Author's Note: Well here it finally is! Thanks to all you patient readers out there for not coming after me with pitchforks. First I should say that this takes up toward the end of chapter 23, right before the Death Eaters come in. In this version, Voldemort never attacks. Remember that the only Weasley who knows about the abuse is Ron. Also, Harry and Ginny are not yet dating. Also (warning) there is a character death! As Voldemort has never attacked and therefore, Harry's cancer was not cured, I'm sure you can guess who! So if this is something you do not want to read, just slowly back away and go reread the regular ending. All those ready for some angst, please go right ahead.
Alternate Ending to Recnac Transfaerso
(starting toward end of chapter 33)
After dinner Ron sadly led his siblings up to the fifth year boys' dormitory. George, who hadn't managed a single bite at dinner, followed numbly, looking very lost. His twin and younger sister eyed him anxiously, wondering what could be so horrible to put George in a state like this. Hermione walked next to Ron, looking weary and regretful. Everyone was silent.
Tensions were high as they entered the room. It was dark except for a single candle flickering on Harry's nightstand, the light playing upon the face of the raven-haired boy, who had apparently let his exhaustion take hold.
Hermione gestured for the Weasleys to remain in the doorway and crossed the room to Harry's side. She sat next to him and began smoothing back his hair as she gently called his name. Fred and Ginny shot confused looks at each other, wondering why they didn't wake him up in traditional Weasley style, which included shouting and the occasional pounce.
Harry blinked up at Hermione tiredly and returned her smile. When he spotted the Weasleys, however, the blood seemed to drain from his face and his smile turned into a nervous grimace. He began to climb out of bed but Hermione scolded him and pushed him back against his pillows before gesturing for the rest of them to come over. Ron climbed onto the bed and sat next to Harry for silent support, as did Hermione on his other side. The other three all climbed onto the foot of the bed.
"What's the matter? You guys are freaking us out," Ginny finally blurted out.
"Yeah, you're acting like somebody's dying or something!" Fred exclaimed anxiously. George choked back a sob and tears began to leak down Hermione's cheeks, even though she'd thought she'd cried herself out. Harry sighed and looked down at his lap while Ron got a far-away look in his eye.
Fred and Ginny looked around in horror.
"Someone's dying? But who?" Fred asked dumbly, not wanting to believe the evidence right in front of him.
Harry looked up at them and opened his mouth to speak, but had trouble finding the words.
Fred went still and his face drained of color. Ginny shook her head, absolutely horror-struck. "No. No way. Stop freaking us out and just tell us because right now it really seems like you're talking about Harry, but that's obviously not true so just stop it and tell us who it is!" she screamed.
"It is me," Harry said quietly.
"No," Ginny said resolutely, shaking her head.
"I have something called cancer. It's a Muggle illness…"
"No, that's not true," Ginny said, louder this time and more angry.
"Mr. Stenson had it, you remember him. He was going to die and he had a family so I couldn't just stand around and do nothing," Harry said quickly, trying to get the telling of the story over with and do it before Ginny refused to hear him out anymore. He leaned forward and put his hand on hers. "There was no cure, it was the only thing I could do and I had to do it. I would have done it for your dad if it had happened to you and you know, I don't have a family or anything so it didn't matter so much if it was me and I found the spell to transfer it to me so I had to do it and…"
"NO!" Ginny screamed shoving him away from her as she began to sob uncontrollably. "No! You're such a liar! I can't believe you'd say stuff like this! It's not funny you idiot!"
"Ginny, please," Harry pleaded in a tight voice.
"Don't you TALK to me!" she yelled hysterically. She jumped off the bed and started for the door, but Harry climbed out after her, ignoring the protests of his friends, and blocked her way.
"Ginny, please, I'm sorry," he implored.
"You're SORRY?" she screamed, completely beside herself. "How could this be happening? How could you DO something like this? How could you not tell us? How could you? How could you not TELL me! I don't understand! This can't be real."
Harry looked properly ashamed. "I'm sorry," he said once again. "I just didn't want you to treat me differently. I just wanted everything to stay the same and be normal."
"How long?" George asked in a choked voice.
Harry hesitated. "A few weeks, maybe a little more. Madam Pomfrey reckons I might make it until my birthday but it's hard to tell. I'm getting immune to most of the potions I need."
"No," Fred whispered, before looking up at Harry in anger. "Why? Why would you do this? Why would you trade your life for some Muggle you hardly even know?"
"They rescued me from the Dursleys for the summer…"
"So did we!" Fred yelled.
"And I would have done it for you too," Harry repeated.
"Well we wouldn't have asked you to do something like that! What kind of people are these?" he shouted angrily.
"They didn't know what I was doing. I just told them I could cure him."
Fred put his hands to the side of his head as if to stop it from reeling. "Why would you do something so stupid?"
"At the time," Harry said, choosing his words carefully, "I felt it was the right decision. Their family reminded me of yours and I'm sure you can imagine what it would have been like if it had been your dad. Kota would have been beyond devastated. She and her mom needed him, just like you all need your dad, or any one of your family members for that matter."
"Well what about how we need you?" Ginny screamed.
"You are a family member!" George yelled.
"Look, it's not the same. I appreciate what you guys are doing but we all know I'm not part of your family. Hair's all wrong," he joked, though feeling like he wanted to cry as he said it.
"This can't be happening," Fred said shakily, mirroring Ginny's earlier words. Suddenly, his face contorted with anger and he looked over at Harry in a rage. "Harry, you're such an idiot! How could you be so stupid? How could you do this! Of course we care about you! You never even asked us before you did this! Did you even think of how this might affect us? Do you ever think about anyone but your damn self? You're so selfish and you're right, you're not part of our family and I'm glad," he roared.
"FRED!" Ron snapped.
Harry tried to say he was sorry, but Fred ignored him. As he continued to yell, Harry pressed his hands over his ears in a failing attempt to drown out the hateful words, throwing out the occasional upset "I'm sorry!" that seemed to only feed Fred's irrational anger. Even those who were in a state to try to calm the enraged redhead could not.
"…You just wanted to play the hero again without caring how it might affect the ones who care about you, or do we mean nothing to you? I think you don't even have a heart. No wonder everyone hates you all the time! You just pretend to feel but you're just cold and heartless! You don't care about anyone! I'm starting to think maybe the Dursleys were really nice but you were the one that…"
"Fred, shut up!" Ron yelled furiously, with more fervor than he had before.
"No, he wouldn't recognize family if it bit him in the arse. He treats us the same way he treats them. No wonder they can't stand…"
Ron lunged at his brother, knocking Fred off the bed and onto the floor, angrily punching him in the face. But Fred didn't try to fight back. He merely dissolved into a sobbing mess like the rest of them.
Hermione was now kneeling beside Harry, who had sat down against the wall as his legs grew too tired to hold him up. She was trying to comfort him as he tried to pull himself together, hugging him as best she could and assuring him that Fred didn't mean it but was just in shock and denial.
When Hermione felt a hand on her arm, she looked around to see Ginny and knew that the situation had finally sunk into the redhead. Ginny didn't even look at her, her gaze firm on Harry, like if she looked away for one second, he'd be gone.
Hermione graciously moved out of the way and allowed Ginny to crawl up to Harry. She wrapped her arms firmly around him and laid her head against his shoulder.
"You're really dying?" she asked in a small, scared voice.
Harry nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
"A few weeks?" she asked, sounding nothing short of petrified.
"Maybe more," Harry said hopefully.
Ginny clung to him tightly.
Harry was feeling much better physically the next day but everything was wrought with tension. Fred apologized vehemently for saying Harry wasn't part of the family; they both knew how distraught the redhead had been the night before so Harry insisted apology wasn't necessary. The Weasleys told Harry he would have to tell their parents so he wrote them a very difficult letter. He was getting very tired of telling the story that would end in his premature death. Fred, George and Ginny seemed torn. They stayed with Harry the whole day, wanting to spend as much time as possible with him before it was too late, but they didn't know what to say or what to do. Everything seemed so trivial and unimportant with knowing what was going to happen.
When he felt he couldn't take it anymore, he announced he was going flying, but George quickly killed that idea with a fuming lecture about Harry being reckless after what had happened the night before. Harry refrained from angrily shouting that at this point it didn't matter too much if he had an accident, but instead put his broom away and settled for studying for the rest of his exams, trying to ignore the looks from his friends who couldn't see why he was even bothering to look at his books.
Just as he thought the day couldn't get any more stressful, he received a note from Dumbledore that the Weasley parents had shown up, having gotten his letter. He found himself wearily trudging down the halls.
"Merlin's beard, Potter, you look like hell," came a familiar drawl.
"Bloody hell," Harry muttered to himself, looking up to see the blonde Slytherin leaning against the wall and watching him with a raised eyebrow. "As much as I'd love to stop and discuss how shitty I look with you, Malfoy, I'm kind of busy."
Malfoy pushed himself off the wall and began walking beside Harry, who was not too pleased about the development.
"Feeling a little stressed, Potter? Scared about facing the Dark Lord again? Worried he might Avada Kedavra your sorry arse?" he asked with a smirk, but Harry had a strange feeling that Malfoy was trying to feel him out for something.
"Sorry to disappoint you, Malfoy, but if big, bad Tom Riddle doesn't get his arse in gear and come to kill me soon, he's going to miss his chance," Harry said, hoping Malfoy would pass the message along to his father so Harry's plan could actually still have a chance.
Malfoy looked at him in surprise. "What, are you running away or something?" he asked, a tinge of worry tainting his otherwise smug question.
"Not running, but I guess you could say I'm going away for awhile and I'll be out of commission for any final battle type scenarios," Harry said mysteriously.
"You're not serious," Malfoy said, sounding a bit stunned.
"It's not something I joke about, trust me," Harry said, massaging his temples with his fingers as a headache threatened to emerge harshly.
Malfoy stared at him for a second before grabbing him and pushing him into an empty classroom.
"Malfoy, what the hell," Harry exclaimed in annoyance, bracing himself against the wall as his head spun at the sudden movement. He suddenly found himself pinned up against the wall.
"You can't leave," the blonde hissed.
"You make a convincing argument with this sort of friendly chat," Harry said sarcastically. Malfoy let go of him and took a step back, but still looked at him intensely.
"Don't you understand? Without you, what's everyone going to do about You-Know-Who?" Malfoy asked urgently. "You can't leave without fighting him."
"What are you talking about, Malfoy? You don't care about others; you only care about yourself," Harry reminded him. "Or maybe that's the point. I'm sorry to deprive you the joy and entertainment of seeing Voldemort kick my arse, but if he wants to kill me he'll have to do it before school lets out, busy summer and all. So go tell your buddy to hurry on up.
"He's not… you can't leave! What's going to…what will people do? I just…you're seriously leaving? Where are you going?" he asked wildly.
"Malfoy, maybe you should tell me what's going on," Harry said seriously. "Are you…Are you thinking about not becoming a Death Eater?"
"What makes you think I'd even get the offer?" Malfoy asked defensively.
"Let's cut the bullshit. I'm not an idiot. I know your father's a Death Eater and don't bother denying it because I saw him in his fun little death eater outfit groveling at Voldemort's feet. I know he probably has you next in line to become a little Voldemort worshipper. The question is whether you want to or not."
The Slytherin opened his mouth to speak but his words died and he set his jaw firmly. "That's none of your business," he said coldly.
"Listen, I only have about a week to help you and that's it. There's going to be no next year, so if you want to tell me anything this is your only chance."
Malfoy looked like he was debating something internally. Finally, he sighed and looked up at Harry.
"My father wants me to become a Death Eater. I'm set to be initiated very soon," he said quietly.
"And you don't want to," Harry prompted, trying not to let his hopefulness show in his voice.
"Everyone in my family is a Death Eater. If I don't I'll be killed. I have no choice. I have nowhere to go," Malfoy said with the slightest hint of desperation.
"You do have somewhere to go," Harry said firmly, thinking immediately of Snape.
"I don't, Potter."
You do," Harry insisted. "Go to Dumbledore and tell him."
"You can," Harry pressed. "You have to trust me. He can protect you and I know there's someone you can stay with who will protect you."
"Who? The Weasels?" Malfoy sneered.
"No. I can't tell you who because I can't be certain you're serious, but Dumbledore can tell, so I don't suggest going to him if you're lying."
"I'm not…" Malfoy said distractedly.
"You know as well as I do that this is a big decision," Harry said matter-of-factly. "One way, you're going to be groveling down to Voldemort the rest of your life, being someone's servant. You'll have to kill and torture tons of people at someone's command. The other way, you'll probably never be able to see your family again, or at least your father and anyone else who's a Death Eater. Not to mention you'll be up there on Voldie's "to kill" list, but then again, if you're his servant you get to be tortured pretty much every meeting. I don't envy you for having to make this decision, but you know which one I'm rooting for."
He left Draco sitting on a desk, looking into space very thoughtfully.
He made his way to Dumbledore's office, feeling slightly dizzy. He leaned against the wall momentarily to pull himself together, not wanting another incident like what happened while telling the Stensons in the same office. Finally, with a deep breath, he knocked on the door.
Dumbledore opened the door and gestured to have him come in, excusing himself as soon as Harry stepped in. The two Weasley parents looked up at him as if there was something extremely different about him. Of course, they were right. Mrs. Weasley was sitting in a chair, crying very hard into her hands. Mr. Weasley was already standing, and quickly approached Harry. He put his hands on Harry's shoulders and looked like he was trying to think of something to say, but soon decided to just roughly pull Harry to his chest and wrap his arms around him in a fatherly hug. Mr. Weasley had never hugged Harry before, so the gesture came as a bit of a surprise, but when he realized Ron's dad was crying, he was even more shocked. After all, the two of them had never been really close. He had always just been Ron's friend, never even spending time alone with the man.
Finally, Mrs. Weasley got up and Mr. Weasley let go of him so his wife could approach Harry. She hugged him to her desperately.
"Oh Harry, no," she wept. "Why is this happening?"
Harry couldn't think of what to say.
Eventually, Mrs. Weasley sniffed and held Harry away at an arm's length, visually examining him. Harry looked down uncomfortably.
"Have you been s-sleeping?" she asked through her tears. Harry felt a tightness in his own throat. "You have c-circles under your ey-eyes."
"Yeah. I sleep a lot. Ron and Hermione have been taking good care of me really," Harry said quietly. Mrs. Weasley choked back a sob as she stroked Harry's hair lovingly.
"You're too thi-in dear, have you been eat-ting?" she asked tearfully.
"Er, well, sometimes. I'm not hungry much anymore," Harry said apologetically. "Madam Pomfrey has me on nutrition potions though."
Mrs. Weasley shut her eyes, but tears escaped anything. "They're just not feeding you right."
"Why didn't you tell us, Harry? You've known since January?" Mr. Weasley asked, sounding hurt.
"I didn't want to make a big deal out of it," Harry responded meekly.
"A big deal? Harry, you're dying and you didn't tell us!" Mr. Weasley yelled.
"Well, I didn't really tell anyone. I mean, I told Ron and Hermione at one point, and then some people found out, and I told Sirius because well, he's my godfather and all, but that's really it."
"Wait, was that why you were in the hospital wing after You-Know-Who's attack on the school?" Mr. Weasley asked incredulously.
Harry blinked in surprise and blushed slightly.
"No, I wasn't sick," he said truthfully.
"Then why were you in there?" Mr. Weasley asked suspiciously, not believing him. "Before that, you told me you were going to spend the whole time at the Dursleys and yet you were back at Hogwarts before any of the others students, when it still could have been dangerous. Why would they bring you back otherwise? Plus, the Stensons were there."
"It wasn't like that, really, I…"
"Please don't lie to us anymore," Mrs. Weasley pleaded. Harry sighed and looked down guiltily.
"I swear, I wasn't sick. I just got hurt," he said. It was the truth, after all, it just wasn't the whole truth.
"How did you get hurt? They wouldn't have brought you back unless it was serious," Mr. Weasley pushed.
"Arthur, does it matter? One of our babies is dying," Mrs. Weasley said emotionally, much of Harry's surprise. After all, he wasn't one of their children. Unlike with Mr. Weasley, however, he had spent a lot of time alone with Mrs. Weasley. He always insisted on helping her set the table or cook or wash up, and she took the opportunity to talk to him about a variety of things. Still, he was surprised Mrs. Weasley would consider him one of her own after really only two partial summers of contact, along with a few days during the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
"Yes, I think it does matter, I want to know," Mr. Weasley said stubbornly.
"Molly, he had a bruise on his face and Carpenter said Harry had been in the Hospital Wing for a few days and he'd heard rumors that he'd been seriously hurt. He said some bloke saw Severus carrying him in covered in blood! Either he was seriously hurt or seriously sick. Ron won't tell me what happened but I think he knows."
Harry's eyes widened as both the Weasley parents turned to him expectantly, Mrs. Weasley looking shocked.
"So Harry," Mr. Weasley continued emotionally, "the truth, please."
Harry felt his breathing quicken and tried to remain calm as his brain desperately trying to figure out what to do. His head spun wildly as his panic worsened his dizziness.
"Please, I don't want to talk about it," Harry pleaded.
"It's all right, dear, you don't have to talk about it," Mrs. Weasley said quickly, seeing how Harry was wobbling slightly on his feet.
"It was the Dursleys, wasn't it?" Mr. Weasley demanded. Mrs. Weasley stilled and looked at her husband in horror before turning back to Harry, who was staring at Mr. Weasley with wide eyes.
Harry's head reeled as his mind battled between confessing and guarding his secret. He automatically backed away while he sputtered out the beginnings of sentences he couldn't finish. He backed right into a stand that crashed to the floor, along with all its contents. Immediately, he dropped to the ground and began picking them up as quickly as he could, putting them back on the stand apologizing for his clumsiness.
Suddenly, Mr. Weasley was kneeling in front of him, grabbing his upper arms to keep him from continuing to clean. His eyes shone with anger.
"Did they hurt you? Did your uncle hit you?" he asked urgently.
Harry shook his head frantically, but his eyes told the truth.
"I'm going to kill that bastard," Mr. Weasley growled lividly. He stood up abruptly and stalked toward the door.
"No, Mr. Weasley. No you can't! Please," Harry yelled, jumping to his feet and running up to the man, putting himself between the redhead and the door.
"Harry, get out of my way. I'm going to make him pay," Mr. Weasley said darkly.
"Mr. Weasley, please. You're the head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts; you're trying to fight for Muggle rights! What's going to happen when people hear of you doing something bad to a Muggle?" Harry reasoned.
"They'll think of me as a hero when they find out what that monster did to you," Mr. Weasley responded furiously.
"I don't want everyone to know! It would be all over the papers. Please, I don't want that. I'm going to go live with Sirius; I'm never going back. It doesn't matter; it's done," Harry begged.
"That man should be thrown in Azkaban!"
