Never Give Up
Disclaimer: This story is based on the stories and
characters created by J.K. Rowling and I am in no monetary way profiting from
(A/N As always, thank
you to my beta Elanor Gamgee who is desperately struggling to keep me in the
right tense – it’s always a new challenge with me and she is so supportive!)
Chapter 1: Not Nothing
Beatrice Bennet tried to tell herself that she was not a
coward. She was sorted into Gryffindor,
after all. She knew how to go after what
she wanted -- to suppress the doubt and insecurities that often plagued her. At least she used to. It was how she had managed to become a Healer
even though her Transfiguration O.W.L. had been questionable at best. She had petitioned Professor McGonagall for
extra consideration. It had helped that
she was a prefect and McGonagall was her head of house. She’d ended up getting top marks in
Transfiguration N.E.W.T.s (though it took a lot of study time and every last
second of the exam to achieve) and going on to be near the top of her class as
a Healer. But going to McGonagall had
only been the second bravest thing she had done at Hogwarts. The first had led to a most pleasant fifth
year – and probably to her poor Transfiguration work. She and her ‘tutor’ had studied topics
alphabetically – very organized, but by the time they got to ‘T’, hormones had
usually taken over. Even now, thoughts
of frenzied, sometimes clumsy, always exciting caresses made her cheeks
warm. No, she had not been cowardly back
then – if anyone had been afraid of something….
Then again, best not to dwell in the past – like telling herself that
ever did any good.
It wasn’t her school days’ courage that she questioned,
anyway, but her current behavior, or the last year’s anyway. Hopefully, she was about to make amends for
When the Daily Prophet had started denouncing
Professor Dumbledore and young Harry Potter’s claims that You-Know-Who had
returned, Beatrice had known it was all nonsense. She had felt a dreadful certainty that the
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had returned – and waited for the wards of St. Mungo’s
to fill with dying proof. She had not
relished the idea of being a Healer during a war. Perhaps that was why she hadn’t acted until
now – now that everyone knew the truth.
True, she had bought half a month’s salary’s worth of Quibblers
when the article with Harry’s story came out in February. She had spread them all over the hospital
waiting rooms, collecting up Daily Prophets and throwing them in bins as
she went. How anyone could read that,
even in a less than reputable paper like the Quibbler, and not believe
or at least be moved, was beyond her. Of
course, Beatrice had very personal reasons for being disturbed by the
“It wasn’t until after he bound me that I saw it was Wormtail”
When asked who ‘Wormtail’ is, the boy makes an angry face…
But Beatrice didn’t need to ask for clarification. She had spent enough time in his company to
know whom the son of James Potter would call ‘Wormtail.’ Still, she read on, and what Harry revealed
chilled her to her core. Peter Pettigrew
was alive and the true betrayer of his parents – meaning Sirius Black was
innocent. Even so, it was neither Peter
nor Sirius or even Harry to whom her thoughts and heart went. More than fourteen years before, as a young
apprentice Healer, she had almost contacted Remus Lupin. She couldn’t even imagine the sort of grief
he was experiencing at that time, believing James, Lily and Peter all dead at
Sirius’s hands. She had put quill to
parchment a number of times, but always stopped herself. In the end she had decided she was fooling
herself to think he would need her. Just
because his closest school friends had been ripped from him in barely more than
a night didn’t mean that he didn’t have other friends to comfort him – another woman
to comfort him. Finally she had set
quill and parchment aside and instead accepted an invitation to an “End of
You-Know-Who” party at the Ministry by one of the Ministry liaison staff at St.
Mungo’s. For a long time after that she
did a pretty decent impression of a woman who left her girlhood dreams behind
her. She had taken the charade right up
to the point of no return before she realized that she had been kidding
herself. Not only had she not moved on,
she was practically mired in the past.
