Harry Potter and the Dangerous Choice

Chapter One: In Remembrance

Harry Potter sat on the edge of his bed, and stared out the window at the rows of rooftops he could see from his room at Number Four, Privet Drive. Harry was a lanky boy with black hair, which looked as though it resisted all efforts to comb it down. He had green eyes, which were rather vacant and dull right now, as he stared out the window. Harry had slept in his clothes again. Morning showed pink around the edges of the puffy clouds on the horizon. Harry could not get himself to appreciate the colors, or the fresh morning air. Harry Potter was a wizard, and he had a lot on his mind. He brushed the hair out of his eyes revealing one of the most interesting things about himself. Harry Potter had a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead.

Hedwig softly hooted from her cage. Hedwig was a beautiful snowy owl, and very intelligent among her kind. She had not been released from her cage in two weeks, but she had not fussed. She simply seemed to be waiting for something, as her bright eyes studied Harry. Other owls had arrived at Harry's window since he and Hedwig had returned to Privet Drive. Each owl had carried a message for Harry. Harry had carefully removed the message from each one, and then penned a short reply, such as 'I'm fine thanks, Harry'. He would then attach his note to the waiting owl and send it off. The pile of received messages lay unopened on his desk. Harry could not bear to read them. He wanted to keep everything and everyone out.

Harry had felt happy as he stood on platform nine and three quarters, two weeks ago, because there he had been surrounded by people that he knew genuinely cared about him. But now, as with every year, he had been banished from the world where he belonged, to this prison of protection. Harry was painfully aware why he was here, why he needed to come here, but as soon as the Dursleys' car had pulled out from the station, a heavy fog had engulfed him. He was alone again, and he had lost Sirius. Grief had settled heavily upon him.

Harry had raged in Dumbledore's office after the fight in the Ministry of Magic, after Sirius fell through the veil, and after Harry realized Sirius was not coming back. It still seemed as though it had just happened. He felt totally numb. He had returned to Privet Drive and immediately made his room, his refuge. He left it only when commanded to by his aunt or uncle, to perform some chore or other. He did not appear for many meals, which did not seem to bother the Dursleys in the least. No one asked him what was wrong, nor did they seem to notice or care. Even if they had asked, he wouldn't have known what to say. His aunt and uncle seemed strictly opposed to the wizard world, and certainly would not want to hear what Harry had been up to that night in the Department of Mysteries.

When Harry did come to the table, he did not speak and only picked at his food. Harry was aware of the activity in the house, but could muster none of his normal curiosity to try to pay attention to it. He just sat, slump- shouldered, for hours on end, trying to blank out his feelings.

This morning, even Harry's depression could not screen out the commotion in the front hall. Vernon and Dudley were driving to visit Aunt Marge. It seemed that she needed some help with a long list of minor repairs around her home, and Vernon felt the contractors' prices were outrageous. Therefore, Uncle Vernon had volunteered to come, and bring Dudley as his helper. He was quite keen on testing out a new model drill his company was producing. Uncle Vernon offered to bring a second one for Dudley to use, but apparently Dudley was not interested in running a drill. Aunt Petunia had begged off the trip, and Harry felt the reason had to do with him. Someone as incorrigible as himself could not be left in the house alone, that was certain. Also, Harry now knew that he needed to stay in, and around the Dursley house to get the protection that Dumbledore said he needed. After last year's howler, addressed to Petunia, Harry was sure his aunt would not want to ignore any of Dumbledore's rules.

Uncle Vernon was in high spirits and seemed to think that Dudley should be glad to, "spend time on the road with the old man." Dudley did not share his father's enthusiasm and had ranted for two solid days. Harry suspected Dudley had been looking forward to the fun of beating up younger neighborhood children. Harry vaguely remembered they were to be away for two weeks. Suitcases that had been parked in the hall the previous evening were now being ferried to the car. Dudley insisted on taking various video games that took up an entire suitcase. Harry didn't go down to say goodbye. By eight A.M. Uncle Vernon's car was packed with enough luggage for a three month safari. They had received kisses, and a mountain of sandwiches and sweets from Aunt Petunia, and been waved down the street. The house was now quiet again.

