinta said quietly. She unconsciously moved a bit closer to Harry and Sirius.
Aberforth raised his eyebrows and looked at his brother.
“This is the girl I have told you about, Abe.” Albus said.
Aberforth looked back at Jacinta and nodded.
“Well, your life is changing for the better then, isn’t it?” he said. “Sit down, have a drink. It’s on the house.”
They all sat down around the largest table in the pub and Aberforth turned to Harry.
“So you want to use my pub as a base for you little army, then?”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “We’re not really an army – “
“Well I bet you didn’t call yourself Dumbledore’s Army as a joke now, did you?” Aberforth interrupted him.
“Well no, but – “
Aberforth interrupted him again. “Don’t worry.” he said. “I’m not judging. I’m against violence just as much as you are, but I won’t hesitate to strike back when they attack us. And I’m sure you won’t either.”
Harry merely shook his head.
“I saw you guys fighting when the Death Eaters attacked Hogsmeade a couple of months ago.” Aberforth continued. “I must say I was quite impressed. And you haven’t been sitting still since then too, if I can believe Albus.”
“We haven’t.” Ginny said.
Abe nodded. “Well you’re always welcome here.” he said. “You can use one of the rooms upstairs if you want to meet in private.”
“Thank you.” Harry said. “That’s a big help for us.”
He pulled out the two coins he took from Grimmauld Place and handed one of them to Aberforth.
“If you just keep it in your pocket you will feel it whenever there is a message.” he told him.
Aberforth nodded. “Very well.”
He inspected the coin interestedly.
“Why did you bring two coins?” Ron asked curiously.
Harry looked at Jacinta and threw her the coin. She caught it and her face lit up immediately. She had been nagging Harry to be a part of the DA for months now. He had postponed it every time as he didn’t think it was a good idea to invite first years, but they had allowed Dennis to join when he was a second year, so it seemed only fair to allow Jacinta too.
“Really?” she asked softly.
“If you think you can handle it.” Harry grinned and Jacinta smiled at him broadly.
Sirius wasn’t as enthusiastic as she was. After he had connected Aberforth’s private Floo to Grimmauld Place and they had returned, he pulled Harry apart.
“Do you really think this is a good idea, Harry?”
Harry didn’t have to ask what he meant.
“I don’t know, Sirius. I don’t want anything to happen to her either, but we can’t keep her away from everything.”
Sirius didn’t seem convinced.
“But it’s Jacinta. You are one thing. You’re nearly sixteen, but she’s still a kid.”
“And yet she has seen a lot more than any twelve year old kid should have seen.” Harry said. “And if this war really breaks out, she won’t have the chance to be a kid any more than I did.”
Sirius nodded slowly. “I still don’t like it, but if anything happens while you’re at school, it’s probably best if she’s with you.”
“She will be.” Harry said. “In any case.”
Predictably, Harry received a worried letter from Hermione the next morning to make sure he was alright with the Prophecy leaking out. It wasn’t really necessary, but Harry was happy with it all the same. He missed his female best friend more than he would care to admit. She wouldn’t come to Grimmauld Place until Harry’s birthday as she wanted to spend time with her parents first. She would be safe there as she would be in the Muggle world and Voldemort never showed any interest in her before.
Harry was very happy to be living with Sirius and Jacinta and to have his girlfriend and his friends with him over the summer. Nevertheless time at Grimmauld Place passed rather slowly. They were cooped up in the house for most of the time. Fred and George had their work to go to and had joined the Order of the Phoenix after graduating, but Harry, Ron, Ginny and Jacinta had very little to do. Most of the time they played some Quidditch or wizard’s chess or just hung out. Nothing exciting happened at all until Sirius woke Harry up one morning.
“Wake up, kiddo.”
Harry mumbled something incomprehensible and turned around to keep sleeping, but Sirius stubbornly shook his shoulder.
“What?”, Harry finally grumbled.
Sirius grinned and held out an envelope. Harry set up immediately when he saw the lion, badger, eagle and serpent around the large letter H.
“I thought you might want to see this.” Sirius smirked.
“My O.W.L. results?” Harry asked nervously.
“Well it sure seems so.” Sirius said. “It’s still the holidays so it can’t be because you got into trouble again.”
Harry gave him an exasperated look and tore open the envelope. He eagerly opened the parchment.
Harry James Potter has received the following results:
Care of Magical Creatures: E
Defence Against the Dark Arts: O+
History of Magic: P
Harry breathed out slowly. He had done well, he thought. He got an O+ in DADA and what even satisfied him more was that he managed an O in Potions. He quickly scanned the list again and saw that he had received good enough grades to attend the N.E.W.T. classes that were obligated to get into Auror training.
Sirius looked at him expectantly and Harry handed him his results. His godfather quickly read the list and grinned broadly.
“Seven O.W.L.’s!” he said, hitting him on the back. “Great job, kiddo.”
He read the list again and his mouth fell open.
“Yeah I was pretty impressed with that O for Potions too.” Harry grinned.
“That’s not it.” Sirius said. “You got an O+ for Defence Against the Dark Arts.”
“Oh yeah.” Harry said. “I bet a lot of the DA members will have that.”
“No they won’t.” Sirius said slowly. “O is the top mark normally. They don’t just go above that. It’s rather rare. I believe Dumbledore got an O+ on his N.E.W.T.’s, Transfiguration I think, but he’s the only one I know of.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. He didn’t really know what to say to that.
“Well, I – I must’ve done well then.”
Sirius laughed loudly and hugged his godson from the side.
“You did great! I’m proud of you. Now get dressed and go show off those grades.”
“Is Ron up yet?” Harry asked while he got dressed quickly. He wanted to check how he did before he went downstairs.
“Yeah his mum went and woke him.” Sirius said. “Go and check with him. But don’t forget to talk to your parents later. They’re going to want to hear your grades.”
Ron managed to get seven O.W.L.’s too. Like Harry he only failed Divination and History of Magic. He managed to get an O in Defence Against the Dark Arts but only an E in Potions, so he wouldn’t be allowed into Snape’s N.E.W.T. class.
“I’m sorry mate.” Harry said.
“That’s alright.” Ron said. “I didn’t really expect an O. I think I might continue Care of Magical Creatures instead.”
“Hagrid will like that.” Harry said. He felt slightly guilty when thought he would probably not be able to continue with Care of Magical Creatures. He hoped Hagrid would understand.
After stopping in the living room to show their results to Lily and James, the two boys finally went down to have breakfast. Mr and Mrs Weasley were extremely pleased with the results of their son and were just as proud when they saw Harry’s.
“You have done very well!” Mrs Weasley said proudly. “Both of you.”
“Don’t forget to write, Hermione.” Mr Weasley said. “She’ll want to hear how you did.”
“Well done, Harry.” Remus said. “I knew you’d be the best in Defence.”
Ginny walked in that moment, seemingly still half asleep, but she was wide awake immediately when she noticed what was going on.
“Congratulations!” she said brightly, hugging her brother and her boyfriend.
“They each got more O.W.L.’s than the two of us put together.” George mumbled to Fred under his voice, but Mrs Weasley had heard it.
“And don’t you forget it.” she said sternly. “You could have done just as well if you had applied yourselves a bit more. You could have had such a nice career at the Ministry!”
“We’re perfectly happy with the career we have, mum.” Fred said for what seemed to be the millionth time.
Mrs Weasley had warmed a bit to the career choice of her sons now she saw how successful they were, but she still wasn’t fully happy with it. She still didn’t know how the twins were able to afford a shop at Diagon Alley, but they had promised her they hadn’t done anything illegal and convinced her not to ask any more questions.
Harry was just receiving a second helping of bacon and eggs from Dobby when he felt his DA coin turn hot and cold again against his leg. He pulled out the coin and his heart sank when he read the message.
Death Eaters. My house. Hermione
“Being a brother is better than being a hero” – Marc Brown
Chapter 2: The Granger House
Harry looked abruptly at the Weasleys and saw the four of them had their coins in their hands too. The five of them sat there frozen for a second before Harry jumped up.
“What is it?” Remus said sharply. “What’s wrong?”
“Hermione.” Harry said. “They’re at her house.”
