Title: Across the Water
Author: Tirya King
Feedback: Makes me write that much faster!
Archive: Just tell me where it's going and it's yours!
Summary: The war is accelerating at a faster rate than ever and not only the wizarding world is caught up in it. The Dursleys are stranded in a world they have never known and their only guide is the boy they've despised for as long as he can remember.
Disclaimer: The good news is that I received notification that I became the new owner of HP. The bad news is that I received this notification on April Fools Day.
A/N: This is not a part of my 'Say Goodnight' series so you don't need to have read anything else of mine. I will be bringing little moments from 'Separate and Superior' into play later, but I'll explain it all, so don't worry about reading that either.
Across the Water
Part One: No Time
The day was thick and heavy with the midsummer air. One could practically swim through the moist air that offered no breeze in respite. The sun was hidden behind thick angry clouds, but it only served to create a mini-greenhouse effect around the neighborhood. Perhaps it would rain later from all the humidity. One could only hope.
Most of the inhabitants of Privet Drive were indoors, thankful for their air conditioners and fans. It would be madness to wander outside on this lazy Sunday afternoon. They only ventured out if they had to.
This was precisely the reason for one such boy to be making his way down the lonely road. If the unbearable heat wasn't reason enough to stay indoors, the boy provided another one. Word was that he was a troublemaker and not a little unhinged. He went to a special school for the incurably criminal. So during the summer holidays, parents had to make sure to keep their good, wholesome children away and safe.
Harry didn't mind at all that he was so badly reputed. Their opinions of him mattered very little and had for quite some time. In fact, he tended to enjoy his solitude over the summer break. Even now, as he shuffled down the road to the park, he was thankful that the untrusting neighbors purposely avoided him. It wasn't that he was naturally a loner, but the people he most wanted to see were not available to him. He preferred loneliness to the only remaining company.
In his hand was a thin sheet of parchment. He clutched it fiercely as though it would disappear any moment. And he couldn't lose it. Not now.
One year ago, he had gone to this very park filled with a nervous tension that threatened to tear him apart. A year ago, the news had been annoyingly quiet about any hints of foul play. A year ago, he was plagued with one death at his fault instead of two. A year ago, he had had a future.
Now every day was filled with some sort of disappearance in the papers. Or a mysterious explosion that no one could explain. Yet the worst was yet to come and now it was only a matter of time before it happened. The Dark Lord was still using some caution around the Muggles. But it wouldn't be long now before he was at full strength and began attacking directly in full daylight. It would be coming any day now.
He slumped down into the swing like a man awaiting an executioner. What he wouldn't give to be back to the nervous tension of a year ago. The knowledge that while things were anything from ideal, at least people were still safe. That the people he cared about were going to be alright.
He looked down at the parchment he had been holding. For what seemed like the millionth time since receiving it, he read its contents. He must have known that letter backwards and forwards, yet he still hoped that while he wasn't looking it would have changed somehow.
Remus had kept in close contact with him over the weeks following the battle at the Department of Mysteries. The others had owled him nearly as much, but he didn't wait for their letters as avidly as he waited for the werewolf's. Remus' words were the most comforting to him during the worst of his grief over Sirius' death. It could have been that Remus too had lost a dear friend and knew what would and wouldn't help. Or it could have been that he was so good at reading people that he did not need to waste ink on useless words. Whatever the reason, Remus did not fill his letters with coddling words of reassurance. Nor did he pretend to know what Harry must have been thinking as he lay in bed sobbing. He offered only himself and a willing outlet for anything the boy might need to release.
At first, Harry treated the werewolf's offer like the others'. He would not open up to him, he would not answer his letters. How could he possibly understand the depth of his sorrow? But gradually, his mentor's patience won out and he found himself talking more and more about what he was going through. In the process, he felt that he was also helping to alleviate the man's grief for a lost brother. Through the weeks, Harry and Remus formed a new bond forged by mutual pain.
But the war would not wait for those who had loved Sirius to grieve. Things needed to be done and Dumbledore could no longer tread lightly next to Remus and Harry. The Order came first. Everyone understood this. A death must not hinder it in any way. So the werewolf was finally sent on a mission, one that remained a secret even to Harry who was his closest confidant. All he said was that it might help to be distracted by work and that he shouldn't be more than a few days.
That was two weeks ago.
