Healing Properties of Roots
Ah, my story. Yet another
addition to the seething mass. Two more strangely-proportioned chapters on the
Unabashed enthusiastic thanks
tor my beta, Lady Narcissa, who is polite yet helpful, to-the-point yet kind.
If I owned Harry Potter, I'd
be far too busy taking a nap in a bathrub filled with money to be dillydallying
around with fanfiction.
Harry stared at the crooked
number 12 at Grimmauld Place. Tonks had shown up at number 4, Privet Drive only
hours ago to escort him to London to spend his last week of holiday catching up
with Order news and visiting the residents. He paused with his hand
outstretched, reaching for the door, and reminded himself silently that Sirius
wasn't on the other side. A small nudge from Tonks prompted him forward and he
turned the doorknob carefully. He stepped inside and heard a heavy silence, as
if there had been speaking only a moment before.
"It's me!" Tonks said
loudly, shutting the door behind her. "I've got him!"
An ear-shattering shriek
answered her. "FILTH! DISGUSTING CREATURES! YOU VILE, HATED BEINGS-"
Tonks jumped in surprise and
groped for her wand. "Gads! I thought they had shut her up!" She
attempted to stun the portrait, only to have Mrs. Black duck behind the side of
the frame. "You beastly woman!" Tonks shouted over the painting's
renewed wails. "Hold still!" She waved her wand again and Mrs. Black
was suddenly motionless, her expression tortured. Harry stepped back as Tonks
grabbed an umbrella from the troll-leg stand and whacked the picture with it.
Mrs. Black, frozen in mid-shriek, stayed still. Tonks hit the painting again
with a satisfying thunk, and the canvas tore down the middle, ripping
Mrs. Black in half. Tonks dropped the umbrella and turned back to Harry,
grinning. "You have no idea how good that felt."
Harry stared at her with
She turned, beckoning him down
the stairs into the kitchen, and he followed silently. A fire burned in the
stone fireplace and a few people sat around the scrubbed kitchen table.
"Harry!" Molly Weasley
leaped out of her chair and embraced him tightly. In spite of himself, Harry
gave a small smile. He looked around the kitchen over Mrs. Weasley's shoulder
and saw that several Order members he knew were there. Mundungus Fletcher
rolled his pipe to the side of his mouth and grinned his welcome, Kingsley Shacklebolt
waved, Mrs. Figg clasped her hands together and looked utterly delighted. Mrs.
Weasley released her hold on him, but gripped his shoulders and began to fuss
about his appearance. "Handsome as ever, dear, but you're terribly thin;
they're feeding you, aren't they?" Harry gave a noncommittal nod and
craned his neck to see who else was there. Professor McGonagall sat next to Mr.
Weasley, who was with Bill. Ron was on the floor by the hearth next to Ginny
(who was covered with what looked like dirt and grease), and Tonks had just sat
down on the kitchen bench by a tired-but-smiling Lupin. "Hello,
Harry," he said hoarsely. Harry smiled weakly.
"Well, we should be
off," Kingsley stood up, stretching. His usually bald head was stubbly and
there were bags under his eyes.
"But… I… don't you-"
Harry watched helplessly as four Order members started towards the door.
"The Weasleys will fill you
in, dear. And Remus and Tonks." Mrs. Figg patted his arm and tiptoed up
McGonagall acknowledged him before heading up the stairs herself. Kingsley
pulled a groggy-eyed Mundungus to the stairway and nodded to the rest of the
mumbled as he was yanked up the stairs.
A short silence followed their
"What has Tonks told you,
then, Harry?" Mr. Weasley asked suddenly, sitting up straighter on the
"Erm-" Harry started.
"Nothing, Arthur," Tonks
said. "Not much chance to chat when you're freezing your bum off on a
"Oh," Mr. Weasley
said, looking slightly amused. "Right. Well, then, Harry, I suppose you're
curious. Don't have the Prophet delivered to your Aunt and Uncle’s
house, by any chance, eh?"
Harry shook his head.
