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Chapter 55 : Chapter 55 Reconcile
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Sorry it's been so long, I've been overseas and generally unmotivated regarding this chapter! But don't worry, I'm back into swing and hopefully will stay that way.
This may be the last chapter for this story, I'm not sure about an epilogue. So either way, keep and eye out for an epilogue to this story, or for the up and coming sequel! (I'm not done with Harry yet!) Thanks for sticking with me, even with the long waits between chapters!
Standing in the crowded atrium of the ministry, Tonks patiently waited for the Minister to pass by. Having been assigned by the Order to observe him after his appointment as Minister for Magic Tonks knew his schedule better than anyone else, maybe even better than he did. Mentally scolding him for having such a regular routine, she folded her arms and blended into the crowd the way only an experienced auror could, waiting for him to arrive through the fireplace after having lunch at home.
Carefully watching those around her, Tonks continued to scan the atrium in search of the minister, knowing that she had to speak with him as soon as possible. She frowned to herself as she remembered the unhelpfulness of Scrimgeour’s secretary, who had only offered to make her an appointment to see him the next afternoon. Breathing out slowly, Tonks forced herself to remember why she was here, why she had been waiting in this crowded atrium for over an hour. That afternoon Sirius had bitterly informed her of Harry’s intentions to return to Hogwarts, and her reaction to the news had been less than desirable. If it hadn’t been for Remus’ soothing words and patience she would have fought with Harry on the matter herself.
So suddenly she almost missed him, Tonks caught a glimpse of the Minister on the other side of the atrium, exiting the fireplace as she knew he would. Setting off she hastily followed him, disappointed to see that he was already being followed by a throng of other ministry workers, each of them hammering him with requests and updates on various departments. Determined to get to him, she rudely pushed past each of them and was by his side as he briskly walked back to his office, trying to listen to everybody at once.
“I need to talk to you, minister,” she said loudly, forcing his attention towards her momentarily.
“Take a number,” he said, distracted. “What were you saying, Jenkins?”
“I need to talk to you, now,” she continued imperatively, ignoring the way he brushed her off. “It’s about Potter and Malfoy.”
This caught his attention, and he looked at her wide eyed, exasperation evident. “You’re not going on about Malfoy again, are you?”
“Yes, I am actually,” she said as those around them fell silent, listening to them as they continued walking.
“I’ve told you before, Auror Tonks. The Wizengamont’s decision is final, besides the students will be completely safe from him.”
“Potter won’t be.”
“What do you mean?”
“Harry’s going back to school.”
Scrimgeour stopped in his tracks and looked at her in surprise, quickly collecting himself as those around them heard what Tonks had said. “Excuse us,” he murmured as they walked to the nearest elevator, which was blissfully empty. They stepped inside and the doors slammed shut, the elevator bursting into life and sending them flying backwards. “Potter’s returning to Hogwarts?”
“Yes,” Tonks replied. “He just told everyone this morning.”
“I bet that went down well,” he muttered to himself in frustration. “And Black agrees?”
“Sirius is trying to stop him, but there’s nothing he can do now that Harry’s seventeen. There’s nothing any of us can do short of locking him away.”
“Well,” he replied as the elevator stopped, it’s doors slamming open as they stepped out into the corridor. “After what’s happened to him, that’s the last thing we want to do.”
“Don’t you understand?” Tonks asked as they approached his office door, taking a moment to glare at Scrimgeour’s secretary as they entered. “Malfoy can’t go back, think of what it will do to Harry.”
Scrimgeour sighed as he sat down behind his desk, rubbing his eyes as he thought hard for a minute. “The best I can do now, is provide Potter with a guard, and issue a restraining order against Malfoy.”
“That’s not good enough,” Tonks snapped, not caring that she was being rude. “Talk to the Wizengamont. Tell them things have changed, and that they need to reconsider the conditions of his release.”
“They won’t do that, Auror Tonks. You know that.”
“C’mon, this is ridiculous! He’s already been implicated for letting the Death Eaters into the school, imagine what he will do for them now.”
