Harry walked down the dark, deserted corridor. Earlier in the day, the Weasley's and Hermione had come by to see him, but he'd been blissfully unaware of their presence. They were all reportedly still somewhere in the castle, and Harry really wanted to find them. He'd only seen Fred, who had been released the previous night, after a dose of skele-grow had healed the bone in his broken arm.
Pomfrey made Harry stay for observation just in case. He'd had two dizzy spells since he'd woken up from saving his father's life, a side effect of his innate magical ability, according to Madame Pomfrey. Now, he'd finally escaped her claws, which he'd later pay for, but for now he was determined to find his friends and their family before they left.
The entrance hall was quiet except for the light noise coming from within the Great Hall. Taking a chance, Harry pushed open one of the doors a notch. He saw who he was looking for inside, but he also saw his father, Sirius, and Remus; none of whom would be pleased he'd snuck out of the Infirmary.
He sighed, knowing he couldn't go in. He didn't wish to be chastised by his father in front of everyone; he'd rather not be totally embarrassed today.
Ron glanced up just as he was letting the door slide closed and opened his big, fat, mouth. Harry grimaced.
"Hey, Harry!" he yelled excitedly, running for the door. Harry closed his eyes and clenched his fists, annoyed at himself for getting caught. He was also a mite peeved at his best friend for spilling the beans about his presence. The doors opened before him, spilling all of the Weasley's and Hermione into the hall where he still stood rooted to the spot. He glanced at his father, still inside the Great Hall, and smiled sheepishly.
His father raised an eyebrow and gave Harry a pointed look, letting the boy know he wouldn't say anything just now, but there would definitely be a conversation in their future. Nodding, grateful to have avoided that bullet, Harry turned to his friends.
"Hey!" he said, allowing the bone-crushing hug from Mrs. Weasley before she would even permit her children to get near him.
"How are you doing, dear?" she asked gently, holding his shoulders and eyeing him critically. Harry didn't know what it was she was looking for, but it was beginning to make him uncomfortable. Not necessarily in a bad way, just slightly odd. Harry suddenly had an insight into her behavior and wondered if it didn't have something to do with his newfound powerful magic and his recent defeat of a certain Dark Lord.
"Are you okay?" he asked instead of answering her question.
She blushed furiously and released him. "I'm fine, Harry. Just fine," she answered, going to stand next to her husband who started whispering something in her ear. She blushed again.
Harry was grinning as Hermione approached him. "What's so funny?" she asked curiously.
He shook his head. "Oh, nothing," he waved her off. "What are you still doing here? I figured your parents would have dragged you away from here after the attack."
Hermione shrugged. "Well, actually, they wanted to do that, but I've convinced them otherwise. They know we're no longer in danger, thanks to you," she said, smiling broadly.
Waving off the praise, Harry pretended to be interested in the conversation Mr. and Mrs. Weasley was having. Hermione grinned and walked away, leaving Harry to his thoughts.
Fred and George came up next. "Hey, mate. How are you feeling?" they asked.
"I'm fine, no more dizzy spells, at least not today," he added at Fred's suspicious look. "What do you two have planned for the Holidays?" he asked to change the subject.
The twins grinned excitedly. "We're going to use that money you gave us last year to start up our own joke shop!" exclaimed George happily.
Harry smiled genuinely. "That's great! Where's it going to be, do you think?"
"We had considered opening our first one in Diagon Alley, and maybe expanding later, if business goes well," said Fred. Harry thought that was a good idea, especially considering they probably would get to expand. Their ideas were genius; they could sell almost anything they invented.
Molly came back over then, pushing her two sons out of the way. "Harry dear, we really must be going now. But, you'll be visiting us this summer, right?"
Harry nodded eagerly. "Oh yes, I'll be sure to visit. I can't wait," he added enthusiastically.
Mrs. Weasley smiled joyfully. "Oh, good, Harry." She threw her arms around him and kissed his cheek. "Have a lovely summer, dear."
