A distant, fleeting thought warned Harry that he was dreaming, but it passed as quickly as it had come, and he soon overlooked the possibility. It was peaceful here. The breeze that swept through the empty Kings Cross station was warm and comforting, nothing at all alike the cold biting winds that he had braved throughout the winter.
At this thought Harry gave a shiver, shifting uncomfortably on the bench as he rubbed his bare arms. Warmth returned to him again, bringing back the peace that had soothed his thoughts. How long had he been sitting here? It had to have been an hour at least, possibly longer, but time seemed to have no meaning in the empty station. There was not a clock in sight, his watch was gone. What a nice change it was, to not be worried about running out of or wasting time, and so he took in each moment as though it might be the last.
Looking down at his hand Harry couldn’t help but smile, his skin as smooth and unmarred as it had been the day he was born. There were no red scars surrounding his wrists, nor were there the scars and wounds on his chest and back. Perhaps the most relieving was the absence of the Dark Mark on his left arm…the skin blissfully white. Strangely, he began to think of Ginny, and was unsurprised to find that the thought of her didn’t tear at his heart the way it normally did. He relaxed as he thought of her, of how long he would hold her when they were finally together again. Even that didn’t seem so far away.
Without warning the warm breeze turned into a biting cold wind, and an intense sense of foreboding overwhelmed and replaced the peace inside of him. Alarmed, Harry stumbled to his feet as the station slowly darkened, leaving just enough light for him to see. Panicking now he turned on the spot to look around, his heart stopping as he heard the first scream for help.
The scream was shocking, freezing him into position. “Gin…” he began uncertainly. “Ginny?” he called out.
“Harry!” Her scream echoed around the empty station, louder and louder every moment as it rang out again and again.
He broke into a run, heading to his left along the edge of the platform, Ginny’s voice echoing as she screamed his name again and again. She had to be close…she wouldn’t be much further.
Harry stopped dead in his tracks, Ron’s voice emerging from behind him. Spinning around he could see no one, but his mate’s voice rang out again, coupling with Ginny’s before a moment later Hermione’s joined the chorus.
“Shit...” Harry gasped, struggling to breathe as he turned around and around on the spot, trying to decide which way to run as more screams joined the chorus. It was too hard…there were too many voices to pick them all out. Sirius. His voice rang out clearly, the loudest of them all as the intensity increased. The cries of a baby rang out. He couldn’t breathe any more, his heart was sure to burst as his body erupted in tremors. For a few long moments he clenched his fingers in his hair, speaking under his breath and using the last of his air as he finally took a few steps forward.
“No!” he painfully gasped, teetering on the edge of the platform and looking into the vast empty space below. He was falling…he must be, but he stumbled a few steps back and finally drew breath, realising with a jolt that it was silent again. Gasping for breath he looked around for the source of the screams, seeing nothing but the empty station and the vast nothingness over the edge of the platform. For the longest time he was frozen in position, tremors still wracking his body when Harry finally managed to step forward again and look over the edge. As before, there was nothing below him but for a gaping chasm of nothing, and surely he had never been more terrified in his life. Looking up to the platform on the other side…there was nothing.
The voice was soft, but demanded his immediate attention. Spinning around Harry came almost face to face with Severus Snape, who stood but a few feet away from him. He neither said nor did anything, providing Harry the time to look him over, though his appearance had not changed since Harry had first seen him at the welcome feast in first year. A few feet behind Snape, stood Voldemort. Harry’s body stilled, but his breathing and heart rate eased as he looked back to Snape. Contrary to everything he felt and knew about the man before him, he felt safe again.
Snape watched him patiently, giving no hint of danger. Behind him, Voldemort opened his mouth and began to hiss, and it took Harry a moment to realise he was speaking in Parsletongue…but he could not understand.
Harry opened his mouth to speak, but no sound passed his lips. Seeing this Snape smiled a little. Hesitating a little, he raised his empty hand towards Harry and beckoned him. “Come with me, Potter.”
In his head Harry could hear his own voice, clearly instructing him. “No…don’t trust him.”
Panic consumed his entire being, and Harry stepped backwards only to frightfully find that there was no longer anything beneath his feet. He was falling backwards over the edge of the platform, and there was nothing for his flailing arms to grab hold of as his body became weightless in the air. It was worse than any fall from his Firebolt. There was nothing to protect him now.