"By the time anyone got him into court, I won't even be here anymore and there won't be any evidence. I just want everything to be peaceful for the next few weeks. I don't want to go to court or have my private life splashed across every newspaper there is," Harry pleaded passionately, soon finding himself short of breath. He leaned back against the closed door and shakily drew in air. A coughing fit overtook him so strongly that he sank down to the floor, his hand loosely hanging onto the doorknob.
"Breathe, Harry, calm down and slow your breathing," came Mr. Weasley's worried voice.
Harry followed those orders as best he could, and soon his coughing ceased and the white spots that had covered his vision disappeared.
Both the Weasley parents were kneeling in front of him. He turned to Mr. Weasley weakly.
"I won't, Harry. If you don't want me to, I won't," Mr. Weasley said reluctantly but honestly.
Mrs. Weasley wiped tears off Harry's cheeks, much to his surprise; he hadn't even known he had cried.
"They're not taking care of you right," Mrs. Weasley choked. "You're sick and they're not taking care of you properly. You should be in bed."
"I can't spend every day in bed," Harry reasoned. "I'm fine, really."
"I want you to come home, Harry. I'll take care of you, okay?" Mrs. Weasley said emotionally.
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Weasley, but I can't. I'm not ready to leave school yet and Professor Snape and Madam Pomfrey kind of need me here right now since they keep having to try new potions," Harry said, leaning back against the door tiredly.
"Why is that?" Mr. Weasley asked.
"Well I've become immune to a lot of the main ingredients in the potions they want me to be taking, so they're trying to figure out something to do that doesn't use them, but they're having some problems with it," Harry said with a sigh.
"Can't they just come to the house or…"
"Molly," Mr. Weasley interrupted his wife, "Harry probably wants to be with his friends right now.
"He needs someone to take care of him, Arthur! He needs a mother at a time like this!" Mrs. Weasley argued tearfully, stroking Harry's hair possessively.
"Molly, darling, Harry has his friends and here he has the medical attention he needs," Mr. Weasley tried to reason.
"Arthur, he's dying and he's just a baby!" she sobbed.
"I'm not a baby; I'm almost sixteen," Harry pointed out, but it only made Mrs. Weasley cry harder and pull him to her once again.
Mr. Weasley shot Harry an apologetic look. "Molly, for now, Harry wants to stay here. He said he's not ready to leave school yet. He only has this last week at Hogwarts and then you can see him all you want, but for now, let him have time with his friends. Think of the kids, how much they want Harry here with them right now."
Mrs. Weasley finally nodded, wiping her face with her sleeve.
"Okay," she reluctantly agreed, "but if you change your mind…"
"Molly will be here in five minutes to kidnap you," Mr. Weasley finished jokingly. Harry chuckled as Mrs. Weasley shot her husband a half-hearted glare.
After saying goodbye to the Weasley parents and leaving Dumbledore's office, Harry made his way down to the dungeons before heading back to the Gryffindor tower.
He knocked wearily on Snape's office door and upon hearing the bark ordering him to enter, stepped in.
Harry's eyebrows jumped in surprise. The other times he had visited Snape's office, it had been very organized and neat, but it was now littered with books and pages upon pages upon notes.
When Snape realized who it was, he flicked his wand at the mess. All the books snapped closed and shot back onto the shelves and the papers flew into a drawer, which slammed shut as soon as the last piece zoomed inside.
"Take a seat, Potter," Snape said. Harry noticed that each time he saw the man, there was less and less hostility in his voice. The man couldn't even fake it very well anymore.
Harry opened his mouth to ask the question he had come to ask, but Snape interrupted him.
"Hold out your hands, palms facing down," he ordered.
Confused, Harry did so, only realizing why the Potions master had asked when he noticed how bad they were shaking. He blushed and folded his hands in his lap.
Snape shook his head with a sigh. "How are you going to do your exams next week? You can't even hold a quill with your hands shaking like that."
"I'll manage," Harry said, not sure how true the statement was.
"Why even take them? You should be resting and you know as well as I that they aren't going to mean anything," he said bluntly.
Harry smirked slightly. "Well, I do recall many teachers saying that these were going to be the most important turning points in our lives. It's what we've all been working toward for the past five years and hey, what's more important in any wizarding adolescent's life than O.W.L.'s? Can't pass that up, right?"
Snape rolled his eyes.
"Besides, it's all worth it just to remember you informing me that I got an Outstanding on my Potions O.W.L.," Harry said with a small laugh.
"Yes, with an unfair advantage caused by this illness that had you not had, there would have been no way you would have even passed," Snape said, not really thinking. When he saw Harry quickly covering up the hurt look on his face, however, he immediately wished he could take the words back.
"Yeah, I guess you're right. It was just nice to think something good had come out of it…but that's stupid, I guess," Harry said dejectedly. "Anyway, I was wondering if you'd heard anything about Voldemort attacking Hogwarts soon?"
"It seems that the Dark Lord does not plan to attack this year. I have tried all kinds of things, but the fact remains that the Dark Lord seems bent on attacking you later this summer," Snape said darkly.
"What? But I won't even be alive then!" Harry protested.
"Well, it's not as if I can tell him that, now can I?" Snape snapped.
"Are you sure you can't convince him? There's no way? What if you told him my powers are weakening or something so he'd want to do it now and get my magic?"
"I've already tried, and it seemed to make things worse," Snape said regretfully. "You've defeated him without any special powers and now he's gotten all these reports about how powerful you are. It looks like it backfired and now he doesn't want to take the chance of fighting you and losing."
Harry set his elbows on Snape's desk and laid his forehead on his hands.
"You know, Potter, I think this is for the better."
Harry slowly looked up, dragging his hands down his face until they just rested over his chin.
"How is this better?" he asked in a choked voice.
"You have a limited amount of time left and I think it's best it was spent peacefully rather than in battle," Snape said matter-of-factly.
"No. I was supposed to defeat him. Now I'm just leaving everyone else to deal with him! I mean, I thought, even when I did this at the beginning, that he would attack this year, and at least I could try. I just figured he would before I ran out of time and now…" He buried his head back into his hands. "I've let everyone down."
"Potter, don't be ridiculous," Snape said incredulously. "You sacrificed your life for another's. You've fulfilled your hero quota for your lifetime."
"I only saved one person. I was supposed to defeat Voldemort! Now, who knows how many thousands might die," Harry said, clearly upset.
"As much as everyone has filled your head with the idea that you are the all-powerful, all-knowing hero of the wizarding world, there are plenty of better-trained people who can take care of the Dark Lord."
"Potter, you're fifteen years old. Anyone who would expect you to be the wizarding world's only hope against the Dark Lord is a damn fool," Snape said sharply. Harry got the sense that Snape knew such people.
The two were silent for a while before Harry looked up at the Slytherin very seriously.
"Professor, are you afraid of dying?" he asked cautiously.
Snape blinked, surprised at the question. He was about to snap 'no' but instead thought about the question.
"I would say no, but I'd be lying," he said honestly. "Seems quite stupid for someone afraid of death to take the role as a spy, actually."
"I am too…afraid of it, that is," Harry said, looking off. "People don't think I am because, you know, I'm always taking some risk or another and now I've pretty much signed my own death certificate with this whole cancer thing. I'm pretty sure my friends think I don't really care if I die, and are mad that I didn't think of them, you know? But I don't want to die. I'm dead terrified. But Sirius asked and I couldn't tell him that because I think it would crush him, so I told him and everyone that I wasn't scared, but isn't that just stupid? How can you not be afraid of dying?"
Snape was frozen with awkwardness, not knowing what to say to his student who was withering away before his very eyes. He wasn't used to talking to people about things like this. He wasn't used to talking to people much at all, as a matter of fact. It wasn't fair that when he found a student he actually sort of was getting fond of, he was going to die in a matter of weeks. The papers and books he'd spelled away when Harry had entered was his research into trying to find a cure for Harry. He didn't want to get the boy's hopes up, however, as he seemed to be hitting one dead end after another.
"I may be afraid of dying, but that is in part because I don't have anyone to reunite with after death, and that's one thing I believe happens at that point," he said finally. He wasn't actually sure if he believed in it, but he decided, for once in his life, he was going to try to make someone feel better. He wasn't even going to think of how dreadfully Hufflepuffish it was.
Harry looked up at him hopefully. He knew his friends might spout out this type of stuff to make him feel better, but Snape was a generally blunt man, so he put a bit more trust into his opinion of the matter.
"I'm not saying it's true. It's just what I happen to think. You know I thought your father was dreadful, but I'd say you would be safe in looking forward to meeting your mother, as even I could not find fault with her."
"Really?" Harry asked, looking a little brighter now.
"Yes. She defended me against your father on a few occasions, as a matter of fact," Snape said with a slight smirk before realizing what he had revealed. He mentally shrugged and figured this made up for his earlier comment about Harry's O.W.L. scores. "I tutored her in Potions for awhile and she tutored me in Charms, though upon my request, she never told anyone. She was a very bright witch. It was her that made me start having doubts about the Dark Lord's preaching."
Snape was slightly saddened at how eagerly Harry was eating up the new information about his mother. He now knew that Harry had never known a proper family and it was obvious how deeply he longed for one. He wished he had more information to give.
"I really hope that's what happens after death," Harry said shakily, when it became obvious Snape wasn't going to continue. "I would give anything to meet them."
The raven-haired boy looked at his watch and started. "Oh, it's late. I didn't realize how long I'd been gone. I'd better get back."
He stood up sharply and had to wait a moment for the white spots to dissipate.
"Thanks, Professor," he said sincerely. The 'for everything' was left unsaid but somehow still communicated.
As the door clicked shut behind his student, Snape buried his own face in his hands for a moment before spelling all his books and notes back out.
Sunday was perhaps even worse, when Harry finally decided to tell Hagrid. Dumbledore suggested he be present, just because Hagrid was notorious for underestimating his own strength, especially when upset. In Harry's weakened state, neither wanted Hagrid to accidentally hurt Harry, knowing what that sort of guilt would do to the half-giant.
The whole episode was horrible and Hagrid was very upset with Harry for doing the spell in the first place and then not even telling him. He went on about how he had always felt like Harry was the only family he had, aside from Dumbledore. The half-giant was still angry and upset when by the time Dumbledore suggested he and Harry left. Harry was so upset when he left, Dumbledore took him up to his office and gave Harry some tea with a bit of potion in it meant to allow the drinker to let out excess emotion.
The headmaster had sat on his couch with Harry sobbing into his shoulder for nearly an hour.
When Harry finally returned to the Gryffindor common room, it was back to the awkward atmosphere of the Weasleys acting supremely awkward around him.
Needless to say, Harry very relieved when O.W.L.s continued on Monday. Luckily, he only had one and could spend some time during the day with Sirius who was in the long, arduous process of gaining legal custody over Harry so he would be allowed to stay with him. Even though Sirius's innocence had been proven, the ministry was still reluctant to let their boy hero into the hands of someone who "may be mentally unstable due to so much time around Death Eaters." Every time the subject came up, Harry would angrily protest that that was the Ministry's fault in the first place.
"Nobody agrees with you more, Harry, but don't worry about it, okay? Dumbledore has a lot of credibility with these people and he's on my side. It'll all be over by the time schools out, and you'll be able to come live with me," Sirius would reassure him.
Monday night found Harry, Hermione and the four Weasley children all sprawled around the couches and chairs in the common room. Harry was wrapped up in a blanket, Hermione's orders as soon as she saw him shivering. She had felt his head and informed him that he was slightly warm. Yet there was nothing they could do and nothing more to say about it, so Hermione just cast a warming charm on a blanket and moved the group toward the fireplace. Others in the dorm could tell something was wrong, but didn't really understand why the group was so somber.
"Oi! Fred, George, you gotta check this out!" Lee Jordon called, running up. "That new Zonko's trick is hilarious. There's a bunch of first years trying to figure out how to get down from the ceiling! Come quick before it wears off!"
"Maybe next time, mate," Fred said with a grimace.
Lee gave them an exasperated look and walked over.
"What is with you two? For days, you've been acting like somebody's died!" he exclaimed.
The twins, along with the rest of the group, stiffened.
"Woah, wait, everything's okay, right?" he asked, taken aback at the response.
George ran a shaky hand through his hair. "Look, mate, it's just, a family member's not well," he said, looking down as to avoid meeting Harry's eyes.
"Oh, wow, I'm sorry. That's rough, mates. Are they going to be alright?" Lee asked awkwardly.
"No, it doesn't appear that way," Fred answered, looking into the fire.
"Oh man, I'm sorry. It's no one in your immediate family, right?" Lee asked, obviously sympathetic but not knowing what to say.
"He might as well be," George answered. "Look Lee, no offense mate, but I don't think we're really in the mood to talk about it. We'll catch up with you some other time, okay?"
"Yeah, sure. No problem; take all the time you need. Hope your relative's okay," he said with a sympathetic gaze before hurrying away.
Harry felt a hand in his and looked up to see Hermione giving him a sympathetic look. She squeezed his hand lightly in silent support and he gave her a sad smile.
A little later, Seamus, Dean and Neville came through the portal and bounded over, plopping down with the group.
"Oh you guys missed it," Seamus laughed, "Filch was walking down the hall with this long piece of toilet paper trailing from his shoe! It was brilliant."
"Man Harry, you look like shit," Dean said bluntly. "You feeling alright, mate?'
"Just a bit under the weather," Harry answered.
"Well, you should get some rest or see Madam Pomfrey or something. You've been sick a lot lately and the whole pale face, chapped lips, dark circles under the eye look is only popular with zombies nowadays," Dean joked.
Harry flushed in embarrassment and his eyes flickered to Ginny momentarily. The redhead was busy casting a death glare at Harry's two laughing dormmates.
"Hey, shut up, Dean," Neville snapped before Ron could. "Lay off Harry; he's feeling bad enough without you telling him he looks like shit."
"Woah, calm down, Nev. Don't worry Har, we know you'll be back to your regular old hottie ways in no time," Seamus joked. He then changed his voice to mimic a girl. "Oh Merlin, Lav, Harry is looking so good these days! I just want to push him up against a wall and snog him silly!"
Dean laughed and joined in the game. "No way, Parvati! He's mine. By next year, he's going to be a full-fledged sex god, holding onto his virginity for dear life if I have anything to do with it."
"DEAN!" came a shriek across the room as a furious Lavender and Parvati stalked across the room.
"Seamus, you arsehole, you better be holding onto something else for dear life, because I'm about to rip off your…"
Seamus's eyes widened in horror as Parvati finished that sentence and the two scrambled to their feet, racing toward the stairs with the girls hot on their tails, chucking things at them as they ran.
Harry's face burned as he stared at his lap.
"Harry," Hermione said quietly, covering his hand with hers, "you don't look…"
"Actually, I think I'm going to bed," Harry interrupted, not wanting to sit through her lying to him about his looks. "I'm a little worn out, you know, and so yeah…bed."
He quickly made his way toward the staircase, keeping his head down so people couldn't see his face as well. He ran into Lavender and Parvati, stalking down the stairs angrily.
"We didn't say that," Parvati blurted out.
"It's okay, I know. Dean and Seamus are just pervs," he reassured them.
"Get some rest, Harry. You might want to drink some more fluids or something. You look a bit dehydrated. I'm sure Hermione and Ron have it under control, but if you need any soup or anything, we're happy to get you some," Lavender said kindly.
"I'm okay, but thank you," Harry said weakly.
"Get better, Harry!" Parvati instructed as the two passed him.
Harry stumbled into the bathroom and looked at his reflection critically. It had happened gradually, so he hadn't noticed, but he realized he did look bad. When his lips had gotten so dry and pale, he didn't know, and only now did he realize how starkly the darkness under his eyes stood out. The only color on his face was his eyes, making them look even more startling than usual. There was a light sheen of sweat on his face and as he held out his hands in front of them, he could see how much they were shaking. He looked worse than Mr. Stenson ever did, even toward what would have been those final days. Death was close; it was taunting him now.
Harry got ready for bed quickly, wanting to just fall asleep so he didn't have to think anymore. Dean and Seamus had disappeared off somewhere, as it was way too early for most to be going to sleep, and Harry welcomed the quiet.
Just minutes after he lay down to go to sleep, he jumped as someone whispered his name very close to him. His eyes snapped open to find Ginny looking apologetic.
"Sorry, I was just trying to see if you were awake or not," she apologized hurriedly as Harry struggled to sit up.
"No, it's fine. I wasn't asleep," Harry insisted. "Is everything okay?"
Ginny sat down next to him on the bed and looked at him intensely. "You might look ill, but you don't look bad."
Harry felt his face grow hot and he immediately dropped his gaze in humiliation. "It's okay, Ginny, you don't have to lie to me. I mean, there is such thing as a mirror, you know. It doesn't matter anyways."
"Well, to me, you always look good," she said with an embarrassed smile.
Harry was thankful he didn't have the infamous Weasley blush, because otherwise he would have been bright red.
"Oh, erm, thank you," he said awkwardly before quickly adding, "you too! I mean, I think you…"
Ginny saved him from embarrassment by putting her hand to his mouth, chuckling. She eventually let it drop and her smile became sad.
"As corny as it sounds, I really thought you'd always be there. You were such a big part of my future plans, I don't know what I'm going to do without you."
"Well, I always kinda figured I wouldn't be making it past Hogwarts since I found out about Voldemort," Harry said, the awkwardness of the situation making him blurt out things with more honesty than usual. "I kinda thought he'd be the one to finish me off though."
Ginny emitted a small sob as tears began to squeeze out of her eyes. Her face screwed up in the effort to hold them back.
"Aw, Gin, I'm sorry," Harry immediately apologized, pulling her into a hug so she could cry into his shoulder. "That was really dumb of me to say."
Ginny sniffed and pulled away. "I already knew you were a dumbarse," she joked, chucking as she wiped away her tears. "No, it wasn't stupid of you to say. It's just that sometimes reality just sucks."
"Like the reality of the Canon's chances of getting anywhere near the World cup?" Harry joked clumsily. Ginny chuckled slightly.
"Or the reality of the fact that I just failed my Potions final," she added.
"Or the reality of the fact that I've grown visually frightening enough to scare small children," Harry pitched in, though the comment was clearly tinged with self-consciousness.
He looked down, but Ginny caught his cheek with her hand, making him look back up. Her thumb slowly stroked his cheek as she looked intensely into his eyes.
Harry began to say something to break the tension, but unexpectedly found Ginny's lips pressing against his.
When she pulled back, Harry looked into her eyes in surprise.
"As I said, you will always look good to me," Ginny said with an embarrassed smile, straightening his glasses. "Besides, I didn't want your only kiss to be with Cho Chang." She paused and kissed him on the cheek. "Alright, you look exhausted. It's time for bed," she announced, getting up to help him rearrange his pillows and such.
"Are you going to er…stay?" Harry asked awkwardly. "I mean not like stay as in um, you know, but just stay as in staying…I mean, if you want to and everything you can and that would be um…you know, nice and all, you know if you're not busy and you can leave of course, I was just kinda wondering because I don't know what…"
"Harry, calm down," Ginny laughed. "I'll stay tonight if that's fine with you."