Ron came up and slapped him on the back. "I'll be over in a few days, I think, if that's all right."
Harry grinned. "Of course it's all right. Hermione, are you coming too?" he asked, seeing as she'd heard the last of the conversation.
She shook her head. "Sorry, I can't, at least not next week. My grandparents have flown in to visit with us. But believe me, I'd rather spend my time with the both of you," she said. Harry knew Hermione thought she had hurt his feelings at first, but she really hadn't. It wouldn't devastate him if they couldn't come over right away. It wasn't as if they hadn't seen each other all semester long. He could definitely wait a few weeks if need be.
He waved good-bye to his friends and watched as they disappeared out the entrance doors.
"I see you escaped from a certain Matron." Harry cringed. He turned around to face them.
Severus, Sirius, and Remus all stood before him, looking a bit intimidating, Harry thought. "I wanted to see the Weasley's before they left," he said quietly.
"You'd be seeing them in just a few days, you know, it could have waited. You're supposed to be resting and you're still not completely well after all the magical energy you expended." His father looked none too pleased but worried as well. "I don't want you to over exert yourself."
Harry nodded, feeling chastised. "I know I wasn't supposed to get out of bed, and I do apologize for breaking the rules. But, it was just for a few minutes. I was going to go straight back once I'd found them."
"You shouldn't have been out of bed at all. Now, back to the Infirmary with you. Go," Remus pushed the boy towards the stairs. Harry sighed in resignation. He had expected them to follow him, but they weren't.
"What are you three doing?" he asked curiously at the top of the stairs.
"None of your business!" said Sirius, but his tone was light. Harry smiled softly at them and turned around to leave. The sudden move didn't sit well with him, however, and he found himself grabbing onto the railing to keep from toppling over it.
"Harry!" he heard someone call his name and rushing footsteps. He slid down to the floor and sat there gasping. He suddenly felt weak and foggy and infinitely stupid for getting out of bed. It was obvious he wasn't ready yet.
Severus kneeled down in front of him, Sirius and Remus at his sides. He checked Harry's pulse and found it racing. "I'm sorry, dad," he whispered plaintively. "I think I did overexert myself."
"It's all right, Harry. I know you just wanted to see your friends. I wasn't really upset at you for it," his father coaxed Harry into standing, draping an arm around his shoulders.
Harry nodded and weakly smiled at Sirius as he moved to help on Harry's other side.
After settling Harry into his Infirmary bed, Remus went to fetch Madame Pomfrey.
"I really am sorry, dad." Harry said again, still feeling the rush of dizziness. "I don't know why I keep getting so dizzy. Shouldn't I be over this by now?"
"Not necessarily, Harry. It's only been a day. Give it time, you need to recuperate and regain your strength. Lie back and rest." Severus shoved another pillow under his son's head, gently fluffing it.
"Okay," his teen mumbled tiredly.
A light kiss was placed upon his forehead as Harry began to burrow into his pillow.
"Sleep tight, kiddo," Harry heard his godfather's voice in his ear, followed by a hand gently running through his hair.
"Get some rest, Har, I'll see you tomorrow," Remus whispered as he passed. Harry heard the doors shut and drifted into sleep.
"He's in jail for good, then?" asked a voice Harry knew he should recognize. His brain was still sleep fogged and he found it hard to concentrate, but the next words woke him up entirely.
"Yes. Azkaban it is for the likes of him." Said a distinctly unfamiliar voice.
"Good, good. I had worried about him getting out again, since it seemed so easy for him to evade Auror patrols last time. He was able to escape too easily, if you were to ask me." Remus' voice was easy to recognize and as the conversation lagged on, he realized whom they were talking about.
"Lucius Malfoy?" asked Harry, surprising them all. Remus was sitting on the end of his bed and jumped up at the sound of his voice.
"Harry!" he exclaimed. "We didn't wake you, did we?" he asked.
Harry shrugged. "It's all right," he glanced at his watch. Almost time for lunch. His eyes grew wide. "I think it's time for me to be up anyways. Why didn't anyone wake me? It's pretty late in the morning."
