Decisions of the Heart
It was with great reluctance that Harry opened his eyes to find himself in a somewhat blurry and dimly lit room. His head was aching but it was nothing like the pain Harry had been in what felt like only a moment ago. His back was a little sore but again it was nothing like it had been before. Reflexively, Harry reached for his glasses sitting on the bedside table and slid them on to see that he was in a room that he didn't recognize. It looked a lot like the hospital wing but it was significantly smaller and there were no windows.
Slowly, Harry's mind started to clear and he remembered that Professor Dumbledore had brought him back to Hogwarts after Voldemort had escaped. He forced himself to sit up and started to panic when he didn't see Sirius or Remus in the room. In fact, there was no one in the room other than a screen that blocked off the far corner. Where were they? Did something happen after he left the Department of Mysteries? Remus had been convulsing but it hadn't been as bad as when Pettigrew touched him.
Please let them be okay.
Grabbing his watch off the bedside table and putting it on, Harry noticed that it was after midnight. He must have slept through the day and into the night. Pushing off his bedcovers, Harry slowly slid out of bed. His bare feet touching the cold floor sent a chill up his spine. He glanced down and noticed that he was dressed in a pair of hospital wing pajamas, the short sleeves allowing him to see that his injured left arm was completely healed. Madam Pomfrey had always healed him no matter how odd the injury. Surely she would have healed Remus.
But maybe he still needed time to recover completely.
Biting his lower lip, Harry slowly made his way towards the screen. Endless possibilities entered his mind but none of them could justify why a screen would be needed unless it wasn't Remus. It could be someone else from the Order that Dumbledore wanted to hide from the school. That had to be it. Sirius and Remus were fine. They were sleeping in the Marauder Quarters recovering from any remaining injuries they may have. It was as simple as that.
Reaching the screen, Harry cautiously peaked around it and gasped at the sight before him. Lying in the bed was indeed Remus. He was dressed in a pair of pajamas similar to Harry's which revealed the strange purple wavy lines on his skin that Harry had seen in the Department of Mysteries. Cautiously Harry approached the bed as tears filled his eyes. Remus looked so peaceful yet so ill. His hands were folded over his chest and remained oddly still. His lips were purple in a similar shade to the lines on his skin.
Harry waited for any sign of movement but after a few long seconds let out a sob when there was none. Tears fell down his face as he reached out to touch Remus' hands. Come on, Remus. Please move. Please do something. Touching Remus' skin, Harry let out a painful sob when he found the skin cold. He looked back at Remus' face as he rested a hand on Remus'. "Remus?" Harry asked quietly. "Moony? Please…please don't leave me…don't leave us. I'm sorry…I'm sorry…"
When Remus didn't move, Harry broke down in sobs as he rested his head on Remus' unmoving chest and wrapped his arms around his guardian as much as he could. Remus couldn't be dead. He couldn't! He promised! He promised he would always be there! This wasn't happening! It couldn't be! Remus was always so careful! Remus was always the one to scold Harry and Sirius for being reckless! He couldn't die!
Raising his head, Harry looked at Remus' face once again and saw that it still hadn't moved. He held back his sobs as he stood upright and moved so his head was over Remus'. Gently, Harry kissed Remus' forehead before he rested his own against his guardian's. "I'm so, so sorry, Moony," he said in a wavering voice. "Please forgive me. I…I thought I was protecting you." Harry closed his mouth as a strong sob threatened to emerge. Remus had been his mentor…his friend…his father for so long. Remus had kept him sane. Remus had kept Sirius sane. What were they going to do without him?
Once the sob passed, Harry opened his mouth again. "I love you, Moony," he said shakily. "I'm sorry I didn't stop him. Please forgive me. You're a…a great dad. I should have told you so more often…I…I just always thought…there would be more time."
"You did what you could, Harry. Moony knows that."
Harry instantly stood upright and looked around but found that no one had entered. This was not happening. He was not hearing the voice of his dead father again. It had to be some sort of trick. People don't hear voices of those who have been dead for over fourteen years. "Get out of my head, Voldemort," Harry spat. "Haven't you done enough?"