Harry nodded in relief and Ginny toed off her shoes, climbing in beside him and laying on her side, facing him, head propped up on her hand.
"Lay on your back, close your eyes and give me your arm," she instructed with a knowing smile.
"What are you going to do?" Harry asked curiously as he followed the instructions.
"I'm helping you relax. Now close your eyes," she said, taking his hand in one of hers and turning his arm so his palm faced upward. Once he followed her instructions, she began very lightly running her fingers up and down the sensitive skin from wrist to elbow, occasionally running them along his palm and up his fingers.
"Mmm…" Harry murmured tiredly. "That feels nice."
She smiled as she climbed over him to do the other arm for awhile. "Relaxing, eh?"
After a few minutes she whispered his name to see if he was still awake.
"Mmmhmm?" he responded.
"Turn over onto your stomach. I'm going to do your back now," she instructed gently.
Harry tensed for a moment as he tried to remember if his concealing charms were still working. With the hand Ginny didn't have in hers, he ran a finger up his back. In feeling smooth skin, he relaxed and turned over, sliding his arms under his pillow.
Ginny lifted up his shirt to his shoulder blades and lightly ran her fingers over his back in random patterns even after his breath evened out and she knew he was asleep.
She started as the curtains opened and she found her brother standing there. Ron did a double take at the sight of Harry's smooth back, but he said nothing.
"Ah, relaxation therapy," he said quietly, sitting down on the edge of the bed next to his sleeping friend.
"He looked like he needed it," Ginny said, pulling down Harry's shirt and pulling the blankets over him.
"I think he did," Ron agreed.
"I was going to stay the night here, if that's alright with you. It's not like I'm going to ask your permission on everything," Ginny quickly added, "but he's your best friend and all and I just don't want to do anything to create tension between you two and if you're weird about it, I can just go sleep in my own room."
"Er, yeah, I don't mind. Just don't…do anything," Ron said awkwardly.
"Ugh, Ron, please. You're in the next bed," Ginny said, making a face. "Besides, Harry's very asleep right now and it's not like we're dating or anything. I was just going to stay for comfort's sake, you know? Plus, I told him I would."
"Yeah, why not," Ron said with a shrug. "Just, er, you know, stay asleep and all."
Ginny laughed, leaned over Harry and gave her brother a playful shove.
"Goodnight Ron," she said quietly, pulling the curtain shut as she heard the door open to allow Seamus and Dean in.
Ron quickly shushed them, informing them that Harry was asleep. The two made their usual sarcastic comments that came with not knowing why it was so important that Harry got his sleep.
Nonetheless, Harry stirred as his roommates made more noise than needed to get ready for bed. Ginny took his hand and massaged it until his body relaxed into deep sleep again.
She didn't sleep much that night, wanting much more to use the opportunity to just watch Harry while she still could.
Harry woke to a warm weight on his chest. His head pounded furiously and his mouth and throat felt like sandpaper. But the weight still felt nice and comforting. He coughed harshly and the weight disappeared, making him groan in protest and finally open his eyes. He jumped as his eyes met Ginny's blurry face.
"Hey," he croaked hoarsely, wincing as his voice grated against his rough throat.
"Hold on a second," she instructed, climbing over him to get to the nightstand. Soon, he had his glasses on his face and a glass of water in his hands.
"Thank you," he said embarrassedly when he had finished half the glass of water.
Ginny smiled at him in response. Her hair was a mess and her eyes were slightly swollen with sleep. Harry couldn't suppress a smile.
"What?" she asked curiously.
Harry shrugged. "Good morning."
Ginny looked at him oddly and laughed. "You're strange in the morning," she informed him before plopping back down next to him and stretching with a yawn.
"Mmm, I know," Harry muttered, lying back down and pulling the covers up. He and Ginny lay on their sides, facing each other, just looking into each other eyes until Ginny started giggling. Harry soon was sniggering himself and he didn't even know why.
"No Hermione, don't! You don't know what they could be doing!" the pair heard before Harry's curtains were ripped open. Hermione was rolling her eyes and Ron was behind her, hiding his eyes, both still clad in pajamas.
"Ron, give me a break. They aren't doing anything," she informed him. She grinned. "Scoot over Har."
Harry obliged and Hermione crawled tiredly in next to him. She folded her arms on his chest and rested her head on them, closing her eyes with a contented hum.
Next, everyone was making sounds of protest as Ron crawled over everyone to plop himself down on top of all of them, sprawling out so he covered as many people as possible.
"Ron!" they all protested, laughing as they unsuccessfully tried to push him off.
"Ah, so comfortable," he teased.
"Hermione, did you sleep in Ron's bed last night?" Ginny asked suspiciously.
"Uh, yeah she did," Ron said enthusiastically, running his foot up Hermione's arm. Hermione lazily took her wand and pointed it at his foot and with a few quick words, Ron's toenails were painted pink. The redhead yelped and glared at his laughing girlfriend.
"We just slept, I guarantee," Hermione clarified.
Ron poked her in the side with his foot until she undid the spell she had learned from Lavender and Parvati.
"I don't want to get up," Ginny complained after awhile.
"Ditto," Harry said, eyes closed.
Ron and Hermione agreed.
Hermione tiredly slapped a hand to her own forehead and the other to Harry's.
"You're a bit warm," she informed him, looking up at him from her spot on his chest.
Harry shrugged. "When am I not? I feel fine."
He was met with three skeptical gazes.
"Well, I feel okay," he corrected. "Except for the whole test-taking thing."
"You should skip it today," Ron said.
Harry shook his head. "I don't want to skip any of the tests."
"Mate, all we have today is Divination," Ron informed him.
"Oh," Harry said thoughtfully, "well, screw that then."
"Why don't you go back to sleep then?" Hermione suggested hopefully.
"No, I'll get up soon. I think I'll go visit Hagrid," Harry said with a deep breath.
"Is he still mad?" Ron asked.
Harry sighed and nodded. "I think so."
"Good luck, mate," Ron said sympathetically.
"And if he's still upset, I'll talk to him after exams today," Hermione offered.
The four soon dragged themselves out of bed, the two girls headed down the stairs toward their own tower, Ginny still clad in her clothes from the day before.
The two ducked into Hermione's room so Ginny could tell her about every word, every action, every detail of the night before.
Meanwhile, Harry and Ron stumbled to the bathroom to lazily brush their teeth.
"So, you and my sister?" Ron asked.
"Yup, I think so," Harry responded.
"Cool. No details ever, 'kay?"
Harry took a deep breath and knocked on Hagrid's door.
"Go away," came a loud, tearful voice from inside. Harry hoped it wasn't because Hagrid knew who was at the door.
"Okay Hagrid, but if you're not still mad later, I…I really want to see you," Harry called, trying not to sound as upset as he felt.
He turned to walk away when the door flung open behind him.
"Wait, Harry, I didn' know it was yeh," Hagrid sniffed. "I'm no' mad at yeh."
Harry turned to him and felt his throat constrict. He looked down at his shoes. "I'm so sorry, Hagrid."
"Come 'ere," Hagrid said emotionally, holding out his arms.
Harry met the embrace in extreme relief.
"Come inside. Yer burnin' up! Yeh need ter rest."
Harry soon found himself on the bed of Hagrid's one room hut, wrapped in blankets and a cup of broth in his hand with a very disturbing taste to it. Since Hagrid insisted it had many healing herbs in it he'd picked himself for Harry's sake, Harry drank it despite the fact that it tasted like dirt and plants. After all, he'd been swallowing much more fowl-tasting potions lately.
The two talked for a bit until Hagrid realized Harry was falling asleep and excused himself for a moment to allow enough silence for Harry to drift off. When he saw the boy was out, he carefully removed Harry's glasses and wrapped him up warmly in the blankets. He sat next to him with a pot of cold water and a rag, which he occasionally re-wet before holding it to various places on Harry's face and neck.
He hadn't been lying before when he had said Harry was like his family. He had watched Harry grow up since the age of eleven and wished he could have protected the boy more, or given him a reason not to have sacrificed his life.
"I'm sorry, Harry," he said to the sleeping boy, who was shivering as his fever affected him even in sleep.
The next day, Harry sat down at the Gryffindor table for dinner and looked at the food warily. He hadn't been feeling well all day and it had been steadily getting worse up to this point. All he wanted to do was to go pass out in bed and sleep, but knew that was not how he wanted to spend his remaining days. His hand shook violently as he reached for the serving spoon, and he quickly shoved it back into his lap before anyone could see.
The action didn't escape Hermione's watchful eye and she made some comment about deciding she didn't want gravy on her food and traded plates with Harry before he could protest so he had a full meal in front of him.
He ate slowly, his head propped up on his hand, elbow on the table. Hermione inconspicuously patted his leg, a silent urge for him to hang in there, but his skin was feverish and the gesture made him wince. He coughed painfully and tried to ignore the sharp pains in his stomach and chest.
"You okay, mate?" Ron asked quietly.
Harry nodded hesitantly. He set down his fork and reached for his water, the heavy glass difficult for him to pick up while feeling so weak. When it suddenly felt lighter, he immediately looked to Hermione who was sliding her wand back into her sleeve.
"Thanks 'Mione," he said sincerely before attempting to drink the liquid. It sloshed over the side of the glass as his hands shook and he found himself needing two hands to steady it enough.
When he looked up, he caught sight of a bunch of younger Gryffindors looking at him in whispering. As he caught their gazes, their eyes snapped to their plates.
Slowly, he ate a bit more, determined to not let himself die from lack of food before his time was truly up, yet each bite made him more and more nauseous.
Finally, he couldn't take it anymore, feeling ready to cry because of the pain and nausea coursing through him. He stumbled to his feet and grabbed his book bag.
"Harry?" Hermione asked in concern.
Harry couldn't talk or risk losing his lunch so he just shook his head and started toward the door. Ron was almost instantly at his side, helping support his weight. Immediately, taunts from the Slytherin table began to ring out about how Harry and Ron were a couple, but Ron, even with all his pride, didn't once move to distance himself from his best friend.
"Ron," Harry whimpered quietly. "I feel bad."
"It's okay, I'm getting you out of here," Ron assured him firmly, maneuvering him toward the door.
"Oh no," Harry muttered, before ripping his book bag open with trembling fingers and dropping to his knees as he threw up his dinner into it.
In the background he could hear the Slytherin table going wild with laughter and could see the whole hall watching him, many standing to get a better look.
"Look, Potter's puking his brains out!" someone yelled.
"Make sure to get the Potions book!" another called.
"Oh that's so sick!" many commented.
"Hey Potter, think of warm pumpkin juice!" another teased, causing Harry's stomach to spasm and gag.
"Hey, shut the fuck up!" Ron began yelling at everyone furiously.
Many just tittered with laughter, announcing why they thought Harry was vomiting, everything from seeing somebody's face to the thought of Advanced Potions.
Hermione was soon at Harry's side, an arm protectively around his back, instructing other worried Gryffindors, including the Weasleys, to stay back and give Harry room.
Ron jumped to his feet and rounded on everyone who was joking about Harry's illness.
"I'm glad you all find it so hilarious that Harry's sick," he sneered irately. "What has he ever done to you? Nothing he does will be enough, will it? First you all think he's setting a monster on Muggleborns, next you're torturing him for being unwillingly put in a stupid tournament and now you just think it's funny that he's sick. You all are so pathetic."
"Potter's the one who's pathetic; can't even hold his food!" someone from the Slytherin table laughed.
"You all make me sick!" Ron screamed, beside himself with anger.
"Actually, that would be Potter," Theodore Nott called, most others at his table laughing with him.
"A thousand points from Slytherin," barked a familiar voice. Snape pushed his way through the crowd of those who had moved in order to see and glared at his gaping students. "I am ashamed of you all, right now. I should poison your food to give you the same effects as Potter's experiencing and see how funny you find the situation then."
Remus was just behind Snape and kneeled in front of Harry, who had finally stopped throwing up and was shivering violently. He helped Harry to his feet and hugged him tightly to his side as he helped the boy unsteadily make his way out of the Great Hall.
Snape stalked out after them. Ron and Hermione trailing behind, the latter reluctantly dropping Harry's book bag into the trashcan on their way out, thankful that it didn't have too many of his things in it. Dumbledore also disappeared from the head table as McGonagall intercepted all the other students who were worried and wanted to go after Harry, ordering them to go back to their table and finish their dinner.
As soon as they were out of the hall, Remus scooped Harry up into his arms and hurriedly carried him to the Hospital Wing. Harry buried his face in the man's neck and his hands balled into fists as pain coursed through his body.
When they arrived at the infirmary, Madam Pomfrey immediately took charge, with the help of Snape and Remus. She didn't even bother telling Ron and Hermione to get out, and they dutifully stayed out of the way while the adults worked. Remus helped pull Harry's robe off, leaving him in his Muggle clothes. The nurse soon realized Harry's breathing was ragged and cut his shirt from the collar to halfway down the shirt. She pulled the part covering his chest apart and rubbed some type of oily potion on it to ease his breathing.
"Granger. Weasley. Come with me," Snape ordered, heading toward the door after checking over Harry and talking with Madam Pomfrey.
"We're staying with Harry," Ron protested firmly, but Hermione grabbed his wrist and pulled him along after Snape, into Madam Pomfrey's office where after given a password, one of the doors opened up into the potions lab.
"Weasley, go into the storage cupboard and get out five cauldrons and set them along the work table at even intervals and just get out all the tools needed for potion making, a set for each cauldron and get plenty of extra as we won't have time to clean the tools between ingredients. Granger, I'm going to read off ingredients. They're in alphabetical order," Snape instructed, beginning to look through books and notes.
They all set into action. Hermione was entrusted with the preparation of ingredients, while Snape did most of the actual brewing. Ron ran around grabbing potions ingredients, tools, and stirring when there were too many potions brewing at once. As things became increasingly hectic, Snape had no choice but to order Ron to start helping preparing ingredients, moving Hermione up to actually helping him brew some.
When they were done, they had to wait for them to cool.
"Can't we just cast a cooling charm on them?" Ron asked desperately, eyes glued to the clock.
"If you paid attention in class you would know that being cooled too quickly could turn the potion toxic. Are you willing to take that chance with your friend's life?" Snape snapped. Ron snapped his mouth shut and returned to helping pack ice around the cauldron to help it cool faster but not too fast.
Finally, they were able to bottle the potions, Snape quickly measuring them out so each vial had the appropriate dose in it so when they got there, Harry could just down what he needed instead of waiting for them to measure it out. He turned the vials different colors to keep them in order. Each of them grabbed a handful and went back through the door that connected them right to Madam Pomfrey's office.
They entered to see Harry breathing heavily, eyes squeezed shut, holding onto Remus's hand in a vice grip. Dumbledore was now there, standing over Harry with one hand resting on Harry's forehead, the other on his chest, with a silver-ish glow hovering around the places where his hands met Harry's skin.
Dumbledore removed his hands from Harry as Remus and Madam Pomfrey sat him up, causing Harry to cry out at the sudden return of pain. He wasn't responding to anyone's calls as his agony overwhelmed his senses and unconsciousness began to suck him in.
Snape tilted Harry's head back and ordered Remus to hold it steady as he yelled at Harry to stop clenching his jaw. Becoming desperate, Snape pinched Harry's nose closed and when Harry finally opened his mouth to gasp for breath, Snape shoved a wooden tongue compressor between his teeth to keep them from closing again. When he was able to open Harry's mouth enough, he somehow managed to get the first few potions in, which Harry swallowed reflexively.
As the potions set in, Harry began to relax slightly and Snape was able to get him to drink the rest of the potions willingly.
"It'll be about fifteen minutes before those potions begin to take effect," Snape informed them regretfully.
Dumbledore took Ron and Hermione out with him, wanting Ron to call his parents and Hermione to inform Harry's other friends of what was going on. Harry was once again certain that the man could read his mind, since, even though he loved his friends, he was not in the mood to see his friends staring at him sympathetically out of the corner of his eye, because despite the potions, he still was feeling beyond terrible.
"Sirius is almost here, Harry," Remus assured Harry, holding his hand tightly. "Professor Dumbledore just talked to him and he's leaving the meeting he's in to come here."
Harry gripped the man's hand fiercely and squeezed his eyes shut.
"Are you sure he's coming?" Harry asked with a sharp sob.
"I'm positive. He should be here really soon," Remus said, eyes darting toward the door hopefully.
"Don't leave, okay?" Harry asked, tears dripping down his face as his body tensed and shuddered.
"Okay, I won't," Remus promised.
The door burst open and Sirius transformed back into a human as he raced to Harry's side, leaning over the boy so his face was in Harry's line of vision. He grasped Harry's free hand tightly.
"Hey, Har. I'm here, okay? I'm right here."
"I didn't think you'd come," Harry choked out, unable to control his emotions at the moment.
"Why would you think that, Harry?" Sirius asked sympathetically.
Harry just shook his head, indicating that he didn't know or didn't want to say, but Sirius and Remus both understood and mentally cursed the Dursleys.
"I will always, always come when you need me," Sirius vowed.
Harry nodded shakily.
A few minutes later, the Weasley parents raced through the door, shutting it firmly to keep their children out.
Remus stepped aside to talk with Snape, Madam Pomfrey and Mr. Weasley as Mrs. Weasley replaced him at Harry's side. Immediately, she began smoothing back his unruly locks and fussing over him.
As soon as the potions began settling in, Sirius was pulled away into the discussion. Dumbledore entered and spoke with the group of them, looking very serious.
Harry was half-asleep when Sirius came back to his side.
"Hey Har," he said with a sad smile, "I know you wanted to finish the school year, but we think it'll be better if we pull you out now. It's only a few days early and we think it would be best for your health. That way we can monitor your health without having you staying in the Hospital Wing all the time."
Harry nodded tiredly. "Okay."
Sirius looked at him in surprise. "Okay? Really?"
Harry sighed. "Yeah, I don't want everyone asking me questions or making fun of me for what happened in the Great Hall. I just don't really want to deal with it," he admitted.
Sirius nodded. "Well that's good. The only problem is that I don't have custody of you yet and while they're reviewing the case, they don't want you staying with me…you know, whole supposed insanity thing and all. Remus can't take you because the full moon's coming around soon, and he's not allowed to have underage witches or wizards in his house within a week before or after the full moon, you know, just in case he decides to spontaneously turn into a werewolf early, or something," Sirius said with a sarcastic roll of the eyes. "So the Weasleys want to take you for the next few days until I get this whole custody thing working out. You should be living with me at my old cabin by this weekend. And I'll visit you when I can between all these reviews and screenings and mandatory staying away from you periods and crap they have me going through. How does that sound?"
"Are the Weasleys okay with it?" Harry asked worriedly, looking over at the couple that was taking down notes and accepting potions from Snape and Madam Pomfrey.
