Disclaimer and Author's note:
These characters aren't mine, they're JKR's, so DON'T SUE ME.
I came up with this story after finishing OOTP, when I was thinking about Harry, Lupin and Snape's reactions to Sirius' death. I always think there's much more going on in Lupin's head than he actually shows, hence the flashbacks.
I am a writer, but this is my first serious fanfic. I love HP to bits, and I thought I'd just have a play around with the characters while I'm waiting for book 6. Enjoy, pleeeeze write me reviews!!
Chapter One- Letters
Harry Potter scratched his nose with his quill, dipped it into a bottle of ink, and wrote
Then he lifted his quill again, frowning slightly, wondering what to write.
A month. It had dragged by like a lifetime...a whole month since...
Harry stopped himself. He preferred not to think about it at night; for some reason the pain always seemed sharper, more immediate, in the dark.
How are you? Are you at home, or back at Headquarters? Is there any way you could let me know what's going on?'
This summer's silence had not been quite as relentless as the last. He had watched the muggle news with the same sickening anxiety, but as yet there were no outward signs of Voldemort's return. Only the bundle of letters from various members of the Order that Harry kept hidden under his pillow told the real story.
'He's going to strike soon,'
'He's been keeping quiet for too long, the killings will start now, you mark my words...be careful, boy, watch out for yourself...we're just around the corner if you need us...'
Tonks' letters were far more cheerful, full of news about life at Grimmauld place. 'We found flesh-eating slugs in the cellar on Friday, it was disgusting, you should have seen Molly's face...Dung brought in a load of rotten dragon-heartstring he was trying to sell off to someone, we still haven't got rid of the smell... '
But something about the cheerfulness seemed false, too airy, and Harry could sense the worry beneath her lighthearted words.
His other letters came from the Weasleys- Mrs Weasley, plaguing him with questions about how his Aunt and Uncle were treating him, promising him he could come back to Headquarters soon; scribbled notes from Ron; even a brief joint letter from the twins telling him how their joke shop business was going. Hermione had written several times, but she, like Tonks, seemed uneasy writing about anything other than the everyday.
Finally, he had received two short letters from Lupin, and it was these he avoided looking at. For though Lupin avoided the difficult subjects, Harry could read volumes into the spaces between the lines.
'It's very quiet here, the house seems so empty all of a sudden...you will let us know if there's anything worrying you, won't you Harry? This last month hasn't been easy...'
Harry put these letters to the bottom of the pile. He would never be able to put all his worries into a letter, even if he'd wanted to share them with someone. How could he explain in writing the nagging, empty feeling that had been haunting him all summer? The way he woke up each morning willing it to have been a nightmare, willing it not to be true...
Harry dipped the quill fiercely back into the ink bottle, and continued to write.
'Things are weird here, because my Aunt and Uncle are so terrified of the Order they're actually forcing themselves to be nice to me. Yesterday, Aunt Petunia gave me a T-Shirt that Dudley had never worn (it was second-hand, but she'd actually gone and bought it, which makes a nice change), and Uncle Vernon lets me watch the news in the evenings.'
Harry allowed himself a small smile. The memory of Moody, Tonks, Lupin and the Weasleys all turning up at the station to have a word with the Dursleys about their treatment of Harry was one of the things that had kept him going through the summer. Just to know that they were all there, out of sight but still thinking of him, made him feel better.
He finished the letter and having blown on the ink to dry it, rolled it up and went over to Hedwig's cage. She blinked sleepily at him.
"Take this to Grimmauld Place, will you?" asked Harry, stroking her gently on the head as he tied the letter to her leg. He opened the window wide, and leaned out of it as he watched her soar away over the rooftops.
* * *
Sirius is duelling a beautiful woman with long hair and heavy-lidded eyes. Their wands move so fast that Harry can barely see them, just long blurs in the air. The woman shoots a jet of light, and Sirius tosses his dark hair, laughing.
"Come on! You can do better than that!"
Harry wants to stop him saying it, because he knows what comes after, knows about that second jet of light that sends Sirius falling, falling backwards...
"No!" cries Harry. "No, no, no..."
Sirius is falling, slowly, slowly. The veil flutters around him. Harry is calling his name, again and again, trying to run after him, but someone is holding him back. He fights the man who is holding him, but he won't let go. Harry wants him to let go, he wants to get to Sirius.
"You can't." says the man, in a voice breaking with emotion. "It's too late, Harry. Too late. It's too late."
* * *
Harry woke breathless and sweating, his bedclothes in disarray. Too late. It's too late.
He turned over and stared at the wall, but he couldn't get back to sleep.
Harry awoke the next morning feeling tired and drained as ever, as if he'd been running all night, not sleeping. He could remember his dream as clearly as though it were happening right in front of him now- it was the same dream he'd had every single night for a month.
He got up and pulled on some clothes, trying to let the daylight that flooded through his curtains banish the remnants of the dream. He didn't want to think about it- the scene returned to him each night whether he liked it or not, but given the choice, he would shut it away, never look at it again.
A sudden knock on his door brought him back to the present. Running a hand through his hair in a hopeless attempt to make it lie flat, he opened the door. Aunt Petunia stood just outside the room, her lips pressed tightly together, her face pale.
"This came," she said shortly, thrusting a letter into his hands. "For you."
Harry looked at the envelope in surprise. "By the post?" he asked, turning it over. Harry Potter was written on the front in curling ink letters.
Aunt Petunia's lips seemed to grow even tighter. "No. By- by owl. I opened the door to put out the milk bottles, and it flew in..."
Harry made to open the envelope, but to his astonishment, his Aunt reached out and grabbed his arm.
"It's from...them, isn't it?" she hissed. She looked half fearful, half furious.
"Them?" said Harry blankly.
"The-the Order." spat Aunt Petunia, as if the words had a sour taste.
"You know about the Or..."
"She was in it," spat Aunt Petunia, and Harry knew she was talking about his mother. "Of course I know about it." Her face had twisted into a bitter expression. "I know about all their stupid promises, too, all their vows and agreements..."
Harry stared at her. He didn't have a clue what she was talking about.
"I saw them," continued Aunt Petunia. "On the platform. Freaks, all of them...and now they're going to start interfering, I know it. Them and their wretched Code of Honour..."
"What code of honour?" said Harry blankly.
Aunt Petunia pointed a shaking finger at the letter. "I know what that's for...they're going to take you back now, take you away. But you tell them, boy...I'll keep my side of the bargain if they keep theirs. If they're going to start interfering with you, I won't take you back again. You tell them that from me."
And she slammed the door, leaving Harry utterly perplexed.
He tore open the envelope eagerly, and found a short letter in Mrs Weasley's handwriting.
We've finally got the all-clear from Dumbledore. You can come and join us here. If it's OK with you, you can get here by the portkey enclosed in this letter. Make sure you're holding all your luggage when you touch it.
Can't wait to see you,
Love Molly Weasley.'
Harry burrowed his fingers into the envelope, and pulled out something hard wrapped in tissue paper. From its shape, it was a teaspoon. A grin spread slowly across his face. A portkey.
Within ten minutes, Harry had packed everything he owned into his trunk, or stuffed it inside his cauldron. His heart was beating almost painfully fast. He was going back to Grimmauld Place, finally, after all these weeks of waiting.
Taking a deep breath, he rolled the spoon out of its covering onto the bed. He felt a sudden twinge of doubt. In the back of his mind, a little voice seemed to be whispering, but do you really want to go back there? Do you want to go to a place where his memory is going to live in every dusty corner?
Harry shook his head to clear it, and gripped his trunk and cauldron tightly. Then, his hand trembling, he reached out and touched the portkey.