The kitchen was suddenly full of movement. Remus immediately sent a Patronus to Dumbledore to warn him and the other adults sent messages to various other Order members.
“We can’t wait for them, Harry.” Ron said, looking more afraid than Harry had ever seen him.
Harry nodded. He tapped his DA coin with his wand and sent a message to the other members to go to the Hog’s Head. When he was finished he called Dobby.
“Dobby, do you think you could bring us to Hermione’s house?”
“Of course, Master Harry, I’m an elf.” Dobby said matter-of-factly.
Before any of the adults knew what they were doing the five teenagers and the house elf had already disappeared. They landed across the street from the Grangers’ house. They looked at each other frightfully when they saw the door had been blasted off its hinges.
Before they could do more than draw their wands the Dark Mark appeared above the house, clearly conjured from one of the upstairs windows.
Ron’s face whitened. “Hermione.” he mumbled and without waiting for the other he ran straight into the house.
Harry cursed loudly. “Dobby, go to the Hog’s Head and tell Abe and the DA members what’s going on. Bring them here in small groups as fast as you can, alright?”
Dobby nodded firmly and disappeared with a loud crack.
Harry, Ginny and the twins ran inside after Ron. Harry fervently hoped his best friends were alright, but it didn’t look good at the moment. When he ran into the Grangers’ living room he saw that Ron was taking on three Death Eaters on his own and was apparently close to collapsing.
“Reducto!” Harry shouted at one of the cloaked figures and he was blown backwards through a window.
“Come to play again, I see.” a taunting voice came from the doorway.
Bellatrix Lestrange had her wand pointed at him and smiled broadly. “You need to learn to keep your nose out of other people’s business, Potter. You’ll find out soon enough how bad that really is for you.”
“Where are they?” Harry shouted at her.
Bellatrix laughed loudly. “Your precious little Mudblood and her filthy Muggle parents are long gone, Potter. Surely, you know she is not of any use to us. Well, not since you’re here now.”
Harry’s heart sank. They had just attacked the Grangers to lure him out. And now they were…
“Crucio!” Harry shouted and Bellatrix fell into the ground in agony. After a few seconds she stood up again and looked at him curiously. All signs of taunting were gone now.
“Well, I see there’s more to you than meets the eye then, Potter.” she said, breathing heavily. Harry knew he was going to pay for what he did. He looked quickly behind him and saw that Ginny and the twins were still fighting the two remaining Death Eaters.
Bellatrix raised her wand: “Cruc – “
“Expelliarmus.” came a lazy voice from behind her.
“Snape!” Bellatrix shouted when she saw who had disarmed her. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Potter belongs to the Dark Lord.” Snape said. “We are here to capture him, nothing more.”
He slowly walked over to Harry with an expressionless face. When he was right in front of him he looked into his eyes. Harry noticed none of Snape’s shields were up to prevent him from looking into his mind as they always were during his Legilimency lessons. Harry concentrated on Snape’s black eyes and realized what he wanted.
Snape fell to the ground immediately and Bellatrix looked from him to Harry with wide open eyes. “What – “
Harry pointed his wand at her, but before he could perform a spell she was already taken out by two Stunning spells coming from behind her.
“Hi there.” Luna said cheerfully as she and Neville came into the living room.
Harry looked behind them and saw that the rest of the DA had apparently arrived, together with various Order members. They were fighting four other Death Eaters in the hallway and on the stairs. Meanwhile Ginny and the twins had taken out the two remaining Death Eaters in the living room and bound them in ropes. The rest of the Death Eaters would soon be overpowered.
Harry ran into the hallway. He still refused to believe that Bellatrix had spoken the truth. He nearly fell over something and realized it was a Death Eater. He was unarmed and was bleeding profusely. Harry bend over him and was surprised to see that the Death Eater was terrified to see him.
“Where are they?” he asked firmly. “Where are the Grangers?”
“The attic.” the Death Eater mumbled. “Please don’t…”
But Harry didn’t wait to hear what else the man wanted to say and sprinted up the stairs. When he got to the second floor he ran into Ron who was frantically searching the house.
“Upstairs, in the attic.” Harry said.
They climbed the wooden stairs that led to the attic, but it was pitch-dark up there. They listened for any sound of life and finally they heard a soft sobbing.
“Lumos Maxima!” Harry said.
The attic suddenly bathed in light and they saw that Hermione and her parents had been tied up at the wooden beams of the roof.
Ron took Hermione in his arms and kissed her hair.
“Thank God.” Hermione muttered. “I thought they would kill us.”
“Mr and Mrs Granger, are you both alright?” Harry asked looking at Hermione’s parents.
They both looked extremely shocked, but didn’t seem to have any physical injuries.
“What happened?” Ron asked urgently.
“They wanted to catch, Harry.” Hermione said immediately. “It’s the only explanation. They didn’t do anything to us. They just locked us up here and they talked about sending a message.”
“They were probably planning on letting me or Dumbledore know they had you.” Harry said.
Ron nodded. “They knew we would come here immediately. Lucky you were able to send us a message first.”
“Yeah, we took them by surprise.” Harry said. “They didn’t expect us yet.”
“What about the two Death Eaters that were guarding us?” Hermione asked.
Ron and Harry looked at each other puzzled.
They must have gone and helped the others downstairs when we arrived.”
Ron had only just said those words when the door downstairs opened and they heard someone climbing the wooden stairs. Harry and Ron promptly pointed their wands towards the stairs.
“Don't come any further!” Harry shouted. “Who’s there?”
“It is me, Dumbledore.”
He slowly entered the attic and Ron, obviously relieved, lowered his wand.
Harry wasn’t so sure. “What flavour of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans did you eat when you visited me in the hospital wing back in first year?”
Dumbledore smiled. “I was so unfortunate to choose an earwax flavoured one.”
Harry lowered his wand and looked at his headmaster apologetically. “Well, you never know.” he said.
“Quite right.”,Dumbledore said. “I see Professor Tonks has done excellent work indeed last year.”
He turned to the Grangers. “Mr and Mrs Granger, I am terribly sorry for what you have gone through this evening. I am afraid this place is no longer safe for you. If you allow me, I can take you to a place that is safe.”
The Grangers looked nervously from Dumbledore to Hermione. Hermione nodded at them encouragingly.
“You’d better go with him. You can trust him. You’re taking them to Grimmauld Place right?”
Dumbledore nodded. “They can stay there for as long as they need. As long as Sirius and Harry allow it of course.” He looked at Harry.
“Of course.” he nodded.
“I think it will be safe for you to go back downstairs now.” Dumbledore said to the three teenagers. “Dobby has taken back most of the DA members by now. A couple of Order members are still there to take you back by Side-Along Apparition.”
They nodded and descended the wooden stairs while Dumbledore apparated the Grangers away. When they reached the second floor Harry suddenly felt a cutting pain in his forehead. He stood still suddenly and Ron and Hermione looked at him alarmed.
“Harry, what is it?” Hermione asked urgently.
Harry shook his head. His scar kept throbbing and they heard panicked voices coming from downstairs. He started shivering before he even realized why he was suddenly terrified.
“He’s here.” he whispered.
“Do you mean – “ Ron started. But both of them already knew what he meant.
“Hide.” Harry said.
“Not without you, mate.” Ron said. “There’s no way for us to get out of here. Besides, we don’t know who’s still down there.”
Harry slipped down the stairs with Ron and Hermione close behind them. The voices they heard came from the living room and Harry heard he had been right. The high, cold voice he remembered from his dreams was performing the Cruciatus Curse. Harry saw that they probably had a clean path to the front door as the living room door was left ajar, but then he recognized the voice that was screaming in pain from being tortured.
“Sirius.” he muttered.
He silently approached the door and carefully watched through the crack of the door.
He saw that Voldemort had revived Bellatrix and Snape and they were taking on Sirius, Remus and Tonks. The only reason they hadn’t been defeated was probably because Snape was apparently only pretending to fight. Harry watched as Sirius fell down on the ground, wandless and reacted without thinking. He kicked open the door and sent a stunning spell in Voldemort’s way, who deflected it easily.
“Harry!” Voldemort said. “I was hoping you’d still be here. I am sorry we never got to know each other better, but I am afraid I cannot take any risks any more. Avada Kedavra!”
