Chapter 14 : Swimming Lessons
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“Harry, my boy,” Albus addressed the child and explained that all of them were going to take Harry for a holiday at the seaside for a week, from the day after tomorrow onwards.
“Harry, I know you can’t yet understand what we’re going to do, but believe me you will like it very much,” Minerva assured the boy who seemed uncertain about the whole thing.
“Harry, we’re going to have lots of fun, and we’re going to teach you swimming,” Sirius beamed.
“And, Harry, they have a huge aquarium there just like the Sealife Centre, which you know so well. However, it’s much larger and they have many huge fish in there,” Severus provided, causing Harry’s eyes to twinkle happily.
After breakfast, Harry helped Poppy and Skippy to prepare a huge pizza for his birthday dinner. Afterwards, he sat down on the sofa together with Poppy, looking at the catalogue of the place they were going to travel to. Finally, his friends arrived and helped Harry to get rid of the remaining cake before Harry could unwrap his presents. Nearly everyone gave Harry a book for his birthday, and the boy was very happy to have something to read he didn’t already know by heart. To his great astonishment, the teachers, who returned to join them for dinner, gave him presents, too.
“Uncle Sevewus?” he asked the man hesitantly, who was the first to hand him a wrapped box, “You all alweady gived me my pwesent!”
Severus laughed. “Yes, Harry, that was a present from all of us together. But nevertheless, everyone wants to give you something small, which will be useful for our travel.”
Harry received many summer outfits, sun glasses, two pairs of swimming trunks, a book about tropical fish, toys to play in the sand, and a dark blue bathing towel with a green dragon on it that was moving around, roaring from time to time.
The pizza was a huge success. Most of the children had never tasted pizza, and everyone liked it immediately. When Poppy told his friends that Harry had helped make it, he felt very proud, happily munching on his pizza. Of course, he remembered, he was four now, so he really was a big boy. Just like last year, Harry’s friends were allowed to stay in Harry’s room overnight, and the kids enjoyed the evening very much. They sat together on the carpet, joking and talking, quickly jumping back into their sleeping bags when a creak on the stairs alerted them to one of the adults coming.
In the morning, they were so excited and loud that Poppy sent them outside to play on the grounds, so that Aberforth could sleep a little longer. To everyone’s amazement, Harry transformed into his goat form, running after Ginevra. Ginny, who was still two years old, toddled over to goat Harry and said, “Sinny wikes Hawwy goat vewwy much,” throwing her arms around the goat’s throat. A few minutes later, Harry changed back to his human form, throwing Ginny a huge smile.
“Do you want to wide on my back, Sinny?” he invited the little girl, whose eyes lit up with joy.
Bill lifted his small sister and sat her down on Harry’s back, who had already transformed again, and Harry carefully trotted around the grounds with Ginny on his back.
In the morning, Poppy woke Harry up very early. They got ready and Aberforth motioned him to take Tapp and his dragon or whatever he wanted to take with him. Then, they walked up to Hogwarts, where they had breakfast with everyone else. Afterwards, everyone had to hold on to a large, inflatable crocodile that Albus had turned into a Portkey. With a sudden pull on Harry’s navel, the world started to spin around, and suddenly Harry found himself landing on a beach together with the adults.
Harry glanced around, discovering the huge ocean. Before anyone could even think about looking after the boy, the child hurried over to the water. Seeing that there were many children walking barefoot through the shallow water he didn’t hesitate pulling off his shoes and socks, joining the other children in the water, squealing happily. He didn’t notice that Poppy had discovered his absence and everyone was frantically looking for him. Only when he felt himself getting soaking wet he remembered being together with his aunts and uncles and hurriedly ran over the beach. However, he couldn’t find the others. ‘Where are they?’ Harry wondered, anxiously looking around. Finally, he sat down where he was, shivering and sobbing.
When he remembered that it was always warmer under the thick goat’s fur, he transformed into his goat form. In his panic to find his aunts and uncles, Harry didn’t even notice the excitement on the beach when people saw a goat trotting around. Only a few boys tried to chase him, and Harry fled hysterically. Finally, Uncle Severus’ voice penetrated his ear. “Harry, change back immediately.”
Harry complied, and Severus gripped his arms. “What do you think you are doing?” he asked angrily. “Fortunately, this is a magical resort, so people are used to magic. But they are definitely not used to goats running around their beach! And how come you are soaking wet? Did you run into the water all on your own? Where are your socks and shoes?”
