The Sugar Quill
Author: DobbysKnobblySox  Story: The Pensieve of the Order of the Phoenix  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Harry

 

 

Harry couldn’t sleep. The air around him was ice-cold, the chill biting into his skin, despite the fact it was the middle of August. Pulling the covers tighter around him, he stared at the ceiling, unable to sleep. Ron’s quiet snores emanating from the bed next to him filled Harry with slight inner warmth, seeming to help protect him against the empty, lonely coldness.

 

He had arrived at twelve, Grimmauld Place the previous evening. Lupin and Tonks had arrived outside Harry’s bedroom window in the middle of the night, and had escorted him to Grimmauld place, on broomsticks of course. Tonks had used some nifty spells to make Harry’s Trunk and Hedwig’s cage to zoom along beside them. Lupin had explained to Harry that Dumbledore had spent months setting up dozens of spells to make additional protection against Voldemort. The order was also staying at Grimmauld place, as were all the Weasley’s – apart from Percy - and Hermione.

 

Truth to tell, Harry had not been as happy as he hoped he would feel as he entered the old, musty manor. Indeed, the moment the familiar smell entered his nostrils, he had felt nauseous. Something had told him he was an intruder in Sirius’s house. He had been so overcome with burning guilt and heart-wrenching sadness; he had made hurried excuses of feeling ill and had come straight to his old room.

 

                As he stared up at the black stone ceiling now, he tried to desperately ignore the agonising emptiness inside him. Being in Sirius’s old house was unbearable. He would even prefer being with the Dursley’s. Perhaps it was just his mind playing tricks on him, but he could almost sense Sirius’s presence beside him. It wasn’t a comforting feeling. On the contrary, it almost made Harry tremble with fear. Only Ron’s presence was stopping him from cowering in his bed, trying to hide from the coldness and oppressive air around him.

 

 He had not cried once since he had come back from Hogwarts. True, at night, he had nightmares that threw him into consciousness sweating, shaking, and sometimes even screaming, but he didn’t cry.

 

 Even now, as he felt the cool mattress and sheets pressing into him, he felt no trace of a tear in his eye. He missed Sirius so much he could not articulate his feelings into words. Sometimes it hurt so terribly badly he could do nothing but sit and think, trying desperately to keep his eyes dry. At times, it was so bad that he couldn’t stop himself retreating into the dark corners of his room, withdrawing into the inviting blackness in his mind, anything to stop the pain that came from thinking of Sirius.

 

He closed his eyes. Sometimes that was all he had the energy for.

He felt himself falling into unconsciousness, praying he would not have that nightmare, the same one he had had almost every night at the Dursley’s. But the chill around him was ebbing away – he was being enveloped in warm, plush velvet – it was so comfortable and warm…

 

He opened his eyes again. He was in that cursed room again. He knew it wasn’t a dream this time. All the previous times, it had just been a mere dream, but not this time. He could feel the hard stone under his feet; he could see every detail of the steps, every fold of that hideously beautiful black veil…

 

He walked forwards, hearing his footsteps echo around the chamber. He was alone, but not scared. He stepped onto the dais in the centre of the chamber. He crossed the few steps to the curtain. It’s gently pulsing material lured his eyes into the fabric. How wonderful it would be to touch it…

He reached out a hand and gently let his fingers brush against the black cloth. It fluttered gently. It was so soft yet so rough and worn. It was so dark and black, yet so translucent he could almost see through it… Reaching out again, he clasped his hand round a thick fistful of the material and yanked it backwards. He knew what was about to happen. He had dreamt it many times…

 

A gentle peach light shone though the archway. Someone stepped in front of the light and walked through the portico, his distinctive face staring down at Harry, expressionless. It took a moment to find his voice.

“Sirius?” Harry barely whispered. His chest convulsed. He felt ill, yet ecstatic. His godfather was here again – his beloved Sirius was back – right in front of him. Before Harry could draw in more breath to speak, Sirius’s strong hands had clasped the neck of Harry’s shirt and drew him upwards. Harry almost choked, terrified. Sirius’s face had twisted into a look of pure hate. His features seemed to have wasted into an even more haunting echo of the soul within, his skin dull and grey. He had never seen him like that before. Except of course, in his dreams. But never in real life. Harry felt his throat tighten.

“Look what you’ve done!” Sirius yelled in his face, his eyes wide and wild. They were no longer dead and empty, but full of hate and anger.  “Can you see what you’ve done to me?” He screamed. He shook Harry so hard, he could feel his teeth bite together.

“I’m sorry Sirius…I’m so sorry…” He was so frightened his voice came out as a half-sob.

“Sorry? You let me fall through this accursed veil… Do you see what you’ve done?”

“I never meant to let it happen…”

“You never tried! You never tried to save me! You’re not worthy to live on this side anymore…you’re worthless!” Sirius shrieked. His face was alive with ire.

“I wanted to… I swear… please let me go, Sirius…” He felt tears stream down his face in fear.

“Do you know where you sent me? To a hell! I live in the worst possible emotions. I live in guilt, in fear, in anger, in hate… I can’t feel anything except this violence inside me!” He spat. Harry panted for air. He gasped through his sobs, he needed to breathe.

“I’m so sorry…”

“You will be!” Sirius Flung Harry to the ground. Harry could not feel pain. He could feel nothing except this poisonous terror. Sirius stepped over him and ripped the veil from the archway. Harry couldn’t move. He tried to get up, but fell back to the ground like an invisible hand was forcing him down. He was trembling with fright. He watched, frozen, as Sirius stood over him, holding the veil. He noticed for the first time how drops of blood seemed to drip from the black curtain, slowly yet steadily, to the floor. “Enjoy Hell.” Sirius snarled. Trying to scream, Harry watched as Sirius through the black cloth over him. The chamber disappeared into blackness as pain seared through him, exploding on every inch of his skin…

“SIRIUS!” Harry let out a yell. Suddenly the blackness had gone. He heard his own voice, and felt cold sweat drip down his face. He was sitting in his bed in Grimmauld Place, shaking with fear. He had had the same dream, yet again. The same terrifying nightmare. He blinked to calm himself, before reaching to his bedside table and pushing his glasses to his face. He sat for a few minutes, trying to get the shaking to stop. He thought he heard Ron’s snoring stop for a few seconds, but then carry on. Something told Harry Ron was still awake and the snores were fake. No doubt Harry’s shouting had awoken him, and Ron did not think it best to act as though he had heard. Breathing deeply. Harry slid off the bed, the frosty air uncomfortable, even through his pyjamas. He could not stay in his bed tonight. Wiping the perspiration off his head, he stood up and walked to the door. The floor was like ice under his feet. He walked through the corridors aimlessly, not knowing where he was going. All he knew was that he had to walk, to clear his head. He reached the staircase, looking at the elf-heads as he walked down. Poor Sirius. Harry thought. Imprisoned in his home, in Azkaban, and then in his home again. And now he was dead. Killed by the murdering scum who had killed his parents and so many others. Harry punched the wall viciously in his anger. It was so… unfair. Sirius had been so young. So young and clever and kind. He did not deserve what he had got. For some reason, his thoughts turned to Snape as he turned a corner into a corridor off the main hallway downstairs. He wondered whether Snape was sorry Sirius was dead. It seemed unlikely. Still, Harry thought to himself, he couldn’t blame him, not really. Sirius was not just mean to Snape at school, he was cruel. Perhaps even worse. He had almost killed Snape by telling him to go near the whomping willow. Suddenly, Harry felt sick with himself. How could a schoolboy prank justify the hate of an innocent man? How could he be reasoning Snape’s vicious loathing of Sirius? What was he turning into? Feeling very tired again, Harry turned into a room he hadn’t noticed in his other visits here. It was smallish, about the size of a small bedroom. There was a single cupboard in the far end. Sighing, Harry started to turn away. He just wanted to find somewhere quiet where he could sleep. However, something caught his eye. He turned back, and noticed a white piece of paper on the cupboard. He regretted not taking his wand with him – he could have done with the Lumos charm. It was so dark – he could barely see a thing. Squinting in the pale moonlight, he reached out and pulled the paper off the cupboard. It had been held on with Spellotape. Harry moved into a patch of silver light, trying to read whatever was written on the paper. In scrawled, unfamiliar handwriting, he read the words.

