Chapter 21


Three and a half days…eighty-four hours…five thousand forty minutes…three hundred thousand four hundred seconds…four hundred and one…four hundred and two…That was the current count from when Harry had passed out on the Quidditch pitch. He had been brought to the hospital wing and healed as much as possible which wasn't much. His lungs had apparently collapsed, preventing him from breathing. Madam Pomfrey had healed those to the best of her ability. There was a deep cut on his right arm which had been sealed along with the smaller cuts all over his arms and chest. He had a few broken ribs which were slowly healing but what couldn't be healed were his magical exhaustion, physical exhaustion and weak heart. There were also dark bruises covering his chest and back that looked like he had been slammed into things a couple of times.

For over three days Sirius and Remus had remained at Harry's bedside, leaving only when it was absolutely necessary and even then one of them stayed behind. A soft and slow beeping could be heard which was Harry's heartbeat, being monitored magically. A clear mask was placed over his nose and mouth, continuously providing additional oxygen for Harry's still sensitive lungs. Special potions had to be brought from St. Mungo's to be injected into Harry's blood stream since Professor Snape had been called away two days ago and had yet to return. But all of the injuries weren't what made Sirius nearly attack Headmaster Dumbledore.

Receiving news that Unforgivables had been performed on his godson was. Harry was suffering from affects of the Cruciatus Curse and Cedric had died by means of this killing curse. Several people had jumped to the conclusion that Harry had killed Cedric but after examining Harry's wand (very carefully since no one could actually touch it without burning their own hand) it was discovered that no Unforgivables had been used. There were still some skeptics but after being shouted at by an angry Sirius and Remus, people kept their comments to themselves.

The flow of visitors had been constant. It seemed like every single student in the Gryffindor House had managed to visit at least once along with several Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. Hermione and the Weasley siblings were the most frequent though, checking on Harry several times throughout the day. Viktor Krum had also visited a few times but no one was really surprised since the three male champions had made no point of keeping their friendship a secret.

There had also been plenty of visits from the teaching staff and other adults that Harry knew. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley stopped by at least once a day to check on the boy both of them considered a son only to leave in tears when they saw nothing had changed. Fudge was also visiting daily be he was just checking to see if Harry had finally woken up so he could question him. Sirius and Remus had to use every ounce of self control to refrain from attacking the man. Fudge had been under pressure ever since Rita Skeeter's article had been published about the third task. Somehow someone had taken a picture of Sirius holding Harry on the Quidditch pitch and with Rita Skeeter announcing Cedric's death and Harry Potter's struggle to stay alive, the wizarding world wanted answers, answers that only Harry Potter had.

Sirius had relayed Harry's last words to Dumbledore before sending him out of the hospital wing and warning him to never come near Harry again. It was an empty threat but so far the Headmaster had listened to it, relying on the other teachers and Madam Pomfrey to inform him on Harry's progress, or lack thereof. Truthfully there were many that were worried about Harry's lack of response. There was even talk about possibly moving him to St. Mungo's Hospital for more advanced care.

The sound of the door to the hospital wing opening made both Sirius and Remus jump but relax when they saw it was Madam Pomfrey carrying a small jar in her hands. Sirius and Remus knew the routine by now and moved to help. Sirius gently pulled back the covers while Remus carefully raised Harry's arms to make it easier for Sirius. As Madam Pomfrey reached the bed, Remus was unbuttoning Harry's shirt, revealing Harry's still bruised chest.

"Has there been any change?" Madam Pomfrey asked Remus softly.

Everyone knew by now to turn to Remus if you wanted a non-sarcastic or angry answer. Remus was affected by Harry's condition just as much as Sirius but he held his anger back out of fear more than anything. The wolf in him was extremely overprotective of his cub, wanting revenge for the damage done and the pain Harry would be enduring. He needed a calming draught to remain calm from time to time but at least he was willing to take it. "None," Remus said honestly. "How is Dumbledore doing in holding off the Ministry?"

"The Minister is becoming rather impatient," Madam Pomfrey admitted as she opened the jar and dipped her fingers inside. "If Harry doesn't wake before the end of the term, the Minister wants him moved to St. Mungo's, under Ministry supervision." She pulled out some of the cream and gently started to rub it over Harry's chest.

"No one is taking my godson anywhere," Sirius said through his teeth. "I'll take him to another country if I have to. That idiot isn't getting anywhere near Harry."

