Chapter 5 : Ghosts of the Past
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The train is leaving…
And I am gonna miss you so
No point in grieving…
It’s time to let it go
- Kym Marsh
“How …?” began Harry weakly.
Heather Louise waved a parchment envelope. Dumbledore took it and looked at the name on the front.
“I thought so,” he said cheerfully. “You’re a witch, Miss Thrapp?”
“Well, I must have been once,” she muttered, sitting down on the bed. Harry pushed himself upright to see her face properly.
“You can’t have just been one once,” he said. “Either you’re one or you’re not.”
She smiled at the bluntness in his words.
“Well, in that case I am.”
Harry stared at her. *Even when I try to escape magic, I run straight into it. How do I do it?*
“I don’t understand,” he frowned.
“Actually, neither do I,” Dumbledore admitted.
Heather Louise smiled sadly. “I got that letter from Hogwarts years ago, but I turned it down.”
Harry was stunned. “Why on earth did you do that? Hogwarts was the best thing that ever happened to me!”
“Harry, I… told you about my parents. Remember?”
Dumbledore looked up sharply, listening closely. Harry nodded.
“I was only six when they died. The circumstances – well, it was obviously magic. The doors were still locked from the inside, there were no marks or anything on their bodies… it had the police baffled. I allowed myself to be adopted, and I shut myself away from the magical world. I was scared.”
Heather Louise looked away. Harry was suddenly speechless. He felt a rush of sympathy for her.
Dumbledore cleared his throat, and the two looked back at him.
“I notice you’re using past tense, Miss Thrapp.”
She smiled. “Yes. I’m not really scared now. I regretted my decision every day.”
An idea forming in his head, Harry turned to Dumbledore. “Isn’t there some kind of adult education for when situations like this happen?” he asked eagerly.
“If you mean is there a place like Hogwarts, no. But I know some people have taken on adult apprenticeships before, for people who didn’t go to a magic school. I don’t suppose you’d be interested, Miss Thrapp?”
Heather Louise’s mouth was hanging open. She looked from Dumbledore to Harry, as if trying to discern whether it was some kind of joke. They looked back innocently. After several long minutes of silence, she wordlessly nodded.
Harry grinned. “That’s great! You won’t regret it this time, Heather Louise.” He started to babble about the different classes, but Dumbledore put a hand on his arm.
“Harry, it’s late, and you need to sleep. We can talk in the morning.” Harry didn’t miss the look he sent Heather Louise that said clearly, “We’ll talk once he’s asleep.”
“I’m not tir-” Harry began, put was cut off by a yawn he tried (and failed) to stifle. Dumbledore and Heather Louise exchanged amused looks.
“Sleep,” she said firmly. “I’m not letting you go till you’re well. Do you want a drink or something first?”
“Yes please,” Harry said, ignoring the faint confusion that passed over Dumbledore’s face.
“Hot chocolate?” she suggested. Harry nodded eagerly. Heather Louise made to leave, but Dumbledore flicked his wand and three mugs appeared out of thin air. Heather Louise’s mouth dropped open again, and stayed open until Dumbledore wordlessly passed her her own mug.
“Cheers,” Harry said. The other two smiled and Dumbledore stood up.
“Miss Thrapp, you don’t mind me staying -”
Heather Louise cut him off. “You’re both staying here until Harry’s better. Um, I’ve only the one spare room; I hope you don’t mind -” She broke off as a second bed appeared next to Harry’s. After a couple of seconds, she shook herself and said, “Well, that sorts out sleeping arrangements. I take it you have everything you need, Mr Dumbledore?”
“Yes, thank you.”
She smiled. “Then I’ll see you in the morning. Harry, make sure you go to sleep soon.”
Heather Louise chuckled and left. Harry stared blankly at the door, giving his headmaster privacy so he could change. He sipped his cocoa (which, unsurprisingly, was delicious) and pondered what would happen now. If Heather Louise took up an apprenticeship in the wizarding world, he’d be able to see her again, and she wouldn’t need a Memory Charm. For the first time that summer, Harry was happy.
A soft knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. “Can I come in?”
“Yes,” Dumbledore answered. Heather Louise opened the door.
“Sorry, but I forgot to mention the light in the bathroom doesn’t work anymore. The bulb blew this morning and I haven’t had a chance to change it yet.”
“Thank you, Miss Thrapp. We’ll remember.”
Heather Louise started to leave, but did a slight double-take in the doorway. Harry distinctly saw a muffled grin as she hurried out. Wondering what on earth that was about, Harry followed her line of gaze, and began to choke on his cocoa. Dumbledore offered him a bang on the back and Harry forced himself to hide his grin. After firmly instructing him to sleep, Dumbledore moved over to the other bed and Harry rolled over, muffling his chuckling in the pillow. The last thought that crossed his mind before he fell asleep, was *Wait till the school finds out the headmaster wears Spongebob Squarepants pyjamas…*
Harry woke up once during the night. As he lay quietly, trying to fall asleep again, he thought he heard…
Lifting his head and staring through the darkness, he saw the faint outline of Dumbledore on the other bed. The headmaster appeared to be not-so-peacefully sleeping; his form was trembling slightly and his breath was coming in rough gasps. Harry knew a nightmare when he saw one.
He was debating whether to get out of bed and wake Dumbledore up, but no sooner had he decided to he saw it had passed; the man rolled over and continued sleeping soundly. Harry drifted off to sleep not long after, and by morning he had forgotten the whole episode.
When Harry came downstairs, he stopped, and rubbed his eyes. When he realized what he was seeing was real, he grinned and sat down.
Dumbledore appeared to be having a heated discussion over Heather Louise’s phone. Harry nibbled at his toast for a few minutes before his name caught his attention.
“…won’t let Harry stay at Hogwarts.” Harry froze. “Remus, I’ve been trying, but you know the rules; they absolutely will not allow it.” Dumbledore looked uncharacteristically flustered and kept glancing over at Harry. When he realized Harry was listening, his expression grew even more anxious and he turned away, biting his lip nervously.
“Remus, just please hurry up with those wards, all right?”
Harry dropped his eyes and tried to concentrate on his toast, but he couldn’t stop himself listening intently to the conversation.
“Well, what about Grimmauld Place? How far have they -”
It was about him, after all.
“Those damn Ministry procedures. Now we’re in a right mess.”
A bit of toast went down the wrong way. Harry coughed.
“Looks like we’re back to square one. Remus, for goodness’ sake, get them to hurry up.” Dumbledore replaced the phone and looked at Harry.
