Chapter 17 : Seing things the wrong way
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A day has gone by since the cousins came back to their houses. In the Potter household, even though it is almost dinnertime, Lily is still fast asleep and Al sits in his room, reading an old adventure book for the hundredth time. Noises from the kitchen reach him and he can hear his brother talking with their mother but Al can’t seem to muster the courage to go down. No matter how hungry he is, Al feels like there is still a lot of unsaid thing and, honestly, how do you face your parents after the conversation they had the day before? When his father knocks softly at the door, Al isn’t all that surprised. He should have known that if he wasn’t going down to see Harry Potter, Harry Potter would come up to confront him.
“Hey Al, are you occupied?”
“Not really,” the younger Potter shrugs, putting the book aside.
“I was wondering if this was a good enough time to talk about some of the things you must have seen in the last couple of days. Things related to your namesakes for example.”
Harry rearranges his glasses on his nose in a move clearly showing how uncomfortable this is making him. Al, although a bit afraid of the answers he might get, nods at his father, inviting him to sit next to him on his bed.
“So, did you have a good sleep?” He asks his son after clearing his throat. Al sighs, relieved not to jump straight into the main subject.
“Yeah I did. I had a few strange dreams but I definitely needed it.”
“Did you know that, back in my first year, after we went through the trapdoor, I slept for three days straight?”
“Three days?” Al looks at his father with wide eyes, “How is that even possible? Your bladder must have been ready to explode when you woke up!”
“Luckily for me, Madam Pomfrey – the nurse at the time – had given me a potion that slowed my system for a while so I didn’t need to go to the loo. I was real hungry though, when I woke up.”
“I can imagine! I only slept for a day and I could eat a hippogriff,” Al shook his head with a disbelieving smile.
“Brunch is almost ready,” Harry smiles back, “James and your mum are working on it.”
“James? Preparing food?”
“Strange, right?” Harry laughs, “We talked with him a bit yesterday, telling him some of the things you guys discovered and I think he felt the need to get closer to Ginny after hearing what she went through.”
“We felt the same way, Lily and I,” Al acknowledges before taking a deep breath. “There were other things though; things that kind of made me want to keep away from you.”
“I can understand that,” Harry nods, looking at his middle son. A pained look passes on Al’s face before he murmurs the unthinkable.
“Do you hate me, Dad?”
“Hate you? Of course not, I love you more than anything in the world Al.”
“Why did you name me after that, that horrible git then?” The teenager spits, his face contorted by pain yet unable to look at his father.
“I admit he didn’t show himself in a good light back in the days,” Harry sighs.
“Not in a good light?” Al snorts, finally giving his father a mixed look of disbelief and deep hurting. “He hated you! Bullied you, Uncle Ron, Uncle Nev and Aunt Hermione every day. There’s nothing he could have done that can erase that, nothing.”
“You’re right, I never forgot how he treated us back then but I did forgive him once I understood him a bit more,” Harry explains. “I once told you that Severus Snape was the bravest man I ever knew and I stand by that. He was a hero but that doesn’t make him flawless. Albus Dumbledore wasn’t flawless either; they were both humans.”
“At least Dumbledore was nice.”
“I’ll give you that, Albus was a great man. But a great man who made mistakes that were almost worst than those Severus made.”
“What do you mean?”
“Severus was a double agent almost all his life; devoted himself to protecting me after my parents died. Sure he hated my guts – and my looks,” Harry winks at his similar looking son, “and he never tried to hide it but he still put all his energy into trying to protect me from Voldemort. Albus on the other hand was nice and a great mentor but he kept things from me, things that could have cost us a lot in the long run.”
“I’m not sure I understand,” Al frowns, his anger slowly melting upon hearing his father’s explanation.
“Where Severus’ actions were what made him a less likeable person, it was Albus’s absence of action that flawed him; the mystery and gray area he kept me in for years. They were both great men and the reason I am still alive today. And I could never thank them properly; I could never thank Severus for his bravery and undying love.”
“Err, he loved you? I thought you said he hated you?”
“He loved my mother,” Harry smiles, “loved her ever since he set eyes on her when they were children. They were best friends for years but she never loved him back, not the way he would have liked anyway. He could never let go of his love for her though and could never accept that she loved someone else; someone he despised. He was flawed and although he swore to protect me, he could never like me because I look so much like my father.”