The minister shook his head as he rubbed his eyes. “I’m sorry, Tonks, I know you care for Potter. But the decision has been made, the paper work has been filed. Draco Malfoy will be returning to Hogwarts.”
“You can’t do that!”
“You want to keep Potter safe?” he asked, halting the shouting match that would ensue.
“Yes!” Tonks replied in exasperation. “Why do you think I’m here?”
“Then convince him not to go.”
Tonks rolled her eyes at him and ran her fingers through her short hair in frustration. “If it were that easy, I would have done it already! He’s determined to go, you know how he is.”
“Still, you must convince him that it is in his best interests to stay at home…where ever that is.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“Do whatever you have to,” he said as he stood up from his chair. “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
He opened the door and stood beside it, a certain indication that she was to leave. Tonks glared at him before marching out of the office and back towards the elevator, determined to make sure that Harry was safe at any cost.
Resting his chin in his hand, Harry lay on his bed absently listening to Ron and Hermione talking, deep in thought as the dying light streamed through his open window. They had been talking for almost an hour, flipping through Hogwarts: A History in search of an artefact belonging to one of the four founders, and Harry had become sick of listening to them, more concerned with what to do with the Horcruxes once they had been found. Never once had Dumbledore told him how he had destroyed the Gaunt’s ring, his only clue was Riddle’s diary, destroyed only by the venom of the basilisk.
Rubbing his tired eyes, Harry tried to ignore the conversation around him, but was glad to be here rather than downstairs with Tonks. Since his fight with Sirius she had hardly left him alone, hounding him about the danger of returning to Hogwarts, telling him how unsafe it would be. By this afternoon he had finally snapped at her, telling her to mind her own business before he could stop himself, and she didn’t need to speak any further to tell him how furious she was. The look on her face had said it all.
Suppressing a growl of frustration he pushed himself to a seated position and stretched his arms above his head, relishing in the stretching muscles in his body. He flopped his arms down to his lap, thankful that he was no longer in any pain. Aside from another nightmare that Ron had awoken him from, Harry had slept surprisingly well the previous night, waking up that morning feeling refreshed and ready, rather than wishing he could stay in bed the entire day.
Glancing at Hogwarts: A History for a moment, Harry’s thoughts strayed to Sirius, wondering if they would ever have another civil conversation. Harry grimaced as he remembered some of the awful things he had said to his godfather in the last week, wishing he could take everyone of them back. Thinking of their argument from the day before, Harry wondered what could have possibly gotten into him, what could have possibly made him so angry.
“I’m not their father,” Sirius had said.
“You’re not mine, either!”
He looked up at Ron and Hermione as their conversation caught his attention, concentrating on them rather than Sirius.
“What do you mean?”
“She’s been asking questions,” Hermione said quietly, as though someone was listening. “She’s been asking about the prophecy.”
“What did you say?” Ron asked imperatively, his worry evident on his face.
“Nothing, I told her I didn’t know.”
“Wait,” Harry interrupted. “Are you talking about Ginny?”
“Yeah,” Hermione replied, looking at him with worry. “While you were…gone, she kept asking me about the prophecy.”
“Oh,” Harry replied, understanding their concern. He sighed, knowing that he needed to tell them that Ginny knew sooner or later. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Huh?” Ron replied, perplexed. “This is Ginny we’re talking about, she’s just gonna keep asking.”
“Look,” Harry hesitated. “I told her.”
There was a moment of silence as his friends contemplated this confession, wide eyed and surprised.
“You told her?” Ron replied incredulously. “Why? Dumbledore told you not to tell anyone else!”
“I had no choice-”
“But I’ve been brushing her off all week!” Hermione added in frustration.
“I know, but-”
“Why did you tell her?” Ron asked again, standing up from the bed as thought Harry had betrayed him.
“Because she heard me telling Voldemort!”
“You told You Know Who?” Ron blurted out, not stopping to think.
Harry didn’t reply, preferring to glare at him for a moment. “Yes,” he replied solidly. “I had no choice, he was hurting her.”
Ron stared at him open mouthed, realising he had hit a nerve. “Why are you making such a big deal out of this?” Harry asked.
