Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter belongs to the creative
mind of J.K. Rowling and I am not receiving any monetary compensation for this
story. I am merely borrowing the characters for my own amusement during what
will no doubt be a long wait for Book 6.
Author's Note: Many thanks to Ozma, my Sugar Quill beta-reader.
A big thank you also to my sister who analyzed and discussed all of the mysteries
and plot points with me at length and made sure I was true to canon wherever
Chapter 1: Hope and Despair
Life with the Dursleys in the summer following
Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts had improved in more ways than he could have
ever imagined. He had never before experienced the kind of freedom with the
Dursleys he was given that summer. He was allowed to watch television whenever
he liked and, unbelievably, to use Dudley’s computer
and video games. Even Hedwig's squawking
was tolerated reasonably. On the surface, he was treated as decently as anyone
would expect normal human beings to treat one another, which was quite odd for
Beyond these simple permissions, the Dursleys had tried to please Harry in
other ways, such as the time when Aunt Petunia cooked one of his favorite meals
and actually served him a full-sized portion of it.
And even more shocking, they bought him new clothes and a new pair of glasses.
The Dursleys had never given Harry anything new
before in his life.
When Harry asked his aunt why she was buying him these things, she looked around
the department store and answered in a furious whisper, “The neighbors have
been noticing how shabbily you dress, we don’t
want to call more attention to you than your freakish behavior already does."
She gave him the very familiar hateful glare that he had known all of his life.
"Look at these filthy rags you’ve made of Dudder’s clothing,” she sniped, pointing at the threadbare pair of
jeans he was wearing, full of rips and holes.
Harry kept his mouth shut, but thought
of how he had been forced to wear that same pair of jeans through several growth
spurts over the past six years. Of course,
what the Dursleys would never admit was that
they had taken Moody’s threat very seriously. They didn't dare mistreat Harry for fear of several
full grown wizards showing up on their doorstep.
The one thing that Harry appreciated more than anything else was that he was
allowed access to all of his things from Hogwarts without protest. And, despite
Uncle Vernon’s past objections, he could even send
and receive mail by owl post. But Uncle Vernon’s face still
frequently swelled and flushed red as a tomato as he glared at Harry, since
he could do nothing else. And Dudley was so frightened
of Harry now that he stayed out with his friends all day long, which Harry,
naturally, didn't mind in the slightest.
There was only one problem, Harry couldn’t enjoy any of it. He should have been happy, but he wasn’t.
He was less isolated at the Dursleys than ever before.
He attended Occlumency lessons every week at
Mrs. Figg’s house and there were always Order
of the Phoenix members there
to protect him. Usually Lupin would greet him, but sometimes Tonks
or Moody. Harry had never before had such
close contact with the wizarding world in Little Whinging. Yet he had
never felt so lonely in his life.
In fact, Harry could feel nothing
but loneliness. He had lost the ability
to feel other emotions. Last year, he was emotional constantly, but now he could
feel nothing. If more dementors came, there would
be nothing left for them to take from him. He already felt as though the dementors had sucked his soul and he was left only with pain
and grief. Sirius was gone.
Harry hadn’t even had the chance
to say goodbye and he still didn’t understand what had happened. What was behind
the veil? Why did it kill Sirius? Why would the Ministry have something like that
out in the open and raised on a platform?
Harry tormented himself night and day
with these questions. If only he had found the mirror from Sirius earlier.
If only he had studied Occlumency harder. If
only he had listened to Hermione and not believed Kreacher. If only he had used a Time-Turner – this was
the most persistent thought running through his head since returning to the Dursleys.
Harry had passed a whole room of
Time-Turners in the Department of Mysteries and never once thought to use them.
He had been too absorbed in his grief and thoughts of revenge at the time to
think. And now it was too late.
According to Hermione, the Time-Turners could not go further back in time than
a few hours.
For the first time in his life, Harry found himself without hope. And
without hope, he didn’t know what to live for.
Part of him wished that Voldemort had killed
him, so that he could join Sirius and his parents behind the veil. So that he wouldn’t have to live with the knowledge
that any loving family he had ever had was taken from him.
Yet, at the same time, Harry knew he had to live through his pain.
If the prophecy was true, then only one person could stop Voldemort
and that was him. He longed for Neville
to be the “one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord,” but he knew better.
