Chapter 39 : Chapter 39 Untitled
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Sirius stood motionless in front of the home he and Harry had been living in. It seemed to tower over him as he stood in the front yard, working himself up to going inside. He swallowed nervously and his heart pounded in his chest, he could almost hear his blood pressure rising within him. He could hear Tonks and Moody talking quietly behind him, having accompanied him to make sure nothing unsavoury happened. He tuned out to their voices as he looked at the ground, trying to make sense of his thoughts.
The Auror department had owled him early that morning, telling him that he may return to his home at any time. “We have finished our investigation of the crime scene. You may return to your place of residence, at the earliest convenience,” they had written, as if returning was simply that easy. His pounding heart and nerves told him quite clearly that returning was not quite as easy as had been suggested.
Since Ginny’s return, everybody had immediately left the Burrow, temporarily moving into Grimmauld Place. It seemed obvious now, that the Burrow was too much of an easy target, and was not safe for anybody to reside in. The only reason Sirius had come back to this house, was because he wanted to pick up some more of his clothing before heading to Grimmauld Place.
He raised his head, looking up at the house. He stared motionlessly at it for a few moments, before moving forward. He climbed the steps up onto the porch as he withdrew his wand from his robes. He tapped the door knob, and heard the soft click of the lock. Hesitating for a moment, he opened the door and stepped inside before he could stop himself.
As he closed the door behind him, Sirius looked around at his deserted home. It seemed unnaturally bright as his eyes wandered the large room. He stood frozen, his brain trying to tell his legs to move. He stayed where he was, yet craned his neck slightly to see into the living area. He noted absently that the living room doors had been repaired. They no longer swung about freely, their glass shattered across the carpet.
He felt his feet moving forward, taking him into the living area. He looked around, noticing that the sweater he had slung across the breakfast table was gone, that the old newspaper no longer sat on the coffee table. He stepped into the kitchen and immediately noticed the large smear on the floor had disappeared, had been cleaned up. He scanned the pristine living area, which bore no signs of recent life. He suddenly realised that any stranger could walk in, and not realise that this house had recently been the site of a horrific attack.
He began walking towards the staircase before he even knew it, and he slowly ascended, as though he were not quite sure where the stairs would lead him. He hesitantly approached Harry’s bedroom, stopping in front of it. There was no reason to go inside, he reasoned with himself. There was no point really, he didn’t need anything in there. He opened the door anyway, letting it swing open fully before stepping inside. He looked around, but it was not Harry’s room as he remembered it.
This room too, had been cleaned and tidied, removing almost all evidence that a teenage boy had been living there. Sirius took a few more steps inside, taking in all the changes. The old tee-shirt that Harry had thrown into the corner was missing, as was the empty coffee cup on his desk. Sirius distinctly remembered reminding Harry to take it back down to the kitchen the day of his birthday, yet he knew it had not been Harry who had removed it.
It was the same people who cleaned the blood from the window sill, the same people who had moved the owl treats from his bedside table, the same people who had removed the sheets from his bed, in order to take them for evidence. He felt as though he were standing in the bedroom of a complete stranger, not the bedroom of the godson he loved so much.
Sirius turned abruptly, exiting the room. He went straight downstairs, the staircase creaking under his heavy footsteps. He marched into the muggle laundry, flinging open the cupboard doors. He bent down, searching on the lower shelves and quickly finding what he was looking for. He bundled the fresh sheets into a ball, tucking them under his arm whilst throwing a haphazardly folded quilt over his shoulder.
He marched back up the stairs and back into Harry’s room, intent on restoring it to its previous condition. He dumped the quilt onto the floor, and sorted out the assortment of sheets he had underneath his arm. He withdrew his wand and charmed the sheets, watching them fit themselves around the empty mattress. He put his wand away, and spread the quilt out himself, tugging at the corners to get rid of the crinkles.
The cream coloured quilt seemed to glare at him, as he realised he probably should have chosen a red coloured quilt.
“Red for Gryffindor,” he thought to himself.
He turned away from the bed and approached the desk, where the Aurors had left his assortment of birthday gifts. He began putting things away, placing his new quidditch gloves and broomstick servicing kit in the corner where his firebolt stood. He opened the desk drawers and put away the assortment of Weasley Wizard Wheezes products, along with the copy of The Pitch. He took the large block of Honeydukes chocolate and sat it on the bedside table, along with the watch Molly and Arthur had given him.
