Disclaimer: This wonderful world belongs to J.K. Rowling - I just like
to play in it.
A/N: Lots of thanks to Arabella for her insightful and supportive beta-reading.
Chapter 1 The Twenty-Fourth of
Harry lay on his bed and willed himself not to see it - not to think
about it. But even when he closed his eyes and tried to think of something
else - Quidditch, or Cho Chang - everything led back to Cedric, and the
date. It was July 24th, exactly one month since Voldemort had killed Cedric
and risen to his full power again, and that was all Harry could think
He had gotten quite good at not thinking about it all in the three
weeks since he had arrived back at the Dursleys'. Hermione would be so
proud of him - he had already finished all of his summer assignments,
and was even going back and studying his old books again from the beginning,
just to keep his mind occupied. Though, judging by her letters, she was
more worried than proud.
But even thinking about his friends couldn't keep his mind from Cedric
tonight. Not even remembering Ron's last letter, which seemed to Harry
to be just one long scream of frustration over Hermione. She had gone
to Bulgaria to visit Viktor Krum for a week, and she and Ron had been
conducting a tremendous letter fight ever since. Usually, hearing about
both sides of their arguments, especially since he had started figuring
out their changing feelings for each other, could take his mind off his
own problems. Not tonight. Harry supposed that was all right, though -
it was appropriate that he couldn't think of anything but Cedric, one
month after his death.
That wasn't the only thing to worry Harry, of course. He spent many
hours, when he wasn't working on schoolwork, just staring out the window,
waiting for letters to come. Ron, Hermione, Sirius, Hagrid - he worried
about them all, and there was nothing he could do for any of them. Not
stuck here at the Dursleys', anyway.
Although it was more bearable here this summer, mostly because the
Dursleys had adopted the practice of simply ignoring Harry. They didn't
call for him to wake up, they let him get his own meals, they didn't even
make him do housework. Maybe they thought that if they just ignored him,
he would go away. And he would, just as soon as Professor Dumbledore said
he could. He was sending the Headmaster owls every week, and he knew Ron
was, too. Harry wanted to be at the Burrow so much he could taste it -
to laugh at the twins' jokes, to talk with Mr. Weasley about Muggle things,
to be stuffed full to bursting by Mrs. Weasley, to spend time with Ron,
to just feel the love that surrounded him there. The Weasleys loved him
- Harry, not the Famous Harry Potter, just Harry. He would even have liked
to be lectured by Percy right now, as long as he was there.
Harry groaned and pulled his pillow over his head. Stop thinking
about it, he told himself. Dumbledore will let you know as soon
as it's safe. He knows how important it is to you. And you don't want
to put the Weasleys in danger, just because of you, do you? Even more
danger than they're already in, that is. That thought made him groan
Just then, there was a knock on the door. Harry couldn't believe
it - Aunt Petunia hadn't even been coming in to clean.
"Erm...come in?" he said, taking the pillow off his head
and staring at the door as it opened.
Aunt Petunia opened it just enough so that she could sneak in, and
shut it quickly behind her. Harry didn't know why she did that - Uncle
Vernon was away at some week-long meeting about drills for his company,
Grunnings, and Dudley was completely engrossed in his favorite TV program
- Harry could hear the TV from up here.
"Gracious, Harry, we've been leaving you alone all summer, the
least you could have done was keep your room clean!" She stalked
around, glaring at the quills, parchment, school books, and owl feathers
that were scattered around the room. When she looked at Harry sitting
there on the bed, though, her eyes softened.
"Are you...all right?" she said.
It was absolutely the last thing Harry had expected, and it shocked
him so much that he told her the truth.
"No," was all he said, but he must have looked completely
flabbergasted - he sure felt it - because she reddened.
"I was...I've been watching you," she said, but then she
shook her head. She stared at him, and he stared back. Then she walked
quickly over to his desk chair and sat down.
"Has anyone ever told you that you have Lily's eyes?"
"Erm...yeah, actually, lots of people," Harry said.
Aunt Petunia looked vaguely interested, which, since it was obvious
that the only people who could have told Harry about his mother's eyes
were wizards, Harry thought must mean that she was consumed with wonder.
"Um...my Headmaster told me once, and some of my mum and dad's
friends from school..." Harry trailed off, because Aunt Petunia looked
almost pathetically eager.
"Which ones?" she asked, but almost immediately shook her
head sadly. "It doesn't matter, anyway. I -" she stopped again,
while Harry just sat there and watched her. He had no idea what was going
"One summer, Lily came home from school with the exact same
look in her eyes that you have right now," Aunt Petunia said in a
rush. "She didn't want to tell me why at first, and I know she never
told my parents. But I was persistent, and eventually...she said that
one of her friends had a secret that would alienate him from the rest
of the wizarding world. She said that it probably wouldn't bother me more
than any other type of wizard, but in her world..." Aunt Petunia
stopped, swallowed, and went on. She was twisting her hands together in
her lap. "In her world, it was a big deal. And one of her other friends
had done something to jeopardize the secret, so that someone who wasn't
their friend found out about it, all for some stupid joke. Of course,
she was all proud of James, you could see that in her eyes, too - I suppose
he did something terribly brave, as usual. But her main worry was the
friend with the secret. He was in danger, she said, and there was nothing
she could do about it, which haunted her. I could see it in her eyes,
and that's the look I see in your eyes all the time, Harry."