Severus spoke from somewhere across the room before Harry saw him come into view. It looked as though he'd been talking with Madame Pomfrey in her office. "We thought you could use the extra rest, Harry. Don't worry; we'll save some lunch for you. You won't miss it," he said, incorrectly assuming Harry must be hungry. Harry just didn't want to come off as lazy, especially not over the Holidays. He was so used to being constantly at work during summer vacation that he didn't know what to do with himself.
"I'm not all that hungry, just didn't want to laze about all day," he explained. Severus seemed to understand that and allowed him out of bed.
"Madame Pomfrey says you're free to come home now, so long as you don't overexert yourself and mind what I say," he said, making Harry wonder about that last part. Snape probably threw that in all on his own. Harry smirked.
"Yes, sir," he replied, before locking eyes with an unfamiliar man in Auror robes. "I don't think I know you," he said, hoping to get his name.
"That's about right. We've never met. I'm Rufus Scrimgeour, head of the Auror office," he said genially. "Pleased to meet you, Mr. Potter."
Harry didn't like him, he decided straight away. There was just something about his air of personality that threw Harry off. He nodded pleasantly in turn, but refused to speak to the man after that, much to Scrimgeours' annoyance.
"So, Malfoy's in prison?" asked Harry, desperate to find out what happened to the harsh man.
"Yes. We escorted him personally from King's Cross to Azkaban. We're not sure how he got out the first time, but we've made sure to put extra protections around him in case of another attempted escape," said Scrimgeour importantly, thrusting out his chest.
Harry hadn't directed his question at the man and found himself scowling at him for answering it. "He has friends in the Auror office, that's how he got out," Harry informed them, remembering in detail what Lucius Malfoy had told him when he'd been captured, albeit briefly.
Scrimgeour looked distinctly red at the comment and bore down on Harry, still lying prone in his bed. At the intimidating move, he leaned backward but kept eye contact. "There are no traitors in my office, Potter. It'd serve you well to remember that in future," he spat.
"Kindly step away from my son," hissed a voice from behind them. Rufus Scrimgeour glared at Severus before standing up and moving away from Harry.
"He lies." Scrimgeour yanked a hand in Harry's direction. "I don't appreciate the accusation, and neither would any of my employees. Kindly control your son!"
For a moment Harry thought his father was going to strike the sour man, but Sirius and Remus intervened. "I think you've received all the information you needed, did you not?" asked Remus, propelling the man towards the Infirmary doors.
"I didn't question Potter!" he yelled, attempting to break free of Remus' grasp.
"We'll send you his memories of the attack, if that will suffice? Harry doesn't need anymore stress," Remus held tight to Scrimgeour, rushing him out. "Good day," he called as the door slammed in the head of the Auror Office's face. Remus smiled grimly. "I do believe I dislike that man."
Harry grinned. "Me either," he agreed. "I wasn't lying," he felt necessary to add. "Malfoy told me so himself." Harry was a bit disgruntled at being called a liar, but considering the way Scrimgeour reacted to the news, he was probably the one behind Malfoy's release. He didn't say as much, though.
"We're aware of that, Harry. We've always known there were spies from Voldemort's side in the Ministry. And I'm fairly certain there are a few in the Auror Office as well, whether Scrimgeour believes it or not."
In the back of his mind, a memory was triggered, taking Harry back to the attack the night before. He'd just remembered who was throwing the potions at the train station. He had no idea why this certain memory came back to him just then, but it did all the same. "I just thought of something," he said, gaining the three men's attention.
"What's that, Harry?" asked Remus, glancing up at Harry from his seat on his bed.
"I saw who was throwing the potions causing all of those explosions. Did you know who it was?" he thought to ask. Maybe they had caught him.
"He was killed in the explosion, according to the Aurors. His body was unidentifiable, besides the Dark Mark on his left forearm," said Remus, leaning forward. "You say you saw him?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah, we made eye contact and everything. I don't think he was all there, come to think of it," he said offhandedly, his eyes glazed in thought.
