Summary: Response to challenge. (For the exact rules, see Morgan D's Hogwarts Letters site via the link on my profile).
Harry starts living with Sirius and Remus. It's like a dream come true, isn't it? Well it surely would be, if there wasn't the obvious fact that Sirius and Remus are hiding something from the teenager, Harry's desperate struggle to deal with everything that happened during the past months, and the little visit a former friend pays them. What Harry had imagined to become an alleviation from living with the Dursleys proves to be more difficult than everybody involved had expected.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything here except the plot, well, and also the rather plot-less bonding parts.
All Harry Potter characters and settings, though, are the intellectual property of Joanne K. Rowling, Warner Bros. and many others who all aren't connected to me in any way, and I have no permission to use them. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money is being made with this fic, though, and as JKR kills off her characters without seemingly any reason at all, I guess it's okay if I take them out for a break.
Note: This is slash. You have been warned in case you don't like such stories. Though it's a really safe PG-13 with nothing graphic or offending.
To close those awfully long disclaimer page, I just warn you that this story probably covers every single cliché of a "Harry goes living with Sirius and Remus after his fourth year" story, so this is nothing that hasn't been done before. A couple of times. Don't expect me to come up with something completely new here, it's just my take on an already well-covered idea. Though I tried to give it a slightly different twist towards the end. shrugs Read and judge for yourself.
Review and criticism are welcome, you know how it works.
Chapter One: Breach of Security
July was one of the hottest summer months Great Britain had seen in over a decade. The sun was shining mercilessly down from the cloudless sky, rising the temperatures to an unbearable level already long before noon. Meteorologists from all over the country were wondering over the reasons for this unusual weather, but so far none of their theories had supplied a complete explanation.
Not that most of the Britons wanted one, anyway. They were enjoying the summer as good as they could, the children spending all day at the closest lake or public swimming pond while the adults watered their gardens and tanned in the sun. In the evenings, the smell of outdoor-barbeques waved through many neighbourhoods and friends and families sat together on their terraces and balconies until late in the night.
There was nothing that disturbed those many families in enjoying their well-earned summer holidays, and seemingly nothing unusual was going on anywhere in the entire country.
The town of Little Whinging in Surrey on the first view made no exception from all the above.
But if any observer had taken up the effort to have a closer look, they would have realized that indeed not everybody seemed to be enjoying their summer, leisurely bathing in the sun and avoiding any arduous activities if possible. Not everything in Little Whinging was normal, and anybody knowing about the other world that existed in Britain could have guessed that it probably wouldn't stay as peaceful as it appeared now.
Because in No. 4, Privet Drive in Little Whinging lived a wizard teenager called Harry Potter.
Said boy at the moment was sitting on the desk in his small bedroom, on the upper floor of No. 4, Privet Drive, and was chewing on the end of a quill as he desperately searched for the words to fill the empty parchment lying in front of him. It was already late in the evening, but a small lamp on his desk gave Harry just enough light to be able to read his book.
It had been merely three weeks since Harry had returned home from his fourth year at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry, but Harry had decided that he'd better start his homework as soon as possible. It kept him from thinking.
But tonight, this technique didn't seem to work. The parchment in front of him was still empty, even though he had been trying to start his essay for over an hour now. His History of Magic book was opened in front of him, leaning against the empty cage of his snowy white owl, Hedwig, who at the moment was off hunting.
The blank parchment seemed to stare back mockingly at Harry. Binns' holiday assignment this year was nothing too demanding, 'Describe how the events around the Goblin Rebellion of 1772 nearly exposed the wizarding world to the muggles and the effects this exposure would have probably had at that time'. Not too difficult. There was always a Goblin Rebellion in every century, and as long as one could come up with names like Vanorg the Violent and Borg the Bouncer, Binns seemed to be content with the essays. Then why didn't Harry seem able to concentrate on it for an hour or two?
Because his thoughts kept drifting off, that's why.
Absent-mindly, Harry scratched his neck but immediately flinched back as his fingers encountered the stinging sun-burn that had spread there during the past two days.
