Chapter 8 : Back down the Hill
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Slowly, life in the Potter household returned to normal. A few days after that memorable breakfast, when Harry’s blush reached new heights previously unknown in the Potter family and verging on the iconic Weasley trait, people began to take up their lives once again. J and Matt had returned to work and their home in Kent and a day later Andy and Kat said their goodbyes before internationally portkeying back to their apartment in Barcelona.
As the eldest Potter boys began to get back to their lives that had been on hold for so long, so did Harry try to get back to his.
After Harry’s kidnapping James, Remus and Sirius had decided that Harry needed more training than he had if he was going to protect himself, those around him and have any success at killing Voldemort. The 2 aurors and DADA professor began giving Harry lessons in duelling, protection and escaping techniques (in case of any future kidnapping). To the surprise of James it had been Lily who had suggested it to her husband and his 2 best friends. Lily would not allow her little boy to go through that again not now he was back to his normal self. It was a mother’s prerogative to do everything in her power to ensure the safety of her children and in this case it meant training Harry to fight.
Harry had hesitantly agreed but with the one condition that it wasn’t just him. He knew, and deep down they all knew, that it was likely Voldemort would go after those he loved before this war was over. Therefore Ron, Fred and George joined Harry in his training sessions while Tonks and Lily helped Ginny and Hermione to improve their spellwork.
It had been the result of a very loud argument in the kitchen at Potter Manor that Ron and Harry managed to convince the girls they didn’t need to know how to fight.
‘Harry James Potter, if you think there is anyway I am going to be sitting on the sidelines during this war then you have another thing coming!’ Ginny had shouted at him when they had explained there new training programme.
‘Gin...’ Ron began with a mixture of fear and desperation on his face.
‘Oh don’t you start Ronald!’ Hermione jumped in with a snap. She was stood shoulder to shoulder with Ginny and her anger was forcing her bushy hair to multiply in volume.
Harry ran a hand through his raven hair in frustration. ‘Look will you two just listen!’
The two girls stopped yelling in shock at Harry’s harsh tone.
‘You don’t need to learn to fight because we will be there to protect you,’ Harry explained calmly and slowly, letting the words sink in.
At these protective words a small smile pulled at the edge of Ginny’s mouth but Hermione was still bristling with anger.
‘Well that’s all very sweet but I still think we should have some sort of training,’ Hermione responded, adding coldly, ‘We might have to protect you at some point you know!’
Harry floundered for a moment. He glanced at Ron and they both realised she did have quite a valid point. ‘Ok, then we’ll get Mum and Tonks to give you some spellwork training.’
Hermione considered this idea and in a similar fashion to Harry and Ron’s silent communication, shared a quick look with Ginny. ‘So you’ll let us train?’
‘Magical training only, but yes.’ Harry responded quickly hoping he had sated Hermione and Ginny.
Hermione looked confused as to whether she had won, but settled for giving a shaky nod of agreement and proceeded to the library to bury her nose in her more familiar world of books, closely followed by Ron.
Ginny walked towards Harry with a satisfied grin on her face and put both hands on either side of his face. ‘Thank you,’ she whispered before closing the small gap between them in a purposeful kiss. She felt so overwhelmed that Harry understood their need to be a part of the fight and it was those powerful sentiments that she poured into the kiss until...
‘Whoah whoah!’ cried George entering the kitchen in a plume of green flames with Fred close behind.
‘Yeah, less of the whole kissing thing infront of male siblings,’ Fred moaned taking in the sight of their baby sister with Harry’s arms around her.
‘Well, Bill doesn’t mind when I kiss Harry,’ pouted Ginny over Harry’s shoulder at the twins.
‘Yeah well, we’re pretty sure Bill’s mind has been addled...’ began Fred.
‘...by over exposure to vela magic,’ finished George. Ginny glared at him ferociously and both twins struggles not to take an automatic step backwards.
‘Fine! None of that kissing stuff in front of certain sane male siblings,’ said George knowlingly.
‘Yeah well you weren’t here when we started,’ muttered Ginny angrily but only loud enough for Harry to hear who tried hard but ultimately failed to restrain a laugh from escaping, much to the confusion of the twins.
The boys had been working hard for 2 weeks and soon it was time for their first test.
‘Ok, time to see what you’ve taken in,’ said James to the four very nervous looking Gryffindors.
‘Mwah ha haaaaa,’ muttered Sirius in mock horror.
‘Oh shut up Siri,’ said James with a roll of his eyes.
‘Jeez sorry. Just trying to give the event a bit of drama.’