"Harry, child, who was it?" Severus seemed very determined to discover who it was. But, Harry supposed he'd want to know too, if he didn't already know. The man had been the cause of many deaths.
"It was Karakoff," said Harry, startling those in the room. "I honestly didn't think Voldemort would have allowed him to survive, really. He was the one too cowardly to return to Voldemort's service."
"You're right. And he didn't. You say he 'wasn't all there' Harry?" asked Severus, looking thoughtful.
"Yes. He almost looked like he was…"
"Under the Imperius curse?" interrupted his father, startling Harry into just nodding his agreement. "Anyone who betrays the Dark Lord doesn't live long afterwards, especially weaklings like Karakoff. Voldemort must have found him, placed him under Imperius, and sent him to King's Cross station with the explosion potions. He didn't intend for Karakoff to survive the battle."
Harry wasn't really shocked at the reality of the situation, but it was still almost sad.
"On that depressing note," Severus picked up the newspaper from the bedside table and handed it to the boy. "I think you'll find a rather pleasant surprise in there. Why don't you read it."
Harry looked at his father curiously before taking the pro-offered paper. He glanced at the headline and nearly dropped it in his complete shock.
Peter Pettigrew captured in King's Cross raid, Sirius Black framed.
Harry didn't need to read the article, the headline said more than enough. "Is this for real?" he asked, looking from one face to the next. "Was he really there? I never even saw him," he said absently, scanning through his own memories of the event. "You're free then?" he asked, locking eyes with his godfather.
Sirius beamed at him, shaking his head up and down. "Yes, Harry, I'm finally a free man!" he yelled, scooping his godson into his arms and hugging him tightly.
"But when? When did this happen? No one told me yesterday in the Great Hall!" he exclaimed, feeling left out.
"Harry, we didn't know. As soon as we saw Voldemort was finished, we took you and Severus straight to the Hospital Wing. There were a few Auror units in charge when we left. We only found out last night that Pettigrew had been found and captured, sneaking about in the Train Station. We think he was trying to escape with other Death Eaters when a little girl saw him in his rat form. Needless to say, Wormtail will never be quite the same again. The girl stomped on him rather furiously," he said, laughing despite himself. It was relatively funny.
"Oh, well then, this is great!" Harry couldn't believe his godfather was finally free from his past, able to move on. He was looking forward to spending more time with him without his godfather having to hide from the public. Things would be so much easier now; he just knew it. Maybe Sirius and Remus would come over to Harry's and his father's house even. "When are we going home?" he suddenly asked, startling his companions.
Sirius looked a little affronted. "I've just been released as a free man and you want to go home?" he asked. "I thought perhaps you'd like to come and visit me for a bit this summer. Will that be possible?"
Harry blanched. "Well, I was wondering if you'd come and visit me at our house, actually. Remus, too," he added, watching the older man as he tried to escape out the doors at the 'family' conversation. He glanced at his father and noticed he was looking none to thrilled at the idea. "Well, it's up to my dad, really."
He felt his plans going down the drain before they'd even began. Severus and Sirius had come to a compromise earlier after his grandmother, Deliverance, had put her foot down, but the two of them weren't exactly the best of friends. He'd be lucky if his father let Sirius in his house, let alone allow Harry to visit his godfather. He crossed his arms, watching the two men nervously.
Suddenly, Severus spoke, startling the boy. "You're welcome in our home at any time," he said casually, gesturing to both Sirius and Remus. "If Harry wants you around, I won't keep you from him."
Sirius stepped towards his father, nodding in acceptance. "You can expect the same of me, Snape."
Harry couldn't ask for anymore than this. In fact, this was almost more than he had expected. His father and his godfather were getting along better than he ever thought they would.
