Author's Note: Er...welcome to the sequel everyone!!!
It was after midnight and the Burrow was dark and silent. The usual clutter littered the house. Yet, the pranks, coats, and shoes that lay around were like a frozen snapshot of the warm chaos the Burrow held during the day. For now, the only movement in the house was the rising and falling of chests of the sleeping family members.
Ron's room, however, did not rest in the same peace the rest of the house did. The redhead's face was covered in beads of cold sweat and his eyebrows were knitted as he tossed and turned in his sleep.
"No," he murmured as a nightmare pulled him into its depths. "No, Harry, run. Leave 'im alone...no, no, stop!"
His mutters grew louder, waking up Pigwidgeon who eyed the boy curiously from his perch.
"NO!!" Ron began screaming in his sleep. Tears dripped out from the corners of his eyes and streamed down his temples. "NO! Harry, wake up!! Don't be dead! NO!!"
One by one, the other members of the Weasley household shot up in bed. They all raced to Ron's room, the twins arriving first.
"Ron! Ron!" Fred called, shaking his younger brother's shoulders. "Wake up! It's just a dream!"
"Noooo!" Ron yelled, thrashing around wildly.
Ginny rushed off and returned with a cup of water from the bathroom. She raced over and splashed it on Ron's face.
Ron's eyes shot open as he abruptly sat up in bed, nearly knocking heads with Fred who was looming over him worriedly.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley finally arrived, slightly out of breath from running up four flights of stairs.
"He's dead! You-Know-Who killed him!" their youngest son sobbed.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley shot each other a look.
"Ron, it was a dream, just a dream," Fred said, firmly grasping Ron's shoulders to steady the younger boy.
Ron shook his head frantically. "Harry's dead! He wouldn't wake up and he was cold and he wasn't breathing!" he insisted through hiccupping sobs. Fred pulled his little brother into a hug.
"Harry's alive again, remember? He came back; you talked to him. You rode the train home with him," George gently reminded him, but Ron simply shook his head as he wept into Fred's shoulder.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley nodded at each other and Mrs. Weasley hurried back down the stairs. She ran to the fireplace and lit a fire with her wand. After quickly digging her hand into the flowerpot on the mantle, she threw a pinch of Floo powder into the flames. As soon as the fire turned green she jumped in and shouted, "the Lighthouse."
She stepped out into the dark living room of Sirius Black's country home and called through the house.
Moments later, Sirius appeared from a door down the hall. He was still in his nightclothes and seemed worried.
"Molly? What's wrong?" he asked in a concerned tone.
"Mrs. Weasley?" came a tired voice from the top of the stairs. Harry rubbed his tired eyes and slipped on his glasses. "Whassamatter?" he mumbled sleepily.
"Hello dear. Ron's had a bit of a nightmare and he's really shaken up. It was about...that day...so would you mind spending the night? I think you might be the only one who can calm him down," she quickly explained.
Harry nodded, slightly more awake, and started down the stairs. "Of course, if that's okay with you, Padfoot."
"Of course. Go on. I hope Ron feels better, Molly. Floo powder's on the mantle."
Mrs. Weasley thanked him and went back through the fire, Harry following close behind after saying goodbye to his godfather.
As soon as he was through, Mrs. Weasley grabbed his hand and hurried to the stairs, Harry trailing close behind.
As they neared the top, Harry could hear loud sobbing coming from above. He became increasingly worried, having never heard his best friend cry so hard.
Mrs. Weasley pulled him into Ron's room where Ron was still crying into Fred's shoulder as Ginny rubbed his back comfortingly.
"See, look Ron, Harry's here," George gently informed him. Ron sniffed and looked up. His siblings cleared away as Harry walked up.
"Harry?" Ron hiccupped.
"Yeah Ron, it's me," he said reassuringly, taking Fred's place on Ron's bed. Ron sobbed and wrapped his arms around his friend, now crying into Harry's shoulder. Harry hugged his friend back, trying to calm him.