He had been marked by Voldemort and he
had been the one to remove the prophecy from the shelf, so he had to be the
subject of the prophecy, as much as he hated the thought of it.
He had an obligation to see it through.
Knowing his obligation was the only thing that motivated him enough to leave
the comfort of self-isolation in his bedroom to attend his weekly Occlumency
lesson. Every Wednesday evening after dinner, Harry went to Mrs. Figg’s
house for lessons. He never told the Dursleys where he was going and they never asked him. In fact they had ignored him as much as possible. He supposed it was easier for them to pretend
he didn’t exist than to be nice to him.
Harry tried to clear his head of all of the feelings of guilt and self-loathing
that had been drowning him as he walked down Privet Drive. He had become much
better at Occlumency once he knew how important it really was, but Snape still
managed to see his thoughts occasionally. But Harry was determined to block
Snape completely tonight, the last thing he wanted was to give Snape any pleasure
from his pain. He crossed Wisteria Walk and approached Mrs. Figg’s
porch where a tabby cat was sitting by the door.
“Hello Mr. Tibbles,”
Harry called as he reached down to pet the cat, but his hand stopped in mid
air. “Wait, you’re not-,” he paused, “Professor
At that moment, the door opened and the cat sped into the house brushing past
Mrs. Figg. Harry looked after it with confusion.
“Come in, Harry dear, quickly,”
Mrs. Figg said nervously as she glanced down
Harry followed her into the house and closed the door behind him. As soon as
he turned around, he saw the stern form of Professor McGonagall come striding
out of the adjacent room..
“Potter, are you ready for your Occlumency lesson?" she said sharply, acting as though
there was nothing unusual about the situation in the slightest.
“But…but Professor Snape-” Harry questioned in surprise. Professor Snape continued
to teach him Occlumency, despite his objections, because there was simply no
better teacher available. The risk was still too great for Dumbledore to teach
him and even if he could, Dumbledore was too busy with the Order of the Phoenix.
But there was no question in anyone's minds after the events at the Ministry,
that Harry did need to master Occlumency and that it was of the utmost importance
in the fight against Voldemort.
“Professor Snape could not be here this evening.
He had other obligations for the Order. Surely you don’t object to me?” she
“No, I’m just surprised. You know Occlumency, Professor?”
“Certainly I am familiar with it, Potter, but my skills are nothing compared
to Professor Snape's. Which is why we are not going to practice Occlumency
this evening, instead we will be discussing it in theory. Now come along, I
don't have all night,” she said as she walked into the living room.
Harry followed and closed the doors behind them.
McGonagall settled herself on an
old pale blue sofa and motioned for Harry to do so as well. “I have something
for you, Potter, and I wanted to deliver it personally,” she said with a curious
look in her eye.
She handed him an envelope with
the familiar green handwriting and the Hogwarts seal. Harry accepted it and gave McGonagall a quizzical
“Your O.W.L. results of course,”
she said. Harry’s heart plummeted and
he was very glad he was sitting down.
He slowly and reluctantly slid open the envelope as he wondered why McGonagall
was here. Did she come to tell him he wouldn’t be able
to take her Advanced Transfiguration classes?
Or worse, did he do so poorly that he couldn’t return to Hogwarts?
Harry pulled out the piece of parchment
and closed his eyes, silently praying that the results wouldn’t be that horrible.
He forced his eyes open and stared at the parchment in front of him.
He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, his eyes
grew wide with shock.
Dear Mr. Potter,
Congratulations! We are proud to announce that you have passed
seven Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations. Your results are in the 85th percentile
of your class, a remarkable achievement.
Here are your results from the exams of last June:
Transfiguration - Outstanding
Potions - Exceeds Expectations
Charms - Exceeds Expectations
Defense Against the Dark Arts - Outstanding
Care of Magical Creatures - Outstanding
Herbology - Exceeds Expectations
History of Magic - Dreadful
Astronomy - Acceptable
Divination - Poor
We hope that this success will continue in your further education at Hogwarts
of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Wizarding Examinations Authority
Ministry of Magic
Harry had expected the horrid grades in History of Magic
and Divination and he hadn't even expected to pass Astronomy after all that
had happened during those exams. But nothing could have possibly prepared him
for the wonderful grades that he had received in the other classes. Certainly,
he had expected an O in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but he was just
hoping to get a passing grade in the other classes.