Flustering, Ron avoided the question. “Well….well what else have you told her?”
“I told her about the Horcruxes,” Harry replied scathingly. “Is that alright with you?”
“You what?” Hermione interrupted, saving Ron from replying.
“Yeah,” Harry replied, anger seething through his body at their reactions. “She knows.”
“How much does she know?
“Not everything,” Harry replied defensively.
“Do you know what you’ve done, Harry?” Ron said in frustration, seething with anger. “She’s gonna want to help now!”
Furious, Harry stood up to face his friend. “Yes, Ron, I considered that. That’s why I didn’t tell her we know what they are!”
“But she’ll want to help us!” Ron argued.
“It’s fine!” Harry replied imperatively. “I wouldn’t have told her if I didn’t think it was okay. Don’t you trust my judgement?”
Ron hesitated before replying, as though trying to decide whether he ought to continue. “No, I don’t trust you. Not after what you’ve been through.”
“Oh don’t start that crap!” Harry said, raising his voice as Hermione stood up, fearing their argument would escalate. “I’m fine!”
“Then what’s with the fighting? You’ve never treated Sirius like this!”
Harry scoffed, hardly believing this. “You’re such a hypocrite, Ron! You fight with your parents all the time!”
“Yeah,” Ron agreed. “But we’ve always done that! You’ve never fought with Sirius!”
“I can’t believe this,” Harry muttered to himself, turning away from Ron.
“What did you tell her?” Ron demanded loudly as Harry spun around to respond.
“Keep your voices down!” Hermione hissed, getting up and standing between them. “Both of you!”
Ron and Harry stood there glaring at each other, neither of them daring to speak or move. Anger seethed through Harry’s veins, furious with Ron’s reaction to something that shouldn’t have mattered. Finally after a few moments Ron turned on his heel and left, leaving Harry and Hermione to breathe a sigh of relief that the tension was over. Harry glanced at her through the corner of his eye, suddenly ashamed at his behaviour.
“Don’t tell Ginny anything else,” Hermione said solidly. “Ron’s right, she’ll want to help.”
He opened his mouth to respond, but she swiftly left the room and went downstairs to dinner without a backward glance. Dinner that night was awkward for Harry, after fighting with three of the people in attendance. Ron had spent the entire dinner giving Harry dirty looks as he sat next to Ginny, while Sirius and Tonks appeared to completely ignore him, not that this made any change from the last few days.
Later that night Ginny rhythmically ran her fingers through his hair as he rested his head on her stomach, flipping through his Quidditch magazine. He closed his eyes in relaxation, certain that her hand would send him to sleep. He was grateful that she supported his decision to return to Hogwarts, and Harry thought she was secretly relieved that he wasn’t going to run off on a mission to find Voldemort. Not that she knew the full truth, however.
“Hey,” Ginny said softly, catching his attention. Looking up at her he watched in confusion as she awkwardly sat up, pulling on the collar of his shirt. Sensing what she wanted Harry propped himself up on his elbow and leaned towards her, suppressing a shiver as she gently kissed him for no reason at all. Breaking away Ginny smiled at him gently, lying back down on the bed and releasing his collar.
“What was that for?” Harry asked as he sat up and then lay down beside her, discarding the magazine.
“No reason,” she replied quietly.
“That’s fine with me,” he replied with a smile, slipping his hand into hers. He ran his thumb along her palm as he gently kissed her on the cheek, turning his attention to her hand. He smiled as he ran his fingers along her nails, feeling the rough and short edges from where she bit them before extending out her fingers and placing their palms together.
“Your hand is huge,” Ginny said, watching what he was doing.
“No,” he laughed. “Yours is just small.”
She smiled at his reply as he turned her hand over in his, feeling the smooth skin that felt so different to the rough and calloused hand of his own. Briefly, he wondered what her hand would look like with his mothers bracelet around it. Rolling onto his side Harry brushed her hair off her face, leaning over her and kissing her deeply. He held onto her hand firmly as they kissed, shivering outwardly as she ran the tip of her tongue over his lips before they broke apart with a grin.
