Chapter Sixty-Nine: Bad guys one, good guys zero
When Harry woke up the sun was already hanging low in the sky.
As he turned on his side he saw that a tray with food had been left on his nightstand at some point.
And as if on cue he heard footsteps approaching his door. Two of them actually.
Hastily he closed his eyes, not ready yet for sorrowful and pitying looks full of concern.
The door opened slowly and carefully.
"Harry?" he heard Sirius whisper.
"Is he awake?" came Remus's muffled voice from somewhere behind his godfather.
There was a short break.
Harry tried to keep his breathing even and deep.
"No." came Sirius's resigned answer.
Footsteps approached his bed and a cool hand was placed on his forehead.
"He doesn't feel warm" Sirius muttered "But he's been asleep for almost thirty hours. Don't you think he should wake up soon?"
"You heard what Pomfrey said. He needs sleep to recover and that we shouldn't be surprised if he sleeps long times. Just…just let him rest Sirius. I'm just as concerned but…at least he's at peace. After yesterday…" came Remus's whispered reply from the door.
"You're right. Merlin, what are we going to do?" Sirius replied.
His hand disappeared and Harry listened as he walked back towards the door.
It shut with a small 'click' and he was alone once more.
Slowly he opened his eyes staring at the door.
Thirty hours since Crouch.
Thirty hours since Narcissa.
Thirty hours since blowing up in Dumbledore's face.
Thirty hours since… Not much to tell.
He turned back on his back and stared blankly at the ceiling.
What was he going to do now?
Dumbledore had mentioned him testifying and giving access to his memories.
His initial response had been 'No, absolutely not'.
But it was a childish response.
He knew how valuable his memories would be but still…it was bad enough relieving them each night in his dreams.
Just thinking about it now made his entire body tremor.
He didn't need a room full of people witnessing him at his most scared and vulnerable time.
Maybe they could just show it Fudge and madam Bones or something like that.
Abruptly he sat up, regretting it instantly when the blood-rush from his head into his body made him dizzy.
He sat on the edge of his bed and shook his head.
Merlin, what was wrong with him?
He had stared death in the face a dozen times before.
Hell, he had faced Voldemort two times before.
But somehow the night in the graveyard was different that being face to face with a younger diary-version or a Quirrell-possessing-version of Voldemort.
Back then the danger, although real, had felt less threatening that being in the full presence of such a dark creature.
Also most of those times he had been faced with impossible deadly tasks and obstacles, he had walked out of there maybe not a winner but on his own terms.
In the graveyard…he'd just run. Run like a coward. He had hidden himself away and waited for someone to find him.
He reached for his necklace on the nightstand, fingering the clay cube.
Three of its sides were burned away.
Three faces gone.
Three elements gone.
Fire, gone in the lake.
Air, gone to push Cedric out of the way of the killing curse and into the portkey.
And earth, gone to hide him from Voldemort and his croons.
Harry whished it had swallowed him and never spat him back out again.
That left him with water.
He put the necklace back down and stood up.
But the earth had brought him back.
It had brought him right to Sirius.
At least that was what he'd been told.
Harry dressed in a pair of white khakis, a black Weird Sister's T-Shirt Tonks had gifted him for Christmas before heading into the bathroom across the hall to wash his face and brush his teeth.
As he brushed the plastic bristles over his teeth he wondered what the future would look like.
Not just for him but for the entire wizarding world.
Voldemort was back.
Peace was over.
Who knew what he was planning as he stood there.
He spat a mouthful of white foam and spit into the sink before rinsing out his mouth and drying his face in a towel.
He stared at his reflection, taking in the pale skin, the sunken in eyes and the dark rings underneath them, the hair that looked like a rats' nest and closed his eyes.
Yeah, peace was over.
It was time to prepare for the battles yet to come.
And like it or not, whatever the future held, he's be at its forefront.
Voldemort was after him.
They would meet again.
They would cross wands again.
And Harry vowed to himself that he would never let himself feel that weak again.
He would never let that creature make him run again.
He would never let him do something like this to him again.
Next time Harry would fight.
No more disarming spells, no more hiding and shielding.
Shields keep attacker outside but once they managed to breach inside it was time to switch to offense.
Harry took a few long and deep breathes and splashed some ice-cold water into his face.