“I’m going back to Privet Drive?” Harry blurted out.
“I don’t know yet, Harry. It’s a question of where else there is…” Dumbledore pulled out a sheaf of parchment and what looked like a Self-Inking Quill from the insides of his robes, and began scribbling notes. Harry abandoned his toast and stood up to watch.
“…Grimmauld Place is out of the question. Ministry procedure, until the will is found and they’ve checked the place over for Dark material.”
Harry wasn’t sure if Dumbledore was speaking to him, or to himself, but he stayed silent and listened.
“…The Burrow is still too dangerous. The Weasleys are all spilt up, staying with various relatives… the Order are working on putting up wards, but it’s very complicated magic, and they don’t seem to be doing too well.”
Heather Louise entered the room, and Harry motioned her to be quiet. Dumbledore continued, unaware of her presence.
“That doesn’t leave us with many options. As much as I’ve tried to change it, the Ministry still insists on the no-students-at-school-during-the-summer rule. I could make an exception in this case, were it not for the fact that the place is completely overrun with Ministry officials. That leaves us with…”
Dumbledore paused and observed the parchment. It was now covered in calculations Harry couldn’t make head or tail of. Dumbledore rubbed the bridge of his nose thoughtfully, and Harry hardly dared breathe, should he interrupt his concentration.
“Under normal circumstances, Thoron Manor would be perfect, but the wards…”
Harry didn’t have a clue what or where Thoron Manor was. He and Heather Louise stayed silent, watching Dumbledore run a finger carefully over the calculations, then:
Harry’s heart sank as Dumbledore sank into a chair, rubbing his eyes.
“Professor?” he asked tentatively.
Dumbledore looked up.
“I’m going back to the Dursleys, aren’t I?”
Heather Louise let out a little hiss that indicated disapproval. Dumbledore jumped, not having realized she was in the room.
“Why does Harry have to go somewhere he’s not welcome?”
“Because there’s nowhere else,” Harry explained. Heather Louise frowned. “It’s complicated…” he added. He turned back to Dumbledore, who was staring thoughtfully at the parchment.
“Professor, how come there are people from the Ministry at Hogwarts?” he asked curiously.
“They’re setting up extra wards. For some strange reason, Fudge doesn’t trust me to do it myself.”
“He’s still Minister?” Harry asked incredulously. “After last year??”
“I’m afraid so. Hopefully that won’t last, but for now…” Dumbledore sighed. “He’s admitted Voldemort’s back -”
“And about time too.”
“- but he’s not prepared to admit he was wrong. He’s still insisting he acted for the best, and he didn’t want to cause a panic without proof.”
They had completely forgotten Heather Louise was in the room, so when she cleared her throat (in a manner not far away from Umbridge's little habit), they both jumped.
“As much as I hate to interrupt your little politics talk,” she said sweetly, “don’t we have some arrangements to make?”
Harry looked from Heather Louise to Dumbledore.
“Yes, Miss Thrapp, you’re right; sorry. Harry, we can talk about this later.” He gave him a look that clearly indicated he wasn’t about to forget. Harry gave a tiny nod to show he’d got the message.
Harry’s temperature was a bit lower but not yet back to normal. Heather Louise seemed to have filled Dumbledore in on the last few days; both adults were adamant that Harry stay in bed, which Harry thought was very unfair, and kept checking to make sure he was alright. It was amusing to start with, but Harry quickly found it annoying. However, he couldn’t help but feel a little pleased at all the attention.
Heather Louise and Dumbledore discussed apprenticeships. Whatever Heather Louise chose to study, it would be a good idea to take some unofficial background classes first, so she had a basic idea of what she was doing, and the best place for that seemed to be Hogwarts. Harry listened in interestedly – he’d never heard of any of this before, and he found himself wishing, not for the first time, that he had a greater understanding of the wizarding world.
By lunchtime, Heather Louise had decided to accompany them back to England when they left, and take up temporary residence with her mother until arrangements could officially be made. Harry was delighted.
At noon, she went downstairs to fix some lunch and there was silence for a moment before Dumbledore spoke.
“Harry, I know you’re unhappy about going back to Privet Drive, but -”
Harry cut him off. “I know. There’s nowhere else.”
It came out rather more bitterly that he had intended and Dumbledore winced very slightly.
“Harry,” Dumbledore said seriously, “I made a promise which I don’t intend to break. You will not be alone.”
Harry looked at him. “Who will be with me?”
Dumbledore opened his mouth, hesitated, and replied slowly, “I… don’t know yet. I’ll owl the Order after lunch and sort something out.”
Feeling slightly happier, Harry settled back as Heather Louise entered with a tray of sandwiches.
“You don’t have to eat in here…” he began, but trailed off as Heather Louise and Dumbledore glanced at each other. They’d got used to his reluctance to let anyone do anything for him during the day and seemed to find it amusing, which greatly annoyed him.
As they ate, the conversation went back to the wizarding world. Heather Louise asked question after question, and Dumbledore let Harry answer most, occasionally chipping in himself. They started off talking about the basic lessons at school and moved on to living with magic. When they’d pretty much finished the meal, the talk turned to the current situation.
“Just tell me if I’m being too nosy, but can you tell me what this ‘situation’ is? It sounds like something bad. Or don’t I want to know?”
Harry and Dumbledore looked at each other, both hoping the other one would answer.
“Weeell,” Harry said, when he lost the waiting match, “you probably don’t want to hear it, but if you’re joining the wizarding world you’d better know.”
Dumbledore frowned. “Actually, that’s something I hadn’t considered. As you’re inexperienced, it would be a good idea to arrange some sort of protection. If you’ve been brought up away from magic, it would make you a prime target from Death Eaters.”
“In short, a bunch of loonies who have this unfortunate idea that anyone associated with Muggles is somehow lower class, and who act of that belief ruthlessly.”
Heather Louise stared at Harry apprehensively.
“The good point,” Harry carried on, “is that they’re not as powerful as they think they are. Me and some of my friends were outnumbered two to one *and* they had the element of surprise, and we *still* beat them – sort of.”
“We need to talk about that at some point, Harry,” Dumbledore said quietly.
Harry grimaced. Heather Louise looked impressed.
“You’ve faced them?”
“Twice – three times if you count Wormtail, I suppose.” Thinking of Wormtail brought back memories of Sirius, and Harry forced the thoughts away. “It’s becoming something like an annual event.”