“I understand,” Al nods. After a moment of silence, he asks, “So, you gave me his name in order to thank him?”
“To show my gratitude,” Harry nods, “it was never meant to hurt you Al. I hold these two men in very high respect and I wished for you to become just as great as them. So far, I can say that you really live up to both of your namesakes.”
“Thanks Dad,” Albus Severus smiles at his father; all traces of pain and anger gone from his features.
“Anytime son and please, if you ever doubt mine or your mother’s or your sibling’s love, come and talk to us about it. Don’t hide and keep it for yourself.”
“I will Dad.”
“Good, come now; that bacon smell is driving me nuts,” Harry grabs his son into a loving hug before they walk out of the room together.
Downstairs, Ginny and James have just finished setting the table for the family brunch. Al awkwardly says hello to them, the conversation with his father still fresh in his mind. They eat quietly, enjoying small talk and James’s light jokes. Lily joins them mid-way through and barely acknowledges the others before she starts eating, her eyes still glued together.
“Well, I’ve got to go to work,” James says when everyone is full.
“How are you liking it, working all summertime?” Al asks his older brother, knowing how much he enjoys his free time.
“Quite a lot actually,” James winks at his brother, “lots of pretty girls come by the café! I saw Raveena the other day; she looked pretty sharp in her flowery sundress.”
“Did she say anything?”
“I’ll have a large mocha with extra whipped cream,” James says in a high-pitched voice before shaking his head seriously, his voice back to normal, “didn’t even say please.”
“I meant did she say something about me,” Al frowns, annoyed.
“Sorry little bro,” James shrugs, “I guess she was too mesmerized by the fact that she was talking with a real Potter man.”
“Ha!” Harry laughs behind his sons, “a real Potter man, you? With those auburn hair and six foot tall frame, you hardly look like a Potter at all! As for being a man well, considering you’ve still got a wolf plush hidden under your bed, I hardly think you qualify for manhood.”
“Thanks Dad,” James snaps coldly while Al bursts out laughing.
“Anytime son; wouldn’t want to let you continue living under all those false impressions.”
“Right, I’ll just go to work then,” James says, still annoyed by his father’s comments. As he walks away from the dining room, shouts of excitement come out from the fireplace.
“Oi! Al, Lily! We’ve got them,” Rose’s voice reaches the rest of the Potter family.
“Oh hey James, you going to work?” Hugo’s much calmer tone follows.
“Shut it punk.”
“Such a delightful young man; I hope to be just like him one day,” Hugo sighs mockingly as he walks into the dining room.
“With a father like yours, it’s a definite possibility,” Ginny answers her nephew.
“What do you mean? Dad’s the most easy-going person I know.”
“Things changed when hormones got in the way,” Ginny shudders at the memory, “he was a real git around thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen...”
“Alright we get it; he wasn’t a pleasant teenager,” Al chuckles at Hugo’s frown.
“Well, we can go and see that right now,” Rose flings a pile of parchment in front of Al’s face, “Mum just came back from Granny’s and she got the letters.”
“Brilliant! Now all we need is Teddy.”
“Err, are you still alright with this?” Al asks his parents awkwardly. Ginny and Harry share a look before smiling down at their son.
“We said we were and we’ll stick to that. Are you going now then?”
“If Teddy’s home,” Hugo confirms his aunt.
“He should be; have fun then.”
“Thanks Uncle Harry,” Rose says, grabbing Al by the arm to pull him away. Before they enter the fireplace she asks him, “what the heck, you want them to stop us?”
In less than thirty minutes, Rose, Al, Lily and Hugo are back at The Burrow with Teddy. Quickly, Rose takes out the remaining letters written by her father to both his parents and his sister and they include Hermione’s letters in the right order. Teddy once again charms the pile of letters and the four underage wizards and witches before wishing them a good trip.
When he leaves the room, the four cousins look at each other in anticipation for what they are about to witness. Their parents’ third year is probably the one they know the most of. Harry, Ron and Hermione have told them that this is the year they met Teddy’s father as well as Harry’s godfather; two people they have heard so much about but that they sadly never got to meet.