Sirius looked around for a moment, wondering where Harry’s old wallet would be. He had originally left it in the kitchen, but knew it wouldn’t be there anymore. He opened the top drawer of the bedside table and immediately found it.
Slightly relieved, Sirius sat down at the desk as he opened it. He removed the contents, leaving them temporarily on the desk beside him. He opened the new leather wallet that Hermione had given to Harry, and began transferring the various coins and store receipts into it. Finished, he put the wallet back onto the desk, no longer compelled to put it away.
He stood up, folding his arms across his chest as he looked around. It still looked bare, it still didn’t look like what Harry’s bedroom should. Despite the things that occupied it, the room was emptier than it had ever been. He turned slowly on the spot and his fell upon the photos that occupied the wall above Harry’s desk. He looked closely at the pictures, observing the various people in them. Some, such as Ron, Hermione and Ginny, he recognised, but others he simply assumed to be other friends from Hogwarts. He smiled as he came across the picture of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, taken after they won the Quidditch cup. Having not played in that game, Harry was the only one not wearing the Quidditch robes, yet he seemed to fit in perfectly, as though he weren’t wearing different robes at all. He briefly recalled that this picture was taken only a little while after he and Ginny had kissed.
Sirius scanned his eyes over the various pictures that he had never properly looked at, his heart stopping at a picture of himself and Harry. It had been taken at the previous Christmas, and he remembered grabbing Harry and dragging him into the picture at the last minute. In the picture Harry looked somewhat flustered, yet as Sirius slung his arm around his shoulder, he smiled nonetheless.
Sirius tore his eyes away from the picture as he felt his heart begin to race. Intense guilt began rising in his throat, and he clenched his jaws together tightly. He didn’t want to feel, he didn’t want to deal with any of this. Coming back to this house had been a mistake, serving only to remind him of his incredible losses. He snatched the photo from the wall, tucking it in his pocket as he quickly left the room.
He swiftly went downstairs, opening the front door in a flourish. He locked the door behind himself, and walked down the porch steps. Ignoring the glances from Mad Eye and Tonks, he spoke in a hurry, wanting nothing more than to get away.
“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go.”
The three left quickly, appearing on the front steps of Grimmauld Place. Tonks and Mad Eye looked around for unsuspecting muggles who had seen them, as Sirius opened the front door and entered. It wasn’t until he reached his bedroom and locked the door behind him, did he realise that he hadn’t taken the clothing he had went for.
It seemed to take forever for Harry to work out what was happening, to work out where he was. He lay still as he slowly awoke from his potion induced sleep. His head pounded he breathed deeply, sending his head spinning. He clenched his jaws together as realisation seemed to rush back to him, reminding him of the situation.
He groaned and shifted position slightly, trying to alleviate the pain in the shoulder he was laying on. He was suddenly aware that he was not alone, yet made no effort to open his eyes. He lay quietly, his head pounding. A few minutes passed before he was able to begin thinking clearly, feeling a bit more awake.
He opened his eyes, heavy with exhaustion despite the potion, and waited for them to adjust to the dark room. A blurry mass of shadows swam in front of his eyes, and he clenched them shut again. His mouth felt as though it were made of paper and pain seemed to stab at his stomach, reminding him of his hunger. His eyes fluttered open again, and he let them adjust to the dim light. He shifted his position again as he felt his head becoming clearer.
Seeing his movements, the Death Eater watching him moved out of the corner, brandishing their wand. Harry froze as he heard the movements, but relaxed slightly as the ropes binding his hands behind his back disappeared.
“Sit up,” Snape said coldly, putting his wand away. Harry grimaced with discomfort as he pulled his arm out from underneath his body. His body seemed to scream as he forced himself to sit up. His pounding head spun wildly, and he immediately felt sick. He tried to ignore this and looked at the ground, refusing to let his eyes meet with Snape’s.
Snape studied the boy for a few moments, taking in his numerous injuries before speaking. “Eat this,” he said, holding out a red apple.
Not even bothering to look up Harry responded. “I’m not hungry,” he lied.
