Disclaimer: I do not own JK Rowling's world or plotlines. I do own my own plotlines and since this is being written about things JK has not yet published, most of the plotline is mine. However, my brilliant sister inspired the story, and I lovingly thank her for her contribution.

A/N: This is not meant to be a hero's story. It is not the traditional hero destroys enemy and returns to be embraced by the loving populace. Tradition is out the window, and this is nothing more than what I feel could happen. This is not going to be fluff. Occasional humorous lines appear in anything, but that is not intended to be the general mood. You have been warned.


CHECKMATE

There is no such thing as day without night, joy without pain, or success without loss, but that will never make it easier for the heart.

-Mariella Eyre, Hogwarts Headmistress, 1356-1408

Chapter One: Mourning


Harry had spent the months after the loss of Sirius in a half state of awareness. He knew that even through the thick, unfeeling skulls of the Dursleys it had penetrated that something was wrong. They did not know that Harry had lost another tie to his family, and they would never understand it.

Dumbledore insisted on his staying there over the summer. No amount of arguing from the Weasleys or Lupin had dissuaded him and so he had returned to the hell more commonly known as Privet Drive. Uncle Vernon had not locked up his things, thanks to the severe threats from Moody and the Order, but after a few weeks of crying hysterically every time he saw something that connected to Sirius he had locked them all up himself. He had even asked Ron to watch Hedwig.

His firebolt made him remember its giver. His books reminded him of the school and that inevitably led to the thought of the Marauders. Just the fact that Hedwig had at times brought letters marked from Snuffles had brought him to tears. He could not even carry his wand, a fact that NO ONE else knew. Harry had never realized how intricately twined Sirius had been with the rest of his life. He cried to sleep more often than not, and tended to speak in fractured utterances.

Only Ron, Hermionie and Hedwig knew how he was not quite sane. His friends sent him letters trying to cheer him up, but always ended with the same question. "How are you really?" To them alone he told the truth; he was in hell. To everyone else he had recovered entirely. Lupin would ask how his homework was going. The rest of the Order would send along information they had found, and Harry would respond in chipper handwriting and write bright sayings, but the effort put into maintaining the mask of happiness was enough to put him to tears when he was done.

He had been tired before. He had fought evil and he had worked himself nearly to death with assignments while at school.

But he had never felt so emotionally exhausted. Any minor event could throw him over the edge. The layer of cheerfulness was like a balloon that had been blown larger than it could withstand. To all the world it seemed whole, but Harry only had a single thought of joy. Padfoot and Prongs were united once again. He used that thought each time his façade broke, and he would carefully repair his joy and then stretch it out again and rebuild the mask.

A minor miracle came in that Dudley had stopped taunting and harassing him.

The rest of the world was devoid of any blessing.

Voldemort had risen again, and the wizarding world was doomed. It was a somber fact that everyone knew, but no one mentioned. Fudge had announced his mistake and every auror was on duty, but once a week Harry received a small letter sealed in black and borne by a black owl, telling him the exact death count and every name. If any relatives were still alive, Harry would write to them, assuring what he could and extending his condolences to the grieving survivors.

The mistakes that Voldemort had made in his last reign were corrected as he built a new regime. The aurors, and members of the Order of the Phoenix were targeted specifically and the Ministry was practically ignored. For all of Fudge's promises, his people were slaughtered as he blustered on about what was being done.

Harry felt the most sympathy for the Muggles that were killed. They never understood what had happened, and the families were lied to. It was disgusting.

Harry heard a gentle knock on his door. Sitting up and throwing his legs over the side of the bed he walked over to open it. Aunt Petunia handed him a small tray with chicken soup a ham sandwich and two cookies. She was the closest at Privet Drive to him, and tried to do what she could, which, in Harry's opinion, was worthless, but the small actions, allowing him to eat in his room, not threatening to throw him out, smiling softly, kept him from the worst actions.

She gave him a small smile, which he returned falsely.

"Thank you."

"Not at all."

And she was gone.

He ate in silence, and was about to set the tray outside the door, when he heard another knock. Dudley entered without waiting and set a pile of letters onto the bed, picked up the tray and disappeared down the hall.

Harry took a breath to calm himself and started on the stack. The first was a brief note from Arthur Weasley updating Harry on the location of his family members. All of the Weasleys were strewn over the world. Arthur still had his job at the Ministry, Molly was working in America, the twins ran their shop in Diagon Alley, Bill was based out of Egypt, but at any moment could be in any Middle Eastern country, Charlie was recruiting in Asia, Percy was still a ministry prat, and even Ron and Ginny were working. They stayed together, but worked part time jobs in Ireland to serve as contacts for the wizards there. Hermionie moved weekly over Europe, dropping off packages from the Order to its members. Arthur's letter confirmed their positions, and briefly wished him well.