Harry stood there, crying and sneezing. How could he have been so stupid? “I’m sowwy, Uncle Sevewus,” he wept. “I didn’t fink, and I’m so cold. Can you make me dwy, please?” he asked, shivering, and threw his uncle a pleading glance.
With a flick of his wand, Harry’s clothes were dry again. Severus picked Harry up and put him onto his shoulders before he returned to the spot on which they had previously arrived where they had agreed to meet every ten minutes until the child was found. Harry didn’t know that he had be gone for more than an hour but seeing the worried faces of the other adults made him hide his head in Severus’ hair. However, Severus was too angry to let the child hide from the others and put the boy down immediately before he placed two light smacks on Harry’s backside. When the child began to wail, he said sternly, “Harry, that did not hurt.”
“You spanke me!” Harry cried flabbergasted. “I’m sorry!”
Severus nodded gravely, trying to hide a smile behind a menacing expression. “What you did was very bad, and I don’t want to know what Granny and Aunt Poppy are going to do with you.” He turned to the adults and said, “He left his shoes and socks down near the water. I’m going to get them.”
When Severus returned, the group walked over to the hotel, where they had booked an apartment for the week. The adults had yet to scold Harry but they had come to a silent agreement to wait until they were settled down in their rooms. Harry was silently trailing along, dreading the coming talk. He was given the talk by Poppy, Minerva, and Severus.
“Harry, do you know why we are very angry with you?” Poppy asked the child.
“Because I ran ‘way without telling someone,” Harry answered quietly, averting his eyes to the carpet, which obviously had an interesting design.
“Is that all?” Severus asked, trying to keep his anger at bay. He had been so worried when he couldn’t find the child. Did the boy really not understand what he had done?
“And I went into the water all alone,” Harry said in a small voice.
“That was extremely dangerous, Harry, especially as you’re not able to swim!” Minerva voiced, glaring daggers at her grandson.
“I’m sowwy,” Harry said, sneezing a few times.
“Oh, don’t tell me you’ve caught a cold again!” Poppy said exasperated, glaring at Harry.
“When I found him he was wet all over,” Severus told his colleagues and pulled a phial with children’s Pepper-up Potion out of his robes’ pocket, handing it to Harry. “Here, drink this.”
Harry gulped down the Potion and frowned at the steam coming out of his ears.
“You will only go into the water when Aunt Poppy, Granny, or I are with you. Do you understand that?” Severus asked sternly.
“Yes, I understand. I can only go in the water together wif you, Granny, or Aunt Poppy,” the child repeated obediently.
“All right, Harry, today we won’t punish you. However, if you ever think about doing such a stunt again, you will be grounded for the rest of the holidays,” Poppy told him firmly.
“Yes, Aunt Poppy,” Harry replied, trying hard to hold back his tears.
“Now, let’s go and have a look at the rest of the apartment before we meet the others in the dining room for lunch,” Minerva suggested. The apartment consisted of a huge living room, a dining room, where house elves served the meals, several sleeping rooms for one or two people, as well as two bathrooms. When they finally arrived in the dining room, everyone was already sitting around the table, waiting for them.
During the next few days, the teachers took turns looking after Harry. Normally, everyone spent the morning together on the beach. On the second day of their stay at the resort, Harry became friends with a girl, who was the same age, Mandy Brocklehurst. The girl was very witty, and the two children had much fun together building sandcastles and playing together. Sometimes, Poppy, Minerva, or Mandy’s parents even took them down to the water, so that the children could play in the water for a while.
In the afternoon when it was too warm to stay on the beach, one of the teachers took Harry to the huge aquarium that was only a ten minute’s walk away. Harry just loved the place where he could watch hundreds of different fish. Depending on her parents’ plans for the afternoon, Mandy was even allowed to accompany Harry. The adults were very glad that Harry had found a friend with whom he could play instead of spending the whole holidays only on his own or together with adults. Albus and Minerva had even talked to Mandy’s parents about the Playschool at Hogwarts, and her parents had on the spot decided to send Mandy there from the coming school year onwards. Harry was very happy about it. As Mandy was exactly his age, she would definitely be in the same school year when they finally entered Hogwarts and he loved having a lot of friends.
Every day before breakfast and before dinner, Severus accompanied Harry into the water in order to teach the boy how to swim. When the week was over, Harry was in fact able to swim. ‘Maybe I could practise in the lake at Hogwarts when we returned home. That would be nice,’ he thought.