"Are you kidding? They both can't wait, and Molly's doing everything she can to restrain her enthusiasm. Be careful though, she's going to be fussing over you almost as much as me," Sirius said in mock concern.
"Ah crap," Harry muttered with a grin.
Dumbledore came over as Sirius went to go tell the Weasleys that it would be fine with Harry.
"Harry, it's no longer necessary to keep your condition a secret from the wizarding world," he said seriously. "There's no reason for Voldemort to attack you at this point and I've already been getting people ready for the chance that Voldemort will attack after your death. I want to tell the students before they leave so they don't find out through the newspaper or by their friends, as you know how these rumors can get out of control. Since we're removing you tonight, I thought I might announce it tomorrow."
"If you do that, it'll throw them off for their testing though," Harry protested after a few seconds of thought. "I mean, the testing has been interrupted so many years since I've been here…can you wait until after the tests?"
"And until then?" Dumbledore asked.
"Until then, I'm sure there will be many who will be eager to spread rumors about how I'm above such pitiful exams," he said, waving his hand airily before chuckling. "I'm sure Professor Snape wouldn't mind giving that one a jump start."
"We'll see," Dumbledore said with a smile.
Dumbledore and Sirius had to go sort things out with Wizarding Family Services to explain why Sirius had run out on them, and the rest waited until after curfew before they moved Harry.
Out in the waiting area, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, the twins, Neville and Eloise jumped up when he came out. They had brought down his trunk, but, on Dumbledore's orders, left the rest of his stuff up to minimize questions about where he'd gone. During testing weeks, it was not unusual for students not to see each other much, so as long as Harry's curtains were kept closed, it would reduce suspicion at the very least.
The raven-haired boy hugged his friends goodbye and wished them good luck on the rest of their exams before they were ushered back to their dormitories and the small party made its way through the darkened castle toward Dumbledore's office where they could use the fireplace. As Snape continued speaking with the Weasley parents, Remus and Harry towed behind, Harry weakly leaning against his professor.
"I can't believe I won't be coming back," he said quietly, trying to memorize how everything looked.
Remus smiled sadly and gave Harry a small side-hug.
"Mr. Malfoy, what are you doing out of bed at this hour?" Snape suddenly asked. Harry's head shot up and his gaze locked with a familiar gray one.
"I was looking for the headmaster, sir," he said, giving Harry a significant look. Harry realized that after that night's spectacle at dinner, Malfoy had figured out, at least partially, what Harry had meant when he had said he'd be leaving. It looked like he was going to making the right decision.
Harry gave him a discreet approving nod.
"Well, he's not here right now. You can speak to him tomorrow. Now get to bed," Snape ordered sharply.
"Yes sir," he responded before catching Harry's eye again. "See you, Potter," he said knowingly, communicating to Harry that he knew what was going on, but wouldn't say anything.
"Malfoy," he said with a nod before he was ushered forward and the blonde disappeared back down the dark corridor.
They finally reached Dumbledore's office and Remus gave him a fatherly hug.
"You take care, Harry. I'll come see you soon," he promised before turning to the Weasleys with a warm smile. "Take good care of him."
"Of course," Mr. Weasley said as his wife pulled Harry to her in a side hug, kissing his forehead.
Because Harry was too weak to floo on his own, Mr. Weasley hugged Harry tightly to him as they stepped into the green flames, Harry's face buried in Mr. Weasley's chest to avoid inhaling soot again.
"The Burrow," Mr. Weasley said clearly.
Harry felt himself spinning and his head seemed to do the same. He grasped Mr. Weasley's robes tightly as he felt like the world had turned upside-down.
"It's okay, Harry, we're here," Mr. Weasley said reassuringly.
Harry opened his eyes to see the living room of the Burrow spinning around him. Knowing that the actual room couldn't logically be spinning, he knew it must be his own head. He tried to step back from Mr. Weasley, but nearly fell and grasped onto Mr. Weasley's arms in a panic.
"Don't worry, I've got you," Mr. Weasley assured him. "Take your time, Harry."
"Sorry, the room's just spinning at the moment," Harry apologized, standing completely still as he waited for his brain to catch onto the trend.
"Are you feeling nauseous at all, dear?" Mrs. Weasley asked.
"No, just dizzy," he responded truthfully.
Finally the world stopped its mad whirling and the two helped him up to a room on the second story.
"We know you like staying in Ron's room, but we figured this would be better for now since it's closer," Mr. Weasley explained. "It's Percy's old room, but maybe that's a good thing. Ron's paint job of choice, though he seems to find it very serene, seems to induce headaches in others," he said with a chuckle. Harry grinned.
Percy's room was a light blue and very orderly.
"The sheets are freshly washed and we've put a wastebasket next to your bed if you feel like you're going to be sick," Mrs. Weasley informed him as she forced him to sit on the bed while she spoke. "This room also has a bathroom connected. Through the other door is Ginny's room, but since she's not home and we won't enter from that door, you won't need to worry about locking the door or anything like that. We'll keep an eye on you, but if you need anything, you can just call or, if that doesn't work, you see this crystal by your bed? Just grab hold of that and the one that I will be carrying around will grow warm to let me know if you need anything. It'll only connect with ours if you hold it in your palm, so if you want to carry it around, just pinch it between your fingers or put it in your pocket. It's not just for emergencies either, okay? We use these all the time when the kids are sick and you can call me even if you just want a glass of water or a book that you're too tired to get, or even just for some company, okay?"
Harry nodded, knowing that he wouldn't be using the crystal unless he absolutely had to. It felt too much like calling a servant. He was just thankful they didn't ask him to ring a bell or anything.
"Albus said he'd send Hedwig over here, though it might take her a little bit to fly here. When she does, as always, don't worry about locking her cage up; we really don't mind if she flies around the house."
"Harry, you look exhausted. Do you want to go to sleep?" Mr. Weasley put in before his wife could continue.
"Actually, if it's okay, I thought I'd take a quick shower. I think I got throw up in my hair somehow," he said sheepishly.
"Oh of course, darling, you just use whatever soaps and shampoos you find in there. There are fresh towels and anything you can find, you can use," Mrs. Weasley insisted.
Harry nodded and Mrs. Weasley hugged him in that motherly way of hers that always made Harry feel torn between feeling so good and wanting to cry from being deprived of it so long.
She kissed his temple and let him go.
"I'll come up and check on you in a little bit, okay? Do you need anything before we go?" she asked almost hopefully.
Harry shook his head with a thankful smile.
"Then we'll leave you to it. Keep that crystal with you," Mr. Weasley instructed.
The two shut the door behind them. Harry sighed and put the crystal in his pant pocket, just in case, before going into the bathroom to try to rid himself of the vomit smell.
The next few days were very enjoyable for Harry. He had never really had one on one time with a mother-type figure, and he found it quite nice. Harry would stumble downstairs in the morning to always find Mrs. Weasley already in the kitchen cooking breakfast. He'd offer to help, she'd refuse and chide him for even putting in the effort in coming downstairs, as she would have gladly given him breakfast in bed. She'd check his forehead and if his temperature passed her test, she'd usher him into a chair and then begin her interrogation on how much and what kind of foods he felt he could eat that morning. She always made him a fruit smoothie mixed with some sort of nutrition potion from Madam Pomfrey, since his stomach seemed to accept that eagerly. For the first few days, at least, he found himself able to eat most of her food, even if his portions weren't as large as they might normally be. He never found an empty plate in front of him, though, as even if he got that far, Mrs. Weasley would instantly be piling more onto it, wanting him to eat as much as he could manage at each meal.
After breakfast, Mr. Weasley would kiss his wife, ruffle Harry's hair fondly and then floo off to work. At first, Harry thought it would be very awkward with just him and Mrs. Weasley, but somehow it wasn't. Mrs. Weasley was constantly asking him questions about himself and his life, and something about her made him spill more than he usually would to anyone else. His favorite parts, though, were when she'd tell him stories of either her own life or life at the Weasley house throughout the lives of her kids. It was interesting to hear about his friends as younger children, though Harry couldn't help but feel his stomach clench with jealousy at the loving family the Weasleys had.
Later in the evening, Sirius would generally stop by for awhile, but was always running off to work on the house to make sure it was all ready when the custody became legal and Harry could move in. Harry knew that Sirius was working hard on his room especially, and he just couldn't find the words to tell him not to bother as he wouldn't be using it for long.
For some reason, dinner was always a bit more bizarre for Harry. He felt like he had stolen Ron's parents and kicked all the other redhead children out. He enjoyed listening to the two adults have their conversations, but when they tried to bring Harry into it, he felt lost, especially without all the noisy talking of the other Weasleys buzzing around him. After all, the Dursleys had never cared to hear about anything he might want to say.
All in all, however, the normality of Wednesday and Thursday, just interacting with Mrs. Weasley, filled a hole in him that he hadn't even known he'd been missing.
Friday morning, however, was different. When Mr. Weasley entered the kitchen for breakfast and Harry wasn't there, the two immediately hurried up to Harry's room, hoping that he was just having a bit of a lie in.
Mr. Weasley knocked on the door and the two listened for a response.
"Harry?" Mr. Weasley called. "Harry, I'm coming in."
He opened the door a small bit and peeked through to make sure Harry wasn't changing or walking out from the bathroom, but in seeing Harry's figure lying on the floor, the upper half of his body in the bathroom, the two threw open the door and raced over to him, calling his name frantically.
Harry's face glistened with a sheen of sweat and there was a bit of blood under his nose and a small pool of it near his mouth. His pajama shirt had some vomit on it though he had obviously actually thrown up somewhere else since it wasn't on the floor. His breathing was very harsh and erratic. He was lying on his side, curled into semi-fetal position.
"Harry?" Mr. Weasley called to him as he felt Harry's forehead. Mrs. Weasley stood beside her husband worriedly. "Harry, wake up!"
Mr. Weasley shook Harry's shoulder and something clattered to the floor. The two looked down to see the crystal they'd given him rolling away from Harry's half-open hand.
"Oh Merlin, Arthur," Mrs. Weasley gasped, picking up the crystal and squeezing it with her own palm, feeling her own crystal with the other. "It's not working! I checked it before I gave it to him and it was working fine! Arthur, he needed us and he tried to call us and we didn't come."
Harry moaned and stirred.
"That's it, Harry, open your eyes," Mr. Weasley coaxed.
Instead of doing that, however, he rolled a bit toward his stomach and pressed his head against the cool bathroom tile, beginning to dry heave.
Mr. Weasley grabbed him under the arms and half-dragged him to the toilet. He rubbed Harry's back as the boy began to throw up again into the bowl. Mrs. Weasley soon placed a wet, cool washcloth on the back of Harry's neck.
When his stomach calmed, Harry groaned and slumped back against the cabinet, shivering violently.
"Harry," Mr. Weasley called, gripping the boy's shoulders as Harry let his eyes close again. "Harry, can you tell me where it hurts? Just say something to me, okay?"
Harry whimpered and weakly tried to push Mr. Weasley's hand away, which had moved to check his temperature again. He threw his arm over his mouth as he coughed harshly and then pushed the heal of his hand to his own forehead as if to quell a headache, exposing the arm where he had been coughing to the Weasley parents, who could see the spray of blood that had just appeared.
"Molly, his temperature is dangerously high," Mr. Weasley said urgently.
Remembering Snape's instructions not to use magic on Harry, Mrs. Weasley turned on the bathwater tap to room temperature and put the stopper in while Mr. Weasley pulled off Harry's pajama bottoms and dirty shirt after a slight struggle, leaving him in his boxers. Mrs. Weasley turned toward them and gasped.
"Arthur. My gods, his back," she said breathlessly.
Mr. Weasley pulled Harry gently toward him, and let Harry slump into his embrace, looking down at Harry's back. He felt anger bubble up as he saw the dozens of small white scars littering the otherwise smooth skin.
"Do you think his relatives did that?" Mrs. Weasley asked in horror.
"I wouldn't be surprised," Mr. Weasley said flatly before turning his attention to the helpless boy. "Come on Harry, bath time," he said gently.
"I'm going to go try to get in touch with Poppy and Severus," Mrs. Weasley informed her husband before hurrying downstairs.
Mr. Weasley helped Harry to his unsteady feet and held him up as he maneuvered him into the bathtub. He helped Harry lay down in the tepid water and pillowed his head on a towel. Gently, he wiped away the blood from Harry's face and the vomit from his chin.
Harry looked around the bathroom wildly with a frightened look on his face.
"Harry?" Mr. Weasley asked. Wide emerald eyes, glossed over with pain and fever met his.
"I don't know where I am," he said in a terrified voice.
"You're at the Burrow, Harry. You're in the bathroom next to Percy's room where you've been staying, do you remember that?" Mr. Weasley said slowly and clearly.
"I…I just…I don't…" Harry sputtered in confusion.
"You have a bad fever. You're very sick but you'll be okay. Mrs. Weasley and I are going to take good care of you and Professor Snape or Madam Pomfrey will be here soon. You're in the bathtub because we're trying to bring your fever down."
Harry closed his eyes and leaned his head back again. "This's nice," he slurred.
Mr. Weasley smiled in amusement. "Yes, the Burrow is quite like a day spa, actually."
Harry nodded, his eyes resting shut. Mr. Weasley noticed the deep scar on his stomach.
"Harry, where did you get the scar on your stomach?" Mr. Weasley asked hesitantly, hoping Harry got it in some sort of accident rather than what he suspected.
Harry traced the raised line with his finger. "S'ugly," he muttered. "Least s'not on my face." He got a curious look and quickly touched his finger to the scar on his forehead. "There is one on my face," he said in awe.
"Yes, but how did you get the one on your stomach?" Mr. Weasley pressed. "Or the ones on your back."
"Snape," Harry muttered. Mr. Weasley's eyes went wide.
"What? Professor Snape hurt you?"
"No, no, no, no, no," Harry muttered, shaking his head floppily. "He was there."
"He was there for what? Harry?" Mr. Weasley prompted.
But Harry had closed his eyes again and didn't respond to him, just turning his head to press his cheek against the cool tile.
Soon, Mrs. Weasley reentered, followed by Snape.
Snape checked Harry over and finally concluded that Harry's system was so overloaded with magic, it would be best if he could just ride out the fever. He gave the couple strict instructions to contact him if Harry's temperature got much higher, or if he showed any signs that would suggest that he was getting worse. Meanwhile, he said he would be trying to find something to help, but he was running out of ideas.
"Do you know what might have happened with the crystal?" Mrs. Weasley asked, feeling horribly guilty at the thought of giving Harry a broken one.
Snape examined it momentarily before handing it back. "These types of things are used with weak magic so the witch or wizard holding it doesn't have to use magic; it just senses it. It seems that with Harry, however, at times, when he's ill, his magic seems to come out in bursts, and very strongly at that. When he grabbed it, he probably focused on it calling you and inadvertently sent magic through it. The intensity overloaded it and broke it before it could do its job."
Mrs. Weasley looked at the crystal with a sad nod.
He turned to leave but Mr. Weasley stopped him.
"Severus, where did Harry get the scars on his back and stomach?"
Snape froze. "How should I know?" he asked dismissively.
"Severus please, we already know that the Dursleys were hurting him. He said you were there," Mr. Weasley pushed.
Snape looked at them with a meaningful glance. "All I can say is that the wounds on his back were a result of being pushed through a glass table, an incident I was not present for and merely was the first to recognize that Ha—Potter had a back full of glass shards with no intention of going to the Hospital Wing. The one on his stomach is a stab wound. Luckily, I arrived shortly after and was able to get him to Madam Pomfrey in time. Who did it to him I am sure you can guess yourself. Unfortunately, Potter does not want any harm brought upon the scum who did it to him. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some potions to research."
As Snape left, Mr. Weasley wrapped his arms around his very upset wife.
"I don't understand, Arthur. How could someone do that to a child?" she asked angrily. "And Harry of all people! Hasn't the poor dear suffered enough?"
They heard the water slosh heavily in the bathroom and rushed in to find Harry attempting to stand, one hand braced on the tiled wall and the other pressed to his head as clumsily tried to step out of the tub.
Mr. Weasley rushed over and immediately helped support Harry before he slipped. "Harry, you need to stay in the bath for a little bit until your temperature goes down," he explained to the boy who had grabbed onto his shoulders for support.
"Sick," Harry whimpered.
"I know you're sick, Harry, that's why…"
Harry shook his head and looked toward the toilet.
"Oh, you're going to be sick?"
Harry nodded, swallowing hard.
"It's okay, just kneel down in the water and you can throw up over the side into the rubbish bin," Mr. Weasley said as he helped lower Harry back into the water. Mrs. Weasley was immediately at his side with the trashcan.
Harry still had nothing in his stomach and dry heaved on and off for the next few hours. Finally, when his temperature was low enough, Mr. Weasley helped Harry out of the tub and Mrs. Weasley immediately attacked him with fluffy towels, gently drying him off and cocooning him in towels to keep him from getting chilled.
They eventually got Harry into bed and kept a constant eye on his temperature for the remainder of the day. He seemed to be soothed by the sound of Mrs. Weasley's voice so she stayed at his side, reading to him or just talking to him about times her own children were sick.
When she would quiet for too long, Harry would whimper and reach out his arm for her until she took her hand in his and continued to talk. The only person able to take her spot was Sirius, who spent much of the day there before leaving to finish up Harry's room before Harry was brought there the next day.
Only later that night was he sleeping too soundly to notice when she left.
Finally, it was the Leaving Feast, and the hall was alive with chatter and excitement. Dumbledore looked around at his students in disappointment, still hearing the jokes about what had happened on Tuesday.
"Potter's been hiding his face since Tuesday," he heard a student comment. "He doesn't want to show his face after his little performance in the hall."
"Maybe he just doesn't want to barf on anyone," another said in response.
The headmaster sighed and stood, clearing his throat and watching the hall fall silent.
"The end of another year," he said, looking around at the sea of students looking up at him. "It is a time of beginnings. To the graduating seventh years, the beginning of adulthood."
The seventh years cheered, all except for Fred and George.
"The beginning of summer, the beginning of the rest of your lives, with choices to make, paths to choose and all the excitement that comes along with that. However, it is also a time of endings. The ending of another year, and I am hoping, an ending to some infamous class rivalries."
Many of the rambunctious Gryffindors called out, "Slytherin sucks!" and the Slytherins threw rolls at them, booing.
"Yes, yes, I can see how mature you've all become over the course of this school year," he said with a slight smirk, causing everyone to laugh. "There are, unfortunately, more unpleasant endings we must face. It is terrible to have to end another year with news like this, but it is unfortunately inevitable. Many of you have noticed that Harry Potter is not at this year's Leaving Feast. I am sorry to say that he will not be joining us at next year's Start of Term Feast either. Last year we had a student taken from us, and this year, we have another. Harry has been suffering from a terminal illness since winter holiday and, as you all saw on Tuesday, it is finally catching up with him." The whole hall stared at him, completely floored. "Harry is dying and will not be joining us next year. When the media begins its frenzy upon Harry's death, I ask you to be skeptical of things you read and to defend the honor of the boy who has done so much for this school and for each of you, for even if you do not realize it, his actions here have affected every one of you. He is one of the most genuine, selfless people I have ever met in my long life, and it is a terrible thing that he must die so young. He embodies all the traits that not only his house represents, but that Hogwarts itself encompasses: courage, loyalty, ambition and a wisdom beyond his years, even if it did not always reflect in his marks."
