Disclaimer: This story is based on the Order of the Phoenix which is not mine. This story is also a continuation of Midnight Guardian and Trials of a Champion. Reading those stories first will probably help understand this one.
The Ancient and Noble House of Black
Sirius Black and Remus Lupin helped bring in the school trunks and other luggage for the new arrivals. Both were trying to be as quiet as possible but it was difficult with so many. Sirius and Remus were partially dreading this change. Although the company would do some good, they were hesitant of the stress this would put on their charge.
Harry Potter, also known as the-boy-who-lived, was still recovering from his duel with Lord Voldemort that had taken place a little over a month ago. No one other than Sirius, Remus, Professor Albus Dumbledore (the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry), and Madam Pomfrey (the school's mediwitch) knew how slow Harry's recovery actually was. No one outside of the four of them was aware of how difficult every single night was for the soon-to-be fifteen-year-old.
It had taken a lot of time for Sirius and Remus to help Harry deal with the death of Cedric Diggory, the first victim of the second war. Harry had felt incredibly guilty for his part in Cedric's death although Harry had nearly sacrificed his own life to protect Cedric. The teenager had finally accepted that he had done everything possible to save Cedric's life but that didn't stop the nightmares from coming and with the nightmares came the episodes.
It had nearly given both Sirius and Remus a stroke when in the middle of a violent nightmare Harry stopped breathing. They had heard him screaming and hurried into his room to see him thrashing in bed. Sirius had jumped on the bed and held the boy's shoulders in place while Remus grabbed the boy's legs. They both tried to wake Harry but nothing worked until Harry suddenly stopped moving…and stopped breathing.
Remus ran out of the room to call for help while Sirius had tried to revive Harry. For nearly five minutes Sirius received no response. His pleads became more and more desperate with each attempt. Professor Dumbledore had arrived with Madam Pomfrey, who worked on the unmoving teenager once Dumbledore and Remus pried Sirius away. For a quarter of an hour the three wizards waited outside of the room praying and hoping until Madam Pomfrey came out looking completely exhausted.
The diagnosis wasn't good.
Ever since Harry's third year at Hogwarts, his magic started to mature faster than normal. Last year it had gotten out of control forcing Harry to wear a necklace that would suppress the outbursts that would come without warning. While Harry was being held captive by the Dark Lord the necklace had been removed leaving Harry to deal with the outbursts on his own, something he had never learned how to do. One outburst was a force to be reckoned with but Harry had suffered through three in a manner of minutes. As a result, Harry's body experienced physical and magical exhaustion that no body should ever have to endure. His lungs had collapsed; his heart had nearly shut down and was still healing.
Evidently not as quickly as the four individuals believed.
To help Harry's healing, he now had to take a simple potion once a day to help his heart along. He was also monitored during the night to ensure something like this didn't happen again. Spells were cast in the room and attuned to alert everyone in the house the moment Harry was in any sort of duress. His heart was monitored magically much like it had been in the hospital wing at Hogwarts before he had left for the summer holidays.
This had all taken a bit to get used to but Harry's heart hadn't stopped since the measures were put in place so Sirius and Remus felt it was worth it. There had been a few nightmares that had put some stress on Harry's heart but with the precautions in place, Sirius and Remus were able to wake Harry before he was in any real danger.
The sound of the trunk hitting the floor pulled both Marauders out of their thoughts. Quickly turning to the commotion, Sirius and Remus saw the smiling faces of the Weasley twins, Fred and George. A glare from Sirius wiped the smiles off of their faces. Sirius could be a kid with the best of them but when it came to Harry, the former Azkaban inmate could be quite stern. The rebirth of Voldemort had sent the protective nature of both Marauders into overdrive. From letters Harry had learned that the recently turned seventeen-year-olds had just received their Apparation license which allowed them to disappear from one place and appear in another. Sirius and Remus had been warned that the twins were currently extremely eager to use their magic now that they were of age, something that the adults in the Black House were really dreading.
Next to enter was Harry's best friend, Ron Weasley. The tall fifteen-year-old was looking around in awe before looking directly and Sirius and Remus with a slightly confused look on his face. "Where's Harry?" he asked instantly.
Sirius and Remus glanced at each other before Sirius answered. "He's sleeping," he said firmly. "Please try to keep it down."
Ginny Weasley, the youngest of the Weasley siblings and only girl had followed Ron in. "Is he all right?" she asked. "He didn't say anything was wrong in his letters to the family. Did something happen?"