"You died. I saw it all over again. You were dead. I had to watch him kill you," Ron tearfully explained, shaking uncontrollably.
"It's okay, I'm alive now."
Harry heard the rest of the Weasleys quietly leave to try to get back to sleep, knowing there was nothing else for them to do here.
"But the cancer. Oh gods, when you collapsed in the hall..." he started, voice quivering with fright and grief.
"The cancer's gone too, remember? It's not coming back."
Ron paused and then nodded into Harry's neck. He squeezed his eyes shut, letting a few more tears fall as he began to calm down. He eventually pulled back, looking down as he wiped his tears away on the back of his pajama sleeve.
"Do you want to go make some tea?" Harry asked gently.
Ron sniffed and nodded, his gaze still focused on his lap.
The two quietly made their way down to the kitchen. Harry led a still dazed Ron to the table and made him sit down as Harry began bustling around making tea, something he had done often at the Dursleys.
He soon brought over the two steaming cups. Setting one down in front of Ron, he then slid into the chair next to him.
"You must think I'm a total idiot," Ron muttered, embarrassed, as he stared at his cup.
"Of course not. Don't be stupid. If anyone can understand about nightmares it's me," he said with a sympathetic smile.
Ron rolled his teary eyes. "There's a difference between visions and just stupid bad dreams."
"Yeah, but I have nightmares too. Bad memories, worries." Seeing that Ron still looked upset, Harry continued in a lighter tone. "Of course then there's the other kind of dream, like when I dreamt I was in a Quidditch match against a sheep."
This got a small chuckle from Ron, who finally looked up and met Harry's eyes. "Really?" he asked quietly.
"Yup. There was a farmer on the ground running around shouting tips at the sheep and I thought that was really unfair," Harry said with a grin.
"Wouldn't it be slightly difficult for it to catch a Snitch without hands?" Ron asked skeptically.
"Well, logic didn't exactly play a great factor in that dream," Harry pointed out.
The two sipped their tea. Harry looked up at the Weasley's family clock and smiled. They had added a hand for him once they had found out he was alive.
"Thanks. For coming and everything," Ron said quietly.
The two finally began to feel the late hour and wearily climbed back up to the highest room. The two practically collapsed onto their respective beds. Ron's small room now had two beds permanently squeezed into it since the Weasleys had declared that they were expecting Harry to come around a lot.
"Night, Har," Ron murmured.
"G'night, Ron," Harry mumbled.
Minutes later, the Burrow was back to its silent state.
The next morning, after having breakfast at the Burrow upon Mrs. Weasley's insistence, Harry, still clad in his pajamas from the night before, stumbled into the cozy living room of Sirius's house.
The cottage sat in the middle of a large field, which had grassy hills on one side some woods on the other. Sirius had built a large pen for Buckbeak, who seemed to enjoy it very much. The hippogriff often flew around, but never out of sight of the cottage and always returned to his pen when he was done. It was far away from any other house and the dirt road that led to it connected to a main road miles and miles away, with many other forks in the path to confuse anyone that ventured onto it. It was surrounded by Muggle repellant charms and now with many more protective spells and wards surrounding it to keep them safe. From what the ex-convict told Harry, the cottage named the Lighthouse was much smaller than the Black House, the mansion his family had owned for generations.
Harry didn't know the whole story, but apparently, Sirius had never gotten along with his family. The young Gryffindor had been shocked to find out that his godfather's family had supported the dark arts. Sirius had told him that he had run away when he was young and had stayed with James Potter until he was able to buy his own place, this very cottage. He had named it the Lighthouse in rebellion against his family as a statement of his dedication to the light side and his disassociation with the Black family.
At first, Sirius told him, the cottage had seemed far too small for the man's liking, as he had spent his whole life living in a huge manor. But he had quickly gotten used to the cozy place and now felt more at home here than he ever could have back at the cold, intimidating Black House.