Remus and Madam Pomfrey shared a glance before she returned to rubbing cream over Harry's chest. Sirius stared down at Harry as he took hold of the teen's small hand. In this condition Harry certainly looked younger, twelve at the oldest. Sirius gently touched Harry's face and nearly jumped back in shock when Harry tilted his head towards the touch. The sound of a small groan a moment later alerted Remus and Madam Pomfrey that Harry was starting to wake.

"Harry?" Sirius asked gently as he tightened his grip on Harry's hand. "Harry, can you hear me?"

Harry let out another soft groan as he slowly turned his head towards the voice. Sirius started running his fingers through Harry's hair and the reaction was instantaneous. Slowly, Harry's eyes opened partially but it was clear that he wasn't completely awake yet. Sirius didn't know if Harry understood anything that was happening but it didn't matter. Harry was awake.

"We should inform the Headmaster—"

"—don't even think about it," Sirius interrupted Madam Pomfrey, not bothering to even look at her. "Harry's in no condition to answer questions right now." The tone in his voice left no room for arguments. Sirius' face softened as he returned his attention to Harry. "Don't worry, Harry," he said gently. "You're safe now. If I have to stay by your side as Padfoot, I'll do it. I'll do whatever it takes to keep you safe, Pronglet. I promise."

Harry let out a whimper as tears filled his eyes. Remus wasted no time hurrying to Harry's side, sitting down on the edge of the bed and carefully taking Harry in his arms. "It's all right, cub," he said softly. "Just let it out. We know it hurts."

Other than the occasional whimper, Harry made no sound as tears fell down his face. After a while, Remus enlarged Harry's bed and stretched out his legs. The moment his head hit the pillow, Remus realized how tired he was. Almost as a reflex, Remus wrapped an arm around Harry, allowing the teen's head rest on his chest. Sirius had transformed into Padfoot and jumped up on the bed, lying down beside Harry. With a lot of effort, Harry was able to move his hand so it was buried in the dog's fur before falling back asleep.

The next thing Harry knew he heard the sound of a dog growling. Fear suddenly ran through Harry as his body started to shake. He didn't know what to think. Midnight never growled unless there was something that was a danger. He could barely move and there was something covering his nose and mouth like some sort of mask. How was he supposed to put up any sort of fight when he couldn't do anything?

"Harry, calm down," said the soft voice belonging to Remus. "You're safe here. Padfoot's just being overprotective."

Slowly, Harry opened his eyes and looked up at Remus, fear still present in his eyes. Remus gave Harry a reassuring smile as he tightened his arm around the teenager. "Padfoot, that's enough," Remus warned. "You're scaring Harry."

The growling stopped and with a pop, Sirius was sitting where the dog had been. "I'm sorry Harry," Sirius said sincerely. "I didn't mean to scare you." His gaze slowly moved towards the foot of the bed. "There are just a few people that shouldn't be allowed near you right now."

Harry followed Sirius's gaze but was unable to see who was standing there. He could see four blurry figures and from the overabundance of white Harry knew the second one to the right was Professor Dumbledore. This made Harry confused. Why would Sirius have a problem with Professor Dumbledore? Sirius didn't blame Dumbledore for what happened, did he?

"Sirius, you have every right to be angry with me," Professor Dumbledore said in a tired voice. "I promised to protect Harry and I failed. I can only apologize so many times. Nothing I can do will change what happened. The only thing we can do now is move on."

Harry turned his head and tried to bury his face in Remus' chest but the mask over his nose and mouth made it difficult. He didn't want to think about what happened. He just wanted to forget. Closing his eyes, tried to think of anything but the graveyard but his mind wouldn't let him. The flash of green light, Voldemort's red eyes, Cedric, his parents…it all seemed to be trapped to play over and over again.

"I know you want to protect Harry, Sirius," Professor Dumbledore added, "but right now the only way to protect him is to find out what happened. Harry needs to deal with what happened."

"And now is the only time to do it?" Sirius shot back. "He just woke up! He isn't well enough to relive it all again! Look at him! He's been unconscious for nearly four days! You are his Headmaster, Dumbledore. Remus and I are his guardians. We will decide what is best for Harry."

Turning his head, Harry gathered enough strength to move his hand and brushed Sirius' arm, startling the man. Sirius looked at Harry and let out a sigh in defeat when he saw the pleading look in the teen's eyes. Harry really didn't feel like taking but he didn't want Sirius and Dumbledore fighting over it. He didn't want anyone angry because of him.