"Ah, well, probably not
missing much. Well, lad, it looks like… well, that is to say so far there
Mrs. Weasley said, looking sour.
Mr. Weasley responded. "That's what I meant to say."
"What do you mean nothing's
happened? How could nothing have happened?"
"Lucius Malfoy's still in
Azkaban, refusing to talk, Fudge is still dazed, and You-Know-Who is still
cooped up God knows where. We haven't been able to track him."
"Damn," Harry swore.
Lupin glanced at Tonks briefly
and then looked at Harry.
"No relief?" he asked
quietly. "He's still in hiding; he must be scared."
Harry gave Lupin a side-long
look. "He should be."
"That's the spirit,"
said Ginny with a grin.
"How're you, Harry?"
Ron asked carefully, studying Harry's face for a reaction.
Bill snorted. "Right you
are, Harry." He stood and stretched. "I'm off to bed - early call
tomorrow." He groaned. "These desk jobs are a nightmare."
"Yes," Ron said,
grinning, "but 'eeevery cloud hez a seelver lining, no?'"
Bill glared as he made his way
to the stairwell.
"Can you fix Mrs. Black,
Bill?" Tonks asked. She looked very tired all of a sudden, and laid her head
in her arms on the table. Lupin raised a tentative hand and placed it gingerly
on her back. "I ripped her."
"Again?" Bill said,
"Yes, again," Tonks
Bill harrumphed and
disappeared up the dark staircase.
"Where is he staying?"
Harry asked, his gaze lingering on the doorway.
"Here," Lupin said,
now absently massaging Tonk's shoulders. "It's safer than the
"We’re all staying here a
spell," Mrs. Weasley said briskly. “Unplottable.”
"The Burrow is no great
secret," Mr. Weasley said. "Some Death Eater is bound to know where I
Harry asked, quickly glancing around the room in case he'd missed her.
"Her house, I
suppose," Mrs. Weasley said, looking weary. "Don't know how
Dumbledore's protecting her, but he says he's doing something…"
"Oh," Harry said,
uncertain how to react to this news. Ron was staring into the fire intently,
eyebrows furrowed and ears turning very slightly pink. "Well, at least
she's safe for now."
Lupin's smile told him he had
said the right thing.
Tonks lifted her head up from
her arms and yawned. "Well," she said sleepily, "I should start
on those dishes Bill left sitting here on the-" She was interrupted by a
long, loud clanking and banging noise from upstairs, followed by Mrs. Black's
"Damn it!" Mr. Weasley
yelled, slapping his hands over his ears. Mrs. Black's shrill screams had
reached a new pitch, and they made Harry's head throb.
"That will be Snape," Lupin
grumbled loudly. "He's always extra careful to ring the doorbell, just in
case that portraits getting too much sleep."
Mrs. Weasley raced up the stairs
and the shrieking ceased once again. She reappeared, looking slightly miffed,
followed by a tall man with shoulder-length, greasy black hair and a
self-satisfied smirk. Dislike instantly swelled up in Harry's chest. Professor Snape
surveyed them all silently for a moment, his lip curling more with every
"For the sixteenth time, Severus,"
Lupin said steadily, his elbows on the table, rubbing his temples with his
index fingers, "you really don't need to ring the doorbell. It's
unnecessary and causes a great inconvenience. Not to mention," he added,
grimly pinching the bridge of his nose, "more than one headache."
Snape remained impassive.
"I see. Common courtesy truly is dead, then. Very well. I will walk in
unannounced from hereon."
Mr. Weasley cleared his throat. "Everything
all right, Severus? Any developments?"
"Indeed," Snape said
quietly. "However, I would prefer, if I may, to relate it to you
without," he sneered at Harry, who had plopped next to Ginny and Ron by
the hearth, "an audience."
Weasley said curtly. "Ron, Ginny, Harry, please go upstairs to your rooms.
Ginny," he added, seeing his daughter's expression, "if you don't
like being alone in that room, you can sleep on the spare cot in the boy's
room. And please wash your face. We stopped cleaning the den hours ago."
