After the Dawn
Chapter Fourteen: The Last Year
Ten year old Harry Potter stood silently, his head bowed, dressed all in black, a single tear sliding down his pale cheek. Somewhere behind him, Sirius was waiting, and Harry held a yellow belt fabric belt in his hands.
Kneeling, he secured it around a gravestone which had engraved upon it, "Dan Kellith, Loyal Friend, Loving Son, Happy Child. He died to young. Rest in Peace."
"It should have been yours by now," Harry whispered around the painful ball of grief that was lodged in his through. "It, and a lot more. You didn't deserve to die Dan … But you'll always be my friend, my best friend. Now and forever."
He remained there, kneeling, as above him black storm clouds opened and rain poured down in a torrent. One year ago today, Dan had been alive and ready to celebrate his birthday. Now he was dead, and grass was growing over his grave.
Harry ignored the freezing rain, ignored the howling wind, that mingled with Sirius's calls that they should leave soon. His eyes looked back to the past.
He remembered all of the good times that he and Dan had had, Dan, the first person, aside from Sirius, who Harry had really trusted. Dan, the person who taught Harry to make sense of chemistry. Dan, the person who had listened to Harry's great secret, and had believed in him.
Dan, who now lay, dead beneath the ground. Who never laugh again. Who would never become a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. Who would never play monopoly. Never discover something huge in the field of science…
A hand descended lightly on Harry's shoulder. "Harry, the rain is heavy, you have paid your respects to Dan now, as I have, but we're both getting soaked," Sirius murmured in his godsons ear.
Harry nodded and stood up. "I'll come back," he promised Dan. "Every year, on the 19th of August, I'll come back here, to let you know that I haven't forgotten you. Every day, I'll remember you though. You were my first real friend, and we should have been born brothers. I'll never stop missing you."
Then he turned his back on the grave and walked, beside Sirius, at a stately pace out of the cemetery, not once looking back.
Half an hour later they both sat, dry and warm, sipping hog butterbeer before a roaring fire in Potter Mansion. Harry's black hair was tousled after it's vigorous drying by Kiby.
Harry spoke little that day, his mind on his best friend. He ate only when told to, and didn't laugh or joke or play pranks as he usually did. He wore black all day, in remembrance.
The next morning he was downstairs before Sirius was, and was eating breakfast in the small room that usually at in when Sirius came in.
He still looked pale, but he was wearing emerald robes, edged with gold that made his eyes stand out. "Good morning," he said softly when Sirius sat down.
"I hoped you wouldn't morn forever," Sirius remarked softly. "I know how it feels Harry, you know I do, but life goes on, no matter how much you wish it wouldn't."
"I know Sirius," Harry replied. "Dan would not want me to cry and morn forever. He loved laughter and pranks and stuff, and I won't forget that. One day a year I'll morn what could have been, the rest of them I'll set to living myself, as Dan would have wanted."
Sirius nodded approvingly. "I eventually came to the same realisation, after James died … It was quicker for me, I think, both because I was older, and because I had you – I didn't have that much time to morn."
"But you still morn on All Hallow's Eve," Harry pointed out.
"Like you, I give my best friend one day of the year," Sirius replied.
"Next year I'll be going to Hogwarts," Harry remarked suddenly.
"Yes, you will be. We'll have to put some thought as to how you'll get there to … You won't be able to go as you, but otherwise you won't be invited to attend …"
"There will be a way," Harry replied firmly. "I don't have to go back to Muggle school, do I?"
"No. I know you don't want to be around children so soon after Dan's death, and you missed out on most of last year. You can stay here and learn what you what you want to," Sirius replied.
Harry nodded his thanks. He was looking forward to going to Hogwarts – it would be good to learn magic properly, and learn to use a wand, instead of tiring himself out using the Wandless method that he was blessed – or cursed – with.
He was getting better now, though as before some days were worse than others. On bad days, he might be able to manage five spells before he was completely worn out, a good day, maybe up to ten. Depending, of course, on the type of spells he used.
In the day he often spent his time in the air, mounted on his broom, revelling the simple freedom of the open sky. Or he would be inside, planning pranks to play on Sirius and the portraits – never the house elves.
He knew that it would upset the house elves greatly, and he like them, so he let them be.
Sirius watched Harry sadly. His godson had become cold and distant with almost everyone and everything. He disliked going out, because there were crowds, and the only person he wanted to talk to was Sirius.
But Sirius knew what it was like to lose a friend, and was confident that Harry would get over it in time.
The year passed. The only thing that Harry ever wanted to do outside of Potter Mansion and Grimmauld Place was to go to Tae-Kwon-Do classes.
Harry didn't spend much time studying normal magics, though he did research Wandless Magic and Metamorphmagic quite diligently. Sirius and Harry both knew that being too much of a know-it-all was not a good thing – it was one of the reasons that Harry had been bullied so much as a small child.
Albus Dumbledore was standing in the office of the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. "What is you want this time, Cornelius?" Dumbledore asked.
Fudge had changed a lot since he had first become Minister. The day that he had ordered Dumbledore to forget about Harry Potter, claiming that the boy must certainly be dead, seemed to have been forgotten by the Minister completely. He relied upon Dumbledore's advice in complex situations, but rarely admitted to it.
"This rise in Death Eater activities, what do you think it means?" the Minister asked.
"I think that they do not believe that Harry Potter is dead, and are therefore trying to make sure that he will be soon," Dumbledore replied. He didn't mention that he agreed with the first part of the statement, knowing that he needed to keep Fudge's ear, at least for the moment.
"But …" Stammered Fudge.
"It is likely that they have some method of spying within the Ministry, and that they found out that the body the Aurors 'found' was not Harry Potter. Even if Harry most likely died, they have to be sure," Dumbledore continued.