“Unfortunately,” Dumbledore cut in, “the numbers are growing and the ones in Azkaban could break out any day, with the dementors gone. And Harry’s currently a prime target.”
Heather Louise raised an eyebrow at them.
“Risky business, being a wizard, then?”
“Tell me about it,” Harry groaned. “If you’re powerful you’re a target because people want to be more powerful than you, and if you’re not you’re a target anyway for people like Lucius Malfoy who like Muggle-baiting.”
Seeing Heather Louise’s horrified expression, he added hastily, “It’s not all bad, though.”
“Hmm. I have to admit, I’ve always had a bit of a thing for danger. Don’t worry, you haven’t put me off.”
Dumbledore groaned. “Oh no. Two of them.”
Harry laughed and Heather Louise looked a little confused. Harry gestured at himself and she got the message.
“Do these… Death Eaters… only operate in England, or… ?”
Dumbledore answered. “Mostly Britain, but there are supporters worldwide. There’s been some rumours of Death Eater activity near here, actually.”
Harry blinked. “But then, aren’t we vulnerable here? If Voldemort knew I was here, he’d send them after us.”
“To my knowledge, he doesn’t know you’re here, Harry. He shouldn’t find out, unless someone’s seen you – is that possible?” he added, seeing Harry’s scared face.
“Probably,” Harry replied, thinking of his wander round the town. Why had he been so stupid? He should have realized Voldemort probably had supporters abroad!
“Where? Where have you been?” Dumbledore sounded panicky now.
“Besides here? Just round the town, really. I stayed away from everyone so I don’t think I could have been spotted,” Harry said, sounding more confidant than he felt.
Heather Louise had been silent up till that point, but now she spoke.
“What about those men back in the café? The ones you bumped into in the doorway.”
“What men?” Dumbledore asked quickly.
Harry frowned. “Oh, them. I dunno, maybe. I didn’t really get a good look at them. I caught the name of one of them, though – Covillaud or something…”
Heather Louise slammed the boot shut. “Ready.”
Dumbledore and Harry were already in the car. The latter looked ready to fall asleep any minute. Harry still had a fever and felt shaky, but when Dumbledore had heard one of France’s top Voldemort supporters knew where he was there was no question: Harry had to leave the country, ready or not. Heather Louise was going to drive them, and they had to hope that Voldemort wouldn’t suspect them of going home the Muggle way.
“Why can’t we just take a Portkey?” Harry asked.
“Because the French Ministry would have our heads, because it can be too easily traced, and because we’d attract a lot of unwanted attention.”
Heather Louise climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine.
“There’s one thing I don’t understand. Why are these guys after Harry?”
The almost-asleep boy spoke up.
“Their master’s a psycho raving lunatic who wants to kill me.”
“You get used to it. He’s wanted me dead since before I was born.”
“I don’t know about you, but I find that slightly disturbing.”
The journey passed in almost silence. Harry fell asleep pretty quickly, worn out from the last few days. His head came to rest on Dumbledore’s shoulder, who sat still, trying not to disturb him. Heather Louise saw the scene in her rear-view mirror and smiled.
The whole journey back, Albus was worried. Not so much about Death Eater attack – the likelihood was that Voldemort wouldn’t attack anywhere public so soon after ‘coming out’. The British Ministry had acknowledged his return, but the other European Ministries were still in doubt. No, Albus was thinking about the cuts that had formed on Harry.
He felt he had an idea of what it could be, and the moment he set foot in England he would contact Poppy Pomfrey and ask her what she thought.
He hoped it wasn’t what he suspected. He hoped it with all his heart.
Once back in Britain, Dumbledore shook Harry awake gently so they could part. Heather Louise wanted to see her mother first and then get into contact about the arrangements for her apprenticeship. She let them have the car, and got a cab, giving them her mother’s home details and taking Harry’s.
It wasn’t till this short goodbye Harry remembered about the arrangements for himself.
“Professor?” he asked quietly.
“Did you sort out who’s going to stay with me?”
“I did. I hope you won’t feel too bad about it, but I thought it would be best.”
Dumbledore sounded a little nervous. Harry didn’t know why, until he asked, “Who is it?”
The headmaster’s answer kept him silent the rest of the journey.
The car pulled up outside number four (Harry wondered for the first time when Dumbledore had learnt to drive) and they both sat in silence for a few minutes after he turned off the engine.
“Shall we?” he asked Harry quietly.
*Come on Harry, where’s your Gryffindor courage?* Harry nodded and opened the car door.
Dumbledore checked Heather Louise’s things (minus her overnight bag, which she’d taken with her) were safe before taking out his own bag and locking the car.
“Sir?” Harry asked.
“You don’t have to do this.”
Albus stared at the tired teenager standing before him in the middle of the road and stopped a sigh. How could he ever explain?
“I know I don’t, Harry.” The tone was gentle, but final, signalling that Dumbledore was going to anyway. Harry stared in silence for a moment, before nodding.
As they walked up the path, Harry thought of something. “Do the Dursleys know I’m coming back?”
“I sent them a letter before I left Britain. I wanted them to think you were coming back regardless of whether you were or not, in case something came up at the last minute.” Albus didn’t add that the letter had mostly contained sharp reprimands and rude threats (that was Minerva’s contribution) about letting Harry run off in the first place.
Dumbledore pressed his finger on the doorbell. Harry’s stomach went queasy at the thought of facing the Dursleys again. Hopefully with Dumbledore there Vernon wouldn’t dare do anything. Harry shuddered as he heard footsteps come to the door.
When Vernon opened the door, he saw the boy and the freak on his doorstep. The first word out of his mouth was, “You!”
Harry (under Dumbledore’s orders) ducked under his uncle’s arm and ran, leaving Vernon with a wand in his face. Harry badly wanted to watch the inevitable argument, and hurried into his bedroom.
His things were right where he’d left them. He found it odd, but wasn’t complaining – he’d been afraid the Dursleys might have snapped his wand. Avoiding the china shards, he crept over the landing to listen to what was happening in the hall.
“Mr Dursley, I am this much away from cursing you into oblivion as it is; I suggest you do not make things more difficult for yourself.”
“Ouch,” Harry whispered.
Uncle Vernon was swelling with anger.
“ARE YOU THREATENING ME??” he bellowed. Harry couldn’t suppress the thought that his Uncle wasn’t very original in his accusations – he had said almost exactly the same thing to Moody.