 

“ONLY FOR THE USE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

 

Confused Harry reached out to open the door. He knew it was wrong, but then curiosity had always been his downfall. Instantly, a glittering, silvery light invaded Harry’s eyes. Looking away to let his eyes adjust, Harry blinked ferociously. He looked back slowly, feeling his insides squirm with excitement. On the base of the cupboard sat a shallow stone bowl, filled with a liquid, yet almost gaseous silvery substance.

 

A pensieve.

 

Throwing caution to the wind, he reached down to try and pick it up. It was as if the bowl was made of lead and was bolted to the cupboard base. It wouldn’t budge. Sighing again, Harry sat down on crossed legs and looked hard into the still pensieve fluid. His own bespectacled green eyes looked back at him. His thoughts involuntarily flew back to Sirius. Something he had once said came into his mind, so clearly Harry almost believed Sirius was sitting next to him and had whispered it in his ear.

The risk would have made it fun for James.”

 

Smiling to himself, Harry leaned closer into the bowl. He knew Sirius would never advise him to do something so…invasive, so incredibly probing, but he also knew that Sirius would probably have done it at his age anyway. Shaking, Harry dipped the tips of his fingers into the substance. They came out perfectly clean and dry. Instantaneously, the silvery fluid started to swirl very fast. Harry felt vaguely surprised. He had always thought a wand was needed to set the silver contents moving. He carried on peering into the bowl, as the opaque silver turned into a clear liquid, like molten glass. Leaning in closer, he saw what looked like the Three broomsticks, although it was dark and empty. Before he knew it, Harry was falling through blackness.

 

 

Blinking against the darkness, Harry stood up and looked round. The only light in the three Broomsticks came from the full moon visible through the windows. Harry heard a faint rustling beside him. He knew he was invisible to whoever was there – it was only a memory. Moving closer he saw with a shock it was Severus Snape, although a much younger one than the one he knew now. He looked about twenty or twenty-one, Harry guessed. He still had greasy black hair, although it was shorter. He was sitting on a bar stool, looking almost comic. Harry had never imagined Snape could even go into a pub. It all seemed very out of place, like it shouldn’t be allowed. He fitted much better in the potions dungeon. Harry knew he was in Snape’s memory, although he didn’t know why Snape had even bothered to put this in. He simply sat, silent, on the bar stool, for at least five minutes. Suddenly, Just as Harry started to worry if he was really in a genuine pensieve, he heard a noise coming from the door. It was three short knocks, followed by a voice.

“Severus?” The voice called. It was a woman’s voice. Harry felt intrigued. Snape was meeting a woman? It was even more comical than Snape alone in a pub at night. Harry watched as Snape walked over to the door and yanked it open. Somebody stepped inside and closed the door.

“I didn’t think you would come.” Severus said silkily.

“Nor did I, Severus.” Said the woman’s voice. “Especially as you never told me why you wanted to meet.” She paused. Harry tried to see her but couldn’t in the dark. “I almost didn’t come. I have more important things to do, and more important places to be, as you well know.” She sighed. “It’s very dark in here.”

“I didn’t want anyone to think we were here.”

“Oh, for heavens sake, Severus.” The woman snapped. “No one will even be around here at this time.” She pointed her wand at the ceiling. “Lumos Edificus.” She muttered. Lights suddenly lit up the familiar three Broomsticks. Harry watched as Snape and the woman sat on low chairs around a table. She had her back to Harry. He walked round, hoping to get a better look. As soon as he saw her face, he froze. He recognized her instantly. He had only seen her twice, yet there was no mistake. It was definitely…

“Lily…” Snape spoke to the table. Harry felt his heart in his throat. He had seen his mother in the Mirror of Erised and in Snape’s Pensieve, but this was different. She was right in front of his here, just like in real life. He walked over to her, taking her face in. Her long, dark red hair was longer than he had seen it before. It reached halfway down her back. Her eyes shocked him. They were so like his, yet so…sad. He reached out to touch her face, feeling his fingers tingle. He couldn’t feel her as his fingertips brushed her face. Of course, he thought. Of course. This was a memory? He could make no impression on memories in pensieves. He looked at her beautiful face for a few moments, before switching his attention back to Snape. Why was his mother here? With Snape?

“Lily… I just want to thank you for agreeing to this.”

“I don’t know what I’m agreeing to, yet.” She didn’t smile.

“Just to meet me. To talk to me.”

“Start talking, Severus. It’s four in the morning. This must take no more than an hour.”

“It won’t take up even that.”

“Go ahead then.” She leaned back, her eyes surveying Snape with a mixture of dislike, boredom and pity.

“Lily… you know how I…” He trailed off, looking hard at his shoes. “You know how I feel. About you, I mean.” He paused. Lily didn’t speak. Her eyes remained impassive. “Lily, this is a terrible time for us all. You know that – especially for you.”

“What do you mean, Severus?” She had no concern in her voice.

“What…what I have done in the past few months…years… I can barely bear to think about. I have performed terrible, terrible evil. Under the Dark Lord’s service, I have not been…I have not been…well. It is enough to say I am guilty of terrible crimes.”

“Severus…”

“I hope you are one of the few who believe me I have now turned against him, and am now loyal to Albus Dumbledore.”

“Time will tell Severus, time will tell.”

“Lily… I have placed my life in huge danger as a spy working against the Dark Lord. I only want you to know that…well…Oh, lily…” He stopped for a few moments. Harry watched him, his heart pounding. This was Snape as he had never seen him before. “You already know that He Who Must Not Be Named is after your family.”

“I Know, Severus.”

“I know, also, that you have many spells and charms protecting them.”

“What are you saying?” She sounded angry now. Harry could see how tired she was. He was still so confused… what was going on?

“Lily, this is all so damned hard…” He trailed into silence, his hand resting on the bridge of his nose, his eyes closed. When he opened them again, they were sparkling. Harry felt his heart skip a beat. “I don’t know if we will all make it through this.” His voice shook. Harry felt almost ill watching Severus Snape struggle to hold himself together. Seeing Snape upset was sickeningly strange. “Lily, I want you to know, that I have never forgotten how you stood up for me at school, when no one else did…”

“That was a long time ago.” She folded her arms.

“You were the only one who… And when I see you…even think of you with – with him…”

“His name is James, Severus.” Her voice was like ice.

“Lily, I can give you so much more!” He almost shouted.

“That’s enough, Severus.” She stood up. Harry gasped loudly. No…no…this couldn’t be right. Snape and…his mother? No, there was a mistake, this couldn’t be…

“Lily, you don’t understand!” Snape wailed.

“I don’t want to listen to this!” Lily’s eyes flashed angrily. She started towards the door.

“No, please… give me a chance, please!” He followed her. Harry felt his jelly-like feet follow Snape too. He knew he could only follow the owner of a memory, not stay alone or with someone else.

“Severus!” Lily shouted, giving off an aura of power and strength. “I have a husband! James is the one for me, not you! You can never love me more than him – and I can certainly never feel for you a fraction of what I feel for him!” She spoke quietly, yet there was a dangerous undercurrent in her voice.

“Lily…” Snape sniffed.

“And Harry, Severus! I have a child! Together, Harry and James are worth a hundred of you!”

“Please…” Snape seemed to be close to tears.

“How dare you do this to me when you know how much danger me and my family are in! How dare you when you know how dangerous it is for me to leave my house! I would die at the drop of a hat for Harry…or James.” She was shaking in anger. “Severus, I cannot, nor will not, ever love you. You flatter yourself that I would even look at you without feeling ill.” With a last sniff from Snape, she turned and walked out the door. Snape collapsed on a chair, his face in his hands. Harry watched him breathing deeply, clearly trying to pull himself together. He couldn’t quite believe what he had heard. Snape had loved his mother? He tried to get his head round the idea, trying to see what holes that idea could fill in. But before he could even quite understand it, everything in front of him changed.