He had not heard from the werewolf since that last letter. What if something happened to him? What if he was hurt? Or dead? Remus could be breathing his last at this moment and he had no way of knowing. The rest of the Order would not answer any of his questions pertaining to the mission and his friends knew nothing to tell him. And even those helpless letters all stopped arriving three days ago. There was something going on in the wizarding world, something big, and he was as clueless as ever. It frustrated him to no end.
His aunt and uncle allowed the frequent owl mail only because they were afraid of what the Order would do if they didn't. They also feared the dangerous convict of a godfather that may turn them all into toads if they did anything to upset his precious godson. Harry had not updated them of certain recent events mainly because he did not want to relive such a horrific event in front of people who couldn't care less. He also liked the protection the mere memory of Sirius offered him, even if it was against a family who believed said convict to be both deranged and alive.
A loud rumble came from overhead. Maybe it would rain after all, and relieve the endless bout of moist heat. Harry hoped it would. A cooler temperature could go a long way in relieving worried minds. But either way, until he received word on what was going on, there would be little sleep for him. Already, the effects of no sleep were beginning to show. He had a shorter temper and had little energy to eat or do much more besides his chores.
The rumble was louder now and a bright red flash danced across the sky. He jerked from his swing at that. Last he checked, lighting wasn't red. What was going on?
Down the road he could hear voices calling his name. His first instinct was to run away. The past year had taught him much about running straight into potential danger. A lesson that had been learned the hard way.
"Harry! Where are you?" The voice sounded almost desperate now. He recognized the voice as belonging to Tonks, but he was still hesitant to go to her.
Then Arthur's voice came, as did Moody's and Mrs. Figg's. He decided to at least go check it out. No one had notified him that they were coming, but then, no one had been telling him much of anything lately. When he arrived to the house, he found most of the Order, minus Remus, out in the lawn. They were all in their wizard robes with their wands out in plain sight.
The large red flash came again with a rumble of what sounded like very loud thunder. The Order jumped at the sound and Arthur's face looked afraid. Tonks turned to him, her scarlet robes flowing around her. She clutched her wand tightly. "You don't think he…"
"No," said Kingsley Shacklebolt. "They wouldn't keep coming if they had him."
"Had who?" Harry asked as he approached. He had decided they were who they appeared to be. Their mannerisms and ways of talking were too natural to be fake.
At the sound of his voice, all 8 wizards and witches swung around and pointed their wands at him. He fought off the urge to reach for his wand in his pocket. Doing so would only set them off.
"Oh, Harry! You're alright!" Molly cried, starting toward him. Arthur pulled her back causing her to look at him with reproach.
"I'm sorry, Molly, but we have to make sure it's really him."
"Potter," barked out Moody, his wand still steady on him as his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What was the question we asked you last year?"
"You asked what form my Patronus took. My answer was the stag." One by one, all the wands were put away. This time, Molly was able to rush forward and pull Harry into her arms. He returned the embrace half-heartedly, still unsure as to what the Order was doing here in the first place.
"What the bloody hell is going on?!" came the surprised and annoyed voice of Mr. Dursley. He and the other two Dursleys appeared at the door. "What are you freaks doing in my lawn dressed like that?! If it's about the boy, we've…"
"Quiet, Dursley!" Moody snapped irritably. "Everyone inside before they find us."
"Now, wait a minute!" Vernon tried to block the group, but one look from the intimidating Kingsley made him back away quickly.
"Before who comes, Mr. Weasley?" asked Harry once they were all situated in the living room. Arthur glanced nervously out the window.
"Death Eaters, Harry."
"They're here?!" he shot up from his seat as though it were red hot. Tonks huffed angrily.
"Security isn't worth dragon piss in the Ministry these days. Someone leaked that you lived in this area. They must not know exactly where you live or you'd be dead or captured long before we got here."
"We're running out of time as it is," stated Emmeline, her wand still clutched in her hand. "They have dragons in the sky and searchers on the ground going door to door."
"Dragons?!" exploded Vernon. He rounded on the startled boy furiously. "Boy, what trouble are you getting in this time?! If you put my family in any sort of danger, I'll…"
"Don't you blame this on Harry," defended Tonks fiercely. "If you'd shut your miserable trap, we might be able to find a way out of this."
Mrs. Figg sighed in defeated acceptance. "Even if you found a way passed the Death Eaters and two Russian Redback dragons, they'd still tear this neighborhood apart looking for him."
Tonks frowned. "All those poor Muggles. There must be a way to save them."
A loud explosion of red light filtered through the windows. A loud rumble, the one mistaken for thunder, was now easily identified as a dragon's growl. They were getting closer and closer. Even the screams of terror from the neighborhood Muggles were becoming more audible. For the survivors of this attack, the memory reconstruction needed would be nearly as damaging as the invasion itself.