Despite the burning sun and the stinging heat, the Dursleys had assigned Harry with the task of keeping the gardens, watering the plants, re-painting the garden fence and weeding the flower-beds during the past days. And though physical labour in the sun wasn't the most comfortable thing in this weather, Harry had not complained about it. For one, it kept him away from his aunt, uncle and cousin for most of the day, as they refused to go out into the heat if it could be avoided. But mostly because this too, kept him from thinking.
A lot of things had happened to Harry during his last school year, and each and every one of those events was one he didn't want to think about.
He didn't want to remember the night when his name had come out of the Goblet of Fire, he didn't want to remember his fighting with Ron, but mostly he didn't want to remember what had happened during the night of the Third Task.
The night in which the portkey had taken Harry and Cedric to the old graveyard. The night in which Voldemort had resurrected himself, had come back to his own body and power.
The night Cedric Diggory had died. Just because he had been there. Just because Harry had told him to take the cup together with him.
Because of Harry, Cedric had not lived to see this incredible summer. Would never see any summer again. Damn, Cedric would never see anything again, anything at all! And all just because of him.
Realizing that his hand had begun to shake violently, Harry put down his quill and closed the book. He'd not be able to start the essay tonight anymore, because once more he had not managed to keep from thinking.
With a sigh, Harry changed into his pyjamas, extinguished the lights and sat down on his bed.
It was already bad enough that he couldn't sleep anymore without waking up at least twice each night. Harry saw the events of the Third Task every night in his sleep, and every night he woke up, the words 'Kill the spare' echoing in his head. It was bad enough, but he could live with it. He had to live with it, and if Harry was completely honest with himself, he thought he had earned it. After all, had it not been for his decision to take the cup together, Cedric would still be alive to see this summer.
But Harry couldn't allow himself to brood over this during daytime. He had homework to finish and he had chores to do for his aunt and uncle. If he started brooding over his guilt all day long, he'd neglect his chores, and then he'd be in serious trouble. Not that he wouldn't have earned a slap or two, just to remind him that he could still feel the pain while Cedric would never be able to feel anything at all anymore, but Harry had still six more weeks to go in his summer holidays. And if his aunt and uncle finally kicked him out, he'd have nowhere to go. And Albus Dumbledore himself had decided that staying at Privet Drive was the safest. His headmaster surely had meant that it was the safest place for him to stay, but Harry could not keep away the thought that this involuntary exile of his was also safest for the people he cared for. No, Harry had to be able to stay at Privet Drive, so he couldn't allow himself to make his family too angry.
Though Harry doubted that even returning to Hogwarts this year would be like it had been the past three years. With Voldemort back, the wizarding world was no safe haven anymore, and Hogwarts was not excluded from that. After all, death had already stricken there. And when he returned, Harry would be constantly reminded that he had been the one to bring death to Hogwarts grounds.
With a sigh, Harry stretched the muscles in his back, aching from sitting bent over the desk for so long. One look at his alarm clock on the bedside table told him that it was half past one in the morning.
Harry doubted that he'd be able to sleep at all that night.
Silently climbing out of bed again, Harry knelt before his school trunk and pulled out the photo album Hagrid had given him at the end of his first year. Sitting back down on the bed, Harry opened it up and for what had to be the millionth time looked at the pictures of his parents and their friends. Pictures from a better time.
There was the picture of his parents with him, shortly after he had been born. His father was silently waving at the photographer while his mother had his eyes fixed on the child in her arms. Which was also him, Harry reminded himself.
Their wedding picture, with a young, handsome and smiling Sirius standing next to his father. His godfather's blue eyes sparkled, there was no haunted look in them like it was now. They were just blue and alight with a joy of life and happiness for his friends. Before Azkaban had left its everlasting scars upon Sirius.
Harry had found out that if he waited for some time, Sirius would leave the picture for a moment and drag a shy and unwilling Professor Lupin into the picture. His former Defence teacher looked so much younger and healthier on that picture, that much Harry could see even though Professor Lupin quickly vanished again after freeing himself from Sirius' grasp and waving shyly into the camera once. Obviously, he didn't like to be photographed.