Harry lifted his wand but he knew it was already too late. There was no time to defend himself. This time there would be no rescue.
All of a sudden he was pushed to the side roughly and he hit the wall of the living room. He heard Hermione and Tonks scream and Voldemort laugh. Harry picked up his wand and jumped to his feet to face the next attack, but for a minute everyone had stopped fighting and Harry felt his heart sink to his stomach when he saw why. In the middle of the Grangers’ living room lay the lifeless body of Sirius Black.
Bellatrix drew out a triumphant yell. Harry knew Sirius had pushed him out of the way of the killing curse, just as Harry had done for him a couple of weeks ago. The only difference was that Harry had survived and Sirius paid for his loyalty with his life.
Remus screamed in agony and started attacking Voldemort. Harry, Ron and Hermione jumped to his aid immediately, together with Tonks, but it became apparent they wouldn’t last long. Voldemort was determined to kill Harry now that he had the chance.
Harry knew he had to lure Voldemort away from his friends if he didn’t want any of them to die too today. He rolled behind the couch and jumped through the window he had broken earlier. He landed in the garden of the Grangers. He ran towards the back but soon realized Voldemort would be right behind him. His friends were not far behind, but they were being held up by Bellatrix.
Harry knew he wasn’t going to get out of this one and he flat out refused to die with his back to Voldemort, trying to run away from him. The sense of loss at Sirius’ death dragged him down. He turned around, determined to defend himself, but his wand was pointing to the ground, useless.
Voldemort walked slowly towards him and smirked when he saw Harry’s tear stained face.
“I am truly sorry about your dear godfather, Harry.” he sneered. “But I’ll make it easy for you. You can join him right now. Avada Kedavra!”
A flash of green light. A rustling sound. A beautiful girl with red hair and brown eyes. And then nothing.
“If you have enemies, good. That means you stood up for something” – Eminem
Chapter 3: The Choice
Never had Harry felt so good in his life. He didn’t feel any pain or any sorrow. When he looked around the giant white building he seemed to find himself in, he was strongly reminded of a train station. 'Was this heaven?' he thought. He never had thought much about the afterlife. He had thought about death before of course, who hadn’t? And being ‘The Chosen One’, as they now called him, death was a lot closer to him than most people of his age. But when he thought about death, he always thought about what it would be like to die. How it would feel. If it would hurt. He never put much thought about what would come after that.
A voice suddenly came from behind him. “So you’re here then?”
Harry turned around quickly and saw his godfather smiling at him. He looked younger than Harry remembered and looked far more happier.
“Sirius!” Harry said. “You – I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be, Harry.” Sirius said. “You would have done the same thing for me. You actually did not so long ago.”
“Yes, but – “ Harry stammered. “You died.”
Before he answered, Sirius led Harry to a bench that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. They sat down next to each other.
“I did.” Sirius said. “But I died saving you. I wouldn’t have planned it any different if I could.”
He watched his godson who was still looking at him with a terrible guilt in his eyes.
“I would have never forgiven myself if you had died there instead of me, Harry.”
“But I did.” Harry said. “I did die.”
“That is true.” Sirius said. “But it seems that you have a choice that I have not.”
“You mean I can go back?” Harry asked puzzled.
“What if I don’t want to go back?”
He looked around him again. If he decided to move on he would never feel pain again. He wouldn’t have to worry about Voldemort or his friends dying. His friends…
“Then you don’t have to.” Sirius stated. “It’s entirely up to you.”
He smiled at Harry knowingly as if he already knew what choice he would make.
“I have to go back.” Harry slowly said. “I’m the only one who can stop him, right?”
“That you are.” Sirius said proudly. “And I expect you will find that once you are back, you’ll be a much more dangerous opponent to Voldemort than you ever were or he ever expected you to be.”
“What do you mean?”
Sirius smiled. “I think Dumbledore will be able to explain that to you in detail.”
Harry nodded. After a long silence he said: “Did you see mum and dad?”
“I did.” Sirius said. “They wanted to come themselves, but unfortunately they couldn’t. They are very proud of you, Harry. You’ll properly meet them one day, but it’s not the time yet.”
The temptation to stay with Sirius and his parents was enormous, but then he thought about Ginny. About Ron and Hermione. All the other Weasleys. And Remus who had now lost his last best friend. He stood up from the bench and Sirius followed his example. He grabbed Harry’s shoulders firmly.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t stick around longer, Harry. For you and for Jacinta.”
Harry’s heart sank as he thought of the girl.
“What will happen to her?”
“We had already arranged that if something happened to me, custody of you and Jacinta would transfer to Remus.” Sirius said. “He’ll take care of you. Both of you.”
Sirius pulled his godson in a firm hug.
“Remus will be there for you, Harry, but promise me that you’ll be there for him too. I’m sure he will need you just as much as you will need him.”
Harry nodded. “I promise.” he said, looking straight into Sirius’ eyes. “Thank you. For everything.”
“Thank you.” Sirius said firmly. “You gave me my life back, Harry. If it weren’t for you I’d have died in Azkaban or while on the run. You uncovered the truth and I’ll be forever grateful for that.” He gave him one last hug. “Now go save the world.”
Dumbledore came just in time to see Harry drop to the ground. Voldemort turned around and grinned at his old teacher, before he disapparated. Inside the living room of the Grangers, Bellatrix Lestrange and Severus Snape felt their Dark Marks burn on their arms. Bellatrix gave Snape a murderous look, before she disapparated too.
Snape knew what the Dark Lord’s order to leave must have meant. He quickly looked through the broken window Harry and Voldemort passed through a few moments before and saw Albus Dumbledore kneeling above Harry’s body.
“Stay here." he said to Ron and Hermione. He motioned Remus and Tonks to follow him.
They hurried towards Dumbledore.
“Albus!” Remus yelled. “Is he – “
Dumbledore shook his head. “He is alive.”
“Then why did Voldemort leave?” Tonks asked.
“Because he thinks he is dead.”
“I don’t understand. What happened?” Hermione asked from behind Snape.
The Potions master turned around. “I thought I asked you to stay inside?”
“Like hell.” Ron muttered.
“I think we would better take Harry to Grimmauld Place first.” Dumbledore said. “Severus, maybe you would better return…”
Snape looked at Dumbledore uncomfortably. “I don’t think I can return, headmaster.”
“And I had already stopped her from torturing Potter too.” Snape said slowly. “I don’t think he will trust me anymore after today.”
Dumbledore nodded shortly. “Alright. We’ll see what we can do later. Did Sirius already leave?”
The others looked at each other uncomfortably. Dumbledore’s glance moved to Remus and he saw that the werewolf’s face had changed into a rigid expression. Tonks and Hermione had tears in their eyes and Ron and Snape were extremely pale. The headmaster didn’t need to ask what had happened and he looked sombrely at the almost sixteen year old that still lay unconscious before him. He stood up with his favourite student in his arms, nodded to the others and disapparated without another word. The others followed soon.
Dumbledore apparated directly into Harry’s bedroom at Grimmauld Place and lay him on his bed. He immediately sent a Patronus to Madam Pomfrey. Hardly a minute later the door flew open and Remus, Ron, Hermione and Ginny stormed into the room. There were still tears streaming down Hermione’s cheeks, but Ginny seemed too shocked to cry. She immediately sat on the rim of Harry’s bed and took his hand.
“What the bloody hell happened to him?” Ron asked, looking wide-eyed at his best friend.
“He was hit by the killing curse.” Dumbledore said.
“What?” Ginny asked.
It was the first thing she said since Ron and Hermione had told her that something happened to Harry. She put her hand on his chest as if to verify if his heart was still beating.
“How did he survive?”
“I have absolutely no idea.” Dumbledore said.
“Sirius.” Hermione said softly. Dumbledore looked at her questioningly. “Voldemort fired a killing curse at Harry, but Sirius jumped in front of it.”
“Of course...” Dumbledore said softly.
“Do you mean it happened again?” Ron asked slowly.
“I think that is the only plausible explanation.” Dumbledore said. “Sirius was a powerful wizard of course. The power of his sacrifice must have been strong enough to keep Harry alive again.”
