Chapter 5 : Fighting and Friends
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“Avada Kedavra!” a shrill voice yelled. Sirius Black’s heart had already stopped beating before he hit the ground.
Harry cried out in despair and ran away, desperate to get Voldemort away from his friends so he wouldn’t hurt any of them anymore, but when he jumped through the broken window he didn’t land in the Granger’s backyard. He got to his feet with difficulty and had to grab the wooden rails in front of him to keep himself up. Then he realized that he seemed to be in a cot.
His heart jumped when he saw his mother. She was alive! Then the door was blasted off its hinges and Voldemort entered the room.
Harry cried out when the beam of green light struck his mother in the chest. Lily Potter fell to the ground, lifeless.
“Harry, wake up!”
Someone was shaking his shoulder firmly.
Harry woke up with a start and immediately sat up straight in bed.
“Are you alright?” Ginny asked. She looked extremely worried.
“Yeah, fine. Just a bad dream.”
Harry felt embarrassed that Ginny had seen him in that way.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came up to see what kept you”, Ginny said. “It’s already 10 o’clock. Normally you’re the first of us downstairs in the morning.”
“Oh, yeah” Harry said slowly. “I kind of had trouble falling asleep last night.”
The truth was that Harry really didn’t like to go to sleep lately. He had always had a lot of nightmares, but they seemed to have lessened over the last few years. They had been more frequent again since Sirius died.
“You said that you didn’t have any nightmares anymore." Ginny said accusingly.
“I didn’t." Harry said quickly. “It’s just…”
He didn’t complete his sentence, but Ginny didn’t need to hear more.
“Oh of course”, she said softly. “I’m sorry, Harry.”
Harry smiled at her. “Don’t worry about it.”
Ginny lay down on Harry’s bed and snuggled close to him. Harry suddenly was very aware of the fact that he was only wearing pyjama bottoms.
“It’s so unfair.” Ginny whispered. “I wish I could do something.”
Harry put his arms around her and gave a soft kiss on her forehead.
“I think you are doing a lot more than you realize.”
Ginny smiled and gently stroke Harry’s cheek. She slowly leaned into him and met his lips with hers. Harry tangled one hand into her hair and pulled her closer, deepening the kiss. They started breathing more heavily. Ginny was caressing Harry’s chest while Harry’s hand was wandering over Ginny’s back, slowly down towards…
The door opened with a bang.
“What’s keeping you guys – “
Ron’s face fell when he saw his best friend and his little sister in an intimate embrace on the bed. His face reddened and without a word he left the room and slammed the door shut behind him.
“Oh crap.” Ginny said.
“It won’t be that bad.” Harry tried to reassure her.
“Won’t be that bad?” Ginny laughed. “You know Ron as well as I do, Harry. What would you think his reaction would be if he thought you were shagging his little sister?”
“But we weren’t!” Harry said. “I mean – we weren’t going to…”
“I know that.” Ginny said, laughing at the discomfort of her boyfriend. “But Ron wouldn’t. You know how he always jumps to conclusions.”
“I’ll talk to him.” Harry said.
He knew Ginny wouldn’t hold back if Ron was acting unreasonably and he didn’t feel like getting in the middle of a Weasley fight.
When Harry and Ginny entered the kitchen, neither Ron nor Hermione were there. After some toast and a short polite conversation with the Weasleys and the Grangers Harry quickly left the kitchen again to go look for his best friend. He was climbing the stairs to the third floor when he ran into Hermione.
“Oh there you are.” Hermione said.
“Have you seen Ron?” Harry asked before Hermione could say anything else.
“Er yeah, he’s in his room. You’d better talk to him.”
Harry noticed that his friend was avoiding his eyes and seemed a bit embarrassed. He groaned.
“What did he tell you?”
Hermione blushed furiously.
“He said he walked in on you and Ginny while you were – well…”
“We were kissing!” Harry said. “Oh for Merlin’s sake.”
