The Sugar Quill
Author: The Saint  Story: No Place Like Home  Chapter: Default
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: All characters contained in this story belong to J. K. Rowling. I own nothing but the computer that got them all into this sorry state!

 

Harry lay in bed, tossing and turning so much that the covers became twisted tightly around him. Lack of sleep was certainly nothing new to him. A full night of sleep was a rare thing, anymore. He sat up quickly, removing sheets and blankets as he cautiously crept from the four-poster. He glanced around at the others, who were thankfully still sleeping. He grabbed the warm robe that Mrs. Weasley had given him at the beginning of the summer as he was returning home. She had been worried about him catching a chill, due to his increasingly restless nights. Little did she know how often he would use it.

"So you'll never be cold or alone, dear," Mrs. Weasley had said as she planted another of her motherly kisses on the top of his head. "Owl me if you need instructions on how to use it." Harry thought she must be nuts. Not know how to use a robe? He nodded and mumbled thanks before crossing through the barrier and returning to the Dursleys.

As confused as he was by the gift at the time, he now felt like he possessed a suit of armor. He smiled as he made his way down to the common room, stoking the fire that had been about to die out. He settled in the armchair closest to the fireplace. Pulling the robe closer around him, he once again smiled as he remembered discovering the magical powers of this seemingly innocent garment for the first time. It had been his first night back with the Dursleys after the disaster of the tournament and Voldemort's return.

He felt as though his heart had been ripped from his chest when he had been forced to separate from his friends at King's Cross and return to his miserable excuse for a home. That was a joke. The Dursleys' wasn't home. Since he had entered school, the Burrow was the closest thing to a home he had, aside from Hogwarts.

On the train home, he had finally started to feel comfortable with sharing his experiences with his friends. They had been pressing him for details for weeks, but he had always held them off. They never pushed him too far on that account, and for a while, he had been grateful. Now, with his impending separation from them, the words had come rushing out. It had made him feel better for a while, but he could tell from the horrified looks in their eyes that maybe it had been too much.

He couldn’t continue to do that to them, as much of a relief as it had been for him. Maybe he could have a heart-to-heart with Dudley when he got back. "Dudley, you'll never believe it. This evil wizard used my blood to create a new body for himself, and he killed a classmate of mine. It's all my fault and I have no one to talk to about it, except for you, of course."

He shook his head, knowing that a conversation like that would probably signal the end of the world.

When they returned home, Harry was promptly locked in his bedroom. The Dursleys’ had company coming and it would be a terrible embarrassment if he were to be seen. Harry sighed. He had no supper, which was not really a big deal since he had pretty much lost his appetite this last month, at least until the ride home on the Hogwarts Express. At least he had all of his school things and Hedwig with him, courtesy of the Dursleys' continuing fear of his correspondence with Sirius.

He didn't imagine that he would be sending very many owls out this summer, either to his godfather or anyone else. It would be too tempting to spill all his troubles out on paper. If he let Sirius know, he might risk his safety to check on Harry. He couldn't let him take a chance like that. There were more important things in the world than one lonely 14-year-old boy's problems. Even though it was early, Harry went ahead and got into his pajamas, grateful that at least Hedwig was there. Her silent support was a lot of comfort to him. He grabbed his battered copy of Charms and Hexes Through the Ages, figuring he would be getting a lot of studying done this summer. Once he sat down to look out the window, all hope for studying was lost. Hedwig, comfortably settled on his shoulder, hooted softly in his ear. Some things will never change, he thought, like Hedwig's unquestioning devotion. Amazingly, he drifted off to sleep.

Harry didn't know how long he had been asleep when an unusually cool evening breeze blew through the window and woke him. He immediately noticed that Hedwig had gone through the open window. Well, at least she can enjoy some freedom, he thought. The chill reminded him of the robe. He grabbed it out of his trunk, quickly gathering it around him. He sat back down at the window, not yet ready to go back to sleep.

What he wouldn't give for his own Pensieve right now. He had so many thoughts running around in his head right now, he knew he would never be able to sleep. He pulled the robe tighter around him, thinking of how Mrs. Weasley had looked when she gave it to him. She was so concerned about him, wanting to mother him.

A small smile touched his lips as he pulled the robe tighter around him, realizing the robe made him feel closer to her and all the rest of the family. The sensation was similar to the one he felt that first night in the hospital wing after the end of the Third Task. Mrs. Weasley had hugged him, and he had nearly broken down. It was his first real, clear memory of receiving such a hug. This embrace made it safe to let his feelings out. Then it had come to an end before the dam of his emotions had burst. It had been extremely frustrating both for him and her. That one time, he had wanted to receive comfort as much as she wanted to give it.

Putting the robe on reminded him of that hug. It was filled with warmth and affection -- everything he imagined a mother's love would be. A wave of contentment washed over him that was so overwhelming that he could no longer contain his tears. He was sure that she must have enchanted this robe somehow to give him comfort when she couldn't be there to give it to him.

He cried for what seemed like hours, finally dissolving into great heaving sobs that he was sure that the whole neighborhood could hear. But no one ever came to check on him. Maybe that was best, he thought. Maybe I can work these things out on my own, without having to trouble others with them. A little voice at the back of his mind kept saying, "Stop being such a silly prat about it. That's what friends are for." He smiled as he realized that the little voice in his head had increasingly begun to sound like Ron.