"Harry will be fine," Remus said in a reassuring tone. "He just needs rest. He's still a little worn out from everything that happened with Voldemort."
The Weasley children flinched at the sound of Voldemort's name. Mrs. Weasley entered the house followed by her husband. The Weasley parents had been warned that everything wasn't as bright and cheerful as Harry had portrayed in his letters. Sirius and Remus knew if anyone would help them with Harry's condition it would be Arthur and Molly Weasley. The couple loved Harry like one of their own.
"Molly, Arthur," Remus said with a nod. "If you'll head into the kitchen the meeting is about to start." Mr. Weasley left for the kitchen but Mrs. Weasley remained. Remus then turned to the four Weasley children. "You four can head upstairs. You'll find your names on your bedroom doors."
"We expect you to go straight to bed," Sirius added as Remus left for the kitchen. "Tomorrow is Harry's birthday and we want to make it special." Sirius was about follow Remus when he stopped and turned back to face the teenagers. "Also, don't go searching for Harry," he said evenly. "Let him sleep. You can talk to him in the morning."
The four Weasleys nodded but it was obvious they were disappointed. "You heard Sirius, children," Mrs. Weasley said. "Now off to bed."
Under the watchful gaze of their mother, Fred, George, Ron and Ginny strolled up the stairs to the bedrooms. Mrs. Weasley had already charmed the trunks to be feather light so each teenager had no problem carrying their own trunk up the stairs. They found the third door on the left marked 'Fred and George', the fourth door on the left marked 'Ron' and the fourth on the right marked 'Hermione and Ginny'. Each Weasley entered their designated room and dropped off their trunk but found it difficult to stay put. Where was Harry? Why was Sirius so persistent on leaving Harry to his rest?
Fred and George came out of their room first and stood in the doorway of Ron's. "We're going to do some harmless exploring, Ronnikins," said George. "Care to join us?"
"I'm coming too," Ginny said from behind them.
"Excellent!" said Fred.
"If anyone asks we were looking for the loo," Ron said then followed his siblings.
They walked past four more bedrooms until they reached the end of the hallway forcing them to turn right. They entered another hallway of rooms with strange names on them. The first door on the left had 'Moony' on it while the first door on the right had 'Padfoot' on it. Fred and George stared at each other in disbelief. It couldn't be. The infamous Marauders were staying here?
The next door on the left was partially open with 'Pronglet' on the door. As they drew closer, they could hear a strange soft beeping sound coming from the room. There was a distinct pattern to it, sounding somewhat like something they had heard in the hospital wing a month ago while Harry was unconscious. With curiosity getting the better of them, the twins peeked in the room and couldn't believe the sight before them.
Sleeping in a large four poster bed was the very person they had been told not to look for. It was Harry. He was sleeping on his back with his head turned away from the door. The duvet covered him up to the middle of his chest allowing the twins to see that the shirt he was wearing was form fitting, revealing that Harry had put on some muscle in the past month and the growth spurt he was in the middle of. All in all Harry looked healthy except that his breathing seemed to be somewhat uneven.
"Well?" Ron asked impatiently.
Fred and George looked at each other before stepping back and closing the door completely. The last thing they wanted was to anger Sirius Black their first night here. "Well, Harry's sleeping in there," Fred said at last. "Remember what Sirius said so…I think we should head back to our rooms."
Ron and Ginny looked at each other in confusion. It was a rare occurrence for Fred and George to fear an adult. "What's going on?" Ron asked suspiciously. Receiving no answer, Ron pushed past his brothers, opened the door and poked his head in. Everyone could hear his sigh of relief when he saw Harry. Closing the door again, Ron turned to his brothers and stared at him with narrow eyes. "He's fine," he said quietly. "Why were you acting like he was on his death bed?"
"We weren't," George answered just as quietly. "We just didn't want you to wake him up. Come on, we can play a game of Exploding Snap in our room until the meeting is over." Without another word Fred and George retreated back to their room, leaving a very confused Ron and Ginny. The two youngest of the Weasley siblings had noticed that the twins had been acting extremely odd for the past month. They weren't as social as they normally were, spending the majority of their time in their room inventing for their joke shop. The only time Fred and George made themselves present was when a letter from Harry had arrived. It was just strange.
Harry Potter awoke to darkness like he did every morning. Pulling himself out of bed as he rubbed the tiredness out of his eyes, the birthday boy mentally prepared himself for an extremely long day. For the past week Sirius and Remus have pestered Harry about his birthday much like they did last year. They wanted to know what Harry wanted to do, what Harry wanted to eat, what presents he wanted…it was enough to make anyone's head spin. Truthfully, Harry didn't want anything. Sirius and Remus had already given Harry anything he could possibly need within the first two weeks of the summer holidays.