Remus rolled his eyes as well and turned to fill in the boys on their task. ‘Right boys, in the next room you will each find yourselves in a situation that, based on the training we’ve given you, you should have no trouble with. You’ll each go in individually and blindfolded so you won’t be able to see anything until you’re in position. The portkey will take you to the right place and when we start the timer your blindfold will disappear. Quickest out wins, ok?’
‘Merlin, this is just like school!’ moaned George while the other 3 teenagers merely gave a shaky nod in their professor’s direction.
‘And we nominated Harry to go first,’ said Sirius with a broad grin as the 3 Weasleys visibly relaxed.
Harry glared at Sirius as he felt a thick blindfold cover his eyes from behind. ‘Thanks a bunch Siri.’
‘No probs baby Potter,’ Sirius replied to chuckles from the rest of the group who still had the power of sight.
‘Here you go Harry,’ James said pressing what felt like a biro into his hand. ‘And good luck.’
With those words ringing in his ears Harry felt the tell tale tug at his navel and the portkey pulled him into the crushing darkness.
The world resolved under him and the black cloth over his eyes vaporized into a whisp of smoke. Harry looked about his new surrounding and felt his insides turn to ice.
He was sat on a cold concrete slab with an iron cage surrounding all 4 sides of him. The cage was neither tall enough to stand up in nor long enough to lie down in. As he looked through the thick metal bars he saw only an infinite dark expanse that was so poorly lit the room could have been 3 acres in area and Harry wouldn’t have known. It was an almost exact replica.
It had been over a month since Harry had last seen this room and most people had left it in the past, just a vague memory. Most people had only heard small details of the conditions of Harry’s imprisonment and the rescue team had been so absorbed with getting Harry home that they had barely taken in their surroundings. Most people didn’t know what had been done to Harry, they could only guess based on Harry’s injuries as he wouldn’t ever tell anyone of what he had suffered through.
The tiny rational part of Harry’s mind assumed that his father, Remus and Sirius had concocted this test based on subconscious memories of Harry’s prison. However it was soon drowned in irrational thought as panic began to rise inside him. Ever since he had returned Harry had striven to never find himself alone, especially in any small dark rooms or the kitchen. He only managed to get to sleep when he was sharing a room with Ron or if he fell asleep near to someone, usually Ginny, during the day. No one seemed to notice anything different in Harry’s behaviour as they focused themselves on training. But the dark memories of what had happened had pressed down on Harry’s mind continuously and taunted him from the shadows.
He looked around the disgustingly familiar room and felt his heart rate rapidly increase.
‘Please let me out!’ Harry called out, trying and failing to keep the alarm out of his voice.
He was answered with nothing but the quiet echoes of his own voice. He grabbed one of the iron bars with a rock solid grip. He heard a gentle ringing and looked down to see his hands handcuffed together in front of him with a short chain attached to the concrete floor. There was something wrong with the shiny handcuffs, but Harry couldn’t work out what it was. He couldn’t move as much as he remembered he should be able to with the short chain tying him to the floor and not the wall of his cage.
Harry looked around wildly as he saw a shadow move in his peripheral vision. They were coming for him again. He was going to have to go through it all again; all the pain, all the fear, all hiding in the darkness.
‘No, please let me out! Please!’ Harry screamed into the dark as another shadow flitted past his vision. There was more than one of them in the room and he knew from past experience that that would just mean more pain.
His breathing came faster as he frantically pulled at the smooth solid bars, embedding the handcuffs, once more, in his recently healed but scarred wrists, desperately searching for an exit, an escape.
There were more and more shadows crawling around his cage, getting closer as they prepared their tools of torture. Harry could hear the scrape of metal, the crack of leather and the sparks of the building cruciatus curse. They were coming for him again.
Harry let out another scream of pure fear and desperation, all thoughts of coherent words buried beneath mounting terror.
Outside the room, James was pacing nervously. He had agreed to Harry going first only because he thought that his youngest would find this challenge easy in comparison to what he had been through in the past 6 years of school.
The teachers and students all whipped around to face the door to the task as a scream ripped through the room.
‘What the hell?’ said Fred and George in unison.
Remus, Sirius and James looked at each other in confusion, all wandering if the others had added something to the task unknown to the rest of the teachers.
Another scream reverberated out of the room and down the corridor.
In the same moment Ron wrenched open the heavy doors and sprinted into the dark room closely followed by the rest of the class. He took a sharp breath as he squinted through the darkness and saw a shockingly familiar sight; Harry’s cage. This time however Harry was not lying limply on the cold floor but banging on the iron bars, breathing impossibly quickly and twisting his head around with impossible speed.
