Chapter Graphic by Jeanie at The Dark Arts
Another huge thanks to Alicia for beta'ing!
A week passed and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley did their best to make sure that their guests felt at home before taking necessary actions. Harry and Mary had grown close within the week, relying on each other. A life support. Despite that the house was constantly thriving of their new friends and family, no one was yet to give any answers.
The two seventeen-year-olds were sitting at the antique table in the kitchen as Molly filled their plates high with sausage, eggs, bacon, and toast. Harry laughed and took a sip of the pumpkin juice he had come to enjoy. "Thank you, Mrs. Weasley. That's plenty for me."
She chuckled before piling Mary's plate even higher. The table had quickly filled up with the herd of people who would pop - literally - in and out of the house all day. Harry waved excitedly to Sirius before yanking on a piece of bacon. "There you go, Harry," Sirius grinned as he ripped into his sausage like a dog. "Dig in like a man."
Harry laughed and wiped his chin, hi-fiving Fred and George a "good morning" as they passed. Mary received a noogie from the boys as they passed her. "Oi, little miss Mary!" they chimed together. She grumbled at how they had messed up her hair. Harry murmured to her as the boys shoveled food onto their plate. "It looks perfect, Mary."
She blushed and sipped her pumpkin juice. Harry gave her hand a reassuring squeeze under the table before returning to his food. Mr. Weasley passed by the table and dropped a brown bag into Sirius' lap. Mr. Weasley had a serious, stern look on his face as he spoke, "Sirius, now, be careful. There's a lot of money in there; you don't want to lose that. It's quite a large amount the Order has pooled together for Harry and what James and Lily set aside a long time ago."
"Money?" asked Harry as his plate cleared. "What do we need money for?"
Sirius scarfed down the rest of his breakfast. "I'm taking you to a wizard shopping center. If you're gonna be one of us, you've gotta have the supplies."
Harry smiled and continued eating. Mary whispered from next to him, "Will I be coming with you?"
"I don't know," whispered Harry. "I want you to. I suppose so, but Remus and Mr. Weasley have gone over the fact that you aren't magical.
Mary nodded. She didn't mind that she wasn't magical; actually, after finding out about this wizarding world she had been entrusted with, she preferred to not be magical. Harry was being given so much to do, so much to worry about. His shoulders were being loaded with pounds upon pounds of worries. She didn't want those. Harry had strong shoulders; hers were weak and unsupportive. Harry was quite the opposite. Harry could handle it. So, Mary would be the caring supporter.
Remus left a few minutes later, having to apparate to his home before driving his car to the school. Remus had brought Harry the news of the rumors that were floating about Harry and Mary's old school. With Ethan dead and the two left of the trio having dropped out, the school was in befuddled thoughts. No one knew where they were. Mary Jane's parent refused to answer questions, and no one dared ask James or Claire, with Claire recovering in the hospital. No one knew what was going on, but their support went out to them in whatever they were doing.
"Are you kidding me! This place is amazing," beamed Harry as they strolled down Diagon Alley. Witches and wizards, dressed in an assortment of robes, roamed the crowded streets. Even goblins and other kinds of creatures filled them that Harry didn't recognize. Owls sat in the windows of some stores. Others had broomsticks, magical contraptions, wizarding robes, wands, or books. "Where first?" Harry asked Sirius.
Sirius pointed to a shop down the street on the left. A dingy, faded sign hung above the door with a golden wand on the sign. Above the picture of the wand was the name Ollivanders. Harry jerked his head in surprise. This busy, magical place was still hard to become accustomed to. "There? A wand shop?"
"Yes," said Sirius. He led them down the street and to the door. Looking back over his shoulder, Sirius ushered them inside. He chuckled to Mary as she passed. "Sorry, dear. I think you'll just have to observe during the majority of our visit at Diagon Alley."
"That's fine." Mary smiled. And, really, it was. She didn't care if she had to observe. She didn't want to be a part of this strange, weird, new world.
