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Chapter 15 : A Bit Like Ice
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Hi everyone! Thanks for all your reviews on the last few chapters – I really appreciate them and I loved to hear your theories :] If only I could have used some of them – I think the actual thing is kind of boring compared to some of your theories :] :]
Just to let you know – I have edited the last chapter especially the ending thanks to your comments. It is know hopefully smoother and less complicated. Still, if you have an questions – I’m happy to answer those that I can :]
Next chapter will be up soon and it’s called “Finally” . I would really appreciate it if you would keep reviewing please :] :] You all rock!
Chapter 15 – A Bit like Ice
Harry was glued to the spot, he didn’t know what to say or do. It suddenly seemed to have got extremely dark when it should have been getting lighter and it felt like his world was spinning. He looked down at the floor in front of him, at the lifeless body of Emmeline Vance, and shivers ran down his spine. She was just led there with an expression of shock on her face. She was dead now; dead because of him. He couldn’t stop staring at her. It was odd, he had been close to a dead body before, but it still seemed to render him speechless.
“And now Potter,” Dumbledore hissed and Harry prepared to leap out of the way, putting all his Quidditch reflexes into play. “You will be mine.” Dumbledore turned to point his wand at Harry but Harry moved just before any word could leave Dumbledore’s mouth.
“STUPEFY,” Harry’s head nearly exploded as he screamed it silently. It seemed to have the desired effect and Dumbledore swayed for a moment before collapsing to the ground, next to Emmeline. He couldn’t believe it; he had stunned Albus Dumbledore. He watched the wizard lie on the floor, almost lifeless, and he shivered. He was half expecting Dumbledore to pop up out of nowhere and tell him it was a joke. In fact he wished that Dumbledore would but he didn’t. The stupid, stupid man didn’t move. He turned slightly to see Kingsley, Hestia and Moody all stood there with their wands out. Realisation dawned on him – he would never have had the power to stun somebody like Dumbledore on his own. It had taken three and a half people to bring him down.
“Harry?” Tonks was talking to him quietly but Harry couldn’t take his eyes off of Dumbledore. There was something different about him but Harry couldn’t put his finger on it. Nobody else seemed to be paying much attention to it though; Moody was pacing around muttering to himself and Hestia and Kingsley were crowded around Emmeline. Tonks had Remus’ hand in hers but she was still trying to talk to Harry.
“Tonks” Harry muttered, “Tonks, we’ve got to get to the Ministry.”
“Why?” her brow furrowed, “We need to get everyone to Hospital first. Dumbledore can wait, you saw what he did.” Her eyes flickered down on Remus and he noticed that she had been crying. Harry suddenly felt very uncomfortable. It wasn’t like Tonks to cry.
“I don’t think that it’s Dumbledore,” Harry whispered softly but nobody heard him. The next few minutes were a blur to Harry as he just sat there on the solid ground and stared at Dumbledore. It was freezing where he was sat – the dusty pavement blackening his robes. It was a betrayal – one Harry could have done without - and he wasn’t completely sure how to react. The power of speech had once again deserted him and he fought back the tears. The weird thing was, even after all that had happened; Harry couldn’t stop the thought in the back of his head that wondered if his mother was okay.
“Come on Harry,” Tonks shouted but he still remained on the floor staring. “Harry, get moving.” He wanted to stand up, he wanted to move on. He really wanted to but there was something about those bodies just led there that was oddly hypnotic. He just couldn’t stand up. His legs wouldn’t let him.
“Potter,” the shrill voice of Professor McGonagall sounded and Harry finally looked up. He wasn’t expecting to see her there but then again, she was a member of the Order. It was odd how he could react to somebody like McGonagall but not Tonks. He looked up and met her eyes. He saw sadness and pain. She knew Dumbledore, it suddenly hit him, she would understand. He had never been so glad to see a professor in the summer holidays and he let a tear roll down his cheeks.
“Professor,” he whispered, “Professor – look at the eyes.”
McGonagall stared at him for a second and his eyes flickered to over by Dumbledore. His eyes followed her gaze and Harry studied her as she studied Dumbledore. Her eyes widened as she looked at Dumbledore and he knew, she would understand. She would realise what he had been trying to say. She knew Dumbledore like no other.
