Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters or situations you recognize in this story. They belong to JK Rowling.
The wizarding world was in a constant state of panic these days. Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters' reign of terror continued to worsen as the weeks went on, and many were losing hope of seeing an end to the darkness that had overtaken their world. The death toll had risen to great numbers after the most recent massacre at St. Mungo's Hospital. Families searched for their missing loved ones, hoping they would come home alive, but knowing they probably wouldn't. Azkaban Prison, once full of dark, evil wizards, was now mostly empty. Only twenty prisoners filled the cells guarded, not by dementors as they once were, but by members of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Perhaps the most surprising ward of Azkaban was nineteen-year-old Percy Weasley. Unbeknownst to him, until a few days after his arrest, Percy had been a tool for the dark side since the young age of five. Peter Pettigrew, known also as Wormtail, had taken shelter with Percy's family after framing Sirius Black for the murders of twelve Muggles and then faking his own death. For five years, Percy had kept Wormtail alive and safe until one day, when the rat decided to take matters into his own hands.
Wormtail, although he had not meant it to be so, had been partly responsible for the first fall of Lord Voldemort. One-year-old Harry Potter had, of course, been the one to relieve the wizarding world of their ten year nightmare, but if it hadn't been for Wormtail telling his master where to find Harry and his parents, the Dark Lord would never have lost power. To make up for his mistake, Wormtail had formed a plan to seek out the now five-year-old savior of the wizarding world, and take the boy to Lucius Malfoy in hopes of getting in with the Death Eaters once more. He failed several times, until one full moon in August of 1986. Harry and his godfather, Sirius Black, had been staying at Hogwarts that night. It was by mere chance and luck on Wormtail's part that Harry wandered out of the castle and into his awaiting hands. The plan to bring Lord Voldemort pack into power was foiled, however, by Sirius Black's risky use of a well-placed Reductor Curse, and Wormtail had received the Dementor's Kiss for his crimes later in the week. He would have been better off staying with the Weasleys...
Strangely enough, it was because of Wormtail that Harry Potter was being raised by his godfather and Sirius' best friend and brother, Remus Lupin. This small family had faced tragedy many times since its formation. It had witnessed misery and depression head on, facing their darkest hours as one. The three wizards, though they loved each other more than anything, had their share of fights and arguments, just like any normal family. They'd nearly been torn apart many times by Voldemort—from Sirius' numerous near-death experiences, to Remus' disappearance for three months, to Harry's habit of finding trouble no matter the circumstances, trouble was in no short order. The three of them were no strangers to death and betrayal either—Harry's parents, Sirius and Remus' best friends, had been murdered by Voldemort, as had Sirius' longtime girlfriend, Julia Sedler, and later, Hestia Jones. Peter Pettigrew had joined Voldemort, betraying his friends a year before the Dark Lord's fall, as had Remus' former fiancée, Naomi Watts. Sirius' second-in-command in the Auror squad, Kingsley Shacklebolt, had been ambushed and murdered in his home. James Potter's parents and Remus' parents had been murdered by Death Eaters. The list goes on. The point is, this small family, regardless of everything they'd gone through together, stood together, fought together, and all for one another. There were times when one of them would feel their hope of the war ever ending begin to fade, but the other two were always there to lift his spirits, to remind him what they were fighting and what was at stake if they lost.
Nothing could rip them apart, though Voldemort was trying his damn best.
Our story picks up just where it left off: Lord Voldemort has broken through Harry's mind's barriers, possessed him, and turned him against his godfather. If it hadn't been for Remus' quick action, another death would have been added to the already too long list. Harry had been stunned by his surrogate godfather and had fallen to the floor, his wand rolling somewhere under the bed, though no one was really paying much attention to it. Sirius was in a very understandable state of shock. He stared from the unconscious form of his godson to his best friend, still holding a wand in his shaking hand, to Remus' girlfriend, Emmeline, who floated Harry onto the bed.
"Remus," Sirius said hoarsely, unsure of what to do. "His eyes... It was just what Dumbledore told us years ago... There was red... And his voice... Remus, that was Voldemort; I'd bet my life on it..."
Remus gulped. "That may not be such a good idea at the moment, Sirius," he said quietly. "Are you all right?"
"Oh, just brilliant," Sirius said sarcastically. "My godson nearly murdered me, so how about we go out and have a few drinks?"