“I don’t care,” Snape relied tonelessly.
Snape closed his eyes momentarily, trying to gain as much patience as possible. He had known this would not be easy, but there was no way he would defy the Dark Lord’s orders.
“You are no good to the Dark Lord, if you are dead,” Snape said. “Eat it, or I will make you.”
Harry closed his eyes, shivering internally. There was no way he wanted a group of Death Eaters holding him down, forcing him to eat, and he knew that's what would happen. Reluctantly he looked up, taking the apple from Snape’s outstretched hand. He studied it for a moment, showing no more signs that he was going to eat. He turned it slowly in his hand, seeing the blurry golden streaks that ran through its skin. He was vividly reminded of Ginny’s hair.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Snape withdrawing his wand threateningly. “Eat it, or I will make you,” he repeated.
Submitting, Harry took a bite, tasting the sweet juices. He chewed slowly, trying to postpone swallowing, thinking of the many poisons that could have been hidden inside the seemingly innocent fruit. He remembered the fairy tale of Snow White, and the poisoned apple, and shivered outwardly. He swallowed, and immediately regretted it. Nausea seemed to rise in his throat, and he pulled his knees toward his chest, trying to stem the feeling. Trying to distract himself, he spoke.
“What day is it?” he asked, not entirely expecting an answer.
“It’s just passed noon, Tuesday.”
Harry raised his eyebrows slightly, now understanding why he felt so awful. He had been unconscious since Sunday evening.
“What happened to Ginny?” he asked quietly, desperate to know. He waited for Snape to answer, his heart pounding wildly.
“Eat,” Snape said firmly, ignoring his question.
He reluctantly took another small bite, chewing faster this time. He swallowed quickly, trying his best to ignore the nausea.
“What happened to her?” he asked again.
Snape said nothing for a moment, truthfully unaware of what had happened to the Weasley girl. It was not his concern.
“She’s fine,” he lied. “She’s back with her family.”
Harry considered this for a moment, before wondering why he had asked in the first place. “I don’t believe you,” he muttered quietly under his breath.
“You probably shouldn’t,” Snape replied calmly, having only just heard what had been said.
They both fell silent, neither of them moving. Harry gave no indication that he would continue eating, simply holding the apple in his hand as his stomach continued to churn painfully. They remained in a kind of stalemate, neither of them desiring to make the next move. Harry stared at the ground, thinking of Snape’s earlier words. The fact the he was no good to Voldemort if he was dead did little to comfort him, only reminding him of the fact that there was no way he would be getting out of there anytime soon.
“You saw me,” Harry said quietly, still looking at the ground. Snape’s head jerked up, looking at him with piercing eyes.
“In the forest,” Harry clarified as he looked up at him. “You saw me.”
“No, I didn’t,” Snape replied firmly, looking him in the eye.
“Why did you let me go?” Harry asked imperatively, ignoring Snape’s words.
“I did not see you,” Snape said a little too firmly, his eyes flashing.
“You did,” Harry said a little louder, determined to find out why he was not captured then. “You looked right at me."
“I did not!” Snape said forcefully, stepping towards him. He raised his hand and backhanded Harry, knocking him from his sitting position to the ground, the apple rolling away into a corner. Stars danced in front of Harry’s eyes, who was surprised at the strength of the slap. His cheek smarted as Snape bent down slightly, roughly pulling him up by the neck of his tattered shirt. Harry looked at Snape as he bent his face closer to Harry’s.
“You didn’t see me, and I didn’t see you,” he said menacingly. Harry felt Snape’s wand pressing firmly into his ribs. “Understand?”
Harry glared at him for a moment, not at all feeling threatened.
“Fine,” he said softly. “I didn’t see you.”
Snape stared at him blankly for a moment, before pushing him to the ground with force that again surprised Harry. He watched as Snape left, closing the door behind him with a bang. The door locked with a click just as ropes appeared in front of Harry, quickly binding his hands together painfully.
Harry relaxed a little, now that he was on his own. He felt relieved that his hands were in front of his body this time, making it more comfortable for him. He rolled onto his side, pressing his elbows into his stomach, in effort to stem the nausea as his head continued pounding painfully.
Subconsciously he looked toward the corner where the apple had rolled. It had vanished.
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