Ginny slipped her hand around his side and held him close to her, and for a moment Harry considered allowing her to slip her hand underneath his shirt as he knew she wanted to, but hastily remembered his injuries. Thankfully Ginny’s thoughts seemed to be aimed elsewhere, and he realised with a jolt that she was staring at his neck with a frown.
“I didn’t know you wore a necklace.”
“I don-” Harry replied, cutting of his denial before he could finish. “Uh, yeah.” He tried to sit up, not wanting her to pursue the locket beneath his shirt, but her hands gripped his shirt and held him close to her. She ran her hand up his chest and slipped it inside the neck of his jumper, her fingers brushing against the hidden stitches as she grasped the chain and pulled it out. Later, Harry would wonder why he hadn’t stopped her.
“A locket?” she questioned in surprise. “With an S?”
“Yeah,” Harry muttered, straightening up despite her hand wound tightly around him. Kneeling beside her, he thought of what he could possibly say to explain the lockets presence, and found himself telling her the truth before he could even stop and think properly about it. “It’s a Horcrux. It’s part of Voldemort’s soul.”
“A Horcrux?” Ginny said in alarm, hastily sitting up as she let it go. “You mean, like the diary?”
“Well, yeah,” Harry replied, not understanding her shock. “That’s what a Horcrux is, I told you.”
Ginny stared at him for a moment, thoughts racing through her head at an alarming speed. “How long have you had that?”
“A couple of days,” Harry replied.
Looking at him in horror, Ginny shifted away from him and moved towards the head of the bed. “Take it off, please.”
A flicker of anger passed through Harry at this request. “Why,” he said suspiciously.
“Just take it off.”
“You have to,” Ginny insisted. “You can’t walk around with a piece of Voldemort’s soul around your neck!”
“Would you keep your voice down, everything’s fine.”
“It’s not fine, Harry!” she hissed, standing up from the bed and standing beside it. “Don’t you remember what the diary did to me?
“Of course I do,” Harry replied, his tone accusatory.
“Then take it off!” she demanded.
“Why should I?”
“Because it made me do things!” Ginny replied uncomfortably. “It made me think all these awful thoughts, it made my moods go crazy! Don’t you remember?”
“This is different,” Harry replied as he too stood up. “I’m not writing to it!”
“No,” Ginny agreed. “You’re wearing the damn thing around your neck!”
“It’s not doing anything to me! I’m fine,” he said angrily, frustrated that she was over reacting so much. He grabbed her arm as she tried to walk past him shaking her head, forcing her to stay. “Where are you going?”
“I’m getting Hermione,” she said, trying to pull her arm from his grasp.
“You’re over reacting.”
“I’m not! It’s hurting you, Harry!”
“It doesn’t even do anything!” he insisted, his anger boiling over.
“Let me go.”
“Listen to me! Stop over reacting, I’m fine.”
“Harry, let go,” she said as her free hand grabbed at his. “You’re hurting me!”
Looking down at her arm, Harry let go of his tight grip, horrified. Ginny pulled her arm away from his and stepped back, rubbing and flexing her hand.
“Ginny, I-” he stuttered, not knowing what to say. “I-”
“That’s what it does, Harry,” Ginny interrupted him, ignoring him. “It’s changing you.”
“Ginny, I’m sorry,” he pleaded with her, taking a step towards her, relieved when she didn’t step away. “I didn’t mean to do that.”
“Take it off.”
Harry hesitated, needed her to realise how important the locket was. “I can’t just take it off, I have to keep it safe!”
“I don’t care,” she replied stubbornly, putting her hands on her hips.
He looked at her pleadingly, begging her to understand the importance of the locket. She stubbornly stared back at him, unwavering in her determination. Defeated, he reluctantly raised his arms to the back of his neck and slowly opened the clasp. He pulled the locket away from his neck and reattached the clasp, letting the locket dangle beneath his hand for a few moments. “There,” he said quietly, still believing that she was wrong about it. He felt no different.
“Get rid of it.”
Harry looked up at her wide eyed, dismayed even further at her request. “I can’t just get rid of it” he replied imperatively. “This is part of Voldemort’s soul, we have to destroy it.”