"There's really no need for that, Sirius," Remus said, trying to sound stern, though his voice wavered unsteadily. "We need to contact Dumbledore—he'll want to know about this, and if we hurry, we may catch him before he leaves for Number Twelve."
"I'll go," Emmeline said immediately. "You stay with Harry. Sirius, do you need anything?"
Sirius shook his head numbly and Emmeline left the room. The two wizards stared at one another at a loss for words. After everything they'd been through in ten years, this had to be the worst. A year ago, Remus said Harry being possessed was a situation they may have to one day face, but at that time, he'd only said it to convince Sirius that the boy needed to learn Occlumency and that it shouldn't matter who taught him. He'd never really believed Harry would be possessed; Mad-Eye Moody regularly bragged about Harry's ability to throw off the Imperius Curse. Harry was a very capable wizard, and was growing stronger as the years went on; it wasn't impossible for him to resist possession, but of course, Voldemort was stronger than anyone could possibly imagine. He'd gained the powers of both Lily and James Potter during his rebirthing at Godric's Hollow two years ago, and what the world had seen so far was only the beginning of the Dark Lord's newfound powers.
But how long had Harry been possessed? It could have been only minutes or it could have been as long as three days. Remus thought three days made sense; that was when they started noticing Harry looking more distant. They thought he'd just been sick, though—how had they not realized what was really happening? Maybe Voldemort had hidden himself deep in Harry's mind to allow the boy to keep up his normal façade in front of his family. But even Emmeline, who'd given Harry intense Occlumency lessons the night before, hadn't realized something was wrong with Harry. If Remus had been a more cynical and untrusting man, he'd wonder if Emmeline had intentionally ignored Voldemort's presence in Harry's mind. But Remus had seen what had happened during the Occlumency session: Harry's mind's barriers had been so strong that Emmeline had been thrown against the wall behind her.
Now the question was not how it had happened, but if Voldemort was still in Harry's mind, and if he wasn't, would Harry remember anything that had occurred in the last half hour with his godfather?
"Dumbledore's on his way," Emmeline said softly, reentering the room.
Remus started, only now realizing he'd seated himself at Sirius' desk at some point during the witch's absence. "Thank you," he muttered automatically. Emmeline smiled slightly.
"What should we do now?" Sirius asked, looking as confused as Remus felt.
Remus shrugged. "Just wait, I suppose." He sighed. "I don't think we should wake him until Dumbledore's here. If Voldemort was possessing Harry, and he's still in there somewhere, Dumbledore will know how to get rid of him. I wouldn't know where to begin."
"This is all my fault," Emmeline said suddenly, staring miserably at Harry from the wall she'd leaned against. The wizards stared at her questioningly. "Last night, during his Occlumency lesson... He's never been that good. Hell, I'm not even good enough to throw somebody across a room. I should have known something was wrong."
Remus shook his head. "This isn't your fault. You weren't the only one who didn't catch anything. Sirius and I were here too, and we've known Harry far longer than you. If anyone should have known something was wrong, it should have been one of us."
"Yes, but I'm supposed to be teaching him to avoid something like this from happening," Emmeline said, completely disgusted with herself. "Maybe if I'd worked harder with him..."
"None of us could have prevented this from happening, Emmeline," Dumbledore's voice said from the door, startling the other three. "Occlumency was merely a precaution to keep this from happening sooner. The original idea was to keep Lord Voldemort from gaining access to the contents of the prophecy. There are many backdoors into the human mind, as I taught you when you were learning Occlumency, Emmeline. Voldemort would have found a way into Harry's mind one way or another."
"Do you think he knows about the prophecy, Albus?" Sirius asked, horrified by the very thought of Voldemort finding out the exact wording of the prophecy made about him and Harry.
Dumbledore sighed. "It is possible, of course, and something we will need to inquire about from one of our own spies. If he does know of the prophecy—well, not much will have changed; he will still want Harry destroyed, just has he has wanted since Harry was merely an infant."
While his guardians pondered just how much damage had been done in the last few days, Dumbledore examined the boy, first by lifting his eyelids and examining his eyes. Remus only now realized Harry wasn't wearing his trademark round-framed glasses. Apparently, Sirius was realizing that as well; he was shaking his head, as if he knew he should have realized something was amiss immediately.