Some of the professors chuckled softly as they wiped at their tears. Professor McGonagall was trying desperately not to completely lose it in front of her students, and dabbed furiously at the tears dripping down her face.
"Harry was removed from school after his health took a downturn on Tuesday, which is why he has been absent from meals and tests. Not wanting the news to negatively influence your performance on your exams, Harry asked me to hold off on announcing this until now. I am sure there is no need to express my disappointment at the rumors and cruel nicknames for Harry that have been circulating around the school for the past few days. I can only be thankful that Harry was taken out of Hogwarts before hearing the running gags about him that have been so popular since Tuesday, all sparking from some source of humor in his being ill that I must be too old to comprehend."
A majority of students bowed their heads guiltily.
"I hope you will finally see how much you affect others when spreading unkind rumors or calling each other names. I expect more from you as does each of the professors sitting behind me."
His eyes settled on the Slytherin table. Everyone looked shocked, but while some looked upset at the revelation, others looked almost gleeful at it.
"I would like to say that Harry is more than a member of the Gryffindor house, but a person who should be respected for things other than the colors he wore on his tie. He tried to spread that message during the remainder of his time here." He paused. "Just some food for thought, Harry was nearly sorted into Slytherin during his first year Sorting Ceremony."
The students all gaped at him, even Harry's friends, who he apparently hadn't told. Dumbledore knew that Harry would have wanted that secret out now that people couldn't use it to judge him, at least to his face.
"So I ask you to all stand and raise your glasses to Harry Potter, a boy who's time here has changed our lives forever."
Snape stood up and raised his glass firmly, casting a stern look at his house. The other Slytherins all looked to Draco Malfoy, none of them yet knowing that he had denounced Voldemort under Veritiserum to Dumbledore and was now going to live with his godfather, Professor Snape, who had quit his job as a spy, a fact that wouldn't be revealed until the next Death Eater meeting. Draco stood up defiantly and raised his glass. The rest of the Slytherins followed suit, though both the blonde-haired boy and the headmaster realized he wouldn't be considered the leader of the Slytherin house come September, after his switch would be revealed. They could only hope some would come out and stand up with him.
"Harry Potter," the whole hall echoed solemnly.
"I'm not waiting until tomorrow. I'm going home tonight," Ron announced to Hermione and his siblings.
"I was just thinking the same thing," Ginny said. Hermione and the twins nodded in agreement as the hall drank to a boy who was fighting fever in a lopsided home, far away in Ottery St. Catchpole.
Four redheads and a bushy brunette soon piled out of the fireplace into the living room of the Burrow. The twins were carrying Harry's trunk between them, and Ron held Hedwig's cage.
Mrs. Weasley hurried into the living room, looking at them in surprise.
"What are you all doing home? We were expecting you tomorrow!" she exclaimed greeting them all, even Hermione, with a motherly hug.
"We wanted to see Harry," Fred explained.
"How's he doing?" George asked worriedly.
"Not too well, today. He's been fine up until now, but he's having a bad day, I'm afraid," she said regretfully.
"Where is he?" Ron asked immediately. "My room?"
"Oh no, none of you are going to bother him tonight. He needs rest and I forbid any of you to bother him," she said.
"But Mum…" the four redheads protested.
"I said no!" Mrs. Weasley said sternly. "Now it's rather late. I want you all to go to bed. Hermione, dear, you can stay in Ginny's room."
"But Mrs. Weasley, surely we could just sit by him if we don't make any noise…" Hermione started.
"I'm sorry dear. You can all see him tomorrow. The sooner you go to bed, the sooner tomorrow will come," she said, causing her children to glare at her in annoyance. "He's in Percy's room, so girls, if you need to use the bathroom, use the one on the third story so Harry has free access to the one connecting your rooms, okay? And I will know if you go through that door!"
The two nodded gloomily and the five of them were soon trekking miserably up the stairs, each looking at Percy's closed door worriedly as they passed.
Later that night, the Weasley parents left Harry to sleep. They had made sure his fever was down and that the door from his room to the hall was locked and warded against nightly visitors, but they hadn't thought to bother with silencing charms. Therefore, in the middle of the night, Hermione and Ginny heard the pounding of feet and the sounds of heaving in the bathroom.
Hermione ran to the door and jiggled the handle, but it was locked from the inside. Ginny nudged her out of the way and used hairpins to unlock the door. She was about to barge in when Hermione stopped her, looking at her awkwardly.
"Gin, I think maybe I should just go in and check on him right now."
"What?" Ginny asked incredulously. "Of course I'm going in to see him! He's sick!"
"Listen Gin, please," Hermione pleaded. "I know Harry and I know he wouldn't want you to see him like this. And I'm not saying that you'd mind or anything, but Harry likes you and he'd be really embarrassed. Please, I know…"
"It's okay, I understand," Ginny said with a sigh. "Just go in and help him. I'll stay in here."
She stood back as Hermione thanked her and slipped through the door, shutting it behind her and casting a silencing charm.
Harry looked up at her with pain-glazed eyes. "'Miney?" he asked in confusion before his body tensed up and began dry-heaving again.
Hermione wet a washcloth and knelt beside him. She dabbed his face and he sighed in relief at the touch.
"Hey you, I heard you've had a rough day," she said sympathetically. Harry squeezed his eyes shut and emitted a small sobbing noise.
"It won't go away," he whimpered. "It hurts."
Hermione drew him into a hug and let him cry his frustrations into her shoulder as she stroked the back of his head and back.
"Well, you know the way it works with you, Har. You have bad days and then you're okay the next day. So maybe we just have to get you through tonight and tomorrow will be better."
Harry nodded and pulled away from her, eyes closed, hand pressed to his head.
Suddenly the door opened and Ron slipped through, looking worried.
"Hey, Ginny came and got me," he quickly explained before kneeling beside his two best friends, placing a hand on Harry's shoulder. "Hey mate, how ya feeling?"
"Okay," he murmured, proving himself to be lying as he bent over the toilet once again.
'He's a bit delirious,' Hermione mouthed to Ron, who nodded in understanding.
When it became clear that Harry was falling asleep with his cheek on the toilet seat, Ron helped him up and began walking him toward the bed.
"Are you gonna leave?" he asked them as the redhead helped him into bed.
"Do you want us to?" Hermione asked as she pulled his covers over him. Harry reached out and grabbed her hand weakly, shaking his head frantically.
"Please don't go. Please. I-I…don't leave just yet, please? Just a little bit more, okay?"
"Of course, Harry," Hermione said, patting Harry's hand comfortingly. "We'll stay right here."
"Can you just talk? So I know you're here…if you want. Just until I fall asleep and then you can go down to the common room and…and…I won't take long, I promise," Harry said with a nod before leaning back against the pillows and closing his eyes.
Ron and Hermione looked at each other in worry, especially over the mention of the common room.
"We're not in any hurry, Harry. Don't worry. We're just going to sit here with you for awhile," Ron assured him. Remembering Harry's request he started lightly babbling on about what had been happening at Hogwarts since he'd been gone, letting Hermione take over every once in awhile until Harry's breathing had evened out and his hand had gone limp in Hermione's.
The two stayed with their friend the rest of the night, eventually joining Harry in slumber.
Ron jerked awake the next morning when he heard the rustling of sheets and the creak of the bedsprings. He heard a crack in his back as he sat up straight in the chair he was in.
When he realized Harry was sitting up in bed and staring at him in surprise, he immediately put his hand to the scarred forehead only to have it pushed away by Harry.
"What are you two doing back?" Harry asked him in confusion. "You're going to miss the End of Year Feast!"
"Mate, it's Saturday," Ron explained pouring each of them a glass of water. Hermione stirred, curled up on Harry's other side but didn't wake.
"Huh? What happened to Friday?" he asked, bewildered.
"Well, you were a bit sick yesterday. Everyone will be relieved to see that you're better today," Ron informed him.
"What's 'a bit sick'? I don't even remember. Was I awake at all?" Harry asked, furrowing his eyebrows as he tried to recall any information about the previous day.
"Well," Ron said hesitantly, "you were, but you had a very high fever. Er…you were a bit delirious when you were awake."
Harry looked at him in horror. "Were you guys there for any of it? Did Ginny see?"
"My mum and dad were with you most of the day. We only got in at night. And only 'Mione and I saw you then. Hermione kept Gin out for you."
Harry looked at Hermione thankfully and then his gaze met Ron's once again, filled with embarrassment. "I must've been pretty bad off if she did that. Did I say anything?"
Ron sighed. "Yeah, you were talking dirty about Ginny," he said in a serious tone. "I don't think my parents took it too well."
"WHAT!" Harry exclaimed in horror. "Oh my God! I…I…"
Ron laughed. "Calm down; I'm kidding."
It took a moment for the relief to wash over Harry before he settled into a glare at the chuckling redhead.
"Not funny, Ron," Harry said flatly.
"What's not funny?" a sleepy Hermione asked.
"Ron being a prat," Harry replied.
"Sorry, I guess I've been around Fred and George too long. I couldn't resist," Ron shrugged.
"So, if it's Saturday, I'm moving in with Sirius today!" Harry said happily, scrambling out of bed before his friends could pull him back down. He paused a moment to give the head rush time to finish and then grabbed some clothes and hurried into the bathroom.
He had just pulled his shirt over his head when he heard the other door open and someone gasp. Harry pulled his bundled shirt to his chest and found Ginny standing in the doorframe with her hand over her mouth. She had a tank top on with a pair of boxers and when she remembered that, she quickly crossed her arms self-consciously over her chest.
"I am so sorry, Harry! I wasn't thinking. I'm not good with mornings and I just kind of walk around in a daze and I forgot and…I am so sorry," she said desperately. When she realized her gaze had been fixed on the part of Harry's chest she could see, she jerked her eyes up to his face with a blush.
"It's okay. I mean, I took over your bathroom so it's only fair. It's a good thing I was at only this stage of changing, right?" he said with a chuckle. Ginny found herself staring at the smooth skin of his bare shoulders and tried to process why it would have been bad if she had come in just a bit later. Suddenly, she jerked back to reality.
"Oh yeah…right! Ha ha!" she exclaimed with more fervor than necessary. She cleared her throat. "So yeah, um, I'll let you get changed…without me standing here, of course. Right, so I'll just be…" She pointed over her shoulder and forced herself to exit the bathroom and close the door behind her. She slumped against it and mouthed "Oh my gods!" to the empty room.
Harry moved into Sirius's cottage, which he found to be called "the Lighthouse." Harry was shocked at the amount of trouble Sirius had gone through to get the place in order, as it hadn't been used for years, and he was especially touched upon seeing how much Sirius had decked out his bedroom, especially when he had known Harry wouldn't be using it for long.
"Well, you never had a room that was truly yours, so I wanted to make it special," Sirius had explained with a grin.
The pair spent the next few days bonding, along with Remus who soon joined them. Snape came over every night to check on Harry and to try new potions on him. Harry had dinner at the Weasleys every other night. And though no one would say it, they all had their eyes on the calendars, every day praying that it wouldn't be their last with Harry.
The Weasleys were always so excited to see Harry stumble through their fireplace and always greeted him with extreme enthusiasm, making Harry feel right at home.
With the excitement of having Harry as a dinner guest, despite how often he joined the Weasleys for meals, the Weasley clan was even louder and more boisterous than normal. Harry found people trying to drag his attention in several different directions at once.
He had been having a good day all day, but during dinner, Harry had felt a strange feeling of pressure in his head and hoped he wasn't developing a headache.
Suddenly, he felt liquid pouring out of his nose. He slapped his hand under it on impulse, recognizing the deep red color immediately. He had gotten nosebleeds before, but nothing like this.
"Harry!" Hermione screamed, calling everyone's attention to the situation.
"Oh my gods!" Mrs. Weasley gasped as she jumped up to run over to him. "Somebody get him a towel or something!"
Everyone scrambled around for something to stop the bleeding. Harry's cupped hands were filled with blood and it was dripping down his arms in rivulets. A dishtowel was pushed under his nose and he grabbed it to hold it in place, his hands dripping in blood in a way that reminded him of a horror movie.
"It's okay. I'm okay," he tried to explain while the towel began to soak through. Despite his assurances, though, he was beginning to feel a bit lightheaded as the minutes pressed on without a slow in the bleeding.
Mrs. Weasley tilted Harry's head back slightly, cradling it in one of her hands. With the other, she pressed a napkin filled with ice cubes to his nose.
"Breathe through your mouth, Harry, I don't want you choking," she instructed unnecessarily. Harry was already aware that he wasn't able to breathe through his nose at the moment. He could feel the tang of blood on his tongue as some found its way into his mouth.
Eventually, the bleeding slowed to a stop and Harry sat there in embarrassment as Mrs. Weasley insisted on wiping up his face for him. He looked down at his clothes, wincing to find them stained with spots of red. He quickly wiped the blood from his hands, even though much of it was simply smeared around as he found himself lacking sufficient coordination at that moment. His head spun dangerously and he felt someone pull him to his feet. Ron held Harry's arm around his shoulders with one arm, and slipped his other around Harry's back to support him.
"I think I need to lie down," Harry muttered, clutching his head with his free hand to try to stop it from reeling.
"You're on your way, mate, just hold on," Ron said, helping Harry stumble over to the couch.
"I'll get it bloody," Harry protested, looking at his still red hands.
"Don't be an idiot; it doesn't matter," Ron said, gently pushing him down to the couch and forcing him to lie down. Fred appeared beside him and lifted up his head, slipping a pillow underneath.
"Has that ever happened before, dear?" Mrs. Weasley asked worriedly, sitting next to him on the couch and taking his limp hand in hers to clean with a damp towel.
Harry tiredly shook his head. "Did I get it on the chair?" he asked worriedly.
"The chair is fine, dear," she reassured him, though she had seen the small pools of blood staining it.
Harry saw Mr. Weasley's head in the fireplace and vaguely wondered if he was calling Snape or Sirius before slipping into unconsciousness.
"Harry? Come on Harry, that's it. Open your eyes. That's a boy. He's awake."
Harry found himself looking up into the concerned face of Mr. Weasley before Sirius shoved by him and looked down at him in relief.
"How you feeling, kiddo?" Sirius asked.
"I'm fine," he responded.
"I'll be the judge of that," came another voice that sounded very skeptical of Harry's words.
Sirius helped Harry sit up. Harry tiredly rested against the back of the couch.
Snape approached and immediately started checking him over with everything from magical tests to making Harry track his finger with his eyes.
"You lost a lot of blood, Potter," Snape said with a frown. "I tested some of your blood and it seems as though your illness is affecting your body's ability to replace it."
"So what's going to happen?" Sirius asked, sounding scared..
Snape scowled, though it seemed to be directed at something not in the room. "There's no way the hospital will give him a blood transfusion from their supply. Potter has a rare blood type and they're not going to waste the blood on someone who's already dying and may just lose it again if he has another one of these nosebleeds, which he very well might."
"What type is it?" Mr. Weasley asked immediately. "There are so many connections through the Order, and everyone would jump to help Harry, there should be someone. And my brother has type O so I can get them over here."
"Arthur, he's in Australia on holiday," Mrs. Weasley reminded him.
"Then my mother. She has it too."
"Your mother is ninety, Arthur. I don't think she can…"
"Wait, I'm type O, aren't I?" Ron asked suddenly. "That should work, right?"
Everyone looked to Snape who looked vaguely surprised and nodded. "That would work. You'll be a bit weak for a day or two, not only because of the blood loss, but because of the loss of magic infused within it, but your body should replace it within a few days. You won't be able to do magic for awhile, but that shouldn't matter because you're not supposed to use it anyway over summer."
"Wait," Harry protested, leaning forward before his dizziness caused him to need the support of the couch back, "Ron…"
"Don't even bother, Harry," Ron interrupted him. "I'm doing it."
Sirius looked to him in silent thanks.
"So when can we do it?" Ron asked.
"Right now if you're ready," Snape said.
Ron nodded resolutely and Snape gestured for him to sit down on the couch. He requested that someone find some snacks with carbohydrates in it for Ron after it was done. Hermione ran into the kitchen and grabbed some bread and crackers while Mrs. Weasley sat next to her son, holding the hand he wasn't using.
"Mum," Ron protested in embarrassment, "it's not a big deal."
She, however, ignored him and kissed his forehead. "I'm so proud of you, dear."
Ron looked slightly mortified.
Snape tied a rag tightly around Ron's upper arm and stuck a needle with a small vial on top into his arm, pulling the rag free. Harry grimly watched as the vial quickly filled, but the needle was kept in Ron's arm as measurements began flashing on the side of the vial. He figured the vial must be holding a lot more than it appeared.
By the time the needle was finally pulled out of Ron's arm, the redhead was slumped against his mother, looking exhausted. Snape pushed a cotton ball to the puncture wound and quickly wrapped gauze around his elbow to hold it in place and to keep blood from rushing to it. Mrs. Weasley forced him to munch on the food she'd brought.
"Harry, get that guilty look off your face," he said tiredly, slurring his words slightly, "it's not your fault and it's my choice and it's not a big deal."
"For the rest of tonight and tomorrow, he's going to need to stay in bed," Snape said firmly to Mrs. Weasley before turning to Harry and Sirius. "We should go somewhere a bit more private."
"Why?" Sirius asked anxiously.
"Wizarding blood transfusions are a bit difficult because they can't accept blood with no magic in it, but the introduction of someone else's magic into their system, even the relatively small amount there is in the blood, can be a shock to the body and can be unpleasant."
Everyone looked at Harry in sympathy, knowing "unpleasant" probably was a grand understatement.
"Look, Harry's like family. We're not queasy with seeing him sick or anything," George protested.
Snape raised an eyebrow. "And I'd expect you to have some respect for his privacy."
Harry looked at his knees awkwardly, since he didn't really want them there. He was actually feeling very thankful toward Snape for intervening in the matter.
"Arthur, would you assist us?" Snape asked, with the underlying message that this was going to be bad.
"Of course. We can use mine and Molly's room," Mr. Weasley said, leading the way.
Sirius helped Harry to his feet, but when it was obvious that Harry's legs wouldn't hold him for long, he picked him up, much to Harry's humiliation. There wasn't much he could say about it though, as he couldn't claim to be able to walk on his own without being able to demonstrate such an ability.
Harry felt extremely awkward about being in the bedroom of the Weasley parents. It seemed like sacred territory that only true Weasleys should be allowed to enter.