“Ice,” she muttered and he nodded. “Potter… Harry… I think you’re right. I really think you’re right. Thank Merlin, you’re right.” He wasn’t surprised to hear the relief in her voice and Harry almost smiled. It was unlike McGonagall to babble but he could feel the relief in her voice.
Harry didn’t have to say a word though as he was still in shock. He knew that it wasn’t Dumbledore in front of him and he sank to the ground, his eyes glued to him. He realised that he had sunk to the floor next to the body of Emmeline Vance and he jumped up instantly, almost falling over everyone. It was then it hit him, it finally hit him; Remus was lying lifeless on the floor. He crossed over towards his friend, hoping and wishing that he would just wake up. Tonks was stood over him holding his hand and whispering towards him.
“Is he okay?” Harry whispered but Tonks just shrugged. Harry suddenly felt so guilty. It was his fault he was there; it was his fault Remus was laying on the floor. It didn’t occur to him that if he hadn’t been there then Dumbledore would have probably killed Remus. He stood up shakily, looking all around him. Aurors were taking Emmeline Vance’s body away and a Healer was advancing towards Remus. Dumbledore was surrounded by Aurors and McGonagall just stood looking on.
Harry didn’t know what to do; he’d caused so many people so much pain. He swayed on his feet before running away again. He could people shouting after him, Tonks’ voice sticking out, but he kept on running. He didn’t know what he passed, he wasn’t heading towards anywhere in particular but somehow he ended up by the roundabout again. It seemed mystical almost now – the moon a slither and the street lights dotting around. A car appeared every so often and Harry blinked back the tears.
The thoughts running through his head were relentless, Emmeline Vance was dead, and Remus might be dead. He didn’t know what to do, he felt like throwing himself in the river. Then he’d be an idiot, Harry acknowledged as tiredness enfolded him. It was strange, a moment ago, he had felt wide awake but now – now he just wanted to collapse. He fought the sleep, he didn’t want to black out but somehow, he had too. He just needed to relax. He needed to forget that that day had ever taken place. When he woke up everything would be okay.
“HARRY,” He could the voice calling him but he chose to ignore it, his dream being more inviting. The cold was getting to him but he paid no attention to it, squeezing his eyes shut. “HARRY?”
It was until a hand was viciously shaking him that he came to and the first thing he saw was a pair of emerald eyes staring into his own. He was gathered into a bone-crashing hug before he could do anything to stop it and he was grateful for the warmth. He could hear a familiar voice muttering in his ear and he just basked in the attention, as the events of the other night came back to haunt him.
“Are you alright?” Lily burst out, pulling him up, “Why did you run off? Both times you silly, silly boy! I’ve been looking for you all night. Why did you do it Harry?” He could see the tears in her eyes, the worry and the pain, and he swallowed loudly.
Seeing the disappointment in her eyes, Harry felt like crying. He didn’t though – he didn’t want to show any kind of weakness but it didn’t quell the feeling of guilt. He also felt like running away again but a part of him, probably the tiniest part ever, told him not to and for once in his life he listened to that part. He bit his lip nervously and Lily turned to him.
“We’re going to apparate back to Grimmauld Place,” she said quickly, a frown ruining her pretty face, “But, it might not go too well. But I don’t know the way to walk home so…”
Harry shrugged at this point, not wanting to say anything for fear of saying something wrong. Lily took this as a sign of agreement and she pulled him into a brisk walk. It wasn’t until the reached the little ice-cream shop, she directed him towards where the bins were. Hugging him tightly, she attempted to apparate and she waited for that familiar pop… and waited… and waited.
“Darn it,” Lily groaned, “I don’t know what we’re going to do know. I think we’re about a mile from Grimmauld and I don’t have any money so we can’t use the train and we can’t go back to the Leaky Cauldron because it’s all be coned off and I don’t know what to do…”
She finished the sentence, breaking off dramatically and Harry’s eyes widened. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t feel like he could, but he just looked at his mother. She stared back at him and it was almost as if they had a silent conversation.
“We’ll go to the station,” Lily nodded as if she and Harry had actually discussed this, “And see where we can go from there.” Harry didn’t move a muscle though until she pulled him up again. As their hands touched, Harry could feel her shaking.