Some droplets travelled down his neck over his spin and he shivered.
"Never again." He muttered to his reflection, grabbing the edges of the sink tightly.
A knock on the bathroom door startled him.
"Harry? Is that you?" Remus asked.
Rolling his eyes Harry replied: "If it were someone else, would you even notice?"
Remus obviously got his remark on Crouch Jr. because after a short break of silence he asked: "I just wanted to know if you want something to eat."
The growl of his stomach reminded Harry how long it had been since his last meal.
"Yeah. I could eat." He agreed. "I'll be down in a minute."
He threw one last glance back in the mirror before opening the door.
Remus still stood there.
"Good to see you up." He said though there was a certain kind of uncertainty in his voice.
"Yeah." Harry shrugged, unsure what else to reply.
"I made meat-pies." Remus added.
"Great. Like I said, I'll be down in a minute." Harry muttered, walking past Remus and back into his room, closing the door behind him.
When he got downstairs. Sirius was putting cutlery on the table but he stopped when Harry entered the room.
"How are you feeling kiddo?" he asked.
Harry shrugged. "Okay, I guess." What else could he say?
"Any pain? Do you need something?"
"Just food." Harry said with a shrug.
He picked up the plates from the kitchen counter but Sirius waved him away: "I'll do that. Sit down and rest."
"I'm not gonna break Sirius, I slept for more than a day, I am rested." Harry objected.
Sirius hesitated but then moved away.
They ate mostly in silence until Sirius cleared his throat and said: "Since yesterdays meeting was cut short and we didn't have any time to reconvene afterwards we're meeting again tonight. While we're away we thought it would be nice if you went and stayed at the Burrow for a few hours. What do you think? I know everyone is really looking forward seeing you. It's been a while after all."
Harry didn't look up from his plate.
"I guess it's not really up for debate, right?" he asked, picking at his third meat-pie. "Can't I come with you to the meeting? If you're talking about Voldemort I want to be in on it. I want to know what's going on. And what happened to Crouch Jr.? Are they calling a meeting? A trial? Have they release an official statement yet?"
Sirius and Remus looked at each other.
"No, nothing yet. Dumbledore took care of it yesterday and I guess he'll tell us in the meeting how it went. But I don't think you need to come. We'll tell you when we come back."
Harry put down his fork and stared at his godfather and uncle.
"Of course, I need to be there. I was the one attacked, I was the one who apprehended him" Well not quite but that wasn't the point "And I might have some information regarding Voldemort."
"I thought you already told Dumbledore everything?" Remus asked.
"Yeah but not what Crouch told me."
"You can tell us and we'll tell him." Sirius offered.
Harry folded his arms. "Why can't I come?" he asked defiantly.
"We just don't want to burden you with these things Harry. You're still recovering."
"I told you, I'm fine."
"No, you're not Harry. Not yet anyway. Focus on getting better and we'll see what comes next." Sirius said firmly.
"He is out there planning his next moves, planning his rise to power and you want me to sit here and twiddle my thumbs?" Harry asked disbelievingly.
"No, we want you to get better." Remus said gently.
"I want to help." Harry argued, slamming his fists onto the table.
"You've done enough Harry, let the grown -ups handle it now!" Sirius retorted.
"You mean I've screwed up enough. Letting myself be captured like that, helping him get back." Harry hissed bitterly.
"That's not what I said."
"You think I can't handle myself because of what happened. I'm not weak Sirius. I want to fight."
"Harry you can barely walk up the stairs right now. And you've fought enough. Let us take over." Remus reminded him.
"That's not gonna stop Voldemort form coming after me." Harry said heatedly.
"You're not coming to this meeting and that is the end of it." Sirius growled loudly, slamming his flat hand on the top of the table.
"Fine, I don't wanna go to that stupid meeting anyway. Just dump me at the Weasleys. You're going to screw up again like you screwed up with Crouch Jr." Harry replied just as angrily.
He jumped up, although 'jumped' was a bit exaggerated, and stormed towards the stairs.
Biting his teeth together he climbed them as quickly as he could.
When it was time to floo over to the Burrow Harry didn't say a word to either Sirius or Remus.
As he stepped out of fireplace at the Burrow he was greeted by Mrs. Weasley, who immediately hugged him tightly.