 

 

Blinking in shock, Harry looked around at his new surroundings. He was in a house similar to the Dursley’s. He was in a room, which he guessed was a sitting-room, or something similar. There was a table, surrounded by four wooden chairs. Harry noticed someone sitting in one the chairs, swaying slightly, his face in his hands. He was quite short, with messy black hair. Harry recognised the man… but this surely could not be his father’s memory? Harry doubted if this Pensieve had been in use for the first order of The Phoenix. After all, he was sure twelve Grimmauld Place had only become headquarters for the present order. Surely Sirius’s family would still have lived here fifteen years ago? Harry’s confusion was soon dispelled as he heard a voice behind him.

“James?” Harry recognised the gruff, yet warm voice immediately.

“Sirius?” He turned round and was greeted with a version of Sirius he had only seen in photos. An adult of around twenty, Sirius looked handsomer than he had done as a schoolboy. His hair was still hanging in curtains, but he was taller and his features were more well-formed than when he was younger. Harry felt his heart burst with happiness. It was as if he was right next to him again! Harry realised he was smiling, his eyes prickling. Sirius was here – in front of him. It hurt with a kind of stabbing pain in his heart that Sirius could not see him. Harry stood back and watched as Sirius took another step towards his father.

“James?" He said again. “I just got here… I used my last handful of Floo powder. You’d better make it worth it mate…” He walked over to a chair opposite James and sat down. “What’s wrong?” His voice was suddenly softer, more fluid and calm. Harry watched, his eyes and throat burning. James slowly stopped swaying and took his hands from his face. He was not wearing his usual glasses. Harry saw his eyes were rimmed with red, and his face was wet. “James?” Sirius sounded worried. “What’s happened, mate?” He leaned towards him.

“I’m sorry to have woken you, Padfoot.” He sniffed.

“That’s alright. I’m sorry it took me so long to get up after I saw your head in my bedroom fire.”

“Don’t apologise.” James wiped at his cheeks. Harry felt his chest fill with what felt like lead. He felt so desperately sad at watching his father so upset and looking at them both. Two such close friends… little did they know they would both be dead in all too short a time. It was so painful watching them.

“I didn’t realise you were so upset… what is it?”

“I’m just so damn worried!” James’s voice shook his head. “You know they caught more death-eaters last night. Just when we thought we were winning…. Just when we thought he had gone…”

“Prongs…” Sirius looked uncomfortable. “You know the only thing that can get rid of him is Harry.” His voice dropped. “Dumbledore told us.”

“But we don’t know when, or why, or how.” James sounded devastated. “Why does it have to rest on my boy’s shoulders, paddfoot?”

“I don’t know, mate.”

“I couldn’t bear it Sirius… I couldn’t stand it if anything happened to Lily or Harry.” A tear ran down his face. He swiped it away with his hand so fast Harry barely knew if he had seen it at all. He felt painfully sentimental as he listened to his father talk about him. He had never really, actively thought of how much James must have cared for him and his mother. He had never contemplated that his father might be so desperately worried over his safety.

“Prongs…” Sirius reached out and softly held James’s arm.

“I just can’t see how we can all get through this. I just want it to be like the old days… You-Know-Who was always there, but we were safe in Hogwarts. It just suddenly got so much worse…”

“I know.” Sirius’s eyes were glittering now. Harry watched him, praying this was a long memory. He wanted to watch Sirius and his father together like this forever. To see them both at such a point of vulnerability and closeness… Something made Harry feel as if he was a part of them.

“I can’t tell you, padfoot…I can’t tell you how much it means to me…to us… what you’ve done.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“To become our secret-Keeper…” James suddenly stopped speaking, as if something was blocking his throat. It took a few seconds for him to carry on. “I know what it must mean to you…”

“I know you would do the same for me.”

“In an instant.” James laid a hand on the arm that Sirius had stretched out.

“Prongs…I’m so worried the whole time about this all. I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while…” He drew his arm back and sighed. “You-Know-Who knows about me. We know there is a spy somewhere among us. We know He knows you are nearby, and we all are fairly sure he knows you are protected by the Fidelius charm.” Sirius paused and dabbed quickly at his right eye. “He’ll know it’s me, Prongs. He’ll know, and I’m just so scared.”

“Padfoot…”

“Not that I’ll tell him. I would never… I’d die first.” He paused. Harry felt his throat tighten. The happiness he had been feeling minutes earlier was ebbing away. He did not want to see his father or Sirius like this, talking about their deaths as if it was the weather. “But he has methods. He has his spells, his charms… He could so easily get it out of me, James. I don’t think…” He looked away for a moment. “I’m not the right person to hold your secret.”

“Sirius!” James sounded shocked. “You fool! I wouldn’t trust anyone else!”

“You should use Dumbledore. He’s a hundred times more powerful than me. He could never give you away.”

“No… If Dumbledore was to be caught, our cause would be lost. He’s too important to our side…”

“Not as important as Harry.” Sirius leaned back

“No.” James shook his head firmly. “I’m keeping you.”

“James!” Sirius shouted as he sat up straight. “Don’t be so damned stupid!” He thumped his fist angrily on the table. Harry bit his lip in pain. All this work that had been done to keep him – Harry – Safe. And none of it had worked. In the end, his parents had been killed anyway. Harry took a few steps so he was at the table, inches from Sirius and his father. He watched as Sirius shouted, his renowned temper staying true to its reputation. “He knows who I am! He’ll come and get me, Prongs, and soon. All the information says so! Remember how they thought he’s come after me last week? What would have happened if I hadn’t been visiting Dumbledore in Hogwarts that day? He might even come tonight. At the latest, in a week. You must change now. Please, Prongs.” His voice dropped. “For Harry. For Lily.” There was silence for what seemed like an eternity. Harry watched as his father looked at Sirius, obviously struggling to hold himself together. It almost broke Harry’s heart. Yet… seeing his father so close…and Sirius…

“Who do you suggest?” James’s voice was low but steady.

“James… you can’t use Remus.” There was silence again. “I know that…”

“Everyone thinks it’s him.” James sounded suddenly angry. Harry almost yelled at them to choose Lupin… then they would be safe. But he knew it was fruitless.

“Who else could it be?”

“I trust him, Sirius.”

“Dumbledore would never, ever… he’s not even an option. Snape…well, I’d say it was him if there was any chance he knew about me. But how can he? And wormtail…well. Can you imagine him next to the evil overlord?”

Dammit!” James exclaimed. He lowered his forehead into his hands. “I trust Remus.”

“I don’t.”

“I know. But then…”

“He says he doesn’t trust me, I know, you’ve told me.” Sirius looked at the ceiling. Harry was struck by how handsome he was in the shadows. It was soul-wrenching to know what his face would turn into in less than fifteen years. “But then, if it is Him who’s the spy, then he wouldn’t, would he?”

“I’ll use Mad-eye. He would never…”

“Use Peter, James.”  Sirius spoke with a sharp, strict tone that gave Harry the impression that he had been thinking about this for a long while.

“Wormtail?”

“You-Know-Who would never think of using him!” A small grin had appeared on his face. “And let’s face it, who can blame him?”

“I’m not saying I don’t like Peter, but…”

“James, you must. For your family. He is one of the only people who is near-impossibly a spy. Everyone else we know has the guts to do this, and perhaps more guts than loyalty.”

“Guts? I call it cowardice.” He snarled. There was silence for a few seconds, before Sirius broke it.

“Well? Do you agree? About Peter?” He asked. The words hung in the air. Harry laid his hand on the table. This was the moment that his father would fate his and his wife’s lives. No wonder Sirius had chosen this memory. Harry could imagine him reliving this moment over and over, as he condemned his best friend to death, as it were.

“Okay.” James sighed. “Okay. I’ll do the Fidelius charm in the morning.” He didn’t sound entirely convinced.

“Thank you, prongs.” Sirius’s mouth broke into a beaming smile. “Thank you so much.” James did not smile back. For the first time in weeks, Harry was straining not to break down.

