It was a bright and sunny day as the solitary figure walked along the well- manicured lawns of Privet Drive. The sounds of other neighborhood children could be heard coming from the small park. Without paying attention or even looking up the lone boy continued past all of the activity and was once again greeted by the silence of a quite street. The boy walked as if he had some destination in mind but in reality was just trying to escape from the feelings he felt himself trapped within.

Harry Potter had only finished his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry two days ago and already felt claustrophobic inside the home of his Aunt and Uncle. They had been treating him as he previously wished, totally ignoring anything about him and yet he still felt extremely agitated whenever he was inside. The familiarity of the surroundings gave him no room for escaping the memories of what had happened the past couple years and especially what happened just the month before. His bedroom, though much bigger than the cupboard under the stairs still felt like a cell, trapping him in the reality of what his life and future held.

Stopping at the corner before proceeding further, Harry turned around and began retracing his steps knowing that the further away from #4 Privet Drive he got, the more anxious whoever happened to be watching him right now would become. It didn't even matter to him anymore that someone was constantly watching his every move. "They have to protect their weapon," he coldly thought to himself. Harry often wondered just how much the members of the Order knew about the prophecy and why so much effort was being spent in keeping Harry safe. "Knowing Dumbledore they don't know much," Harry thought to himself. His anger at the Headmaster had receded since the morning Harry trashed the old wizard's office but he wasn't completely over having so much information kept from him for so long.

Harry sat on a bench at the edge of the small park and watched all the activity going on. Watching everyone enjoying the beautiful weather made him think back to the last time he actually had any fun. "Last year wasn't any fun," he thought to himself. "The Tri-Wizard Tournament was the year before that and with all the training and fighting with Ron, that wasn't very fun either." Harry rubbed his temples and realized when it was. "It was the Burrow before fourth year. Watching the Quidditch Cup with the Weasley's and Hermione was the last time I really had fun." This fact suddenly made Harry feel very old. "Since then I've faced a dragon, Merepeople, a giant spider, death eaters and Voldemort twice. And watched two people die," he sadly thought as he dropped his head into his hands.

The pain the last two years had caused him was weighing heavily on his mind as he thought to the words he had yelled at Professor Dumbledore, "I've seen enough. I want out." Harry paused and focused on those words. "Do I though?" Harry thought. "If I didn't know what was coming then maybe that would have been better. But now I know what's going to happen to everyone if I run away." This realization was the only thing that kept Harry from going deep into a state of depression. As much as he missed his godfather and thought that his life had been just too much for him, he couldn't imagine doing anything that would guarantee the people he cared for would be forced to live in a much worse world. "Maybe I do have a 'saving people' thing," he thought, "but I can't just let this happen. I have to try." This thought kept the fire in his soul burning even though the loss of Sirius had nearly put it out.

Focusing back onto the park grounds, Harry was surprised that it was beginning to get dark as he had no clue how long he had been sitting there. He rose from the bench and made his way directly back to the Dursley's where he hoped he hadn't missed supper. Petunia grudgingly made enough food for him but didn't hesitate to throw it out if Harry missed normal meal times. Upon entering the back door, Harry saw that the dishes sitting in the tray next to the sink had clearly been washed and knew he would find no leftovers so he quietly headed to his room, ignoring the evil smirks from his Aunt and Uncle.

Opening his bedroom door, Harry was startled to see someone sitting at his desk, thumbing through the Defense books that Sirius and Lupin had given him for Christmas. "Professor!" Harry exclaimed. "What are you doing here? Is something wrong?"

Professor Dumbledore held up his hands and smiled warmly as he said, "Nothing wrong at all Harry. I just wanted to speak to you and didn't realize you would be out for so long."

"I'm sorry, did you wait long?" Harry asked.

"It was no bother," Dumbledore said glancing back at the worn edges of the book. "I take it you've been getting use from the books. Very wise." The Headmaster looked intently at Harry but Harry didn't know what to say. Just as Professor Dumbledore started to speak, Harry's stomach gave a large growl.

"Sorry Professor, I missed supper again," Harry said feeling embarrassed.