“He will wake up right?” Ginny asked with a small voice.
“I believe that that will be entirely up to him.” Dumbledore said. “But I am sure Harry will find that he has a lot to come back to.”
He squeezed the shoulder of the youngest Weasley as he said this last part.
They sat there in silence until the door opened and Mrs Weasley came in. It was clear she had been crying too.
“Albus? Poppy is here.”
Dumbledore nodded and Madam Pomfrey entered the room.
“Oh Mr Potter, what have you done now.” she said when she saw Harry lying unconscious on his bed.
“He was hit by the killing curse, Poppy.” Dumbledore said softly.
A small shriek came from Mrs Weasley and Madam Pomfrey stared at Dumbledore with open mouth. Then she hurried over to Harry and like Ginny she felt his chest as if she were afraid she wouldn’t feel a heartbeat.
“Alright, everybody out.” she said firmly after she had pulled herself together. “I need to examine him properly.”
Ginny, Ron and Hermione waited just outside the door, along with Dumbledore. A small half hour later, Madam Pomfrey exited the room.
“I think he’ll be fine.” she said, and they all let out a breath of relief. “But I can’t say when he will wake up. I am quite certain that his heart did stop for a while after he was hit, but now he seems to be fine. In theory, he is in perfect health. Except that…”
“Except that he is unconscious.” Dumbledore finished.
Madam Pomfrey nodded. “There is not much I can do for him now. I think we can only wait.”
Dumbledore thanked her and Madam Pomfrey returned to Hogwarts.
“I think we can go back to him now.” Dumbledore said to Harry’s friends and they all returned to his bedside.
Ginny, Ron and Hermione barely left Harry’s room the following days, as did Dobby. Most of the time Remus Lupin and Jacinta were there with them too. Neither of them really knew what to say to the werewolf. Remus had barely spoken since they had returned to Grimmauld Place, that horrible day. Not that it really mattered. Most of the time they just silently waited for Harry to wake up.
Sirius would be buried on Saturday and as it looked like now, Harry wouldn’t even be able to attend the funeral.
On Friday afternoon Jacinta found herself alone with Harry for the first time since the events. She sat down on the rim of the bed and took her adopted brother’s hand in hers. Tears were streaming down her face when she spoke for the first time in days.
“I’m so sorry for what happened, Harry.” she said softly. “It’s so unfair.”
She swallowed with difficulty and wiped her face before she continued. “He didn’t deserve to die. No one does of course, but he certainly didn’t. He’s the best man that I know. He took me in without any questions and treated me like I were his own daughter.”
She thought she felt Harry squeeze her hand very lightly.
“Can you hear me?” she said surprised.
Harry didn’t show any sign of life and she thought she must have imagined it.
“You have to come back to us, Harry. Everyone needs you here. We don’t stand a chance without you.” She bit her lip. “I don’t stand a chance without you.”
Harry’s eyelids trembled and ever so slowly he opened his eyes.
“Hi there.” he said hoarsely.
Jacinta jumped from the bed. “You’re awake!” She hugged him tight and started to cry even harder.
“I’m fine, Jacinta.” Harry soothed. “It’ll be fine.”
The door slowly opened and Ginny, Ron and Hermione entered. They stood still suddenly when they saw Harry was awake. They didn’t jump at him like Jacinta did and Harry was grateful for that. Ginny however did kiss him softly on the lips.
“I’m so sorry.” she said softly and Harry knew she wasn’t talking about him being hurt.
Harry nodded and gave her a small smile.
“It’s good to see you guys are okay.” he said to Ron and Hermione.
They talked for a while, carefully avoiding the subject of Sirius, until Remus walked in. It pained Harry to see his former teacher like this. Remus had always looked older than he really was, but now he seemed to have aged ten years since Harry had last seen him. He had heavy bags under his eyes and a stubbly beard showed that he hadn’t shaved for a while.
He looked at Harry and the two men knew that they had both suffered a terrible loss. The others noticed a silent understanding between them and decided to leave them alone for a while.
When everyone had left Remus sat down.
“It’s good to have you back, Harry.” he said. He did his best to sound calm, but Harry still noticed that his voice was shaking.
Harry had been avoiding talking about Sirius while the others were here, but he knew that there was no need for that now.
“I saw him.” he said.
Remus’ head snapped up at him. “You did?”
Harry nodded. “I talked to him.”
“What – “ Remus croaked. “What did he say?”
“He promised me that you would be here for Jacinta and me.”
“Of course, I will be.” Remus said more firmly now. “I can’t take his place, but I’ll make sure that I can do the next best thing.”
Harry smiled at him. “He also made me promise that I would be there for you.”
Remus smiled back. The first smile in days.
“That sure sounds like him.”
Harry carefully got out of bed and walked over to Remus. Remus stood up too.
“We might have lost him.” Harry said. “But we can still be family right?”
Remus hugged Harry closely.
“Yes, we are still family.”
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside by being left behind” – Tupac Shakur
Chapter 4: The Will
The shock of losing Sirius had immersed Grimmauld Place in a depressed atmosphere. Everyone was tiptoeing around Harry, because they didn’t want to upset him even more. Harry wished they didn’t do that. The loss of his godfather did hurt him, but on the other hand he felt lighter than he ever felt before. It was almost as if a heavy weight had been lifted from him. He didn’t talk about this to anyone, they would probably think he was going mad. Instead he further isolated himself from the others.
When Harry entered the kitchen Saturday morning, it was already filled with people, despite the early hour. Mrs Weasley immediately jumped up when she saw him and started making him breakfast. Harry didn’t manage to eat anything. The fact that they would have to bury his godfather later had taken away his appetite.
Normally every Black family member was buried in the family grave in London, but Sirius had arranged before his death that he would be buried at Godric’s Hollow, on the same graveyard as Harry’s parents. Remus had promised him he would show him to his parents after the service. Harry had never even seen their graves.
“Will it be safe?” Harry suddenly asked the kitchen in general, referring to the funeral. He didn’t want any Death Eaters to show up in the middle of Sirius’ memorial service.
“The Order has arranged maximum protection.” Kingsley said reassuringly. “Besides I don’t think we have to fear an attack.”
“Voldemort has called off a period of truce.” Remus said.
“What?” Harry asked surprised.
It didn’t seem like Voldemort to do anything of the sort.
“He did it a couple of times during the first war too.” Remus explained. “Whenever one of the sides had suffered a major loss, he would allow them to mourn. He always respected it back then, so there’s no reason to believe he won’t now. Of course he would only to that if it was beneficial to him.”
“So he did this because of Sirius?” Harry asked.
“Because of you, more likely.” Mad-Eye grumbled.
“Voldemort disappeared right after he hit you with the killing curse.” Remus said. “He still thinks you are dead and has already spread the news.”
“So everyone thinks I’m dead?” Harry asked.
He thought about his friends in the DA.
“Well of course we have informed your friends from school that you are alive and well.” Remus smiled. “But we have told them it wouldn’t be necessary to let that be known to anyone else. We might as well surprise Voldemort now that we can.”
Sirius’ funeral happened in a small circle of family and friends. The only other people present besides Regulus, Harry and Jacinta were the members of the Order of the Phoenix and most of the DA members. The little church in Godric’s Hollow wasn’t even filled half.
“Sirius Black” Dumbledore said standing before the attendants, “was a very talented wizard, an accomplished duellist and a brave warrior. But above all, Sirius Black was a loyal friend, brother and godfather. To me, Sirius will always be a hero. Sirius gave his life fighting the dark forces that threaten our land and freedom. He fought valiantly in two wizarding wars, but that is not why he is a hero. He is a hero because he was the living embodiment of the words ‘actions speak louder than words’.”
“Yes, he was a man of few words. He would act before talk, sometimes rashly, but always with the best interest of his friends or family at heart. He may have seemed as tough and indestructible, but all of us who knew him know he had a good, good heart. A quality he proved again shortly before his death by taking in a little girl from a broken home, who had nowhere to go.”
“Today we have to say goodbye to a man who was an example to us in many ways, but as long as we remember him, he will live on. He will live on in his brother, Regulus, and his adopted children, Harry and Jacinta. We will treasure him in our hearts as long as we live.”