Arthur told Sirius to go ahead and lay Harry on the bed, giving Harry even more of an uncomfortable feeling about the situation. He felt like an imposter, as if he was trying to be a Weasley child but everyone knew he didn't belong. He had felt like that many times before, but now that he had Sirius, he didn't often feel that longing.
"I suggest getting a wastebasket or bucket of some sort and some damp towels," Snape said to Mr. Weasley before turning to Harry. "Now, Potter, this is not going to be a pleasant experience. I don't know exactly what the effects will be but your body will first try to reject Weasley's magic, so I'm going to put a spell on you to keep it from doing so until your magic will accept the other. Since your magic is already acting oddly, I can't predict how long that will take or how unpleasant it will be."
Harry nodded apprehensively as Snape slipped the needle into his arm and began pumping in the blood.
A tingling sensation made its way up his arm and soon was flowing through his whole body. As each second passed, it was becoming more and more painful.
Snape finally pulled out the needle, taping a cotton ball over the small wound. Harry's breathing was already becoming labored and small beads of sweat began forming on his face. He shut his eyes tightly and swallowed hard, trying to somehow keep the pain at bay.
His stomach lurched and Harry shot Snape a look of panic. Luckily, the man was ready and rolled him onto his side so his head was half off the bed, holding a bucket underneath as his stomach violently forced up all that he'd eaten that day. He continued painfully dry heaving until the pain became so overwhelming that his stomach wasn't the main focus.
The sensations were hard to describe, as if everything inside his skin was under pressure, pushing outward and inward all at the same time. His toes curled and his fingernails were digging cuts into his palm from his tight fists. He clenched his teeth and whimpered pathetically.
"Harry. Harry, focus on my voice, okay?" Sirius called, putting a cool cloth on Harry's forehead and stroking his temples soothingly. "Stay with me, kiddo. You'll get through this and you'll feel a whole lot better, okay?" Harry could hear Snape say something in the background though he couldn't fully understand the words. Sirius continued and Harry figured he must have been repeating them. "I know it's hard, Harry, but try to relax." Sirius's hands moved to Harry's and tried to coax them out of the fists he'd made.
"Sirius," Harry cried, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes, "Oh God, Sirius it hurts so bad."
"Snape, isn't there anything you can do?" Sirius asked desperately.
"I'm doing everything I can," came the barked response.
Harry was overcome with a wave of pain so intense, his upper back arched off the bed with a cry of agony.
He vaguely felt his shirt being cut away and replaced by something cool and damp; only then did he realize how hot he was, though he was shivering like crazy.
He felt a hand running through his hair soothingly.
"M-Mrs. Weasley?" he asked without opening his eyes.
"Yeah, Harry dear, I'm right here. I want you to breathe deeply through your nose, okay?" a warm, motherly voice came.
Harry did as he was told and the scent of something that smelled a bit like mint and tea filled his nostrils. Strangely enough, the smell seemed to calm him greatly and he felt his body relaxing, making the pain less intense. She then rubbed something cold on his chest that instantly made him breathe much easier.
Nausea soon returned and Harry moaned.
"Are you going to be sick, Potter?" came Snape's voice.
Harry nodded quickly. Hands rolled him onto his side and he curled up into the fetal position as he once again dry-heaved painfully.
As soon as those stopped, the pain came back once again.
"Sirius? Sirius?" he called desperately, reaching out for his godfather.
Sirius grabbed his hand. "I'm here, Harry. Right here."
"Don't leave, okay? Please…please don't leave," he pleaded.
"Of course I won't leave, Harry. I'm staying right here," Sirius assured him.
They repeated the scene throughout the rest of the night, including with Harry's desperate pleas for Sirius not to leave him, until Harry finally fell asleep.
"He seems to have a fear of abandonment, wouldn't you say?" Snape commented with a raised eyebrow.
Sirius scowled at him.
"I think that's quite understandable given his past," he snapped before looking at Harry apologetically. "The last time I told him he could stay with me, I left and hardly saw him for a year and a half. I left him with those monsters."
"That wasn't something you could control, Sirius," Mr. Weasley pointed out sympathetically. "Besides, none of us knew what was going on in that house."
Sirius merely scowled, rubbing some muscle-relaxant salve into Harry's hands.
"All right, I think this is over for the night. He and his friend will both be tired tomorrow and should both stay in bed, though I see no problem in putting them in the same room to keep each other company. If you'll come with me, Molly, I will draw up a meal plan for the two for tomorrow."
As the two exited, Sirius wrapped his godson in his cloak and lifted him into his arms. Mr. Weasley followed him up the long staircase to the top story.
The two entered to see the other Weasley children and Hermione surrounding Ron's slumbering form. They jumped up at the new arrival.
"Is Harry okay?" Ginny immediately demanded.
"Yes, he's fine, just exhausted," Sirius responded, depositing Harry gently on the other bed. "Does anyone know if Ron has an extra set of pajamas?"
Fred immediately turned up with one, delivering it to Sirius instead of his father so he could get a better look at Harry. "He looks so pale. So does Ron. Are you sure they're alright?"
"They are both fine," Mr. Weasley said sternly. "Now, you four: out."
"But Mr. Weasley, they're my best friends," Hermione protested.
"I'm sorry, Hermione, you too," Mr. Weasley instructed.
"Don't worry, you all aren't missing anything. They're going to be sleeping soundly through the night," Sirius assured them. "Now, I need to change Harry, so you all need to get going."
Eventually, they got the other teenagers out, changed Harry into Ron's old pajamas and left the two boys to rest.
It was a few hours later when Ginny and Hermione quietly snuck into the room. Hermione crawled into bed next to her boyfriend and smiled as Ron instinctively turned toward her and slipped her arm around her waist. Ginny slid in next to Harry and stroked his hair as he curled up against her with a contented sigh. She rubbed his back gently and kissed his forehead before closing her eyes and falling asleep.
The next day was a relaxing one, with the teenagers lounging around Ron's room, the two boys taking it easy and napping throughout the day. Yet while Ron had drastically improved the next morning, Harry hadn't. Sirius took him back to the Lighthouse but throughout the next couple of days he only grew worse. They soon realized that the recent dinner at the Weasleys had most likely been Harry's last.
Though he couldn't stay too long as Draco was now living with him, Snape found himself making his check ups longer than necessary to talk with Harry. The Potions master even gave up denying the fact that he wanted to get to know James Potters son….well, at he stopped denying it to himself. It was the first student in the history of his teaching (that wasn't his godson) to actually seem to like him, at least to an extent. On some level he wanted to feel a part of taking care of Harry during this time.
'After all,' he told himself, 'I've looked after the boy since his first year, certainly longer than either Black or Lupin.'
"Professor," Harry asked one time when Snape was done checking him over, "if you're not in a hurry, do you want to play wizard's chess?"
Snape raised an eyebrow and decided that a few more hours at the Lighthouse couldn't hurt. "Where is the set?"
Harry pointed to his closet and Snape found it on the shelf.
"Sirius doesn't really have the patience to sit through a whole game and Remus blows the game and let's me win every time, even though he tries to pretend he's not. The only person who ever will willingly kick my arse is Ron, but he usually comes with other people and they don't want to sit around watching us play chess," Harry explained as Snape set up the board, spelling it to float over Harry's lap so he only had to lean in a bit to make his moves. "Ron's really good. I don't know of anyone who's ever beat him unless he's really not paying attention."
"Weasley's good at chess? That's certainly a surprise. I wouldn't imagine he would be able to think strategically," Snape commented superciliously silencing his loud chess pieces with his famous glare.
Harry shrugged. "People can surprise you if you let them." He moved one of his own pawns. "You know so much about me now and I don't know anything about you. Tell me about yourself."
Snape's eyebrow shot up. "What?"
"Please? I really want to know. Besides, it's your chance to get anything you want to off your chest. I promise I won't repeat any of it. I'll take it to the grave."
"Not funny," Snape chided sternly. Harry shrugged. Snape sighed. "What do you want to know?"
"I don't know. Anything. Your childhood, your time as a student, friends, family, girlfriends, whatever you want."
Snape sighed and, despite himself, started talking.
A few hours later, he realized with a shock at just how much he had revealed. It seemed Harry made quite a good listener. Nobody had actually seemed interested in Snape's life before and it was refreshing to talk about it to someone who seemed to care.
Sirius was sitting in Harry's room, talking with his godson, when he saw Harry glance longingly at his Firebolt momentarily before looking back at him with a forced half-smile. He knew how much Harry loved to fly.
"Come on," he said, standing up.
Harry looked at him in confusion.
"Where are we going?" he asked, shakily getting to his feet. Sirius slipped an arm under Harry's and hugged him to his side to help support him. He summoned the broom and Harry looked at him in surprise. "Sirius, you know I can't fly," he reminded his godfather regretfully.
"You can't fly alone," Sirius said with a twinkle in his eye. He awkwardly mounted the broom and then pulled Harry on in front of him, letting him lean against Sirius's chest.
"In the house?" Harry asked incredulously as they hovered there.
"Why not?" Sirius asked mischievously. "We're on our way outside, why should we have to walk all the way there? We'll just have to hope Moony doesn't see. Now bear with me, I haven't flown in a very long time."
As he said the words, the tail of the broom knocked all the pictures and books off of Harry's nightstand and the boy couldn't help but laugh. Sirius's heart felt lighter to hear Harry genuinely laugh.
The two carefully made their way through the house, Harry gripping the broom handle in terror a few times until Sirius got the hang of flying again.
When they finally got outside, and up into the air, Harry slumped back against Sirius and surveyed the landscape with a contented smile.
"How you doing, kiddo?" Sirius asked.
"I miss this," Harry admitted. "Thank you for taking me up."
"Any time you want," Sirius said, holding Harry to his chest with one arm as he trembled slightly with a chill that could not be cured.
"Could you tell me another story from when my parents were alive?" Harry asked tiredly.
Sirius lazily circled the house as he told Harry the story of the chaos surrounding his birth. Harry slowly drifted to sleep, knowing Sirius wouldn't let him fall.
That night, Sirius snuck into Harry's room as he did every night now, and watched over Harry as he slept. He knew Harry wouldn't like the idea, but there was too much danger that his health might take a dive in the middle of the night and he wouldn't be able to get help. He made up the sleep when either Snape, Remus or Harry's friends came over so Harry didn't get upset that his godfather wasn't sleeping.
Harry's skin was slightly flushed with fever, as it often was now. Sirius took Harry's hand in his with a saddened sigh, looking at the youthful face of his godson.
"Why, Harry?" he choked out. "You're too young. It's not fair."
Harry shifted in his sleep, but didn't wake.
Sirius's thoughts drifted back to the first year of Harry's life and then jumped to when he was thirteen and the two had reunited. As soon as they had gotten the whole misunderstanding out of the way, Harry had been so eager to come and live with him, yet Sirius had left him to the Dursleys. And now, the boy he had come to regard as a son was going to die. He was going to lose him and Sirius thought it might even be harder than losing James and Lily.
As he often did, Sirius sat next to his sleeping godson, sobbing silently.
"Siri?" Harry murmured in confusion, blearily opening his eyes. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm okay, kiddo. Go back to sleep," Sirius sniffed, cursing himself for waking Harry from his well needed rest.
Despite Sirius's instruction, however, Harry laboriously pulled himself up into a sitting position and watched in concern as Sirius quickly wiped his sleeve across his cheeks.
"Siri?" Harry prompted again worriedly. He was surprised when instead of answering him, Sirius pulled him into a hug and began crying into his hair. Harry awkwardly hugged him back. "Sirius, what's wrong?"
Sirius pulled back and held Harry at arms length, studying his face tearfully.
"Sorry, kiddo. Guess I'm not holding it together as well as I'd hoped."
Harry smiled sympathetically, not knowing what to say.
After a few minutes of feeling very awkward as Sirius seemed to be trying to memorize his face, Harry sighed. "It'll be okay, you know. I mean, you have Remus and you two will get on okay after…after I'm gone."
Sirius shut his eyes and took a shuddering breath. He just shook his head as he once again began to sob, pulling Harry back into his embrace.
"I just want you to know you're like a son to me, Harry," he choked out. "I've wanted to be your godfather for so long…I mean really be your godfather in more than just in official title…and now I have you and I'm already going to lose you again. I know James is your father, but I was there almost just as much while Lily was pregnant and while you were just a baby and I love you just as much…it's not fair he gets you back before I have the chance to have you for awhile."
"Don't apologize," Sirius stopped him, pulling back and trying to get a hold of his emotions. "Just….what's your favorite color?"
"My favorite color?" Harry asked, taken aback.
"I want to get to know you in the time I have. If nothing else, I want that," Sirius said with a hint of desperation in his tone.
Harry's expression turned thoughtful. His mouth curved into a mischievous smile. "Well, actually, I sort of like green. I always thought Slytherin had the cooler colors, but don't tell Snape that, he'll get a big head."
Sirius chuckled. "What about favorite season?"
"Fall. It means school's in session and everything's new. You don't really know what to expect and…it sort of feels like you can just start over," Harry said with a fond smile, leaning back against his pillows.
"Cat or dog person?" Sirius asked with a grin.
"Definitely dog," Harry responded.
"Good answer," Sirius said with a smirk.
The Weasley children came down the stairs, ready for another day spent with Harry at the Lighthouse. Yet, when they walked into the kitchen, they found an exhausted looking Sirius talking with a frowning Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.
"Hey Sirius, is everything okay with Harry?" Ginny asked in concern.
"He's not feeling well today," Sirius said with a sigh. "I came to tell you that today's not a good day for guests."
"We've seen him sick before. It doesn't bother us," Fred protested.
"Yeah, Harry needs us to be around right now," George added.
"And you all should also respect Harry's privacy," Mrs. Weasley scolded. "Besides, he just might not feel up to entertaining visitors today. Give him his space and his rest."
She handed Sirius a large bowl of soup.
"Just mix the potion in and mix it in well. The taste of the soup will cover the taste of the potion so maybe the poor dear can keep it down."
"Can't I just go?" Ron pleaded. "I'm his best friend and I took care of him at school."
"Which Harry is really thankful for, I can promise you," Sirius said, "but today is not the day." He turned to Mrs. Weasley. "Thank you for the soup, Molly. Harry will definitely appreciate it. He's always telling me how much he loves your cooking."
"Well, you tell him that as soon as he's feeling better, that I will cook him anything he wants," Mrs. Weasley said emotionally, as none of them could be certain that Harry would be feeling better.
"I will," Sirius said with a nod before heading toward the living room to floo back to the Lighthouse.
The four Weasley children slumped into chairs around the kitchen table miserably.
"I wish there was something we could do!" Fred said in frustration.
Mrs. Weasley came over and set plates on the table for breakfast. "You know, I remember when you were a little younger, each time one of you got sick and was stuck in bed, the rest of you would all get together and put on a play. It was so sweet."
"Ugh, Mum, don't remind us. That's just embarrassing," Ron groaned.
"Hmm, it's too bad Harry's never had siblings to embarrass themselves for his sake," she said with a slight shrug, turning back to the food she was cooking to allow her kids to reflect on what she'd just said.
Fred looked up with a look of epiphany. "What if we put on a play for Harry, like we used to do for each other?" he asked, sounding mystified.
"What? Why would Harry want to watch us humiliate ourselves?" Ron asked before thinking about it for a second. "Oh…"
"Yeah, the mere fact that we'd humiliate ourselves for him means a lot," George said.
"And he could definitely use a good laugh, even if it's at our expense," Ginny added.
"I could get Hermione in on it," Ron said. "And if we need more people, Neville and Eloise are two of his friends that Harry's told about it. We should probably stay away from people he hasn't told since we don't want this to turn into a dramatic, sad thing."
"Mum, do we still have that trunk of old costume pieces in the attic?" Ginny asked enthusiastically.
"I believe so, dear. Just don't provoke the ghoul when you go up there; he's been rather cranky lately," she said, rather pleased with her ability to plant ideas in her children's heads.
"It'll have to be really funny. We need to get that kid laughing," Fred said with conviction. His siblings agreed whole-heartedly.
The rest of the day was chaotic. Eloise, Neville, Kota and Hermione all came over immediately and the day was spent madly writing and getting together costumes and random bits of scenery. Each of them were more than ready to humiliate themselves if it meant they could bring a genuine smile to Harry's face.
Harry stared solemnly out his window as Snape drew his blood.
"I'm not going to make it 'til my birthday, am I?" he asked, not tearing his gaze away from the landscape below.
Snape stilled. Harry sighed and looked at him.
"Madam Pomfrey said I would, but she was just lying, wasn't she? She said it to make me feel better. That's nice of her and all, but I'd rather just know the truth. Because I really don't feel like I'm going to make it until my birthday."
Snape regarded him seriously before turning his attention to the vial of blood he was collecting. "At this rate, I think it would be improbable to assume that you would be living until that time," he said honestly.
Harry closed his eyes and nodded, going back to looking out the window.
"But, I won't say impossible. Do not give up hope, Potter, because it's hard to tell right now with the potions research I'm doing. It could be longer than it looks at the moment," Snape added, surprised to find himself feeling sorry for the boy in front of him.
"I really appreciate all that, by the way. I mean, it's really nice of you considering the fact that you're doing all this work just to delay the inevitable. It almost seems useless, really," Harry said with a sigh. "But I do appreciate it. I got to know what it feels like to have a bedroom that's really mine, even if it's just for a short time." He paused. "Sirius and you are a bit alike in that. He spent so much time on making this room so nice, even knowing that it would only be put in use for the shortest amount of time. Why put all the effort in, really? He spent months working on getting everything ready, and in just a few days it'll be empty again."
"A few days? What makes you say that?" Snape asked. He had never indicated such a short deadline.
"That's what it feels like to me," Harry said, sounding slightly afraid.
"Well, it is my professional opinion that you have longer than that, so don't give up hope now, Potter," Snape said sternly. He was trying to strike a balance between being honest with Harry and making sure he didn't lose hope, because as soon as he did that, death would catch up with him much sooner.
Harry turned and looked at him. "Call me Harry. Please. I just want you to call me that to my face until I die, and then you can call me Potter all you want. But for now, please, call me Harry."
Snape looked at him, a bit taken aback. "Alright, Harry. Satisfied?"
Harry finally smiled a bit and nodded.
"Professor? Malfoy's staying with you now, right?" he asked, continuing once he received a nod. "Where is he? Is he just at your house while you're here?"
"Actually, no. Right now, I don't like leaving him by himself for long periods of time. As I'm sure you're well aware, his safety has been compromised by recent decisions. So, your godfather has agreed to let him stay here when I am. He's downstairs."
"Does he ever regret his decision?" Harry asked curiously.
"I think he is constantly rethinking it, many of the consequences of it were especially harsh, but I think he knows the alternative was much worse, especially after I had a talk with him. It was the first time someone with experience being in the Dark Lord's ranks has told him the truth about what goes on, the dark side of it all," Snape explained. "For once, someone wasn't filling him with Death Eater propaganda."