Harry turned his attention from the front hall and gazed out the window. He was trying as hard as he could to feel nothing, to remain suspended without thinking. He wasn't sure he could bear it if he had to keep confronting the truth that Sirius was really dead and that he had brought it on. This thought was usually followed by the thought that he had to kill Voldemort, or be killed. It seemed so crazy to Harry; how could he be the only one in the world who could get rid of Voldemort? It was too much to take in, it was too much responsibility. No, he thought, I won't think about it. Just try to think about nothing at all. With elbows on his knees, Harry dropped his face into his hands trying to block it all out.

Aunt Petunia walked past Harry's open door. She was carrying a plastic laundry basket that contained some socks for matching. She glanced in and was continuing down the hall when she stopped and turned back. Harry soon sensed her looking at him, but his head felt too heavy to look up. What could she want? Why couldn't she leave him alone?

"You've been exceptionally quiet since you've come home," said Petunia. She took a step further into the room. Harry didn't reply or look up. He thought the Dursleys would appreciate his silence. That's what they always seemed to want from him. "I am quite tired of this moping about," said Petunia. There was a long pause. "Did something happen at your school that I ought to know about? You haven't been expelled or anything?" Her voice was shrill but trailed off at the end.

Harry thought to himself, she's worried she'll be stuck with me for the whole year. First they didn't want me at Hogwarts, now they can't wait to be rid of me. He tried to think of some response that would make her leave him alone. All he could muster was "No." That was followed by the thought; please go away!

Petunia took another step nearer, as though she were approaching an unfriendly dog. "Well, this laying about is totally uncalled for. What do you have to unhappy about anyway?" she sniffed. "You have a roof over your head. You have food, clothes.... and there's that annoying Dumbledore looking out for you." Harry did not respond. Anything he said was likely to prolong his aunt's intrusion.

"You and your lot have no respect for others. You go about acting any way you like, dressing outlandishly, breaking up normal people's property, and of course there's Dudley's tail, if you please. Then you try to fix everything up with your magic mumbo-jumbo. Why SHOULD normal folk have to put up with your ......your.... abnormalities? Here you sit, acting like some sort of martyr, for who knows what reason."

Harry still didn't move. He had heard this all before. Just ignore her, Harry thought. Soon she'll go away.

"We have to put up with having you here just because of your parents and their irresponsible lifestyle," snapped Petunia.

That did it. Harry felt a fire erupt in his chest. He could not control his next outburst. He jumped to his feet and stood squarely facing Petunia. He was now slightly taller than she. His aunt immediately took a half step backward. "Don't talk about my parents like that. You couldn't even tell me the truth about them." Harry took in a deep breath. "Do you have any idea what's going on?" he shouted. "You don't know anything about my situation, and you don't care. Do you know that I watched my godfather die, trying to defend me, just three weeks ago? DO YOU KNOW THAT IT WAS MY FAULT THAT HE DIED?" Harry's voice cracked and tears began to flow, uncontrollably.

Petunia looked shocked, but then her eyes narrowed. "Do you think I am concerned with the likes of your godfather?" Petunia sneered. "Oh, I knew HIM you know, and he was horrible. He was disrespectful...always teasing people. It's really quite amazing he wasn't killed by someone before now." Petunia shifted her position and began to nervously tap her fingers on her crossed arms. "Who knows what sort of people he was associating with? Obviously, the wrong sort. Trying to drag you into it as well, by the sound of it. Don't you see how wrong this wizard business is? It's all curses, and killings, and mercy knows what else." Petunia was screaming now.

Harry didn't have it in him to argue; he just sank back to the bed and was racked with sobs that he could not stop. He didn't know how many minutes passed as he wrung the horrible grief and hurt out of his body. He just knew that suddenly there was a tentative hand resting on his shoulder.

"Well, that's enough of that. Perhaps I was a bit harsh after all," said Petunia. Harry looked up to see Petunia, sinking down next to him. She looked kinder for a moment than Harry could ever remember seeing her look. Did she think that her speech had caused his breakdown? Perhaps she did. She had never touched him out of kindness or caring, that he could remember. He looked at her with this question in his mind. She opened her mouth to speak but then closed it again, and then she looked down at the floor.