“Ready?” Al asks the other three.
They all nod and take out their wands. Touching the pile of glowing letters, they activate the spell with the incantation Teddy taught them only a couple days ago. To their surprise, they do not arrive at Hogwarts this time but in the very house they just left.
“This place looks exactly the same,” Al smiles, sounding relieved to be in this comfortable place.
“A bit too quiet for my liking,” Rose frowns, looking curiously around the living room. “We can actually hear the clock ticking. I didn’t even know this clock had a sound.”
“Wonder where everyone is,” Lily asks and Hugo, ever the knowledgeable, answers.
“Egypt. G-Dad won the grand prize,” he points at a copy of the Daily Prophet lying on the coffee table. Evidently, the owls dropped it recently.
“Oh yeah, I remember Dad telling us about that; they saw crazy mummies and horrible booby traps curses in the pyramids.”
“Must be quite a sight,” Lily laughs. She stops as a sudden green fire bursts out of the fireplace. One by one, seven dark skinned and horribly freckly Weasleys walk into the living room.
“August 26th, Dear Hermione, How was your summer in France?” Ron’s voice calls as the fire’s crackling. “I had the best summer of my life! Dad won the Daily Prophet Grand Prize Galleon Draw so we all used it to go to Egypt to see Bill and the pyramids. It was brilliant!”
“Ouch, too much sun is just as bad as not enough,” Rose shakes her head, a look of disgust on her face as she watches the four boys drop into the couches tiredly.
“Not sorry to be home,” one of the twins says and the six other members of the family nod their approval.
“I want you all to bring your bags to your rooms and take all the clothes down to the laundry room,” Molly tells her kids. They all nod but aside from Ginny who follows her mother out of the room, none of the boys actually moves a muscle. Arthur joins the boys on the couches and pulls the pile of newspaper and mail to him.
“Anything important happened in our absence father?”
“Father?” The four cousins repeat in shock.
“Not much Percy,” Arthur sighs, handing him the newspaper which the teenager takes eagerly while behind him, his three brothers mock him silently.
“He used to call his own dad ‘father’? How much more stuck up can he get?” Lily asks, looking disapprovingly at the young version of her uncle.
“Well he is the most uptight of our uncles,” Hugo says, “it is kind of strange to imagine that he actually loosened up since his adolescence; it’s usually the other way around.”
“Oh my,” Arthur suddenly says and all conversations break, all eyes turn to him and the letter he is reading. “There’s been a problem at Harry’s home.”
“A problem?” Ron frowns instantly, “what do you mean; is everything alright with him?”
“Not sure. Perkins only says that Harry ran away from home after blowing up his aunt.” Predictably, the twins and Ron burst out laughing and the four cousins as well.
“We just got back and Dad learned that Harry got into a spot of trouble this summer; did you know?” Ron’s letter voice continues. “Apparently he blew up his Aunt and now lives at The Leaky Cauldron. I can’t wait to hear the full story but I’ve got a feeling the bloody muggle deserved it.”
“So this is when it happened; beginning of third year,” Al says.
“He was our age,” Lily tells Hugo, suddenly growing more serious. “I never realized he was so young when he ran away.”
“Remember that he had his reasons; if we’d heard the same things he did, we would probably make that decision as well.”
“Good on him! He’s finally stopped letting them walk all over him,” Ron says when his laughter subsides.
“Wonder what she did to deserve that,” one of the twins says.
“You’ll need to ask Harry, Fred,” Arthur shakes his head, “I hope everything is alright though. No kid should ever feel the need to leave home.”
“Yeah well his aunt is a pretty horrible person,” Ron explains, “makes him work like a house-elf and tells the whole world that he attends some school for the juvenile delinquents instead of Hogwarts.”
“And remember that she locked him into his room last year,” George says, “with bars at his window and everything.”
“You were serious?”
“Well, yeah,” Ron shrugs, looking surprised that his father had not really believed him. “Harry acted like it was no big deal when I tried to talk to him about it; I’m not sure if it was because he was ashamed that we found him like that or if it was because it’s something that is natural for him.”
“You are capable of such deep thoughts? Who knew,” Fred shakes his head at Ron.