Harry and Ron stood, and Harry
absently offered his hand to Ginny, pulling her up. The three of them ambled up
the stairs quietly, tiptoeing past the hallway, up the next flight of stairs
and into the dark, dank room Harry remembered from the previous summer. He
licked his lips. There was a bitter taste lingering in the air, dust hanging in
the stream of moonlight from the window.
"Where are the twins?"
"They're renting a place in
Hogsmeade right now," Ron said, dropping himself onto the musty bed. "Lucky
"Is the business going
"Booming," Ginny said
wistfully. "They say they should have started years ago."
"I haven't seen a knut of
my royalties," Harry grinned.
"Maybe they'll let you test
the new Snot Suckers," Ginny yawned.
"It causes nose-runs,"
Ron said flatly.
"Poor dad," Ginny said
thoughtfully. "He kept saying the candy looked innocent enough. Took
two days for his sinuses to clear up."
Harry shook his head, sat down
on an empty cot and looked Ron in the eye. "Is your dad telling the truth?
Ron shrugged. "That's the
story we've been getting. Fudge is going crazy with worry, according to
"Well," Ginny said,
"there is Remus-"
"Gin," Ron sent his sister
a warning look.
Harry looked from Ron to Ginny.
"What about Remus?"
Ginny gave Ron a disdainful
Ron said, seeing the worry on Harry's face.
Harry's mouth set in a grim
line. "I'm really not up for any more mysteries."
"It's not that bad,"
Ginny said calmly. "Remus has just had a rather bad time of it the last
couple months, that's all."
"Yeah," Ron sighed.
"Mum keeps lecturing us about being careful around him."
Harry frowned. "He's not
made of glass."
"'Course not," Ron
scoffed. "But you know my mum. Mother to all, easy on none. Anyway, he's
been a bit... er, on edge since his last… uh…"
Harry said tonelessly.
"Exactly," Ginny said.
"Dad went downstairs yesterday to make some tea and found Remus crying in
the kitchen. That sort of thing."
"Tonks reckons it's the
stress," Ron added.
"Tonks?" Harry said
quizzically. "Is she staying here as well?"
"Yeah," Ginny said
lightly, picking at the mattress. "Dumbledore said it would be a good
"We don't mind the
company," Ron said. "Unless You-Know-Who finds out where we are. He
could take out half the Order in one swoop."
"Ron," Ginny said, her
eyes narrowed. "Stop."
Harry ignored the bickering.
"Heard from Hermione?"
Ron's smile faded a little. "Yeah.
I think she's more worried than she lets on. Because of her parents, you
"So they know what's going
"I don't know. I'm sure she
said something to them, but I doubt she's mentioned anything about the
Department of Mysteries…" Ron trailed off, looking horrified.
An awkward silence followed.
"I'm going to get some
water," Ron said nervously, moving from the cot toward the door.
Harry didn't look up from his
"Bet you're sick of people
asking if you're okay, hmm?"
Harry raised his eyes to meet
Ginny's face. She looked sadder than usual; her skin a bit paler, her eyes
"A bit, yeah. Don't really
know how to answer, I guess."
Ginny folded her hands and took
a breath. "You know, Harry," she said carefully, "I don't know
what you're going through, but I do think about it… every day." She
paused. "I feel guilty, too."
Harry's eyebrows raised in
Ginny shrugged, looking
uncomfortable. "I was there, wasn't I? I could have helped. I could have
done something." She paused. "I didn't know Sirius that well, and I
know my mum would fight with him, but…" her voice took on an even sadder
tone, "he was a good man, he was always kind to me, and anyway, he loved
Harry lowered his gaze again.
His eyes were starting to sting.
"I just wanted to say
that," Ginny said quickly. "You don't have to talk about it or
"There's nothing to talk
about, anyway," Harry muttered. He raised his eyes to meet hers. Ginny
opened her mouth as if poised to say something more, and then…
"That bathroom's bloody
huge," Ron walked into the small room, stepping over his trunk. "I
almost got lost in it."