And now it was as if the past fifteen years had not
happened. You-Know-Who was back; they
were in the middle of a war – the same bloody war. The world had come full circle and her life
had followed right along. This time,
however, she was no mere schoolgirl. She
needed to muster her courage and take action – to do her part to end the war,
and to help herself move on. Which is
why she had owled her old classmate to meet her for lunch. She was determined now. If there was going to be a war against evil,
she was going to do more than just root for the good guys. She was going to be a good guy.
It took her a moment after entering the Leaky Cauldron to
locate her luncheon companion. He was at
a dark corner table and caught her eye, though he didn’t wave. She stopped at the bar and ordered a
butterbeer before working her way over to join him.
“Hello, Kingsley, thank you for meeting me,” she said,
sitting down. “I know you’re probably
very busy these days…”
“Never too busy for a fellow Gryffindor,” Kingsley
Shacklebolt replied, bringing his butterbeer bottle to his mouth and taking a
“Yes, well – not so Gryffindor-like lately,” she said
He raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment.
“That’s why I called you, King, I knew whatever was going
on, you’d be in the thick of it and I want to know what I can do to help.”
He didn’t pretend not to know her meaning, for which she was
grateful. “Well, now, it’s really not up
to me, Bea,” he said.
“Come on, King.
You’re telling me you couldn’t use a first-class Healer?”
He grinned. “First
class, huh? Not at all modest, are you?”
She rolled her eyes.
“Check my records – I’ve earned a little bragging right.”
“I’m sure you’re every bit the Healer you say you are,”
Kingsley said placatingly. “Still, what
makes you think we don’t have all the Healers we need?”
She sighed. “Look,
I’m not asking you to issue me a membership card. Just tell Dumbledore … or whomever… that I
want to help. As much and in whatever
capacity I can – and I’m sorry it took me so long.”
“All right then,” he agreed.
“I’m sure Dumbledore…or whomever…will be glad.”
Their waitress approached them, shutting down their topic of
conversation as they placed their orders.
Even after she departed, they started speaking of more trivial and social
things. Classmates they had run into
recently, Quidditch standings, and – once the food arrived – favorite
restaurants and cuisine. When they
turned to careers, Beatrice realized she was doing most of the talking and
tried to turn the conversation around.
“And what about your work, Kingsley?” she asked
pleasantly. “I’m sure there’s a lot you
can’t tell me about being an Auror, but do you at least find it rewarding?”
“It’s not all glamour like we imagined in our fifth year,”
he admitted, “but it is absolutely rewarding – and not as secretive as you
might think. It’s not as if I’m an
Unspeakable, you know.”
“All right then.” She
smiled. “Why don’t you tell me what
you’ve been working on lately?”
He got an odd look and his eyes penetrated her in much the
same way her old Healer instructor had before giving her a difficult case.
“Until very recently I was in charge of the hunt for Sirius
Beatrice dropped her fork.
With an effort, she schooled her features into her work mask. It was the face she used when diagnosing a
malady she suspected was fatal, but before she was certain enough to approach
the patient with the news. Sirius had
been a friend and housemate to both of them.
The circumstances of his arrest never sat well with her, but the
reported facts had seemed irrefutable – until that article.
“That must have been hard.”
She hesitated before venturing, “I read something in the Quibbler…”
“Harry’s interview?” he asked
“All true,” he confirmed.
“So is that why you’re no longer hunting?” she asked
“No,” he answered, his eyes sad.
She frowned in thought.
No absolution, no investigation, no capture, or the Ministry would have
advertised it… that left only one alternative – and the grim look in Kingsley’s
eyes confirmed it.
“Oh, no.” She felt tears welling up, but managed to keep
them from spilling over. She wasn’t even
sure if her reaction would have been different if she didn’t know he was
innocent. All she could think of was
that the young man she had known at Hogwarts, so full of life, was now gone.
Kingsley’s eyes had softened at her reaction. As if she had passed whatever test he had put
“Look, I can’t go into it just now – but I’ll owl you once
I’ve cleared it and let you know when we can meet again. It’ll be good to have a Healer – another
Healer – on the team.”