The next was from Lupin.

Harry,

I hope that this owl can find you. Considering how many charms have been put on that house to protect it, I'm surprised you can even find it, let alone this bloody old owl. I swore I would write weekly to let you know I was alive, so I am. If you haven't heard, Lucius Malfoy has disappeared with his wife. Draco is still around, but is living alone and is being watched by the Ministry. The Lestranges have made their existence known once more by repeating what they did to the Longbottoms. Their most recent victims were the Abbots. We aren't sure why yet. If it isn't a problem I'd like you to write their daughter. It may help. She is in your grade, Hannah. She's in Hufflepuff. Do you know her?

I hope you're well, and I'm glad that you have managed to move on, painful though it may be.

Yours,

Moony

PS. The Moon lines up with when I should next send you a letter, so I will send one directly before and after.

Harry bit down hard on his lip to fight back tears over some of the lines. The Abbots. Another to add to the toll. Hannah was a nice girl and did not deserve the suffering, but no one ever did. He promised himself he would write her after finishing all the letters and moved to the next.

He had three condolence letters from witches and wizards expressing their gratitude towards him for exposing what he knew. Those were thrown in the basket after a skimming. The letter from Dumbledore told him not to fret, but little else. Then there was a small black letter, just like every week.

Inside it read:

Mark and Crystal Abbot – Muggle Born Wizards, tortured to insanity by the Lestranges, Surrey, Sunday

Jessica McLaughlin – Squib, killer unknown, London, Monday

Brigitte, Laurel, Brie, Phillip Lamoure – Wizards, killer unknown, Bordeaux, Tuesday

Jonathon Morgan – Muggle Born Auror, killer unknown, whereabouts unknown, found Thursday

Seven Unidentifiable Persons – killed by backlash in fight between Crabbe and Ministry Auror, Thursday

Kelly, Kristi, Colleen Green – Muggles, killed by McNair, New York, America, Saturday

Harry filed the letter with all the others, and vowing to send condolences, turned to the two remaining letters. His heart skipped. One of them was small, simple and blood red. He ripped it open to read:

Aaron Crabbe – Death Eater, killed by Ministry Auror, Thursday

It was all it said, but a small flame flared in Harry and he knew that one of the enemy was dead. He always enjoyed receiving red letters.

His temporary excitement vanished as the thought of Sirius drifted into his mind and he opened the final letter.

Little though it made sense, the letter was from Snape. He continued to hate Harry, but said he respected the fact that he could not be left in the dark, and he was completely blunt in what he wrote. Harry had asked him to write, begged actually, and his letters were usually more useful than a hundred papers or a thousand letters from Dumbledore.

Mr. Potter,

In the last two weeks since I have written, the Dark Lord has managed further contact with the Giants and is preparing to sign an alliance with them. Dumbledore has been informed, he will address it as he sees fit. The Dark Lord has managed to trace the basic outlines of where you reside. I have been informed that countermeasures have been taken to prevent his locating you, but ever Death Eater is working towards the goal of your destruction. Take heed of anyone wearing long sleeves and in the mean time purchase a book called Broken Wand by Lucille Cauldrona. It will explain how to defend without using a wand, which is a probable situation.

As I am on the current team assigned to locating you, I have been able to plant a few pieces of false information, but I must stress that you MAY STILL BE FOUND. In such a case, run and do not look back. Myself or another of the Order will find you. Above all else DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOME. Do NOT go outside.

For the sake of saving myself a lecture, I will tell you that none of the deaths can be credited to my actions.

The Dark Lord will not move against you until you present an opportunity. Do NOT give one. If you do I will bring you back so that I can have a chance to torture you properly.

Remember that you will need to have completed the essay I have assigned you. As smug as you are, undoubtedly you will not have started.

Professor Severus Snape

Harry sat down heavily at his desk and ran a hand through his hair, throwing it back into disarray. Snape was the most useful of his contacts and never ceased to amaze him. Despite the mutual hatred between them, Snape was honest and did not hide details. Harry had developed what bordered on pride in the man. He worked as a spy for the most dangerous man in the world and had not been caught. But Harry was still in shock that the professor could continue to think about essays.

He sighed and began penning the letters to the survivors.