Remus slid off the bed and repositioned Harry so he was more comfortable before grabbing Harry's glasses off of the bedside table and sliding them on gently. Instantly everything came into focus. Harry saw Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape and Madam Pomfrey were standing at the foot of the bed with Professor Dumbledore. Closing his eyes for a moment, Harry felt something stir as his tiredness was pushed away. It almost felt like an outburst but it wasn't out of control. Suddenly Harry knew what he needed to do. He just hoped he could pull it off.

Harry reached out with both hands and touched Sirius and Remus. He then looked directly at Professor Dumbledore, shifted his gaze to his left arm before returning it back to the Headmaster. Dumbledore's gaze turned curious but he nodded as he walked over beside Remus and rested his right hand on Harry's arm. Harry then looked at the remaining adults, waiting for them to follow suit. Professor McGonagall glanced at Dumbledore uncertainly before moving to Sirius' side and repeating Dumbledore's actions. Madam Pomfrey followed her and after a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Professor Snape moved over to Dumbledore's side.

Everyone's eyes were on him as Harry closed his eyes and focused on the graveyard and everything that happened. After a few seconds he felt something expanding inside him. His eyes opened quickly as he inhaled sharply. He heard a few startled gasps as the hospital wing around them dissolved into the dark graveyard in the middle of nowhere.

The six adults looked around before looking back at Harry only to realize he wasn't there. Sirius and Remus started to panic, especially when they tried to speak and realized that their voices weren't working. Everyone turned to Professor Dumbledore for an explanation but Dumbledore merely looked at them before pointing to something behind them. They turned around and gasped when they saw Harry helping Cedric stand.

"Er—what just happened?" asked Cedric.

"Your guess is as good as mine but I have a feeling we're not at Hogwarts anymore," Harry said as he holstered his wand. "Come on, we need to get moving. We need to find cover. Standing in the open only makes us a target."

"A target for what?" Cedric asked quickly. "We're in the middle of nowhere!"

"Look, I can tell you right now this is not part of the task," Harry said sounding a little annoyed. "Dumbledore would never have us leave Hogwarts grounds. After the attack last month I figure it's better to be safe then sorry." He turned away to start walking but looked back at the older student. "It would also be better if we were as quiet as possible. There's no telling who may be watching."

The six adults watched the events unfold unable to do anything else. They saw Harry save Cedric from the killing curse before running for cover, pulling Cedric along for the ride. The scenery changed as if they were watching a Muggle movie, following Harry and Cedric as they ran. Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey gasped in disbelief as Harry, the younger of the two, took charge and tried to send Cedric for safety by making himself a target.

They watched as Harry ran with two Death Eaters chasing him before they split up. Their eyes widened as Harry fought back and tried to outsmart the Death Eater before being slammed into a tree. Sirius fell to his knees in horror as they watched the Death Eater dragging Harry to a headstone and bound to it. All of the adults stared in disbelief as they watched Cedric being murdered right in front of Harry. Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey were trying to hold back tears with very little success.

What came next was something none of them had been prepared for. They watched Voldemort's rebirth. They saw the thing he had turned into but it wasn't over. Voldemort called his servants to him and as he waited, talked to Harry about their pasts. Once the Death Eaters had arrived, the six adults watched as they were welcomed back into the circle. They saw Pettigrew being given a silver hand and didn't miss the thanks Voldemort gave Lucius Malfoy for bringing Harry to him.

Sirius and Remus found it hard to take their eyes off of Harry who was being forced to witness this all. They noticed the pain Harry was in when Voldemort came close and even touched him. Their eyes widened in alarm when Voldemort found the suppression necklace and removed it. When they saw the Cruciatus Curse being used on Harry, it was too much. They had to look away.

To their shock and disbelief, the six adults watched as Voldemort forced Harry to duel and were astounded to see Harry fight off two Unforgivable curses (also noticing the change in Harry's eyes) before being offered to join Voldemort's side. Harry didn't give any of the six adults the time to dread the possibility by declining the offer immediately. They then watched as the rest of the duel unfolded, including the peculiar occurrence as the killing curse met the disarming spell. As the dome formed, they found themselves trapped inside as the grayish ghost-like beings of Cedric Diggory, an old man, a plump woman, followed by the Potters coming out of Voldemort's wand.

Both Sirius and Remus were on their knees in their eyes full of unshed tears at the sight of Lily and James Potter. They could hear what the ghost-like beings were saying to Harry, saw how bright Harry's eyes were and how much pain Harry was in by the look on his face. They heard Lily Potter's instructions on how to get home, Cedric's final words and were shocked to see how the connection ended with both Harry and Voldemort flying backwards in opposite directions. When Harry landed hard on the ground, they saw Harry try to breathe but fail before pulling himself to his feet, staggering to the Cup and followed Lily's instructions. As Harry, Cedric and the Cup vanished, the six adults found the scenery changing once again to the hospital wing at Harry's bedside, touching Harry's arm.

