Making History (2) – The Fate of the Lost Ones

Summary: As Voldemort prepares to strike his final and fatal blow against the wizarding world, he meets the resistance at its weakest point.

The Order of the Phoenix is fraying quickly, trust is scarce and mistrust and suspicion are rising rapidly. Somebody from within is betraying their cause, and two men are finding themselves in a frightening déjà-vu situation. When it comes to the crunch, Remus Lupin suddenly finds himself in a situation he can neither control nor sustain on his own. And the questions as to who is there to help him is a question of trust. Only, trust is one of the rarest goods in times of war, where even friends can turn into enemies in the blink of an eye.

Meanwhile at Hogwarts, Harry experiences his most trying school year yet. And he, too, is confronted very quickly with the question whom he can trust, and who is doing everything they can to deliver him into Voldemort's hands. When even your closest friends do not believe you, who can you turn to when things get rough?

Rating: PG-13, the usual occasional swear word

Disclaimer: I don't own anything here except the plot and the occasional original character. All Harry Potter™ settings and characters are the sole intellectual property of Joanne K. Rowling, her publishers, Warner Bros. and a lot of others who all aren't connected to me in any way. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made with this story as it was written for enjoyment only.

However, my OCs are all mine, so if you intend to use them, please ask for my permission first.

Author's Note: While Making History (1) was still a take on how canon might possibly continue, with the release of book 6 of the series, Making History (2) and (3) will become Alternative Universe, following the basic foundation I laid out in the first part of the trilogy. I have read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and while I don't plan on rewriting the book in my trilogy, I admit to have taken certain ideas from it and have modelled them to fit my own purposes. So even if you find something you think you have seen in the books already, it might lead to something entirely different and unexpected.

Dedication: This story would not have been possible the way I wanted it to be without the help of Eva PinkFoxRanger. During countless brainstorming sessions she helped me find ways to get the story where I wanted it, and she helped to keep the characters in line when they were acting up. I cannot credit her for every scene she helped me write, so I dedicate this entire story to her. Thank you.

Phew, that's been it, now on for the story.

Chapter 01 – Protection

Harry had just finished packing his trunk when there was a knock on his door. He frowned a bit. Hardy anybody ever knocked on the door, certainly not Ron with whom he was sharing the room. And Ron was probably still downstairs, collecting together things and pieces which he had strewn all over No. 12, Grimmauld Place over the past weeks. Harry dragged the trunk from the bed to the floor and turned towards the door.

"Come in."

It was no surprise to see Sirius and Remus come into the room, though Harry's stomach always gave a funny jolt upon seeing his godfather these days. He still had not gotten completely used to the fact that Sirius was back, alive and well. Not only just alive and back, the way he had been during the first days at St. Mungo's, completely unresponsive. But that was over now, and Harry was more than glad about it. A lot had changed in such a small amount of time, so that Harry at times had to forcefully remind himself of everything that was different now. Not only was Sirius back, alive and well, but he was also no longer a fugitive on the run from the Ministry. And, even more importantly, he officially had custody for Harry.

He didn't know what the following months would have in store for him, but one thing Harry knew for sure. He would never have to go back to the Dursleys. Come Christmas, he'd take the Hogwarts Express away from school and stay with his godfather. Wherever that was, here at Grimmauld Place or not, he didn't care. It was with Sirius, that was all that mattered at the moment.

It had been a bit surreal when, on the day of Sirius' hearing at the Ministry, a pair of Ministry caseworkers arrived in the early afternoon, asking to speak to him. Everybody in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place had been surprised at their appearance, Harry most of all, and for a short, horrible moment he had thought that Fudge had sent Sirius back to Azkaban and that the Ministry people were here to fetch him and bring him back to the Dursleys. He had been ready to jump up, hurry upstairs and get his broom, anything to avoid being brought back to his aunt and uncle, but then a pair of hands had settled on his shoulders, squeezing them gently and at the same time pressing Harry down into the chair, and Harry had relaxed a bit.

Even before he spoke, Harry had known that it was Remus standing behind him, and the thought had calmed him more than he would have thought possible. A short inquiry about the caseworkers' purpose of being at Grimmauld Place later, everybody except from Harry and – upon Harry's insistence - Remus had left the basement kitchen, the two caseworkers by the name of Nichols and Smith had sat down and had started something that had seemed like a very bizarre version of Twenty Questions.