“YES I AM!!” Dumbledore roared in a voice quite unlike his usual calm manner. Harry was infinitely glad he wasn’t Uncle Vernon at this moment. “And believe me Dursley; the only thing holding me back is the fact that I don’t want to make things worse for Harry! But I suggest you watch your step, because my patience is thinning!”
The threat seemed to work. Harry slipped silently upstairs and made his way to his room. He cleared up the china shards from where the lamp had smashed, picked out some clean clothes and made his way to the bathroom.
Heather Louise instructed the driver to drop her off round the corner – she felt like she could do with a bit of fresh air. She paid the man, glad to be using English currency again, and set off on the familiar path to her mother’s house.
On the corner, she stopped short and gasped.
A police car was parked on the pavement. Tape bound the bungalow, which looked ruined – every window was smashed and the garden looked vandalised. The bricks were burned black, and above the roof a shape hung in mid-air – the same shape Heather Louise had seen over her home twenty years ago – a skull comprised of emerald-green stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth.
Her heart went cold and she burst into a run.
The Dursleys’ house was far from a mansion, but it admittedly was rather comfortable, Vernon had always thought. However, even the Hogwarts prefect bathroom would seem cramped if you were confined to it all morning.
*Those interfering, bloody useless freaks!*
All right, not useless. If those… people were useless, they wouldn’t know how to lock the bathroom door from the outside when the catch was on Vernon's side of the door.
The bath rim was hard and cold, the tiled floor was harder and colder. Vernon was reduced to sitting on the toilet seat and staring round the room he now knew better than his own, wondering what to do.
He’d given up banging on the door hours ago. No-one took any notice, and all he’d succeeded in doing was making his throat hurt from the bellowing. It seemed the only way of escape was…
Through the window.
But if he escaped, then what? What would he tell people? Vernon Dursley prided himself on not being a coward, but he had no desire to be sent to a lunatic ward. He might even be arrested. Those freaks had a Ministry, too, and Muggles without magical family weren’t supposed to know it existed. If he went blabbing –
Vernon sat up straight. That was it! The magical Ministry! They’d arrest the freak downstairs, free his family, and the boy might even be taken away forever. Yes!
Before he’d begun to decide how exactly to get a message to a Ministry whose whereabouts to him were completely unknown, there was a sharp knock on the door, and the lock clicked open.
Vernon felt stupid. He could easily have stood behind the door and clunked the wizard on the head with the shower head if he’d thought about it – it happened in all the films Dudley was so fond of. If he’d been ready, he could’ve not only escaped, but freed Dudley and Petunia as well with no need to involve magic.
Except it wasn’t the wizard that entered.
“Hi, Uncle Vernon,” Harry said cheerfully.
Vernon caught a scent of something cooking, and his stomach growled unpleasantly. He roared and started towards Harry, but found a wand pointing in his face, almost poking his eye out.
“Don’t try that one with me,” he snarled. “You can’t do magic outside that madhouse, and your headmaster is even downstairs. You can’t talk your way out of this one, boy!”
“Try me,” Harry shrugged. “The Ministry can’t tell which wand a spell comes from, only its whereabouts. After the first five letters telling me off Dumbledore wrote to them and told them he was staying here, and the magic was him. They wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.”
“And he’d back you up, would he?” sneered Vernon in a manner strongly resembling Malfoy – only he didn’t think that, because the Dursleys never met Draco Malfoy.
“You might not have picked up on it, but even though Professor Dumbledore’s a teacher, he dislikes bullies as much as I do. I think he’s wanted an excuse to jinx you for ages.”
“Yep. Sorry, Uncle, but *you* can’t talk *your* way out of *this* one. Dumbledore’s aware of everything that’s gone on here, you know. In the last fifteen years, anyway. Ever had the sense you were being… watched?”
“Why you insolent little –“
Harry waggled the wand in front of his face and Vernon fell silent. But not for long.
“What are you going to do to me, eh? You’re still underage; you can’t possibly know everything older – freaks – know. You going to turn me into a goat, or are you still turning beetles into stones?”
“Firstly, it’s matchsticks into needles, and I’m well above that stage. And that’s just Transfiguration. Secondly, I’m best in the year at Defence against the Dark Arts, and that’s the subject you learn the most curses on. Thirdly, you seem to be forgetting that Professor Dumbledore’s still downstairs, and he’s the best wizard in the world – even Voldemort’s afraid of him, and that’s saying something.” The words *Do as I say, or my headmaster will kick your arse* hung in the air.
Vernon realised he’d lost the argument and slumped against the wall.
“Lower that thing.”
Harry lowered the wand so it was no longer in Vernon’s face, but not so low his Uncle could escape.
“Actually, I came up here to tell you lunch is ready.”
Vernon brightened. At least the boy and the freak weren’t going to starve him – that was something to be thankful for. He sniffed the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.
“What is it?”
“*We’re* having shepherd’s pie and treacle tart.”
The boy’s favourites. How typical. However, Vernon wasn’t complaining – he liked it, too.
Harry suddenly gave a mischievous grin. “But Dumbledore and I thought you might prefer these.” He shoved a package at Vernon, and quickly left the room.
The package contained a pack of dry out-of-date low-calorie savoury crispbreads and two sticks of raw carrot.
Vernon could hear the sounds of laughter downstairs. He dropped his lunch and groaned into his hands as the doorbell rang.
Heather Louise looked around. The Dursleys’ place looked much neater and tidier than hers could ever hope to be. She sipped the mug of tea Dumbledore had set down in front of her and tried to calm down.
“Was the Dark Mark above it?” Harry asked quietly.
“The Dark Mark?”
“A skull with a serpent tongue?”
“Oh, that. Yes. Why, what is it?”
“The symbol of Voldemort and his Death Eaters,” Dumbledore answered grimly. Heather Louise gasped.
“But why my mother? She’s got – had nothing to do with magic!”
Dumbledore shook his head sadly. “She adopted you, and for the Death Eaters, that’s enough.”
“Oh my God.” Heather Louise placed the mug back on the table with trembling hands. Harry reached out and squeezed her shoulder.
Dumbledore sighed. “I’m sorry, Miss Thrapp. I’d better go and inform the Order.” He placed a hand lightly on her other shoulder and left the room with a furrowed brow.
Heather Louise sat shaking for a few minutes in silence before asking, “What’s the Order?”
“Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore set it up years ago. It’s an anti-Voldemort movement, and a much better one than the Ministry have.”
“Years? How long has this been going on?”
“Well, apparently the first war lasted for eleven years before Voldemort was ‘defeated’ the first time – that was when I was one. Then he got his body back two years ago. I was there, so I should know.”