Dumbledore smiled and said, "I understand Harry. It often happens to me. However since I am not underage I can alleviate that particular problem." With a quick wave of his wand, a tray of sandwiches and some juice appeared on Harry's table. "We can eat while we talk," Dumbledore said motioning Harry to the food.

After a couple moments of silence where Harry ate quickly, Dumbledore said, "Well I imagine you're wondering what brought me here today." Harry nodded but didn't say anything. "I think we need to take advantage of Voldemort's brief period of disorganization and resume your Occlumency training," the Headmaster said and saw the look of horror on Harry's face.

"But sir," Harry said but was interrupted by Professor Dumbledore saying, "Professor Snape won't be involved at this time." Harry's expression softened and he thought he saw a slight smile on Dumbledore's face as the old wizard continued, "I told you that I had made many mistakes last year and I do not intend to repeat any of them. I brought you a book on Occlumency that will give you background and some useful techniques on understanding your own mind and recognizing when it is being manipulated. I'd like for you to read this book and then I will return to give you some formal training."

"But what if Voldemort tries to make me do something. You know how it was when we were close last year," Harry said worried about the training.

"I do not believe Voldemort will be anxious to attempt to possess you again Harry. You caused him great pain when he did it before and I think we have a window of opportunity that will allow us to complete your training. However, until you master Occlumency, I cannot reveal many details of what the Order is doing. I hope you understand," Dumbledore said with a concerned look on his aged face.

"I understand sir," Harry said. "I don't want him to learn anything useful from me either." Harry looked down for a second and then softly said, "I'm really sorry about the way I acted in your office. If there is any way I can replace any of the items, I'd like to do that."

Dumbledore's eyes definitely twinkled as he replied, "Thank you for the offer but most have already been repaired. I am fortunate that Professor Flitwick has a passion for magical instruments and is quite adept at repairing them. They should all be as good as new before you return to school. Also, I do not harbor any ill feelings about your actions that morning. I feel fortunate the only things harmed were a few items that I held no strong personal attachments to. I will attempt never to cause you reason to feel that way again."

"Thank you sir. I feel horrible about it," Harry said even though he felt better after Dumbledore's comments.

"It gives the portraits something to talk about," Dumbledore said with a large smile. "Now, I would like to ask you a personal favor." Harry looked up anxious to hear what the Headmaster had to ask. "I'd like for you to make every effort to talk to Remus Lupin when you see him," Dumbledore said and Harry felt an instant pang of sorrow. He knew that Lupin had to be feeling even worse than he was and the thought of facing his godfather's best friend after he, Harry had been responsible for Sirius' death was not something he was looking forward to. Displaying his uncanny ability to know what Harry was thinking, Dumbledore said, "He does not blame you Harry. And surprisingly he does not blame me either. However he is grieving and isn't sure how to act around you."

This comment surprised Harry. "He must blame me if he doesn't know how to act around me," Harry quickly said.

"I assure you he does not blame you Harry," Dumbledore replied. "He is worried about how to treat you now. He wants to fill Sirius' role but knows he can't replace Sirius and is worried that you will think he's trying to do that. So as a favor to me, talk to him and know that he wants to have a closer relationship with you and it's not just because Sirius is gone. He always thought that would come once you were out of school and the three of you could spend more time together."

Harry wasn't sure if he totally believed the Headmaster or not but said, "I want to know him better as well." Harry thought for a moment and said, "Is there any way to clear Sirius' name? I can't stand that he's gone and everyone still thinks he was a murderer."

"Well," Dumbledore said, "the Ministry is being very accommodating to my requests right now and Remus and I are already considering that very thing. However there is a complication." Harry looked confused so Dumbledore continued, "Your status in the Wizarding World is an issue. You are still a minor and since your relatives aren't suitable to represent your interests in our world you still need a guardian." Harry started to suggest Lupin but Dumbledore said, "The Ministry is not totally accommodating to me and would still forbid a werewolf from being your full- time legal guardian. However, we are trying to find some compromise where someone else would be your legal representative."