Petunia began to speak quietly. "You see, your mother was so pretty. She was always so very clever. Everyone would always complement our parents on Lily." Petunia's voice was almost a whisper as she said, "I could never ...well, she was the centre of attention." Petunia hesitated. "Then it became clear that she had these... powers. Everyone was SO pleased," said Petunia, her voice rising. "But you see, it only led to trouble. Your father, James, came from a family of wizards. The way he told it they were always in some kind of danger. I often overheard him telling Lily about them. Well, at first I thought it all an act of course, to get her attention." Petunia paused and looked at Harry for his approval of this conclusion. "Well, who wouldn't think that? It was all so unbelievable, really. His whole story was very suspicious," stated Petunia. "I KNEW that trouble was ahead, and I wanted NOTHING to do with it. After all, there was our status in the community to consider, and Vernon's position at the plant."

"The very day your parents were killed, Lily had rung me up on the telephone. Mind you we hadn't spoken in several years. She was all in a panic. She said she had found something out, and you were all in great danger, and could I take you, and hide you for awhile." Petunia took a sharp breath. "And I was going to agree. Then your mother said, After all Petunia, they'd never think of looking in a Muggle house." Petunia stood up and crossed her arms over her chest and the old, mean glint returned to her eyes. "Well! I hung up on her. Imagine, calling me a.....a...'Muggle', as though I was beneath her. But little Miss Perfect Lily, could use ME if she needed to.... or so she thought!" Petunia was now building a head of steam. "She tried to ring back, say she was SORRY, and that she hadn't meant it as a slight. I knew better though. I told her never to call me again. I didn't even mention it to Vernon, but then, there you were, the next day, on the doorstep, like a pint of cream or the morning paper. So don't be feeling sorry for yourself. You could have had a normal life, but you CHOSE to be a wizard. If your kind are killing each other off, well it may be all for the best. Self-destructive, the entire lot of you." As she finished this strange tirade, she scooped up her basket and swept out of the room in a huff.

Harry took a deep breath and expelled it slowly while trying to take in what his aunt had said. He had been taught through angry looks and unanswered silence, not to ask about his parents. Eventually he didn't try anymore. Now he saw that his mother had known something the day of her death that scared her enough to forsake the trust she and James had put in their secret keeper. It had made her attempt to send him off to Petunia for safe keeping. He wondered if his mother had known the whole prophecy, or if she had found out that Peter Pettigrew had betrayed them? Harry wondered if he would ever know the answer, with both his parents dead. He suddenly wished for Ron and Hermione to talk to. Also, Aunt Petunia not only knew his father, but also Sirius. He could just imagine Sirius teasing his rigid Aunt Petunia. Harry was sure that Sirius had been delightfully dreadful to her. For the first time in weeks, Harry smiled, and then almost laughed.

It was funny, but in a strange way, Harry felt somewhat better. He felt purged and wrung out, as though he had emptied out the bad emotions. Harry walked over to the old wardrobe and pulled out a stack of books that lay piled on his trunk. He found the wizard photo album, which Hagrid had given him four years ago. Once again, he looked at the smiling faces of his parents, and Sirius, and their friends. It suddenly occurred to him what he needed to do. Sirius had never received any kind of memorial service; there had been no funeral, or a gravesite to visit. Sirius had just disappeared, and that, seemingly, was the end. Harry realized that after a Muggle death, people had a service of some kind and put up a head stone or some remembrance of the person who had died. Harry had never attended a real funeral, but he guessed that it would be a time to tell the honorable deeds of the dead person. Sirius had been in hiding and was probably still considered guilty by the Ministry, so there would not be a service. That's when Harry decided to make a memorial of some kind for Sirius. This decision gave him a new sense of purpose.

Now that Harry felt somewhat better, he began to realize that Privet Drive, without Dudley, wasn't such a bad place. His aunt had returned to her normal mode of ignoring him or scolding him in turns. That was alright though. He came down for meals and performed the chores asked of him. In his spare time, he started working on his homework, which so far, had gone untouched. He also was trying to devise an appropriate memorial to Sirius Black. He had decided that what ever it was, it would be personal, his private reminder. He wouldn't tell anyone else. He reckoned that no one had really understood Sirius the way he did.

Harry let Hedwig out to fly at nights, and he received grateful pecks from her in return. In the week following Petunia's rant, Harry opened and read all the messages that had been arriving from Ron, Hermione and Lupin. They were, of course, devoid of any real news. He understood that they couldn't take chances with owl post. Still they were full of encouragement and they did make Harry feel better. Hermione was on holiday with her parents in Italy. Her letters were full of descriptions of old paintings and statues. Ron, on the other hand, told him that he had been allowed to help Fred and George out at their store, and in exchange, they had paid him in some fantastic new fireworks. Ron's note said they were the best ever.