Harry didn't know for how long he had been browsing through the photo album, thinking about how much he missed his parents and Sirius, when something made him look up.
He had just returned to staring at the photo of his parents and him, when he heard something.
Looking up, he tried to find the source of this disturbing sound. If whatever it was woke up his relatives, he'd for sure be blamed for it. Harry only hoped that Dobby hadn't decided to visit him again.
But after some long moments of intense listening, Harry realized that it had not been a sound that had disturbed him. Rather, it had been the sudden complete lack of sounds that had alerted his senses. The crickets outside had suddenly fallen silent, and the dog three houses down the street had not let out its occasional bark for quite some time.
Harry frowned, but after some moments more decided that this was maybe unusual, but surely nothing for him to worry about. He put the photo album back in his trunk, closed the lid and lay back on his bed.
Closing his eyes, Harry hoped that he'd at least find an hour or two of sleep that night.
It could have only been a couple of minutes, less than five, before Harry realized that sleep was not his biggest concern that night. A loud sound like an explosion rocked No. 4 Privet Drive from ground to roof. Harry sat bolt upright in his bed within an instant.
He didn't need to go out of his room and see what was happening to know that it had to do with him. Only one thought was on his mind: Voldemort had found him, and now even more people would die because they were connected to him. Harry's scar wasn't hurting, but that didn't mean that Voldemort was not involved in whatever was happening now. And though Harry didn't particularly care much about his family, he nevertheless didn't want any harm to befall them just because he was there. Nobody had earned to fall victim to Voldemort, no matter if Harry liked them or not.
Forgetting about his initial shock, Harry sprang to his feet and once more flung the trunk on the foot-end of his bed open. He didn't need to search long before he had found his wand. Harry might have been hardly more than an average underage wizard with a limited knowledge of spells and hardly enough power to pose a threat to a fully qualified wizard, but Harry would not sit by and watch things fall apart around him. Not again.
Silently, Harry sneaked towards the door to his bedroom and pressed his ear on the wood. From downstairs he could hear sounds, as if people were rummaging around. So whoever had created the noise that had woken him was already in the house, and it would only be a matter of moments before his aunt and uncle would wake and come to investigate themselves.
Carefully, Harry opened the door and peeked around into the corridor. It was still empty, signalling that the intruders were still occupied with whatever it was that they were doing downstairs. The thought that this might be a muggle burglary never crossed Harry's mind. Muggle thieves usually tried to keep silent and didn't blast the front door off its hinges, for one. Because that was the first thing Harry saw as he approached the staircase and looked down. Splints of wood were strewn all around the hall and the remains of the door had been blasted against the opposite wall. When Harry leaned over the railing, he could look into the living room, and what he saw there made his blood freeze in his veins. He could see three or four men in dark cloaks, their hoods covering their heads and their faces covered with white masks were in the room. Death Eaters! And from what Harry guessed, they would not waste much time on the ground floor, not if their intention for coming to Privet Drive really was to get him.
If the Death Eaters came upstairs, they'd not only find him, but also Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and his cousin Dudley. And Death Eaters were not known to spare innocent lives if they crossed their ways. Harry had to act, and he had to do something quickly.
"He has to be upstairs!"
Yes, Harry had to do something quickly. The only problem was that he had absolutely no idea what he could possibly do to stop them. He knew the stunning and the disarming spell, but those were at least four fully educated wizards down there, even if he could stun or disarm one or two of them the others would have no problem finishing him off. No problem at all.
Harry took some steps back so that he could not immediately be seen and waited for the Death Eaters to come upstairs. He'd try to take out as many of them as he could, maybe for once he'd be lucky. Maybe, just for once.
Not for the first time this evening, Harry wished that Sirius was here. His godfather would know what to do. He'd know how to get rid of those Death Eaters.
But Sirius was not there, so Harry would have to help himself.
The first Death Eater had started the stairs now, Harry could hear the wood creak under the man's weight. Again, Harry wondered why his relatives had not woken up yet. Or maybe they were awake but didn't dare to leave their rooms?
And then everything happened really, really fast.