“How can this work?” James shook his head, his eyes shining again. “How can we all get through this, padfoot? I can’t think how all of us will still be alive in even a few weeks!”

“Don’t think like that.”

“How can I not?” James through out his hands in frustration. “It isn’t your Son and wife who are in such danger! How can you understand?” His voice shattered mid-sentence. Harry felt a sensation like someone ripping his insides out. His vision was blurred. Something unbearably heavy was resting on the base of each eye…

“Oh, Prongs…” Sirius shook his head.

“How can you understand what it’s like for us?” James stood up in anger, tears coursing down his cheeks. “Every waking hour either planning how to keep away from that piece of filth, or else worrying if he’s about to burst through our door… All because of a damn prophecy!” He was yelling so his voice echoed in the house. A distant wailing filled the following silence, followed by creaking above them and soothing noises, like a mother coddling her child. Harry realised it was him crying, and his mother comforting him… It was so strange, yet so heartbreaking. Sirius stood up too, as James turned his head upwards. “I can’t understand it…” James looked back down at Sirius. “How is this fair? Why is this happening…?” He broke off and covered his whole face with his hands, his shoulders shaking silently. In less than a second. Sirius took two steps towards James and embraced him.

“I can’t promise everyone will be fine.” Sirius spoke, his eyes sparkling like a lake. “But this will pass. It has to pass. And I just know Harry and Lily will get through this.” He seemed to be talking to himself rather than the man soundlessly weeping on his shoulder. Harry watched them, mesmorised, listening to his own crying dying away… Suddenly all the details started slipping. Taking a deep breath, Harry wiped at his eyes. As he opened them, he almost jumped with shock.

He was outside 4, Privet Drive.

 

 

Harry looked round, desperate to see whose memory this was. There was nobody around. Suddenly, a movement caught his eye. Next to the bushes outside the front door was a small, dark owl. Confused. Harry walked up to the creature. Something didn’t seem quite right about it. Its stature was a little hunched, its wing feathers a little too flowing, and the feathers around its head and neck were silver. A small white tuft of hair grew under its chin, and then it came to Harry in a flash… it was Dumbledore! Of course, he was such a powerful wizard, there was no doubt he could not spontaneously turn into an owl if he so wished. Still a little shocked from the previous memory, Harry felt his brain work slower than it would usually. Without warning, Harry heard a small noise in the direction of his feet. Glancing down, he saw a basket holding a bundle of towels on the doorstep. Even more confused, Harry looked around him. The bushy trees in the front garden that had grown sixteen years later were now mere seedlings. The car in the driveway was older and the window ledges had crumbling paint. It was quite light; Harry guessed it was around eight in the morning, although it was quite warm. But why was Dumbledore here now? He didn’t even know when this was … It could have been last week for all he knew, if it wasn’t for the lack of trees.

                Hearing the noise again, Harry bent down to have a closer look at the basket. To his horror, he found someone else looking back. His heart skipped a beat in shock, before he realised it was him. Two bright green eyes looked up at him. The baby had a crowning glory of masses of Black ruffled hair. It could almost be a beautiful baby if it wasn’t for the cut on his forehead. Instinctively, Harry touched his own scar, trembling. He was looking at himself, and he had the strangest feeling the baby could see him, too.

“Weird…” Harry muttered. Absorbed by baby Harry’s tiny hand movements and snuffling noises, Harry got the fright of his life as the door in front of him opened. Jumping back, Harry let out a gasp as he saw a younger Aunt Petunia clutching two empty milk bottles. As her blue eyes looked down, she screamed as she saw Harry, before slapping her hand over her mouth, dropping the milk bottles so they smashed on the floor.

VERNON!” She shrieked. Harry quickly glanced at the owl. Before his eyes, it turned into a butterfly, with beautiful purple wings. It flew, gracefully and hypnotically into the house, coming to rest on the banister. Dumbledore was unnoticed by Aunt Petunia, who was breathing very fast, her eyes fixed on the baby.

“What is it, dear?” Harry saw Uncle Vernon emerge out the doorway, looking very confused as he noticed the basket. “What is that?”

“Oh, Vernon…” Petunia bent down and lifted the basket up. “Oh look…” She sounded terrified. “What are we… oh Lily, what has she done…” Petunia walked back inside. Harry followed her, narrowly missing the shutting door.

“Er…Petunia, my dear?” Vernon spoke again. “What is that?”

“It’s… It’s a baby.” She set the basket on the hall table, staring at the youngster.

“I’m sorry?” Vernon looked as if he had swallowed a pint of stinksap. Harry watched as Petunia fished out a piece of thick yellow parchment, covered in dark green scribbled writing.

“Stay here, Vernon, I just…” Not bothering to finish her sentence, she walked into the living room, locking the door behind her, Harry following in her footsteps. Petunia sank into the sofa and started reading the note. Harry looked over her shoulder, reading it too.

 

To Petunia Dursley, of 4, Privet Drive,

 

It is difficult to know how to begin this letter. I beg you to forgive me if I do not express myself as eloquently as I would like, for this is very hard.

  I should begin by asking you not to panic or be upset by young Harry. I fear that you may not take to him at first sight, but do, please, read on to find why your nephew is on your doorstep.

  I have been a very close friend of Lily Potter, even when she was Lily Evans. I do believe I knew her better than many, except her husband and several other close friends. I therefore feel it is my duty to pass on this terrible news, in addition to several other vital reasons, which I shall explain later.

  You may or may not be aware that a terrible dark wizard has been terrorising our - your sister’s – world for thirteen years. He is a ruthless killer, who has brought fear to every witch and wizard in the country, even in the rest of the world.

  Due to many complex reasons which I hesitate to explain, this dark wizard, known as Voldemort, has been after your nephew since before his birth. The chase for Harry came to a head last night.

  It is with a heavy heart I must tell you that Voldemort found your sister and her family in her home. He used a terrible curse, first on your brother-in-law, and then your sister. Tragically, the curse worked.

  I am sorry to tell you Lily is dead.

Petunia gasped as Harry read the sentence. He guessed she had just read it too. She covered her mouth and breathed deeply. Harry had never considered Petunia might have been affected by her sister’s death. He was astonished to see tears in his Aunt’s eyes. The sight made him feel, for the first time, sorry for Petunia. She really had been upset. He continued reading as her eyes carried on darting across the page.

 The curse also succeeded on her husband. I realise this must be very difficult for you.

  I am aware of the relationship you and your sister shared, which is to say, not a particularly close one.

  I do know that for many years you have resented and hated your sister, although I am certain her death has affected you. It is well known, after all, that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.

  Voldemort also performed the curse on your sister’s son. However, the curse did not work. Voldemorts fearsome powers rebounded, destroying him.

  He has now disappeared, although I am sure he is not gone forever. However, Harry is still in great danger from him. Voldemort will be after Harry until one or the other dies. His powers are gone now, but in the future, they are very likely to return. His powers are so mighty that few spells can protect those whom Voldemort wishes to harm.

  The only spell which can protect Harry is an ancient magic. It is love. It is only love that can save your nephew, and, in the long term, humanity. For if Harry is killed, Voldemort cannot be, and his reign of terror will rise again, never to be ceased. Please, believe me when I say that Voldemort will not stop at killing magic people, but he will spread his wings to include non-magic people. I am certain that is voldemort rises, the world will fill with evil and terror.

  Lily Potter died to save her son’s life. There is an ancient spell which can protect those who have had others die for them. The only person who can perform this spell is you.

“No…” Petunia shook her head, a tear spilling from her eye. Harry was amazed by her reaction. He could hear his uncle hammering on the door, but Petunia ignored him. He realised his own heart was hammering like Vernon’s pounding. Petunia… His aunt… cared about her sister? It was mind-boggling.

By taking in your nephew and bringing him up in your house, you will ensure his safety. As long as he can call wherever his mother’s blood is home, then he is safe.

  Harry Potter will be famous in the wizarding community for many years to come. I think it is vital that you understand this, and what Harry Potter stands for.

  Please throw away your past feelings for your sister, and do not let Harry grow up to feel about his parents as you do. I am sure you are the best judge as to when to let him know the truth, although it must not be long, Petunia. He will find out in the end.