"Harry, obviously, is ready to get home. I'd like a few days to get settled in, perhaps a week or so. After which, I wouldn't object to some visitors." Severus stated, being extremely generous in Harry's point of view. He'd been ready to argue but found he wouldn't even have to. Life was getting better and better. Now, if he could just convince his father to allow his friends over at every waking moment, life would be good. He laughed at his own stupid ideas. It would actually be nice to have some time with just his father. They hadn't had that in quite a while, with school and existence in general getting in the way.
"Where are you going to be staying?" Harry thought to ask. They'd been talking about going to Sirius' house, but he didn't even know where he'd be staying. He hardly doubted his godfather would willingly stay at Grimmauld Place if not absolutely necessary.
"He's staying with me," said Remus.
Harry grinned. That was even better. He'd been really worried about his godfather, with him living with Severus now. Sirius had asked Harry to live with him first, and the idea that the man would be all alone was deeply depressing to Harry. It just wouldn't be right. Knowing he'd have Remus for company lightened Harry's heart.
"That's great!" he exclaimed as Sirius threw an arm around his shoulders. "I didn't want you to be by yourself."
"I won't be," Sirius grinned at his friend, causing Remus to smirk.
"This is going to be just wonderful," Remus said, rolling his eyes at Sirius' antics. "A few months living with Sirius will leave me longing for my solitude again."
Harry knew he was just joking. Living in exile most of his life, due to his being a werewolf, had never been easy. It was probably the best solution, Remus and Sirius staying together. They also needed time to catch up and they'd have plenty of that…time.
Sirius grinned. "You'll never even know I'm there,"
That really caused Remus to laugh. "I highly doubt that!"
"Gentlemen, if you've finished acting like children," interrupted Severus, not finding the two men humorous at all. "I'd rather like to take my son and head home."
Sirius and Remus grew silent at once. "Yes, of course, sorry Severus," interjected Remus. "We didn't mean to keep you."
Sirius didn't look nearly as sorry.
Harry picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. "I'll see you two sometime next week, then?"
"Sure thing, kiddo." Sirius took no time in grabbing his godson and pulling him into a strong embrace. "If you need anything, you know where to find me. Or at least, Hedwig does."
"Yeah, she does. Bye Remus," he said, waving to get his attention. Remus came over and hugged him as well.
"Let's go, Harry."
Severus was standing by the door, waiting patiently.
"Okay, dad!" Harry said, feigning exasperation, grinning at Severus' raised brow. Harry started across the room, but Sirius grabbed his arm, pulling him back rather unexpectedly. The action somehow reminded him of Uncle Vernon grabbing his arm in the train station. Instinctively, Harry flinched and ripped his arm out of his godfather's grasp. Breathing shallowly, it took Harry a moment to remember exactly where he was and to remember he was in no danger from these people. His fear deflated instantly, leaving him feeling embarrassed and stupid. Maybe they didn't notice, he thought weakly.
Upon glancing upwards, however, he realized they had in fact noticed. Sirius had stepped back as if burned while Remus was looking nothing less than shocked. "What was that?" asked Sirius, having not been at the train station when Vernon Dursley violently shook his nephew; neither he nor Remus knew the reason for Harry's response. "Harry?" he asked gently, while giving Severus a deadly glare. "Does this have anything to do with you, Snape?"
The question was spat out harshly, and Harry instantly grew angry. "Oh, would you shut up, Sirius!" he yelled, not wanting a repeat performance. He had learned a valuable lesson from being locked in his bedroom and the following events, which took place later. If he didn't want his godfather to overreact, he had to tell the truth, in great detail, and put his foot down. "I didn't mean to just do that. If you had been at the train station in the beginning, you'd understand why that just happened. And it's got absolutely nothing to do with my father!" he yelled for emphasis. "So don't even start!"
Sirius looked at Severus regretfully. "Sorry, Snape. Old habits die hard," he said by way of explanation. "You told me something about Dursley showing up right before the attack occurred. Does he have something to do with this?"
Harry nodded even though his godfather had directed his question to his father. "Yes, it has everything to do with that. Now let's drop it. I want to go home," he said, mentally waving off their concerned looks, attempting to walk out the door. His father obviously had other ideas.