“Then destroy it!” Ginny replied, as though doing so were that simple.
Harry sat back down on the edge of the bed, sighing as he looked at the locket in his hands. “It’s not that simple. If it were, I would have done it already.”
“How do you do it?”
“I don’t know,” he confessed. “The only thing we can think of, is the Basilisk venom.”
“Right,” Ginny said quietly, sitting down beside him, relived that he had finally taken the locket off. They sat in silence for a few moments, each of them pondering the locket before them. “Do you feel any better?”
Harry shook his head slowly. “It didn’t make me feel any different in the first place.”
Ginny didn’t reply for a few moments, not wanting to argue with him. “When I tried to get rid of the diary, it was a few hours before I felt any different.”
“How did you feel?” Harry asked hesitantly as he looked at her.
She didn’t reply for a few moments, remembering the differences she had felt without the influence of the diary. “It felt like such a great relief. It was like my head was slowly clearing up, and then all of a sudden I could think again, I knew what was going on around me.” She smiled at him weakly for a moment. “I guess I didn’t realise how much control the diary had over me, until it was gone. That’s why I freaked out when I saw that you had it.”
“But I haven ‘t had the locket for as long as you had the diary,” Harry argued, determined that she wouldn’t prove him wrong.
“Trust me,” Ginny implied. “You’ll feel the difference soon.”
They didn’t say anything further, each of them reaching the point where they couldn’t argue anymore without fighting. His heart low in his chest, Harry glanced at Ginny’s arm, relieved that her skin hadn’t even turned red where he had held her too tightly. He glanced back down at the locket he held, certain that it hadn’t made any difference on him, wishing again that Dumbledore were still here to help him.
“I should go to bed,” Ginny said quietly, catching his attention. She slipped her hand into his free one and held it tightly. “Promise you won’t wear it again.”
Harry hesitated, believing that physically wearing the locket was the safest place for it, not willing to compromise it’s safety. He nodded.
“No, Harry,” Ginny said firmly, hiding the desperation she felt. “Promise me you won’t wear it again.”
“Alright,” he said reluctantly, feeling as though he were setting himself up for instant failure. “I promise I won’t wear it.”
Ginny looked at him skeptically, and he suppressed his urge to roll his eyes, instead getting up and opening his trunk, rummaging through it and burying the locket at the very bottom. He stood up from his trunk and brushed his hands off, looking at her with a forced smile. “It’s gone.”
Sighing as she stood up, Ginny approached Harry and hugged him, as though knowing that wouldn’t be the last that she saw of the locket, not completely trusting that he wouldn’t put it back on again. “Thanks,” she murmured.
“It’s fine,” he lied, kissing her goodnight as she went to bed. Suddenly alone in his room again, he stood on the spot and looked at his locked trunk, wondering if he would ever not worry about the lockets safety.
But hours later, as he lay awake in bed listening to Ron’s snoring, Harry knew that Ginny had been right. He gritted his teeth together as his head pounded furiously, the pain in his body that seemed to have vanished had returned, and he could hardly stand it. Suppressing a gasp he gingerly rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling, trying to push through the constant pain and fall asleep.
Harry slowly sat up, cradling his head in his hand as a wave of dizziness overcame him. He closed his eyes as this subsided and clutched his stomach when he felt nauseous . Knowing he had to do something, he forced himself into action, throwing the covers off and standing up, swaying on the spot for a moment as he caught his balance. Holding onto the wall beside his bed Harry put on his glasses and glanced at his trunk, almost wishing that he could put the necklace back on, if only to relieve his pain as it had before. He shook his head to himself as he crossed his room, knowing that it was the last thing he ought to be doing with it, especially after what Ginny had told him about the diary.
Leaving his room and lighting his wand in the hallway, he didn’t bother to light any candles as he went downstairs. Reaching the foot of the staircase, he looked around at the empty living room, unable to move. Everything looked so different when it was dark, and it chillingly reminded him of the night Snape had attacked, sending a shiver down his spine. Clearing his head Harry went straight into the kitchen, hoping that Sirius’ supply of potions was still there.