Ginny grinned and rose from the
spare cot. "Right. I'll go wash some of this grit off my face.
Lovely," she added thoughtfully, "having more than one
"Not that it makes a
difference, what with the twins gone," Ron muttered. Ginny patted her
brother on the shoulder and left the room, gently closing the door behind her.
Ron flopped down on the mattress
and wrinkled his nose as a cloud of dust rose around him. "I'm going to
ask Mum to do a cleansing charm up here tomorrow. It's disgusting."
"Shouldn't it be cleaner?
What happened to…" Harry waved his hand around the room, hoping Ron would
get the point.
Ron looked confused. "What
happened to…. Oh, Kreacher?"
Ron's eyes grew wide. "Such
a weird thing. He's bound to the Black family, right? So now there's no one to
serve." Ron shook his head, bewildered. "The git killed himself."
Harry felt himself sink lower
into the cot. "He… what?"
"Hanged himself," Ron
said anxiously. "Lupin found him. All I know is he got a nasty shock when
he went down to take a shower."
"But… but how do you know?
I mean, how do you know the… details? That he's bound to the family?"
Ron groaned. "Dear old Mrs.
Black. Apparently, she and Kreacher had quite a chat, and she gave him
instructions. It's a miracle anyone was able to get it out of her. I mean, she
shrieks, but all in all we've learned to sort of ignore her entirely."
"Had a chat? They had a chat?"
Harry felt himself growing unreasonably infuriated. "The house elf
responsible for Sirius's death had a chat with a portrait of his former
mistress and then hanged himself?"
"Well, I guess so,"
Ron shifted in his seat. "At least he's gone, right? He's not going to be
"Oh!' Harry said angrily.
"Oh, yes, thank God for that! Now Kreacher's head can hang on the wall
with the rest of his family! Yes! Three cheers for justice! Now I can rest
Ron looked alarmed.
"Ron!" Ginny stood in
the doorway, hands on her hips and mouth slightly open. "What did you do
"I told him about Kreacher!"
Ginny shut her eyes, as though
attempting to contain herself.
"What? Lupin was going to
tell him tonight, anyway."
"Ron, somehow I think if
you had let Lupin tell him, he wouldn't be stuck in a cot, shrieking like a
"I don't care who
Ron's perplexed look
intensified. "Why are you so upset? I'd have thought you'd be glad he was
"I wanted to try to
understand, Ron! I was ready to ask him, to try to talk to him rationally, like
Hermione's always raving on about. Then maybe I would have gotten it, maybe
some sense, no matter how twisted, would have come of it, and maybe I could
forgive him. But I can't now! I can't even think of that… that… beast
without feeling like I've lost Sirius all over again! You can't
understand what I mean, because… well, you can't!" Harry had started
absently pacing the room, his voice rising in tone until he was practically
"Can we ever?" Ginny
snapped. "We don't understand anything, remember? We're not orphans, and we
don't have to save the world, so we couldn't possibly comprehend the
inner-workings of your mind!" She crossed her arms and took a deep breath.
"I know you're angry, Harry, but look around you. Why do you think
he did it? He was brainwashed, and Sirius was the enemy. It's awful to think
that it's that simple, but it is. 'You wouldn't have learnt anything new from Kreacher.
You wouldn't have gotten any comfort. I know you." Ginny turned around and
left the room; a dangerous silence filled the space she’d left.
Ron looked awkwardly from the
door to Harry, who sat back down on the cot. "Seems a bit out of sorts,
Harry raised his hand to his
face and massaged his forehead. "I'm sorry, Ron. I'm being a git." He
rose from the makeshift bed.
"Maybe you should get some
tea or something," Ron said, tired. "Ever since they found Kreacher
downstairs, they hold their meetings in the drawing room; they've probably
moved there already."
"Yeah," Harry said
vaguely. "Tea. I should apologize to Ginny."
Ron's eyebrows knit together.