Harry tried to think of someone else and the first person that came to his mind was Mrs. Weasley. Harry wasn't exactly sure how he felt about this. He knew that Mrs. Weasley did love him like her own son and would treat him great but he also knew that she would baby him and keep him out of things. This was the last thing he wanted right now. He was brought out of his thoughts by Dumbledore asking, "I assume you're thinking about Molly Weasley?" The expression on Harry's face must have confirmed this because Dumbledore continued, "That is an option. I'm very sure Molly would be ecstatic to be your guardian. But you seem to have reservations."

"I know she cares about me, but I've been through too much to be babied and know that's what she'd do. I want to start doing more and with the prophecy and everything, I can't have her stopping me from being involved," Harry said pleadingly.

"I assumed you would feel that way so I haven't even mentioned this to her," Dumbledore said. "Let us think a bit more before we make a decision. I think Remus will be the next one to visit you. Remember you both are grieving and I think it will help you to spend time together." Dumbledore stood, looked intently at Harry and said, "I wish things were different Harry but I am confident that you will do the right things. If this has to fall on someone other than me, it makes me sleep better knowing that it is someone with your fortitude."

Harry didn't know how to respond so he simple said, "I wish I could feel that way."

"We'll be there with you Harry. See you soon," Dumbledore said just before he vanished.

Harry looked at the Occlumency book that his headmaster had left for him and felt the pangs of guilt at his refusal to seriously try to learn the mind blocking art last year. "If I had really tried to learn it, Sirius would still be alive," he thought as he lay flat on his bed. Guilt... That along with anger and loneliness were the only emotions Harry had been capable of feeling the past month. "If they would have told me what was going on I would have tried harder to learn," he angrily thought. As much as he tried to push off some of the blame, it wasn't enough to lighten the amount he placed on himself.

As usual, Harry ran the vision of Sirius falling through the veil through his head. He felt a gnawing in his stomach at not understanding what had actually happened to his Godfather. "Professor Lupin and Dumbledore both said he was dead," Harry thought. The fact that he wasn't positive what really happened made the guilt seem even worse. If he could have had some closure with Sirius he knew it would help. Rubbing his aching head Harry thought, "That's one thing I'll never have." Harry finally drifted off to another night of restless sleep.

Harry was outside weeding the garden the next day for something to do when his snowy owl floated in and landed next to him. "Hedwig," Harry said. "I didn't know you were out. Where have you been this early girl?" As Harry was softly stroking the owl he noticed the parchment attached to her leg. "What have you got there?" Harry asked as he untied the note.


Sometimes I'm seriously amazed at Hedwig. I had just sent Pigwidgeon
back to Ron with a note to pass on some information to you and wished I
could have sent one directly to you when she flew in my window. If you'd
write first I would be able to send you notes. (just a thought).

My parents are taking me on a trip this summer. I didn't get to spend
much time with them last summer or during the holidays and with
everything happening, they want us to spend some quiet time together. I
really hate not being able to see you or Ron but do want to be close to
my parents right now.

"Yeah since I almost got you killed last year," Harry thought with a grimace.

Professor Dumbledore thinks it will be safe for us to go somewhere as
long as we keep it a secret. He says Voldemort is in disarray right now
since so many of his top people were captured.

I do hope you're doing ok Harry. I imagine you're blaming yourself for
everything. Please don't do that Harry; it will only make things worse.
All of this is Voldemort's fault, not yours. I really think you should
talk to someone. I'm sure Professor Lupin would be willing.

"What does she know about this?" Harry exclaimed. "She has no clue about how I'm feeling."

I know you're probably getting irritated at me for telling you how to
feel but you're my best friend and I know how you are. I get the feeling
that something else is going on because Professor Dumbledore seemed very
concerned about you. He said something about "failing you when you
needed him" but I don't know what he's talking about. Do you? You know
that you can tell me anything don't you?

Well my parent's are ready to leave so I need to end this. Ron will
probably tell you that I've gone on holiday since I asked him to pass the
information to you but I'm glad Hedwig came so I could send this myself.

Be safe Harry and try to not blame yourself.

Love from


"It's good she's going," Harry thought that she shouldn't be so involved and envied her for having loving parents that wanted to spend time with her. He felt no jealousy that she was going off to have fun, it actually made him feel much better knowing that she was with people she loved.