"Son, I understand you are confused but I'm here to help you. I know you're hurting but remember that Moony loved you just as much as you loved him. "
"And because of me he's dead," Harry muttered bitterly. He couldn't help thinking that if Remus hadn't gone after him…if Remus had just stayed at Hogwarts he would still be alive. If I hadn't insisted on going back to the Gryffindor Tower alone I wouldn't have been taken.
"Not because of you but for you. Remus died for you just as your mother and I did. Just as you would do for us if you could."
Harry didn't hold back the tears that fell at 'the voice's' confirmation of Remus' death. "I don't know what to do without him," he admitted as he sat down in a nearby chair. For the past few years Sirius and Remus had been his entire life. They had given him everything he ever wanted. They had given him a family and a home where he wasn't hated.
"You must move on, Harry. It is the only thing you can do. I know you're in pain but you need to be strong. You will need your strength to do what will probably be the hardest thing you will ever have to do in your life."
Harry leaned forward and buried his face in his hands. He didn't think he could move on from this. He didn't want to move on. Moving on would be accepting that he would never speak to Remus again. Harry was still having a hard time grasping the fact that Remus was indeed gone. His chest ached to a point that it hurt to breathe. The pain he had felt at the Ministry was nothing when compared to this. At the Ministry both of his guardians had been alive.
"And what's that?" Harry asked at last. "What could be worse then this?"
"You have to protect Padfoot, my son, and there's only one way of doing that. You have to leave."
Harry quickly stood; his eyes wide with disbelief. "No!" he whispered in horror. "I can't leave him! Sirius just lost his best friend! If I left it would kill him!"
"If you don't leave, he will die. Voldemort knows your weakness now, Harry. He will go after Sirius to get to you. Is that what you want? Do you want to lose Sirius too?"
Harry backed into the wall and slowly slid down until he was sitting on the floor. He couldn't breathe. Lose Sirius? Lose Midnight? Lose his last remaining dad? No. He would do anything to prevent that. He would rather die than lose his remaining guardian. 'The voice' was right. Voldemort had known that his guardians were his weakness. Voldemort knew Harry would do anything to protect them even it if cost him his life.
Closing his eyes, Harry grabbed his chest and tried to fight the pain that flared from his heart. Could he do it? Could he abandon those he loved in order to protect them? What choice do I have? He couldn't let Sirius fall to the same fate as Remus. He couldn't let any of his friends feel this pain that consumed his heart, consumed his very soul. "What must I do?" Harry asked at last.
"You know what to do, my son. Remember, we are proud of you."
Harry broke down in silent sobs as he pulled his knees to his chest and buried his face. This wasn't supposed to be happening. He was supposed to be worried about what he would be doing during the summer holidays, not mourning the death of one of his fathers and planning his departure from the world he had spent over five years in. What was he supposed to do? If he managed to get out of Hogwarts, what then?
A warm and gentle breeze filled the room causing Harry to jump in surprise. Looking up, Harry noticed the door was still closed and he was still alone. He cautiously rose to his feet and glanced around but found that nothing had changed. Resting a hand on the wall, Harry gasped at the tingling sensation that started at his fingers and ran down his arm. He pulled his hand away quickly and the tingling sensation abruptly stopped.
Cautiously, Harry once again touched the wall and closed his eyes as the tingling sensation flooded his entire body. Feelings of concern, sympathy, regret, and protectiveness flooded him. Harry didn't know how he knew but somehow he understood that Hogwarts herself was passing on her sympathies to him. He understood that she regretted not protecting him from those who had taken him and that she wished to help him now with his despair.
Opening his eyes, Harry looked over at his bedside table and saw his wand in his wand holster. He reached out and silently called his wand. It flew into his hand still attached to his wand holster. Harry put the holster on his right wrist and closed his eyes again. "I need a way to my dorm room that no one will see me," he said softly. "I need to leave."