He pushed past Hermione and entered Ron’s room. When Ron saw him he immediately jumped up of his bed.
“What the hell were you thinking?” he yelled, his ears turning the same colour as his hair. “I trust you enough to go out with my sister and then you – “
“I what Ron?” Harry asked calmly. “What exactly did you see?”
“You were on your bed!” Ron said heatedly. “You were about to –“
“We were about to do nothing, Ron. We were just kissing.”
Ron looked at his friend piercingly and realized he was telling the truth.
“So you weren’t going to…?”
“We most definitely were not” Harry said firmly.
“And you never did? Before?”
“Oh come on, Ron. She’s not even fifteen yet. What do you think?”
Ron sat back down on his bed.
“Oh well.” he said, looking a bit embarrassed. “That’s good. I just thought…”
Harry shook his head and grinned.
Ron scowled, but then he grinned too.
“It’s inevitable from time to time. Game of wizard’s chess?”
That evening found the four friends hanging out in the living room of Grimmauld Place. Ron, Ginny and the twins were playing Exploding Snap and Harry and Hermione were reading on the couch. The Weasleys had looked at each other with raised eyebrows when Harry had said he would rather read than play with them. Hermione on the contrary seemed to be quite proud.
Harry was reading a book called Advanced Offensive Magic Used for Good. Dumbledore had given it to him when he told Harry he would be continuing his private lessons over the summer. The headmaster was extremely eager to learn how strong Harry really was now that the part of Voldemort’s soul inside of him had been destroyed.
Suddenly Hermione slammed her book shut next to him and looked at him.
“I have to talk to you.”
Harry closed his book too.
“Let’s go get a butterbeer.” Hermione said.
“Sure...” Harry said slowly and he followed her out of the living room. “What’s all this about?”
Hermione didn’t answer him. They got two butterbeers from the kitchen and Hermione led him outside to the back garden.
“You have changed, Harry.” Hermione finally said when they sat down on a garden bench.
Harry raised his eyebrows.
“What do you mean by that?” he asked, slightly offended.
“Oh no, I don’t mean it in a bad way.” Hermione assured him quickly, picking up his tone. “I just mean… Like this morning with Ron. A year ago that argument would definitely have turned into a shouting match, but you were so… so calm.”
“Er… Okay, sorry.” Harry said, trying to pull it off as a joke.
“You have been acting different for a while now, Harry.” Hermione pressed on, nervously playing with the label of her butterbeer. “You seem so much more… relaxed.”
“Relaxed? There’s a war going on, Hermione…”
“I know that.” Hermione said hastily. “I can’t really explain it… I know the death of Sirius really hurt you, but apart from that you seem so… fine.”
“I am fine, Hermione.” Harry said. “Don’t go looking for problems if there aren’t any there.”
“I just thought – “
She didn’t finish her sentence. Harry put an arm around her shoulders.
“I know you mean well, Hermione, but there’s really nothing there. You don’t need to worry about me.”
Harry felt terrible about lying to his best friend, but he didn’t want to see the look on her face when he told her that a part of Voldemort had been living inside of him for nearly fifteen years. That was one secret he couldn’t share with his friends and Ginny. They would most definitely want nothing to do with him if they knew about the Horcrux and Harry needed them now more than ever.
The day before Harry’s sixteenth birthday Snape stopped by at Grimmauld Place to continue Harry’s Legilimency lessons. Harry hadn’t seen his Potions master since the day the Death Eaters attacked Grimmauld Place. His friends had told him that he had protected them against Bellatrix and that his cover had been blown. Voldemort would know now that Snape’s true allegiance was with the Order of the Phoenix and not the Death Eaters. Despite that fact, Harry hadn’t seen him once at Grimmauld Place, while it was still the headquarters of the Order. He realized he was still working on some secret mission for Dumbledore. He wondered if Snape would tell him something if he asked. He could be gruff and short-tempered, but they had been getting along much better lately.
“Sir?” Harry asked tentatively after a long and exhausting lesson. “Do you still have contact with Death Eaters?”