After settling the bill, they walked together to the
door. Beatrice tried to bring order to
the many questions that were cycling through her mind. She knew Kingsley couldn’t answer most of
them – except the one she most wanted to ask and was trying hardest to
suppress. By the time they reached the
street, she was biting her lip. She
turned to her old classmate to say goodbye before parting company and returning
to St. Mungo’s. She found him grinning
at her knowingly.
“Since you made a point of not asking, I’m sure you’ll be
glad to know he will be there.”
She didn’t bother pretending not to know who he
was. Kingsley had been in her house and
year. He had witnessed her happy fifth
year and her subsequent heartbreak in sixth year. Still, it was awfully astute of him to
realize what she was thinking. Probably
that damn Auror training.
“You think you’re so bloody smart,” she grumbled.
“I am that bloody smart,” he countered cheerfully,
continuing to grin. “I’ll owl you in a
couple of days. Keep next Monday night
open if you can.”
Beatrice agreed and went back to work, feeling anxious
anticipation at the thought of Monday night.
Grimmauld Place had been considerably cleaned up
since Harry had first seen it the previous summer. Still, it was twice as depressing for him to
be there in many ways. Sirius had left
the place to Remus and him as a sort of last prank on his family. He had wanted the Order of the Phoenix to continue to
use it, and it certainly saved them from finding a new site and putting the
kind of wards on it that already existed here.
So, when Harry left Privet
Drive, after staying there long enough to consider
it his “home,” he came back to headquarters.
The agony of being in Sirius’s ancestral home without Sirius
had been eased somewhat on his first evening when Remus presented him with a
Pensieve that he and Sirius had compiled that spring. It showed how his parents first started going
out and, in many ways, Harry found it more intoxicating than the Mirror of
Erised had been his first year. Some
nights, it was all he could do not to just submerge his head in the basin and
never come up – replaying those happy moments over and over. Only a few things – a few people –
kept him from doing just that.
One was Remus Lupin.
When he had given Harry the Pensieve, Harry had realized that the older
man had lost all the same things, the same people. In Remus he had found a new adult
confidant. They had taken to having
late-night teas together where Remus would tell him amusing stories about
Sirius and his parents. The stories were
not as vivid as the living memory of the Pensieve, but Harry found that hearing
them enhanced his imagination more than watching the same scene over and over
did. He knew the talks helped Lupin,
too. The lines and prematurely graying
hairs that were telltale signs of the strain of lycanthropy seemed to fade away
when he spoke of his youthful exploits.
Harry was glad for the bond that was forming between them.
The Weasleys were the other main reason he didn’t drown
himself in the silvery memories. Though
the wizarding world now knew of Voldemort’s return, the Weasleys had decided to
stay at Grimmauld Place
rather than ward up the Burrow. He
wondered why, since Mrs. Weasley often complained about not being able to find
anything in the kitchen and he knew she missed her own home. When he asked Ron why they hadn’t just taken
the precautions outlined in the new Ministry Guide to Elementary Home and
Personal Defense that had been distributed at the beginning of the summer,
the answer had embarrassed him a bit.
“Because of you, I reckon,” Ron replied.
“Me?” Harry was surprised.
won’t let you leave those Muggles to stay anywhere less protected than here at
headquarters – or Hogwarts. I heard Mum
and Dad discussing it one night when I was sneaking to the kitchen for some
food. Mum was going on and on about how
she couldn’t leave ‘those two boys’ alone in ‘that dark depressing house.’”
Harry suppressed a chuckle at Ron’s falsetto impression of
his mother and frowned at Ron in puzzlement.
“What two boys? Who’s the other
Here Ron snorted.
“Professor Lupin, can you believe it?
Mum’s bound and determined to mother him too.”
Harry did chuckle then.
“Does she know he’s been of age for almost twenty years?”
Ron shrugged. “You
know Mum. She can’t not take care
of you – and Lupin’s so shabby and worn looking, she can’t really help
herself. She’s already knitting Weasley
Christmas jumpers, she’s got so many to do now…”
Harry laughed, but not really to make fun of Mrs.