For someone who lived their entire life in and around London, Lily was surprisingly nervous on the Underground and she clutched Harry like never before. She didn’t attempt to talk to him anymore, instead she just handed him his ticket silently. It had been a huge palaver getting money from a cash machine and Lily was getting very tense. It had then taken them forever to work out which train to go on, which hadn’t improved Lily’s mood at all. The train journey had then left her swearing. All the while, Harry had remained silent replaying that moment from last night in his head.
Three hours and ten minutes later, they arrived back at Grimmauld Place. Harry was sure it would have been quicker if they had walked from the park back but it didn’t matter now – he was just grateful to be home. Lily was muttering to herself and trying to make Harry open up but it was no good, he just wouldn’t speak. He didn’t want to. They opened the door at Grimmauld when suddenly, as if he had only just remembered, Harry whispered quietly.
“Where were you last night?” Lily blushed heavily as the words left Harry’s mouth. Their eyes met again but Lily just shook her head. “Please?” he asked quietly and she managed a dry smile.
“Let’s just say, I know where you got your running away habit from.” She whispered carefully and Harry almost choked with surprise. To hear her say that, to know that he wasn’t alone – was one of the most intense feelings ever. She had run away from the action – just like him. He suddenly felt so close to her. A tear ran down his cheek and he slapped it away before muttering;
His mother just looked at him and pulled him to her in a tight hug, Harry almost passed out here taking the hug to mean something bad and not realising that Lily was just grateful that he was talking. He began to shake uncontrollably until Lily drew away from him with a slight smile on her face. “He’s alive so far,” Lily answered finally, “He’s in a very bad way but he’s alive. Tonks is with him at the moment. They’re at Hogwarts, I think. They didn’t tell me much.”
“Can I go and see him?” Harry asked desperately and Lily nodded. Harry just shrugged here and practically marched into the kitchen. What he saw shocked him but not in a bad way. It was almost a comfortable shock.
“POTTER,” he jumped a mile looking in the doorway. It was rare that McGonagall ever came to Grimmauld Place but it was even rarer that she had a smile on her face especially in situations like this. This, to Harry, wasn’t the time to smile. “Mr Potter, I need a word. If it’s possible, would you be able to come to Hogwarts?”
Harry didn’t know what to say but he didn’t want to argue. For some reason, he trusted McGonagall but then again he had trusted Dumbledore and look while that had got him. He looked up to nod at McGonagall but she was busy hugging Lily. Even in this situation, it was still odd for Harry to see McGonagall hug anyone. He didn’t understand – why weren’t they more worried? Why weren’t they trying to find Dumbledore? Why were they hugging?
“I can’t believe you’re actually alive, dear.” McGonagall almost sniffed, “I didn’t believe it when Albus,” she fell quiet, “I mean Alecto told me. I just couldn’t believe it.” The smile on McGonagall’s face was so genuine that Harry’s heart rose slightly.
“It’s true,” Lily smiled weakly and McGonagall patted her on the back awkwardly. To see the two of them together, so happy in this dark moment, was strange but there was nothing Harry could say. He had too many questions. McGonagall then seemed to remember that Harry was watching her and turned back to him.
“Are you coming Potter?” She enquired more bossily than intended, “Besides if you do, you can visit Professor Lupin and Ms Tonks. Professor Lupin is currently under the care of Madame Pomfrey at the moment.”
“Why?” Harry blurted out, before he could stop himself and McGonagall raised an eyebrow.
“St Mungo’s doesn’t want a werewolf to be associating with her other patients,” McGonagall snorted, “It’s that silly bat Umbridge and her decrees. She’s trying to boss about the hospital now. I can only hope it doesn’t work.” The expression on her face darkened and she strode forcibly towards the fireplace. “Lily, dear, are you coming?”
“I’ll come along later.” Lily said quietly and Harry raised his eyes “I’ll floo directly to the Hospital Wing though – I won’t disturb you.” She smiled softly towards him and ran her hand over his. “You’ll be okay.”
Harry followed McGonagall to the fireplace silently, his heart beating as she floo-ed towards Dumbledore’s office. Against his strongest wishes, he followed her and his shackles immediately heightened as he climbed out of the fireplace. It got even worse though as his anger almost exploded when he saw who was sat on a chair. He raised his wand slightly but as soon as the blue-robed figure turned around and Harry stared into a pair of twinkling eyes – he knew something was better. He knew that something was right.