When his parents had died, the manor had gone to Sirius, merely because he was the only one to give it to, but Sirius had never wanted to move back into it.
He had given Harry the choice of living in either place, but Harry had fallen in love with the cottage as soon as he had walked through the door and wasn't even interested in seeing the huge manor that Sirius didn't like. When he had announced this, Sirius had grinned broadly and showed Harry the room he had been working on for so long.
Harry had opened the door and his eyes had grown wide at the sight.
He was now walking up to that same room after giving a quick hello to Sirius and Remus who were talking in the kitchen.
He flung open the door and smiled at the sight of his room. His room. Not the cupboard under the stairs, not Dudley's second bedroom, not Ron's bedroom, not the Gryffindor boys' dorm. He took a quick look back at the plaque on the door.
He grinned happily, as he had been doing every time he'd seen it since he had arrived a week ago. He was so proud of that plaque and his room in general because it was his and because Sirius had spent so much time and effort into making it special for him.
Harry closed the door behind him and looked around his room appreciatively as he did each time he entered it. Sirius and Remus had been teasing him about it, constantly informing him that nothing new had popped up while he had been out of it. Of course, no matter how much Sirius joked about it, Harry's constant amazement with the simple room delighted Sirius to no end.
The walls were an off-white color. A small desk sat under the large window, which had maroon curtains tied back with thin gold rope. There was a bed resting in the corner under a second window with a maroon quilt scrunched up on top of the white sheets.
When he had first walked into the room, the walls had been bare and boxes full of posters and pictures littered the floor. Sirius simply explained that he didn't know what Harry wanted, so he got a bunch of options. Now, the Gryffindor flag that was given out for Quidditch games had been enlarged and was hanging above his bed. There was a poster of the Wicked Witches of the West on one of the walls, since they were really the only wizard band Harry knew and it reminded him of the ball from the previous year. A large poster of the Irish National Quidditch Team was surrounded by several smaller ones of Quidditch in general, in memory of the Quidditch World Cup he had attended with the Weasleys.
Ron had given him an extra Chudley Cannons poster and had insisted it be hung up in Harry's room. Harry had done so, but had hung a picture of the Tornados, the rivals of Ron's favorite Quidditch team, right next to it. Now the two teams constantly competed for the attention of whoever was in the room and fought with each other, crowding at the edges of the posters to shout silent profanities at the other team, occasionally making rude gestures with their broom sticks. Ron had responded quite indignantly to the enemy poster at first, but after a few minutes of watching the two teams go at it, he had to admit it was quite entertaining.
One wall contained a large bulletin board on which hung pictures of his friends, his prefect badge, entertaining notes that he and Ron had passed to each other during boring lessons, articles from Quidditch magazines and other things that made the room his.
Though he kept the room fairly neat, he had made a special point of putting out all his school supplies in plain view, as he had never been able to do at the Dursleys. His cauldron sat the top of his dresser, neatly surrounded by bottles of potions ingredients. His schoolbooks were all stacked right beside it.
And Harry wasn't the only one to enjoy the new living quarters. Hedwig's cage was now always left open, allowing her to come and go as she pleased, or simply fly happily around the house.
Harry greeted Hedwig cheerfully as he opened a drawer and pulled out a new shirt, as Sirius had seen it fit to by him some clothes of his own and throw away the rags that the Dursleys had given him to wear.
He quickly showered, dressed and went downstairs to the kitchen.
As he entered, Remus and Sirius looked up from their cups of tea with fond smiles.
"Hey Padfoot, hey Moony," he greeted the two as he poured himself some tea.
"Hey Harry, make yourself a piece of toast while you're up," Sirius ordered.
Since Harry had "woken up", Sirius had been trying to make him regain the weight he had lost while he was sick. It seemed that every time Harry stood still for a minute, Sirius was there trying to force him to eat.
"I ate at the Weasleys," he said, sitting down next to Remus. "And you know that Mrs. Weasley's even worse than you at trying to force feed me."