  Let me conclude by reminding you that if you do not take in Harry, you could well be condemning mankind all over the planet. Choose wisely.

  Many people send their condolences. The Potter’s were immensely popular people.

I wish you much sympathy.

Yours Sincerely,

Albus Dumbledore

Headmaster of Hogwarts, Order of Merlin, First Class and supreme Mugwump.

 

Petunia instantly screwed the letter up in her hand. Inhaling heavily, she turned and opened the door.

“PETUNIA!” Vernon roared. Harry jumped. “WHAT IN BLAZES IS GOING ON?” Baby Harry burst into tears.

“Lily is dead.” Petunia’s voice shook. “We have to look after Harry.”

“What? Lily… your sister?” He didn’t sound remotely upset.

“Yes. And we have to look after my nephew.”

“Till when? Who’s collecting him?”

“No one!” Petunia snapped, walking over to the baby. “I mean we have to bring him up.”

“Bring…I…but…” His face was very white. Harry noticed the butterfly flutter its wings slightly.

“It’s complicated, Vernon.” She whispered. She was looking hard at the screaming child.

“But… is he, you know. One of them?”

“Yes.”

“But I thought you didn’t… approve…”

Vernon, Lily and I did not get on because she was always stealing our parent’s notice from me. We did not get on because she was a freak. However… All the reasons why we did not have a … sisterly relationship only started after she went to that freak school.” Petunia looked at her husband. “But for eleven years, she was my younger sister. For eleven years, we got on very well. And she is… was my sister, after all.” She looked back at young Harry, who was starting to stop his bawling. “Blood is thicker than water.”

“But… Dudley…”

“Will have to get used to him.” She sighed, and suddenly her voice changed into a stern, decisive tone. “Make no mistake, Vernon. I will not bring this boy up in the way he has been so far. I will stamp it out of him. It destroyed what I had with lily, and I will not have it under my roof. We shall tell him Lily and that dreadful boy was killed in a car crash whilst drunk.” Harry’s brief compassion for Petunia disappeared, and was replaced with bubbling hatred. How dare she talk like this? He felt he would have hit her if she would have been tangible.

“I don’t know, Petunia…”

“I do, Vernon. I have decided.” She sighed again. “The plasters are under the sink. Could you get one for me?”

“Why?”

“He has a cut. On his head.”

“Listen… Petunia… what happened to Lily?”

“Murdered.” Her voice was brisk. “By a dark wizard called Voldemort.”

“Oh…” He sounded taken aback. “Petunia, what about Dudley? He’ll be up in an hour.”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” She snapped. “Now, please, just get me the plasters.”

“But…oh, fine.” Harry watched as Vernon waddled into the kitchen. Aunt Petunia looked into Harry’s eyes and moaned.

“Oh Lily… you stupid girl… Look what you’ve done…” She murmured. Harry tore his eyes away from her and noticed the purple butterfly soar away. Everything in front of him slipped away, the light fading…

 

 

Harry blinked. It was very dark. A thought suddenly struck him that he would never get out the pensieve. After all, every time he had been in one, someone had pulled him out, and it was so late, and no one knew where he was… Suddenly seized by terror, Harry glanced round, but something pushed the fear out his mind. He was in what looked like a small village street. The houses were small, built of black timber and white plaster. The roofs were thatch, lit by stars, but no moon. Squinting in the dark, Harry became aware of footsteps. There was something weird about this place, something strangely familiar… He felt someone push past him – almost through him – and hurry along down the street, panting. Harry felt himself get pulled along. He could smell something acrid in the air, almost tasting the pungent stink. The cloak on the person in front billowed in the bracing wind. Harry thought he could hear strangled yells coming from him.

  They turned into a wider street, where the cottages were larger and spaced out. They passed a village shop, where Harry could have sworn he saw skeletons and hags in the window. He realised a moment later they must have been Halloween costumes. Turning back to the street, Harry followed as the man flew down a steep hill, panting louder than ever. Harry was not out of breath – he had a strong suspicion in dreams you never really moved, only felt like you did, like in a real memory. Otherwise, he reasoned, he would be out of breath by now. They passed another three houses, each about seventy feet from each other. The smell was even stronger now. Harry’s eyes had adjusted to the dark, and he thought he saw white smoke about two hundred feet away.

“No…no…” The man muttered as he ran. Harry recognised the voice. He knew he was in Lupin’s memory. Before Harry knew it, they had veered round a hill and arrived at a massive pile of debris and rubble. What was this?

“DUMBLEDORE!” Lupin yelled. Harry looked where Lupin was staring at and, indeed, there was Albus Dumbledore, every bit as wise-looking and imposing as ever. “I only just heard… I was in Birmingham visiting Kingsley… What happened?” He stopped a few feet from Dumbledore, who was standing at the edge of the remains.

“Remus, please calm down. I realise you have suffered a great shock, but…”

“Albus… Please tell me it isn’t true!” Lupin sounded like he was being strangled. Dumbledore sighed and waved his hand. “Illustrus Orbidium.” He murmured. A pale white ball of light hovered beside him, casting a glow around them. Harry looked round him, understanding creeping into him, filling him with dread. He wanted this memory to end; he couldn’t stand it to go on for any longer…

“Remus, don’t torture yourself. I know you would not benefit from hearing again what you already know.”

“I…but it can’t be… James and Lily…” Lupin trailed off. “And I wasn’t here… Oh no, no, no…” He ran his hands through his short, light brown hair. “Oh, Albus… for a year we’ve been trying to stop this…”

“I know, Remus.” Dumbledore sounded as though he was in great pain.

“And Harry? He is safe?”

“Yes. I have left him with his nearest relatives.”

“Good.” Lupin looked around. “When did it happen?”

“It was discovered a few hours ago. Harry was taken about twenty minutes ago.”

“But then… James and Lily… they’re still in here?”

“Remus…”

“Under all this?” Lupin spun round and looked over the wreckage.

“Remus, please, it will not help…” Dumbledore’s desperate words did not help. Harry watched as Lupin pulled out his wand, his face shining in the gentle light.

“I’ll get them out of here, I swear on my life… they’ll be fine, they must be!”

“No, Remus…”

“It’s James! James, Albus, and Lily! How could they die?” His voice cracked. “Locomotor bricks!” He flicked his wand, and suddenly hundreds of large bricks flew out of the pile of flotsam and jetsam into a neat pile a few feet away. Dust clouded up around them in a rumble of noise. Harry could hear Dumbledore shouting. The dust stung his eyes, drying his mouth out. After a few seconds, the terrifying noise and dust disappeared. Harry could hear Remus gasping as he held back sobs.

“Remus! Stop! They are gone, you cannot help them!”

“You know who did this?” Lupin screamed. “SIRIUS BLACK! HE WAS THEIR SECRET KEEPER!”

“Remus…”

“HIS BEST FRIEND…HIS BROTHER, ALBUS!” Lupin cried.

“We do not know…”

“I thought… Sirius… How can this have happened…?” He trailed off and turned back to the rubble. “James…” He stopped and ran over the rubble, tripping as he went. Harry followed, all too aware of what he was about to see. He wanted to shut his eyes, but it was too late… Lupin fell to his knees in front of Harry. He was frozen, staring transfixed at whatever he was looking at. Harry knew what it was. He felt his legs walk in front of Lupin. The shock of what he saw stole his breath from his lungs. The man Harry had been looking at not an hour ago was lying in front of him. He wore muggle clothes – he must have needed to look as inconspicuous as possible. His face was white with dust, his hair like grass in a desert. Broken glasses frames lay a few feet away, but there was no mark. Harry realised he hadn’t breathed for a while and let out a painful gasp. His father’s dead face was hideously normal. There was no blood, no hint that he was dead. He lay on his back, as if he had fallen or tripped. Harry was mesmerised. He could not rip his gaze away.

“Dad…” a sound emerged from his mouth, quiet and low. The noise brought stinging tears to Harry’s eyes. He had never felt pain like this, apart from when Sirius had died.