It had been a strange questioning, very strange, and for long minutes Harry had not been able to make sense of what the purpose of their visit was. Harry didn't particularly care about their questions, about all those inquiries about his thoughts on his safety and all that other rubbish. More than once, Harry very nearly asked them about Sirius, asked them where his godfather was and what had happened at the questioning, but Smith and Nichols didn't give him a chance to ask questions of his own.

Not until the very end, when they had asked him the question that suddenly had given sense to all those surreal questions. Can you imagine living with your godfather? Not only living, of course, can you imagine him being your legal guardian, the one who cares for you and makes all the legal decisions for you until you come of age?

Harry hadn't been able to really believe it, yet there could only be one reason to pose a question like that, couldn't there? So his answer had been fast, and very determined. Yes. Of course he could imagine that. But that hadn't been the end of their questioning. Was he aware that his godfather had spent twelve years in Azkaban, and that this could have had an influence on him? That he might have to consult psychological help in order to deal with his experiences? Yes, not that Harry particularly cared. Whatever Azkaban had done to Sirius beneath the surface, they would deal with it, as long as they were allowed to manage it together. For now, all that Harry wanted was that people finally allowed him to stay where he wanted. With the person he wanted to stay with – his godfather.

And just as abruptly as they had come, Smith and Nichols suddenly rose, thanked Harry for his time, and vanished through the fireplace. Confused, Harry had turned to Remus and had asked the question that had been foremost on his mind.

"Do you think he's all right?"

Remus had smiled and again reached out to squeeze Harry's shoulder reassuringly. "We'd know if anything had gone wrong by now."

"Then why did those two suddenly appear?"

"My guess is as good as yours, but I'd dare say your godfather brought up the issue of custody for you. Take it as a good sign, if he was in any situation to bring that up, he wasn't in any immediate danger of being arrested again."

To Harry, Remus had seemed strangely calm, too calm for such a situation, but in the end he had been right. Two endless hours later, Professor Dumbledore and Sirius had arrived back at Grimmauld Place, and though his godfather had looked horribly exhausted and pale, he had managed to convey in one single smile that things seemed to have worked out. There was paperwork, of course. Lots and loads of paperwork, but on the day after the hearing, Sirius had left for another appointment at the Ministry and had come back with the official granting of custody for Harry, written on parchment and as official as it could get, in his pocket.

And ever since then, Harry had to get used to the fact that his life had changed abruptly in such a short amount of time. That no matter what, he could stay with his godfather now.

Dumbledore wasn't overly excited about the idea, from what Harry had gathered, yet there was nothing he could do about it. Well, maybe there was if he really wanted to, but that Harry didn't want to think about. Blood protection or not, Harry didn't want to go back to the Dursleys. Period. It was as simple as that, and his headmaster would have to accept that. Harry trusted his godfather to keep him safe, trusted him far more than he trusted an unwanted blood-bond to a family who despised him.

So even now, upon packing his things for his return to Hogwarts, Harry had to overcome that little moment of excitement and surprise upon seeing Sirius, and upon realising again that his godfather was alive, that Sirius was free, and that he could stay with Sirius now, officially and legally. The thought must have brought a smile to his face, because Sirius smiled back just as widely.

"Do you have a moment," Sirius asked.

Harry nodded.

"Sure. What's up?"

Sirius sat down on the edge of the bed while Remus took the chair in front of Harry's desk. Harry sat down on the windowsill and looked from one to the other. Maybe it was just his imagination, but the two looked slightly more serious than normal.

"Is anything wrong?"

Sirius quickly shook his head.

"No, nothing's wrong. We just wanted to give you something. A belated birthday present, so to say."

Harry frowned. "You really don't need to give me anything more, I told you that."

"Yes, but this is something different. Remus and I spent some thought on it. I know that you don't like to hear it, but no matter what we do, there is always the chance that we won't be there for you when things get tough. No matter how much we want to."

Harry took a deep breath and looked at Remus. If anybody, his former teacher should know by now how much he disliked those kinds of talks. But Remus only met his gaze calmly and waited for Sirius to continue.

"There is hardly a way for us to protect you if we're not there, but we want to try everything we can. That's why we took the past days to make this here."

He reached into the pocket of his robe and pulled out something which he placed into Harry's palm.

"I didn't have the time to wrap it, sorry. Or rather, I didn't exactly fancy a lengthy struggle with wrapping paper and a roll of spell-o-tape."