"Well, I've got to defend my title then," Sirius said with a grin and tossed Harry a piece of a bagel.
"Sirius, I'm going to explode if I eat another bite!" he said tossing it back.
"Well, that would be an interesting show, wouldn't you say Moony?" Sirius asked.
"Yes, bloods and guts everywhere. How charming," Remus joked.
"I'd much like to see it," Sirius said, tossing the bagel back to Harry, who simply caught it and then set it down next to his cup with no intention of eating it, sticking out his tongue at Sirius in a childish declaration of triumph. "Come on, Harry, Snape said to keep you well-fed to make sure you stay healthy!" Sirius insisted.
"Yes, but I don't think he wanted you to kill me," Harry said taking a small sip of his tea. He noticed Sirius's face pale and immediately felt guilty for his words.
Everyone seemed awfully touchy about any jokes that mentioned death or illness. A few days after he had woken, he had cracked a joke about feeling as if he hadn't eaten in a week, but instead of even the faintest smile, he had received a half-hour lecture from Sirius about how his joke was indeed not funny. He knew he'd soon have to start insisting that everyone lighten up around him and stop treating him as if he was going to drop dead at any second, but figured he would let them have time to get over the scare he had put them all through. As was obvious by Ron's nightmare last night, some people still needed time.
"So what are you going to do today, Harry?" Remus asked, trying to snap Sirius out of his little mournful daze.
"Well, avoiding Hermione at all costs for sure. She's trying to get me and Ron to start our summer homework! It's the second week of the holidays! But she keeps saying that we should get a head start, like it's a race or something!" Harry said exasperatedly.
The two adults chuckled.
"I think it's great that Hermione's so ambitious. You can tell her that if she has any questions she can come and ask me," Remus said pleasantly. Sirius looked at him in disgust, horrified at the mere thought of being ambitious in school.
"Fine, but don't you dare give her any extra credit assignments or extra practice things, or she'll drag Ron and me into doing it too. I don't need any extra summer work," Harry said with a slight shutter at the thought. Sirius and Remus exchanged a look that Harry immediately knew he didn't like.
"Actually Harry," Remus said cautiously, "I talked with Professor Dumbledore and we thought it would be a good idea to test your magic a bit. He said we can bring you back to Hogwarts at any time and we can retest your dueling abilities and your spell casting. We haven't had a chance to really check your magic since you were cured, so we don't know what the lasting effects on your magic might be."
Harry grew slightly worried.
"Sure, but why? I mean, do you think something's wrong with me? I'll still be able to do magic, won't I?" Harry asked in a slight panic.
"We believe your magic has simply gone back to its original state, but we're just checking as a double precaution. Nobody's ever been through precisely what you went through and your body, your life energy, and your magical energy all went through a great ordeal, so we want to check them all to make sure you remain healthy. Also, you've spent about half a year using very powerful magic, so we want to get you used to using normal magic again."
Harry nodded and felt a little more relieved. The thought of not being able to do magic anymore was horrifying. It brought back memories of the Dursleys for some reason, and Harry had to quickly chase them from his mind.
"So, does this mean I won't pick up on lessons as quickly either?" he asked, disappointed.
"I'm afraid so. But that won't be so bad, will it? You'll just have to work harder and I'm sure Hermione will help you do that. Plus, you've got me to help you with anything I can, though you've always been a brilliant student in Defense, so you probably won't need any extra lessons there."
Harry blushed and sipped his tea. "Er...thanks Moony, but don't say that, 'cause then when I need help I'm not going to want to go to you for it," he said truthfully.
"Why's that?" Remus asked. Harry cocked his head to the side.
"Because I'd know you thought I could do better," he said with a shrug.
"Harry, I'd never be disappointed in you," Remus said seriously.
Harry looked at him momentarily before nodding, knowing that Moony's words could easily be proven false, but decided to go along with it anyway to avoid a talk.