Harry idly looked about the dusty, old place. There were aisles upon aisles. All were lined with different colored boxes coated in dust. A man emerged from one of the dark, shadowy aisles, and a knowing smile spread across his face. "Harry Potter. I was wondering when you'd come to me."
Sirius stepped forward and said in a low, respective, and discrete manner. "Arcus, let's keep this on the down low please. Dumbledore wants as little publicity as possible."
"Okay," Arcus Ollivander agreed. He nodded. "Well, you're lucky the store is empty right now, Sirius. And Diagon Alley? If you're going for less publicity, this is the worst place to bring the boy."
"Dumbledore O.K'ed it. So, it must be fine," Sirius shrugged. Mr. Ollivander stared at Sirius before rolling his eyes and then speaking to Harry. "All right, Harry, my boy. Come on. I think what you may be looking for is towards the back."
Harry followed the old man to the back as he began shuffling through boxes upon boxes. He muttered under his breath, casting out wands that would, apparently, not work for Harry. Harry asked gingerly, inclining his head. "How do you know when a wand will not work for someone?"
"A fine wandmaker always knows. It is not what the wizard wants; it is who the wand chooses," Mr. Ollivander said sophisticatedly as he pulled out a thin, blue box. He pulled out the black wand from its box and offered it to Harry as Harry asked. "Wands can choose?"
"Yes," nodded Mr. Ollivander. "Take it, give it a wave."
Harry reached out uneasily as Arcus told him the makings of the wand. "Black ash, thestral hair, 11 inches." Harry made an easy flick of the wrist, and gold sparks shot out the end to strip the back shelf of their wands. Harry jumped and forced it out to Mr. Ollivander, who was already holding out his hands in panic. "Clearly, clearly not that one! Let's try another."
He busied himself and pulled out two more, offering them both. "The first, there, is elm, dragon heartstring, 9 inches, and the second, there, is cherry, unicorn hair, 13 inches."
Harry blinked rapidly at the interesting names of the wand. He was curious if the wands were composed of things such as unicorn hairs, dragon heartstrings, and thestral hairs, whatever those were. He asked this as he waved the wand containing the dragon heartstring. The lamps in the far corner burst into flames. Mr. Ollivander yanked yet another wand away from Harry. "Y-Yes, the items taken from the creatures are rather interesting. Others consist of veela hair and phoenix feathers."
"All these things exist?" Harry asked as a blast of smoke emerged from the tip of the cherry wand. He gave it back to Mr. Ollivander; clearly the wands he had chosen for Harry to try had not chosen him in return. "Things like thestrals
What are they?"
"Thestrals," Arcus began, answering Harry's question, "are creatures that can only be seen by those who have seen death, and veela. Well, veela are women. But strikingly beautiful women it should be prohibited to have such stunning women."
Mr. Ollivander had roamed down the aisle to a dark corner. He shuffled through the wand that had, clearly, been forgotten over the years. Harry watched him with curiosity, peering over the shelf of wands. Harry heard him mutter. "It can't be. I doubt it..."
Mr. Ollivander emerged a minute later, holding a gold box with great care. He opened the box and offered the exposed wand to Harry. Anxiously, Harry reached for it as Mr. Ollivander spoke once again. "Holly, phoenix feather, 11 inches."
Harry didn't have to wave it once. As soon as he closed his hand around the cool, Holly wand, gold sparks emitted from the wand and circled his head. Harry looked about him and smiled. Mr. Ollivander chuckled uneasily; Harry could see the worry in his eyes. "And there is your wand, Mr. Potter."
Harry followed in Arcus' wake as they returned to the front. Sirius approached the desk, a bag of coins at the ready. He beamed at his godson, holding the newly given wand. "Find the right one, Harry? Well, tell me! What is it?"
"Holly, phoenix feather, and 11 inches," repeated Harry. Sirius nodded in approval as Harry shrank back against the windows of the store, entering a subdued conversation with Mary. Sirius turned to Arcus protectively. "Why weren't you at the meeting last week? We wished to have purchased Harry's wand in more private quarters, but we couldn't reach you."