Heather Louise shuddered. “What have you got to do with him? Are you a member of the Order?”
“Huh. I wish. It’s comprised of of-age wizards only. I know most people in it, though. We stayed at headquarters last summer…” Harry trailed off.
“Me and my friends. It was safer than their home.”
Heather Louise shook her head sadly. “I don’t know how you wizards cope with this life.”
“Honestly, not everyone lives like this. You’ve come across a pretty rare case. I’m the exception, cos I’m the one Voldemort wants dead more than anyone else.”
Harry hesitated. “Can… can you keep a secret?”
She nodded, her eyes fearful.
“There was a prophecy made about me before I was born. It said I’d be the only one with the power to defeat Voldemort.”
Heather Louise gasped and put a hand over her mouth.
“I only found out last week,” Harry said honestly, “and my friends don’t know yet, so can you not tell anyone?”
“No. no, of course I won’t. Is this why this Vol… this wizard’s after you?”
“Uh-huh. He knows I’m the only one that can kill him, and he wants to kill *me* before I can.” Harry shrugged like it was no big deal. “He tried when I was one, and failed – that’s how he lost his powers, and I got *this*.” He gestured to his scar. “Then year before last one of his servants got him back with this potion with my blood in – er, it’s a long story.”
Heather Louise was staring with her mouth open.
Dumbledore came back into the room. “Miss Thrapp?”
She jerked out of her stupor and looked up at him. “Yes?”
“It’s arranged. You can stay at Hogwarts until further notice. I’ll escort you and leave you in my colleague’s care. Is that all right?”
“Um, oh, yes. Thank you, Mr Dumbledore.”
“You’re welcome.” Dumbledore looked at Harry. “Harry, do you want to come for the ride, or would you rather stay here?” His eyes twinkled, revealing he knew exactly what Harry’s answer would be.
“I’m coming,” Harry said, jumping up. “How are we getting there?”
“I think we’ll pay Arabella a little visit – as I understand it, she has a connection to the Floo network in her fireplace.”
Harry nodded. He wasn’t exactly thrilled at the idea of travelling by Floo – he remembered all too well what happened the last time he had used that powder.
Dumbledore transfigured his robes into Muggle clothes (Heather Louise stared) and the three left number four and walked quietly over to Mrs Figg’s house. She welcomed them in graciously and let them use the Floo. Heather Louise was rather wary when Dumbledore explained gently how it worked. When they were talking Harry pulled Mrs Figg aside and thanked her amiably for helping him in his hearing last year.
“Don’t mention it, dear boy.”
Mrs Figg smiled at him – a much nicer one than the ones she used to show when he came round – and looked over to the fireplace, where Heather Louise had already vanished. Dumbledore offered him the flowerpot.
“The password to my office is ‘Acid Pops’,” he told him. Harry nodded and took a handful of Floo powder.
He stumbled out of the fireplace in the headmaster’s office trailing soot everywhere. Heather Louise was looking around in mixed apprehension and interest. A third whoosh signalled Dumbledore’s entry.
Harry glanced around the office guiltily. It looked unusually bare without his animated contraptions. No doubt they were being fixed, or had even been thrown away.
“Where are we?” Heather Louise asked apprehensively.
“My office. I hope you don’t mind waiting here while I get Minerva?”
“Oh – no,” she answered. Dumbledore’s eyes flickered to Harry before he said calmly, “Very well. I won’t be long.”
And with that he left the room. Harry looked around more carefully. Other than the absence of Dumbledore’s machines, the office was pretty much as it was the last time he’d been in here. Only the huge stack of paperwork showed that any time had passed at all.
“Harry, what’s that bird?” Heather Louise asked quietly.
He looked up in time to see a flurry of red and gold as the phoenix came to rest on his arm.
“Hello, Fawkes,” he said softly, stroking the feathers. “Meet my friend, Heather Louise.” Fawkes gave a soft trilling and inclined his beautiful head at her. Heather Louise laughed.
“He’s lovely. What is he?”
“A phoenix. He belongs to Dumbledore.” Harry carried Fawkes back over to his perch and looked over at the portraits. The occupants all appeared to be sleeping peacefully. Heather Louise, seeing where his eyes were trained, gave a soft “Oh,” as she noticed the pictures were moving.
“Previous headmasters and headmistresses of Hogwarts,” Harry said to her unanswered question. “That one’s Armando Dippet – he was Dumbledore’s forerunner, I think – and that’s Phineas Nigellus. I don’t know any of the others, though. And you want to be careful – often they only pretend to be asleep.”
Heather Louise raised her eyebrows. “Personal experience?”
“Mm.” Harry cast around for a change of subject, and his eyes landed on the Sorting Hat.
“I bet you can’t guess what that is.” Heather Louise looked over to where he was pointing.
“Er… a hat?”
Heather Louise gave him a funny look, before replying, “I give up. What is it?”
Harry pouted. “You’re no fun. I was hoping you’d spend ages trying to work it out… it’s the Sorting Hat.”
“And what’s that when it’s at home?”
“I think I got that part. Sorts what?”
“People. Students, to be precise. There’s four Houses, and it decides which one you go it.”
“Which one are you in?”
“Gryffindor. So are most of my friends. Dumbledore was one, too as well, I think.”
“What are the others?”
“Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and spare-me Slytherin.” Harry grimaced. “I guess Slytherins aren’t all bad, but the only ones I’ve had close contact with have been. The House has a horrible reputation. Voldemort was one when he was here, and I think most of the Death Eaters were too – Wormtail excepted.”
“What’s-his-name came here?” Heather Louise asked, startled.
“His name used to be Tom Riddle and yes, he went here, fifty-something years ago. He was prefect, Head Boy, and all the teachers liked him – well, except Dumbledore, who saw right through him. He has a way of doing that.”
“I realized,” Heather Louise said thoughtfully. “So, how does the Hat Sort?”
“Well, it can – you’d call it mind-reading, but wizards don’t generally call it that. Legilimency. Actually, I’m not sure if that’s what the Hat does, but that’s what it’s called when wizards do it. At the Sorting, each first-year tries on the Hat and it looks in your head and tells everyone where it thinks you belong. It had a lot of trouble with me. Actually, the Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin.”
Heather Louise raised her eyebrows again. “You refused?”
“Too right. You know they say your reputation precedes you. I’d already heard about it, and told it I didn’t want to go in Slytherin, so it put me in Gryffindor instead.”
“How does it actually know which House to put you in?”