It had taken that long for Harry to convince his guardians that he wasn't made out of glass. After the heart stopping episode, Sirius and Remus had restricted him to bed rest. He had protested at first but Sirius and Remus wouldn't listen. As a result, Harry had completed all of his homework in record time but it was dreadfully boring. You can only sleep so much.
Noticing that this method wasn't working, Sirius and Remus bought Harry books on a variety of topics that could possibly help him with his outbursts. Madam Pomfrey had been a life saver when she ordered Remus and Sirius to start Harry on minor physical activity to get his strength back up. It wasn't a good sign when Harry nearly fainted every time he got out of bed to use the bathroom.
Sirius jumped at the opportunity. He continued teaching Harry the basics of tae-kwon-do that they started on last summer and started teaching Harry tai chi. There was no sparring involved since Sirius felt Harry's heart couldn't handle it yet but the parts of the arts that Harry could learn provided an unbelievable change in the teenager. Within a month's time Harry could control some of his smaller outbursts with the help of the relaxation techniques learned through tai-chi. He hadn't experience any of the more powerful outbursts yet but something was better than nothing.
After cleaning up, changing clothes and taking his prescribed potion, Harry left his room as quietly as possible while grabbing his glasses on the way out. Despite Remus' claim that Sirius was a sound sleeper, the man always seemed to wake the moment Harry left his room. Stepping into the dimly lit hallway, Harry tiptoed past all of the closed doors and continued down the staircase just like he did every morning. The silence in the house was a little on the eerie side considering how many usually spent the night in the large Manor. It wasn't uncommon for members of the Order to spend the night in one of the guest rooms, especially when the meetings ran late. Harry didn't mind, he was on a first name basis with most of them anyways.
The Order of the Phoenix was a secret society led by Professor Dumbledore. It consisted of people who believed Voldemort had in fact returned and were prepared to fight regardless of what the Ministry was currently saying. Sirius and Remus had been a part of the Order last time along with Harry's parents so they had given Harry a pretty good picture of what the Order was about. The Noble House of Black had been designated as Headquarters for the Order since it was unplottable. The Black family had used every charm in the book to hide Number 12, Grimmauld Place and with the Fidelius Charm in place, no one could find this place unless the secret keeper revealed it which Dumbledore wasn't about to do.
Living at Headquarters had been both overwhelming and frustrating for Harry. He had met a lot of people who had known his parents and was able to learn more about them than he had ever dreamed but there had also been the times when he had been sent out of the room because something came up that was for 'members only'. Harry never said anything but Remus and Sirius must have noticed something was wrong because the next morning the two Marauders pulled Harry aside for one of their talks.
They explained that some things the Order would be discussing weren't necessarily pleasant and weren't something a teenager should be hearing. Seeing that Harry didn't understand, Remus said the one thing that would make Harry agree to anything. "We are not trying to hurt you, cub. You have lost so much of your childhood already. We just want you to try to enjoy what small part of it you have left. If we learn anything we think you need to know we will tell you. That's a promise."
Harry accepted that. After that Harry simply did as he was told, no questions asked. He didn't blame Sirius and Remus for wanting him to enjoy what was left of his childhood. They were right. He didn't have much of a childhood living with the Dursleys. It had been two years since he had been rescued from them and their abuse but the reminders of it were still there. Every time Sirius and Remus caught Harry cleaning they silently cursed before telling Harry to stop. The cooking they had given up trying to stop Harry from doing since Harry was the best cook of the three of them.
Entering the kitchen, Harry turned on the lights, rolled up his sleeves and got to work on breakfast. He was aware that there were now several more Weasleys under the roof and would have to make quite a bit more than he normally did. He started with the muffins and while they were baking moved on to the eggs and bacon. Harry figured he would take the easy way out and make scrambled eggs today. Once the muffins were done, Harry started brewing the coffee and preparing the tea. By the time he started making the toast the kitchen door opened and two half asleep men entered.
"Morning Pronglet," Sirius said as he moved to the kitchen table and sat down which was what Harry and Remus expected him to do. Sirius Black was completely useless in the kitchen. "Happy Birthday."
Harry nodded his thanks as he placed a cup in front of Sirius that would be filled with coffee the moment it was ready before returning to the bacon and eggs. Remus grabbed a basket and stared putting muffins in it apparently fighting to stay awake. "Long meeting last night?" Harry asked curiously.