Snape raised an eyebrow and looked at him for a moment before he answered.
“No, I do not. As we suspected He Who Must Not Be Named’s inner circle all know about my betrayal during the attack on the Grangers.”
“But you haven’t come to any Order meetings, have you?”
Snape narrowed his black eyes.
“How would you know?”
“Well I wouldn’t, but I just kind of figured. We run into Order members all the time, but we didn’t see you once.”
The Potions master looked slightly impressed at this.
“Well, you are right. I haven’t been coming to any meetings lately.”
Harry waited, but Snape didn’t seem to be eager to continue.
“Why not?” he finally asked.
Snape was silent for a long time and Harry thought he had gone too far. He knew the Order members weren’t supposed to give him any information unless Dumbledore decided it.
“I have been trying to make contact to the werewolves.” Snape suddenly said.
“The werewolves?” Harry asked surprised. “But they are working with Voldemort, aren’t they? Wouldn’t they know about you working for the Order?”
Snape nodded slowly.
“Most of them work for him, yes, but the chance that even one of them knows about me is negligible. He Who Must Not Be Named uses many creatures to do his bidding. He likes to make them all believe that they are very important, but he would not share any information with them.”
Harry nodded. It only made sense. What didn’t make sense was why Dumbledore would ask Snape to try and contact the werewolves when there was a real werewolf in the Order of the Phoenix.
“Why didn’t he ask Remus to do it?”
Snape raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“I think that would be clear.” he said. “Remus doesn’t want to leave you and Miss Malfoy here after what happened to Sirius.”
“But the Weasleys are here, and the Grangers.” Harry said.
Snape stood up from his chair and took his coat.
“Yes Potter, but he has promised his best friend that he would take care of the two of you if something happened to him. I’m sure you can understand that.”
After Snape had left Harry stayed by himself in the kitchen for a long time until Remus walked in and made them some tea. Yes, he thought to himself as the werewolf sat down in front of him, that I can understand.
“What are you thinking about so deeply?” Remus asked.
“Oh nothing.” Harry said.
“You’ve been in here for a long time.” Remus urged on. “What’s on your mind?”
“I was just thinking I’m glad you’re here.”
Remus smiled at his best friend’s son.
“I’m not going anywhere soon.”
“So when is Tonks moving in with us?” Harry asked mischievously.
Remus choked on his tea.
“What? You don’t have to believe everything you heard from Sirius, Harry.”
“I have eyes, you know.” Harry said dryly. “Four of them to be exact.”
Remus laughed out loud, but didn’t elaborate on the subject.
“So?” Harry insisted. “Are you together or not?”
Remus shook his head.
“Not really no.”
“Oh,” Harry said surprised. “I thought you really liked her?”
“I did.” Remus said. “I mean I do. It’s just… It wouldn’t be good for her to get involved with me.”
“You know what I am, Harry. Can you imagine what her friends and her family would say if she started going out with a werewolf?”
“Screw that.” Harry said bluntly. “Who cares what anyone else says? And I’m sure Tonks doesn’t care either!”
“She says that now.” Remus said. “But she has no idea what it’ll be like. I’m just afraid – “
“Don’t be.” Harry advised him. “Tonks is great. And you’d be perfect for each other. If you never try you’ll never find out how it could have been, will you?”
“I guess not. But I’m afraid how her family will react. You have no idea…”
“Don’t I?” Harry said sarcastically. “I started seeing a girl last year who has six protective older brothers. And one of them is my best friend. If I can survive that you can survive Tonks’ family.”
Remus laughed. “Maybe you’re right.”
When Harry had left to see his friends, Remus thought of the times he had talked about Harry with Sirius over the last year. They had clearly been right. Harry may be all James on the outside, except for the eyes, but there was definitely a lot of Lily in his personality.