“Well, I think it compares you to the Founders. There were four; the Houses are named after them. Gryffindor was supposed to be brave, Hufflepuff was supposed to be loyal, Ravenclaw clever and Slytherin ambitious. That’s what’s in the Hat’s songs every year, anyway. Slytherin was also very prejudiced towards Muggleborns as well, but that’s another story.”
Heather Louise looked around more interestedly. “Have you been in here a lot, Harry?” she asked curiously. “You seem to know where everything is.”
Harry flushed slightly. “Er… twice in my second year, once in my third, a couple of times in my fourth, and… twice last year, I think. I didn’t come in here in my first year, because I was in the Hospital Wing when we had our annual explanation-after-Harry’s-run-off-on-a-dangerous-mission-and-nearly-killed-himself talk.”
Heather Louise stared. Harry shrugged. “I just attract a lot of trouble. What do you expect with the most powerful Dark Wizard on earth after you?”
“I thought you said he didn’t come back till your fourth year.”
“He didn’t, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t see him. First year he was possessing one of our teachers, and second year he used this magic diary to make my friend’s sister open the Chamber of Secrets. Third year I didn’t actually see *him*, but… I met one of his followers. Wormtail. He was pretending to be Ron’s rat for twelve years.”
Before Harry had time to dwell on who else he met in his third year, he heard voices outside the door and Dumbledore entered, followed by Professor McGonagall.
“Hello, Mr Potter.”
“Miss Thrapp,” Dumbledore said pleasantly, “this is my trusted friend and colleague, Minerva McGonagall. Minerva, this is Heather Louise. I shall leave you two to get to know each other,” he added, already sweeping back over to the fireplace.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here to meet you when you came, but I expected you to come out of a different fireplace.”
“That’s all right,” Heather Louise said.
“Harry, we need to go,” Dumbledore said quietly. Heather Louise ruffled Harry’s hair as he stepped back towards the fireplace.
“I’ll write!” she promised before he threw the Floo powder into the flames.
When Harry arrived back in number four, a surprise greeted him.
“Harry Potter, sir! Is so good to see you!”
“Dobby?” Harry gasped, disentangling himself from the arms flung round his waist. “What are you doing here?”
“Dobby is coming to protect Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore, sir. Nasty Kreacher is wanting revenge. Is saying he will escape. We is not letting him go, sir, but Dobby is wanting to stay in case.”
“Oh – well – thanks, Dobby. That’s kind of you.” Harry looked around at Dumbledore, who looked as surprised as he did.
“Dobby, have you told Professor McGonagall you’re here?”
Dobby cast his eyes down and shuffled his feet. “Dobby is asking if he can come, but Professor McGonagall is saying no. Professor McGonagall is being good witch, but Dobby is wanting to come.” He looked up at Dumbledore with tears in his eyes. “Dobby is not wanting to disobey Professors, but Dobby is acting for good.”
Harry was stunned.
Dumbledore looked slightly taken aback. “Dobby, if you want to stay, you can. But go back and tell Professor McGonagall you are here. Tell her I have given permission.”
Dobby brightened like a light bulb being switched on. “Dobby is going now, sir! Professor Dumbledore is great wizard! Thank you!” and he Disapparated in a crack.
Harry and Dumbledore exchanged amused looks.
The room was not one he’d ever seen before, but at the same time creepily familiar. It looked like the room in the Wizengamot, only it was pitch black and circular – no, more like spherical. The seats were all around every wall. Harry walked in, feeling the gravity keeping him on the floor.
There were candles all around the place that glowed blue. Harry shivered. He could see several doorways, all with light shining from the other side. He started towards the nearest one, but someone grabbed his arm and pushed him into a seat.
As soon as he sat, the room started revolving. The floor was moving upwards, so Harry was no longer upright – he had to clasp his chair handles to stop himself falling into the inky blackness.
As the movement stopped, Harry hurried along between the chairs, making for the nearest doorway, but the further he ran, the farther away it got. A sense of panic overcame him as the room moved again.
The chair handle slid from his grasp; he was falling, down… the lights from the doorways changed from soft gold to vivid green that stung his eyes… Harry clasped his hands over his face, so he wouldn’t have to see that he *couldn’t* see what was happening… he flailed out as he fell, but he was slowing; now he was drifting in nothingness. Harry opened his eyes warily, but all he could see was blackness.
“Sirius, is that you?”
“Who did you think it was?”
Harry twisted around, trying to see – and finally he caught a glimpse of a soft yellow light ahead of him; from where Sirius’ voice was coming from.
“Come on Harry, come and get me!”
Harry tried to get to the light, but it was out of his reach. He tried swimming through the air, but as it wasn’t water, his attempt was unsuccessful.
The light began to fade.
“Sirius!” Surely there had to be some way to get there… “SIRIUS!”
There was no reply. Harry lashed out, trying to get anything, trying to get out…
He gasped. As the nightmare faded, he realized he was in bed at the Dursleys’. Dumbledore was by the bed with his hands firmly grasping his shoulders. Harry was still shaking, and he realized he was covered in a sheet of cold sweat.
“Are you all right?”
Harry hesitated, waiting for his breathing to go back to normal. “Yeah.”
Dumbledore eyed him sceptically. “Go back to sleep. I’m staying in here tonight.”
“You don’t have to, sir…” Harry said weakly, but Dumbledore had already conjured a second bed like he had at Heather Louise’s. Feeling it was pointless to argue, Harry sighed and rolled over. It was a long time before he could bring himself to shut his eyes.
Harry woke again in an uncomfortable position. He’d let out a small groan before remembering his headmaster being there. Thankfully, he was still asleep. Harry turned over again and tried to sleep, but every time he closed his eyes visions from his nightmare earlier washed over him and he snapped them open again, shaking.
At one point, Harry actually fell at least partly asleep, but the nightmare came back in full measure – only this time, he thought he’d woken up when his Uncle Vernon came running in, shouting about silencing him. Harry woke crying out.
This time Dumbledore was awake beside him, but Harry was too shaken by the nightmare to let him come any closer. The headmaster tried several times to reach out to him, by Harry backed away, inexplicably afraid.
“Harry – what’s this?” Harry remembered the second day of the summer, when Vernon had hit him round the middle with the pedal pump on Dudley’s bike because Harry had fixed it wrongly when he’d been told to. Harry had mopped up the wounds where it had broken the skin in the bathroom and, as was his wont, not mentioned it to anybody.