"You have no idea," Remus muttered as he put the basket of muffins on the table and took over making the toast. "Severus was here last night so we all had to hear of how dangerous his position is."
Sirius let out a snort at the comment. Professor Severus Snape was currently working undercover as a Death Eater. It had been Snape who had revealed that Voldemort, like Harry, hadn't left the graveyard that night without injury. According to Professor Snape, the Dark Lord was currently trapped in some sort of coma but was moved from place to place often so no one knew where to find him unless you were in the inner circle, something Professor Snape hadn't been able to accomplish yet.
"Sorry I missed it," Harry said as grabbed the coffee pot and filled Sirius' cup. He then grabbed the cream out of the ice box and set it down in front of Sirius. He knew his godfather preferred a lot of cream in his coffee. "So how did the move go last night?"
Sirius' head instantly popped up. "Did they wake you?" he asked quickly.
"I didn't hear a thing," Harry answered honestly as he put the bacon on a plate that was charmed to keep the food warm then pulled out a large bowl for the eggs. "I just remember what it was like my first few days here and knowing the Weasleys I figured they would be curious about the Order."
"I think they were more curious about you, cub," Remus said as he put two plates of toast on the table. "Be ready for a lot of questions today. They'll want to know everything about the Order—"
"—but I don't know anything," Harry interrupted as he set the bowl now filled with eggs on the table. The bowl was also charmed to keep the food warm. It was the only way to make meals with so many people under one roof.
"But they don't know that," Remus said calmly as he moved to the ice box and pulled out a pitcher of juice to set on the table. "I'm sure Molly and Arthur have told their children less than we've told you. You can't blame them for being curious. You were until we talked to you."
"Point," Harry said as he filled a kettle with water for tea and placed it on the stove. Turning around, Harry noticed that Remus had already started making the porridge. Remus usually helped Harry with every meal while Sirius 'supervised'. This was normally the time when most of their talks took place since no one else was around. They had many talks about the events after the third task in this very room. "So what do you want me to say to them?"
"Tell them the truth," Sirius said with a shrug then took a sip of his coffee. "You don't really know anything about the Order other than the history of it. If you're honest with them, they won't pester you about it anymore…at least let's hope they don't."
The sound of the door opening ended their conversation quickly. As if on cue, all three of them looked towards the door to see Mrs. Weasley standing in the doorway with a surprised look on her face. Harry suddenly felt nervous. Was she expecting to be making breakfast now that she was living here? "What's all this?" Mrs. Weasley asked then looked at Harry. "I thought you were supposed to be taking it easy, Harry, dear."
"Harry usually cooks the meals with us, Molly," Remus said casually. "Harry likes to feel like he's helping the Order. This is a happy medium for all parties. Don't worry. Harry's cooking is certainly more edible than Sirius' could ever be."
Everyone glanced at Sirius waiting for a retort but nothing came. Noticing the silence, Sirius looked up from his coffee cup with a raised eyebrow. "What?" he asked. "I'm not going to argue with the truth. My cooking usually comes out like my last name: black." Both Remus and Harry smiled at the comment because they knew it was the truth. "Honestly Molly, Harry's fine. Remus and I never let him cook without someone present just in case."
Mrs. Weasley seemed reluctant to believe Harry's guardians but nodded anyways and sat down across from Sirius. The high pitched noise fired from the kettle causing Harry to jump. Turning off the heat, Harry grabbed the kettle and prepared two cups of tea: one for Remus and one for him. Setting the two cups on the table, Harry turned to Mrs. Weasley. "Coffee, tea or juice?" he asked.
"Tea would be wonderful, dear," Mrs. Weasley said kindly.
Harry prepared her tea as Remus finished the porridge. Once everyone sat down, they ate in silence until the door opened again. A woman with short and spiky violet colored hair entered the kitchen and sat down next to Harry; ruffling his short messy hair as she did so (this woman had given him a haircut a few weeks ago). Her name was Nymphadora Tonks but she preferred to be called simply Tonks. She was a Metamorphmagus, someone who was able to change their appearance at will. She was also Sirius' cousin which, in her mind, gave her the right to treat Harry like a relative since Sirius had adopted him.