"I'm sorry," Arcus apologized. "Old age; it's getting to me."
"Well, Moody advises to not let it happen again," Sirius warned. He poured out a number of gold galleons. "How much was it then?"
"47 galleons," he replied. "But Sirius, I do advise you to speak with Albus on this subject. If the boy was brought to the Weasley's for the sole purpose Dumbledore told me a few nights ago, then I would have reason to be nervous."
"Why is this?"
"The boy's wand," Arcus shook his head, his eyes full of mystery and half-hints, "will not help him for long."
Sirius shot his head towards Harry, turning the smooth wand over in his hand and waving it so more gold sparks appeared. Sirius looked back towards Arcus, his eyes narrowed in worry. "You're sure? It is that
wand. Dumbledore told us of the brothered wand, but it fell off the map for Dumbledore ages ago. Then, this wand will not suit him."
"It has been in the back of my store for so long. I stored it back there because I would not release it. It is, after all, his wand's brother," Arcus insisted.
Sirius hissed, agitated at the older man. "Then why the bloody hell are you selling it to the boy who is supposed to murder the owner of the wand's brother!?"
"I cannot say," Mr. Ollivander shook his head. "It is not my doing; it is the wand's. Clearly, there is a clear cut future for this boy. And if it involves Prior Incantatem, then there is nothing we can do about it."
"I must talk with Dumbledore about this," Sirius groaned. "For now, this wand will suit him." Sirius paid the 47 galleons and backed away from the counter. Harry and Mary headed for the door, seeing their departure was about to take place.
Arcus nodded, speaking loudly enough for the three of his customers to hear. "But when the time comes, I would check Albus' pocket. It may be time for him to obtain a new wand and pass on his current."
Sirius' eyes narrowed, and he backed away from Ollivander in confusion.
Arcus said again before the door to his shop swung shut, "That wand of his will not be a faithful companion for long."
Sirius muttered his muddled thoughts as they left the store, unable to dissolve Harry and Mary's curious thoughts.
That night, the Weasley boys were crawling all over Harry's new broom. Harry himself was also quite amused in his new wizarding supplies. At the dinner table, Harry's companions had been shouting random, awkward sounding words for Harry to say. Harry would repeat them and watch whatever funny things his wand made happen.
Bill laughed, clapping his hands together on the opposite end of the table. "It's all right, Harry. You may be a poor stunner now, but you'll get better."
"AH!" Fred laughed, pointing with a jeer. "Hex him, Harry! Try the bat bogey hex! The incantation is - "
"Nooo!" Bill yelped, scampering away from the table with his hand clamped over his nose. He dashed into the backyard, screeching like a child would of the monster under their bed. Fleur giggled at her husband's foolishness.
"Ahh." Fred tossed away the idea. "You will get him another time."
Just then, the door bell rang, and Sirius rose with a smile and happy obligation. He trudged to the door, rumpling his shoulder length hair. When he opened the door, he wasn't prepared for what was awaiting him. His jaw dropped, his eyes grew wide, he gaped, and a mix of anger and joy filled his thoughts. Sirius murmured, "James?"
James smiled to his old friend feebly. He shrugged his shoulders, opening up his arms in a unknown way. "Hey, mate."
Sirius looked over his shoulder as an uproar of laughter emerged from within the Burrow. "What are you doing here?"
"Is a father not allowed to drop in for a visit with is son? Is a man not allowed to chat with his old friend?" James chuckled.
The corners of Sirius' lips tugged up into a smile. He laughed once, only half-heartedly. "A father is allowed to drop in for his son, yes, but you. You
would never in a million years check up on your old, magical
"People change," whispered James in resentment.
"You changed," Sirius emphasized yet again. He shrugged his shoulders in questioning. "I still haven't understood you to this day. You wanted nothing to do with magic, nothing to do with the Order, nothing to do with Voldemort, with the prophecy, with all of us. Me. So, what are you doing now?"