He let her, partly because he knew she needed it and partly because he secretly liked her hugs. They were warm and always full of love and care and never to tight.
Finally she released him.
There were tears in her eyes.
"I'm fine Molly." He assured her.
She just shook her head. "No, you're not. But don't worry, we'll patch you up just fine. Do you want some tea? I just put on a fresh kettle."
"We'll be off then Molly. Has Arthur already left?" Remus asked from where he and Sirius still stood by the fireplace.
"He's coming straight form work." Molly replied.
"Right, then we'll be on our way. See you later Harry. Be good for Molly." Sirius said.
"Yeah, right." Harry muttered.
In a flash of green fire, the two men vanished.
Harry looked around.
"Where is everybody?" he asked Mrs. Weasley.
"I thought you might not like being jumped by so many people at once so I made them stay upstairs until I'd call them."
Harry couldn't help but smile.
"So, do you want a cup of tea?" she asked him.
"That would be lovely." Harry admitted.
He sat down at the long kitchen table as she swirled around the kitchen, filling a cup with tea and levitating it and a box of cookies over to him, together with some scones and marmalade.
"Dig in. You're too thin."
Even though they'd just eaten Harry felt hungry again and did as she said.
After a few bites he asked: "Is everyone alright?"
She leaned back in her chair, a cup of steaming tea clasped between both hands.
"Well they're shaken and Ron and Hermione were angry that they weren't allowed to visit you in the hospital. And generally, everyone's been really worried, even though they kept reassuring us that you were alright. Ron's especially upset, even more so after they found out what happened yesterday."
Harry looked down at his plate.
"Yeah." He muttered, unsure what else to say.
"They'll be so glad to see you Harry. Everyone's been so worried." She said warmly, leaning forward to push a stray piece of hair out of his face.
"Are you not going to this meeting?" Harry asked carefully.
Mrs. Weasley's expression turned slightly sour.
"No. It's bad enough Bill's going with Arthur. I don't want any of my kids involved with this. But he's of age. And so is Charlie. I just hope I can keep the twins away from it." She muttered.
"Why, what is so special about this meeting?"
She looked at him for a few moments.
"I'm not sure I should tell you if Sirius and Remus didn't already tell you."
"If it were up to them I would know nothing, sleep the whole day and be locked in my room for the most time." Harry muttered bitterly.
"Oh honey they're just concerned and want to protect you."
"A bit late for that."
Mrs. Weasley shook her head. "That's juts it darling. They couldn't protect you when you needed it. So now they feel guilty and try to compensate through being overprotective now that you might not need it as much anymore. It's only natural."
"How can I possible be safe when they keep things from me?"
"Because they think it'll protect you from bad news and things like that."
"I'm not a little kid. If anyone has a right to know what's going on it is me."
Mrs. Weasley put a soothing hand on his arm.
"Why don't I go and get Ron? I'm sure he's wearing out the floor with his pacing. You boys can play a few games together or something like that." She said, trying to divert their conversation.
"Whatever." Harry muttered, leaning back in his chair.
Mrs. Weasley got up and banished the used plates and cups into the sink.
"Go sit down in the living room, I'll be right back."
The only noise in the living room came from the old family-clock.
Other than that, it was quiet.
Harry drummed with his fingers on his thigh as he waited.
The Burrow was a familiar to him as was his own home.
He's lived here for weeks last summer. This was his home too.
Yet as he sat here he felt like he didn't belong.
Somewhere far up a door opened and banged shut shortly afterwards and then there were rushed footsteps on the stairs.
Another few moments later Ron came barrelling into the room, his hair a mess and his eyes wide and searching for Harry.
When they found him, he came to a stop.
"Blimey Harry." He muttered breathlessly.
Awkwardly Harry got up but before either of them could move any further another figure flew past Ron and knocked so hard into Harry that he fell back onto the couch.
The someone was Hermione, who fell on top of him, her bony elbows burrowing in his stomach.
He groaned through a mouthful of her hair.
"Mione…" he muttered, trying to gently push her off him but she had her arms locked around his neck in what was almost a chock-hold.
And she was crying.
If there was something Harry couldn't deal with right now it was his best friend crying.
"Hermione, stop. And get off me." He huffed, pushing her away.
Through her hair that was covering most of his sight he saw Ron standing behind her, gently lifting her up.