Harry didn’t have his own room in the apartment but stayed with Poppy and Aberforth. However, after the second day he had started to sleep over at Severus’, Sirius’, or Remus’ place. Once, he also stayed with his grandparents. When it was Sirius’ turn to take the little tyke for the night, Sirius thought of something special. He woke the boy up at midnight and took him out to the beach in order to let him watch the glow-worms playing above the water. At first, Harry was very tired but after being out in the cold night air for a few minutes he slowly woke up enough to look at the many glow-worms in awe.
“They are very pretty,” he told the man whom he knew to be his godfather. After sitting down on the beach for a while, Harry asked, “Uncle Siwius, can we go swimming?”
Sirius glanced around. There were quite a lot of people enjoying the night at the sea. “If you want to go swimming, we can. Just take your pyjamas off. It’s so dark that it doesn’t matter.”
It only took Harry a minute to tear his pyjamas off his body. Completely naked, he happily held out a hand to Sirius, and together they entered the sea. “Now show me that you can swim,” Sirius told the child, and Harry tried to do what Severus had taught him during the last days.
He managed to swim a few strokes, but then a wave came, pulling him a little further, and when he looked back he couldn’t see Sirius anymore. Getting very frightened, Harry ran out of the water. It was so dark that he still couldn’t see his uncle. He searched for a while but then he became afraid that something had happened to his godfather. Therefore, he ran as fast as he could back to the hotel and entered their apartment. He was wet and cold but he couldn’t even think about his chattering teeth; he only thought about the fact that he had lost Sirius, who might be in trouble and need help. Therefore, he ran straight into Severus’ room, waking up his uncle.
“Uncle Sevewus, you must come and help Uncle Siwius. I lost him and a huge wave came and I couldn’t see him anymore,” Harry wailed.
Severus cast a Lumos charm, taking in the child’s wet form. He was even completely naked. “Harry,” Severus said flabbergasted. “Where did you come from? What have you been doing? And what happened?”
Between sobs, Harry tried to recount the story once more. Severus couldn’t comprehend everything the boy was telling but he understood enough to know that Sirius must still be outside, probably looking for Harry and that Harry’s pyjamas had been left on the beach. He quickly cast a drying spell over Harry, conjured pyjamas for him, and put the boy into his own bed, tucking him in carefully. “Don’t worry,” he told the child. “I’m going to look for Sirius.” With this, he left his room, heading for the beach with gritted teeth. Arriving at the beach, he cast, “Accio Harry’s pyjamas,” in order to summon Harry’s night wear. Then he started to look for Sirius near the edge of the water. Finally, he found the man, who was frantically looking for his godson. Severus could hardly keep himself from casting a dark curse on the mutt.
“What do you think you were doing bringing Harry down here and letting him swim in the sea during the night all on his own, you stupid, irresponsible mutt?” he shouted.
“I didn’t leave him on his own. He just wanted to show me how he can swim,” Sirius defended himself.
“And do you know how it ended? Was he pulled away by a wave larger than himself?”
“Obviously he must have returned, otherwise you wouldn’t know,” Sirius said smugly.
“You incompetent, flea-ridden mutt! Did your brain cease to function? Did you not think of the consequences that might have occurred? Don’t you dare put Harry in so much danger ever again or you will deeply regret it,” he hissed between clenched teeth, before he turned back in the direction of the hotel, his black robes billowing behind him.
In the morning, Harry woke up with a bad cold and had to stay a day in the apartment in spite of drinking a phial of Pepper-up Potion. While Harry was asleep, Severus told his colleagues about the nightly happenings. Everyone was enraged, and Sirius was ordered to apologize to Harry and to be very careful with the small boy in the future. Sirius sighed, knowing that it would need much more than just an excuse for Harry to forget and forgive. The boy would need time to do so. Finally, Harry had two more days to enjoy their holidays in order to forget what had frightened him so much.
Two weeks after they had returned from their beach holiday, the students returned to Hogwarts. Nymphadora Tonks and Charlie Weasley, who had attended the Primary school last year, were now starting Hogwarts, and Harry was looking forward to being able to see more of them as he liked both of them very much. While Nymphadora was sorted into Hufflepuff, Charlie became a Gryffindor like his brother Bill.
Seeing the Sorting Hat at the Welcoming Feast, Harry threw him an angry look. He hadn’t yet forgotten what the Hat had told him twenty months ago, and whenever he had the opportunity to speak to Fawkes, he had been discussing this matter with the phoenix. However, neither Fawkes nor Severus, with whom Harry had talked about the matter too, could give him the explanation, which Harry wanted so badly. Harry suddenly thought of someone, who perhaps would be able to help him understand what the Hat had meant. He decided to speak with the Grey Lady. If anyone knew anything about this matter, it would be her, and when he met her during the holidays she had been very friendly to him and had invited him to come to her office in order to talk with her any time.
