Talking With Grief: Chapter 3 (Arrival in the Darkness)
Author's Note: Hey there, Harry Potter maniacs - hope all of you obsessed fans are well, and still reading the Order of the Phoenix a million times over as I am doing. Cannot get enough of that book, it's absolutely amazing!
Here we are, Chapter Three (I haven't yet thought up names for my chapters, but as soon as I do I promise I will edit, I know titles for chapters make them much more interesting).
Lupin is finally here, woohoo! How I love him :). Unfortunately, he's not as Lupin-like as I would've liked to have made him, but I tried my best, and I suppose that's what counts. So I'm really sorry if you were eagerly awaiting a lovely characteristic Remus! I'll work extra hard next time to edit what's already on paper and 'Lupinise' him more. He doesn't actually say much in this chapter anyway, he's just being introduced; he's arrived at 4 Privet Drive to take Harry away but he's kind of in a pressurised situation so he's a little tense.
The fourth chapter will probably take a little longer to get uploaded, as I'm going for a two week holiday to Wales (yes, Wales, I love it there!) and as much as I'd love to bring my computer along with me, obviously it is not an option. Although it's a good place to write, is Wales!
If you do read this, please spare a little effort to review, even if it's just a tiny, one-worded sentence, as it's what keeps me writing and uploading. Thank you.
Harry remained with his eyes shut tightly, buried underneath his warm thick covers, merely pretending that he was asleep.
The fact that he had some kind of awareness that there was another being in the room happened to be ignored, as he had a nagging thought in his troubled mind that it was simply his over-active imagination again. Lately, he felt these senses too often. Perhaps he had just picked them up from his 'action-packed, heroic adventures' as Ginny Weasley had once called them. But to Harry they were not adventures, not anymore, they were horrors . . .
He was sure that the thing was gaining closer – sure that he could feel its soft footsteps on the carpet, its light silenced breathing, its –
"– Harry!" an urgent voice whispered, jerking Harry out from his terror-filled thoughts. "Harry, are you awake?" the hoarse voice sounded again from the outside of Harry's dark protective tent of covers, the tone sounding hurried and slightly anxious. Yet it was familiar…
The duvets were yanked aside from his weak clutch by firm hands, but it was too dark to make out who it was.
"Wake up, Harry, we haven't got much time."
A hand reached out from nowhere and shook his shoulder gently. Harry started and scrambled up into a sitting position, battling with the sheets to untwist himself. There was no doubting in whom that voice belonged to now, it was one of the most welcoming voices that he would have liked to hear…
"Professor Lupin?" said Harry in mild surprise. He stuck out his left arm and groped around the cold dusty surface of his bedside cabinet for his glasses. Finding them, he pushed them up his nose with his index finger and looked around wildly to see a figure standing over him. There was none. Maybe it was just too dark.
"Yes, it's me," Lupin answered quickly and quietly. "But I'm still under Mad-Eye's Invisibility Cloak… Harry, you need to get dressed and come with me straight away. I'll explain everything when we're out of this area, but you will need to hurry."
"OK," said Harry, extremely puzzled and shocked. He leapt out of bed and rubbed his eyes to try and motivate himself. He hadn't been sleeping, but as he was suffering from the lack of it he felt dizzy and tired. "Where are we going?"
"I will tell you as soon as we get out of here," Lupin repeated, emerging from beneath the Invisibility Cloak and pulling out his wand from inside his shabby green robes. "It's currently much too risky… Lumos."
The dim green light stretched out into all dark corners of the room, illuminating the creases in Lupin's young but weathered face, and the streaked lines of silvery grey in his light brown hair.
"Did you not get my letter or something?" asked Harry suddenly, blinking painfully in the light. He was confused as to why Lupin had arrived in the middle of the night, and without letting him know that he was doing so.
"The last one?" said Lupin, frowning slightly. "Yes, I believe I did, it arrived just as I was about to walk out of the door."
"Then why –?"
"I'd better get all of your things piled into your trunk. You pull some layers on… it may be summer but I find it can be quite chilly these nights," stated Lupin, dragging out Harry's trunk form inside the battered old wardrobe.