Looking down at the teenager, every single one of them noticed Harry's eyes were now closed and his breathing was labored. Professor McGonagall moved to question what had just happened but was silenced by a look from Dumbledore who motioned that they should leave so Harry could rest for now. They had learned what happened. Explanations could come later.

The next time Harry opened his eyes it was because of quiet voices at his bedside. There were also some differences. Although he was still exhausted and still had the mask over his nose and mouth, Harry could feel pain from his back and chest that he hadn't felt before. Someone had removed his glasses making everything blurry. The lighting in the room had also dimmed significantly alerting Harry that it was nighttime. He tried to move and immediately regretted it as the pain flared throughout his upper body. Oh yeah, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.

The voices immediately stopped as Harry let out a quiet groan. Blurry faces came into his line of sight as hands took hold of his. Someone put a hand on his chest, sending pain throughout his upper body. Harry let out a whimper as his eyes closed tightly. The pressure vanished quickly but the pain lingered for a few moments before slowly decreasing. Why was there so much pain? Had something happened?

"The pain killer must have worn off," Madam Pomfrey announced. "Keep him still while I fetch another dose."

Harry felt an arm slide behind his shoulders before he was carefully lifted so he was sitting at a forty-five degree angle. The process seemed to be extremely slow as sparks of pain continuously shot through his body. Harry tried to hold back the whimpers of pain that were trying to come out. What was going on? He felt his body tensing nervously before someone's fingers started to run through his hair in a calming motion. Harry instantly relaxed and felt the mask being removed from his face. His head was tilted backwards slightly allowing a potion to be poured down his throat.

Being caught off guard, Harry started to gag on the unknown substance until a hand gently rubbed his neck forcing it to relax so the liquid went down. Harry's body went limp almost instantly as the pain vanished. It was almost like Harry was trapped between sleep and awake, unable to do anything but wait for it to pass. Carefully, Harry was lowered back down onto the bed and covered up. He moaned in protest as the mask was placed back on his face. Was it really necessary?

A hand touched Harry's face. Opening his eyes, Harry noticed Dumbledore's white beard instantly. "I know nothing I can ever say or do could make up for what you've had to endure, Harry," Professor Dumbledore said gravely. "You trusted me to keep you safe and I failed. The only thing I can offer you now is an explanation to some of the odd occurrences that happened that night."

Harry slowly blinked his eyes, unable to do much else. Whatever he had been given certainly made it impossible to move anything else. Slowly, Harry remembered allowing the selected few to see his memory. He had no idea how he pulled it off along with some of the countless other things. The fact that I'm still alive being one of them.

Dumbledore took Harry's lack of protest as the sign to continue. "Your wand connected with Voldemort's because you share the same core, a phoenix feather from Fawkes," he said. "When a wand meets its brother it will not act properly such as the Priori Incantatem, the reversal spell effect, that happened with Voldemort's wand. Barty must have been using Voldemort's wand when he killed Cedric. That was why you saw an echo of Cedric, followed be Frank Bryce, Bertha Jorkins and your parents. They had the appearance and character of their living forms, allowing them to talk to you like they would have it they had been alive."

Harry closed his eyes as he felt them stinging with tears. "Hold on, my friend." That was what Cedric had told him, had called him: his friend. His mother had seemed so loving and his father wasn't anything like the prankster he had been told about. Perhaps Sirius and Remus were right. Maybe James Potter did change after he left Hogwarts. Harry felt tears escaping the corners of his eyes and fall down the sides of his face before hitting the pillow. His breathing became a little labored as gently hand touched his shoulder.

"You don't have to be brave anymore, Harry," Dumbledore said softly. "You have faced something not many adult wizards could manage and survived. You stood up to Voldemort when most would cower in fear. You have seen death and experienced pain that no child should ever live through. No one here will think of you as weak for showing a little emotion." Receiving no answer, Dumbledore changed the topic. "As far as your outbursts, I must admit I never expected anything like that happening. Sirius and Remus have agreed that when you are strong enough, they will try to help you control it so something like this does not happen again."

Harry slowly opened his eyes and looked at Dumbledore, the worry clear in his eyes. He remembered past experiences with his outbursts and didn't want to put Sirius and Remus through that again. He didn't want to put anyone through that again.