“Wait, they aren’t talking about Marge; they think he blew up Petunia!” Al bursts out laughing again, “Wait until I tell Dad, he’ll enjoy that.”
“He had bars at his window?” Rose whispers, growing redder by the second. “Did you know that?”
“No, we didn’t talk to him about that stuff,” Lily shakes her head, eyes wide in shock, “didn’t really know how to open the discussion yet and I wasn’t so sure if it was a good idea to open it up in front of everyone.”
“We’ll ask him about it later Lil, let’s just remember that he turned out alright and that he is still talking with Uncle Dudley so they must have done something to change his mind at some point,” Al tells his sister while Arthur explains to his children that Harry is staying at the Leaky Cauldron.
“What makes you so confident all of the sudden?” Lily frowns at her brother who shrugs.
“I had a talk with Dad, about my namesakes and he explained to me that things change in due course and that I should look at the greater picture instead of picking on the little details. Or something like that.”
“Deep,” Hugo nods, “and you decided to apply that notion to everything else we see here?”
“Hugo, for Merlin’s sakes talk like a teenager,” Rose growls at her younger brother who promptly ignores her.
“Yep,” Al answers Hugo, “we’ll ask him about it all at some point. Taking mental notes in the mean time.”
The conversation ends and the boys all get up, apparently deciding it is time to get moving or else their mother will come and get them but Arthur stops his youngest son before he leaves the room.
“Don’t worry Ron, you’ll see him soon enough. We’ll need to go get your school things in a couple days; we’ll make sure to pick him up at The Leaky Cauldron.”
“Thanks Dad. I’m sure he’s alright; he’s tough, Harry.”
“I know he is,” Arthur nods and both of them leave the room.
“We’re going to buy our books on August 31st then spend the night on Diagon Alley; will you join us? If not, guess we’ll see you on the train, if we catch it this year that is! Love, Ron,” the letter finishes and the scene is blown away.
When the scene reforms itself, the cousins find themselves in a train compartment shared by Ron, Harry and Hermione. The faded colors clash with the usual over bright tones of the scenes that come from Ron’s memory. There also seems to be excessive detailing; the medieval patterns of the carpet, a stain on Harry’s pants and even every single freckle on Ron’s tanned face seem more evident.
“I think this is Mum’s memories,” Hugo says, “They clearly don’t notice the same things.”
“I can’t smell anything,” Lily says, “and, I never noticed that there is a pattern on that carpet.”
“Me neither,” Rose shrugs, “it’s so weird to see things the way Mum does. I can now officially say that we see things very differently.”
“September 1st, Dear Mom and Dad,” Hermione’s voice begins for the first time. “First off, I want to thank you for the birthday present you allowed me to buy; I adopted the most beautiful and smart cat in the world. His name is Crookshank and he has long orange fur. I love him so much already even if my friends don’t really feel the same way about him. We arrived at school safe and sound although it was quite the eventful ride.”
“Is that him? Teddy’s Dad?” Lily asks as she gets closer to the sleeping man in the corner of the compartment. “He looks every bit like I imagined.”
“What’s a teacher doing in the train? I’ve never seen one onboard before,” Ron frowns at Remus Lupin.
“Is he asleep?” Harry presses Ron as if it isn’t the first time he asks.
“Looks like it. I think you can talk safely.”
“Alright, here it is,” Harry takes a deep breath, “you must have heard about Sirius Black right? The prisoner that escaped Azkaban a couple weeks ago?”
“Yeah, they say he’s a madman,” Ron starts but Hermione kicks him in the shin to stop him talking.
“The guy in the Knight Bus told me the same thing,” Harry nods, “said he killed thirteen people with one curse in broad daylight and when the authorities came to get him, he just laughed. Yesterday night, I heard your parents talking Ron, they said that Black was Voldemort’s second in command and that he, well he had a plan that he’d been talking about in his sleep for a while. Your dad said that Black wants to kill me in order to bring back Voldemort.”
“What?” Hermione whispers, terrified while Ron curses violently. The four cousins on the other hand, look at each other in disbelief before exploding with laughter.
“Do you remember that escaped criminal we saw on the telly the other day, Sirius Black? Turns out he is a wizard and he escaped the high security prison named Azkaban,” Hermione narrates in a terrified voice.