Harry tore his eyes away from Sirius' face and looked down. In his hand there was a thin but solid looking silver chain with a pendant attached to it. The pendant was plain silver and oval, roughly the size of a sickle, but thicker than an average coin. In the middle of it, some sort of tiny vial had been worked into the silver, the liquid in it dark red against the pendant. The surface was not smooth, and what looked like a hundred minuscule runes were engraved both on the front and the back. Harry could not decipher what any of it read. Maybe Hermione would have been able to read it, but Harry had never had any class in Ancient Runes at Hogwarts. He stared at the chain and pendant for another moment, then slowly raised his head. Sirius and Remus were watching him attentively.

"It's…it's beautiful. But what is it?"

"Well, obviously a pendant. And Remus and I took the liberty to weave the strongest protective magic we were capable of performing into it. I have the counterpart which lets me know if you are in danger and need me. As long as you wear it, we can protect you at least a bit even from the distance."

"How does it work?"

"In the best case it shields you from harm. Blocking curses, leading the way when you're lost, calling us to your side. It's not free ticket to walk freely amongst all kinds of curses, mind you, it can't protect you from just about anything or do everything for you, but it's a help."

"What's in that vial?"

Harry examined the pendant more closely between his fingers, but he couldn't find out.
"Blood," Sirius simply said.

"Blood," Harry parroted, his voice startled. Sirius only nodded.

"Yes, blood. Our blood. You know that blood magic is the most protective magic that wizards know of. And as Remus and I share a blood bond, we could increase the strength of the charms. The blood is the core of the pendant's magic. It's just a few drops, but it helps."

Harry carefully lifted the chain and hung it around his neck. Immediately, a feeling of warmth spread from the chain and the pendant over his neck and chest, and after a moment the silver seemed to adjust to his body temperature so that he hardly felt it anymore. The two adults still watched him closely.

"You should pay attention when the pendant gets cold or warm against your skin, that's always a warning. My counterpart will react just the same, as soon as that happens Remus and I'll be there as fast as we can. If the pendant doesn't react but you still need me to come, just tap your wand against it and call my name."

Harry nodded and carefully settled the pendant inside his robes so that it hung across his bare chest. Finally, he looked up again.

"Thank you," he breathed out, smiling crookedly at Sirius, then at Remus. His godfather got up from the bed and Harry went over to give him a long hug. "Thank you," he repeated.

"You're perfectly welcome, Harry."

He withdrew, smiled at Harry, then stepped aside.

"I'll better go to the kitchen and have a look if somebody is already seeing to dinner, how about that?"
Before anybody in the room could protest, he had already left. Remus got up as well and looked a bit helpless.

"If nobody is downstairs and he starts using the stove, we're doomed."

Harry just shook his head and stepped up to his former teacher. He just wanted to give him a hug as well when he noticed that Remus was keeping his hands folded behind his back, just as if he was trying to keep them out of sight. He had been sitting with his hands hidden in the sleeves of his robes for the entire time the two adults had been in Harry's room, and the behaviour made him slightly suspicious.


"It's nothing, Harry." Remus shook his head, but did not protest as Harry pulled his left hand out from where he was hiding it behind his back, as if he knew that the teenager would not give in if he kept on hiding his hands. Harry drew in a sharp breath as he saw all the lacerations and blisters that ran along Remus' fingers and across his palms.

"What is this? Why didn't you get those treated? Does Sirius know about that?"

Harry looked up and was surprised to find Remus looking calmly back at him.

"I can't get them treated, nothing will work properly. They'll heal in a couple of days, it's all right. And yes, Sirius knows about that."

"But where do they come from?"

"From the pendant and the chain. Harry, that's what happens when a werewolf gets into contact with silver, but as I said, it will heal in a couple of days."

"Silver hurts you?"

Remus smiled softly. "I see that somebody didn't pay attention during his lessons on werewolves."

"Well, seeing that our regular teacher was sick that day and his replacement was less than likeable, it might be possible that I didn't really pay attention that day. I never started on the essay, either."