“Lower your wand please Harry,” Dumbledore spoke quietly, “I know you what you must think of me; I know you must be angry.” His eyes pleaded with Harry but Harry wasn’t taking any more silence.
“YOU KILLED SOMEONE,” Harry burst out, completely forgetting that McGonagall was in the room, “YOU KILLED A MEMBER OF THE ORDER. EMMELINE VANCE IS DEAD AND REMUS MIGHT BE TOO AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.” His outburst may have been uncalled for but neither Dumbledore nor McGonagall were too shocked by it.
“It is,” Dumbledore confirmed nodding gravely, “But I ask you to listen to me, please hear me out Harry?”
“You’re a murderer,” Harry hissed but instantly regret fell over him. Looking at Dumbledore now, the man he had trusted for so long, he wasn’t a murderer.
“Harry, please listen,” Dumbledore sighed, “I spent the last month of my life in a small confined room, Harry, I spent my last month with creatures that are conforming to Voldemort’s every whim. I spent my last month trying to get out but finding that every single dark spell was on the room I was in. A Death Eater by the name of Alecto spent two months as me, Harry, It was not me.”
“Alecto?” Harry uttered.
“Yes, all this while a Death Eater has been posing as me and not one person, nobody at all, has noticed that. If I wasn’t so upset, I think I’d be insulted,” Dumbledore continued softly, “Now does that make you feel any differently?”
“So Alecto was you” Harry tried frantically to make sense of the situation, “But that’s impossible – how?”
Dumbledore sighed again, beckoning for Harry to sit down and, surprisingly, for Minerva to leave. She did albeit reluctantly leaving Harry feeling very wary. He was so shocked and feeling so guilty that he didn’t know what to do. Harry practically collapsed on the chair, his knee shaking uncontrollably.
“A week before your birthday Harry, where were you?”
Harry mentally searched for an answer but he never found one; this summer was all a blur to him. With so much happening, he couldn’t be sure.
“I had just come to Grimmauld Place,” he answered finally although he wasn’t too sure he was telling the truth, “I think Remus had just picked me up.”
“Well the day after Remus picked you up; I was at Hogwarts completing some paperwork. Apparently I’ve had requests to remove muggle studies from our school schedule and I was dealing with them.”
“It’s not being removed is it?” Harry interrupted quickly, though he wasn’t completely sure why. It wasn’t like he took muggle studies.
“Of course not,” Dumbledore frowned, “But anyway, I was taking a short break and I decided to pop into Hogsmeade to visit my brother. On my way though, I found myself talking to an Order Member – Sturgis Podmore.”
Harry pulled a face here, trying to remember Sturgis but all he could remember was a larger man with blonde hair. Harry could vaguely recollect him being on the advance guard back in his fifth year. His eyes met Dumbledore’s as he waited for the older man to continue his story.
“Well as it turns out Sturgis was in a similar situation as to what I would soon find myself in,” Dumbledore shook his head gently, “And I was foolish enough to let my guard down for a moment. I was ambushed the second I entered the Hogshead; it seemed almost as if they were waiting for me. I managed to take most of them down,” he attempted a smile, “But it seemed that Lord Voldemort had other ideas. It seems that Lord Voldemort has finally become, dare I say it, more powerful than me.”
“But…” Harry protested. He refused to believe what Dumbledore was saying. It couldn’t be true.
“Oh no, I won’t bore you with the details on how I was exchanged with Alecto. He took great pleasure in seeing me dragged across the stone floors at the Riddle House and fed copious amounts of potions”
“What kind of potions?” Harry interrupted and Dumbledore pursed his lips slightly.
“Nothing that you would worry your head over, Harry, nothing that I cannot cope with,” he touched his wand consciously but Harry completely missed it; his mind had too much to deal with as it was.
“What happened next?” Harry enquired and Dumbledore just gave him a slight smile.
“I spent many a day in the Riddle House, Harry, and it’s not a place I would ever wish upon anyone. Although I have to admit, it probably helped me more than you will ever realise. It seems that the Dementors are no longer under Ministry control and neither, so it seemed to me, are many members of the law enforcement team”
“They’re working for Voldemort.” Harry gasped, thoughts running through his head quicker than he could process them.