Harry looked up to see Professor
McGonagall positively beaming at him.
“Congratulations are in order, Potter! You’re well on your way to becoming
an Auror,” she said with obvious pride.
“But you said I need a NEWT in Potions
and I didn’t get an O–“
“No matter, you scored an E and a very high one at that.
You've scored well enough, since I managed to convince Professor Snape
to accept you into his NEWT classes.”
“I have my ways," she said mysteriously. " Besides I promised that I would help you become
an Auror if it’s the last thing I do, and I always
keep my promises, Potter.”
“I don’t know how to thank you,
Professor.” Truthfully, Harry didn’t know
whether to thank her or curse her for having to spend two more years in Potions
“Just promise me that you’ll concentrate in Potions and that you’ll come to
me if you ever have any trouble with the class or Professor Snape.
This is not a free ride, Potter. I expect you to work hard towards your goal
and, hopefully, someday you will be well rewarded.”
“On with our Occlumency lessons then, shall
* * * * *
Two hours later, the lessons were finally over and Harry felt as tired and
drained as if he had just left one of Professor Binns' classes. Occlumency theory
was anything but exciting. When he opened the living room doors, Lupin
was waiting for him. Every night after Occlumency
lessons, a member of the Order of the Phoenix
would walk him back to the Dursleys, and Harry
was very glad when it was Lupin. No one wanted a repeat of last summer’s incident
with the dementors, so Dumbledore made sure they
never risked anything.
“Harry,” Lupin said, getting to his feet, “have
you had a good lesson then?” He rubbed his hands together and looked a bit
“Um, it was all right, I suppose,” Harry lied, trying to sound cheerful.
After saying goodbye to Mrs. Figg and Professor McGonagall, they walked silently
out of the house to the corner of Wisteria Walk.
“Harry, I know that you’re…that
you’re not happy. And I can’t say that
I am either. We both lost a great friend
Harry walked on in silence, biting back the aching feeling at the back of his
throat. “He was more than a friend,” he finally said bitterly. “He was my godfather,
he was…family.” Now the ache in his throat was accompanied by a sore pressure
around his eyes that threatened to burst at any moment.
“He was family to me too, Harry,” Lupin replied somberly.
Harry knew he should see Lupin's point of view, but all he could feel was bitterness
and all he could think about was his own loss and how much it hurt. Bitterness
turned to rage. “Do you know what I see when I look into the Mirror of Erised? Did Dumbledore tell you?” Harry said angrily.
“I see my family, my parents, my grandparents, everyone who has been lost to me. The greatest desire in my heart is for a family
and just when I thought I might have that, it was taken from me.
And…and it’s my fault.” Harry looked away as silent tears fell down his cheeks.
Lupin stopped and turned Harry towards him, gripping
his shoulders. Harry resisted and turned his head down and away,
not willing to let Lupin see the tears, the tears that he had never dared to
shed before Sirius's death, but had many times since. “Harry, look at me,” Lupin
said, waiting for Harry to catch his eyes.
“It is not your fault. Wizards far wiser
and older than you have been fooled by Voldemort. You were not the first and you won’t be the last.”
They walked on silently side by side for a minute. “You
know,” Lupin began, “I lost my only family in Sirius too…and my only
friend. People don’t choose to be friends
with werewolves you know. They’re all
afraid I’ll transform them,” Lupin laughed bitterly.“I
felt so lucky to have James and Sirius and Peter." He paused and looked
up at the crescent moon. "I was so grateful to have friends that I let
James and Sirius get away with much more than
I should have so many times.” Lupin dropped his head
staring at the path in front of them and sighed, “I miss them both terribly.”
Harry was touched that Lupin was being so open
with him. He felt at once pity and guilt.
After all, he, Harry, had many friends who cared about him. Friends who had braved many perils for him.
“I’m your friend, Professor Lupin,”
Harry said quietly, feeling rather stupid as soon as the words were said.
Lupin laughed slightly, “If I’m your friend Harry,
you’ll have to start calling me Remus, I’m not your professor anymore and it's rather doubtful
that I ever will be again.”
"Well, you should be. You were the best Defense Against the Dark Arts
teacher we've ever had."