“Remus…” Dumbledore’s voice was as calm as it had been after Sirius had been killed. Harry looked at him, biting his lip, praying for this memory to end. He couldn’t stand it anymore, it hurt too much, far too much He watched Dumbledore lay a hand on Lupin’s shoulder. As soon as his fingers brushed Lupin’s clothes, Lupin shot out an arm and batted his hand away.

“GET OFF!” He bellowed. “Where’s Lily?”

“Remus, stop, don’t do this to yourself…” He may as well have talked to the giant squid for all the notice Lupin took of him. Harry shut his eyes. He couldn’t see his mother, he wouldn’t look. Why couldn’t this just end? He could feel hot tears push his closed eyelids. Something pushed him forwards, and Harry knew it was the charm of the pensieve keeping him near Lupin. He couldn’t keep his eyes closed any longer. Throwing them open, he found himself looking at a human form lying on her side, wearing black trousers and a jumper. Red hair covered her face. Harry gasped through the pressure in his throat. He had not been so near to tears since Sirius’s death. He felt like he had to dry heave. He felt awful. Lupin reached out and pushed the red hair out the way. Her hair had protected her from the dust. Harry was struck by how beautiful she looked, even when the life in her had gone. A young girl, barely twenty was dead before him, but she looked like she was just asleep. He noticed a small lightning-shaped scar on her cheek. It must have been covered by dirt on his father. Looking away from her hypnotic face, he heard Lupin scrabble to his feet and turn to Dumbledore.

“It was Sirius.” He panted. “I’ll kill him. He did this.”

“Remus, do not…”

“I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SAY, DAMMIT!” Lupin threw a piece of rock in his hand so hard in shattered at Harry’s feet. “I’LL KILL HIM! JAMES IS DEAD! LILY IS DEAD!” He sobbed, screaming. Harry was suddenly aware his own face was wet, his own chest trying hard to push out the heavy groans of misery. He couldn’t look behind him; he couldn’t look at the faces of his parents. It made him ill and filled him with agony.

“Harry?” A voice next to him shocked him to the core. He spun round and saw an older Lupin next to him. Harry couldn’t speak. “You shouldn’t be here.” He blinked sadly. Harry tried to apologise, but he knew that if he opened his mouth, every miserable feeling would come pouring out in a torrent of cries. “Come, I’ll get you out.” Lupin gently placed a hand under Harry’s arm. Everything turned black, and Harry felt like he had just performed a somersault.

He was back in the cabinet room, gasping and panting. He looked hard at lupin, desperate to convey what he was feeling. Guilt, sadness, inadequacy, helplessness, embarrassment and burning pain.

“I’m guessing you have a lot to talk about.” Lupin smiled in a sadly knowing way. “Come in here.” He gestured at the sitting room. “I’ve got a lot to say to you.”

 

 

Harry followed Lupin into the massive sitting room.

“Sit, please.” Lupin waved a hand at one of the squashy armchairs. Harry climbed into it and curled up, leaning against thee back of the chair. It was so cold. Lupin pointed his wand at the fireplace. A roaring yellow fire instantly lit up, warming the room instantly.

“There we are.” Lupin placed his wand in his pocket. Harry noticed he was wearing a robe over pyjamas and he suddenly wondered what on earth Lupin was doing in the pensieve so early in the morning. He decided against asking, letting the heaviness in his chest run away before speaking.

“The Pensieve of the Order of the Phoenix.” Lupin sighed, seating himself in the armchair next to Harry’s. “You have no idea just how useful it’s been. We’ve all been able to concentrate on the task at hand without these thoughts in our minds.” He was looking straight at Harry, who didn’t say anything. “We’ve had it a while now. There’ must be hundreds of thoughts in there. Probably mostly Sirius’s, actually. He must have put a few in while he was staying here during the year. Doesn’t look like he had much else to do.” Lupin looked pointedly around him. Harry could tell he was talking for the sake of it, trying to steer round to the pensieve.

“I’m really sorry.” Harry spoke quietly and hoarsely.

“Sorry? What for?” Lupin raised an eyebrow.

“I… I shouldn’t have looked in it.” He couldn’t speak a lot at one time. His lungs didn’t seem to be able to hold as much air as usual.

“Don’t apologise.” Lupin smiled. “I certainly believe that any punishment you may have deserved has been dished out in vast quantities.” He looked sad again. Harry felt so sorry for him it hurt.

“I wasn’t in it for long.” Harry tried to justify what he had done. “Only four memories…”

“Harry, I certainly have no objection to you trying to justify it, but I believe it will be a waste of your breath and our time. I am not remotely angry with you. Not at all. But I do think that you might want to, perhaps… talk about it.”

“No.” Harry shook his head. “I can’t… I don’t want to. Not now.” To his surprise, Lupin laughed.

“When I first met you in Hogwarts, Harry, I was amazed at how… mature you were. I’d never met anyone quite like you. So very much like your father when he was five years older than you.” He paused. Harry looked at the material of the armchair. He hated it when people started talking so deeply to him. “You were thirteen, yet you had a mind like a wizard much older.” He sighed. “I must admit, you scared me a bit.” Harry didn’t know what he was supposed to answer. “So much like James.”

“I’m nothing like my father.” Harry spoke bitterly, not caring if he hurt Lupin’s feelings. He looked back up at him. “I saw what he did, how he acted. He wasn’t exactly the nicest person in the country, was he? He was a bully and a self-absorbed…”

“Harry, you saw your father through Professor Snape’s eyes. Please don’t judge him on that.”

“Everyone tells me I’m like him, but I’m not!” He didn’t move his gaze from Lupin’s. “I’m not him, and I never will be.”

“No, you’re right. I apologise.” Lupin sounded genuine. “You are your own person.”

“No-one else understands that.” Harry wiped his face, still wet from Lupin’s memory. He felt so warm outside, yet so cold and desolate inside.

“Harry, I appreciate that you want to keep your feelings to yourself.”

“Yes.”

“I understand. However… if you would like me to answer any questions you have about whatever you saw in there, I’ll try my best to answer them.”

“Why were you in there, anyway?” Harry asked, hoping he didn’t sound too rude. “In that last one?”

“I… I often find it difficult to sleep in this place.” Lupin looked away. “I decided to add a memory to the pensieve, and saw you in there.”

“Oh.” Harry nodded. Why wouldn’t the pain in him go away?

“Anything else?”

“I… listen; please don’t say any of this to anyone.”

“Of course. That goes without saying.” He grinned, making him look ten years younger.

“Did you know about… about Snape and my mum?”

“Ah.” Lupin leaned back. “Dear me. I cannot say too much, Harry. I would not give away Severus’s secrets. If he chooses to divulge them, that is his business. However, I would advise you not to worry about any feelings your mother felt. She rejected Severus many times, always faithful to you and to James.”

“Is that why he hates me?”

“In addition to the reason that he hated your father. Yes, I do believe so. There was never really a chance he would grow to a like any child of Lily’s that wasn’t his.”

“Oh.” Harry swallowed hard. His throat seemed to close up a bit again. “Professor… I also saw a memory of…” He couldn’t say the name.

“Sirius?” Lupin volunteered. “You’ve got to learn to say it, Harry. Otherwise you’ll never get over it.” He smiled miserably. Harry felt sick. He hadn’t spoken Sirius’s name since he had exited Dumbledore’s office after his death, except for in his dreams.

“Yeah… I think it was in my old house.”

“In Godric’s Hollow?” Lupin sounded concerned.

“I think so… anyway, my Dad was really upset because of everything happening, and that was when…when…Sirius told him to change his secret keeper to Peter Pettigrew.” Harry breathed. He felt a sensation like breaking ice. The warmth around him seemed to enter him. It was pleasingly strange.

“Oh?”

“But my Dad got really angry… and…and Sirius told him not to use you, because he thought you were the spy.” He held his breath. Lupin nodded and looked away for a moment.

“I know how he felt.”

“But… but my dad said that he trusted you. He said that he wanted to use you more than Pettigrew.”