But it seemed Dumbledore had seen the closed wounds where Harry had tossed enough to pull his shirt open. The old man’s fingers reached out and pulled the neck of his shirt open more – Harry tried to shy away, but didn’t in time. Dumbledore saw.
“Harry, what happened here?” he sounded aghast. Harry didn’t know why – he’d suffered much worse injuries than this at Hogwarts; he shrank into the pillow, shaking his head, still too much under the nightmare’s effect to say anything.
“Harry, *was this the Dursleys?*”
Harry looked into the old man’s eyes. He meant to say it was an accident, but the words got lost. Instead he nodded.
Dumbledore looked slightly lost. He stood up, and Harry flinched instinctively.
“Harry, I’m not going to hurt you.”
The voice was gentle. Harry tried hard to calm himself, but he couldn’t get the vision of Vernon out of his head. Dumbledore asked him to take off his pyjama shirt and, after a moment’s hesitation, Harry lowered his hands and undid the buttons, trying to stop his fingers from shaking.
Dumbledore let out a soft hiss when he saw the full damage. Harry sat trembling, unsure what to do. Dumbledore reached out a hand and softly ran a finger over the clotted cuts.
“Those are infected. I’ll have to get some antibiotics before they can be healed.”
He looked up into Harry’s eyes. Harry watched him warily, waiting for the reprimand.
“Harry, why didn’t you tell me about this?”
He trembled silently, guilt now filling him. Dumbledore sat down slowly and reached out a hand and placed it on Harry’s cheek. Harry flinched again, but when he realized Dumbledore wasn’t going to hurt him, he just sat still, trembling with cold and nerves while Dumbledore brushed away the tears Harry hadn’t even realized had been on his face.
The still silence stretched between them. Dumbledore moved his hand away from Harry’s cheek and placed them lightly on Harry’s upper arms, who instinctively leaned forwards. Dumbledore took him in a gentle embrace, rubbing his back in slow, circular movements. Harry was stiff at first, but the strokes relaxed him and he leaned on Dumbledore fully.
Harry loosened up more and Dumbledore leaned back, laying them both down on Harry’s bed together. He pulled the covers over them both and carried on stroking Harry, who was calming down more with each.
“Harry,” he whispered, “what the Dursleys did was despicable and inexcusable. No-one deserves to be treated like that, least of all you. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”
How did he know what Harry was thinking?
Harry had calmed down now, but was secretly relishing the comfort and didn’t want it to end. He turned over and pressed his back against Dumbledore, who realized what he wanted and pulled him close, rubbing him gently on the unhurt part of his chest.
Part of Harry felt incredibly guilty for letting Dumbledore do all this. He knew inside Dumbledore shouldn’t even be here with him; why he had offered to come was beyond Harry. Harry had spent too long alone with his bitter feelings; he was beginning to think the world was against him.
Almost as if he was reading Harry’s mind, Dumbledore whispered again. “Harry, don’t ever feel that you are in any way inferior, okay? There are people who love you.”
Harry stayed silent, disbelieving.
“Ron and Hermione love you.”
That he could possibly believe. Maybe.
“Remus loves you…”
That he couldn’t believe. Lupin probably hated him for getting Sirius killed, and Harry couldn’t blame him.
“…*I* love you.”
Harry almost snorted, but didn’t. For some reason, this was what he wanted to believe more than the others.
But he couldn’t bring himself to.
Harry felt a slight pressure on his back, and realized Dumbledore had kissed him gently. “Really.”
Harry was drowsy now – he felt himself falling asleep in his headmaster’s arms. As he drifted off, he knew how badly he wanted to believe Dumbledore’s words – no-one had ever said they loved him before, not even Ron and Hermione.
So why now? And why Dumbledore?
Albus woke to an empty bed next morning. After a brief moment to wonder where he was, he pulled on his dressing-gown and headed downstairs.
Harry was still in his pyjamas, cross-legged on the sofa. He was writing on a piece of parchment in his lap with his tongue between his teeth.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
Harry looked up and saw Dumbledore in the doorway.
“Good morning to you too sir,” he said with a tired grin.
“I mean it, Harry. What are you doing?”
Harry set down his quill and rubbed his eyes. “I’m writing to Ron and Hermione. They haven’t heard from me since term ended.”
Dumbledore smiled at him. “I’ll leave you to it.” Harry stared after him as he left the room, and turned back to his letter.
A few failed attempts later, Dumbledore poked his head around the door.
“Harry, do you want any breakfast?”
He opened his mouth to automatically say “No, thanks,” but didn’t. He wasn’t hungry, but he didn’t feel nauseated at the thought of food anymore.
Dumbledore smiled. “Good. Do you think you could help me?”
Harry abandoned his letter and followed Dumbledore back into the kitchen.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Er, well,” Dumbledore sounded uncharacteristically flustered, “I thought it would be best if we, um, kept magic to the minimum, so…”
“So we’re doing this the Muggle way.”
“Yes… only I never have. Cooked without magic, I mean. So, Harry…”
“You want me to teach you to cook?” Harry asked, cottoning on. Dumbledore nodded. Harry grinned.
“Okay, let’s start with the basics. This is the kitchen; you use it for -”
“Alright, alright. This is the oven, this is the frying pan…”
As the ‘lesson’ continued, Harry discovered Dumbledore’s talents were not limited to the wizarding world. He was a quick learner, and soon a full fried breakfast was filling the kitchen with delicious aromas. As the silence grew awkward, Dumbledore began humming to break the quiet and Harry, recognizing the tune, joined in, making them both laugh.
After breakfast Dumbledore assessed Harry’s wounds in daylight and sent a letter to Madam Pomfrey asking her to send something for them; meanwhile Harry used some salve he’d come across in the medicine cabinet. The rest of the day he spent alternately studying and reading some of Dudley’s old books, occasionally nibbling at a Chocolate Frog from the package of sweets Dumbledore had given him the first time he’d turned up at the Dursleys’. While he was studying Dumbledore took the time to complete some paperwork. They worked in silence, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.
Mid-afternoon Dumbledore broke the quiet by asking Harry if he wanted to play chess. Harry was surprised, but pleased, and he collected his chess set from upstairs and set up the board – black for him, white for Dumbledore.
Naturally, Dumbledore won.
Dobby arrived shortly after and got started on dinner, despite Harry’s assurances that he didn’t have to.
The day passed relatively peacefully, although something had been nagging at both of them. The day before neither had had a lot of time to think about the cuts that had appeared magically on Harry. Both were concerned, and Dumbledore, unknown to Harry, had asked Madam Pomfrey to do some research in the letter he sent.