Dumbledore nodded, whether in satisfaction or confirmation of an idea, Remus wasn't sure. He continued to watch closely as Dumbledore removed his wand from his yellow robes. The Headmaster waved the wooden stick over Harry, rapidly murmuring an incantation in ancient Latin. Remus blinked hard, rubbed at his eyes, and shook his head as if to clear it as something rose from Harry's body. At first it looked like white smoke, but congealed to form an exact replica of Harry. The smoke-Harry hovered just inches over the real Harry for a few seconds, and then merged with Harry's body again.
"His soul," Dumbledore said softly, answering their unasked question. "I wanted to be sure it had not been tampered with."
The man never ceases to amaze me, Remus thought in awe. Once I think I've seen everything he can do, he goes and pulls another trick out of his hat.
Next, Dumbledore closed his eyes and placed his long, bony index fingers on either side of Harry's head, just above his temples. Again, he muttered in ancient Latin, but this time there were no physical results. Five minutes later, the Headmaster removed his fingers from Harry's head, stepped back, and nodded. "Voldemort was present in Harry's mind for three to four days, I suspect. I do not sense any lasting effects on Harry, though I do recommend telling him about this as soon as possible. Sirius, did Harry have an injury to his head today, by any chance?"
Sirius nodded stiffly. "Bludger hit him today while we were at the Burrow. He fell off his broom and hit his head on the ground."
"Well, he was lucky to have survived a fall of that nature," Dumbledore said. "Harry should be fine once he wakes. I do not think Voldemort will attempt this again anytime in the near future."
"Why do you think that, sir?" Emmeline asked quietly, now standing behind Remus with her hands on his shoulders.
Dumbledore turned to her. "I'm sure you've realized, Emmeline, being his Occlumency instructor, that Harry's mind is unusually strong." Emmeline nodded. "I believe it took so long for Voldemort to act through Harry because Harry was trying to fight what was happening to him. This sort of struggle will have had exhausting effects on Voldemort's body and mind, as well as Harry's. It is a risk for Voldemort to attempt to possess Harry again so soon after the first time."
"Why didn't we notice anything?" Remus asked. "Or better yet, why didn't Harry tell us something was going on?"
"Possession is one of the darkest activities known, Remus. One of its side effects is memory loss on the subject's part. Harry may not have known he was being possessed. The times Voldemort was present in his mind would seem like nothing more than blank interval of time."
"But if Harry was fighting it..." Sirius began.
"He still would not have known," Dumbledore finished for him. "With Voldemort in his mind, it was as if Harry was in a separate place altogether. He was there, but pushed very far back while Voldemort dominated. Harry would have tried to fight his way forward, but Voldemort is a very powerful Legilimens."
"So he really had no chance," Remus said quietly. "Harry's just a sitting duck for Voldemort, isn't he?"
Sirius frowned at the Muggle phrase, but didn't ask his usual questions.
"As I said before, Remus," Dumbledore said. "Emmeline's teaching him Occlumency has helped him a great deal. Without it, Harry would not have been able to fight at all. And I would rather not imagine what could have happened if Voldemort had gained control of Harry before this evening."
Nymphadora Tonks Apparated into the backyard of her parents' home just outside London. She was still rather upset after her day at work—finding that Dawlish, who'd temporarily replaced Sirius as Head Auror, was meeting with Rufus Scrimgeour, the Auror from Australia who Sirius had been so against bringing back to the British Ministry. Tonks knew Minister Bones wasn't too fond of Scrimgeour, either, but couldn't understand why the Minister would agree to allow the wizard to come back.
Maybe someone's got her under Imperius, Tonks thought. No, that can't be possible; Dumbledore meets with her just about every other day, and he would know if that was going on. Maybe she's just lost her bloody mind...
Sirius had only been gone from the Ministry a month and it already seemed like a lifetime. Tonks just hoped her cousin didn't return to find his Aurors in complete disarray. He'd worked hard to have them trained just right and to work as a team. The Aurors under Sirius' command were much like a family—some of them, like Dawlish, played the parts of the family members whom the others wanted to disown. There'd been times since Tonks first entered the Ministry that she'd seen Sirius or Kingsley itching to ring Dawlish's neck for something. It was understandable; Dawlish didn't like to follow Sirius' orders, he thought they were unorthodox and downright dangerous. But Sirius never put his Aurors into any more danger than they were already in with their jobs. The only Auror ever to have been killed under Sirius' command was Jason Evans, when a giant in London had knocked over a lamppost on the unsuspecting wizard.