He turned to the coffin and bowed his head.
“Goodbye my friend.”
After Sirius had been buried, Remus took Harry to the grave of his parents as he promised. After hesitating shortly, Ginny took his hand and accompanied them, closely followed by Ron and Hermione. When they came to the white tombstone at the end of the row, Remus conjured a wreath of white purple flowers and lay it on their grave.
Harry didn’t immediately realize he was closer to his parents than he had been for years. Only when Remus told him quietly to take his time and meet him back by the church, he really saw the grave in front of him.
27 March 1960 – 31 October 1981
30 January 1960 – 31 October 1981
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death*
Suddenly the realization that the remains of his parents lay here right in front of him hit him rock-hard. He approached the graves slowly still hanging on to Ginny’s hand.
“Do you think you guys could give me a moment?” he asked softly.
“Of course, Harry.” Hermione said.
Harry noticed she sounded as if she was close to tears. Ginny gave him a watery a smile and squeezed his hand softly before they left him alone.
Harry kneeled in front of the graves.
“Hi mum, hi dad.” he said softly. “I’m sorry it took me so long to get here.”
He paused. Tears were burning behind his eyes.
“I’m so sorry that you died because of me.” he continued. “I wish you were here. I need you guys. I don’t think I can do this on my own.”
Tears were streaming down his face now. “I have to kill him. I have to kill the most powerful dark wizard there is and I haven’t even started my sixth year at Hogwarts. It’s not fair.”
Harry allowed himself to pour his heart out. Every thought, every fear he had been ashamed of and he had kept for himself came out in front of his parents. He longed so much for his mother’s arms to embrace him and for her to tell him everything would be okay. He longed so much for his father to help him and give him advice. But his outburst was only met by silence. Until –
Harry quickly turned around.
“Luna!” he said.
“I’m sorry to interfere.” Luna said. She sat down beside him on the ground. “But I thought maybe you wanted to talk to someone.”
“I don’t want to talk to anyone.” Harry said harshly. “Everyone tries to understand but...”
He sighed. He knew everyone meant well, but the truth was that no one really knew how it was to grow up without parents. To be alone for so long he didn’t even remember what having family felt like until he met the Weasleys.
“I know.” Luna said. “They say you still have family left and that you are loved by everyone. But they don’t know how it feels to stay behind. How it is impossible for that void to ever be filled again.”
Harry stared at her. He knew Luna and liked her. They had become friends over the last year, despite the fact a lot of people avoided her because she was ‘weird’. But he realized that he actually knew very little about her.
“Are you – “ he started. “Did you – ?”
He didn’t really know how to ask her.
“My mum.” Luna said softly. “She died when I was nine. I was there.”
Harry suddenly felt very guilty. Everyone tried to cheer him up and make him feel better, but Luna had just as much right to that as he had.
“I’m sorry.” Harry said. “I didn’t know.”
“That’s alright.” Luna smiled. “I do still have dad, you know. And mum – well – one day I’ll see her again. Just as you will see your parents and Sirius again. Our time just hasn’t come yet.”
“You really believe that?” Harry asked. “You really think Sirius was killed instead of me because my time hasn’t come yet?”
“Yes.” Luna said. Harry had never seen her talking this seriously. “I think we all have a part to play in this world. The fact that Sirius saved your life in that house means that your part hasn’t been played yet.”
“What if I don’t want to play my part.” Harry mumbled, more to himself than to Luna.
“No one can force you to do anything you don’t want to.” Luna said. “But I know that you won’t run away from your fate. You care too much.”
She stood up and reached him her hand. “Are you ready to go back?”
Harry smiled faintly and nodded. He grabbed her hand and let her pull him up.
“Thanks, Luna.” he said while they were walking back towards the church.
“Oh you’re welcome.” she said, back to her cheerful self. “I liked it. It was like helping a friend.”
Harry stared at her. “You did help a friend.” he said slowly.
“Oh that’s very nice of you.” she beamed. “I never really had any friends before I met you guys, you know.”
Harry didn’t really know what to say. He felt pity for her. To be honest, he did understand why some people were scared away by her eccentric appearance and behaviour, but once you got past that Luna was kind, attentive and a great friend.
“Well”, he finally said. “You have now. And we couldn’t ask for a better friend than you.”
Luna gave him a radiant smile.
Talking to Luna had been the best thing that could have happened to Harry today. He still felt sad about Sirius of course and he still carried the heavy burden of the Prophecy, but his friend had helped him to put everything in perspective. When they arrived back at Grimmauld Place he joined Ginny, Ron, Hermione and the twins in the living room instead of going back to his bedroom like he intended to.
When the six friends entered the kitchen for lunch, they were surprised to see that Dumbledore was there.
“Professor!” Harry said. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, Molly invited me to lunch for the seventh time since term ended and a man can only decline so many times.” Dumbledore said.
His voice sounded cheerful but Harry knew his headmaster had a reason for being here. He didn’t have to wait long before he found out.
When they had all finished lunch, Dumbledore cleared his throat. “If you don’t mind I would like to talk in private with Harry, Hermione, Remus, Regulus, Jacinta and the Weasleys.”
After the other Order members had left the kitchen Dumbledore spoke up again.
“I have asked and received permission from the Ministry to execute Sirius’ will. If everyone agrees with that of course.”
They all nodded.
Dumbledore waved his wand and a roll of parchment and a wooden case appeared on the table. Dumbledore rolled out the parchment, cleared his throat again and started reading out loud:
“To my brother Regulus. I know there has always been a lot of irritation and spite between us. Probably the inevitable effect of two stubborn boys growing up in the same house. I am extremely grateful that I found out about your true loyalties in time. Finding out that you had redeemed yourself and you had changed your beliefs was one of the greatest moments of my life.”
“I leave to you my brother, all the Black family heirlooms that are still at Grimmauld Place. I never really cared for them, but I know they still have value to you. There are yours now. I also leave you one fourth of the Black family fortune.”
Regulus was staring at the floor when Dumbledore had finished. He wasn’t crying, but his face was even whiter than when he was attacked. After a short silence, Dumbledore continued.
“To the Weasley family. I only got to really know all of you after I came back from Azkaban. You weren’t a part of the Order of the Phoenix during the first war, but I knew Molly’s brothers Fabian and Gideon, two of the bravest people I have ever met. I am grateful to have gotten to know all of you and to have been able to provide you with a safe place to stay after you were forced to leave your home. You have taken care of my godson as much as you could while I was not able to. I will be forever grateful for that.”
“I leave to you, my friends, one fourth of the Black family fortune. I know you will be hesitant to accept this, but please do. I cannot think of one family who deserves it as much as you do. Arthur, I also leave you my motorcycle. I haven’t been using it much lately, but I think you will find use for it.”
Molly started sobbing and Arthur quickly put his arm around her shoulders. He had taken of his glasses and was rubbing his eyes with his unoccupied hand.
“To Ron and Hermione. Thank you for always being there for Harry and having his back. I know that both of you are extremely loyal friends. Cherish your friendship, because a friendship like you have is extremely rare. Ron, the loyalty and understanding between you and Harry reminds me strongly of James and me in our years at Hogwarts. And yes, that is a good thing. Just don’t get into as much trouble as we did.”
Ron made a noise that seemed to be half a sob, half a snort of laughter.
“Hermione, I know that you are the brains of all the young enthusiasm. I know I can trust you to slow Harry down when he’s acting rashly, like you have repeatedly done in the past. You are the most talented young witch I have ever seen, and I grew up with Lily Evans, so that’s saying something.”
Silent tears were streaming down Hermione’s cheeks.
“To Ron, I leave my Nimbus 2002. You are a much better Quidditch player than I ever was. Use it well.”
“To Hermione, I leave the entire library of Grimmauld Place. I know how much you love reading and you probably won’t need much time to go through everything that’s in there. I must warn you that some books contain darker contents than you may be used to from the Hogwarts library. But I know you are too intelligent to be carried away by any of that.”
“To Ginny. I know you are very much in love with Harry and he is very much in love with you. It is clear for everyone that the two of you belong together. You have no idea how much the two of you look like Lily and James when they were younger. I don’t know what it is with Potter men and their redheads.” Ginny smiled weakly. “I am very happy that Harry has you in his life. You truly make him a better person, as he does you.”