Harry awoke with a horrible shock, sitting bolt upright and clutching the back of the couch to stop the falling sensation. His heart beat so hard in his chest that his ribs ached, forcing him to draw a painfully shaking breath. There must be something wrong with him, for he couldn’t move but to drop his head into his hands, which shook with involuntary force as he thought of the nightmare that had done this to him. Picturing Snape standing calmly before him sent a wave of nausea through his stomach, and as the screaming voices of his friends began to echo through his head again Harry knew he had to get up.
Stumbling into the coffee table Harry hissed in pain, rubbing his knee before moving towards the kitchen. Dimly he noted that it was morning, almost missing Ron and Hermione’s presence at the kitchen table as he leant against the sink and took a deep breath.
“Morning, Harry,” Hermione greeted him with concern.
Neglecting to reply Harry took a glass from the cupboard and filled it up at the sink, his shaking hands subsiding a little as he swallowed. Collecting himself he finally turned around, not liking the concerned expressions his friends bore.
“How did you go last night?” he asked Hermione.
She nodded. “I went well, bit of a shock to find Kreacher back in the tent I must say.”
“Where is he?” Harry asked, his eyes drawn to the table where they sat. The heavy brown box sat between his friends, still unopened.
“I sent him back to Grimmauld Place,” Ron answered. “You said he had to obey me, right?”
“I’ve organised Malfoy,” added Hermione, though she spoke very carefully. “He’s awake now, but he can’t move any further than the sink and loo. I’ve also added some charms around the bathroom itself…he won’t be able to perform wandless magic, even with his wand right up there. We’ll have to establish some basic procedures for when we go up though.”
“Did he say anything about that?” Harry asked, motioning to the box.
Ron and Hermione glanced at each other.
“He completely lost it when we woke him up, mate. Surprised you didn’t hear him.”
“He was very panicked,” Hermione supplied at Harry’s confused look. “He wouldn’t tell us what was in here…but he was quite adamant that You-Know-Who was expecting it. I think he’s afraid for his family.”
“Shame we couldn’t give a flying f-”
“You said it first!”
“I didn’t say anything of the sort.”
“You did, just not as…” Ron trailed off.
“Not as rudely?”
“Guys…” Harry began in frustration, moving to sit down with them. He didn’t have time to listen to them argue about who said what, still trying to wrap his head around the strange dream. “Did he say anything about it?”
“No,” they replied unanimously.
Harry sighed, considering the package before them. “Are there any curses on it?” he asked Hermione.
“Not as far as I can tell…it’s just a heavy, brown box.”
Glancing at Ron, Harry hesitated before dragging the box towards him and ripping off the brown packaging. They each held their breath as he tossed it aside and opened the box itself. The inside contained some generous packaging to protect the product, and he hesitated again before diving his hand inside and tossing it all out onto the table to reveal the stone edge of what appeared to be a shallow bowl. Harry swore to himself, instantly recognising what it was. Very carefully he lifted the penseive up and out of the box and placed it on the table, all three of them leaning closer to look properly.
“What is it?” Ron asked.
“It’s a penseive,” Hermione answered, ignoring Ron’s curse of shock.
“It’s Dumbledore’s,” Harry explained quietly, recognising the runes. Looking deep into the depths of the silvery swirl of memories he saw his face loom up at him a few times, followed by Dumbledore’s memories of the young Voldemort. Already his head was reeling with answers and questions, and he couldn’t help but look up at the ceiling to where Malfoy would be confined upstairs. Anger coursed through his veins at the intrusion upon Dumbledore’s belongings, having thought that McGonagall must have secured them in the short time she was Headmistress.
“Harry? Harry mate, where’re you going?”
Already he was on his feet, marching out of the kitchen and down the hallway as Ron and Hermione followed him.
“What are you going to do?” Hermione demanded as he thundered up the stairs.
Harry didn’t answer her, opening the bathroom door and entering, shocked to see Malfoy standing on his feet. Had he expected differently? Hermione was too kind…Harry would have chained him to the floor. Upon seeing him, Malfoy’s eyes widened in surprise, and he moved as close as he possibly could behind the invisible barrier Hermione had conjured.
“Potter, you need to listen to me,” he began in a rush, making Harry step backwards a little. “If I don’t come back, my parents are going to-”
“Where did that box come from?” Harry demanded.