Remus chuckled, but his expression quickly became serious again. "Silver is poisonous to werewolves. You see, lycanthropy is like a virus. Once somebody has gotten infected, it stays inside the body, it spreads and causes small but significant changes which can make a werewolf recognisable even in his human form. The change of eye-colour, for example. And of course, it causes the transformations with every full moon, but its influence on the lycanthrope is a constant thing, nothing that only happens once a month. And this virus reacts wildly when an infected person comes into contact with silver. Silver is one of the purest elements and materials known to our world. And lycanthropy is…well, I guess you could call it an impurity. Silver is too pure a material for a werewolf to handle. Just think of it as an allergy, if that analogy is more understandable. It's comparable to werewolves having an allergic reaction to silver, though it's not entirely the same principle. But the outcome remains the same. Skin contact with silver causes burns." He stretched out his hands and for a moment looked at the blisters and small lacerations. "Silver in the bloodstream, however, is another matter entirely. Depending on the dosage, it's lethal."

Harry swallowed and continued to stare at Remus' wounded hands.

"But why did you do that? If you knew that it hurts you, that it's even dangerous to you, why didn't you let Sirius handle the silver? Or why didn't you just take some other material, anyway?"

"Silver has a very strong magical quality. It's actually the best material you can get to weave magic into. Due to it's purity, it is very receptive for all kinds of magic, especially protective magic. And I needed to handle the silver myself for what Sirius and I did. The whole point about the pendant was to use our blood bond to protect you. We needed to weave both our magic into the pendant, so that a part of our magic remains with you to protect you, even if we're not physically present. For that, we both had to touch it. As I said, it will be all right in a couple of days."

Harry realised that he was still holding Remus' hand in his own. He released it and watched him insecurely for a moment. Remus lightly put his hands on the teenager's shoulders.

"It's all right, Harry. It really is. I knew what I was doing. It wasn't dangerous, it was a calculated risk. It's all right."

Harry looked at him for another long moment, then he made a step forward and wrapped his arms around him.

"Thank you. You needn't have done that, not if it hurt you, but I'm glad you did. Thank you."

Remus wrapped his own arms around Harry and held him tightly. "As Sirius said, you're perfectly welcome." He drew back after a moment and smiled at Harry. "Now we should maybe look what your godfather is up to and stop him before he blows up headquarters."

He put an arm around Harry's shoulders and steered him out of the room.

They were lucky. Molly Weasley was already in the kitchen and seeing to dinner by the time Sirius had come down, so they didn't find the room in ruins but were rather greeted by the pleasant smell of stew upon their entry. Sirius was sitting at the kitchen table, absorbed in the Daily Prophet, and while Remus started setting the table, Harry sat down next to his godfather.

"Anything new?"

Sirius folded the paper and put it down.

"Nothing that we don't already know of. Things would look really grim if we had to get our news from the Daily Prophet, kiddo. But there have been no further attacks, nothing of that sort. Tomorrow you'll be safely back at Hogwarts, then I'll be a bit more relaxed." He turned and smiled grimly at his godson. "Though I whish we'd have had some more time to spend with each other."

Harry saw another round of apologies coming and quickly put a hand on Sirius' arm.

"It's all right, Sirius. Just promise me you'll be careful with what you do, then it'll be all right. And unlike most other parents, you can always come and visit me at Hogwarts. I don't think anybody would mind."

"No, probably not. Still, doesn't mean a godfather can't miss his godson, right?"

Harry grinned, not really willing to admit how much those words meant to him. "Right."

At that moment, the door to the kitchen opened and Ron, and Ginny entered, followed closely by Tonks. They all crowded around the table, sat down and amongst their chatter, there was no more time for Harry and Sirius to talk. Instead, they ate their dinner with the others, chatting with each other. There was a general excitement about going back to Hogwarts in the room. Harry and his friends of course wanted to see their housemates and friends at school again, and especially the Weasleys would be glad to see their two youngest safely back at the castle. There had been no further Death Eater attack since that first warning strikes, but that didn't mean nothing would happen anymore. On the contrary, anticipation was rising again as to what their next move would be. Severus Snape had hardly ever been to headquarters over the past weeks, too wrapt up had he been in establishing old contacts in the small hope of finding out more about the Death Eaters' plans. It was dangerous for Snape to involve himself too deeply with the Death Eaters again, he was regarded a traitor, but still he was their only contact person who could find out just a little bit about Voldemort's plans.