“I leave you, Ginny, the necklace that once belonged to my mother. I know my mother wasn’t a very nice person, but it is a special necklace. It was once given as a gift by Godric Gryffindor to his wife. It’s supposed to have many powers, but not much is known about it. It belongs to you now.”
Dumbledore took a beautiful necklace with a simple red stone out of the case and handed it to Ginny. Harry was distracted for a moment when he heard the necklace had belonged to Gryffindor and looked at Dumbledore questioningly, but the headmaster almost unnoticeably shook his head. Of course, Sirius knew about the Horcruxes and that Voldemort tried to find items of the founders. He would already have informed Dumbledore about the necklace and checked if it was a Horcrux.
“To Remus. Moony.” Dumbledore continued. "We were the last Marauders left. I am truly sorry that I had to leave you behind by yourself, but I know you are strong. You’ll be fine. You promised you would take care of Harry and Jacinta if something happened to me and I don’t doubt for a second that you will stand by that promise. Don’t grieve too much, old friend. Remember the good times, everything we went through together. And about that on-and-off-relationship with my cousin you tried to keep from me first: get over yourself. I know that you guys would be great together.”
Harry looked at Remus and saw that the werewolf was smiling through his tears.
“I leave to you, Moony, one fourth of the Black family fortune. I know you are always uncomfortable when I help you out financially, so don’t even think about rejecting it or I swear to Merlin I will come back and haunt you.”
Remus wasn’t the only one that was smiling through his tears now. It was so characteristic for Sirius to say something like that, that Harry half expected to hear his bark-like laugh.
“To Harry and Jacinta.” Dumbledore continued. “If you hear this, it means that I have failed you. I wished I could have been there for both of you to grow up. Luckily, I already know that both of you are remarkable young people in your own ways.”
“Jacinta, I have taken you in happily. You brought a joy into our home. A joy that house hadn’t seen in a very long time. I am truly sorry that I wasn’t able to finish what I started. I leave to you, my sweet girl, my copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I know how much you loved that book. It’s yours now.”
Jacinta was crying hard as she took the book from Dumbledore. Hermione, who was sitting beside her, hugged her tight.
“Harry, I cannot begin to thank you enough for what you did for me. You saved me when they wanted to give me to the Dementors and a year later you cleared my name and exposed the truth to the whole wizarding world. The fact that everyone knows that I haven’t betrayed your parents now means more than I care to admit. “
“When your parents asked me to be your godfather all those years ago, I was of course happy to accept, but I didn’t understand why they asked me. I was an irresponsible, stuck-up, arrogant prat back then and I thought your parents were fools to trust me with their child if something would happen to them. Now I am extremely grateful that they did ask me. You are the best thing that could have ever happened to me. You’re like a son to me, Harry, and you always will be.”
“I leave you my diaries. I’m afraid I only started it when I was already out of Hogwarts so you won’t find anything about the trouble we got ourselves into while at school, but I think you will like it all the same.”
Dumbledore handed three books with a simple black cover to Harry. He opened one of them quickly and immediately recognized Sirius’ handwriting. He closed it again, he would look at them later. In private.
“I also leave one fourth of the Black family fortune to split between Harry and Jacinta. I know you are both comfortably off and neither of you cares much for gold, but you are my only children after all.”
“So this is it, my friends. Remember me, not with sadness, but happiness. We will see each other again.
“Harry, could you stay for a moment, please?”
Harry had made to follow his friends out of the kitchen, but Dumbledore had called him back. The headmaster waited patiently until everyone had left and then motioned for Harry to sit down again.
“I am sure you have heard this question so much already that you are tired of it, but forgive me for asking: how are you doing?”
Harry smiled at Dumbledore’s words.
“I’m fine really.” he said. “I mean, it’s terrible of course and I’ll miss him more than I can say… But I’m fine.”
Dumbledore nodded. “I can see that.” he said. “You look good too. More carefree, I might say.”
Harry merely shrugged.
“If I may ask.” Dumbledore asked politely “Do you feel any different than before since you woke up yesterday?”
Harry looked surprised at his headmaster. It was as if he knew.
“Yes.” he said slowly.
“I don’t know.” Harry said. “I mean.. I don’t know how to explain it. Lighter, I guess.”
“Lighter.” Dumbledore mused.
He seemed to be thinking deeply for a few minutes and Harry knew better than to break the silence.
“Would you mind if I tried something, Harry?” the headmaster finally said and he rose from his chair.
Harry shook his head. Dumbledore raised his wand.
A long black snake jumped out of the tip of Dumbledore’s wand as it did of Malfoy’s during Lockhart’s duelling club in second year. Harry froze.
“Give it an order.” Dumbledore said calmly.
“Leave.” Harry said. “Go away.”
The snake kept gliding towards him.
“Vipera Evanesca.” Dumbledore said firmly and the snake disappeared.
“What was that about?” Harry asked.
“You did not speak Parseltongue.” Dumbledore said.
“I didn’t?” Harry asked puzzled.
He never even realized when he did speak Parseltongue, how should he realize when he didn’t. Harry saw that this meant something for Dumbledore.
“Professor?” he asked tentatively.
Dumbledore looked at him. “So it is true.”
Dumbledore sat back down, facing Harry.
“I have been wondering about this ever since you were hit by Voldemort’s killing curse.” he finally said. “You see, someone sacrificing themselves for you usually is not enough to survive the killing curse. It is my belief that you survived the first time because your mother was a very accomplished witch and because the love of a mother for her child is possibly the strongest power on earth. Added to the fact that you are an extremely powerful wizard.”
“I’m not an extremely – “ Harry started, but Dumbledore raised his hands, indicating to let him finish.
“Even though Sirius was a rather accomplished wizard too and he loved you a great deal, I thought it strange that his sacrifice was enough to save you from being killed. Unless of course you were killed.”
“But I wasn’t…”
“You were not.” Dumbledore said. “But maybe part of you was.”
“What do you know that I don’t?” Harry asked suspiciously.
“I know nothing more than you do, Harry, but I have a strong idea what must have happened.”
Harry didn’t say anything, waiting for Dumbledore to continue.
“I believe that fifteen years ago, when Voldemort killed your parents and attempted to kill you, he had already made all or at least most of his Horcruxes. As you know, the human soul is meant to stay one, tearing it apart is an act against nature. With every Horcrux Voldemort made, he wounded himself further. The moment the killing curse he shot at you rebounded and hit him, the soul that was still residing in his body split into two pieces. One piece stayed with what Voldemort had become then, the other piece attached itself to the only living thing in the house.”
“Me?” Harry asked, feeling sick.
“You.” Dumbledore said. “I think I realized it the moment you were hit by Voldemort’s curse last time. The curse didn’t rebound towards Voldemort like it did the first time. It just hit you. But still, you were alive. And in my opinion, that can only mean one thing…”
“The curse killed the part of the soul in me.” Harry said flatly. “I have been living for fifteen years with a part of his soul in me?”
“I am afraid so.” Dumbledore said.
“Unbelievable.” Harry said. “Then I should have been placed in Slytherin. They were right when they said I was a dark wizard myself.”
“No they were not.” Dumbledore said sharply. “Harry, have you any idea what this means? No wizard alive should have been able to carry that burden for so long. This is prove that you are extremely powerful and now that you are released from it for good we will truly see how powerful.”
“How does that mean I’m powerful?” Harry asked puzzled.
Dumbledore started pacing through the kitchen.
“Harry, do you remember Tom Riddle’s diary?”
“That was a piece of his soul too and look at what it did to Ginny. The piece of soul residing in the diary completely took over her mind, as it would do to almost every witch or wizard. You have been living with a piece of his soul inside you and you never had any thoughts towards the Dark Arts. You have always been brave, good-natured and loyal.”
Harry shrugged. “Well, then it didn’t affect me so much.”
“But it did!” Dumbledore said. “It did affect you. It affected your magical abilities, for one.”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked, slightly insulted.
“Harry, you have always been a decent wizard. Average grades, average magical power. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.”