"Only when you are strong enough to handle it, Harry," Professor Dumbledore repeated. "Your lungs and heart are still healing and probably will be for a few weeks. Your outbursts caused your lungs to collapse and overloaded your heart. That is the reason for the oxygen mask and the heart monitor. They are not permanent but until Madam Pomfrey decides, they are necessary."

Dumbledore gave Harry's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "I can not begin to tell you how proud I am of you, Harry," he said with what sounded like admiration in his voice. "We all are. You parents and Cedric would be too."

Harry's bottom lip quivered as tears filled his eyes again. How could Professor Dumbledore say that Cedric would be proud of him? Cedric was dead because of him! His friend, someone he had started to look up to as an older brother was dead because Voldemort wanted him and only him. Was this what his life was going to be like now? Were Sirius, Remus, Ron and Hermione next to die? Harry closed his eyes as tears continued to fall. Why did this have to happen? Why did it always have to be him?

"I think that's enough for now," Sirius said protectively. "If Harry has any more questions we'll let you know."

"Very well," Dumbledore said as he backed away from Harry's bedside. "I suggest some dreamless sleeping potion is in order. The calmer Harry remains for now the quicker his recovery will be."

Sirius and Remus were already at Harry's side propping him up. Harry felt his breathing mask was being removed and his head being tilted back. Tears fell down the sides of his face as Harry stared up at the blurry ceiling. He felt completely numb. He didn't even realize a potion was being poured down his throat or his breathing mask was put back on as he slowly succumbed to darkness.

"I can't believe Sirius is threatening to pull Harry out of school and Mum is supporting his decision."

"Ron, think about everything Harry's been through this year. I don't blame Sirius for wanting to keep Harry safe with You-Know-Who coming back but keeping him at home seems to be a little extreme. Can you imagine never seeing Harry again?"

"Don't even say that! Sirius would never do that! Harry's gonna be fine and he will be coming back to Hogwarts next year…he has to!"

There was an uncomfortable silence before Hermione's soft voice entered the air. "I would miss him too, Ron."

"No, you don't understand…I've been such a horrible friend to him this year. I can't believe I wasted all that time because I…I…I should have been there for him. He almost died, Hermione. I overheard Mum telling Bill that Harry almost didn't make it."

Harry let out a groan as he tried to move. His limbs moved slightly but not enough to make a significant difference. Thankfully he didn't feel any pain but the lack of motor skills was really starting to become annoying. If he continued at this rate he would be in bed for the majority of his summer holiday. Slowly, Harry opened his eyes and saw the blurry figures of Ron and Hermione looking down at him.

Someone slid his glasses on his face allowing Harry to see the worried looks on their faces as they came into focus. Hermione's eyes were red and puffy, like she had been crying recently. Ron looked like he was going to start crying any minute. Both of them looked extremely tired, making Harry wonder what they had gone through in the past few days. Thinking about it Harry realized he had no idea what had been going on outside the hospital wing.

"How are you feeling Harry?" Hermione asked as she took hold of his hand and held it tightly. Harry could only let out of soft moan as an answer. "Sorry, I forgot you can't really talk with the breathing mask on. Sirius and Remus wanted us to tell you they'll be back soon. Fudge is in Dumbledore's office right now being his usual self. I think Sirius and Remus were going to try scaring him away."

"Dumbledore sort of put a restriction on the hospital wing," Ron added. "After you woke up the first time, no one was allowed other those who knew you really well. Everyone's been asking us how you're doing. You really scared us, mate."

Harry looked at his best friends nervously. From the looks they were giving him, Harry knew he would never be able to tell them what had happened. Turning his head and looking away, Harry finally realized that he was different than them. He had seen a friend murdered in front of his own eyes. He had been tortured by Voldemort himself. You don't recover from that overnight. The horrors of that night were still fresh in his mind and probably would remain there for quite some time.

The sound of the door slamming open quickly pulled Harry out of his thoughts. His body instantly tensed as Ron and Hermione quickly turned around, blocking his view of who had just entered. His breaths started to come in short gasps. His heart raced which resulted in a loud beeping noise that could be heard throughout the hospital wing. The sound of running footsteps filled Harry's ears.

"Out of the way!" Madam Pomfrey ordered and entered Harry's line of sight. As quickly as possible, she pulled off the breathing mask snuck an arm underneath Harry and propped him up. "This is a calming draught, Mr. Potter," she said to Harry before bringing the vial of liquid to Harry's lips.