But those thoughts could not dampen the mood in the room tonight, at least not for the teenagers in the room. Sirius was sure that Remus was also brooding about the war for most of the day, but the way he was chatting now with Tonks and Ginny did not reveal any trace of such thoughts. Sirius shook his head and chased the uncomfortable thoughts away. It was Harry's last night at Grimmauld Place, and given how little time he had had so far to spend with the teenager, he most certainly would not spend it brooding about the war.

Sirius got up from his chair, went over into the pantry and fetched one of the casks of Butterbeer he had organised earlier that day. Molly had thrown him a sharp glance as he had deposited them in the pantry, but Sirius had refrained from saying anything to her. He knew that everybody seemed to be glad that he wasn't dead, but his and Molly's story went a long way back, and by now he believed it to be rather impossible for them to ever reconcile entirely. Molly was very territorial where Harry was concerned, and while Sirius would be eternally grateful for what she and Arthur had done for Harry, he was his godson and not hers. She would – however grudgingly – have to accept that it was Sirius who was making the decisions about Harry's life until he came of age, and he knew already that he would treat certain matters differently than Molly would have done. Like handing out Butterbeers all around on the evening before school started. But she'd simply have to live with it.

Sirius might not be the perfect role model, and he certainly didn't have the experience of raising seven children that Molly had, but he was no complete idiot. He knew that he might have a hard time saying no to Harry, or making decisions the teenager would only grudgingly accept, but he'd cross those bridges when he came to them. Right now, it was important to him that Harry enjoyed himself, and that he was safe from harm. Maybe Molly was right and he had tried to be more than a friend for Harry than a guardian and role model so far, and most probably he'd have to try and change that, but Molly would have to learn that this was something he'd have to grow into. He wasn't used to be responsible for somebody else, and he wouldn't have much time before Harry came of age to get used to it, but he was convinced that the two of them would manage. If Molly wanted to help him, he had nothing against it. He knew that she cared about Harry and that Harry cared about her and her entire family. But Molly had a way of offering help that it seemed like she was trying to tell him he did it all wrong and she knew how to do it right, and that was something Sirius could not deal with very well.

But he pushed those thoughts away and resolved to enjoy this evening. So he carried the Butterbeer over towards the table and put it down, opened a round of bottle with a wave of his wand and sat down on a chair next to Harry. The teenager interrupted his Quidditch-conversation with Bill to take in the freshly appeared Butterbeer and flashed Sirius a smile. Sirius grinned back, handing out bottles all around. And then he settled on doing what he had wanted to do all evening – enjoying himself.

The only person missing was Hermione. Sirius wasn't sure whether Harry, Ron and Remus had told him the whole story as to why she was no longer staying at headquarters, but he knew that the reason for her leaving had been more than just the desire to spend more time with her family. Sirius knew that Hermione was angry with Harry and Ron for bringing themselves into such a danger in the attempt to bring Sirius back, and he could understand that she didn't want her friends to go around chasing risks. There had also been something about a storage closet, and while nobody had ever explained in detail to Sirius what that had been about, he had a very good idea what could have happened.

Sirius didn't like the idea that Harry, Ron and Hermione were fighting because of him, yet he also knew that in a friendship as strong as theirs, they would be able to work things out eventually. And if it didn't work out soon, Sirius would pay them a visit at Hogwarts and have a talk with Hermione. And even though Hermione was missing from their round tonight, Sirius finally decided to stop all brooding and enjoy this evening as much as he could.

It was close to midnight when the crowd in the kitchen finally began to disperse. Those who didn't live at Grimmauld Place went home or – in case of Tonks – to work a night-shift at the Ministry, and while Remus and Molly cleaned away the empty bottles, plates and glasses, Sirius leaned back in his chair and threw a sideward glance at Harry.

"All set to leave tomorrow?"

Harry nodded. "My trunk is packed, I've done all my summer assignments, short of stuffing Hedwig into her cage there's nothing left for me to do."

Sirius was sure that Harry had had one Butterbeer too much, otherwise he'd have never said something like stuffing Hedwig into her cage. There wasn't much alcohol in Butterbeer, so Harry could not be truly drunk. Maybe a little tipsy, but as Sirius was fairly sure that he'd manage to drag himself out of bed the next morning, so he didn't worry overly much about it.

"Made the final decisions on your classes?"

Harry shook his head. "No. I wanted to wait until tomorrow. You know, comparing classes with everybody else on the train."