“Don’t you see it?” Dumbledore said. “If an average wizard had carried a piece of Voldemort’s soul with him, he would probably be considered a Squib because the Horcrux affects his magical powers. You did carry a piece of his soul and no one ever noticed! Now that the Horcrux is destroyed, you true magical powers will show.”
Harry thought about Dumbledore’s words for a while. Could he be right?
“So you think I’ll be more powerful now?”
Dumbledore nodded, convinced of his theory. “Much more powerful.”
“How much more exactly?”
Dumbledore smiled. “With a bit of training and a lot of practice, I’m sure you will be one day be more powerful than I am.”
Harry stared at him with open mouth.
“You can’t really believe that”, he said slowly.
“I most certainly do. Voldemort has all the reason to be afraid.”
“The measure of a man is what he does with power” – Plato
*Quote taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Chapter 5: Fighting and Friends
“Avada Kedavra!” a shrill voice yelled. Sirius Black’s heart had already stopped beating before he hit the ground.
Harry cried out in despair and ran away, desperate to get Voldemort away from his friends so he wouldn’t hurt any of them anymore, but when he jumped through the broken window he didn’t land in the Granger’s backyard. He got to his feet with difficulty and had to grab the wooden rails in front of him to keep himself up. Then he realized that he seemed to be in a cot.
His heart jumped when he saw his mother. She was alive! Then the door was blasted off its hinges and Voldemort entered the room.
Harry cried out when the beam of green light struck his mother in the chest. Lily Potter fell to the ground, lifeless.
“Harry, wake up!”
Someone was shaking his shoulder firmly.
Harry woke up with a start and immediately sat up straight in bed.
“Are you alright?” Ginny asked. She looked extremely worried.
“Yeah, fine. Just a bad dream.”
Harry felt embarrassed that Ginny had seen him in that way.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came up to see what kept you”, Ginny said. “It’s already 10 o’clock. Normally you’re the first of us downstairs in the morning.”
“Oh, yeah” Harry said slowly. “I kind of had trouble falling asleep last night.”
The truth was that Harry really didn’t like to go to sleep lately. He had always had a lot of nightmares, but they seemed to have lessened over the last few years. They had been more frequent again since Sirius died.
“You said that you didn’t have any nightmares anymore." Ginny said accusingly.
“I didn’t." Harry said quickly. “It’s just…”
He didn’t complete his sentence, but Ginny didn’t need to hear more.
“Oh of course”, she said softly. “I’m sorry, Harry.”
Harry smiled at her. “Don’t worry about it.”
Ginny lay down on Harry’s bed and snuggled close to him. Harry suddenly was very aware of the fact that he was only wearing pyjama bottoms.
“It’s so unfair.” Ginny whispered. “I wish I could do something.”
Harry put his arms around her and gave a soft kiss on her forehead.
“I think you are doing a lot more than you realize.”
Ginny smiled and gently stroke Harry’s cheek. She slowly leaned into him and met his lips with hers. Harry tangled one hand into her hair and pulled her closer, deepening the kiss. They started breathing more heavily. Ginny was caressing Harry’s chest while Harry’s hand was wandering over Ginny’s back, slowly down towards…
The door opened with a bang.
“What’s keeping you guys – “
Ron’s face fell when he saw his best friend and his little sister in an intimate embrace on the bed. His face reddened and without a word he left the room and slammed the door shut behind him.
“Oh crap.” Ginny said.
“It won’t be that bad.” Harry tried to reassure her.
“Won’t be that bad?” Ginny laughed. “You know Ron as well as I do, Harry. What would you think his reaction would be if he thought you were shagging his little sister?”
“But we weren’t!” Harry said. “I mean – we weren’t going to…”
“I know that.” Ginny said, laughing at the discomfort of her boyfriend. “But Ron wouldn’t. You know how he always jumps to conclusions.”
“I’ll talk to him.” Harry said.
He knew Ginny wouldn’t hold back if Ron was acting unreasonably and he didn’t feel like getting in the middle of a Weasley fight.
When Harry and Ginny entered the kitchen, neither Ron nor Hermione were there. After some toast and a short polite conversation with the Weasleys and the Grangers Harry quickly left the kitchen again to go look for his best friend. He was climbing the stairs to the third floor when he ran into Hermione.
“Oh there you are.” Hermione said.
“Have you seen Ron?” Harry asked before Hermione could say anything else.
“Er yeah, he’s in his room. You’d better talk to him.”
Harry noticed that his friend was avoiding his eyes and seemed a bit embarrassed. He groaned.
“What did he tell you?”
Hermione blushed furiously.
“He said he walked in on you and Ginny while you were – well…”
“We were kissing!” Harry said. “Oh for Merlin’s sake.”
He pushed past Hermione and entered Ron’s room. When Ron saw him he immediately jumped up of his bed.
“What the hell were you thinking?” he yelled, his ears turning the same colour as his hair. “I trust you enough to go out with my sister and then you – “
“I what Ron?” Harry asked calmly. “What exactly did you see?”
“You were on your bed!” Ron said heatedly. “You were about to –“
“We were about to do nothing, Ron. We were just kissing.”
Ron looked at his friend piercingly and realized he was telling the truth.
“So you weren’t going to…?”
“We most definitely were not” Harry said firmly.
“And you never did? Before?”
“Oh come on, Ron. She’s not even fifteen yet. What do you think?”
Ron sat back down on his bed.
“Oh well.” he said, looking a bit embarrassed. “That’s good. I just thought…”
Harry shook his head and grinned.
Ron scowled, but then he grinned too.
“It’s inevitable from time to time. Game of wizard’s chess?”
That evening found the four friends hanging out in the living room of Grimmauld Place. Ron, Ginny and the twins were playing Exploding Snap and Harry and Hermione were reading on the couch. The Weasleys had looked at each other with raised eyebrows when Harry had said he would rather read than play with them. Hermione on the contrary seemed to be quite proud.
Harry was reading a book called Advanced Offensive Magic Used for Good. Dumbledore had given it to him when he told Harry he would be continuing his private lessons over the summer. The headmaster was extremely eager to learn how strong Harry really was now that the part of Voldemort’s soul inside of him had been destroyed.
Suddenly Hermione slammed her book shut next to him and looked at him.
“I have to talk to you.”
Harry closed his book too.
“Let’s go get a butterbeer.” Hermione said.
“Sure...” Harry said slowly and he followed her out of the living room. “What’s all this about?”
Hermione didn’t answer him. They got two butterbeers from the kitchen and Hermione led him outside to the back garden.
“You have changed, Harry.” Hermione finally said when they sat down on a garden bench.
Harry raised his eyebrows.
“What do you mean by that?” he asked, slightly offended.
“Oh no, I don’t mean it in a bad way.” Hermione assured him quickly, picking up his tone. “I just mean… Like this morning with Ron. A year ago that argument would definitely have turned into a shouting match, but you were so… so calm.”
“Er… Okay, sorry.” Harry said, trying to pull it off as a joke.
“You have been acting different for a while now, Harry.” Hermione pressed on, nervously playing with the label of her butterbeer. “You seem so much more… relaxed.”
“Relaxed? There’s a war going on, Hermione…”
“I know that.” Hermione said hastily. “I can’t really explain it… I know the death of Sirius really hurt you, but apart from that you seem so… fine.”
“I am fine, Hermione.” Harry said. “Don’t go looking for problems if there aren’t any there.”
“I just thought – “
She didn’t finish her sentence. Harry put an arm around her shoulders.
“I know you mean well, Hermione, but there’s really nothing there. You don’t need to worry about me.”
Harry felt terrible about lying to his best friend, but he didn’t want to see the look on her face when he told her that a part of Voldemort had been living inside of him for nearly fifteen years. That was one secret he couldn’t share with his friends and Ginny. They would most definitely want nothing to do with him if they knew about the Horcrux and Harry needed them now more than ever.
The day before Harry’s sixteenth birthday Snape stopped by at Grimmauld Place to continue Harry’s Legilimency lessons. Harry hadn’t seen his Potions master since the day the Death Eaters attacked Grimmauld Place. His friends had told him that he had protected them against Bellatrix and that his cover had been blown. Voldemort would know now that Snape’s true allegiance was with the Order of the Phoenix and not the Death Eaters. Despite that fact, Harry hadn’t seen him once at Grimmauld Place, while it was still the headquarters of the Order. He realized he was still working on some secret mission for Dumbledore. He wondered if Snape would tell him something if he asked. He could be gruff and short-tempered, but they had been getting along much better lately.