“That’s ridiculous,” Al finally says between fits of laughter, “he’s his godfather and he’s one of the good guys, he’d never work for Voldemort.”
“How could people ever believe that? I mean, Sirius was a member of the Order of the Phoenix!”
“Did he really kill all those people though?” Rose asks, in a more serious tone.
“I don’t think so but he was still found on a very large murder scene and he laughed as he followed the authorities; that must not have looked very good for him,” Hugo answers, trying to wrap his mind around this.
“Mum and Dad look terrified for Harry but he doesn’t look all that scared; do you think he already knew that Sirius was innocent?”
“How could he?” Lily snorts in derision, “he didn’t even know what his parents looked like before going to Hogwarts so I doubt anyone ever told him he had a godfather.”
“Rumor has it that he was a big follower of You-Know-Who, that evil wizard that wants my friend Harry dead,” Hermione’s letter continues. “Sirius Black probably wants the same thing too so the security around school has been dramatically increased this year as well as in the train, which is why it was a strange ride.”
The dark tone of the letter however contrasts with the scene happening in the compartment. Much to Ron’s frustration, Hermione lets her cat out of its cage and unsurprisingly, it goes straight for Scabbers, Ron’s rat. The scene shakes a little but reforms around the same compartment. Evidently, judging from the darker skies outside, a couple of hours have gone by and yet, Crookshanks is still there, his yellow eyes fixed on Ron’s pocket where only the end of Scabbers’s tail betrays it’s presence.
“Is it just me or the train seems to be slowing down?” Hermione asks the two boys. The both nod and although Ron suggest that they might have already arrived at school, it is clear that none of them believe this.
“What do you think is happening?” Lily asks the others who all shrug. They watch Harry get up and poke his head out in the corridor when the train suddenly stops and all the lights go out. “Seriously, what is going on?”
“I still don’t know Lil but Uncle Ron says there is something going on outside,” Al says as the compartment door opens with a bang.
“It’s so dark; it doesn’t feel natural,” Hugo gulps uncomfortably. “Do you think it’s like that everywhere or just in their compartment?”
“Ouch,” Harry groans when someone falls on him.
“Sorry Harry,” a small voice croaks, “do you know what’s happening?”
“Hey Neville,” Harry answers back, “no idea.”
“There’s your answer Hugo; it’s everywhere,” Rose tells her little brother. “Wonder if it would work if light up our own wands. Lumos!”
“Hey it worked,” Al says, taking out his own wand and lighting it as well, “how can it work though, Aunt Hermione could not have recorded this memory if she, herself didn’t see it.”
“That must be why it’s almost in black and white,” Hugo says, pointing his own wand in front of him, “this must be how she perceived the scene; how she imagined it happened.”
“Cool,” Lily says as she watches Hermione feel her way toward the door. It opens up before she reaches the handle and as she takes a step forward, Ginny walks through and bangs head first into Hermione. “Ouch, violent entrance, Mum.”
“I’m looking for Ron,” Ginny says and Hermione turns back to get into her seat, still holding her forehead. For a couple hilarious seconds, Ginny tries to find a seat among the already taken ones and still ends up sitting on Neville’s laps, who happens to be seated next to Ron.
“Look,” Rose points at the only adult in the compartment, “he’s listening for something.”
“He doesn’t look like someone who was asleep only seconds ago,” Hugo says in a very doubtful tone. Remus slowly sits up and takes out his wand.
“Silence!” He tells the teenagers around him and they all listen instantly. He moves his wand around a ball of flame appears in his hand, illuminating his face in an eerie way.
The door of the compartment suddenly moves and everyone turns to look at it in anticipation. When a tall and hooded creature appears in the frame, everyone but Remus hold their breath in fear. Ron, Hermione and Neville seem to grow paler; Ginny looks almost transparent as she gives a loud sob and reaches for her brother. Harry on the other hand, goes rigid and slides to the floor. Instantly, Remus Lupin gets up, walks over Harry’s body and points his wand at the creature.
“No one is hiding Sirius Black, go!” He shouts menacingly before casting a silvery looking animal right at the creature’s chest.