Harry was a bit relieved at the absence of talks so far. When he had come back at the end of the school year, everyone had told him to prepare for a long talk, yet none had ever come. Now that the heat of the situation had diminished, so, apparently, had the desire for anyone to have a deep conversation with Harry about all the events of the previous year. And he was relieved, or so he kept telling himself.
Truth was that he felt rather stupid and frustrated with himself. He had dreaded the talks so much, anticipating the uneasiness, the awkward feeling when somebody tried to get him to say he believed something he didn't truly believe. But when they hadn't come, he had felt....disappointed. All the doubts started flooding back. Maybe Sirius hadn't really thought this whole living arrangement through. It was one thing to have a boy around your bachelor pad for a few months, but now the cancer was gone and Harry would be staying there for a much longer time. Was Sirius realizing he had made a mistake and now secretly wanted Harry to leave? Maybe now that the threats had all vanished and the drama disappeared, everyone was realizing that Harry wasn't as important to them as they had said. Maybe all the things that Sirius had said to him about loving him like a son were just lies to make him happy before he died. He had been dreading the talks, but dreaded more what it meant that he wasn't getting them.
Yet he told himself that these thoughts were stupid, that Sirius wanted him around or he wouldn't have invited him or put so much effort into his room. That Ron and Hermione were happy to have him back, despite his occasional third-wheel status; that people were happy to have him back because they liked him, rather than for their own piece of mind. Harry knew it wasn't easy seeing someone die. He assured himself that people were happy that he would be around for a long time, that they had hated the promise of him disappearing by a certain date.
But the doubts kept creeping back.
He couldn't deny that while there was an expiration date hanging over his head, people seemed to care about him more. It was hard to explain but he couldn't help but feel that without all the threats on his life, he had turned into yesterday's news with more than just the public.
But no, he knew that those doubts weren't true. He wasn't supposed to want the talks. He was supposed to avoid them like the plague, so that's what he would do, because that was what he wanted. He was almost sure of it.
"Do you mind going back to the Burrow later today, Har?" Sirius asked with his mouth semi-full.
"Of course not, but is there some particular reason?" he asked curiously.
The two men sighed and exchanged a look.
"Well, Dumbledore's getting a bunch of people who were on the light side together," Sirius explained. "You've really already ended the war, Harry, before it even began, but it will take some time for it to really be over. You've gotten rid of the biggest obstacle, but there are still some of Voldemort's followers out there who aren't going to give everything up just yet. We're just going to try to round those ones up and put them away so everyone can be truly safe again."
"Until then, though, I'm afraid you're still in a bit of danger, Harry; there are some who aren't too happy about Voldemort's death. But there's nothing to worry about. The wards around the Lighthouse and the Burrow are impenetrable. You're probably even safer here than at Hogwarts. Hermione's house is also pretty well protected, along with your two friends, Eloise and Neville's houses. Of course, that means you won't be able to really go anywhere else without an adult until the rest of the Death Eaters are rounded up. I hope you understand," Remus said apologetically.
"Hey, everywhere I want to go seems covered. This beats staying at the Dursleys by a long shot!" he burst out. He wished he hadn't have mentioned it though when memories from his relatives house started flooding back.
He sipped his tea to hide his grimace and forced the thoughts out of his head. The two adults looked at him sympathetically, but didn't bring up the subject, which was what Harry was practically positive he was thankful for.
"I'm surprised Voldemort's little minions even know what to do with themselves without some leader's feet to grovel at," Harry said somewhat bitterly. He wasn't about to forget the image of being surrounded by a hundred masked figures as they proceeded to torture him with the Cruciatus Curse.
"Well, I'm sure they're following someone else temporarily. Nobody as powerful as Voldemort was, I assure you, but probably one of the higher up ones. It won't last long though. They really have nothing without Voldemort's power," Remus said confidently.
"By next summer, I'm sure you, Ron and Hermione will be roaming the streets of Diagon Alley like you own the place," Sirius said with a grin.