He opened the cupboard above the muggle stove, relieved when he recognised the familiar array of potions. Seeing the one he needed, he reached inside and pulled it out, checking the label for the dosage directions. He took a glass from the cupboard and measured the required dosage of the pain relief, hesitating before adding just a little more. He put the cork back in the bottle and put it away, not even bothering to sweeten the potion before he drank it. He sighed with relief as he put the empty glass down on the table, though it did little to relieve his pain.
Extinguishing his wand, Harry stood on the spot for a few moments, the darkness helping to relieve his headache before he turned back to the cupboard he had taken the pain potion from and rummaging through it again. He hesitantly removed Sirius’ sleeping potion and studied it intently, wondering if it were the same sweet tasting potion that Snape had forced him to drink. His headache suddenly returned as he recalled the Death Eaters slamming his head against the ground, and he remembered the sense of utter helplessness he had felt when faced with the ultimatum of choking or swallowing the potion. It seemed as though these things had happened to him a long time ago, when in fact it had only just been a week, and he wondered if this feeling of detachment towards what had happened would ever leave him.
Focusing on the label now, Harry wondered if he ought to take any that night. Since he had returned Sirius had vehemently encouraged him to take some, certain that a night of unbroken sleep was sure to help him, but Harry had steadfastly refused, wanting nothing to do with sleeping potions. He felt so tired now, and he slowly removed the stopper from the bottle and raised it to his face, recoiling with disgust as he smelt the faintly sweet potion. Putting the stopper in straight away Harry hastily put it on the bench before himself, as though the potion itself had somehow wronged him. Breathing heavily Harry looked at the bottle sitting on the bench, knowing there was no way he would be able to take a mouthful, let alone swallow any of it.
He heard the faintest movement from behind him, and Harry froze for a moment, jumping in shock as the person behind him spoke quietly. “Everything okay?”
Harry forced himself to breath out slowly, collecting himself before he trusted himself to reply. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
Sirius quietly entered the kitchen from behind his godson, having followed him downstairs as soon as he had left his bedroom. “Why are you out of bed?”
“Couldn’t sleep,” Harry replied dismissively, not wanting to fight again.
Sirius glanced at the bottle of sleeping potion that sat on the bench, making the connection in his mind. “Do you want to take something?”
“No,” Harry replied straight away.
“Are you sure?” Sirius pressed him, picking up the bottle and looking it over. “This stuff is good, you’ll go straight to sleep.”
“I don’t want any,” Harry replied firmly.
Sirius didn’t reply, understanding his refusal. Nobody had told him exactly what happened, but he didn’t need to be Dumbledore to deduce that Harry hadn’t taken any sleeping potions willingly. He looked at Harry’s pale face in concern, reaching out slowly and touching his arm. “You’re shaking,” he said before reaching up with his other hand and feeling his face. “You’ve got a cold sweat. What’s wrong, Harry?”
“Nothing,” he shook his head, pulling away from Sirius’ touch.
Sirius’ face turned stony. “Fine,” he replied quietly. “If that’s how it’s going to be, I’m going back to bed.”
As he turned and walked away Harry looked up and watched him leave, a sting of regret biting at him. “Wait,” he pleaded quietly, not entirely sure what he was going to say next. Sirius turned around and looked at him, and Harry continued hesitantly. “There is something wrong,” he confessed. “But I-”
“You can tell me, please.”
“I can’t,” Harry replied nervously, not wanting to fight again.
“Why not?” Sirius asked, coming back into the kitchen.
Harry didn’t reply for a moment, looking at the tiled floor instead. “Dumbledore,” he replied simply.
“He’s dead,” Sirius replied unkindly.
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
Silence fell between them, and glancing up at his godfather Harry could tell that he was angry, but Sirius gave no indication that he was to leave again, lifting some of the pressure.
“Does Ginny know what’s going on?”
Harry hesitated, fearing that if he told the truth Sirius would be even more angry. “Sort of.”
“Okay,” Sirius nodded, much to Harry’s surprise.
Sirius nodded, more to himself than to Harry. “She’s a smart girl, I hope you’re at least listening to her.”