Harry began taking long walks around Little Whining. He knew he should not, but he felt himself in somewhat more danger cooped up inside the house than out where he could see who and what was going on. Harry began to feel that if trouble was going to find him, then let it. Sirius had gone down fighting and that wasn't such a bad way to live, or to die.

Late one afternoon, about a week after his conversation with Aunt Petunia, Harry was cutting through the park near his house. There he spotted some workmen building a raised pond or fountain of some type. It was a round concrete affair about two meters in diameter. A glint of color caught Harry's eye, so he moved nearer for a better look. One of the workmen was imbedding small pieces of broken, colored glass, on to the inside surface of the fountain. It sparkled brightly in the sunlight. Harry could see that they were nearly finished.

The workman setting the glass pieces said, "So this thing is supposed to be art? I keep cutting myself on these blasted chips of glass."

"Yeah, I guess it's someone's idea of art. It's very sparkly though," said the second workman. "Hey, you could bring the wife around for a look at your beautiful ARTWORK, when it's done," laughed the second man. He was using a trowel to smooth a section of fresh concrete near the base.

Harry heard the first man say, "They should be able to fill this thing with water tomorrow, if they like." This gave Harry a brilliant idea.

Harry ran all the way home. When he reached the front yard he slowed to a walk. He was supposed to be quiet and not disturb the neighbours with his presence. He opened the front door and shut it carefully. Aunt Petunia was absorbed with a cooking show on the television. This allowed him to sneak quietly upstairs without her noticing. He pulled out his school trunk and dug through it until he found what he wanted. Harry looked out the window and saw the cloudless sky already beginning to darken. It would be perfect, he thought. Harry just had to sneak back out of the house without Aunt Petunia stopping him. Harry took a deep breath and let it out to calm himself. Harry tip-toed down the stairs, avoiding the creaky one, second from the bottom. From the next room he could hear that the television chef was separating eggs. Harry quietly opened the door and shut it, and then dashed back towards the park.

In the growing darkness, the park was deserted. It was perfect for Harry's plan. Harry made his way to the new fountain. No one was nearby and the two workmen had left. Harry bent over the fountain and admired the shiny glass pieces. He pried on one and found the bits of colored glass were still loose in the fresh mortar. Harry pried out a dozen or so of them in a random pattern near the center. Harry replaced them with pieces of the mirror that Sirius had given to him at their last meeting; the mirror Harry had smashed when he realized Sirius would never come back. He had never removed the pieces from his trunk. Harry had some smaller and bigger pieces of broken mirror to work with. He was careful to embed them so they would reflect the sunlight and moonlight in the years to come. It was really quite beautiful, he thought. A tear plopped into the dry basin and Harry wiped his face on his shirt sleeve. He removed his wand from his back pocket. In the wet concrete at the base of the fountain, Harry used the tip of his wand to write "Sirius Black". He wiped his wand off and admired his work. Then he turned and walked back to his house.

Harry waited until the next night to go visit the fountain, to see if his alterations had been noticed or removed. He had thought about it all day, but didn't want to visit his private memorial with other people around. His feelings were still too raw. Harry left out the front door once dinner was done, and he had finished the dishes. Aunt Petunia didn't question where he was going.

Harry's shoes were moist from the dew as he made his way across the darkened park. He found that the fountain had been filled with water, but at night it was not bubbling. It lay still, a glimmering pool. When he looked in he could see the bits of wizard mirror reflecting the moonlight, and as he stepped back he could see the stars reflected on the surface of the water. Harry stood quietly gazing at the water, thinking of all things he could recall about Sirius. In all, Sirius had been the closest thing to a father that Harry had. He had come to Harry's defense and looked after him, as Harry thought a father would. He had also been the closest living person connected to Harry's real father. Harry looked up and realized that the Dog-Star was reflected in the pool. He looked back at the water, and then at the name he had inscribed at the base. Harry suddenly felt wonderfully close to Sirius Black. He felt peace. Harry stood for a long time staring at the pool of water. There were few tears left now. Sirius would not want him to give up. Harry reckoned Sirius would want him to fight. Then he said quietly,"Goodbye Sirius," and began to walk back home.