Harry’s sixteenth birthday was a quiet celebration, seeing as it didn’t really seem right to have a big party while the war was raging on and they had received news about several new disappearances and attacks. The most disturbing disappearance was the one of Garrick Ollivander, the wandmaker at Diagon Alley. The strange thing was that there wasn’t any sign of struggle or fighting. The members of the Order feared that he might have gone with the Death Eaters voluntarily.
Still Harry was happy to see that a lot of Order members that he hadn’t seen in a long time turned up to congratulate him.
“Happy Birthday, Harry!” Tonks said cheerfully and she gave him a hug. Still holding him she said softly: “Remus told me about that talk you had. Thanks.”
She released him and gave him a wink before she went to sit next to Remus.
Another surprising guest was Cedric Diggory, Harry’s old friend and ally from the Triwizard Tournament. They hadn’t seen him in a long time as he also was on an undercover mission for Dumbledore. He had been trying to make amends with the vampires.
After dinner and birthday cake, Dumbledore asked for a word in private with Harry. They left the kitchen and walked up the stairs to the living room. Dumbledore politely lifted his hat towards Lily and James’ portrait before he sat down on the couch and motioned for Harry to do the same.
“First of all Harry,” the headmaster said. “I am happy to tell you that I finally found the time to investigate the Gaunt shack in Little Hangleton. There are clear tracks of dark magic and I am quite certain that Voldemort has hidden one of his remaining Horcruxes there.”
Harry sat up more straight.
“Really? Can I – “
“Yes, Harry.” Dumbledore interrupted him, smiling. “You may come with me when I try to obtain it, but we will not be going for a couple of days. I have to straight some things out first.”
“Do you know which Horcrux it is?”
“I cannot be sure, but my best guess would be the ring. It belonged to Voldemort’s grandfather after all.”
Harry nodded. “So if it’s there and we find it…”
“There are only three Horcruxes left.” Dumbledore added. “But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves, Harry. I actually wanted to talk to you about something else.”
He looked at Harry seriously.
“Have you told anyone about the things we discussed last time we spoke in private?”
“No.” Harry said.
“Not even Ginny? Ron and Hermione? Remus?” Dumbledore asked.
“No. No one.”
Dumbledore nodded. “That was more or less what I expected.”
“Do you think I should have?” Harry asked.
The old man thought deeply before he answered.
“That is not my decision to make, Harry. You are old and wise enough to decide what you do and do not tell certain people.”
“But if I may give you one piece of advice. Yes, I would tell them.”
Harry looked at him puzzled. Dumbledore had always insisted that the information of the Horcruxes wouldn’t go too far and now he urged him to tell his friends that Harry himself had been a Horcrux for nearly fifteen years.
Dumbledore interpreted Harry’s silence correctly.
“I know it would seem strange for me to tell you this, but I really think you should, Harry.”
“Why?” Harry asked. “What if they…”
“What if they what?” Dumbledore asked.
He looked piercingly into the green eyes of his favourite student.
“What if they think less of you? Or even do not want to be around you anymore?”
Harry nodded. “I had a piece of Voldemort’s soul in me for almost all my life. Why would they still want to be around me? And Ginny – “
“Is in love with you.” Dumbledore said firmly. “Ginny is in love with Harry Potter, the whole package and everything that comes with it. Nothing can change that. Look at Remus and Nymphadora. Did you not convince Remus yourself not to let the fact that he is a werewolf hold him back?”
“Yes.” Harry said unwillingly.
“Then you should follow your own wonderful advice, my dear boy.” Dumbledore said. “I am sure your friends will still love you for who you are, Harry. They will understand. Especially Ginny.”
“Why especially Ginny?” Harry asked.
“I believe she knows exactly how you feel right now. It may only have been for one year instead of fifteen, but I think she will understand.”
Dumbledore stood up and walked towards the door of the living room. Before he left he turned around to face Harry once more.
“I have always been very secretive when I was younger, Harry, even towards my friends. It has cost me almost everything I held dear. Please, do not make the same mistakes I did.”
“A friend is someone who knows everything about you and still loves you” – Elbert Hubbard
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