“Indeed,” He laughed, “And Rufus Scrimgemour is none the wiser and is not wishing to listen at all. It seems that he even managed to turn a blind eye to the fact that one of his top Auror’s and a prestigious ex-Auror burst into the Riddle House last night to free me.”
“But how can he do that?” Harry shook his head, “Surely he cannot be that stupid.”
“People only see, and indeed, hear, what they want to,” Dumbledore said wisely, “And although I managed to get out, we had to do it undercover. Albania is one of the few countries being watched by the Ministry and despite the situation, if we want to prevent the Deaths of many of our Aurors, we must be careful.”
“But everyone will think that you killed Emmeline Vance,” Harry protested again, “And killed Remus”
“Harry, Remus isn’t dead,” Dumbledore replied kindly, “He’s in the Hospital Wing, I believe – I haven’t been there yet, there has been too much here for me to deal with.”
“As for Emmeline, well there were only four witnesses to her death and each and every one of them knows that I didn’t kill her. It will seem, to the outer eye, that Wormtail killed her.”
Harry didn’t know what to say at that point, he had so many questions, but he knew now was the time to answer them. One thing he couldn’t help but wonder, something that kept running through his head; did Dumbledore know about his mum?
“Harry, I suggest you go and see Remus now, I think if he’s awake he would like to see you Dumbledore smiled slightly, “I would imagine you would like some time to mull this all over.”
“Yeah,” Harry muttered with annoyance. Although he wanted to see his mentor – he also wanted his questions answered, “Professor, what happened to Alecto?”
“He escaped,” Dumbledore said sadly, “During the battle of the Leaky Cauldron, he apparated away before any of the Aurors could stop him. I only hope that the vials of polyjuice potions are destroyed before they do any harm.”
“What if they’re not?” Harry pressed on though, strangely concerned for the Headmasters welfare, “It could damage your reputation if you pop up killing people. You’ve got to stop it.”
“And I will,” Dumbledore stood up, “All in good time, Harry, all in good time. As for now, I shall accompany you to the Hospital Wing; I wish to know how Remus is.”
“Can I ask you something Sir?” Harry piped up quietly.
“You may,” Dumbledore chuckled, “but whether I can answer it or not, may be another matter.”
“You said Voldemort is more powerful than you,” Harry wondered how to phrase it, “But how can that be when two years ago, he wasn’t even a person?” He stuttered to say his words coherently and he knew his sentences made very little sense.
The look in Dumbledore’s eyes was too much then and Harry swore he could see tears in them. “Oh Harry, oh Harry I’m not a miracle worker, I cannot answer that. He must be dabbling in darker arts than I could have possibly imagined” he coughed turning towards the window.
They walked towards the Hospital Wing silently and Harry knew that they were getting a fair few weird looks. He could hear some of the whispers from the portraits as he walked through;
“What’s Harry Potter doing with crazy Dumbledore?”
“Oh my Merlin, it’s two idiots together.”
“Dumbledore’s back then”
“Oh my,” Dumbledore laughed slightly, “It seems like my name is not too popular with the portraits. I do find that rather odd but still, it’ll be a different matter when other students are here.”
“It’ll wear off,” Harry replied weakly as they crossed over towards the Hospital Wing. Harry hadn’t been in there for a while, something which he was grateful for and as he entered the familiar wing – he bit his lip nervously.
“Potter, why are you in here? … Oh Headmaster,” Madame Pomfrey’s frown lifted slightly, “I was just about to reprimand Potter for being here when it isn’t school time.”
“Harry is here to see Remus,” Dumbledore strode towards the curtain and drew it back slowly. Harry instantly recognised the four people stood around Remus’ bed.
“Harry” Lily turned to her son gathering him in her arms. Most sons would be ashamed to hug their mum in public and would pull away but Harry pulled her tighter. He could feel the tears about to fall and he buried his head in his shoulder. “Sssh, baby,” He was grateful to see her there. It seemed like ages since he had seen her while it had only been an hour. The chat with Dumbledore seemed to have lasted a lifetime.