Harry took the potion and instantly felt his uneasiness vanish. He felt his body being lowered back on the bed and the breathing mask put back on his face. He was aware of what was happening around him but didn't have the effort to worry about it. Harry let out a tired moan as he slowly turned his head to see a panicked Hermione and a pale Ron standing in front of a skeptical Minister of Magic.

Madam Pomfrey checked Harry's pulse for a moment before looking over her shoulder at the observers. "Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley, I'm afraid I must cut this visit short," she said. "You can visit with Mr. Potter when he has stabilized again. I must insist that you too leave, Minister."

Cornelius Fudge simply narrowed his eyes and glared at Madam Pomfrey. "Now see here woman, Mr. Potter has questions to answer that can not wait!" he declared. "If he can talk about what happened to Dumbledore then he can certainly talk to me!"

Madam Pomfrey turned around and faced the Fudge, not appearing to be intimidated at all. "Mr. Fudge, Mr. Potter is my patient so it is up to me to decide what is best for him," she said forcefully. "In addition, Mr. Potter can not be questioned without the presence of one of his guardians. If you would like to wait I'm sure Mr. Black and Mr. Lupin would love to have a word with you concerning your dramatic entrance since that was what triggered Mr. Potter's panic attack."

Fudge let out an annoyed huff and dropped a bag of gold on the bedside table. "Your winnings, Mr. Potter," he said shortly. "The Diggorys have declined on any claim of the prize money. I will be in contact with your…guardians concerning what happened. Hopefully any—confusion will clear up by then. Good day."

Harry stared at Fudge with wide eyes as the man put on his bowler hat and walked out of the room. Fudge didn't believe that Voldemort was back. Dread pushed away all other emotions. If Fudge didn't believe Voldemort had returned then who did he believe murdered Cedric? Harry wasn't looking forward to the day when he was feeling well enough to have that conversation. Cornelius Fudge was as stubborn as they came.

Ron and Hermione were forced to leave the hospital wing which left Harry alone unable to do anything but think. The events of the third task and after replayed in his mind. He had been horrified to see the Cruciatus Curse used on Cedric but that had only been the beginning. At the graveyard Harry remembered the look on Cedric's face when he saw Harry tied to the headstone. There was helplessness and fear. Cedric knew he was going to die and was worried about someone else.

Closing his eyes seemed to only make it worse and falling back asleep was completely out of the question. Opening his eyes again, Harry just stared up at the ceiling trying not to think of anything but it was difficult. Voldemort's voice wasn't an easy thing to forget. Phrases such as "kill the spare", "I will find you and when I do you will die just like your parents", and "Avada Kedavra" would probably stay with him until the day he died.

Harry didn't know how long he stared at the ceiling trapped with echoes of 'kill the spare' and 'hang on, my friend' running through his head. Right now that seemed like he was simply hanging on to his sanity. When the sympathetic faces of his godfather and 'uncle' came into his line of sight, Harry didn't even look at them. How could he?

Before Harry knew it he was pulled into a tender embrace by Sirius. "Don't worry, Pronglet," Sirius said softly. "In a few days we'll be home where not even the Ministry will be able to find us. I know it hurts, losing a friend like that and I won't lie to you. It will probably hurt for a while but with time it won't hurt so much. Try and think of the good times, not the bad. That's what Cedric would want."

That was all it took for the tears to fall again. It seemed that Harry simply needed someone to say the words for him to accept it emotionally. Sirius sat down on the bed and continued to hold his godson who didn't make a sound but increasing wetness of his shirt was all he needed to know Harry was still crying. Remus sat down on the opposite side of the bed and gave Harry's shoulder a reassuring squeeze, reminding the teenager that both of them were there for him…and they always would be.

The next few days passed slowly. Harry was eventually allowed to breathe without the aid of the breathing mask but his heart was still being monitored and he still needed a lot of rest. He was able to move his arms and legs without strenuous effort now but was far from completely healed. He needed help to walk more than a few feet and suffered from severe dizzying spells whenever he stood up. Harry was also restricted to a soft foods diet but at least he was eating on his own.

Hagrid had come by to visit, informing Harry that he was going to do a job for Dumbledore over the summer with Madame Maxime but would be in contact with Dumbledore in case someone needed him. Harry gave Hagrid a soft smile at the comment and mouthed a 'thank you'. Even without the breathing mask on anymore, Harry didn't talk much to anyone. Most of his answers were a shake of the head, a nod or a shrug of the shoulders. This of course worried a lot of people but no one said anything since Harry was already dealing with more than anyone could imagine.