Harry nodded, thinking of how she had been right about the locket
“You don’t need to worry,” Harry lied. “Nothing’s changed. The problems we have now are the same ones we had a month ago.”
“No, things have changed” Sirius disagreed. “You’re in so much more danger.”
“It’s not like Voldemort’s going to kill me straight away,” Harry blurted out. “He still thinks he needs me.”
“He can still hurt you,” Sirius replied solidly, his face stony.
Unsure of how to reply, he turned away from his godfather and looked at the ground uncomfortably, knowing that he was right. They stood in silence for a few moments as Sirius contemplated him, wondering what was bothering him so much. Sirius slowly reached out and placed his hands on the top of Harry’s arms, pulling him into a tight embrace before Harry put his palms on his chest, preventing the embrace. “What is it?”
Harry said nothing for a moment, looking at the ground as he tried to steady his breathing, trying to think about what he was going to say. “I’m sorry,” he muttered, looking at his feet.
Hesitating before replying, Harry spoke softly, still not looking up. “For being such a jerk. I shouldn’t have said the things I did.”
Sirius paused, thinking for a moment. “I’m sorry, too,” he replied sincerely. “We both said things we shouldn’t have.”
As he finally let Sirius embrace him, it felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off Harry’s chest, relieved that they had reconciled. Remembering his exhaustion Harry relaxed into Sirius’ embrace for a few moments, before flinching openly as Sirius gently rubbed his back, pain stabbing through the affected wounds.
“Did I hurt you?” Sirius said in alarm as he felt Harry flinch. He released him from the embrace and looked at him in worry.
“Yeah,” Harry replied quietly, unable to look his godfather in the eye. “But it’s fine.”
Sirius stepped away from him and looked him over, scrutinising him. “I thought you were feeling better? You seemed to be acting like it.”
“I was,” Harry muttered uncomfortably, glancing up for a moment.
Sirius frowned, asking the question that had been on his mind ever since he had come down. “Are you still going back to Hogwarts?”
Harry breathed out slowly, somewhat surprised when the mention of Hogwarts did not stir a flicker of anger from within himself. “Yes,” he answered, knowing it was not what Sirius wanted to hear.
“Then I want you to tell me the truth,” Sirius replied straightforwardly. “Why?”
Fidgeting uncomfortably, Harry replied slowly. “I told you, I want to go back to something normal.”
“Harry,” Sirius began weakly. “You’re smarter than that, you know things will never go back to normal.”
“I know that, but I have to do something,” Harry replied, wishing that Sirius could understand. “I’ve been out of hospital for a week, and I’m going nuts. You want me to stay here forever?”
“I wish you would,” Sirius answered.
“I’ll miss you,” Harry replied after a few moments, knowing it was what Sirius needed to hear.
“I’ll miss you more.”
Harry didn’t reply, unsure of what to say as he stood before his godfather. Now that he seemed to have his blessing, the notion that he was returning to Hogwarts suddenly hit Harry, and he was quickly filled with doubt, wondering if perhaps Sirius was right that he wouldn’t cope.
“I better go back to bed,” Harry said quietly, the doubts and concerns building up inside of him. Sirius nodded and gently pulled him into a brief one armed hug, releasing Harry unwillingly. “Goodnight,” he continued as he turned and approached the staircase, suddenly dreading the thought of finally falling asleep. As though Sirius had heard his thoughts, he quickly called out to him as he ascended the stairs, halting him as he quickly approached him.
“Wait,” he said before standing at the foot of the staircase and looking up at his godson. “If you wake up tonight, I’ll be there.”
Looking at him uncertainly for a few moments, Harry finally nodded gratefully before continuing up the stairs. “Thanks,” he replied quietly before reluctantly getting back into bed, his mind spinning even more than it did when he first got out.
Sitting alone in the minister’s office, Tonks tipped her chair onto it’s back legs, rubbing her eyes wearily as she awaited his arrival. This time she hadn’t even bothered speaking to Scrimgeour’s secretary, instead marching straight into his office and patiently awaiting his inevitable arrival. Running her hand through her limp hair whose pink colour seemed to have lost its spark, she opened her eyes and looked at the newspaper resting on her lap, resentful of the article the front page displayed. She wished that she had been more subtle in telling the minister about Harry’s intention to return to Hogwarts, as it had quickly made front page news of this morning’s prophet, one that she hoped Harry would not see.