"What was his reaction when he found out you were a spy?" Harry asked interestedly.
"Well, when Albus first brought me in, Draco panicked a bit, not realizing that Albus knew I was a Death Eater. We quickly explained the situation to him and I took Veritiserum to prove to him that I wasn't actually playing the other side. After that, he was very relieved to be staying with someone he was familiar with, since, as you know by now, I am his godfather."
"I'm sure he was doubly relieved when you quit being a spy," Harry pointed out.
"Yes, I'm sure he was," Snape said with a raised eyebrow. "Draco is now my top priority and keeping him safe is more important than any information I could get through spy work."
"That must mean a lot to him," Harry commented. Snape just made a noncommittal noise and went back to whatever medical stuff he was up to.
"Now drink this," he instructed, handing Harry a cup that Harry quickly downed.
"What was that for?" he asked curiously.
"To keep you awake for a few hours," Snape said with a knowing shrug.
Harry gave him a suspicious look. "Why would I need to stay awake for a few hours? You usually like me sleeping as much as I can."
"Well, I generally find entertainment second to health, but it seems others think differently. Now, I think it's all nearly ready, so wrap your blanket around your shoulders and let's get downstairs," he said with a bit of sarcasm. Harry figured that Snape had been dragged into participating in whatever was going on.
Harry followed instructions bewilderedly, asking Snape to tell him what was going on all the way down the stairs, until he got a glimpse of the living room.
The couches and chairs were pushed back against one of the walls, with all the other unnecessary furniture having been removed. Across the center of the room were sheets hanging down, creating a large curtain. Harry could hear commotion on the other side of it, but couldn't see what was going on.
Sirius and Remus looked up at him in amusement. The Weasley parents were there as well, already seated on the loveseat. Malfoy was seated at the edge of the bigger couch, feigning interest in some book, while sneaking glances up to see Harry's reaction. He froze upon first seeing Harry's face, and though he quickly recovered, Harry knew he must've been shocked to see how much Harry had gone downhill since Hogwarts. He shoved the thought from his mind, allowing curiosity to rule.
"What's going on?" Harry asked in confusion.
Instead of answering, everyone just ushered him to the couch where he sat down next to Malfoy.
"Don't worry, Potter, I've been forced to swear upon everything I possess that I won't ruin your little spectacle," Malfoy drawled. "All I can say is you Gryffindors are utterly bizarre."
"And Hufflepuffs!" came a familiar voice behind the curtain.
Harry looked toward the sheets in amazement. "Eloise?"
"And Hufflepuffs as well," Malfoy continued. "I definitely shouldn't exclude them when talking about bizarre people."
Sirius and Remus squeezed in on the couch next to Harry and Snape reluctantly took a seat.
"The only reason we're staying for this is because your friends have blocked the fire," Malfoy explained.
Harry looked over at Snape and briefly wondered if that wasn't some excuse Snape had made up to force Malfoy to spend some time around people his own age that weren't as keen on killing him as most of his old friends currently were.
The curtains rustled and Ron nearly tripped as he fought his way through the center.
"Among the current generation of Weasleys there is a tradition. When one of us is feeling a bit under the weather, whether they're sick or just feeling unusually upset, their siblings get together and in an act of true brotherhood…"
There was a loud, deliberate clearing of the throat behind the curtain.
"…and sisterhood, would offer themselves up for humiliation and for the pure entertainment of their family member. Harry, we now bring the tradition to you, and since your family extends a bit beyond the Weasleys, we have a few other of your close friends to help us out. Erm, and we should warn Professor Snape that we didn't exactly expect you here, so we really hope that any jokes being made about your class or you or Slytherins in general will not be later reflected in our grades. All jokes were done purely for humor sake, and we hope neither you, nor Malfoy will be offended. So, without further anew…"
"Ado!" someone hissed from the back.
"Yeah, that. Enjoy the show!"
Ron quickly ducked back behind the curtain. A few seconds later, the sheets magically parted and Harry burst out laughing.
The scene was obviously Divination class, with beanbag chairs and makeshift desks all around, with various Quidditch balls for crystal balls. Fred, Eloise and Kota were all at various desks, pretending to be staring into their crystal balls. In the middle, Hermione, Ron and Neville were sitting at a table. Hermione had a huge book on her lap and was pretending to be engrossed. Neville had died his hair black and was wearing glasses, obviously playing the character of Harry. He and Ron were pretending to be dead asleep.
"Throughout the ages, students have suffered the terrible burden of Divination class," George said in an ominous voice, walking across the makeshift stage, currently playing narrator. Harry could have sworn he heard Snape snort with laughter. "Luckily, no one in their right minds believes a word of it. But what if the world went crazy and the students actually began to take Professor Trelawney seriously?" he said in an exaggeratedly ominous voice before making a grand gesture with his hand and backing off to the side of the stage.
Ginny came in dressed almost like a gypsy, but was unmistakably supposed to be Professor Trelawney. She made strange dancing motions and made many random comments about pulsating auras and having the "sight," all hilarious as they were so spot on.
Finally, she made one of her usual comments about a dark and terrible presence coming to Hogwarts. Instead of the usual bored groans, however, everyone in the "classroom" gasped.
"That is right, my poor, poor students," Ginny sniffed in her mystical voice. "It is coming and there's nothing to protect you!" She paused and looked at Neville, who was playing Harry, in surprise. "Hey, weren't you supposed to have been eaten by the Giant Squid already?" She shrugged and continued walking around, wailing about how dreadful it would be to lose her poor students. When she turned to the trio though, she paused and shrugged. "Eh, I don't really like you three, but I guess it sucks for you too."
The play continued with running gags about Hermione running to the library, Ron making wild guesses, always trying to blame Snape or the Slytherins in some way, and Harry having all the bad luck happen to him with very random powers constantly being discovered, but still wanting to push ahead and solve the mystery.
The best part was when the setting changed to the Potions classroom in the dungeon and Fred entered dressed as the Grim Reaper. At first, Harry and the rest of the audience thought it was finally the "terrible presence" Professor Trelawney had been speaking of until it started speaking.
"Everyone start on their potions!"
"Yes Professor Snape," everyone else in the play quickly responded.
The audience burst out laughing, including Malfoy. Harry quickly looked toward the Potions master, whose eyebrow was raised. Harry detected the faintest trace of amusement in his expression and turned his attention back to the performance with a grin.
In the "Potions class" a total of 8 billion points were taken from Gryffindor, along with three Gryffindor souls when their points for the next hundred years ran out. Luckily, the real Snape was taking it surprisingly well, seeming to even find some humor in it.
True to form, everyone outside of the trio decided that "Harry" was the "dark presence" in a wonderful scene where everyone pointed at Neville, gasping, and Neville just looked around and concluded, "Aw crap."
At the climax, the trio ran into a shadowy figure that looked like the Grim Reaper costume from behind.
"It is Snape!" Ron exclaimed. "I knew it!"
The figure turned around to reveal Ginny as crazy Trelawney who just made some more random waves, gestures, moans as she moved off stage.
"Damnit! Can't I be right for once?" Ron asked.
The Grim Reaper appeared from off stage. "Another five hundred points from Gryffindor," he said before disappearing again.
"Gah!" Ron exclaimed in frustration.
The Grim Reaper popped his head in again. "That's another three hundred," he said quickly before popping back off stage.
Even Malfoy was chuckling throughout the scenes and it worked miraculously at distracting Harry from his illness.
In the end, it turned out nothing bad was coming to Hogwarts, making Hermione have a slight mental breakdown, "But she's a professor…she can't be wrong!", Ron continue to fight for his suspicions, "It has to be Snape somehow, really, it's gotta be him, I know it!", and Harry at a complete loss as to not being able to fight against some evil force, standing there with his wand drawn in one hand and a sword in the other, looking around cluelessly until someone patted him sympathetically on the shoulder and explained to him that there was nothing for him to do. Then, they figured out Trelawney was really an escaped mental patient, who was carried off to St. Mungo's.
"So in the end, everyone realized that Trelawney's prediction of an evil presence coming to Hogwarts was, like all her other predictions, complete bollocks," Eloise narrated, "….or was it?"
Fred and George entered as their normal selves.
"Hey everyone, thought we'd pop in for a visit," Fred said.
The "teachers" all screamed and the curtains closed, leaving the audience laughing.
Everyone clapped as the eight took their bows, though Snape's was a proper, half-clap and Malfoy put on a look of reluctance as he applauded.
"You guys put all of that together just to entertain me?" Harry asked in disbelief.
"Er, basically, yes," Ginny said with an exhilarated smile.
"Family tradition, mate," Ron put in.
"And Professor, er, we hope you didn't take any offense," Neville said apologetically.
"I'll overlook it because of the surprisingly accurate depiction of my colleague," he said with an amused smirk, obviously referring to Trelawney.
The teens all stayed around for a while longer to entertain Harry, until the raven-haired boy's fever began coming back, at which point Sirius herded their guests out and put a in fire call to Snape, who had left earlier with Malfoy, to let him know about the latest development.
Remus took Harry to his room and talked with him for a few hours. Harry was happier than Remus had seen him in a while, and mentally thanked the Weasleys for really coming through for their friend.
The next morning, however, it was obvious Harry had taken a turn for the worse. He couldn't hold down any potion or food, and any injected potion only seemed to make things worse. He was in obvious pain but there was nothing anyone could do.
Ron and Hermione insisted on seeing him despite this fact and stayed with him for a while even though it broke their hearts to see their friend seemingly circling the drain. They both put on brave faces and took turns reading him stories or telling him about latest Quidditch developments or about how the twins' shop was coming along.
At one point, when it was just Ron in the room with Harry, they heard voices downstairs. Ron poked his head out the door and informed Harry that it was just his little sister.
Harry's gaze shot toward the door. "Ginny's coming up?" he asked hoarsely, startled and wide-eyed. "No. Tell her I'm asleep or something!"
Ron looked at Harry in surprise. "What? Why?"
"I look like hell. I don't want her seeing me like this, please Ron!" Harry whispered frantically, looking anxiously toward the door.
Ron took in Harry's pale skin, blue-tinged lips and bruised looking eyes, and felt his heart clench. Harry looked sick and that wasn't going change in the future. If Harry didn't allow Ginny in because of how he was looking, he would never again see the girl he clearly fancied.
So Ron did what he had to and lied.
"Harry, don't be an idiot; you look fine."
"Liar. Quick, close my door or something!" Harry hissed, struggling to get up.
Ron immediately pushed him back as Harry was clearly too weak to get out of bed.
"Harry, I'm serious. You look fine. You're being hypercritical of yourself," Ron said gently.
Harry looked at him incredulously. "Have you seen me, Ron? I look like a zombie…but worse!"
"No, you don't. It's like how girls think they're fat when they're not or how you think everyone will notice some spot on your face but no one ever does. You look fine to me," Ron lied, smoother than he ever had before.
Harry looked up at him hopefully. "Really? Are you sure? Are you just trying to be nice?"
"Me? Nice? Never! I'm serious, you look fine," he assured him before Ginny was in the doorway, gently knocking on the frame. Ron breathed a sigh of relief when his sister didn't show any indication of shock at seeing Harry looking so helpless and ill.
"Hi Harry," she greeted warmly.
"Hi," Harry responded weakly.
"I'll leave you two to catch up," Ron said quickly before making his exit.
Ginny sat down on the edge of his bed, kissing his forehead and stroking back his hair.
"Ever heard of Mad Libs?" she asked with an amused grin, lifting up a small bag of the little booklets.
Harry smiled and nodded, leaning back against his pillows as Ginny took out a quill and the first book.
"Okay, I need an adjective, and nothing boring."
The next few days, Snape and Remus practically lived at the Lighthouse, only leaving to rest or, in Snape's case, return to his lab for some more experimenting in potions. Unfortunately, the full moon hit soon and it was down to Sirius and Snape. As more of his time was occupied with trying to care for Harry, he reluctantly asked the Weasleys if Draco could sleep in one of the extra bedrooms that had opened up when the older Weasley sons had moved out at night. He made a point to spend a bit of time with his godson each day, though it was harder the more desperate the situation became. Finally Draco told him not to worry about the time thing at the moment, that they'd make up for it later in the summer. Snape was surprised at how genuine the statement was. Draco seemed to be very shaken by the whole thing and was happy to let Snape have his time if it meant keeping the Boy Who Lived living for just a little longer.
The Weasleys took him in gracefully and even the teenagers couldn't bring themselves to fight with him in the dire times they were in.
Ron and Hermione were asked to stay away for the time being as Harry's consciousness was always iffy and there were small patches of time when he wasn't able to remember people and had a few of times where he'd drifted into delirium. In one of his rational and lucid periods he begged them not to let his friends see him like this.
Once, when Snape was in Harry's room, Harry stopped him before he left, asking to have a word with him.
"Professor, I think you and I are a lot alike," he said tiredly. "We've both done things we aren't proud of. We've both been judged by everyone because of the times we've made mistakes. But I think you've more than made up for yours." He took Snape's wrist in one hand and used the other to pull up the sleeve, revealing the Dark Mark. "You shouldn't be ashamed of it, and don't say you aren't because I know you are. You haven't forgiven yourself for it, but you should. You took a mistake and turned it into something really good. You helped me a lot in the last year and not just because you're always trying to keep me alive for another day. Anyway, what I wanted to say is I really respect you for everything you've done…I just wanted you to know that."
Snape shifted uncomfortably. "Well, that was some righteous speech there, Po—er, Harry."
Harry closed his eyes, leaned back against his pillows and chuckled. "That's what I do now, make righteous speeches at random."
Snape smiled the tiniest bit, only allowing himself to do so because Harry's eyes were closed and couldn't see him.
"Well, while I'm forgiving myself, it's probably time you do the same," Snape said sternly.
Harry looked at him in surprise before sighing and looking out the dark window. "I let a lot of people down and put so many in danger," he said, shaking his head. "I'm just abandoning them."
"You've done more than enough to make up for it. You have saved many lives in the past; it's time someone else deals with the threats to come."
"I guess we've kind of flip flopped then," Harry said in vague amusement. "You made your mistake at the beginning and have spent all your time up to now atoning for it, and I've spent my life up 'til now making up for the mistake I only made toward the end…though I guess I still don't feel like it was a mistake…more like a catch-22 or something…"
"Harry," Snape interrupted, trying not to look awkward, "it's time to let it go. I respect you for the choices you've made….well, maybe not for suspecting me every time something bad was happening in the castle, but nonetheless, in my book, you have no reason for guilt."
Harry looked at him with something akin to relief in his eyes. "Thank you, Professor."
"You're welcome. Now get some rest," he instructed sternly, standing up.
"You're right, I should really stop running around and just take it easy," Harry said with a sarcastic smirk.
Snape shook his head.
"Idiot child," he muttered before exiting, hearing Harry chuckle at the words on his way out.
Snape was sitting in the living room of the Lighthouse looking through his potions books for something to help ease Harry's pain. Sirius hadn't slept for days and Remus was recovering from a full moon so Snape had agreed to come over. That way, if Harry needed something, someone would be able to hear him.
"Um…Professor?" came a weak voice.
Snape looked up in surprise to see Harry slowly coming down the stairs, his shaking hands gripping the rail for support. He was nearly tripping with each step as he was too weak to lift his feet very high.
Snape jumped to his feet.
"Harry, what are you doing out of bed?" he asked worriedly, hurrying up the stairs to meet him. "Do you need something?"
Harry's legs gave out and Snape deftly caught him as the boy pitched forward. Harry grasped his arms weakly. He was shaking like a leaf and sweating slightly. His breathing was very ragged and as Snape looked down at his face, which was contorted in pain, a few tears escaped Harry's eyes and slid down his cheeks.
Snape's stomach plummeted and he felt like he couldn't breathe.
"I need Sirius. I need to say something," he said weakly, leaning heavily on Snape for support.
"Why, Harry?" Snape asked in a panic. He didn't want to believe this was happening. "You can talk to him tomorrow. You need to be in bed. I'll stay with you. I'll…"
"Please," Harry said with a small sob, "I don't think I can make it 'til tomorrow."
"You can. You can make it until tomorrow," Snape insisted desperately, several tears slipping from his own eyes unnoticed. "You're okay. You're fine."
Harry shook his head. "I'm not going to, I can feel it," he said, sounding very frightened.
Snape picked him up and carried him down the stairs.
"Black!" he called desperately. "Black, get in here!"
Snape set Harry down on the couch, but the boy was immediately climbing to his feet, stumbling toward Sirius's room.
The door to Sirius's bedroom burst open and he quickly ran from his room, looking panicked. His eyes landed on Harry and he hurried toward his godson.
"Harry, what are you doing up? You should be in…"
He was cut off as Harry hugged him desperately and began crying. His legs gave out and Sirius held onto him tightly, frantically asking what was wrong as he lowered Harry to the floor and held him tightly.
"Siri? I wanted to tell you I really liked my room," he cried weakly, breathing erratically. "It's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me."
"Harry, why are you talking like this?" Sirius asked in an odd voice, knowing the answer but refusing to acknowledge it.
"Siri, I'm so scared. I told you I wasn't but I lied and I am," Harry sobbed, looking very small and frightened.
Sirius now had tears streaming down his face as well. "Harry, don't be scared. It'll be fine."
"I'm scared to die," Harry said shakily, his breathing getting shallower. "What if…what if my parents don't…like me?"
"They're going to love you so, so much," Sirius assured him through his tears. "Just like I love you."
Harry was getting heavier and his arms weakly slipped away from Sirius's shoulders. Sirius laid him down in his lap, cradling his head in his arm.
"I love you too, Siri," Harry said in a near-whisper. His tears stopped flowing and he was looking very tired. "Can we just stay here a little while? I don't want to be alone," he said in a whisper, his eyes slipping closed.
"I'm here Harry. I won't leave, I swear it," Sirius said, gently wiping away the tears on Harry's face, paying no attention to his own. "I'm right here. I'm right here," he chanted soothingly.
He continued chanting it as Harry took his last shuddering breath and went limp in Sirius's arms, his chest not rising again.
Snape threw over a table and sank to the floor, putting his face in his hands to hide the tears.
"Harry?" Sirius called, unable to see properly through his tears. "Harry, no. Harry, please no," he sobbed desperately. "Noooooo!" he wailed, cradling Harry's body to his chest and sobbing into his messy, raven-colored hair. "Noooooo!"
Mrs. Weasley woke with a start with a very bad feeling. She shook her husband awake and Mr. Weasley spent a very long time trying to calm her. They checked on their children, who were all soundly sleeping, but Mrs. Weasley insisted something didn't seem right.
Green flames flared up in their fireplace and Dumbledore stepped out, no twinkle to be found in his eye. He looked very solemn and his eyes were strangely wet looking.
"Arthur. Molly," he said gravely. "I have bad news. Can you get your children?"