As the day of the Leaving Feast arrived, Harry was still restricted to the hospital wing. Remus had already packed Harry's trunk that had been in the Gryffindor Tower and taken it to the Black House. Only a few sets of clothes stayed behind since Harry had grown tired of the hospital wing attire. Tomorrow everyone would be taking the train back home for the summer holidays; Harry being one of them. For the sake of Harry's still recuperating body, Madam Pomfrey had banned any sort of magical travel for at least two weeks meaning the train was Harry's only way home. Harry had accepted the order until he realized riding on the train would mean facing everyone, something he hadn't done yet.

Instead of attending the Leaving Feast, Harry would be eating dinner in the hospital wing, something Ron and Hermione had been disappointed to hear but accepted the reasoning behind it. Harry still wasn't allowed to eat the majority of the food that would be served and the thought of everyone staring at him like they naturally would wasn't something he was ready for. Ever since it became known that Harry had awoken, Ron and Hermione had become the only sources of information on anything concerning Harry. Since there were several students whose parents had been at the graveyard that night, most of the details were held from the public, even Ron and Hermione didn't know the full extent of Harry's injuries. All they knew was Harry's lungs had collapsed but had been repaired and were slowly healing.

Sitting on his bed and staring out the window at the sunset Harry had to wonder if this was what his life was going to be like now. He had held so much from his friends that he felt like they didn't know him anymore. They still didn't know about his outbursts but Harry could tell they (more so Hermione than Ron) knew something wasn't right. They had overheard about Harry's magical exhaustion but other than a few comments made to each other when they thought Harry was sleeping, they said nothing about it.

The sound of the door opening pulled Harry out of his thoughts. He didn't have to look to know who it was. He knew everyone's entrance by sounds they made, the way they opened the door and the pace of their footsteps. Dumbledore had a slow and soft pace, Madam Pomfrey's was soft and urgent, Ron and Hermione usually ran in, while Sirius and Remus both had fairly quick pace…which was what he was hearing now.

"Hey Pronglet," Sirius said as he plopped on the bed. "How are you feeling?"

Harry shrugged his shoulders in response, not taking his eyes off of the disappearing sun. He hated that he didn't know how to act around his own godfather anymore. He had broken down too many times in front of his guardians to know what to say anymore. The problem was Sirius and Remus always seemed to know what Harry was thinking or feeling and brought it out in the open to discuss…well, they talked and Harry listened.

Remus sat down in a chair at Harry's bedside, not taking his eyes off of the silent teenager. "I know you probably don't feel like talking, cub," he said patiently. "We won't force you but sooner or later you will have to talk to someone about what you're feeling. If you don't feel comfortable talking to us then we will find someone you are comfortable with."

Harry looked over at Remus then over his shoulder at Sirius. He couldn't bare the looks of sympathy they were giving him. The problem Harry didn't exactly know what to say. One moment he was angry, the next he was numb of all feeling and the moment after that he felt depressed. How can you talk about your feelings when they're all over the place?

They ate dinner in silence except when Sirius and Remus informed Harry what Professor Dumbledore would be saying at the leaving feast. The Headmaster would be confirming that Cedric had been murdered by followers of Voldemort who then aided in the Dark Lord's resurrection despite the Ministry's belief that nothing of the sort had actually happened. Tonight Cedric's memory would be honored in addition to the efforts Harry made to bring Cedric back. Dumbledore would reveal that Harry faced and escaped Voldemort, something Harry didn't really want to become public knowledge. Now everyone would want to know everything about that night: how Cedric actually died, what Voldemort looked like…what Voldemort did to him…

Perhaps that was the real reason why he was so reluctant to start talking. If he remained silent, no one took it personal when he didn't answer their questions. No one asked anything that couldn't be answered by a 'yes', 'no', or 'I don't know'. They assumed he was too distraught to speak…or too stubborn. To Harry, his silence was the only way he could stay in control. He hadn't forgotten the last time he had been angry and lost control. His magic was still measured on the low side but that didn't mean the outbursts were gone. One had helped him 'show' his memory of the graveyard for the lack of a better term. He hadn't felt anything since then but without the necklace he had grown accustomed to wearing, Harry couldn't help but be apprehensive.

The following morning had been an early one. Both Viktor and Fleur had stopped by to bid farewell and pass on their sympathies. It seemed that Viktor and Fleur had been warned about Harry's lack of speaking because they really didn't expect him to say much in return. Fleur embraced Harry before she left while Viktor shook his hand before saying that he will keep in touch. Harry whispered a 'thank you' which made a smile appear on Viktor's face. Viktor may not have been close to Cedric but he had seen first hand how protective of Harry the Hufflepuff student had been so he had an idea of how close the two Hogwarts champions had become over the span of the Tournament.