Harry pulled away slowly, walking towards the bed. He could see Remus’ lifeless body and he suddenly felt like crying. That was his mentor, his father figure led there in front of him and Harry didn’t like to see him like that. He turned around suddenly to see Dumbledore transfixed by his mother.
“Lily,” Dumbledore whispered and Harry felt like he was interrupting something private, “I cannot believe that it’s really you?”
“Albus,” Lily nodded slowly before doing something which shocked everyone in the room. She’d obviously been told the whole story and literally threw her arms around Dumbledore. He hugged her gently but she planted a big kiss on his cheek. It was clear to everyone that she was remembering something as she held the frail wizened old man,
“Are you going to miss Hogwarts, Miss Evans?” Lily watched as Dumbledore spoke to her younger self.
“Oh course,” her younger self wiped away a tear, “I’ve only just realised that it’s almost over and I don’t want to leave. I feel so secure here and so safe.”
“Miss Evans, Lily, you’re one of the smartest people I know – you’ll be fine in the real world and at Healer training. Lily, you’ll be safe in the real world.”
“No I won’t,” the younger Lily replied standing up to look at Dumbledore straight in the eye. “But yes, to answer your question – I will miss Hogwarts like I’ve never missed anything before.”
“I don't doubt it for a second."
“I can’t believe it’s you,” He repeated, his tone very unlike it had even been in the past, “I don’t know what to say, do you know why you’re here?”
“I don’t know,” she answered honestly, “You… I mean Alecto seemed to think that Voldemort didn’t really feel the spell when he cast it and when” she paused for a moment, “Pettigrew, I think, he took me away and removed my memory. He said something about,” she paused for a moment rubbing a hand in her hair, “needed to keep me away from everything. I’ve been living as a muggle for 15 years Albus,”
“But, I would have known,” Dumbledore looked visibly shocked.
“Nobody did,” Lily laughed slightly, “I bumped into Remus, Tonks and Harry on one night and it all went on from there”
“You’ll have to tell me later,” Dumbledore sighed, although you could tell that he wanted to know more. He kept shooting Lily curious glances and his eyes glazed as if he was thinking very hard. They were interrupted for a moment as two people walked in the room towards them, “Aah, Kingsley and oh my – Madeline?”
“Hello Albus,” a blonde woman stood before them, smiling prettily, “I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“I could say the same thing about you Madeline,” he shook her hand gently; “You’re looking well.”
“Thank you,” she whispered and Harry definitely sensed some tension between the two of them. “It’s nice to have you back.” His mother embraced Maddie and they settled around Remus’ bed. Harry couldn’t take his eyes off of his body and despite the oddly happy situation; he couldn’t shake off that feeling in his stomach.
“Well, it’s nice to see you all again,” he said sadly, “Though of course, I would rather it wasn’t in these situations. I must ask, Nymphadora, how is Remus?” It was obvious to everyone that he was feeling uncomfortable and Harry knew it was something he wasn’t used to feeling. It was almost as if he felt out of place. The strange thing was – Harry almost agreed with him
“He’s holding up,” Tonks sniffed, “But Poppy said it wasn’t looking too good.” Her appearance reflected her mood and her hair was an ash colour, which reminded Harry of Luna Lovegoods’. Her eyes though were deep amber, strangely similar to Remus, and Harry felt a wave of sympathy.
Harry did the only thing that he could of have then and he hugged Tonks. She looked surprised at first but then welcomed the gesture. She held him tightly for a few minutes. Harry sat back then on the bed next to Remus’ and he almost seemed to watch the event happen in the next few hours. People left, people came, and he wasn’t sure what to do. His mother and Dumbledore were deep in conversation while Kingsley and Maddie practically forced Tonks to get some sleep. Madame Pomfrey was trying frantically not too interrupt them but Harry could see that she wanted too. Harry just watched them though, he didn’t talk, he didn’t move. He just watched.
“Are you coming Harry?” Lily asked suddenly and Harry nodded silently. She seemed to sense that he wanted to be alone with Remus and she engaged Madame Pomfrey in conversation outside the door. Harry turned back to Remus, his eyes transfixed by the sight before him.
“I love you.” Harry whispered as he walked out of the curtain. He turned back to Remus as if he was expecting a reply but nothing came. With a tear rolling down his cheek, he followed his mother out of the hospital wing.
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