Moody shook his head and dragged Harry from the window. His all-business attitude was what was needed to shake the others out of their stupor. "It's too late for them. They must take care of themselves. Our one and only concern is Harry. Now let's get out of here!"
"Wait!" Harry cried as Arthur bodily moved him towards the fire. "Take them with us!"
"Take who?" Shacklebolt asked as Tonks retrieved her Floo Powder. In her excitement, the young Auror dropped her bag and spilled it all over Petunia's beloved white carpet. Said Aunt let out a wail of protest at the treatment her poor carpet received.
"I-if we can't save everyone, let's at least take the Dursleys." His voice was a bit shaky, but it still hadn't all sunken in yet. He was going on pure auto-pilot with all the adrenaline built up over the past two weeks. Everything was happening so fast, it was hard to keep up with it all.
Molly looked at him like he was mad. "Harry, after everything they've done to you…"
"I don't care!" he shot back. He had never spoken to his only mother figure like that, but at the moment he didn't care. "All the people who die today are going to die because of me! It'll be my fault whether you say it is or not! How will I ever live with myself if I knew I could save lives and didn't?"
"But Harry, there's no time!" shouted Tonks as the red lights came right outside the house. "If we had…"
"I wasn't able to save Sirius," he pleaded to her. The room calmed at the mention of their lost comrade. At this, he pressed on. "Let me save them."
"Let's move double quick then," Moody ordered taking the powder from Tonks. He threw it in and shouted "12 Grimmauld Place!" The flames grew higher and green. He turned to Vernon and his family. "Move it, Dursleys, before you end up as dragon food!"
Petunia hesitated, clutching her frightened son to her chest. "But…"
"Do you want to be safe or not?!" exclaimed Emmeline Vance. "The Death Eaters are nearly on us! There is no time!"
"This is the only way, Aunt Petunia," Harry pushed when she still paused. "If you don't come you'll all be killed! They'll learn I live here and then it's all over!"
"Petunia, stop!" Vernon ordered seeing her move toward the wizards at the fireplace. She looked back at him with anger and desperation in her eyes that neither he nor his nephew had ever seen before. "We can't trust these freaks!"
"I'm not losing our son because of your silly fears, Vernon!" she shouted. This was the first she had ever gone against him in this kind of matter and also the first time she defended Harry, albeit inadvertently. However, no one had time to marvel at this, for she pushed Dudley and herself into the green flames with ease, as though she had known all along what to do. Vernon glared at his nephew as though to say he'd deal with him later before following his wife and son.
Next, Harry led Mrs. Figg up to the fire. "You're next." She turned to him with a worried expression on her face.
"But my cats, my babies! I can't leave them!"
"They'll be alright, now go on! I'm not going until you do, so go on ahead. We'll be right behind you."
Not entirely convinced, she nevertheless jumped through the fireplace. Harry felt many hands shoving him in next. The force of the pushes prevented any retaliation from him.
"That's enough playing hero for one day, Potter," he heard Moody say. The next thing he knew, he was on the floor of the Black house living room with the rest of the Order, the Weasleys, and the Dursleys waiting for him.
Ron helped him to his feet as they waited for the rest to follow. The wait was nearly unbearable until finally Molly came through. Ginny jumped forward to her mother.
"Mum! What's going on?! Where is everyone?"
Molly sat down for a moment to catch her breath. Her eyes were worried, but she put up a brave face for the others. "Don't fret, dear. They'll be along shortly. Just ran into a spot of trouble, that's all."
At this, Harry knew the Death Eaters had broken in. Then, before he could think too much further about it, Emmeline dashed through followed by Dung and Arthur. Mr. Weasley was sporting a long angry gash across his chest and young Miss Vance was holding her wand arm gingerly. All that remained in Privet Drive were the three Aurors.
"Those damn dragons got a good chunk out of me," Emmeline spat out, losing her normally calm demeanor. She was struggling away from Molly who was trying to make her show her arm. There was blood seeping through her fingers, betraying a worse wound than she cared to let on.
"Oh come now, Emmeline," Molly chastised. "My Charlie has been playing with dragons since he was a boy. If anyone can treat a bite it's me." She managed to get a hold of the wound, the younger witch hissing at the pain it caused. Looking it over, she called to her husband who was eyeing the fire worriedly. "Arthur, call up Charlie from the basement. It doesn't look poisoned, but I want to make sure. I've never seen a Russian Redback bite before."