As the tears finally began to subside, sheer exhaustion had given way to sleep. He woke in the morning feeling more rested than he had in many months. He saw that Hedwig was still not back, but tried not to worry. She was getting some much-needed exercise. He couldn't blame her. He would get away if he could, too. If only I could fly, he thought. Too bad my father couldn't have left instructions on how to become an Animagi. Being able to transform into some kind of bird would be wonderful. If he could do it, he doubted if he would ever transform back. It would be so easy to disappear and leave all his troubles behind.

He tried to shake the poor-me thoughts from his head. He walked over to try his door, but it was still locked. He wondered if the Dursleys had heard him last night and were afraid to let him out, or if they had just forgotten. Either way, it was shaping up to be a boring day. He got dressed, reluctant to put the comforting robe away.

He sat back down at the window with the book he had unsuccessfully begun last night. Hermione, for one, would be thrilled to know how much studying he was getting in already. Ron would -- well, his mind was probably more on Hermione and her possible relationship with Viktor than how much homework Harry was getting done anyway.

He tried to put thoughts of them out of his mind as he went back to studying the book. He looked out the window occasionally, thinking that even a boring job like mowing the lawn would be a welcome change. If I ever get out of this room, he thought, the Dursleys are going to have the best-taken care of yard in the neighborhood. He was sure they would not object to the nicely mown yard, or his continued absence from the house.

Harry was startled to hear a small thumping sound outside his door, accompanied by a clicking sound. Aunt Petunia had finally remembered him. He went to open it, and found a packet of crackers and a bottle of diet soda sitting on the floor in the doorway. He shook his head as he grabbed the items up and headed out the door. So much for lunch, he thought. He stayed true to his promise to himself, though and went straight out to mow.

The mindless activity of trudging back and forth across the yard was oddly comforting. It was very late in the afternoon when he finished. As he put the mower away in the shed, he noticed a familiar looking owl coming in his direction. It was Pig. Harry just knew that it had to be Ron, and he wasn't sure what he was going to say to him yet. When Pig finally stopped his fluttering around long enough for Harry to remove the letter from his leg, the hyper little owl actually seemed ready for a rest.

"You can get something to eat and take a breather as soon as we get up to my room" Harry reassured the little owl. "I'll have to sneak you in, though." Pig hooted cheerfully as Harry gingerly placed him in the pocket of the jacket he was wearing, hoping no one would notice as he went in. Of course, they didn't. They were more than glad to be rid of him, as he called out that he preferred to eat supper in his room since he was so tired from mowing. "That's one small advantage to being unwanted around here, Pig" Harry said to him. "You're practically invisible."

He settled Pig in Hedwig's cage for a drink and something to eat. Then, the little owl was quickly asleep. Harry realized that he had nearly forgotten he letter. He almost dreaded opening it, not knowing what Ron would have to say or how he would reply. As he unrolled the letter, he saw that it was not a letter, but what appeared to be a short verse. It was written in a neat script, certainly not Ron's hasty scrawl. Who could this be from? Suddenly, he remembered Mrs. Weasley's words about instructions for using the robe. This must be it. He began to read the short note.

Space you need

And time for sure

To shoulder the burden

You surely must bear

When the comfort of home

Is what you truly need

Close your eyes

And these words you must speak

Constituo Adquiesco

Comfort these words will bring

In the form that you most need

Helping you quickly to a restful sleep

Ah, thought Harry. He was right. Not great poetry, but she must have added some other spell to the robe. He couldn't imagine it being any more comforting than it already was. He was ashamed to admit that he was relieved that it hadn't been from Ron. He had almost convinced himself that unburdening himself to his best friend would be the best course of action. Ron still winced every time someone said Voldemort's name, though. Harry had much worse things than that to say. He knew how Hermione would tell him to handle things. She would tell him to owl Dumbledore, asking to go to the Burrow for the rest of the holidays. It would be the best place for him. He knew permission for that trip would be a long time coming. Dumbledore had more important things to worry about this summer than how Harry spent his vacation.

Harry interrupted his thoughts briefly to get ready for bed. It looked to be another sleepless night, when he remembered the robe. He put it on, but was reluctant at first to try out the new charm. As he sat at the window once again, he thought how nice it would be to live in a world where he didn't have to worry about being killed or about his friends and family being in danger.

He had to stop feeling sorry for himself. He decided that if Ron or Hermione wrote, he would do his best to let them know that he was okay and not to worry about him. He resigned himself to staying at Privet Drive all summer, which was depressing, but would be preferable to dragging all of his friends down with him. He would hit the books hard and go back to school September 1st, ready to face whatever came his way.

He pulled the robe around him as he said the new incantation, but nothing appeared to happen at first. He said it again and a faint, soft singing seemed to be coming from the very fabric. The tune and the voice were sweetly familiar, but he couldn't quite place them. He was wondering just who it was as he drifted off to a dreamless sleep.

Even now, two months later, Harry wondered how he would have made it through the summer without the comfort and restful nights that the robe had brought. When he had finally arrived at the Burrow, he barely had the words to express his gratitude to Mrs. Weasley for the gift. He admitted to her that the singing had been responsible for his most restful nights that summer. She had looked a bit confused at his last comment, but had told him that a silly old robe had been the least she could do. She had tousled his already messy hair and told him to run outside and enjoy the afternoon with the others. As he had headed out into the bright afternoon sunlight to play his first game of Quidditch of the summer, he realized that life truly could be sweet.

A/N:Whew! This is finally done. It has started out slowly, but I promise things will pick up. I owe many thanks to Seldes for the kind and patient support. I will make sure Mrs. Weasley passes the next robe along to you!
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