"Easy there Mione, let him breath." His other best friend said gently, placing their teary friend down next to him.
Then he looked at Harry.
"You alright mate?" he asked.
"Just dandy." Harry replied, standing back up.
"I'm sorry" Hermione sobbed "It's juts…I'm so glad to see you Harry. The last time I saw you…the last time I saw you…Oh Harry, I was so worried."
"Well, I'm okay now Mione. But thanks for the warm welcome." Harry offered.
"I'm sorry for knocking you over. Merlin, you should probably sit down. I hope I didn't hurt you Harry, oh, I'm such a klutz."
"It's fine and I don't need to sit down." Harry assured her.
"Are you sure? Remus mentioned you weren't quite up to speed yet. And after yesterday…Oh Harry, how could that happen?" she babbled.
"Yeah, well, that's the million-pound question, isn't it?" Harry asked back, crossing his arms with a sigh.
"But enough about me, what about you?" he asked silently.
"We're fine. Worried mostly but better now that you're here." Ron admitted.
Harry smiled weakly.
"So what's been going on?" he asked.
Ron and Hermione exchanged a look that reminded Harry a lot of Remus and Sirius.
"Have…have you read the Prophet lately?" Hermione asked carefully.
"I was in the hospital until yesterday so no…not really." Harry muttered.
Hermione and Ron looked at each other again.
"Well as far as the tournament is concerned everyone assumes it was Pettigrew who kidnapped you and bewitched Krum and all that and…and they said it was because he wanted revenge and all that. That he was the one who tortured you and that he got away when they went to rescue you." Ron said slowly.
"But…but we…we've heard rumours going around the house. Harry…they say that He-who-must-not-be-named is back." Hermione whispered carefully.
"Yeah, well, those aren't rumours. He is back. Wormtail brought him back to life with some kind of ritual. I can't really explain it. But…they used my blood for it. That's why they took me. They needed me to bring him back." He muttered, staring down at his feet.
"Oh Harry…" Hermione whispered.
"He's really back?" Ron asked, his voice quivering.
Harry nodded wordlessly.
"So the man that attacked you yesterday, the one that posed as Moody, he's…"
"A Deatheater, yeah. He's behind it all. My enrolment in the tournament, he even killed Mr. Crouch but that's also for another reason. It's really complicated." Harry muttered with a shrug.
"And Voldemort's return…it's the reason why they're having these meetings?" Hermione asked.
"Meetings? I thought today was the first?"
"No, they've been having them all week long."
"What about the Deatheater that attacked me yesterday? Any news on him yet? Dumbledore said he'd take him before Fudge. As evidence."
"Well…there was nothing in this mornings paper. Maybe tomorrow?" Hermione suggested.
"Yeah, maybe." Harry muttered.
"Do you think they'll believe that he is back?" Hermione asked.
"They have too. There is so much evidence. Hell, I'll might even give them my memories from that night." Harry replied heatedly.
He turned around and walked over to one of the windows, staring into the evening light.
"I'm sure Dumbledore has a plan." Hermione offered, stepping up next to him.
"Yeah mate, after all, he's the only one you-know-who has ever feared." Ron added.
Harry opted not to answer that.
It was a tense evening.
Normally Harry had no problem relaxing around Ron and Hermione. They were his oldest and best friends and there was nothing they didn't know about each other.
But Harry felt restless and out of place.
They tried playing a variety of games or tried just to talk but Harry was distracted and he could feel how Ron and Hermione still walked on eggshells around him.
Conversations were superficial at the most and about things they'd talked about already.
"Why are you here anyway Hermione? Don't you want to go home?" Harry asked.
"Well, I didn't tell my parents that school ended three weeks earlier than usual because of what happened. They still think I'll be on the train Friday to come home like always."
"I just…I wanted to be sure you were alright and...I don't know…staying at the Burrow meant staying closer to you all and being able to know what's going on." She finished slowly.
"Thanks Hermione but you know you didn't have too."
"Yes, I did." She said, reaching across the table to squeeze his hand.
Harry turned to Ron.
"And how's everyone here?" he asked.