A moment later a flash of fire made Harry quickly turn around to see Fawkes standing on the foot of Remus' bed. The phoenix let out a mournful trill. Harry bowed his head as he fought to hold back the tears that wanted to start falling again. He couldn't even think of Remus without his despair and heartache surfacing. "Fawkes," Harry said forcing himself to think of something other than Remus. "You have already done so much for me but I need to ask for more. I need your help."
Fawkes let out a soft trill as if to say 'I know'.
Harry approached the bed and gently started to pet the phoenix. "I need to get to my dorm room with no one seeing me and then I need to leave this place before anyone notices I've gone," he said softly. "Can you please help me?"
Fawkes trilled softly, his eyes meeting Harry's. It was clear that Fawkes didn't approve of Harry's decision but he understood this was something Harry needed to do. Spreading his wings, Fawkes flew up and landed on Harry's shoulder the gently rubbed his head against Harry's in a reassuring way. Harry closed his eyes and bit back another wave of tears as he once again approached Remus. He placed both of his hands over Remus' cold ones and let out a long breath.
"Moony…Dad…I love you and I'll never forget you," Harry said with a quivering voice. "I will keep him safe. I promise."
Backing away, Harry looked one last time at his guardian before his vision was blinded with flames forcing him to close his eyes. Warmth surrounded him for a brief moment and then it was gone along with the weight on his shoulder. Opening his eyes, Harry saw that he was in his dorm room. He could hear Ron and Neville snoring and knew he would have to be extremely quiet so he didn't wake anyone up. Fawkes had landed on his bed and appeared to be waiting patiently for him to do what he needed to.
Hurrying to his trunk, Harry pulled out a few sets of muggle clothes along with his money pouch, Gringott's key, some ink, parchment and a quill. He took his school bag, emptied it and transfigured it into a muggle backpack. He changed into a set of his muggle clothes including a hat to cover his hair and scar before packing the rest. He pocketed his Gringott's key and threw his money pouch in the front pocket of his backpack. Grabbing a piece of parchment, Harry sat down on his bed as he uncorked his ink and dipped his quill in. He wasn't going to leave without leaving something behind for Sirius. He needed to let Sirius know that this was the way it had to be or Sirius would come after him.
Gathering his thoughts, Harry ran his fingers through his hair as he tried to put what he needed to say into words. He needed to say goodbye. He needed them to know this wasn't just a threat. He needed them to move on without him. Finally, Harry just started to write hoping that it would make sense.
By the time you read this I will most likely be far from here. I'm so sorry for what happened. You and Remus gave me everything and this is how I repay you. I never wanted anything to happen to either of you. Both of you gave me the one thing I had always wanted: a family. You will always be my family but this is necessary for everyone. It's the only way.
Please don't look for me. I need you to let me go. I need you to move on without me. Please believe me when I say I am not running from my responsibility. I know there is no running from Voldemort. I know he will find me sooner or later and when that time comes I can only hope that I am strong enough to make you and Remus proud. It's the least I can do.
Please tell everyone I'm sorry. I know I've disappointed them. I tried to stop them. I tried to stop Voldemort but I just wasn't quick enough. Hopefully when the time comes I will be ready for what needs to be done and if not, then at least I know you're safe.
I'm sorry for what I've put you through, Sirius. I'm sorry for everything.
I love you Dad.
Once the ink had dried, Harry folded the parchment and wrote Sirius' name on it. He brushed away the tears that were once again falling as he packed his remaining parchment, ink and quill. Standing up, Harry left the note on his pillow and turned to Fawkes. The phoenix glanced at him before taking flight. Harry watched in confusion as Fawkes quietly trilled while flying in a circle above his head. His confusion multiplied as he started to feel tingly. What was going on?
A strange voice that Harry knew he had heard before answered his unasked question. "He is using his own magic to protect you, my child. He is shielding you from being found unless you want to be found."