Malfoy hesitated, and Harry was slightly pleased to see his pale grey face and trembling hands. He was scared, not of him but of what awaited his family. He wrung his hands together nervously. “Alright, I get it okay? I’ll tell you what you want to know, and you let me out of here.”
“Where did that box come from?” Harry demanded again, ignoring Malfoy’s attempt to bargain.
Taking a deep breath Malfoy answered, his eyes darting from Harry to Ron and Hermione who stood in the doorway behind him. “I got it from Knockturn Alley, from Borgin and Burkes.”
Harry raised his eyebrows, clearly indicating that it wasn’t enough.
“It came through the vanishing cabinet…from Hogwarts. Carrow sent it to me.”
“A Death Eater,” Malfoy answered in a rush. “He and his sister are running the place now…Snape’s Headmaster.”
“What do you mean by running the place?” Ron asked, not hiding his disgust.
“They’re in charge of discipline. They’re erm…”
“What’s in the box?” Harry steered the conversation back on track, feigning ignorance. Would Malfoy be honest with him?”
“I don’t know,” he replied a little too quickly. Harry considered this answer for a few moments, remembering that Malfoy was a skilled Occlumens. Everything he had already told them may have been a lie, yet his voice never faltered.
“What’s it got to do with you?” Harry continued.
“The Dark Lord asked me to retrieve it on his behalf.”
“Don’t lie to me,” Harry said sharply, pleased to see that Malfoy was a little unnerved. Voldemort wouldn’t trust Malfoy with anything important anymore, let alone Dumbledore’s penseive.
“Alright,” he recovered quickly. “My Aunt Bellatrix was supposed to pick it up, but she couldn’t and so-”
“I’m not lying, Potter!” he replied desperately, his voice growing louder. “You’ve gotta believe me, you’ve gotta let me go.”
Harry ignored his pleas, turning around and slipping past his friends and down the stairs. He could hear Malfoy still talking, pleading with Hermione to see sense, to let him free. Moments later the bathroom door slammed shut and his friends followed him downstairs, meeting him in the kitchen where he was inspecting the penseive once more.
“You think he’s lying then?” Ron confirmed.
“I don’t know…” Harry admitted shamefully.
“It just doesn’t make sense. Why would You-Know-Who want Dumbledore’s penseive?” Ron asked uncertainly.
“It’s full of memories,” Harry began, taking a deep breath before sitting down at the kitchen table, pulling the penseive closer. “You see?”
“There’s nothing in there, mate.”
Harry frowned at him, looking back into the penseive. He prodded the memories with the tip of his wand and watched as they swirled around again, occasionally bringing up a familiar scene combined with others he had never seen. “They’re right there, can’t you see the faces?”
“You see the memories?” Hermione enquired with great interest, rushing forward and looking from the penseive to Harry.
“No,” she replied, looking to Ron who also shook his head. She frowned a little, already working the possible implications out in her head.
Harry fell silent, listening to Ron and Hermione discuss the implications of this until he stood up again. Walking calmly this time he focused on keeping his face blank as he ascended the stairs and entered the bathroom. Having heard his ascent Malfoy was waiting for him. They looked at each other for a few moments, waiting until Ron and Hermione joined them before Harry spoke.
“Who sent the box to Borgin and Burkes?”
Harry paused, suspecting this was not the entire truth. He rephrased his question. “Who told you to go and pick it up?”
Malfoy paused, silent longer than necessary to concoct a lie. “It wasn’t my Aunt…it was Snape.”
His heart shuddering for a moment Harry quickly moved on. “What were you supposed to do with it?”
“I was to take it to my home, to Malfoy Manor.”
Malfoy shrugged helplessly. “And then nothing…wait for the Dark Lord to come for it.”
“What’s in it?” Harry asked.
“I swear, I don’t know!”
Hermione moved forward, coming to stand beside Harry. “Why did Snape ask you to pick it up? You don’t exactly have high favour with You-Know-Who after you messed up so spectacularly.”
“I don’t know,” he said lowly. He looked desperate for a moment, turning back to Harry. “Are you going to let me out of here?”
“Like hell,” Harry replied, turning away to walk back downstairs.
“Wait, Potter! There’s something you need to know!”
Harry paused at this, turning back suspiciously. Seeing Ron and Hermione’s faces, he knew their curiosity had peaked.