"The twins have been cooped up in their room most of the time, working on their joke-products, which is driving mum nuts. Ginny is alright, she's spending a lot of time with Luna" at the mentioning of his friend's name Harry perked up, remembering that his lovely blonde friend lived close by "Charlie is back in Rumania at the moment, Bill is busy with work and Fleur and…well…you know, the meetings but other than that…Dads still working at the ministry. Nothing much has changed to be honest."
Harry stared down at the table and his cards.
Yes, everything was still the same.
Except form him.
"That's good." He muttered.
"It's a bit surreal to be honest." Hermione whispered.
A ringing from the chimney caught their attention.
Mrs. Weasley came bustling into the room just as the flames turned green and one after another Bill, Mr. Weasley, Sirius, Remus, Kingsley and Dumbledore stepped out of the fireplace.
Harry thought that was it but a second after Dumbledore the flames turned green again and another person stepped into the Weasley living room.
When he straightened up, Harry had already his wand in his hand.
"Relashio!" he shouted and the purple sparks hit the man square in the chest, sending him backwards into the fireplace.
"Harry stop!" he heard Hermione yell.
He saw a red spell coming his way from the left.
Remembering the Cruciatus-curse, Harry ducked away, rolling over the floor and took cover behind the couch.
"Harry, stop, it's alright!" he heard Sirius shout.
Then the red spell hit him in the hand and his wand went spinning across the room and out of reach.
And suddenly it was quiet in the room.
Realizing that no one had actually fired the Cruciatus-curse at him but merely an disarming spell, Harry slowly got to his feet and faced the gathered crowd.
"Blimey mate, what's gotten into you?" Ron asked form where he'd duck down beside the coffee table.
Harry pointed at the man he had attacked who was slowly getting back onto his feet, dusting off ashes from his coat.
"What the hell?" he hissed accusingly.
Dumbledore stepped forward.
"Ah yes, I'm sorry Harry. In hindsight maybe, we should have announced earlier that he'd be accompanying us."
"You think?" Harry growled.
"Still, there was no need to attack him."
"Oh it's alright Albus, let the boy be. Good reflexes if you ask me." The man replied gruffly.
"Harry, I believe you've already met Alastor Moody. The real Alastor Moody, that is." Remus offered, stepping forward and gestured at the ex-Auror that stood there.
"Good to meet you again kid." The real Mad Eye said.
"Yeah, sorry if I don't get comfortable, last time I saw you, you were about this close" Harry put his thumb and forefinger together "From killing me. No offence."
"None taken." Mad Eye said.
"Harry, that wasn't the real Alastor." Dumbledore reminded him.
"Could have fooled you. Oh wait, he did." Harry retorted.
Mad Eye let out a hoarse laugh. "Too right. Kids got spunk."
"You're not any better. How did he get a drop on you?" Harry asked, crossing his arms once more.
Moody raised his arms defensively. "Got me there." He admitted. "Nice shot though. Really didn't see that one coming."
Harry relaxed ever so slightly and nodded.
Although he looked, talked and walked like his imposter, there was something different about the real Mad Eye.
"Harry, please apologize to Mad Eye." Sirius spoke up.
"Nonsense Sirius. I'm fine. As I keep saying, CONSTANT VIGILANCE." The older man grumbled.
"A lot good that did to you." Harry muttered but no one heard it.
Now that the initial chaos was over, everybody began to relax.
"So how was the meeting? What about Crouch Jr.? Did you take him to the ministry? What are our next steps?" Harry asked, retrieving his wand.
The grown ups exchanged looks.
Harry really started to hate that.
"Things…didn't go quite as we had hoped, to be honest." Sirius said slowly.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked carefully, afraid what the answer might be.
There was silence again.
"You might as well tell him. Otherwise he'll read about it tomorrow in the Prophet." Moody growled.
Sirius sat down and motioned for Harry to do so as well.
"Fudge…didn't believe us. He said that we were mad. He doesn't believe Voldemort is back. He believes that Pettigrew acted on his own and that there is no evidence to believe that the Dark Lord is back."
"But what about Crouch Jr.? He was right there, he was the evidence! And Cedric, he was there too!"
"Cedric never saw Voldemort Harry. Sure, he might have heard what could have been his voice but…you were the only one to witness his return. And as for Crouch Jr…" Sirius hesitated and Harry saw how he clenched his fists "He took one look at him and set the dementors on him. They sucked his soul out before we could intervene."
"What?" Harry whispered.