"With Harry knowing, there is no point to it now," James said. His eyes met Sirius' chocolate ones, and James found the same youth, the same excitement, immaturity, and bliss still inside them. Knowing Sirius could not see the same in his own eyes, James wished his hazel ones could match Sirius' - just the way they had been eighteen years ago.
Sirius appraised his friend's appearance - his youthful face, his wise and protective eyes, his calm maturity. Sirius asked in a mere whisper. "What happened to you, James? Where's Prongs?"
James engulfed Sirius into his arms with a regretful voice. "He's still here. Somewhere, he's still here."
The men peered over their shoulders to see Harry's silhouette reflected from the light within the Burrow. James blinked at his son, surprised to see him standing there. Sirius let go of their brotherly embrace and made way for Harry. James opened up his arms, the happiest grin spreading across his face, and the said with joy, "Harry!"
"Dad!" Harry laughed with enthusiasm. He bounded forward and wrapped his arms around his father. James pressed him tightly into his chest, holding on for dear life. "Don't you ever run out on me like that again, Harry, you hear? I was so worried. I'm sorry I just now got to you."
"Fine," Harry gave in without a fight. "I won't do it again. I needed answers, and I found them, Dad. I found what I've needed to know all along. Where have you been? Why did it take you so long? How's Mum?"
"Enough with the questions," James chuckled, patting his son's head. He let go of Harry and held him at arms length. "I've been at the hospital; I've been too afraid to leave your mother's side. She had her transplant, and she's in recovery. She will be released from the hospital soon. She's going to be just fine, son."
"Oh, thank God," sighed Harry. Harry realized that Sirius had faded into the house, leaving the father and son to talk. James placed his hand on Harry's back and led him around the yard. "Walk with me, Harry. I have many things to tell you."
Harry looked to his father uneasily, and nodded for him to begin. James pursed his lips. "Well, not yet. In a minute. First, tell me. How have you been? Have they been treating you all right?"
"They're the best. It's been fantastic. Fred and George are hilarious. They are all so welcoming."
"Fred and George," James chuckled. "Oh, those two were pranksters from the very beginning."
"You've met them?"
"Just once," James laughed, "when they were two. They were always trying to bring the gnomes into the house and hide them somewhere. Molly always caught them though."
"That sounds like them," Harry grinned. Harry silenced and looked at his father. He could sense his father's worry, his shaking body. He asked. "Dad, what's wrong? You came for more than just a visit; I know you all too well."
James sighed and slid down into the grass. He braced his arms against his knees and took in the sunset. He felt its warmth. It kissed his cheeks and seeped through his skin; it reached his very heart. "I have something we need to talk about."
"What's happened?" Fright washed over Harry, and he dropped onto the grass next to his father.
James turned to him, wrapped an arm around his son's broad shoulders, and began, "I never thought our family would come to this. It's become the very thing I've always been fighting so hard to prevent. You have to understand that what I have done, I have done for the benefit of our family."
"Dad," Harry shook his head in distress, a warning. "No riddles. Just tell me."
"Your mother's pregnant," sighed James. He ran his hands through his hair and turned to his son to read his expression.
Harry beamed. "Well, I have to admit it's quite a big difference in age, but that's wonderful. Why aren't you happy?"
"I..." James sighed and couldn't muster the strength within him. "Perhaps that is a conversation for another time, but tell me. What movements has everyone made you do?"
"Yes, things to move you closer to the magical world."
"We went to Diagon Alley today. I got my wand, a broom, and a lot of books. They want me to start some sort of training tomorrow!"
"T-Training?" James stuttered. He blinked twice, as if trying to wipe his memory, forget that Harry had said that simple sentence. "They are training you? No, no. Have they told you what they are training you for?"
"No," Harry shrugged, "but it can't be too much. Just making up for the years of wizarding schooling I missed, right?"