The next night was as bad as the first. Harry felt deeply ashamed and embarrassed at Dumbledore seeing him like this, but the potion wasn’t doing anything for his nightmares. When he woke the second time in the night, Dumbledore stayed with him till he went back to sleep, just holding him. Harry had to admit the gesture was somewhat soothing.
When Harry woke he kept his eyes closed. He could feel an arm slung across his chest, and judging by the regular breathing coming from close to his ears, the person it belonged to was asleep. Harry moved carefully into a more comfortable position and blearily opened his eyes.
He blinked, squeezed them shut, and opened them again.
*So it wasn’t a dream.*
Harry propped himself up on his pillow to see properly. The man next to him was half-kneeling on the floor with his head resting on the edge of Harry’s bed, his arm lying protectively over him as though trying to shield him. From the obviously uncomfortable position, he hadn’t expected to fall asleep.
Dumbledore stirred as Harry moved, and Harry froze, not wanting to disturb him. The headmaster mumbled in his sleep – something about goats?
Harry realised he was dying to use the bathroom, but when he carefully slipped out of bed he found the door locked – no doubt to keep out the Dursleys. At that moment Harry would have been willing to let all three family members stare at him crying after a nightmare if it meant being able to get across the landing – but right now he didn’t have a lot of say in the matter.
“Professor?” Harry knelt on his bed; placing a hand on Dumbledore’s shoulder he shook it gently. “Sir, wake up,”
“Sir, please wake up, I need you to open the door…”
Dumbledore, still half-asleep, said something which from anyone else would have sounded very rude, and turned over. Unfortunately, not being in bed properly meant there was an “OUCH!” as he slipped off the edge and bashed his head on the bedside table.
“I think I prefer the alarm clock,” Dumbledore mumbled.
A muffled banging signalled that Uncle Vernon was awake and pounding on the door again.
“He doesn’t give up, does he?” Dumbledore asked cheerfully.
*How DOES he do that?*
Harry suddenly remembered why he had been so eager to wake Dumbledore up in the first place.
“Yes, Harry? Good morning, by the way.”
“Doyouthinkyoucanopenthedoorpleasesir?” Harry asked in a rush.
It seemed to take Dumbledore a few seconds to realise what Harry had asked, then he noticed the expression on Harry’s face and the way he was moving, and put two and two together –
“Oh, of course – I’m sorry Harry. Alohomora. After you.”
Harry was closing the bathroom door before Dumbledore had even finished speaking. He heard him chuckling outside and a new pounding meaning Dudley was now demanding freedom. Maybe he should get Dumbledore to let them out – he knew how it felt to be locked up. He decided to ask… later.
It wasn’t until Harry was pleasantly soaked in a hot bath when a knocking on the door interrupted his thoughts, and Dumbledore’s concerned voice sounded from outside.
“Harry? Are you all right in there? What are you doing, having a bath?”
“Oh. Will you be long?”
“Second door on the left in the hallway.”
“Thank you, Harry.”
The next day passed like the first to begin with. In the evening, half-way through a chess match (which Harry had nearly lost), an owl arrived for Dumbledore with an official-looking letter and a parcel. Harry cleared away the board and pieces while Dumbledore went into the kitchen with the post.
After several minutes, he moved back into the living-room with the letter in his hand and the unopened parcel under his arm.
Harry looked up. Dumbledore sat back down opposite him, laying the package gently on the table.
“What is it?”
Dumbledore sighed. “We’ll get to that in a minute. We need to talk about this letter.”
Harry looked at it curiously.
“It’s from the solicitors’… they’ve found Sirius’ will.”
Harry suddenly felt like his throat was obstructed with a golf ball.
“It seems he has left everything to you, except various sums of money to Remus, Nymphadora and the Weasleys.”
Harry gave a small smile. He loved the Weasleys more than he would admit. They deserved the money. He looked at Dumbledore, giving him a silent message to carry on.
“This means Grimmauld Place is now yours, so I’m asking your permission for the Order to continue using it as Headquarters?”
Harry hadn’t even thought of this. “Oh – yes, you can have as long as you need it for. I don’t want it.”
A thought struck him. “What about Kreacher?”
“I was getting to that. Kreacher also belongs to you, but I’m assuming you don’t want him either -”
“You assumed correct.”
“I thought so. He’s currently residing at Hogwarts – the other elves are keeping an eye on him.”
Dumbledore rubbed the bridge of his nose thoughtfully. “There are a couple of other things. You now own the contents of Gringotts vault seven hundred and eleven and three hundred and forty-four. The keys are currently in the solicitors’ care, but I can pick them up for you when you want. Buckbeak has been residing with Hagrid while we vacated Grimmauld Place. I’m sure he would rather stay rather than go back to number twelve, but if you’d prefer -”
“No, Buckbeak can stay with Hagrid. I think they’d both like that.”
Dumbledore smiled. “That’s settled then – and that just leaves…” He reached over and picked up the package.
“This was found among Sirius’ possessions. It seems your mother gave it to him for safekeeping shortly before he died. As far as I know, no-one ever read it.” He inserted a finger into the wrapping and pulled it apart. A battered-looking book was inside, with a plain green cover.
“What is it?” Harry asked shakily.
“Your mother kept a diary, and she requested you have it when you’re old enough. I think Sirius must have forgotten he had it, or he would have given it to you before now.”
Harry took the parchment book with trembling hands. It was much worn, and a couple of sheets covered in lines of neat writing fell out. Harry leant over to pick them up. As he straightened, he caught Dumbledore looking at him carefully.
“Harry, do you want me to go?”
He looked down at the book in his hands.
“Yes please.” It came out as barely a whisper. Dumbledore nodded to show he’d understood and left the room quietly, closing the door behind him. Harry heard his footfalls on the stairs.
Shakily, he opened the book, and flicked to the page with the bookmark. A line caught his eye.
My Seer powers are growing, I can tell. I’ve been learning from bitter experience what can happen if you’re not careful. I have Seen far more than I wanted …
Harry hiccoughed softly, staring at the words on the page. His mother was a Seer?
I can’t tell James. He knows something is wrong; but really, how can I tell him about this? We’ve known from the start we can’t hide from Voldemort forever, but if I tell him I’ve Seen we will fail, it will cut out the last of our hope. I can’t do that. This family…
He couldn’t read any further; his vision had been blurred with tears. He laid down the journal and wiped his eyes fiercely.
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