"After that things got a little bit out of hand." Remus admitted.
"Fudge, Dumbledore and Sirius got into a shouting match in the middle of the Ministry. It ended with Fudge calling Dumbledore a senile old coot that was just out for his job and Sirius a deranged criminal."
"We tried to explain Wormtails' connections to Voldemort and that you were willing to give your memories as testimony but he wouldn't hear it. He is scared. He doesn't want it to be true." Dumbledore explained.
"He also said that you were not a reliable witness since you probably made all that up to cope with what happened to you." Remus added.
"The press is going to have a field day." Kingsley muttered.
"So what you are saying is…the only real witness, besides myself, is now soulless, Fudge doesn't believe a word you told him and they think I'm crazy?" Harry asked, his voice slightly hysteric.
"It would seem so, yes." Dumbledore admitted.
"So we have nothing? Nothing to prove that Voldemort is back?" Harry asked.
"Yes." Dumbledore whispered. "And it's going to play right into their hands most likely."
"But what if I do give my memories? What if we prove that they are real?"
"We offered that. Fudge said we were nuts and only wanted to use these events to push our own agenda by spreading fear and disrupting the peace and tranquillity." Sirius said, leaning back with a sigh.
"But…but we can't just let that be it!" Harry protested.
"We won't" Dumbledore assured him "But Fudge won't budge. We'll try again during the Wizengamot meeting but the odds are not in our favour. We'll need to find another way."
He hesitated for a moment.
"Harry, I know you initially said you couldn't but…we really need your memories. Because even we barely know what happened. I believe you. We all do. But…we need to see to understand."
Harry clenched his fists.
He knew they needed to see it.
But he was scared what it would do to them.
"I'll do it." he said quietly.
"Thank you, Harry." Dumbledore said kindly.
From somewhere in his robes he summoned a small vial.
"Now Harry, this won't be pleasant but…I still need you to give me as much detail as you can. Everything could be important."
Harry nodded and closed his eyes.
He remembered fighting the spider with Cedric, running towards the portkey, arriving in the graveyard.
He could feel the tip of Dumbledores' wand on his temple.
He remembered fighting Pettigrew and walking up bound to the gravestone.
Cold sweat began forming on his forehead and back.
That memory cut off his air-supply.
"Easy Harry. You are alright. Those things are in that past. You are safe now." Sirius whispered in his ear.
He remembered the Deatheaters appearing and then Voldemort approaching him, taunting him and insulting him.
He remembered their dual.
He came to an abrupt stop opening his eyes.
"Harry, I know its hard but I need to know everything." Dumbledore reminded him gently.
Harry turned to Sirius.
"Will you watch that?" he asked, gesturing to the vial in Dumbledores hand.
"I have to. I have to understand. So I can help you." He whispered.
"I…there's something you should know. I…I saw mum. And dad…they were there. They appeared all of a sudden and… they helped me." He confessed, tears gathering in his eyes.
Instead of explaining more, he closed his eyes and willed the memories to come forward.
He remembered the golden dome, the ghosts of his parents.
Then he remembered running away, his heart aching more than ever.
His last memory was of the earth swallowing him, hiding him away from Voldemort.
Harry opened his eyes again.
To his surprise the room was empty except form him, Dumbledore and Sirius.
Harry was exhausted.
He watched as Dumbledore closed the vial and carefully stored it in his robes.
"Thank you, Harry." He said simply and left without any further word.
Slowly Harry got up, ignoring Sirius' helping hands.
"Can we go?" he asked.
"Yes, of course." Sirius said.
AN: Hey guys, quick note that I will obviously continue this but I will start it in a new story as this is somewhat the turning point.
Fourth year is over, fifth year is approaching and with it a lot of changes.
So the next chapter will be the first in the continuation you could say and you'll probably find it on my profile. It will we a direct and smooth transition from this into the next story, I just don't want this story to get too long with hundreds of chapter, you know?
Thanks for all the reviews I've been getting, especially for the past chapters.
I know I don't answer you enough but believe me that they are all very much appreciated, even the more hateful ones.
I'll always try my best but sometimes chapters aren't going to be as good as others or some ideas might seem stupid or bring to you but believe me when I say I have a plan where I am heading with this!
Anyway, thank you for reading so far and I hope I'll see you soon in the sequel!