When he left, Mrs. Weasley turned to her children, Hermione, and Harry who were all still waiting by the fire. "Perhaps it is best if…"
"Oh, no!" boomed Mr. Dursley cutting her off. "Before anyone does anything, you will tell me what is going on! Who are you people and why is our house under attack?!"
"How much do they know, Harry?" asked Molly, ignoring his childlike behavior.
"None," Harry shook his head. "I didn't want to get their hopes up that I'd die while I was away." His surrogate mother had trouble telling if he was serious or not.
"Then I think it's best that we discuss this after dinner. Fred, dear, if you would show them to their rooms…"
"I want to know why my son is in danger!" shrieked Petunia who looked as though she hadn't let go of her large son in the whole time they were there. For his incredible size and pride, young Dudley looked rather grateful to be locked in her embrace.
"Not so loud, Aunt Petu…"
It was too late. Standing so close to the hallways, Mrs. Dursley had awoken the slumbering Mrs. Black. And she never was the most pleasant woman to wake.
"Filthy Muggle scum befouling the house of my fathers! How dare you enter my manor!" As she ranted and raved on in her usual manner, everyone rushed to close the curtain. Getting over her initial good scare, Petunia followed cautiously with her famly to see who the shrieking woman was.
"But… but it's just a painting," remarked the ever-observant Dudley. "It's just a trick, isn't it?"
"Trick?!" exclaimed Mrs. Black in indignation. "I?! A mere charlatan's charade? I have more magic in my left pinkie that you can ever conceive of, you rotten Mudblood brat!"
"Don't you speak to my son that way!" Petunia yelled back, not realizing her breath was being wasted on a portrait.
"Leave my home, you wretch!" the dead matriarch commanded. "And take your blood traitors and Mudbloods with you!"
"It wasn't my brilliant idea to come to this place!" Petunia denied with passion. "Like I asked to be whisked here by this group of freaks."
"Harry, is it just me or is your Aunt… getting along with Mrs. Black?" asked Ron who was staring at the two women agreeing to disagree.
"In her own twisted and demented way… yeah, I think she is." Half of the company was covering their ears from the women having a row. The other half, including the younger generation, was in awe of the scene. For now, Mrs. Black and Mrs. Dursley, two women who couldn't be more different, were spending most of their considerable lung power joining forces. They were now collectively bashing on the Order and its members, including such insults from their breeding to their hygiene.
As words of 'half-breeds' and 'freaks' floated around their heads like the scent of rotten peaches, Ron turned to Harry and Hermione. "Sirius would've gotten a kick out of this."
Harry managed a pained smile at the comment. "Yeah, he would've, wouldn't he?"
Ron realized his mistake immediately in mentioning his friend's dead godfather. While he and Hermione were able to move on after Sirius' final battle, if what Remus had hinted at was true, then Harry was still as much a wreck as the day the death had sunk in.
"I'm sorry, Harry, I… he… I didn't…"
The 16-year old waved off his apology and turned away from him, pretending to be interested in his aunt. "It's ok, Ron." No it isn't. "I'm fine." No I'm not. "It's been almost two months." Seems like a day or a year sometimes. "I'm over it." I don't know if I'll ever be.
He smiled a smile that they all knew was fake and looked back at George and Fred who had managed to interrupt the women and were now trying to close the curtain. The sudden silence in the hallway made the others' ears ring.
"Weasley! Vance!" came the hoarse voice of Mad-Eye from the living room. With the curtain finally shut, everyone could easily hear the sound of two pairs of dragon-hide boots clamoring out of the fireplace.
One by one, the members of the Order hurried back, the younger ones close behind. With nothing better to do, the Dursleys trailed after them, looking warily at the innocent-looking curtain.
Moody was limping more than usual and looked as though he'd taken a few more hexes than is healthy. Kinsley hadn't been bitten or scratched, but he'd suffered more curses from the looks of it.
"If I never see a damned dragon ever again…" the ex-Auror cursed as Molly took a look at his leg, assured by Charlie that that breed of dragon did not have any venom. However, the wounds tended to get infections easily, so she had to treat it quickly.
Harry looked between the two Aurors and the fireplace, now vacant of the green flames.
"They can't track us now," Moody explained. "Destroyed the fireplace on the other end as we went through. Nasty buggers they were. Put up a good fight."
Harry's sense of unease finally came to a head as he realized what it was that was missing.
End Part One