Weasley. He was eternally grateful for
Molly Weasley’s need to mother everybody in sight. The comfort he had found in her embrace after
the Tri-Wizard Tournament was… well he couldn’t describe what it was. Not to say there weren’t times when he didn’t
feel more smothered than mothered – but he knew from his friendship with the
Weasley children that it was all part of being in the family.
And it was family that he had always longed for. It took a while for him to get used to the
idea of being part of such a big and loving one. At his lowest moments, he had wanted to sever
all human connection. He never had a
family before -- the Dursleys certainly didn’t count. They were relatives, yes, but not family. The dream of a family was what he had seen in
the Mirror of Erised and what was continually yanked away from him whenever he
thought it was in his grasp. Why bother
trying to have a family at all? If he
had to face Voldemort and kill or be killed, wouldn’t it be better not to
endanger others? Wouldn’t it be easier
not to have something to lose? The
answer came from the least likely source.
“I have to apologize to you, Harry,” Percy Weasley said to
him one evening.
As Ron reported it, Percy had come back to his family
shortly after Ginny and Ron had returned from Hogwarts. Mrs. Weasley had, as was expected, welcomed
him unquestioningly with tears and mother’s hugs. Ginny had held out until Percy announced his
engagement to Penelope Clearwater and Penny asked her to be a bridesmaid. The Weasley men, Mr. Weasley included, were
more reserved in their welcome. A mutual
love of Mrs. Weasley seemed to keep any accusations of worse from flying, but
things were far from normal yet. Harry
had gotten his first taste of it a few days after arriving at Grimmauld Place. Charlie had been in town briefly for Order
business and Mrs. Weasley had wanted to have a special family dinner – and that
included Percy and Penelope.
It had been one of the most uncomfortable dinners Harry had
ever attended, including eating with Aunt Marge at the Dursleys. Lupin and Mrs. Weasley had carried the bulk
of the conversation with occasional help from Ginny and Bill. Lupin would cast the odd glance at Harry as
if to say, ‘You need to try, too,’ but Harry found he was not big enough to
forgive the letter Percy had sent Ron advising his younger brother to ‘sever
ties’ with Harry.
With the crowd of Weasleys in the house, Harry wasn’t sure
how Percy had managed to corner him alone – but it probably had something to do
with the fact that he was hovering outside the loo when Harry exited it. It was there in the hallway that Percy issued
“I put my career above my family, including you. I mean, you saved Ginny’s life back in my
sixth year, and you conducted yourself so nobly in the Tri-wizard
Tournament. You saved Ron from the lake,
not to mention that little French girl, and when you came back from the maze… I
saw your face… I shouldn’t have let my ambition influence what I knew of
you. I’m truly sorry, Harry.”
Harry wasn’t sure what to do with this Percy. The Percy he knew before was pompous, if well
meaning. Then there was last year’s
Percy, who had been a stranger, but worse.
As he had just put it, Percy should have known better.
“I don’t expect you to say anything, really. No one else except Mum and Ginny can forgive
me for being prat. Bill’s trying. He knows what it’s like to want to be your
own man. Still, he knew better than to
turn his back on his family.”
Percy heaved a sigh before continuing. “Penny tried to tell me, you know. I’ve been proposing every month for a year
and she kept saying, ‘Not until you make up with your mum.’ She told me about this saying among Muggles
that no one ever dies wishing they spent more time at work and less time with
their family. Now that we’re in a war,
time with our family is even more important.
You can’t get through the hard times without the support of your
family. Thank Merlin Penny made me see
it in time. I hope I can make amends to
you and the others before it’s too late.
Please just say you’ll let me try.”
Harry wasn’t sure what to say, but since he had made plenty
of his own mistakes that he needed to make amends for, he couldn’t afford to be
less than forgiving to Percy. “Uh, sure,
Perce,” he agreed.