"Wotcher, everyone," Tonks said as she poured herself a cup of coffee. "So what's on the menu today, Harry?" She looked around at the food and shook her head slowly. "No one your age should enjoy cooking as much as you do, kid." She leaned to her right and playfully nudged Harry, earning a nudge from him in return. Tonks could rival Sirius when it came to acting like a kid. Both of them seemed to find it their mission in life to make Harry laugh and bring some of the joy back into his life in a way that only family could. The prank war between them a few weeks ago was just one of the many instances when Harry and Remus felt it was best to steer clear of the Black family. It had turned quite brutal in the later rounds. It wasn't unusual to see Sirius with multicolored hair one day and Tonks with changing colored skin the next.
"Well, someone in this family needs to be able to make a meal without burning down the place or breaking every dish they touch," Harry countered with a smile as he put some eggs and bacon on his plate. Everyone in the Order was aware of Tonks' clumsiness and made a point to keep anything that was breakable out of her hands.
Sirius snorted in his coffee cup while Remus tried to hold back a chuckle. "He's got us there, Tonks," Sirius said, "and we're the outcasts in the beloved family. That's not saying a lot for the Blacks, a bunch of pureblood hypocrites…"
Tonks shook her head and rolled her eyes as she grabbed a muffin and stood up. "I'm off to work," she said regretfully. "Happy Birthday Harry. I want to hear all about what these two goofballs put you through when I get back so I can plot my revenge."
"Hey!" Sirius and Remus said at the same time.
Tonks grinned. "What can I say?" she asked innocently. "I've got a soft spot for the kid." She shot Harry a wink before leaving the kitchen.
Bill Weasley, the eldest of the Weasley siblings entered a few moments later. He covered his mouth to hide a yawn as he sat down next to Mrs. Weasley. "Morning Sirius, Remus, Mum and Happy Birthday Harry," he said as he poured himself a cup of tea. Bill used to work for Gringotts Bank in Egypt and now works for Gringotts in London. Rumor had it that Bill was also now dating Fleur Delacour, one of the Triwizard champions who now worked at Gringotts with him. It was a rumor because Harry had only heard about it from Ron. Bill hadn't said a word about his personal life.
"So Harry, do you feel up to a little training this morning?" Sirius asked as he grabbed a muffin.
Harry bit back a sarcastic retort. It seemed that some people still thought he was made out of glass. "I'm fine, Sirius," he said. "I've been fine for a few weeks now. Just because I had one nightmare—"
"—that nearly killed you," Sirius muttered.
"But it didn't," Harry protested. He was really getting sick of this discussion. "I don't know what I have to do to convince everyone that I'm fine now. I'm sorry if I scared you—er—that night and I'm sorry if I scared you when I had that nightmare. It wasn't like I intentionally tried to kill myself or something." Seeing everyone staring at him Harry realized that probably wasn't the smartest thing to say. "Look, I'm not saying I'm ready to face him again but I'm not going to collapse after walking a few steps. School starts in about a month. I'll need to make through an entire day of classes without resting. I need to start preparing myself for that."
"Harry has a point," Remus said and noticed Sirius moved to object. "He has to be ready for school days, Sirius. If Dumbledore wants to keep his condition a secret, we have to do the best we can to make certain no one finds out about it. If anyone loyal to Voldemort—" Remus glanced at Mrs. Weasley and Bill who flinched at the mentioning of the Dark Lord's name before continuing, "—found out that Harry was still suffering from the duel then he could become a target. Right now they are focused on their master. What will happen when he wakes? He will go after Harry for revenge."
Sirius stared at Remus for a moment before shifting his gaze to Harry. "Go to the training room when you're done eating," he said softly. "I'll go change." Without another word, Sirius stood up and left the room, taking his muffin with him. Perhaps that hadn't been the right thing to say to an overprotective godfather.
Mrs. Weasley let out a sigh and shook her head, clearly not approving of what had transpired but knew it wasn't her place to say anything. "You be careful, dear," she said to Harry. "I know you think you can handle it but there's nothing wrong with taking things slow. From what Sirius and Remus tell me you've made excellent progress so far."
Harry let out a sigh as he rested his elbows on the table and held his head in his hands. Mrs. Weasley had a point but Harry was so tired of waiting. He had basically done that all summer. "Was it really that bad?" he asked Remus.
Remus took a slow sip of his tea. "Honestly?" he asked as he set his tea cup down. "I've never been so scared in all my life…on both occasions. Sirius puts up a tough exterior because he has to. He's Sirius Black, the only man to escape from Azkaban and your godfather. He has a reputation to uphold in public but privately Sirius is far from the person he portrays. He doesn't really trust people anymore and he certainly doesn't trust anyone with you. Give him time, Harry. Sooner or later he'll realize you're not a fragile as he thinks."