‘Harry!’ Ron cried as threw a spell at the door to the cage and flung it open.
Instantaneously Harry tried to break free from his prison and lunged for the opening only to be flung backwards as the handcuffs kept him locked to the floor.
‘Do something!’ Ron cried as they all watched Harry pulling desperately at the chains with shaking hands.
James took a step forward but Remus put a hand on his shoulder.
‘You’ll never get the handcuffs off,’ Remus said with panic tainting his voice. ‘He’ll never let you get close enough. You’re gonna have to break the chain, just let him get out.’
James nodded in sorrow as he realised the truth of his best friend’s words and that his son would only hurt himself more if James got any closer. He aimed his wand at the bolts attaching the chains to the floor and muttered, ‘Reducto.’
With a bang and a puff of concrete dust the chains became free and Harry stumbled out of the cage. He was breathing so fast but he just couldn’t satisfy the burn in lungs no matter how hard he forced them to work. He knew he had to get out of this room, the chances of him actually escaping were minimal but if they wanted to play games with him then he knew better than to anger them by not playing along.
He stumbled towards the open doors, light streaming through creating golden pools on the floor. It was becoming more and more difficult to focus as the room began to spin and his vision darkened at the edges. He only reached as far as the doorway when his legs gave out and he found himself leaning against the door frame in a puddle of light.
‘Harry, are you ok?’ Ron said gently as he knelt before his best friend’s trembling form.
‘Ron?’ Harry said in a tiny voice between breaths. He squinted at the ginger haired boy before him. Why was it so hard for him to see? Had he dropped his glasses? A sharp but short pain lanced through both of Harry’s wrists in a familiar way and he vaguely recognised the site of Remus with a pair of handcuffs in his hands.
‘Harry,’ James said putting a hand on his shoulder and ignoring the slight flinch Harry gave. ‘Harry you need to calm down, you're breathing too fast.’
James’ words didn’t seem to register with Harry whose eyes kept up their rapid movement around the room especially towards the dark expanse to his right. He could feel his vision becoming darker as any remaining strength vanished from his muscles and he slowly slid down the door frame.
‘Whoa there,’ came Sirius’ voice and Harry felt himself being propped up against his strong chest. He was grateful of the support but it was doing little to help his spinning head.
‘James, use this, he’s having a panic attack again,’ Remus said hurriedly with a rustle.
James looked his son in the eyes and gently placed the paper bag over his nose and mouth. Harry panicked at the intrusion and tried to weakly push it away.
‘No Harry, it will help,’ said James reassuringly as Sirius stroked a hand through Harry’s impossible hair.
Harry continued with his feeble attempts at batting away the bag. They had twice tried using suffocation on him, once with a huge water tank and once with dirty pieces of cloth. He wouldn’t go through that again, Harry thought, he couldn’t.
‘Harry its ok, it will help,’ Remus said gently, kneeling alongside James and trying to coax some trust out of Harry.
‘It’s not going to work!’ James cried out in desperation as he knelt by his son and helplessly watched Harry’s lips turn blue and his eyes blink rapidly as though he couldn’t focus behind his round glasses.
‘What is going on? I thought I heard a scream,’ said Lily in full mother mode. She had just appeared in the hallway and was standing silhouetted in the doorway to the library where the girls spent their time practising. She staggered back into the doorframe as she took in the sight before her.
Ron and the twins were against the wall, opposite an open door to a room that Lily couldn’t make out in the darkness. Ron was sat against the wall with tears tracking down his face, a twin knelt each side of him with a comforting hand on each of his shoulders all staring at the dark doorway. Lily’s heart ached as she saw Harry lying propped up against Sirius in the doorway with James and Remus kneeling in front of them and begging Harry to trust them.
‘James, what’s going on?’ Lily cried racing down the corridor to her son and distraught husband.
‘It’s happening again,’ James said with a trembling voice as he reached out to her. ‘We were just trying to test them and none of us thought what it might do to Harry. We thought he was alright.’
Lily felt the truth in his words as she watched her gasping son. Inside she knew they had all tried to ignore anything Harry did that suggested his kidnapping had lingered in his mind. They had all tried and nearly succeeded to forget the event and had assumed Harry was doing the same thing. None of them had considered the fact that Harry might still be being tortured by his own memories.
‘Lily?’ Tonks voice echoed out of the library. ‘What are you doing? We’ve still got to...’
Her words were cut off as she took in the scene in the corridor.
Underneath the pain and anguish flooding her brain, a spark flickered in Lily’s mind.
‘Tonks,’ she called frantically. ‘Get Ginny quickly.’
I really hope you liked it and can leave me a comment. Thanks :)
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