With all of the commotion that was bound to happen, Harry had been taken to the train early to get situated. Sirius would be riding on the train with Harry while Remus and Madam Pomfrey were getting everything ready at the Noble House of Black. Hedwig had been told to fly home since she hated traveling in her cage. They took residence in the car at the front of the train next to the prefect carriage. It would be the last place anyone would try to cause trouble since so many older students would be around according to Sirius.

By the time students started boarding the train, Harry was nearly asleep with his head resting on Sirius' leg. He was covered with a blanket that was charmed to stay warm and had his back facing the door so those who did notice him figured he was sleeping and didn't intrude. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George ended up joining Harry and Sirius but made an effort to be extremely quiet. Fred and George were seated across from Sirius and Harry talking softly to each other, Ron and Ginny were on the floor playing chess and Hermione sitting next to Harry, his legs on her lap while she read a book.

The train ride was certainly a quiet one. Other than the occasional visitor that came to ask how Harry was, they were left alone. Sirius had heard enough about Harry's friends and enemies to know who to glare at and who to ignore. Halfway through the journey Harry had woken up with a sore neck which forced him to alter sleeping positions a little bit. The bruising on his chest and back had significantly decreased, now only being a minor annoyance so he wasn't dependent on pain killing potions anymore. Professor Snape had created a stronger cream after his return that had significantly sped up the healing process. Rolling over to face his friends, Harry tried to stay awake and managed to for nearly an hour before dozing back off.

Harry awoke with a start as the train came to a halt at King's Cross Station. Sirius helped Harry sit up then instructed him to hold tight for a bit for the crowd to decrease. Since everyone else's parents were waiting they couldn't wait around. Ginny gave Harry a gentle hug and wished him a speedy recovery before she left. Hermione hugged Harry and gave him a kiss on the cheek before she ordered him to get well soon and write to her as often as he could. Ron gave Harry's shoulder a squeeze before saying, "like she said, mate."

The moment Ron and Hermione left the compartment, Harry looked up at Fred and George who looked like they were about to repeat what everyone else had said. He held up his hand for them to wait and motioned for Sirius to grab his bag that had his remaining affects that hadn't gone home in his trunk. Sirius complied and watched in confusion as Harry reached in and pulled out a bag of gold. Looking back up at the twins hoping they would accept, Harry handed it over.

"Harry, what is this?" Fred asked in confusion.

"It's his winnings from the Triwizard Tournament," Sirius answered for Harry. "It looks like he wants you to have it."

"Are you nutter?" George asked. "Do you know how much this is?"

Harry took in a deep breath. The Weasley pride wasn't something he wanted to deal with right now. "Please," he said softly. "I…don't want it, too many memories. I…heard about your joke-shop. We could use the laughs…Please?"

Seeing the pleading look Harry was giving them banished any sort of reluctance they may have had. "All right Harry, we'll take it," Fred said at last. "On one condition…start talking again. It doesn't have to be about what happened if you don't want to talk about that. We—well all of us Weasleys still at Hogwarts miss talking with you. Talking at you just isn't the same."

Harry gave them a soft smile and nodded. "I'll try," he said quietly. He had planned on doing so anyways so it wasn't a hard promise to make. They bid goodbye then left the compartment, hiding their newly acquired gold on their way out. At least something good could now come out of him winning the Tournament.

Sirius took that as his cue to take the blanket Harry had been using and stuff it in Harry's bag before helping his godson to his feet. Harry swayed a little before steadying himself then let Sirius usher him out of the compartment and off the train. There were still plenty of people on the platform but it certainly wasn't as packed as it usually was. Harry ignored the stares and whispers that suddenly filled the air as much as he could. Being the center of attention again was something he really wasn't ready for.

Remus came out of the crowd and pulled Harry into an embrace. "Don't worry Harry, we'll be home soon," he said softly. "Everything's ready for you."

Harry looked up at Remus and gave him a grateful smile. He didn't know if he was ready to face his demons yet but he knew that Sirius and Remus would be there for him when he was, just like they always were. They knew him better than he knew himself and right now they were exactly what Harry needed to recover physically, magically and emotionally. He would recover from this. It's what Cedric and his parents would have wanted.

A/N: Well, that's it for Trials of a Champion. Burden of a Destiny has been posted and completed. Check out my Author page to read it!