“Really?” Lupin smiled again. “I never knew. Sirius never told me…I suppose he felt guilty.” He smiled wider. “Thank you for telling me Harry. You have no idea how that makes me feel.” His eyes seemed to grow brighter. Harry felt good for making Lupin look so much more cheerful.

“Professor… Can I ask… if you don’t want to answer… how did you feel when you realised S…Sirius must have betrayed them?” He looked hard into Lupin’s eyes as the happiness drained away. “If you don’t want to answer, don’t…” He added quickly, feeling awful for asking such a stupid, personal question.

“No, it’s Okay. I’m trying to think how you could possibly understand. I’ll try to be brief. Interrupt me if I bore you.

  When us four were at school, it was unofficial that James was the ringleader. Sirius was his best friend in the world. I was, as you may have guessed, the good guy, the one who never wanted to do all the stuff they wanted to do. Peter…well. He just kind of attached himself to us. He seemed like a nice kid though, and when you’re young, what else matters? Anyway, it was really me, James and Sirius who were such good friends. And James and Sirius… I’ve never encountered friendship like it. It was indescribable. The only thing I’ve ever seen anywhere near as close as that is the friendship between you and Mr Wealsey.”

“Ron and me?” Harry was amazed.

“Tell me, Harry, would you become a secret-keeper for Ron, even if you knew you were putting your life in danger?”

“Yes.” Harry answered without hesitation.

“You’d die for him? And you think he would die for you?”

“I… I suppose so.” Harry felt dizzy. He had never considered the concept of Ron dying for him or vice versa.

“Then that’s special. Don’t lose it.” Lupin nodded. “And what about him and Hermione, let’s say. Do you think they would, too?”

“Well…they do argue a lot.” Harry reasoned. “But yeah. Yeah, I think so.” He felt tears spring into his eyes. He felt angry with himself. What was wrong with him? Was he turning into one of those people he had always hated – the type who wallow in self-pity until they drown in their selfishness?

“Well, imagine this.” Harry knew Lupin had noticed his emotion, but pretending not to. “Imagine that, heaven forbid, Hermione had been hurt, or killed. And that Ron had done it. Imagine that.”

“I can’t.”

“Exactly.” Lupin smiled. “Nor could I. I couldn’t believe it for a long while. And we had been friends for so, so long. That’s how I felt.” He looked bitter. “And then I wasted all those years, hating Sirius when I should have been hating Peter. Wasted time. It’s the worst thing to waste. One can always get back wasted money, food or materials. But wasted time…” He closed his eyes for a few seconds. “We were all so close. We had so many memories.” His eyes were glimmering. “Always together. And now James is dead, Sirius is dead, and Peter… Peter is much worse than dead. I wish he had died.” He breathed deeply. “More than anything.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“I know. But you don’t have to be.” He looked at Harry in such a way; he could have been his son. “Harry, you know as well as I do that Voldemort is back. But… if any person in the world is capable of getting rid of him, it’s you.”

“Just as well.” Harry felt himself get angry again. He tried to keep calm, but couldn’t. “Because if I wasn’t, the world would end.”

“Ah…I see.” Lupin twisted his robe between his fingers. “Dumbledore told you.”

“About the prophecy, yeah.” Harry couldn’t keep his anger in. “Everyone seemed to know but me. Why doesn’t anyone tell me anything?” He cried. “Do you all think I can’t handle it!?”

“Harry…”

“Everyone keeps saying I’ve handled so much, but they can’t even tell me the reason my own parents are dead, or that I’ve either got to kill the darkest wizard ever, or be killed by him!”

“Harry, you must understand that Albus Dumbledore is the greatest wizard alive. Virtually everyone in the Order believes whatever he says has got to be correct, no doubt about it. I wanted to tell you a long time ago. But Dumbledore stopped me. I believed I was doing the right thing. You know I would never want to add any extra pain to what you already had.”

“Yeah.” Harry felt himself calm down. “Yeah, I know that.”

“It was incredible.” Lupin let go of his robes. “I had a conversation with Dumbledore once, about you, just after Sirius died.” He paused. Harry felt a shiver run down his arms and back. “He told me what you had gone through. I didn’t believe him.”

“Don’t.” Harry tried to shut him out. “Please, don’t go all pitying on me. I hate it. I hate it.”

“I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“You didn’t.” Harry felt guilty again for being so rude. “It’s just… I don’t deserve it. I’ve got enough. I don’t want anyone’s pity.”

“Harry, perhaps you’d like to know how others view you, have viewed you and always will view you. It will make life much easier.”

“I don’t.” He wanted to cover his ears.

“Harry, think about it. Your parents were killed when you could barely walk and talk. You were brought up by people who resented you, maybe even hated you. You didn’t experience any real love till you were eleven. Even then, you had to see a teacher you trusted being used by Voldemort to kill you. A year later, you were ignored and hated by a whole community, because you had an …unusual talent of parseltongue. You then had to suffer months of finding out why everyone thought Sirius had betrayed your parents, which nobody told you. And in your fourth year… well. You watched Cedric die, and were very nearly killed yourself. And I daresay your fifth year was near impossible. Haunted by nightmares. Thinking you were responsible for Arthur Weasley. Confused by everything Voldemort was doing to your mind. Being thought insane, yet again, by a whole community. And then your godfather was killed.” He stopped. Harry was cowering. He hated this so much. “Get used to it, Harry. You’re going to get pity your whole life. You’re an incredibly brave person for not sinking into the trap of loving pity.” He finished.

“I really…” Harry choked back the mass in his throat. “I really miss him.”

“I know.”

“I keep wanting to talk to him, you know? I keep forgetting he isn’t there.”

“Oh, Harry…”

“Isn’t there anyway I can talk to him?”

“If there was, everyone would be talking to dead people.” Lupin gave a wry grin.

“He gave me a mirror once. A two-way one. I tried to talk to him but…but he never appeared.” His throat burnt with the memory, as were his eyes. “All I saw was me.” He felt a tear spill down his face. He wiped it away with his sleeve, not feeling at all embarrassed in front of Lupin.

“I remember it. Sirius and your father couldn’t have managed without it, I’m sure. I have no doubt that the loss of an hours joking a week would have done more harm than good to both of them.”

“I’m sorry.” Harry looked at him. Lupin really did look as if he was in pain as he spoke about his old friends.

“It’s not your fault.”

“Sometimes…” Harry swallowed hard again. “I just feel so angry with him.”

“Who? Sirius?” Lupin raised his eyebrows. “What for?”

“For dying.” He looked away again. “For just… leaving me. He was so stupid. He laughed at her. You saw him.” Harry felt his stomach flip over. “He was laughing at her. Was he such an idiot he didn’t know she’d try again?”

“Harry, you know what Sirius was like.”

“But he knew that if he died…if he died that I’d… miss him. But he did it anyway.”

“I don’t think I have to tell you that Sirius had… s streak of, shall we say, confidence.”

“What are you saying?”

“I daresay Sirius thought Bellatrix Lestrange would either miss a second time or else give up. In either case, I’m sure the possibility of really being hit did not enter his mind.”

“But… he knew how powerful she was!”

“I’m sure he thought he had it in him to beat her.” Lupin sighed.

“Are you saying he was too arrogant to…”

“I am merely saying that Sirius had, his whole life, a certain… uniqueness that allowed him to do what others couldn’t. Any person who had that ability would certainly think that they were, perhaps, hardier than others, that…”

“So you’re saying that because Sirius was clever he thought that he was better than everyone else?!” Harry felt incensed. It was one thing when Dumbledore criticised Sirius, but Lupin, who was supposed to be his closest friend…

“I am just saying that it was a factor…”

“You’re worse than Dumbledore!” Harry rose to his feet in an instant. “You were meant to be his best friend… how can you say that? After everything he did…”

“Harry, please calm down…”

“His whole life people have been saying that… don’t you see how brave he was?”

“I know that. Sirius was the bravest…”

“And how much he had been through? You can’t say that…”

“Harry, please!” Lupin spoke quietly but firmly. “Sit down.” His voice was so kind and soothing that Harry did so, trying to force himself to calm down. “Sirius had been through a tremendous amount. He also took it so well, and I am well aware of how he was rewarded… with a long stint in Azkaban.”