All of that speech came out in a rush with barely time for breath,
while Harry watched in wonder. It was definitely the longest speech Aunt
Petunia had ever given to him, and she had never spoken of his
mother before. It was weird to think of the two of them as sisters, confiding
in each other, even a little. His mum had obviously not told Aunt Petunia
exactly what the secret was, but Harry knew. Professor Lupin, the Defense
Against the Dark Arts teacher in Harry's third year at Hogwarts, and one
of his parents' best friends, was a werewolf. Sirius had played a joke
on Severus Snape, another of Harry's teachers, whom all of Harry's parents'
friends hated. The joke would most likely have killed Snape, but Harry's
dad had found out about it and stopped it, though not before Snape saw
Lupin changing into his werewolf form. Harry had never really thought
before about the fact that Sirius had risked Lupin's secret and future
just for that joke. It shocked Harry, because he knew that Sirius and
Lupin were so close that they were almost brothers. How could Sirius have
"And then later, at the wedding," Aunt Petunia said, which
brought Harry out of his thoughts immediately. She almost seemed to be
talking to herself.
"At the wedding, almost everybody had that look in their eyes.
Oh, they all looked happy, and had lots of fun - lots of stupid, immature
jokes -" her voice took on a scornful tone that sounded more like
herself "but they all looked...I don't know. Like someone had murdered
one of them, or was going to murder one of them, but they didn't
know which. It was...it was very strange."
Harry just stared at her. He had never thought that Aunt Petunia
had been at his parents' wedding - she wasn't in any of the pictures he
had of it - though he supposed it made sense. But since when had she been
so observant? The wedding had been at a time when Voldemort's power was
starting to peak, so no wonder everyone had looked haunted. Voldemort
was going to murder one of them - two of them, actually, Harry's
parents. To stop himself from thinking about it, Harry forced his thoughts
back to his aunt.
"But there was one man," Aunt Petunia was saying, still
twisting her hands in her lap and looking at them, not Harry. "His
name was...Remus. Strange name, but his eyes looked like they had always
been haunted. We talked a lot - we were paired up as attendants. Lily
hadn't asked me to be her maid of honor, of course, that was one of her
magical friends, but I was a bridesmaid, and Remus was a groomsman." She hesitated, then pulled a picture out of her pocket, which Harry stared
at, shocked again.
It was a wizard photograph. It was a formal pose, his parents in
the middle, and three couples grouped around them, all in their wedding
finery. But the people were moving, most of them waving at Harry, although
the young Aunt Petunia in the photo did so almost sheepishly. Sirius was
waving with one hand and giving Harry's dad bunny ears with the other.
Harry stared at it, thinkng about how the lives of the people in the picture
had diverged so drastically soon after it was taken.
Aunt Petunia looked down at the picture in her hands.
"That's Remus," she said, pointing at the man who was standing
next to her, smiling and waving up at Harry. "Do you...do you know
"Um, yeah," Harry said. "He was one of my professors."
"Oh," Aunt Petunia said. "Is he...did he...oh, never
mind. It isn't important."
She stood up and thrust the picture into Harry's hands.
"You keep this. Just don't let your uncle see it," she
said, shuffling to the door. She turned and looked Harry straight in the
eye, for the first time since she had mentioned his mother. She had tears
in her eyes, which shocked Harry again. How many shocks was he going to
get in one day?
"I just wanted to let you know that I know that you're hurting.
If you need someone to talk to...well, I'll try."
And with that, Aunt Petunia sneaked out the door again.
Harry lay back on his bed again, looking at the picture, and trying
to figure out what to make of all this. He recognized most of the people
in the picture. There were his parents, of course, and Aunt Petunia with
Professor Lupin. Harry's godfather, Sirius, was next to his father, with
a woman that Harry didn't know. He supposed that she was his mother's
maid of honor. He wondered who she was, and what had happened to her,
but his attention was mostly drawn to the fourth man in the picture: Peter
Peter had been one of his dad's best friends at Hogwarts, one of
the boys who had become Animagi to keep Lupin company when he transformed.
But later, he had betrayed them all to Voldemort, allowing Voldemort to
kill Harry's parents and framing Sirius for the murders, so that Sirius
had had to spend twelve years in Azkaban. Looking at the small, slight
man waving up at him from the picture, Harry could hardly believe it,
though he knew it was true. They all looked so happy, and so much the
group of life-long friends. And yet, Pettigrew must have even then been
working for Voldemort.
Harry put the picture on his bedside table, determined not to think
about it. The other weird thing about the conversation, aside from it
happening at all, that is, was Aunt Petunia's obvious interest in Remus
Lupin. Harry knew a crush when he saw one - there was Ron's for Fleur
Delacour last year as an example, or even his for Cho Chang. But to think
of Aunt Petunia and Professor Lupin...it was just too strange, especially
since she still seemed to think about him. That almost goes from the
crush stage to, oh, unrequited love, Harry thought. If it has lasted
Rolling over onto his stomach, Harry grabbed his quill and parchment
from his table. He had to write to Ron about this - it was just too funny.
But when he tried to write about it, he stopped. It really wasn't funny,
it was almost pathetic. But it was real, and Harry found that he couldn't
make fun of Aunt Petunia. Maybe he could write to Hermione, he thought,
but then he reconsidered that, too. She would understand, and she wouldn't
laugh, but somehow Harry just couldn't do it.
He found himself writing, "Dear Ginny," before he thought
about it. She would definitely understand, she certainly wouldn't laugh,
and somehow, he felt comfortable telling her about it. He got stuck half-way
down the page, however. She might not laugh, he thought, but she
would be embarrassed. It was too much like he was comparing it to her
crush on him, and that might hurt her, which he would never want to do.
He didn't return her feelings, but she was still his best friend's sister,
and he didn't want to hurt her.
Harry crumpled up the parchment, put his glasses on the bedside table,
turned off the light, and rolled over. He wouldn't write to anyone, but
he certainly wanted to ask Professor Lupin if he remembered Aunt Petunia.
Yet another thing to ask his parents' friends about, whenever he saw them