“Horrible creatures guard the prison of Azkaban; they are called ‘Dementors’ and are dark hooded forms that have the power to suck away all happiness when near you,” Hermione narrates over the distressing scene. “It was horrible when they came; I felt so weak and anguished.... I hope never to get that close to them again. Love you both immensely, Hermione.”
“Merlin,” Hugo breathes after a couple seconds, when the compartment lights up again, “so that’s a Dementor.”
“Is Dad alright?” Lily asks in a small voice. Ron and Hermione seem to wonder the same thing and drop next to their friend, shaking him roughly.
“I’m sure he will be Lil,” Al whispers, very shocked by what he just witnessed. “Dad always said they are horrible but I never imagined he once fell unconscious because of one; they must be really, really dreadful.”
“I never want to see a Dementor for real, that’s for sure,” Lily shudders as the scene is blown away. “Wait, we don’t know if he’s alright!”
When the scene settles again, they are standing in the middle of the bursting Great Hall. At the Gryffindor table, Ron sits with an extremely white-faced Ginny but Harry and Hermione are nowhere to be seen. Ron divides his attention between the entrance of the Great Hall, most likely awaiting his friends; checking worriedly his sister and watching the Sorting.
“September 2nd, Dear Dad, We just arrived at Hogwarts and already we’ve met with Dementors,” Ron voice comes over the laughter and excited voices. “You were right; I’ve never seen anything as horrible as those things. Harry actually fell unconscious; why do you think that is?”
“Why is he alone? Was Uncle Harry’s reaction to the Dementors that bad, Mum had to take him to the Hospital wing?”
“Possible,” Al shrugs, “but I think Uncle Ron would have come with.”
“Unless he wanted to stay with Mum; he looks pretty worried about her,” Lily points at the two youngest Weasleys.
“As for Ginny,” the letter continues, “she was sitting next to me and she was shaking like mad; I’d only seen her looking so white and that was at the end of last year; do you think this is what the Dementors made her think about?”
“Are you sure you’re alright Gin?” Ron asks his sister.
“What? Yeah, I’m fine,” she answers dismissively.
“At least he was there for her when they came back,” Lily sighs.
“Must have been awful for her, getting back to school after what she did the year before,” Rose quietly declares. “You know, seeing all those people she hurt or she could have hurt.”
“I can’t even imagine,” Al shakes his head, looking at the younger version of his mother with an increase respect, “she was pretty brave; I don’t think I would have had the guts to face all that.”
“I’m sure you would have come back as well,” Hugo claps his cousin on the back, “or else James would have made sure to deny you as his brother; he’s so proud of coming from a brave Gryffindor.”
“That he is,” Lily nods with a knowing smile.
“Gryffindor!” The Sorting hat shouts and both Ron and Ginny clap as a very small boy joins their table.
“I’m still sorry I couldn’t be there for your Sorting you know? I can see strangers but I managed to miss the one of my only sister.”
“Don’t worry yourself over it, it’s fine Ron.”
“Your classmates,” Ron begins awkwardly pointing at a group of second year sitting a bit further away,” are they being nice to you?”
“Of course they are,” Ginny gives them a fleeting look before blushing slightly, “I just don’t know them much yet. I need to start over again this year; make friends and get back on my studies.”
“You’ll do great; no worries. You’ll make friends in an instant.”
“I don’t know about that,” Ginny answers, giving Ron a very doubtful look, “they’ve all been friends for a whole year now, it’ll be hard to get in the middle of friendships like that.”
“You don’t have to get in the middle of them, just let them know you and you’ll see, pretty soon they’ll be the ones coming to you and asking you to be their friends.”
“Right,” Ginny rolls her eyes at her older brother.
“No I’m serious,” he presses, “people have always be drawn to you so it’ll be the same with these guys. Just, you know, give yourself time and try to stay away from the Dementors.”
“What’s that got to do with the rest?” Ginny snorts. Ron shrugs and mutters his answer.
“Wouldn’t want to see you get hurt again, that’s all,” he blushes crimson.
“There are Dementors stationed around the school and I really fear that Harry and Ginny will have a horrible year if Black isn’t caught soon. Do you know of a way to protect yourself against them? Thanks for the help, Love, Ron,” the letter finishes as Ginny smiles at her older brother before the Great Hall melts around the cousins.
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