Percy smiled. “Thank
you, Harry. You’re a good man – I should
never have said any different.” His
smile faltered. “I wish my brothers were
as easy to talk to. I don’t expect
everything to be back the way it was, you know – I’d just like to know
it could be. The twins are so mad
they’re actually polite to me. They
haven’t even called me ‘Bighead Boy’ or ‘Weatherby.’ It seems ridiculous, I know, but I’d give
anything for them to prank me with one of their inventions.”
He brightened suddenly and Harry was surprised to see pride
reflected in his face.
“Their shop is doing booming business, you know. I’ve been a little too persona non grata to
actually go in, but some of my co-workers have, and they rave about it. I admit I never would have believed it, but
they’re incredibly successful in their own way.
I always thought they were wasting their obvious intelligence – but I
was wrong about that too.”
Percy heaved another sigh.
“I just wish they would prank me,” he repeated under his breath.
Uncomfortable with the entire situation, Harry looked
away. A flicker of movement caught his
eye and he focused on the spot. A thin,
skin-colored line was snaking along the hallway. As he followed Percy back to the sitting
room, He wondered who had been at the end of the extendable ears, and what they
thought of the now contrite Percy.
Whoever it was didn’t seem to be impressed, as the conversation
was as uncomfortable and stilted as ever.
Percy answered Remus’s questions more and more monosyllabically until
Penny shot him a sympathetic look and patted his knee.
“Percy, sweetheart, I’m exhausted. Maybe we should go.”
He looked at her gratefully – adoringly, really, if Harry
would be honest. Standing and offering
her his hand he said, “If you’re tired, my dear.” She took his hand and stood too. Soon, everyone was standing. Mrs. Weasley looked as if she wanted to
protest their departure, but Percy cut her off.
“Thank you for a wonderful dinner, Mother,” he said. “It’s always good to…” he paused for a moment
and his face flickered with the same sad regret that Harry had seen earlier,
They all made a morose procession as they headed towards the
entry hall. As Percy helped Penny with
her cloak, Harry glanced over at the twins.
They had their hands behind their backs and their faces were the
pictures of studied innocence. Except
that they were the twins, and they never really looked innocent. Harry whipped his head back to Percy, who was
fastening his own cloak and reaching for his hat. When he turned his hat over to put it on his
head, his hair and face got showered with a fine, powdery substance.
“What in the name of…?” Percy stopped in midsentence and his
eyes went wide. Or maybe it was that his
whole face went wide - as Harry watched, his head begin to expand like a
“What do you think, Percy?” George asked. “It’s the first in our line of Bighead Hair
Percy turned on the twins, his face was so puffed up now
that Harry couldn’t tell if he was frowning at them or not. When Penny rushed to take off his glasses,
before his enlarging head broke them, however, standing tears could be seen in
“Fred! George! What have you done?!” Mrs. Weasley
bellowed. “Put him back this instant!”
“We can’t, Mum,” Fred explained with a shrug. “We haven’t figured out the antidote yet.”
“Haven’t…” Mrs. Weasley sputtered.
“But don’t worry, Penny,” George was reassuring Percy’s
fiancée, who was covering her mouth to hide her amusement. “It wears off between three and twelve
“Three and twelve…?”
Mrs. Weasley mumbled faintly.
“Can’t you be more specific than that? I have to work tomorrow!” Percy barked,
though if you asked Harry, it lacked edge.
“Best call in sick, then,” George suggested with mock
“Tell them you’re feeling a little bloated,” Fred added
helpfully. “That’s how Angelina skives
off at the joke shop.”
“You’re letting your employees skive off?” Percy asked
“It’s just Angelina – it’s not like she’s going to be
working there forever anyway, just until she figures out what to do,” Fred said
“Incomplete product lines, employees running rampant – it’s
amazing your shop is still standing.
That’s no way to run a business!
I’d better have a look at your books to make sure you’re not throwing it
all away,” Percy declared.
“You really don’t have to…” Fred started to protest before
George stopped him.
“That’d be great, Perce,” George said pleasantly. “Come by tomorrow after your head deflates.”
“Enter at your own risk, though,” Fred warned mischievously.