Closing her eyes Tonks finally let her guard down for just a moment, trying to ease the guilt she was feeling. It didn’t matter how much Remus consoled her, she could not help but feel a sense of responsibility for what had happened to Harry, and her guilt only deepened now that she was helping and protecting him less and less each day, during the time when he needed it the most. She heard Scrimgeour enter his office and she reluctantly opened her eyes, the guilt she felt not leaving her for a single moment.
“Auror Tonks,” he said sternly, placing his briefcase and a few scrolls of parchment onto his desk. “Why am I not surprised to find you here?”
She sighed to herself, taking a moment before she spoke and revealed her failure. “He’s going back. I don’t think I can stop him, minister.”
“So, what will you do?”
“I honestly don’t know,” she replied in utter defeat, letting her chair fall to all fours. “He’s too stubborn to let me help him.”
“I’m disappointed in you,” Scrimgeour replied, sitting down behind his desk and studying her. “Since when do you give up?”
“I haven’t given up,” Tonks replied coldly. “I just know when to ask for help.”
“Then you’ve done the right thing,” he replied firmly, shuffling through his scrolls of parchment. “I’m glad you’re here,” he added as an afterthought.
Smiling gently Tonks felt a great sense of relief, recognising that Scrimgeour had come through with some sort of a plan to keep Harry safe. She waited patiently for him to continue. Finally, after what felt like forever he seemed to have his scrolls in order, and he finally looked up at her and spoke.
“I suppose now is as good a time to tell you as any. I’m changing your assignment.”
“What?” she questioned in outrage. Her assignment to watch over Harry had been a godsend, allowing her to stay by him constantly, without inconvenient interruptions from her other duties. “You can’t do that!” she continued, trialling off as Scrimgeour raised his hand for silence.
“I am posting you at Hogwarts, to assist in general supervision off the students, Mr Malfoy in particular. As usual, Hogwarts is in need of a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and Professor McGonagall specifically asked for you to fill the position.”
Tonks breathed hard for a moment, trying to think about the implications of this change. “Why can’t I guard Harry? It makes sense, he knows me. He can trust me.”
Scrimgeour shook his head, having suspected she would request this. “No. To guard Harry you would need to have access to the boys dormitory, and you know I won’t allow that.”
“Surely exceptions can be made,” she argued cooly.
“Kingsley,” he began, emphasising the name. “Has been placed in charge of Mr Potters protection, and I’m sure you know he’s more than capable.”
Tonks bit her tongue, wanting to argue further but knowing she shouldn’t. She took a deep and controlled breath before she trusted herself to continue. “Kingsley isn’t enough. It’s not just Malfoy, Harry will have the entire Slytherin house out to get him.”
“I understand,” Scrimgeour replied knowingly. “But Potter is going to have a troop of Aurors protecting him, day and night.”
“Right,” Tonks replied in defeat, still unhappy. She knew she couldn’t rest easy until she watched over Harry herself, but reminded herself to be grateful she would at least be teaching him. Her opportunities to see him on a personal basis would be small amongst teaching duties, but knew she would make the time necessary. She not only owed it to Harry, she owed it to Sirius, who had entrusted Harry’s safety into her hands the night he was abducted.
“I believe there is nothing else we can do at this time,” Scrimgeour said, interrupting her from her thoughts. “You’ll report to Professor McGonagall today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting in a few minutes.”
Knowing she was dismissed, Tonks arose from her chair and slowly walked towards the door, not bothering to thank the minister for his help.
“Wait,” he said, causing her to turn around. “You can rest easy, Tonks. Harry has been through the worst of it. It can only be uphill from here.”
Tonks shook her head to herself after a moment. “I disagree,” she said sadly. “Voldemort’s only just getting started.”
Without another word Tonks turned and left, knowing that she was right. What he had done was unimaginable, but Voldemort was far from finished with Harry.
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