A few days later, he had the opportunity to visit Mrs. Ravenclaw. When he returned home from the Playschool, Poppy was very busy tending to sick students and Harry went straight over to his room where he called Raby. The house elf appeared immediately.
“Hello,” Harry said shyly. “I like to speak with the Gwey Lady. Can you take me to her?”
The house elf gave him a confirming answer and gripped the boy’s hand, Apparating them both away. Harry didn’t like the feeling of being Apparated by a house elf, which was much more rapid than being Apparated by a wizard as he had experienced it with Severus or Poppy several times. However, at least the elf had brought him straight into Rowena’s office.
“Hello, Harry,” the ghost said, obviously pleased with having a visitor. “What can I do for you?”
“Hello, Mrs. Ravenclaw,” Harry said hesitantly. “I’m sorry to disturb you but I have a question.” He told the ghost everything about his encounter with the Sorting Hat, and the Grey Lady remained pensive for a moment.
Finally, she said, “I know that you are not only my heir but the heir of three houses – at least at the moment. It might change in the future. However, you don’t have to worry; you will definitely become a Hogwarts student in a few years’ time. And later in the future, I can see you especially attached to Ravenclaw and Slytherin.”
Harry let out an astonished gasp.
“However, you cannot be sure if the things that I see in the future will truly become reality, the future can take a very different turn. All predictions are uncertain. Don’t forget this, my boy,” the Grey Lady continued firmly.
Only a few weeks later, the events in the castle showed how true the vagueness of her prediction was.
It was a weekend at the beginning of October. As Poppy had to attend a training course at St. Mungo’s over the weekend and wouldn’t even return for the night, Harry was staying in Gryffindor tower overnight. He had spent a joyful evening in the Common room, and apart from Bill and Tom especially Charlie and his friends had played a lot with the four-year-old. For them it was the first time to have Harry stay in Gryffindor and they even decided to take the small boy with them to their dormitory when he became tired. Harry didn’t mind at all as the first-years were all very friendly to him, and Charlie even allowed him to sleep in his bed.
However, Harry had just lain down and Charlie had tucked him in, when one of Charlie’s roommates, of whom Harry didn’t know the name, came over and started to ask him questions.
“Are you really the ‘boy who lived’?”
“Don’know,” Harry said tiredly.
“But you have killed You-Know-Who, haven’t you?” the other boy insisted.
With this, Harry’s hands began to shake and he stumbled, “No, I didn’t killed anyone.”
“Now, stop it, Robert,” Charlie shouted angrily. “Let Harry be. He was a baby at that time, and he doesn’t know anything about it. Now, go to your own bed, and if I hear or see you pestering Harry once more, I’m going to get Professor McGonagall.”
Fortunately, the other boy gave in and went over to his own bed. Unfortunately for Harry, this little conversation triggered something in Harry’s mind that led the small boy to having a nightmare about the night his parents died. Harry woke up during the night, very frightened from his nightmare and sobbing quietly. He noticed that Charlie and the other boys were fast asleep and decided to return home. However, when he had dragged his feet down to the Common room, he remembered that Aunt Poppy wasn’t there tonight. What should he do now? As he didn’t know if Uncle Aberforth was already back from work he decided to go to stay at Uncle Severus’ quarters for the rest of the night.
However, the child was so tired that the way to the dungeons seemed much too far for his little legs, and when he passed in front of the quarters where his uncles Sirius and Remus lived he changed his mind. They would talk to him and take his fear away, so that he could sleep until the morning. He mumbled the Healer’s password to the Portrait and quietly entered the living room.
Sirius suddenly woke up when the wards of the quarters he shared with Remus alerted him to the fact that someone had entered their quarters. Remembering that it was the night of the full moon he got up, frantically thinking, ‘Moony,’ and rushed over into the living room, where he felt as if he had come to watch a nightmare. His best friend in the form of a full-grown wolf was lying on the floor, fast asleep, while Harry, the little tyke, was curling up next to him, frantically clinging to his shoulder.
Thanks to ObsidianEmbrace and CaveNymph for beta-ing :-)
I do not own any of the characters in this story; they all belong to J.K.Rowling or are a free creation, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
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