“Sir?” Harry asked tentatively after a long and exhausting lesson. “Do you still have contact with Death Eaters?”
Snape raised an eyebrow and looked at him for a moment before he answered.
“No, I do not. As we suspected He Who Must Not Be Named’s inner circle all know about my betrayal during the attack on the Grangers.”
“But you haven’t come to any Order meetings, have you?”
Snape narrowed his black eyes.
“How would you know?”
“Well I wouldn’t, but I just kind of figured. We run into Order members all the time, but we didn’t see you once.”
The Potions master looked slightly impressed at this.
“Well, you are right. I haven’t been coming to any meetings lately.”
Harry waited, but Snape didn’t seem to be eager to continue.
“Why not?” he finally asked.
Snape was silent for a long time and Harry thought he had gone too far. He knew the Order members weren’t supposed to give him any information unless Dumbledore decided it.
“I have been trying to make contact to the werewolves.” Snape suddenly said.
“The werewolves?” Harry asked surprised. “But they are working with Voldemort, aren’t they? Wouldn’t they know about you working for the Order?”
Snape nodded slowly.
“Most of them work for him, yes, but the chance that even one of them knows about me is negligible. He Who Must Not Be Named uses many creatures to do his bidding. He likes to make them all believe that they are very important, but he would not share any information with them.”
Harry nodded. It only made sense. What didn’t make sense was why Dumbledore would ask Snape to try and contact the werewolves when there was a real werewolf in the Order of the Phoenix.
“Why didn’t he ask Remus to do it?”
Snape raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“I think that would be clear.” he said. “Remus doesn’t want to leave you and Miss Malfoy here after what happened to Sirius.”
“But the Weasleys are here, and the Grangers.” Harry said.
Snape stood up from his chair and took his coat.
“Yes Potter, but he has promised his best friend that he would take care of the two of you if something happened to him. I’m sure you can understand that.”
After Snape had left Harry stayed by himself in the kitchen for a long time until Remus walked in and made them some tea. Yes, he thought to himself as the werewolf sat down in front of him, that I can understand.
“What are you thinking about so deeply?” Remus asked.
“Oh nothing.” Harry said.
“You’ve been in here for a long time.” Remus urged on. “What’s on your mind?”
“I was just thinking I’m glad you’re here.”
Remus smiled at his best friend’s son.
“I’m not going anywhere soon.”
“So when is Tonks moving in with us?” Harry asked mischievously.
Remus choked on his tea.
“What? You don’t have to believe everything you heard from Sirius, Harry.”
“I have eyes, you know.” Harry said dryly. “Four of them to be exact.”
Remus laughed out loud, but didn’t elaborate on the subject.
“So?” Harry insisted. “Are you together or not?”
Remus shook his head.
“Not really no.”
“Oh,” Harry said surprised. “I thought you really liked her?”
“I did.” Remus said. “I mean I do. It’s just… It wouldn’t be good for her to get involved with me.”
“You know what I am, Harry. Can you imagine what her friends and her family would say if she started going out with a werewolf?”
“Screw that.” Harry said bluntly. “Who cares what anyone else says? And I’m sure Tonks doesn’t care either!”
“She says that now.” Remus said. “But she has no idea what it’ll be like. I’m just afraid – “
“Don’t be.” Harry advised him. “Tonks is great. And you’d be perfect for each other. If you never try you’ll never find out how it could have been, will you?”
“I guess not. But I’m afraid how her family will react. You have no idea…”
“Don’t I?” Harry said sarcastically. “I started seeing a girl last year who has six protective older brothers. And one of them is my best friend. If I can survive that you can survive Tonks’ family.”
Remus laughed. “Maybe you’re right.”
When Harry had left to see his friends, Remus thought of the times he had talked about Harry with Sirius over the last year. They had clearly been right. Harry may be all James on the outside, except for the eyes, but there was definitely a lot of Lily in his personality.
Harry’s sixteenth birthday was a quiet celebration, seeing as it didn’t really seem right to have a big party while the war was raging on and they had received news about several new disappearances and attacks. The most disturbing disappearance was the one of Garrick Ollivander, the wandmaker at Diagon Alley. The strange thing was that there wasn’t any sign of struggle or fighting. The members of the Order feared that he might have gone with the Death Eaters voluntarily.
Still Harry was happy to see that a lot of Order members that he hadn’t seen in a long time turned up to congratulate him.
“Happy Birthday, Harry!” Tonks said cheerfully and she gave him a hug. Still holding him she said softly: “Remus told me about that talk you had. Thanks.”
She released him and gave him a wink before she went to sit next to Remus.
Another surprising guest was Cedric Diggory, Harry’s old friend and ally from the Triwizard Tournament. They hadn’t seen him in a long time as he also was on an undercover mission for Dumbledore. He had been trying to make amends with the vampires.
After dinner and birthday cake, Dumbledore asked for a word in private with Harry. They left the kitchen and walked up the stairs to the living room. Dumbledore politely lifted his hat towards Lily and James’ portrait before he sat down on the couch and motioned for Harry to do the same.
“First of all Harry,” the headmaster said. “I am happy to tell you that I finally found the time to investigate the Gaunt shack in Little Hangleton. There are clear tracks of dark magic and I am quite certain that Voldemort has hidden one of his remaining Horcruxes there.”
Harry sat up more straight.
“Really? Can I – “
“Yes, Harry.” Dumbledore interrupted him, smiling. “You may come with me when I try to obtain it, but we will not be going for a couple of days. I have to straight some things out first.”
“Do you know which Horcrux it is?”
“I cannot be sure, but my best guess would be the ring. It belonged to Voldemort’s grandfather after all.”
Harry nodded. “So if it’s there and we find it…”
“There are only three Horcruxes left.” Dumbledore added. “But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves, Harry. I actually wanted to talk to you about something else.”
He looked at Harry seriously.
“Have you told anyone about the things we discussed last time we spoke in private?”
“No.” Harry said.
“Not even Ginny? Ron and Hermione? Remus?” Dumbledore asked.
“No. No one.”
Dumbledore nodded. “That was more or less what I expected.”
“Do you think I should have?” Harry asked.
The old man thought deeply before he answered.
“That is not my decision to make, Harry. You are old and wise enough to decide what you do and do not tell certain people.”
“But if I may give you one piece of advice. Yes, I would tell them.”
Harry looked at him puzzled. Dumbledore had always insisted that the information of the Horcruxes wouldn’t go too far and now he urged him to tell his friends that Harry himself had been a Horcrux for nearly fifteen years.
Dumbledore interpreted Harry’s silence correctly.
“I know it would seem strange for me to tell you this, but I really think you should, Harry.”
“Why?” Harry asked. “What if they…”
“What if they what?” Dumbledore asked.
He looked piercingly into the green eyes of his favourite student.
“What if they think less of you? Or even do not want to be around you anymore?”
Harry nodded. “I had a piece of Voldemort’s soul in me for almost all my life. Why would they still want to be around me? And Ginny – “
“Is in love with you.” Dumbledore said firmly. “Ginny is in love with Harry Potter, the whole package and everything that comes with it. Nothing can change that. Look at Remus and Nymphadora. Did you not convince Remus yourself not to let the fact that he is a werewolf hold him back?”
“Yes.” Harry said unwillingly.
“Then you should follow your own wonderful advice, my dear boy.” Dumbledore said. “I am sure your friends will still love you for who you are, Harry. They will understand. Especially Ginny.”
“Why especially Ginny?” Harry asked.
“I believe she knows exactly how you feel right now. It may only have been for one year instead of fifteen, but I think she will understand.”
Dumbledore stood up and walked towards the door of the living room. Before he left he turned around to face Harry once more.
“I have always been very secretive when I was younger, Harry, even towards my friends. It has cost me almost everything I held dear. Please, do not make the same mistakes I did.”
“A friend is someone who knows everything about you and still loves you” – Elbert Hubbard
next is 6.