From what Harry judged, the first Death Eater must have nearly reached the top of the stairs, and he prepared himself to cast his first spell, hoping that the moment of surprise would hold for as long as possible.
Harry raised his wand.
The Death Eater froze for a moment, then he fell back down the stairs and took at least one other Death Eater with him in his fall, from what it sounded like. Harry's mouth fell open. He had not uttered that spell, he had not stunned the Death Eater. But then who?
During the following moments that seemed to stretch endlessly, Harry heard commotion, spells and hexes from downstairs, but still he wasn't able to distinguish the different voices and find out who had come to his rescue.
Just because somebody attacked the Death Eaters, didn't necessarily mean that they were not here to harm Harry as well. One could never be too careful, so Harry stayed hidden even after the shouting had stopped and the fight downstairs was obviously over.
Now it was easier for Harry to hear what the voices were saying.
"…Arabella stunned. Couldn't alert anybody…"
"…no problem, Alastor. I had somebody to inform me about this. Now let's search Harry."
Harry didn't immediately know whom that first voice belonged to, but he'd recognize the second one anywhere. The second voice belonged to none other than his headmaster, Albus Dumbledore.
Harry left his hiding place and carefully stepped on top of the stairs, as if he wanted to make sure that it really was Albus Dumbledore standing in the hall downstairs.
And it was. His headmaster was standing there, watching as two other wizards Harry didn't know or recognized bound up the stunned forms of two Death Eaters who were lying in the hall. Mad Eye Moody, the real one, not the impostor that had taught during Harry's past year at Hogwarts, just left the house through what remained of the front door. Even though Harry knew that this had to be the real Moody, he couldn't help but shiver upon seeing him 'again'.
Hearing him speak, Dumbledore turned towards the stairs and smiled at Harry.
"Ah, Harry. Just the person we were searching for. Are you alright?"
Harry nodded and carefully descended the stairs.
"Yes, I am. What happened here?"
A stretch of silence followed, just as if Dumbledore was thinking how much he should tell Harry about what had happened.
"Well, it seems that the wards and protection spells around the house were breached."
"It surely is no folly to assume that he is behind all this, you're right. He's grown more powerful than we all wanted to imagine, I'm afraid. Harry, where are your relatives?"
As if on cue, the booming voice of Harry's uncle sounded from upstairs. And he didn't seem to be very delighted about what had just happened.
on Earth have you done with my house? Boy, is that your doing? What
have I been telling you about doing your freak-stuff in my house? If
that freak school of yours finally throws you out because of that,
don't think that you'll be living here, do you get me? You're enough
of a nuisance as it is."
Harry immediately stiffened when he heard his uncle. Trust Vernon to blame Harry for what had happened here. But Dumbledore put an arm around Harry's shoulder and steered him towards the door.
"Professor? But, where are we going? And what about my uncle?"
Dumbledore smiled, his eyes sparkling behind the half-moon glasses.
"Well, since there are no wards here anymore which could protect you, I'd think you might want to spend the night somewhere safer. Let us return to Hogwarts and leave everything here until tomorrow, don't you think?"
Harry just shook his head.
"But sir, you have heard my uncle. He'll surely not be amused about having me simply disappear now. And my trunk is still upstairs."
Dumbledore only smiled knowingly.
"Oh, I think once Auror Fletcher and the Obliviators have taken care of your relatives, they won't remember anything unusual about this night at all. And I'll have someone get your things in the morning, once everything here is restored to its usual order, so don't worry."
They walked in silence for a moment, until they had nearly reached Magnolia Crescent.
Dumbledore turned towards his student.
"How did the Death Eaters break the wards?"
Dumbledore sighed and shrugged, a gesture Harry had never seen him do before.
"That Harry, I can't tell. We'll have to check what remains of the magical signature of the wards, maybe then we'll know. But until then, you shouldn't worry yourself about it. There's nothing you can do at the moment. Let's leave for Hogwarts now, don't you think? Just take my hand, I'll apparate us to the gates."
Dumbledore stretched out his left hand and without hesitation Harry took it into his. Just a moment later, within the blink of an eye, Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter vanished seemingly into thin air.