Harry turned to Hedwig, studied her large brown eyes for a moment and said, "She's right you know. You are pretty amazing." The owl hooted almost in acknowledgement and flew up to Harry's window.

While inside getting a sandwich Harry's large uncle stalked up to him. "Since you started I hope you don't think you're finished out there," Vernon bellowed. "I know your kind don't care about attention to detail but I can't have our garden looking so shabby."

"I'm know I'm not finished Uncle," Harry said using every ounce of control not to yell at his uncle.

"Too right you're not," Vernon exclaimed. "You should be doing a few more chores this year as well. With all you're eating you need to be pulling more of your weight."

Harry breathed deeply and said, "Yes Uncle Vernon."

"Come out here and let me show you what needs to be re-done," Vernon said walking out the door. Harry quickly followed and acted like he was listening as his uncle pointed out areas that Harry hadn't got to yet and loudly criticized his work so that any neighbor could hear. Just then a small furry object zoomed in and darted around the yard causing Vernon to nearly fall over the bag of weeds. "It's one of those bloody owls!" he bellowed.

Harry quickly grabbed Ron's owl and said, "I've got him now uncle."

"You tell those freaks not to send those creatures to my house. We only let you keep your bird here out of the kindness of our hearts," his uncle said still quite red in the face.

Harry was just about to his limit and coldly said, "Would you rather me tell them to just come over when they want something? They could easily do that you know."

Vernon's eyes got wide but then quickly turned evil as he said, "You'll do no such thing boy. I'll have none of your kind in my house. No owls, no visits. Got it?" Harry didn't reply and just stared back at his uncle. After a few moments of silence the portly man stormed back into the kitchen leaving Harry angrily squeezing the small owl a little more than he should be. The small bird's eyes were bulging and it looked ready to pass out.

"Sorry pig," Harry said as he released the pressure on the little owl. Harry took the note and dug into his pocket for a small treat that he had taken to carrying around to make sure he always had something for Hedwig. "You can go up and rest if you want. I'll let Hedwig take a note back," Harry softly said to the small owl who erratically flew up to his window.


Hermione's gone off on holiday! Can you believe it? How can she leave
at a time like this? Don't you think it's a bit dangerous? How can we
protect her if she's off with Muggles?

Harry laughed at his friend's concern for Hermione. "When will he just tell her he likes her?" Harry chuckled.

Her and mum are all in a state worrying about you. I keep telling them
that you'll be fine but that just gets me in trouble. All they say is
"You don't know anything Ronald!" Bloody women... Listen, I know you'll be
fine but if you do need anything, you'll let me know, right?

Don't know when we can get you out of there. Mum says Dumbledore's
acting a bit queer and isn't going to take any chances. You've always
been safe here. It's with those Muggles where you have the problems.
We've never had Dementors at the Burrow!

I heard mum and dad talking about Lupin and Snape going off on each
other. I guess Lupin said there was no way he was letting Snape give you
private lessons again. Dad said he had never seen Lupin look so scary

Write if you need anything. I'm going to ask mum if there's a way we can
check up on Hermione. I still can't believe she left us like that.


Harry smiled at most of the note. The only part that made him think was Lupin being angry at Snape. Lupin had always been a very calm and collected person. This actually made Harry slightly happy because Snape was near the top of the list of people that Harry disliked. He couldn't understand how Professor Dumbledore could trust the Potions Master and Harry himself knew that he would never trust the man.

After finishing that day's weeding, Harry grabbed something to eat and made his way back to his room. While he was eating, he continued reading the Occlumency book and after seeing various techniques used to clear the mind he felt like he could actually understand what to do. "If Snape had just explained it like this, I'd be able to do this by now. He didn't even try to teach me," Harry angrily though. He instantly felt the change in his mood and knew from what he had read already that this was a major obstacle to becoming proficient in Occlumency. That had been another big reason he couldn't make any progress around Snape, he always let his anger bubble up and cloud his mind. Focusing on one of the techniques, he pushed the negative thoughts of the Potions Professor out of his mind and felt his breathing and mood both improve.