“What?” he asked tersely.
“Let me out of here, then I’ll tell you.”
“Tell me first.”
“No, let me go! Then I’ll tell you,” he bargained.
Harry rolled his eyes and turned away, heading back downstairs and ignoring Malfoy’s shouts and attempts to bargain. He marched back downstairs and went back into the kitchen, drawn back to Dumbledore’s penseive. The more he thought the more it made sense.
“These memories must be what Dumbledore showed me before he died,” Harry began as Ron and Hermione joined him, leaning over the penseive in interest. “You-Know-Who must have wanted them.”
“Guess that means we got lucky tonight?” Ron added with a smile. “Snape sending this to You-Know-Who…he would’ve known everything,”
“It’s all a little bit…too good to be true,” Hermione began uncertainly, taking a seat and resting her head in her hands. The impact of staying awake for so long was beginning to show again. “Out of the three of us, only you can see the memories, Harry. How can we know that You-Know-Who could have seen them?”
Harry raised his eyebrows at this, he and Ron taking a seat too. “Dumbledore must have enchantments on here…You-Know-Who could break in if he wanted to.”
“You saying he’s better than Dumbledore?” Ron questioned.
“No!” Harry replied quickly, feeling as though he had said something abominable. “I’m just saying…Snape’s had access to this for months, who’s to say Dumbledore didn’t give him access before he died. Dumbledore trusted Snape, probably more than he trusted me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Harry. He trusted you highly, why would he have taken so much time to show you these memories? Why would he have set you onto Slughorn?”
“If he trusted me completely, he wouldn’t have immobilised me on the Astronomy tower…I could have stopped Snape if he hadn’t done that.”
Ron and Hermione said nothing, much to Harry’s relief, and so he got to his feet and left the kitchen, opening the back door and heading into the backyard for some fresh air. The morning sun was refreshing, but the breeze was still cold, yet he didn’t bother to summon his cloak. Folding his arms across his chest he sat down on the cold wooden bench his uncle had built and looked up at the clouds, his mood not improving as they began to darken. A few minutes later the back door opened, and he turned to watch Hermione approaching him, pulling on her cloak.
She sat down beside him. They sat in silence for a few moments. “You don’t give yourself enough credit, Harry. If Dumbledore didn’t trust you, he wouldn’t have asked you to go to the cave with him. He trusted that you would look after him when he drank that potion, and you did.”
“I didn’t…it was him that got rid of the Inferi, not me.”
“I don’t really think that’s the problem though, is it,” Hermione stated.
Harry sighed. “Don’t…psycho-analyse me Hermione.
She continued anyway. “The problem is that you don’t trust Dumbledore.”
He spun around in dismay, defensiveness and anger replacing his melancholy. “Don’t say shit like that, Hermione,” he snapped, getting up and moving away from her. “Of course I trusted him, I always have.”
“You don’t trust him the way you used to,” she clarified, not upset by his reaction. “Not since fifth year. I’ve heard you say it.”
“Say what?” Harry asked, his voice growing louder. He glanced through the window into the kitchen, relieved to see that Ron wasn’t watching. “I’ve never said that.”
“Not outright, but you make it pretty clear that you’re angry. You keep saying he left us with nothing.”
“He didn’t! He didn’t leave us with anything but a list of possibilities, but he knew! Dumbledore had months to tell me everything about the horcruxes, but instead he chose to spoon feed me like a child! Now we’ve got nothing.”
“That’s what I’m getting at Harry. You’re not mad at yourself, you’re mad at him.”
Harry ignored what she said, not even wanting to consider it. He was done thinking about Dumbledore, he was long dead and of no more help to him. The penseive in the kitchen should be thrown against the wall, the memories inside set free for ever. “I think maybe you should go and get some sleep,” he instructed Hermione coldly, turning away and waiting for her to leave.
She hesitated for a few moments, more words of wisdom on the tip of her tongue until she finally went inside, leaving him alone as he wished. Seething mad he considered what she had said for a few moments before violently kicking one of his Aunt’s hydrangea bushes, withered by the cold. Sitting back down on the bench Harry cast a warming charm over himself, remaining where he was for the remainder of the day.
A/N Wow, big thanks to DumbleDave for all the reviews! This chapter is dedicated to you, and all of my other reviewers! Thanks so much, I hope I get a few more from this chapter.
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