Under his ridiculously enormous head, Percy seemed to
hesitate for a moment, then said firmly, “I’ll be there!”
“Come on, now, sweetheart.” Penelope guided him towards the
door with a suppressed giggle. “We’d
best get you out of here before you can’t get through the door frame.”
“Of course, love,” Percy complied, following her out with as
much dignity as any young man could muster when his head was more than three
times it normal size and bobbling about on his neck.
After the door closed behind Percy and Penelope, Mrs.
Weasley reeled on the twins, a scowl on her face.
“You two come here this instant!” she ordered, her hands on
The twins exchanged a guilty look and shuffled up to their
mother. They stood there contritely
looking more like eight year olds than eighteen year olds in the face of their
mother’s wrath. So no one was more
surprised than they when Mrs. Weasley caught them up in a huge bear hug.
“Never been more proud,” she croaked out between weeping.
“Aw, Mum.” Fred was
“It was nothing,” George was saying awkwardly into his
But it was not nothing, Harry realized looking around at the
Weasley family. Mr. Weasley clasped
Bill’s shoulder. Ron and Charlie pushed
each other back and forth playfully with big grins on their faces. Ginny was watching her mother and the twins,
her eyes glistening with unshed tears, and her arms wrapped around her as if
imagining she was part of the hug. Harry
suddenly felt the inexplicable urge to hug her himself. He told himself that he just wanted to be a
part of the celebration, and Ginny was the only Weasley all alone, hugging
herself. He took a step towards her,
still unsure of what to do when Bill saved him from potential embarrassment by
breaking away from his father and catching Ginny up in an exuberant embrace. The way he spun her about and she giggled
with childish glee, Harry guessed this was a tradition between oldest brother
and baby sister. He had been smiling at
the family celebration, but suddenly his smile faltered. He loved the Weasleys and thought of them as
his family, but they had grown up without him in their midst and he suddenly
felt the intruder. His thoughts turned
to the Pensieve he kept hidden in his room upstairs. That was all he had of his real family. He was about to turn and go upstairs when Ron
gave him a shove. He turned and stared
blankly at his grinning friend.
“If the twins can forgive Percy, I reckon we can,” Ron said
with a shrug.
Harry opened his mouth to respond when Charlie shoved Ron
from behind. Unprepared, Ron went
stumbling into Harry and they were soon in a laughing heap on the floor. Unfortunately, the noise woke up the
screaming portrait of Mrs. Black, which they still couldn’t seem to un-stick
from the wall.
Filth! Intruders! Usurpers!” she screeched.
For some reason that only made them laugh harder. They struggled to contain themselves as Bill
and Charlie ran to close the curtains of the portrait.
Remus bent over Harry and offered him a hand up, while Mr.
Weasley did the same for Ron. “All right
there, Harry?” he asked, a smile ringing in his hoarse voice.
“All right, Remus,” he responded, straightening his glasses,
which sat askew on his face.
Mrs. Weasley dislodged herself from the twins and dabbed at
the corner of her eyes with her apron.
Then she adopted her usual brusque motherly manner. “Well then, this calls for biscuits – I think
I have some in a tin in the kitchen.
Arthur, dear, would you help me, please?”
“Of course, my dear.”
Mr. Weasley put an arm around his wife and took her towards the kitchen.
The rest of them followed the elder Weasleys back down to
the kitchen. Ginny wormed her way
between the twins, her arms about their waists as if taking over her mother’s
Remus lingered behind and put a hand on Harry’s shoulder so
that he did the same. “It’s been a long
time since I was any part of a family.
We’re lucky men, Harry.”
Harry looked down at the family of redheads who had taken
him in so thoroughly. “Yeah,” he agreed.
So, while everyone was gabbling over biscuits and tea, Harry
realized that as long as Lupin and the Weasleys were around, he had a
family. If he abandoned them, even for
their own protection, he was no better than Percy had been last year. Not to mention the fact that they would never
let him. That was the night he knew that
the gaping wound in his heart that was the loss of Sirius had started to heal
and would eventually become just another scar.