That night was the first of many nights at the Weasleys, knowing that Sirius, Remus, the Weasley parents and even the elder two Weasley sons were away at "Order meetings" as they called them.
Surprisingly, Harry didn't feel left out of these meetings. The previous year, he would have wanted to be in there, doing everything he could to help. Of course, the previous year, Voldemort had still been alive and it was unspoken knowledge that Harry was to defeat him. Now, the Order didn't even seem that exciting if all they were doing was rounding up the last of the Death Eaters. As Sirius had said, the war was really already over, the Order was just winning some last battles.
So on these nights, the twins were officially in charge, which seemed in and of itself a very large error in judgment. There was much testing of products, pranking, Wizard's Chess, gambling with Bertie Botts Beans, and eating everything they could.
On one of the first nights, Harry had been asked to bring Hedwig. He had entered to find the four surrounded by stacks of paper and coloring utensils, all furiously writing.
"Come sit down, Harry," Fred said, gesturing to a seat.
"We're making fliers," explained George.
"For our Grand Opening next week," Fred clarified.
"To send to everyone we know to start handing out," George added.
"So start decorating," Fred finished.
Harry looked at Ron and Ginny, who grinned excitedly. Harry studied the fliers that they had made and began copying the same information down in his neatest handwriting.
"So you're really opening soon?" he asked eagerly. "Is everything ready?"
"Yup, everything's ready to go, now let's just hope there are some customers there as well," said Fred.
"We need some more 'Great gifts for your kids' ones to send to Katie, Alicia, and Lee. Their parents are bringing them to work to hand out," George instructed.
"And Angelina's at Quidditch camp, so we need to send a bunch of 'Perfect for revenge for your evil campmates' themed ones her way," Fred added. "Plus some mail orders since they can't come themselves."
They spent the rest of the night making fliers and sending them off in stacks. Letters went out to everyone they knew.
At some point, a coloring fight broke out. Harry had accidentally marked Ginny's hand with the green, so she drew a blue line down his arm, which of course meant he had no choice but to retaliate.
Somehow, they were all drawn into the fight, and when they finally stopped, they were each streaked with every color. Harry had come out the worst, looking a bit as if he was wearing tribal war paint. He had a sun drawn around his left eye and the words "Ginny is a Goddess" written up his right arm. Above his scar, there was now a cloud for it to come out of and rain surrounding it. At one point, everyone had ganged up on him and pinned him down, lifting up his shirt and wrote "Weasley # 8" on his back as would appear on the back of a jersey. At that point, he had briefly panicked that he might not have put on his Concealment Charms, but was relieved to find his back completely smooth.
He did take pride in knowing he had managed to write "Tornados" across Ron's forehead. He had also managed to color the tip of Ginny's nose black and give her whiskers. Ginny had used orange and green to turn Fred's eyebrows into two carrots, and George had somehow ended up with an eye in the middle of his forehead and an extra mouth on his neck.
Fred found a camera and they made sure to capture their beautiful artwork on film.
They all trooped to the kitchen and began to scrub their arms and faces, but soon discovered that it wasn't coming off at all. Ginny ran and found the box. They were slightly horrified to read that the marker was not washable, and would only come off with a thorough cleansing spell. And of course, since it was summer, they would have to beg the adults for mercy, which they knew would be very difficult to get.
True enough, they were stuck with their colorful faces for three days before the much-amused adults gave in.
With every day spent with either the two remaining Marauders or the Weasleys, it was already beginning to be the best summer Harry had ever had. It was hard to imagine that if things had been only slightly different, he would have either been bed-ridden or dead during these first of the summer days. He hadn't found some hidden meaning of life; most often he even found himself forgetting what a gift each day was. He did know that he had never felt so happy and relaxed. He hoped it would stay this blissful forever. Harry didn't need or want anymore of the drama that had made his life so famous. Right now, he could only describe things as perfect.
But as he had always insisted, he never really went looking for trouble. Trouble seemed to have a way of finding him.