"They could not have a spy in the Ministry!" Fudge gasped indignantly.
"They could easily," Dumbledore corrected him. "The spy may not be a willing one, but the Death Eaters do not flinch away from using the Unforgivable Curses, Cornelius."
"You … you are right. But what can we do?" Fudge wanted to know.
"Do as much as you can to protect anyone who could possibly be mistaken for Harry Potter," Dumbledore replied. "And do what you can to try and find out any spies in the Ministry. If you'll excuse me, I have to get back to Hogwarts. The new year is about to begin, and there is much to do."
"Yes, yes of course. Come again tomorrow please," Fudge said.
Dumbledore sighed inwardly, but nodded his head. "Very well," he said, and Flooed out, heading for his office.
"What did he want this time?" Minerva wanted to know.
"To know what he should do about the Death Eaters, and why they were likely to be doing what they are," Dumbledore told her.
"He didn't think that you were sure that Harry was alive, did you?" McGonagall asked hesitantly.
"No. Much as I would have liked to, I restrained myself," Dumbledore replied. "My hope is returning – perhaps next year Harry Potter will come to this school, unharmed. He is not with the Death Eaters, I refuse to believe that he is dead, therefore he was probably found by some Muggle and is being raised harmlessly as a Muggle somewhere, whether in this country or another one."
"I am glad to hear that," McGonagall said. "And I pray that your hopes are well founded."
"As do we all, I'm sure," a silky voice murmured from the doorway. Severus Snape was standing there.
"Ah Severus! What may I do for you?" Dumbledore asked happily. "Sherbet lemon?"
"No thank you," Snape waved a dismissive hand. "I merely came to tell you that Peeves is wrecking havoc in the kitchens because he has been, once more, told he cannot attend the Start of Term feast."
With that, the Potions Master turned on his heel and was about to leave when Dumbledore called him back. "Kindly go and find the Bloody Baron and ask him to deal with the problem then, Severus."
Snape sighed wearily – he had been hoping that Dumbledore would not ask this, but it appeared his hopes were in vain. "Immediately, Headmaster," he replied and swept out, this time unhindered.
Muttering under his breath about insane and impossible headmasters, Snape prowled through the school, searching for the desired ghost.
Eventually, he found the Bloody Barron in the lowest dungeon, which had been unused for many years. Snape was not sure what it had originally be built for, nor did he particularly care.
"Mr. Baron sir, good day," Snape greeted politely, knowing that the ghost would refuse to do anything if he was addressed impolitely, or rushed.
"Good day, Professor Snape," the Baron greeted in return, inclining his head slightly. His voice was soft, growling and completely proper. "How may I help you?"
"Mr. Baron, if you wouldn't mind, Peeves is causing some uproar in the kitchens. The Headmaster and I were wondering if you would be so kind as to deal with him," Snape said.
"Poltergeists," the ghost rumbled in disgust. "As you wish, Professor. I will take care of this," and he walked away through the walls in search of the said poltergeist.
Good, Snape thought. That was over. He disliked dealing with the Slytherin ghost, as he had a general aversion to being polite to anything and anyone, save Dumbledore, and even then it was only on the rare occasion that he acted properly respectful.
Sweeping away from the unused bottom dungeon, Snape returning to his office, where he had been pickling rat spleen before a distraught House Elf had interupted him.
"Well Minerva, you had best return to your own work," Dumbledore said to the Transfiguration teacher. "After all, the students will be returning shortly, and I am sure you have much to prepare."
"Yes, Albus. I have no doubt that I will see you again fairly shortly. Something is bound to come up that requires our meeting," McGonagall smiled to take any sting from the comment.
It was mid April, and in the Potter Mansion, it was snowing. Sirius had woken up to see soft flakes of snow floating past his bedroom window with utmost surprise.
Suddenly the door burst open and Harry bounded into the room, jumping up onto Sirius's bed and grinning at his startled godfather. "You'd think I'd be used to this by now," Sirius remarked tiredly.
Harry had discovered the previous year that he could tell the house what he wanted the weather to be like. It already moulded the weather vaguely on Harry's emotions (thus on Dan's birthday/death day it always rained, and mist cloaked the grounds for several days before and after), but now he could actually tell it exactly what it was he wanted.
"You should be," Harry agreed with a smile. "Come on, let's go and make snowmen!"
"Harry! It's only eight o'clock, lemme sleep," Sirius slurred tiredly in response. "'s too early."
"No it's not," Harry insisted, scrambling over Sirius and off the other side of the bed and throwing the windows open. A gust of freezing air blew snowflakes over the entire room.
Sirius yelped and jumping up, hurriedly charming his pyjamas to become warm clothes. "What was that for?" he asked, managing to force the window closed.
"To get you up of course," Harry replied. "It worked didn't it?"
"This," Sirius said slowly, "mean's war!"
With a shriek of laughter, Harry took off, racing down the halls and heading for the grounds, trying to get there ahead of Sirius. Snowball wars! Yes! He thought.
Sirius followed his godson a little slowly, happy that Harry was laughing and that the cold, withdrawn look that had been in his eyes near constantly since Dan had died was gone … At least for a little while.
Well, that was the last chapter of After the Dawn: The First Years. The next story will begin on Harry's eleventh birthday, and continue to the end of the Philosopher's Stone (being Australian, I go by the British versions of the books). That story will be up in about two days – to the people who's email address I have, I'll send the address, otherwise you'll have to look at my profile.
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Cool! Fiftey four reviews … Hmm, I guess asking for 38 isn't going to be challenging you enough now *grins* how about we try and get to … Hm 730? That's 47! Maybe it'll take you two days to get there, so I won't feel guilty about waiting that long to update *grins* See you next story guys!