"Ah, but look at who you're comparing me with. I don't know if that's
too much of a compliment, Harry," Remus teased, but he was obviously pleased.
"You know what I mean," Harry said, rolling his eyes.
“Actually, I hear that you are quite the defense teacher yourself. Where do
you think you will go with the D.A., Harry?"
"I dunno. We won't really need it this year, will we? I mean, now that
Umbridge is gone and all. Hopefully, this year's teacher will actually let us
practice defensive spells."
"Well, even if you do, I don't think you should give it up, Harry. To
survive what you have, you obviously have a great deal of talent in defensive
magic and you may yet save more than a few lives by teaching those skills to
Harry nodded his head in response as they approached Privet Drive. It was late
now and the street was dark and deserted. Lupin looked nervous again for some
reason and his pace slowed down.
Lupin looked at him intently and finally spoke. "Harry, there’s something
I need to tell you and I've waited too long to say it. You see, last summer,
Sirius asked me to take care of you if anything ever happened to him. He
wanted me to become your guardian in his place.
I… I know I could never replace Sirius or your parents, but I would like to
honor his wishes and I would be proud to take on that role. How do you feel
about that?” he asked hesitantly.
“So I could live with you if I can
ever leave the Dursleys?”
“Yes, but it’s more than that.Harry. I hope you’ll confide in me, like you did
with Sirius. And I’d watch out for you
and protect you, as Sirius and your parents would have done.”
“Just don’t die on me,” Harry said seriously and quietly, not quite willing
to look Remus in the eyes.
Remus pulled him into a hug. “It will be all right, Harry,” he replied earnestly. Remus wrapped his arm around Harry’s shoulder as they walked
the rest of the way to the Dursleys.
“So, how are they treating you?” Remus asked, nodding towards number four Privet
“All right, I s’pose,
they’re mostly ignoring me. At least they’re
not yelling or worse. Hard to believe
these are the same people who locked me in a cupboard for ten years.”
grimaced. “I understand why Dumbledore wants you to stay with them, but I can’t
say I agree. At least you only have to
put up with them for two more days.”
“What?” Harry asked in shock.
Remus smiled at Harry's surprise. "Well, Dumbledore said we could pick
you up on Friday night, in time for your birthday. I
thought you’d like to spend your birthday in the wizarding
world this year.”
“When do we leave?” Harry asked
“We’ll pick you up after dinner
on Friday. Have your bags packed and ready.”
“I will,” Harry replied, giving Remus the first genuine smile that had passed his lips for
some weeks. “See you Friday,” Harry said
as he walked up to the front door.
“Goodbye, Harry,” Remus replied fondly, waiting for Harry to open the door before
Harry crept quietly in the house and soundlessly closed the door behind him.
He didn’t want to wake the Dursleys who usually
went to bed about an hour earlier. But
as he tiptoed up the stairs, he heard sounds coming from the adjoining room.
Creeping down to the third step, he inched closer to the wall separating him
from the living room. He breathed shallowly, making himself as quiet as possible
as he strained to listen more closely. Someone was watching the television and
listening to the late news.
“In other news, police are baffled by reports of twelve bodies found across Britain.
Authorities have yet to find any sign of disease or foul play. Autopsies have
yielded no results, but in every case, the coroner has reported a look of terror
on the face of the deceased. Authorities are currently suspecting a new virus,
but they have yet to find a link in this horrifying case.”
Harry's heart skipped a beat. So it had started. Voldemort was back and the
deaths had begun in earnest. Harry was about to go back up the stairs to send
a letter off to Ron and Hermione, but froze immediately when he heard his aunt's
voice carry over from the other side of the wall.
“That was no disease,” she said.
“What was that, Petunia dear?” Uncle Vernon said.
“Vernon, that’s the way they
were found.That’s the way my parents looked when I found
them.” Harry had never heard anything
about his grandparents. He took another
step down, inching even closer towards the voices.
“The boy may be telling the truth, Vernon. He may be back.”
“Who? That Lord what’s-his-name?”
“Yes,” Petunia hissed seriously,
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hope you enjoyed the
first chapter, there is much more to come. There will be many more revelations
about Harry's past. Next chapter will have a lot of interaction with the Dursleys
and things will really get interesting when Harry returns to Grimmauld Place.