Gasping in shock, Harry looked up at Fawkes who had stopped flying and slowly landed on Harry's shoulder. He understood that Fawkes wanted to protect him but it sort of canceled out the main reason he was leaving in the first place. It also makes sure no one can find me…including Sirius. Fawkes' protection could give him the chance he needed to prepare himself. "Thank you, Fawkes," Harry said softly as he reached under his shirt. He still had on the suppression necklace and knew he couldn't take any chances, phoenix protection or not.
Carefully, Harry unhooked the clasp and set the necklace on the bed. He would have to deal with any outbursts that came without the crutch that the suppression necklace had become. Closing his eyes, Harry mentally thanked Hogwarts for her help. He felt a small reassuring wave rush over him before opening his eyes and grabbing his backpack. Looking at Fawkes, Harry nodded that he was ready to go. He once again was blinded by flames and surrounded by warmth and closed his eyes until the journey was over.
It was only a moment later that Harry opened his eyes and found himself on the steps in front of Gringott's Wizarding Bank at Diagon Alley. Looking at his watch, Harry saw that it was nearly two in the morning. He looked up at Fawkes with a raised eyebrow. What were they doing here so early? It wasn't exactly what one would consider banking hours. Was he supposed to wait for six hours until the bank opened?
Before Harry could voice his questions, the door to the bank opened and a familiar looking goblin stepped out. It was Griphook, the goblin that had taken him to his vault when he was eleven. "Mr. Potter," the goblin said with a nod. "Follow me please."
Harry glanced at Fawkes in confusion before he followed Griphook into Gringott's. The marble hall was dimly lit. All of the stools behind the long counter were empty. This was just too weird. "Er—excuse me," Harry said cautiously. "What's going on? How did you know that I was out there?"
Griphook turned and looked up at Harry. "Mr. Potter, there is always at least one goblin at Gringott's for emergencies," he said. "Goblins are magical creatures. We can sense when we're needed, especially by another magical creature. It is not our business to ask how and why. I trust you have your key."
Harry pulled his key out of his pocket and handed it over to Griphook. The goblin looked at the key before continuing on his way. Fawkes remained on Harry's shoulder with his head against Harry's. Griphook opened a door at the end of the hall and waited for Harry to walk through before following. They entered a narrow stone passageway that was lit with flaming torches. Harry moved aside as Grphook whistled and a small cart came rolling up the tracks towards them. Harry climbed in followed by Griphook as Fawkes hopped off of Harry's shoulder and handed on the ground, signaling that he would wait for their return. Harry glanced back at Fawkes one last time before the cart took off.
They reached Harry's vault quickly. Griphook unlocked the door then moved aside for Harry to enter. It had been years since Harry had entered his vault. Ever since Sirius…no. He couldn't think about that now. Harry opened the front pocket of his backpack and pulled out his money pouch. He filled it with gold coins before leaving with the pouch still in his hand. Turning to Griphook, Harry once again fought to keep his emotions under control. He couldn't afford to break down now.
"I need to exchange this into muggle money," Harry said softly.
Griphook nodded then closed the door and locked it before handing the key back to Harry who pocketed it. They climbed back into the cart and quickly rode back to where Fawkes was waiting. Stepping out of the cart, Harry handed his pouch over to Griphook as Fawkes took flight and landed back on Harry's shoulder. Griphook led the way back into the marble hall before going behind the counter and climbing up on the nearest stool as Harry walked around to the customer side of the counter.
"The exchange rate is five pounds for every galleon," Griphook said as he set Harry's pouch on the counter. "From weight, you have approximately seventy-five galleons in your pouch. How much would you like to exchange into British pounds?"
Harry tiredly rubbed his eyes underneath his glasses. He could feel that everything was starting to catch up with him. He would need to find a place to rest soon and the Leaky Cauldron was certainly not an option. He could surly be recognized there. "I think fifty galleons should be enough," he said. Two hundred and fifty pounds should last him long enough to find some sort of employment.