“But…”

“There is a common feeling that affects many people after they lose someone they care about.” Lupin paused. “They tend to twist their former perception of the person.”

“No. No… I never… I always thought Sirius was…”

“You never thought of Sirius as reckless?” Lupin smiled knowingly. “Someone who took stupid risks? Someone who occasionally put his own feelings before others?”

“That isn’t true.” Harry was shaking with anger.

“Harry, those particular components of his personality were very, very minor, and only surfaced when Sirius was feeling particularly down or alone. I believe it was his way of coping with the tougher things life through at him.” There was silence for a moment. Harry breathed deeply.

“I miss him so much.” He said again. It was as if he could not say it enough times.

“He’d be so proud of you.” Lupin spoke, his voice shaking slightly. “Him and your parents.” He broke off.

“He died guilty.” Harry barely whispered the words that were hurting him the most.

“What?”

“We never got to clear his name.” Harry explained, avoiding Lupin’s stare.

“No.” Lupin sounded as if he was suppressing some inner torment. “We didn’t. But… the world will know his innocence, Harry. They’ll have to.”

“Why?”

“Because Dumbledore knows it. And sooner or later, everything professor Dumbledore knows comes so light and is universally accepted.”

“That could take years.” Harry rubbed his hands together, despite the heat from the fire.

“Yes, it could.” Lupin agreed. “But I doubt it. Sirius will be declared a hero one day Harry.” His voice filled with a kind of fierce determination. “I’ll die before I let Sirius’s name be known as mud.” There was silence for a few moments before Lupin spoke again. “Harry, you’ll be near dead tomorrow. You must go back to bed.”

“I know.” Harry stood up. He had no intention of sleeping. He just wanted to be alone again. Alone with his own thoughts, where he could miss and mourn Sirius alone.

“Harry… I have something for you.”

“For me?” He couldn’t think of anything Lupin would own that would be of any value to him.

“Yeah.” He fished around in the inside pockets of his robes before taking out a small envelope and handing it to Harry. “I’ve seen it so many times. I know it off by heart. And I think you’d appreciate more than me now.”

“Thank you.” He smiled.

“Please, don’t thank me.” He sat back down. Harry looked at him for a moment, his features thrust into flickering shadow by the flames.

“Are you coming?”

“No.” Lupin didn’t look at him. “I’ll…I’ll go later.” His voice was heavy with sadness. He was staring at the fire, seeming to be lost in his own thought.

 

 

Harry closed the door quietly to his bedroom, Ron was quietly snoring, but they sounded real. But that, thought Harry, could be because he’s had some practice. Smiling to himself through his fading tears, Harry climbed onto his bed and opened the envelope. A photograph fell onto the twisted duvet. Eager, Harry picked the photo up and looked to see what it was.

  His father was standing outside a house, which Harry guessed was his own. He held a baby, who Harry recognised as himself from the pensieve. He was smiling down at his son, who was grasping his hand and looking up at the man next to him.

  Sirius stood on his father’s right, about half a foot taller, handsome as he was in all his older photos. He was looking down at his godson, caressing his cheek with the back of his hand. Lupin was on his father’s other side, an arm round his father, the other hand being grasped by Harry’s free one. It was one of the most heart-breaking yet beautiful pictures Harry had ever seen. Just by looking at the photo, you could tell how much the three men cared about each other. The way they were all smiling down at him made Harry’s eyes go wet again. Harry ran his finger over Sirius’s photographic face, which smiled and laughed happily. He could see how Lupin always carried it with him. Harry looked at the picture for a long time before placing it on his bedside table and lying down. For some reason, his memory roved back to what had happened in Dumbledore’s office. He had been so angry at the hand life at dealt him, and at whoever had dealt the cards. He had been pushed over the edge by sheer hopelessness and the stabbing pain of loss. Yet Dumbledore had stayed calm. That, thought Harry, was real bravery. More bravery than he had shown. He remembered as he stared at the dark ceiling, snuggled under the covers, how that single tear had left Dumbledore’s eye. He could hear Dumbledore as if he was right next to him now.

 

“You have heard everything I’ve had to say. I am sure you do not want the company of a sad old man.” He smiled. “You may go.” He waved his wand, and the door lock gave a soft click. Harry watched as Dumbledore stood and turned away, his hands behind his back. Struggling to find the strength in his legs to stand, Harry walked, trance-like towards the door. Sirius is dead, Sirius is dead… It was all he could think about. He managed to leave the office and close the door, before feeling an urgent, painful need to be alone. He soared across the school until he reached his dormitory, ignoring Dean and Seamus’s greeting in the common room enquiring about His, Ron’s and Neville’s nocturnal disappearance. The minute he had closed his dormitory door, he fell against the door panting, gasping, and trying so hard not to give in to what he was feeling. But he couldn’t. He walked towards his bed, trembling, his chest heaving. Suddenly, he couldn’t stand anymore. He collapsed into his four-poster bed and, for the first time in his almost sixteen-year life, broke down into desperate, pleading crying, sobbing Sirius’s helplessly name into the pillow, staining the sheets with tears. He was dead. Sirius, the nicest, most affectionate yet mentally abused man in the world. How could he be dead? It was too painful, far too painful. He had lain and cried for what seemed like forever, drawing the curtains around him and sobbing until he had no breath left in him.

 

Harry sighed as he remembered the first time he had felt so helplessly miserable. There had been a constant pain in him for a long while after Sirius’s death. However, as he laid and thought about how fondly Lupin spoke of him, and of the photo, and of the only hug Sirius had given him, he felt the pain ebb slightly.

The covers were warm.

He was in the death Chamber again. No, no…not again. Not this dream again. He was sick of it. He felt himself draw towards the black veil. Following the motions as he had done many times, he yanked the material away. He couldn’t take this monotony any more. He couldn’t face any more nightly repetitions of this hacking pain.

There was that frosted peach light again, and out stepped Sirius.

Harry gasped.

It was not Sirius as he had known him. His face was young and good-looking. He looked about the age he truly was, instead of a thirty-five year old who wore the expressions of an empty, senile old man. He was smiling broadly, his eyes twinkling with happiness.

“Sirius?” The word fell out of Harry’s mouth.

“Harry!” Sirius laughed. “Alright mate?”

“But… this isn’t supposed to happen!”

“Don’t be stupid!” Sirius chortled. “What are you talking about? What’s wrong? Nothing’s changed!” Harry noticed he had short hair. Oh, this hurt so much. He knew this was a dream. He knew it would end soon.

“I missed you so much.” Harry smiled through his tight windpipe. He felt his eyes tear.

“I never left you!” Sirius knelt in front of him. “I was always right here! All you had to do was call my name!”

“I did!” Harry swallowed. “Sirius don’t go…please….” He knew it was useless. He’d disappear in a minute.

“I’m not going anywhere, Harry mate.” Sirius grinned. “See? I’m not moving.”

“Don’t go…” Harry couldn’t speak anymore.

“What is it?” Sirius looked concerned.

“Oh Sirius…” Harry blinked furiously.

“Come here…” Sirius pulled him into a tight hug. This couldn’t be a dream. Harry held Sirius back, his arms around his neck. This felt so real. He could feel Sirius’s hands on his back, he could feel his chest rise and fall as he breathed, he could feel the warmth coming from Sirius’s body.

“Sirius…” Harry gasped. This was so painful. So painful. It would all end soon. He squeezed Sirius tighter, hoping this dream would last forever.

“What are you crying for?” He sounded confused and worried.

“I’ve just missed you…”

“Don’t be upset, mate!” Sirius’s voice was growing fainter. “I’m here. I’m staying right next to you.”

Harry snapped his eyes open. He was certain, he was sure he had just heard the last words whispered in his ear. He was aware that he was holding his covers close to him, as if he was embracing them. He couldn’t stop a smile spreading over his face. He didn’t care if those words were real or not.

Sirius would be with him, asleep or awake.

Harry closed his eyes, smiling.

 

//
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