Mr. Weasley nodded numbly and hurried up the stairs.
Mrs. Weasley just stood there staring at the old man, shaking her head.
"Tell me this isn't about Harry, Albus. Tell me it's not about him. Tell me he's fine and this isn't about him. TELL ME!" she screamed desperately.
"Molly, I'm sorry," he said, for once, completely helpless.
Mrs. Weasley sank down into a chair and put her face in her hands, crying hysterically.
There was a pounding of feet as the four Weasley children and their father reached the bottom of the stairs.
They all looked from Dumbledore to Mrs. Weasley and froze.
"Why don't you all have a seat?" he said somberly.
"No. What's going on? Harry's okay, right?" Ron demanded.
"Ron, I think you need to sit down," Dumbledore said sympathetically.
"No," he whispered, shaking his head. "NO!" he screamed and started running to the fireplace. He hurled the vase of floo powder to the floor and scrambled to grab up some of the sparkling dust.
Dumbledore put a hand on Ron's shoulder.
"Ron, he's gone. Harry…Harry is with his parents now," the headmaster said sadly, looking older than any of them had ever seen him.
"No, no, no, no, no! NO!" Ginny screamed, her legs giving out. Her father quickly pulled her into his arms. She fought against his hold for a few seconds before holding onto him tightly and bawling into his shoulder.
The twins sank to the stairs in shock.
Ron smacked the headmaster's arm off his shoulder.
"Liar! I don't believe you! He's fine! I need to go see him!" he screamed, moving to throw the handful of floo powder into the fire, but Dumbledore extinguished the flame before he could.
Ron whirled around.
"Put it back! I need to go see him!" he screamed.
Mrs. Weasley approached her youngest son.
"Ron, Harry's gone, darling. We all knew it was going to happen soon. At least he's not in any pain anymore," Mrs. Weasley said, wiping away her son's tears as he shook his head in denial.
"No, Mum, he can't be dead. He's not even sixteen yet. He's never had a birthday party so he can't be dead," Ron insisted as if it were the most logical thing in the world. "I want to go see him."
"Ron, if you go to see him right now, you will be seeing Harry's body, but that's all. It has no life in it anymore. Harry, the boy you knew, is gone," Dumbledore said slowly. He needed Ron to understand the reality of the situation. "But if you need to, I can take you to see Harry's body."
Ron went pale and backed away.
"No. I've changed my mind. I'm going to write him an owl and tell him to come over. Or I'll call him on the telephone thing in Ginny's room, that'll work," Ron muttered, nodding to himself.
"Ron, I must ask you not to do that. Sirius is very upset right now and he can't take any more grief," Dumbledore said gravely.
"Okay then, yeah, yeah I'll go over and see Harry. I'll prove you wrong. You're wrong," he hissed vehemently.
Mrs. Weasley switched spots wither her husband, comforting her other children so Mr. Weasley could go with his son.
The three flooed to the Lighthouse.
"Wait down here for a few seconds," Dumbledore said with authority before Apparating to the top of the stairs and disappearing down the hall.
A few minutes later, Remus and Dumbledore were leading Sirius down the stairs. The ex-convict seemed lost in grief, staring blankly ahead as Remus attempted to comfort him despite his own grief.
Ron knew this didn't seem right but refused to acknowledge what it meant.
Soon Dumbledore was back and led them upstairs.
Ron couldn't take it anymore and ran to Harry's room.
Harry lay on his bed on his back. He just looked like he was sleeping but seemed much more peaceful than Ron had ever seen him, especially since he'd gotten sick.
Ron watched him for awhile and knew something was wrong. Harry was too still.
"Harry?" he called quietly. "Harry, wake up."
He put a hand on Harry's shoulder to shake him awake but jerked it away in horror. Harry's skin was cold.
"He's not breathing," Ron muttered before his eyes rolled up into his head and he passed out.
The funeral was held only a few days later before the news of it got out to the public. He was to be buried next to his parents, whose graves he'd never even had the chance to visit during his life. It was private and small, only wanting those who knew Harry there, but perhaps not as small as Harry would have expected.
Hermione and Ron stood together, neither really being all there. The world was a blur around each of them and Ron, in particular, was still having trouble acknowledging what was going on. He kept looking to his side, expecting Harry to be standing there, expecting it to be someone else's funeral, someone he hardly knew. Each time he was roughly jerked into reality when he found Fred standing there instead, looking very lost.
The rest of the Weasleys were present as well, including Bill, Charlie, and Percy. Eloise and Neville were there, Eloise silently crying as she gripped Neville's hand tightly.
Angelina had found out what had happened through Fred and, with Dumbledore's permission, had rounded up the Gryffindor Quidditch team, including Oliver Wood to come pay their respects.
Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick had also decided to come and stood somberly toward the back with Hagrid, who was trying his best not to cry too loudly. Snape had also come, standing stony-faced with the other professors, not showing exactly how hard Harry's death had hit him. Even Malfoy had come, standing next to his godfather, making it clear that he wished to show respect for Harry
Remus stood with Sirius, who was lost to the world, staring blankly at the closed coffin in front of them all.
The Stensons were there, even though Mr. Stenson had been unsure whether to come and only had under the headmaster's insistence. The man felt horribly guilty, knowing that he was the reason they were having a funeral for a fifteen-year-old boy. He was worried his presence would upset others who cared about Harry, afraid they would feel as if him coming was like inviting Harry's killer, but nobody seemed to even really notice him aside from Mr. Weasley who simply shook his hand and thanked him for coming.
The Dursleys had not been invited but made it clear they wouldn't come anyway when Dumbledore had informed them of Harry's death, causing the headmaster to do something very uncharacteristic for him. Upon leaving their home, the normal composed man put several very strong curses over their family.
It had felt very good.
Dumbledore stepped up and faced the small crowd.
"Many people say Harry was born a hero. Savior to the wizarding world. At the age of one, he was both blessed and cursed with fame he never truly wanted, nor fully understood. When news of Harry's death breaks out, millions will mourn for the Boy Who Lived. We, on the other hand, are here to mourn Harry, the boy who touched each of our lives in a different way. A boy who would sacrifice everything for those he deeply loved." Dumbledore gave Mr. Stenson a meaningful glance before continuing. "Those here gave Harry a family. Those at Hogwarts were his first family. His professors were his mentors, his teammates helped him discover his talent for flying, and Ron and Hermione showed him what real friendship was. We all know he became like one of the family at the Burrow. He told me that the Weasleys taught him what a family should be like and always made him feel welcome. The Stensons were the family that saved him, just as he saved them in the end. And finally, there was Sirius and Remus, godfather and professor, who were links to his past and who showed him who he was. Remus helped him along the way and was Harry's first adult confidant. Sirius gave him hope and someone to make proud.
"Harry will not forget us, just as we will never forget him, of that I am certain. And when he's not catching up with the Potters and Evans, when he's not racing around on broomsticks with Cedric Diggory, when he's not living the carefree existence he was never given in life, he'll be checking up on those who left imprints on his heart. He'll be celebrating our accomplishments with us, and watching over us through our hard times. I imagine that he's looking down on us now. Knowing him, he'll be embarrassed that we're all here just for him and touched at how much we all miss him. He's probably wanting to scream down at us that he's doing fine and is happier than he's ever been.
"In life, the most difficult thing we ever have to do is say goodbye, to let go when we wish with all our hearts to hold on as tightly as we can. Harry bravely said his goodbyes to those he loved and now we must find the courage to do the same. In his first year, I told Harry that to some, death is but the next great adventure, and for Harry, an adventure seeker to rival us all, this is the ultimate adventure, where he'll finally get what he has always been searching for: his parents, the one thing this world could not offer him. Harry was a boy who was always a little lost, but has finally been able to go home."
The Weasleys sat around the kitchen table with Dumbledore, who had brought a few papers and things. His gaze fell upon Ron, who was looking out the window. He had not spoken since Harry's funeral.
"I don't know if you know it, but I helped Harry draw up a will not too long ago. He had a difficult time dividing up some of his possessions. He didn't have many things that meant a lot to him. He chose to give Hedwig to Hermione and his invisibility cloak to you, Ron, as they were the two things he valued most. He left his photo album to Sirius and Remus, along with everything not specified in his will, though he's said you are all free to have what you want if Sirius will let you take it. He left the Marauder's Map to Ginny. He also left his Firebolt to Ron." Dumbledore paused and looked around at the group of mourning redheads. "Harry thought of you all as his family. He wanted you all to know that his times here were some of the happiest in his life. He's always wanted to do something for you, not only as a thank you for all you did for him, but also because he loved you all. He had a hard time choosing who to give things to for the most part, but the one aspect he was absolutely certain of was his choice to leave your family his monetary assets. All of the gold in his vault has been transferred to yours."
The Weasleys all looked at him in shock, having seen the astounding amount of gold inside Harry's vault before. Their dreams of wealth had finally come true.
But it didn't feel like it should have felt. They all looked around at each other, trying to gauge each other's opinions of the situation.
"But it's Harry's money," Ginny protested. "It's like we're profiting off his death."
Everyone nodded in agreement.
"Harry thought you might feel that way as he had similar feelings regarding his Tri-Wizard Tournament winnings. He didn't want you to feel that way about it, though. He wanted me to make sure you knew that this was the thing he was most happy to do and only wished he could have done it sooner. He just wanted you all to be happy," Dumbledore said sympathetically.
Ron abruptly left the table and stormed from the room without saying a word and Ginny burst into tears.
The moon shone through Ron's window, letting him see Harry's Firebolt and cloak clearly despite the late hour. His mind was still buzzing and he felt like he was in some horrible nightmare. He vaguely remembered the past few days, but they were blurred in his memory. People had been in and out of his room ever since. He was sure they had spoken to him, but he hadn't heard anything they said. He had looked up each time the door opened, expecting Harry to come in and ask why he was moping about when they could be playing Quidditch, but none of those that stood in the doorframe had been his best friend and he'd therefore turn his head and continue to wait for Harry to come.
Ron found himself getting out of bed. He grabbed a cloak and put on his shoes, sliding his wand into his pocket. He walked quietly down the stairs and out the front door into the night.
He walked down the dark road until the Burrow was no longer in sight before sticking out his wand and waiting.
The Knight Bus slammed to a halt in front of him. Ron stepped aboard and heard himself say "Godric's Hollow," in a far away voice, dumping all the money he had in his pocket into Stan Shunpike's hands. He sat down on one of the beds and ignored Stan when he asked if he was all right.
Ron was surprised when he was tapped on the shoulder and being told they had arrived. Stan handed Ron a few knuts and sickles, saying he'd given too much.
Ron stepped off the bus and barely noticed it speeding off with a crack. He walked numbly through the town. This was where Harry would have lived if his parents hadn't died. He would have had had it hammered into his head how much he was loved by his family, instead of been degraded like he had been at the Dursleys. Harry would have never met the Stensons and even if he had, he wouldn't have even considered trading his life away for Mr. Stenson because he would have never doubted his self-worth and would never have questioned if he would be missed.
If Voldemort hadn't screwed with Harry's life, Ron might have been spending the night in one of these houses with his best friend. Tomorrow morning they might have been zipping through that field over there on their brooms. Harry would be walking down this street with him, maybe getting spooked at the idea of walking near a cemetery at night. After all, he would never have had to gone through all those crazy adventures that nearly got him killed and would still be afraid of normal things.
The gate to the cemetery was locked, but it wasn't much of a problem for Ron. He easily climbed a tree and jumped over. The cemetery gates were locked with warnings for trespassers to stay away at night, but since the individual graves were covered in protective spells, they hadn't seemed to bother much with other protective spells.
Ron numbly walked through the cemetery, letting his feet guide him on a path he didn't remember. He found himself wondering why he was in a graveyard in the middle of the night and whose grave he was going to. He looked around for Harry momentarily, because if he was doing something like this, Harry must be involved, right? But there was nothing to see but the vague outlines of headstones and trees, nothing to hear but the rustle of the wind.
Suddenly, his feet stopped and he looked down at the headstone in front of him, which was illuminated by the moonlight.
Harry James Potter
31 Jul 1980 – 16 Jun 1996
Meant for greater things than this world
Ron stared down at the grave as reality came crashing down on him for the first time. Somehow seeing his best friend's name engraved on the stone suddenly made it real.
"I hate you," he said slowly to the headstone with a deep glare, tears welling up in his eyes. "I wish I had never met you."
With a wounded-sounding cry, he grabbed a handful of the flowers that lay near the headstone and threw them with all his might into the distance, watching them fall to the ground in different spots. He viciously kicked a vase of white roses, breaking the glass and knocking it over, letting the murky water inside flood out and ruin the petals.
Ron felt very cold. For the first time since Harry's death, he burst into tears.
His chest felt tight and his throat became sore as tears streamed down his face. He wrapped his arms around himself as his body wracked with sobs.
"I-I'm sorry, I don't know why I said that. I'm sorry I messed up your flowers and stuff," he sniffed, righting the vase and trying to shove the flowers back in, despite the huge chunk of the glass that had broken off. "I just—I just don't know what to do. I miss you. I miss you so much and I'm so mad at you for just leaving me. I mean, I love Hermione, but you were my best friend! How could you just—how could you just leave?
"Everyone's going to be flipping out because now they can't send you to fight their battles for them, but I'm flipping out because—because your chair's going to be empty in every class next year. Because I have no one to make up Divination assignments with. And you think—you think I could ever do that again now? Do you think I could EVER joke about death again? I can't Harry, I can't because it'll remind me of you and it won't be funny. And your bed will be gone. We always complained about how cramped we all were and now we won't be anymore and I want to go back to being cramped. I liked being cramped. And who am I going to turn to and roll my eyes at Hermione when she's lecturing about school or rules or something? You have me your stupid, stupid broom and cloak and did you actually think I'd be able to USE them? Did you think I'd even be able to LOOK at them without HATING the fact that they're mine now? You're gone, Harry! You left me here and you think you can just make up for it with your dumb broom and cloak? You can't! I don't want your dumb things. I want you to come back and take them back and keep them and stay here! What the hell am I supposed to do?" he screamed, tears mixing with snot as he shakily wiped his face on his sleeve. "I need you! Wasn't I a good enough friend to keep you here? What did I do so bad to make you leave? You CHOSE to leave! And now I have to live every day wondering if I had just maybe told you to your face that you were the best friend I've ever had, if I had TOLD you that I would always be there for you, unlike your stupid relatives, then maybe you wouldn't have done what you did and the worst I'd be dealing with right now would be trying to make sure you didn't feel bad about Mr. Stenson. I would be sitting on your STUPID GRAVE trying to figure out how I'm supposed to—how I'm supposed to do whatever the hell I'm supposed to do. What am I supposed to do?"
He kicked the headstone angrily and sunk to the ground, dissolving into tears. He lied down on Harry's grave, hugging his knees to his chest, in all his grief not realizing his shivering was in part due to the chill of the night air.
"Please come back?" he pleaded softly. "Please, Harry. I'll do anything, just please, please come back."
His body was soon shaking uncontrollably with cold, but he didn't care. His best friend was gone and at the moment, he felt that joining him would be far easier than going through this horrible pain. He closed his eyes and let the sleep he had been lacking lately finally catch up with him.
Yet as he lay there, his lips gradually turning blue, he was completely unaware that the reason the graveyard was locked at night was not to keep out grave robbers or vandals, but because the woods next to it housed many animals who enjoyed nightly hunting. He didn't even stir when a wolf began creeping toward him, teeth bared.
As it closed in, it made a final lunge at the vulnerable redhead, yet to it's confusion, it hit an invisible barrier and was thrown back. Unable to see what it might have hit, it began creeping forward, only to stop short and with a frightened howl, race back into the woods.
Harry watched the wolf retreat and dropped his hand in satisfaction. He dropped to his knees beside his shivering friend. He allowed his hands to hover over Ron's body and allowed heat to warm his friend. The shivering slowly ceased and Ron began to relax.
He wasn't a ghost, but it was true that the dead were allowed to keep watch over their families, even those not connected by blood. He was allowed a few actual interventions, and was reluctant to use one of them so soon, but Ron needed him, and not only to prevent him from being attacked by a wolf or from freezing in his thin, ragged pajamas.
"Harry?" Ron muttered in his sleep, but didn't wake.
"It'll be alright, Ron. It'll be okay. I promise," he said softly. Ron wouldn't be able to consciously hear him, of course, that was part of the rules. But it was possible he would on some level. "As corny as it sounds, I am watching over you. I don't want you to do this to yourself and I'm going to be so mad at you if you follow me here soon, so get those thoughts out of your head. I'm happy and I want you to be happy. Don't feel guilty about moving on with your life and getting over this because that's what I want you to do."
He continued to talk to Ron, assuring him that it would all be okay in time, ordering him to not feel guilty about using the things that were once his, and making sure Ron know that what Harry wanted most of all was for his friends to be happy.
"Ron?" came a frantic voice, suddenly.
Harry looked up to see Mr. and Mrs. Weasley racing through the cemetery.
"Oh thank Merlin, Arthur! He's here!" Mrs. Weasley cried in relief.
"Take care, Ron," Harry whispered into Ron's ear before stepping away and sitting on his own headstone, watching as the Weasley parents knelt by their son.
"Oh, he must be freezing," Mrs. Weasley exclaimed tearfully. Harry noted her confused expression as she felt her son's skin and realized he was perfectly normal temperature.
Ron stirred and sat up, allowing his mother to clutch him to her chest as she cried in relief. Mr. Wesley wrapped his cloak around Ron's shoulders.
"Are you alright?" Mrs. Weasley asked. Ron looked up at her with a thoughtful expression and slowly nodded.
"I think…I think I'm going to be," he said in an oddly calm voice.
His parents exchanged a confused, yet relieved look.
"I think you are too," Mr. Weasley said firmly. "I think we all are."
The three got up and began walking toward the exit.
"Ron, I don't want you coming here on your own ever again. It's really dangerous. You're lucky you weren't attacked by a wolf!" Mrs. Weasley scolded him tearfully.
As they were leaving, Mr. Weasley cast a look back at Harry's tombstone and blinked in surprise to see the faint form of Harry sitting on the headstone, giving him a wave. He blinked and the image was gone, leaving him to always wonder if he had really seen it or not.
"Harry Potter! Are we going to get this game going or what?"
Harry looked over to see some very impatient looking teenagers holding broomsticks. He hopped off the tombstone and walked over, accepting his broomstick from the other team's Seeker.
"Do you even have the slightest bit of patience, Cedric?" Harry asked with a smirk, knowing that answer already.
"What do you think, Harry. Your mum and dad are going to call you in soon and our game is currently on pause!" Cedric Diggory exclaimed.
"All right, all right, let's go," Harry laughed and the teens one by one disappeared. Harry shot one last look at the retreating redheads before disappearing himself.
Author's Note: Well, that's the show! Please leave a review no matter how long it is after I've posted this as I always read every one and I thrive off them. Hope you enjoyed!