"Hey, Mum," Tonks muttered, entering through the backdoor. Her mother was at the stove, taking a roast out of the oven for dinner. "Smells great. Where's Dad?"
"Hello, dear," Andromeda Tonks said. "Your father is in the living room reading the paper. How was your day?"
Tonks shrugged and took a butterbeer from the fridge before sitting at the table. "Not bad. Remus and Emmeline came in to update me on Sirius. He's doing all right, just trying to adjust to not using magic."
Andromeda sighed. "It's just horrible. Sirius is a magnificent wizard—has been since he was a boy. He's probably having a rather rough time, especially with Harry home. You know how protective Sirius is of that boy... If something happened to Harry, and Sirius was helpless to do anything... well, you can imagine how that would affect him."
Tonks nodded, sipping her butterbeer. "I think Remus and Emmeline are taking turns staying with them during the day. Harry's got his wand and the Minister's permission to use defensive magic, but I don't think Harry's ever been up against Death Eaters on his own."
"Well, with all those wards and charms around their home, Sirius and Harry would have plenty of time to get out safely. Your father told Sirius that he and Harry are welcome here if need be, and there's always Hogwarts, of course."
The doorbell rang, and Tonks' dad called, "I'll get it!" from the front room.
"I honestly can't see Sirius running if Death Eaters invaded their place, whether he had magic or not. He'd probably send Harry on, and fight them on his own," Tonks said. "Kingsley told me once that Sirius was well-trained in Muggle fighting techniques."
Andromeda smirked. "He can thank your father for that." Tonks raised an eyebrow. "The summer before Sirius' fourth year at Hogwarts, he spent a few weeks with your father and me at our old cabin by the sea. Sirius and your dad spent most of their days out back—your dad teaching Sirius karate and boxing, and things like that."
"Hmm," Tonks said, impressed. "I didn't know Dad knew karate..."
"Nymphadora!" Ted called from the hallway. "You've got company!"
Tonks rolled her eyes at the use of her first name, earning a scowl from her mother. She'd never approved of her daughter going by her surname alone; she thought it to be an insult. "Coming, Dad!" Tonks called back. She drained the contents of her butterbeer and stood, moving quickly down the hall to the door. Her foot caught on the rug in the hall and she cursed, grabbing the closet doorknob to catch her balance.
"Language, dear," Ted said, amused.
Tonks glared at her dad and raised an eyebrow at her guest.
"Charlie. What are you doing here?"
Charlie Weasley smiled, his hands stuffed in his pockets. "I've been asked to relay a message to you, and I wasn't allowed to pass it on by Floo or owl, so I had to come over."
Tonks looked at her dad. "Do you think you could give us a minute?" she asked, trying to remain polite, even though Ted was looking between her and Charlie with a very annoying look on his face.
"Oh, of course, dear. I'll just be in the kitchen with your mother, then..."
Tonks rolled her eyes as her dad winked at Charlie and went down the hall.
"So what's up, Charlie?"
"Change of plans for the Order meeting tonight," the wizard said in a low voice, moving closer to Tonks so she could hear him. "I'm not exactly sure why, but it's been moved to Sirius and Remus' place. My dad thinks something may have happened over there—Dumbledore wasn't saying anything, though."
Tonks frowned. "Is everybody okay?"
Charlie shrugged. "I don't know. I would think Dumbledore would have said if someone was hurt... I know Harry had a Quidditch accident at my parents' place today, but I don't see why that would warrant a change of venue for the meeting."
"Hmm..." Tonks said thoughtfully. "I guess we'll find out later, eh? Listen, since you're here, you want to stay for dinner? Mum's just finished, I think."
"Ah, another time, maybe," Charlie said regretfully with a smile. "My mum's expecting me at the Burrow for dinner before the meeting. Thanks for the offer, though."
"Yeah, anytime. Alright, I guess I'll see you in a few hours."
"Definitely," Charlie said, smiling.
"And thanks for coming over."
"Not a problem. See you, Tonks."