Harry didn't argue or question, but did as instructed; obviously there was a reason for not discussing it here. Lupin was as calm as he always was, but he did seem a little tense. Pulling on a pair of baggy old jeans, a T-shirt, and a thick warm jumper over his pyjamas, he found his wand in his drawer and emptied out some of his clothes and books, which flung untouched into his stacking trunk. Lupin fastened and locked it with his wand once no more of Harry's possessions were being summoned into it, and turned to face him.
"Are you ready?" asked Lupin, after distinguishing his wand.
"Yeah… I think so," Harry mumbled, glancing around. "Hedwig hasn't –"
"She'll find you, don't worry about her," Lupin cut across, motioning for Harry to hurry.
Harry grabbed a pair of knobbly grey socks and his worn out trainers and shoved them on his feet. He heaved Hedwig's empty cage under one arm and walked out, so glad to finally be leaving his bedroom that he didn't even glance backwards.
Behind him, he heard Lupin mutter, "Locomotor trunk." Harry remembered Tonks using that spell when they had come to fetch him last summer. He hadn't been told that they were arriving to pick him up then either, but there had been many more witches and wizards to accompany Lupin with taking him away. He could now see out of the corner of his eye his trunk hovering in mid-air, completely unsupportively. A thought suddenly struck him.
"Will I not need my Firebolt?" whispered Harry, half-turning to face Lupin in the darkness of the hall.
"No, we're not travelling by broomsticks tonight. We're getting there by Portkey. Dumbledore set it up for us," replied Lupin in a low voice.
Harry, carrying his wand in his right hand, led the way downstairs and into the silent kitchen, where he automatically made to switch on the light, but was stopped by Lupin…
"Ah – Harry, wait!" he said suddenly, causing Harry's hand to trail down the wall and back down to his side. "I think it's best if we were to leave it dark."
Harry noticed him squint around to check that the curtains were closed, before propping a small, emerald green envelope labelled 'Mr and Mrs Dursley' next to the salt and pepper pots in the middle of the kitchen table.
He opened his mouth to ask what was written in the letter before Lupin again stated that they needed to make haste. He was looking at a kind of wristwatch that Harry had never seen anything like before. Yet there was no time to ponder or admire watches, Lupin was now giving him clear instructions, and was watching Harry intently to check that he was paying full attention.
"Did you understand all of that?" he asked finally.
"Er – I think so," answered Harry, even though – truthfully – it had gone right over his head. Lupin sighed heavily.
"Well, we'd better get going, otherwise we'll be late for the Portkey and goodness knows what we will do then. Come on, Harry," said Lupin, making his way through the kitchen and hall to the front door, dragging Harry's trunk behind him. He put some kind of spell on the trunk (Harry thought it was something like, 'Evanesco,' but Lupin was still talking in half-whispers) and it turned invisible all of a sudden, causing it to look as though his former Professor was gripping nothing in his hand.
Lupin carefully and steadily opened the front door so that it did not make a noise, and pushed the invisible trunk onto the doorstep outside. He held the door to, whilst beckoning Harry towards him and throwing Moody's Invisibility Cloak over them both.
Harry imagined Alastor Moody to be extremely wary once Lupin returned the cloak to him; he would probably check it fifty times over for any signs of 'Stealthy Skin-Melting Potion' drops. Well, thought Harry, at least he would then have the opportunity to grow some fresh skin at St. Mungo's. It would certainly lose him the knarled and torn look which often caused his appearance to be somewhat frightening…
But of course, Lupin would not possess such a potion anyway, whether he had once belonged to a troublesome group of practical jokers or not. Now, though – the two practical jokers who had been Lupin's best friends were gone, to live no more. And Wormtail… no – that was wrong. Harry flatly refused to associate Pettigrew with James, Sirius, and Remus anymore. It was better to pretend that he had always been a filthy, cowardly server for Voldemort: one belonging to the enemy. Wormtail did not deserve to be held in remembrance as once a friend of his Father's. He was a traitor – nothing more, nothing less. Harry would never again show mercy to him. Sometimes it was he that he hated the most… more than Voldemort, even.