The boy stopped knowing that tone of voice. It wasn't a question, it was a demand, and he knew what his father wanted without him even asking. His attention, that was all.
"What?" he asked. He cringed when it came out sounding pretty rude. He attempted a quick look at his father, but the man didn't seem angry, just concerned.
Harry knew he really did owe his godfather and Remus an explanation, considering his outburst. He couldn't just leave them here, worried, not knowing what had happened. And Severus seemed to think the same thing. It was telling just by looking in his father's eyes.
He turned slowly to face the two men at the other side of the Hospital Wing. They looked so concerned and confused Harry knew he had to say something to them, at least to alleviate their fears.
"I…um…" Harry stood there uncertainly. It was harder than he originally thought it would be and embarrassing as hell. "He…well, he scared me, is all."
"What happened?" asked Sirius, looking between father and son, needing to know. "How'd he scare you? He didn't hurt you, did he?" Sirius looked livid at the thought causing Remus to place a calming hand on his shoulder. But, now that Harry was looking, Remus didn't look all that composed either.
"No, not really," he said, though ever since, Harry had begun to blame himself for his aunt and cousin's death. Really, it was his fault. They'd never have died had he not been staying with them. Voldemort had wanted information, and although he didn't get any, he had gotten Harry's aunt and cousin. It was an awful feeling, knowing you were the reason so many people were dead. Sometimes it left Harry feeling lost and hopeless. He hated that feeling.
Although it wasn't really much of an answer, Remus nudged Sirius in the ribs, knowing he'd get the hint. Any more questions and Harry would bolt.
Sirius went up to Harry, making sure the boy knew he was coming, and gently embraced him. "I'm sorry I scared you just now, Harry."
Harry shrugged stupidly. "It wasn't your fault," he mumbled into the man's shoulder.
"Maybe not, but I did scare you. I never want you to be frightened of me."
Pulling out of Sirius' arms, Harry said vehemently, "I wasn't scared of you! I didn't even think it was you, I thought you were someone else."
"Your Uncle," Sirius stated heatedly. "Just give me two minutes alone with that man…" he mumbled, actually causing Harry to grin.
"Don't worry about it. It's not like I ever have to go back to him. I've got my dad now," he said slowly, quietly. "I've got you and Remus, too." He never wanted them to feel left out.
"I know, kiddo. Just like you've got us too," he whispered, kissing Harry's forehead. "Your dad's waiting," he said, grimacing good-naturedly at the word 'dad'. Harry smiled at the effort.
Harry's godfather grinned, gently pushing the boy towards Severus, still waiting patiently at the doors.
"Ready?" he asked when Harry finally reached him.
He'd been looking forward to finally going home since before the attack. Of course he was ready. With one last wave to the two men still standing in the Infirmary, Harry walked out the door, Severus arm tucked firmly around his shoulders.
A/N: That's it folks! Well, except there's still a tiny matter of the sequel. The first chapter will be posted in the next week or so, and you all can still expect updates every two weeks, as per normal.
Thanks for waiting until after HBP came out for me to post this. I tried to get it finished before then, but I didn't manage it. And besides, after the ending to that book, I felt like I needed to redeem a certain character.
And, as for what happens in the next chapter, I'm not really sure…
In The Sequel….Somewhere I Belong III…(Not very original, but hey…)
(This story will take place during the summer, obviously, focusing on Harry's transition into a normal, if not sometimes crazy, home life. As is typical with me, there will be lots of angst and happy times to come.)
Harry adjusts to life at home with his father.
Ron and Hermione come to visit.
Harry's encounter with his Uncle at the Train Station begins to give him nightmares.
In about two weeks.
Also, I want to say thank-you to Nita, my wonderful beta-reader. You're brilliant!
And, I'd like to say hi to Chikifriend, a new reader to the story who has reviewed every chapter of both stories currently posted. I love it when readers review every chapter, it's quite nice. Thanks!