Griphook counted out the galleons out of Harry's pouch before handing it back to Harry. The goblin then counted out the British pounds before placing it in an envelope and handing it over. Harry put both containers of money in his backpack. He would need to purchase a wallet soon. That much was clear. With their business concluded, Harry thanked the goblin for his help then leaving the bank. He stepped out into the darkness and before he could do anything was gone in a flash of flames…
…And appeared a moment later in what looked like a rather comfortable hotel room. There was an extremely large bed in the middle of the room with a bedside table and a lamp. Looking at the stationary on the bedside table, Harry noticed the words 'Hilton Trafalgar' written on it. Harry instantly looked up at Fawkes who chose at that moment to fly over to the bed and curled up into a ball. "Fawkes," Harry warned. "This is cheating. This is illegal."
Fawkes looked at Harry and actually glared before letting out an annoyed squawk as if to say 'so what'. Harry just shook his head as he set his backpack on the floor and took off his shoes. He walked over to the window and looked out to see Trafalgar Square lighted only by street lights. Fine. He would stay here for the rest of the night but tomorrow he would find a legal place to stay that he could afford. The last thing he needed was to be arrested.
Staring out of the window, Harry reached in his shirt and pulled out the only necklace he still wore, the necklace that held the pendants of his three fathers. Two were dead and one that he would never see again. Harry couldn't bring himself to think of what Sirius would be going through when he noticed the empty bed at Hogwarts. He didn't want to think of how hurt his friends would be the moment they realized he had deserted them. They were safe now and that was all that mattered.
Far away in a barely lit room, a thin cloaked figure sat back in his chair and glanced down at the large snake resting at his feet. The past few hours had been nothing short of confusing. His anger at his failure and the failure of his followers had vanished when he had strangely felt intense pain throughout his body. It took him a moment to realize that the pain was coming from someone else. Potter. After some prodding, he managed to discover the source of young Harry Potter's pain.
The boy had been suspicious at first but, in the end, Potter's emotions had been exactly what he needed to turn the tables on the muggle-loving fool. After all, a grief stricken teenager out in the middle of nowhere with no protection whatsoever was too good of an opportunity to pass up. At the moment, Potter would probably sacrifice himself if it meant that his precious godfather would remain unharmed.
Was the werewolf actually dead? The cloaked figure didn't know and he really didn't care. What was important was what Potter believed to be true. He found it odd that the steady link had been abruptly cut off but he was confident that enough damage had been done on Potter's fragile mind. He would discover what had broken the connection later. Now he needed to plan. Potter had been stubborn before the bitterness of mortality had hit him. If the boy's stubbornness continued then he would just have to use the boy to cause enough damage to the muggle-loving fool before both of them were killed.
The cloaked figure knew he would have to use a completely different strategy now. Potter would still be defiant but he was also desperate. Those two qualities were never a good combination. The boy was too emotionally dependent on others for his own good, especially the blood traitor and the werewolf. It wasn't a surprise. Potter's precious guardians had provided everything a troubled orphan could ever want. In Potter's mind, the blood traitor and the werewolf had all the answers. That sort of devotion was rare and would be impossible to break.
Removal was the only option. The cloaked figure realized this. He had handled Harry Potter completely wrong. The boy didn't want power. Potter only wanted to live in peace with his family and would stand against anyone who threatened that. Perhaps he and Potter weren't so alike after all. They had similar upbringings but their paths had diverged the moment the blood traitor and the werewolf became the boy's guardians. How ironic it was that one so powerful would want nothing to do with obtaining power.
He will make a perfect servant after he's broken.
A soft hiss pulled the cloaked figure out of his thoughts. Looking down at the now conscious snake, the cloaked figure smiled evilly at the revelation. "Don't worry, Nagini," he hissed at the snake. "You shall have another companion soon." The snake lowered its head and went back too sleep. The cloaked figure stared off into the darkness already thinking of the possibilities. Memories could be altered. Perceptions could be skewed.
Let the fun begin.
A/N: The next book, "The Power of Hogwarts" is up and completed. Check out my Author page for the link.