Harry hadn't a clue how long they had been walking, he did not even recognise where they were, and he had spent the entire previous summer strolling these streets through boredom.
Lupin had not uttered a word since they had exited through the front door and entered the dark, eerie night, which had sent a tremendous, chilling shudder through Harry's bones, awakening him to the cold. This was defiantly not a warm summer.
It was not very easy to walk underneath the Cloak with Lupin whilst being extremely careful to prevent it form slipping off. Fair enough – he, Ron and Hermione occasionally roamed different areas of Hogwarts with his Cloak covering all three of them, but they were all roughly around the same height. Lupin was a fully-grown man and quite a bit taller than himself.
The two walked in an orderly fashion: Lupin behind Harry with one hand on his shoulder, which he was using to stir Harry in the right direction – down endless dark, littered streets.
Harry longed to ask where they were going, and especially how much longer it would take to get there – surely it couldn't be much further, could it? He felt cold, exhausted, and drained of energy; although sleep was never an option anymore, a warm comfortable bed sounded extremely welcoming right now. However, the tight grip that Lupin maintained on his shoulder was almost a warning as not to say anything at all, and Lupin would not be in an anxious hurry for no reason whatsoever. So Harry accepted that he was expected to carry on walking in silence, despite the time, coldness, and the fact that he was completely un-notified of what was going on.
Further down the street they came to a gate which led through to a public park. Lupin encouraged Harry through the gate, giving him a little push with his hand to keep him moving. Harry – who had being trying to figure out why he had no recollection of this park at all – suddenly had a major jolt of remembrance run through him. Of course he knew where he was! Lupin must have just taken him round the long way…
He squinted around in the darkness to make out the trees – mysteriously stretching out their long, spidery branches as if trying to expand twistingly up to the starry night's sky – silhouetted against the bright silvery moonlight which had suddenly reappeared from behind a cloud. Harry looked elsewhere; the life-like figures were scary and threatening as they strolled – invisible but undefended – across the vastness of the park. Why had Lupin brought him here of all places?
They walked over to a clump of overgrown shrubs behind a bench, and Lupin forced him down onto his knees in the centre of the surrounding bushes. Throwing the Invisibility Cloak off his head (but warning Harry with a glance to leave it covering himself), he leaned over and patted the ground underneath the seating bench. To Harry, this seemed an odd thing to do, but then he realised that Lupin was groping for something in the long, tangled grass.
Harry recognised the bench. When he had been six years old, he had sat on it and watched Dudley play gleefully on the children's park opposite. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had taken it in turns to continuously push big 'Dudders' on the swings, catch him when he glided to the bottom of that tall slide, spin him endlessly on that big fast roundabout – whatever Dudley had demanded of them, really. Whilst Harry had been forced to sit on that bench immobile, unmoving, not joining in with the small pleasures of young children. Oh no, instead of enjoying the play area like a normal six-year-old, he had simply sat numbly, in a 'Prisoner of War' position as Uncle Vernon had sneeringly called it. It had been Harry's birthday, that day. And he occasionally questioned himself as to why he despised the Dursleys so much?
Lupin finally found what it was that he had been searching for and withdrew what seemed to be an old, very dirty boot. Why would he want such –? Of course, it was a Portkey – not unlike the one that Harry had taken to the Quidditch World Cup with Hermione, Mr Weasley and company.
Lupin looked at his strange wristwatch and suddenly turned himself to face the other end of the park, which was shadowed in pitch blackness. Harry knew that it was in the direction of the Dursley's house, not that this bit of knowledge mattered, of course. He then heard Lupin say, not very loudly, but clearly, "Accio, trunk!" and noticed him raise his wand at the same time.
Harry was half-expecting to spot his trunk soaring through the air towards them, but of course – as Harry remembered when he heard a whoosh and a heavy flump beside him a few moments later – Lupin had placed some kind of Charm on the trunk to make it invisible.
"Just grab the trunk's handle, Harry," said Lupin, once he had lifted the Charm and caused it to reappear. He glanced at his watch yet again. "We're just in time, I think. Take hold of this boot – that's it… Portus," he muttered, pointing his wand at the large boot. "Get ready, Harry – one… two… three –"