Harry spent every free moment over the next two days pouring over the Occlumency book that the Headmaster had given him. When the theoretical part of the book got too much for him he picked up one of the defense books and read that. He had a much better grasp of defense techniques than he did Occlumency. The only breaks Harry took in this schedule was for his daily walks around the neighborhood where he still tried to come to terms with what had actually happened to Sirius. When got back home and returned to his room, sandwich in hand he was greeted by a very weary looking wizard looking through his photo album.

"Professor Lupin!" Harry exclaimed as soon as he shut the door. Looking closer at his former professor Harry wondered how much sleep the man had been getting. He knew it wasn't close to the full moon so couldn't think any of the weariness was related to being a werewolf.

"Hello Harry," Lupin replied with a smile that Harry couldn't quite figure out. "How are you doing?"

Harry shrugged and while looking down at his feet said, "Fine". Harry really didn't want to complain about anything to the man who had just lost his best friend.

"Somehow I doubt that," Lupin softly said. "I can't say that I'm fine yet. But it is getting a little better."

Harry shifted uncomfortable and said, "I'm sorry."

Lupin put a comforting hand on Harry's shoulder and said, "Nothing to be sorry for. It's not your fault." Harry started to interrupt but Lupin quickly continued in a firm voice, "It's not and I don't want you to think that. This is war Harry. Voldemort will do anything to get to us and wizards older and more experienced have been trapped by much simpler means. You did what you thought was right and risked everything for Sirius, just as he would have done for you. I wish I could say that things will get easier..." Lupin hesitated and seemed to think about his words. "We're going to do what we can to win this war Harry because if we don't this won't be a world where we would want to be in. I'm sorry you've been through so much and hope we can keep you out of much of it..."

At this Harry interrupted, "Do you even know why Voldemort wants me so bad? Did Dumbledore tell you why I'm being guarded so much?"

Lupin studied Harry's face and said, "He's only told us that it is imperative you be protected and that Voldemort will stop at nothing to get to you. That's enough for me. I trust the Headmaster completely."

Harry's anger was building a bit as he said, "He's not perfect you know! He makes mistakes too!"

Lupin seemed taken aback by Harry's firm voice but quickly recovered and said, "No one is perfect but I trust him to do the best thing for all of us." There was a pause before the older wizard continued, "He mentioned something happening in his office and that he is concerned you won't trust him as much."

Even though Harry felt ashamed of his actions in the Headmaster's office he didn't feel the same amount of blind trust in the man. "I'm not going to do things just because people tell me too anymore. I want to know why. I know Dumbledore's going to do what he thinks is right but he just can't keep so much from me anymore." Harry looked hard at Lupin and added, "Ask him why I'm important. Tell him that if he doesn't tell you than I will."

Lupin looked at Harry and actually gave a slight smile that, to Harry seemed very genuine. "You get that from your mother you know," he said. Harry must have looked confused because Remus continued, "She was the stubborn one. When she made her mind up about something, there wasn't room for negotiation."

After a moment of silence Harry softly said, "I really miss him."

Lupin put his hand back on Harry's shoulder and said, "Me too Harry, me too." After a pause he added, "It's just you and me now and I know I can't replace Sirius but I'd like us to get closer."

Harry didn't hesitate to reply, "I'd like that as well. Just don't go dying on me."

"I don't plan on it Harry. We'll get through this, trust me."

"I do trust you Professor, I really do," Harry added.

"Well you have to stop calling me Professor. I'll come back in a couple days with some more reading material," the wizard said as he brushed his hand over the cover of the well-worn book he and Sirius had given Harry at Christmas. "See you soon Harry."

"Thanks Profe...Remus," Harry replied thinking it was going to be hard to get used to calling him that. After his former professor had left, Harry picked up the Occlumency book and lay back on his bed feeling not quite so alone anymore.

It was the next night and Harry made it home early since he expected the Headmaster to arrive for his first formal Occlumency lesson. Harry had read and re-read the first few chapters on techniques for understanding your own mind. It wasn't so much about "clearing your mind" as it was about understanding why you were thinking about certain things. The book pointed out things that Harry instantly recognized from the times he was having visions of the Department of Ministries. Harry quickly entered his room looking forward to the lesson but was greeted by an extremely anxious Professor Lupin.

"Pro...Remus!" Harry exclaimed. "I thought I had Occlumency lessons."