Sirius and Remus stood side-by-side against the wall of Harry's bedroom as Emmeline floated the boy back into his own bed. Dumbledore entered a moment later and glanced at the wizards. He wanted to wake Harry before the Order meeting that night to see if the boy would remember anything. The Headmaster seemed to think Voldemort might have left traces of his memory in Harry's mind that could be useful to the Order.
Sirius was growing quite sick of seeing his godson used as a tool between Voldemort and Dumbledore. Harry was only a kid, no matter what he'd been through in his sixteen years of life, but he was being treated as a grown wizard at times. If it kept up, Sirius would argue to get Harry inducted into the Order. Remus wouldn't like the idea, of course, but Harry'd dealt with a lot more than most of the Order, and if he was going to be used to end the war, he deserved to know what was happening.
Sirius' jaw clenched as Dumbledore muttered, "Ennervate." No matter what Dumbledore said about Voldemort being gone from Harry's mind, Sirius wouldn't soon forget what he'd seen in his godson's eyes. Not many things could honestly disturb the Auror, but hearing that cold, high-pitched voice coming from Harry's mouth, and seeing that evil gleam in his eyes definitely did the job.
Harry's eyes snapped open and he blinked a few times before groaning and grabbing the back of his head. Probably from the concussion, Sirius thought distantly, watching the boy closely.
Slowly, Harry lifted his head and frowned as he spotted the four adults surrounding his bed. "Hello," he said slowly and hoarsely. "What's going on?"
Dumbledore's face remained impassive. "How are you feeling, Harry?"
Harry shrugged. "I could use a headache potion if we've got any..."
"In a moment," Dumbledore said quietly. "First, I'd like to ask you a few questions."
"What do you recall of the last three days, Harry? Think hard..."
Harry raised an eyebrow at the question, and then furrowed his brow in thought. "Not much, really. I remember dinner last night—Sirius and I kept flicking peas at each other, and Sirius got one into Remus' butterbeer..."
Sirius bit his lip, trying not to laugh. Now really wasn't the time, and Remus hadn't been too amused about the incident...
"Do you remember anything else?" Dumbledore pressed. "Do you remember your Occlumency lesson with Emmeline last night?"
"I didn't have an Occlumency lesson last night..." Harry said slowly.
Sirius, Remus, and Emmeline looked at each other with their own raised eyebrows. The lesson had lasted almost an hour because Emmeline thought Harry was getting sick and she wanted to make sure his mind was well-guarded. Apparently, he'd been too well-guarded...
"You did have a lesson last night, Harry, and from what I understand, it ended with you throwing Emmeline so forcefully from your mind that she was thrown against a wall."
Harry's eyebrows shot up in surprise and he snapped his head around to Emmeline. "Oh god... I'm sorry..." he said hastily. "Honestly, I don't remember that at all."
"It's okay, Harry, no harm done," Emmeline said quietly.
Dumbledore sighed. "Well, I think that will be all for now. Perhaps you'd like that headache potion now and maybe a Sleeping Draught, Harry?'
Harry looked rather shaken. "Er, yeah, sure..."
Emmeline and Dumbledore left the room to gather the potions, and Sirius and Remus remained standing against the wall. Harry tried to make eye contact with his godfather, but the older wizard kept his eyes averted—he was afraid he'd see the flash of red again.
"Can someone please tell me what's going on?" Harry pleaded to his guardians. "Why can't I remember anything? What happened with Emmeline?'
Remus sighed heavily. "Harry... Do you remember why you started taking Occlumency lessons in the first place?''
"Yeah, so Voldemort wouldn't find out about the prophecy..."
"That's part of the reason, yes, but there was another reason. A reason that, until today, I never thought would actually happen. I don't know if you know this, but one of Voldemort's powers is human possession. It's something not many can do, and I don't even think it's been done for many years." Remus sighed again. Sirius didn't blame him for being nervous; he was. "Harry, Voldemort possessed you today, and we think he's been possessing you for the last three days. For some reason, he could only act through you this afternoon."
Harry paled. "What? D-did I do anything?" he asked as if he really didn't want to know.
"Nearly," Remus said hoarsely. "Emmeline and I returned home just in time, and Harry, please remember, this wasn't your fault—"
"What did I do?" Harry demanded.
Remus glanced at Sirius out of the corner of his eye—Sirius nodded, still staring at the floor. "You nearly used the Killing Curse against Sirius."