James cursed, shook his head, and rose to his feet in a mad rush. He whipped out his wand and sprinted into the house. Harry, stunned, watched his angered father before following in his wake. James burst into the Burrow and into the kitchen where everyone was still eating happily. At his angry face, the table silenced, and the tip of his wand found Mad Eye Moody. He blasted the old bat out of his chair, Moody rolled over onto his back. "Blasts, Potter! Dirty little bleeder. Hello after eighteen years to you too!"
"You're training him?! Without tell me? And my son has no idea what he's up against! Thinking it's schooling and happy levitating charms! Well, fuck that! He will not be trained! I will not allow it!" James roared.
Moody limped to his feet, leaning on his mangled staff. "You don't have a say in the matter anymore, Potter."
James, his angered eyes too fixated on Moody, didn't even notice a certain red-haired woman at the table. Her fork dropped to her plate with a clatter, and she burst from the room, her eyes wide. James paid no heed to Lily as he caught her red blur. She's not there, she's not there.
He told himself. Just like he promised Claire. She was gone from him. She would always be. She had to be.
"Bite me! I do have a say in it! He is my son!"
"The boy is seventeen. He is of age. He can make the decision," Moody turned to Harry, staring in horror at the two of them. Harry's mouth opened, and then shut again. He blinked unknowingly. Red sparks from his father's wand turned his attention back to the uncomfortable sight. James hissed, ignoring the gazes of his friends he had missed, the children he had missed the childhoods of. "He will not make the decision!"
"Dad," Harry piped, "calm down. Please. It's okay; whatever it is they need me to do I will do."
"You don't know what you're getting yourself into," James groaned, shaking his head in disapproval. "You don't know a thing,
Harry James Potter!"
Harry roared. "I don't give a shit, Dad! Calm down, and let me make my own god damn decision! I am legal in this world, and there is nothing you can do about it! You don't get it, Dad. These people," Harry sighed and motioned to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Fred and George. Bill, Fleur, and Charlie. Sirius. "They've been so brilliant to me, welcoming and caring. I love them, and I want to help them. No matter the price."
James blinked and lowered the wand, a threat, pointed at Moody's chest. He turned back to Moody, his chest heaving with the anger towards Moody and his son. James had assumed automatically that, if any training was involved, Moody would be the one to do it. James came within inches of Moody's face. His magical eye swirled about in its socket, moving from Harry to James.
With one cool hiss, he murmured. "He may enter training, but - I - will - train - him," and with that, James apparated away, leaving a kitchen full of aghast people. Moody straightened out his coat, rolling out the kinks in his neck. "Wow, well, at least Potter hasn't lost his edge."
"I'm so sorry," Harry apologized, groping at his face. He pulled at his cheeks. "He over reacts. A lot. I'm so sorry about him."
"Don't worry about it, Harry." Mr. Weasley shrugged. "James has always had an edge when he doesn't get his way. But my, my. He looks exactly the same."
Sirius sighed, slipping into his seat in a trance. He nodded, and Moody grunted as he slid into his chair again. "Acts the same too. Although a bit more protective and grown up these days."
Molly whispered kindly, respectful of James. "I'm sure these past years have really changed him. He will be more subdued due to everything he's been through. Give him some slack, boys."
Harry sank into a chair. "Was he always this paranoid? Protective?"
"No," a voice sounded. All heads turned towards the stairs at the entrance to the kitchen. A woman, forgotten, rose from the steps and sauntered forward sadly. Lily whispered, tracing her finger along her arm. "He smiled bigger and brighter than anyone ever smiled. He laughed like no one could. He got himself in trouble on purpose sometimes. He lived for danger and thrills. The father you know is hardly the James we knew."
Harry pursed his lips and nodded sadly to her. Somehow, he could understand what Lily was saying. Perhaps, living this life of lies had warped his mind. Living in danger, worry, and fear could change a man. And, so it had changed his father. Harry said softly to Lily. "You know, he used to get a little upset when my mum or I would miss a family meal. He always said family time was important. That we took it for granted and should spend more time together. He always wanted to be my best friend, and eventually, I let him. Now, I understand. He, out of all people, really does know what it's like and how much we do take it for granted because, before we know it, things are going to go wrong again."