Sirius smiled. Of course he knew. He had not been much different before his sixth year at Hogwarts. Of course planning for the future was important, but sitting in boring courses without anybody one liked was not exactly perfect, either. Harry's owl-results had arrived a few days ago, along with a list of possible classes he could take next year. Sirius had been very content with Harry's results. Aside from Potions, he had received exceeding results. And even his potions grade had not been overly bad, considering that Harry positively detested the subject. And the teacher. Which had led to the teenager's first resolute decision about which courses he'd take. No more potions classes.

Of course, Snape would only take those students with the best results, so Harry had not been amongst the chosen ones, anyway. In the end, Harry, Remus and Sirius had sat down and had discussed his choice of classes for the next term. Harry's results in Defence Against the Dark Arts had been the best in the entire year. Seemingly, his mastering of the Patronus Charm had left quite an impression on everybody responsible for grading. It had not been a difficult decision for him to add advanced Defence Against the Dark Arts to his schedule the next year. He had been equally sure about Transfiguration, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms and Herbology. Potions had been out of question for him, and he had not been sure about whether or not to keep Divination or History of Magic, either. Remus had been very insistent on Harry keeping History of Magic. In fact, for reasons not apparent to Harry, he had started to lecture at length about the importance of the subject. Afterwards, Harry had been willing to keep it, boring as it might be, but there was the little matter that he actually couldn't continue History of Magic, anyway. He had failed his O.W.L., spectacularly at that, because he had fainted not even halfway into the examination. But even that argument had not been able to deter Remus from his course, he had insisted that Harry have another talk with Professors Binns and McGonagall that he might repeat the test. Harry wasn't overly excited about that idea, but he had settled on agreeing to Remus' suggestion, mainly to stop his former teacher's rant. Whether or not he'd truly have that conversation once he came to Hogwarts was another matter entirely.

For now, Harry had settled firmly on his best O.W.L. classes - Defence Against the Dark Arts and Transfiguration, in addition to Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms and Astronomy. But the final decision he chose to make on the train ride the following morning.

"Just keep in mind what you want to do after Hogwarts, then things should fall into place."

Harry nodded thoughtfully, though not as thoughtfully as he might have without all the Butterbeers he had drunk. Only the previous evening, he and Sirius had had a long conversation about his possible future after graduating from Hogwarts. Both had not once mentioned the fact that it could be futile to think about it, anyway, with Voldemort on the loose and a war pending over them only waiting to strike. Instead, they had discussed the matter as if there was no Voldemort, as if the danger that Harry would not survive whatever the Dark Lord had planned was not real. Despite of Dolores Umbridge's remarks during the past school year, Harry had not given up on his plans of becoming an Auror, so Sirius had given him a little insight into what becoming one looked like. It wasn't as easy as Harry had imagined it to be. Everybody who applied for becoming an Auror had to pass a basic test in skills and knowledge, something which Sirius had described as the easy part. Those who passed that test entered Junior Auror Training, a period of two years during which they learned all the theoretical and practical skills they would need in their further line of work. Of course, practical knowledge was what counted most besides tactics, but depending on specific talents one could specialize later on. Like Tonks. With her abilities as a Metamorphmagus, she was of course specialised on disguise work, where she excelled.

It had been a very serious conversation about the good sides and also the dangers of being an Auror, especially when out in the field, but it had been very informative as well. And it had served to firm Harry's plans of joining the Ministry once he had graduated from Hogwarts. Not that his own experiences with the Ministry were positive, on the contrary, but the best way to change something was to get involved in it. It was a choice Sirius could live with, and even one he seemed quite proud of.

There was only one problem about it. According to the Career Advice last year, Potions was an obligatory N.E.W.T. subject for an Auror. Snape would only take students with an Outstanding in his N.E.W.T. classes, and while Harry's grade of Exceeds Expectations had more than just exceeded his own expectations, it simply was not enough for continuing with the class. That was a problem even Sirius had not been able to present an answer to.

But now, in the basement kitchen of Grimmauld Place, the thought that there could be a life after Hogwarts seemed far away for everybody, anyway. The dishes and bottles were cleared away, Hermione, Ginny and Molly had already gone to bed, and Harry was also leaning back in his chair, stretching and yawning heartily.

"Time to call it a day, don't you think?"

Harry scratched his head and yawned again. "I think you're right. When do we leave tomorrow? And how do we get to King's Cross, anyway?"

"We'll leave at ten, so rest assured that I'll throw you out of bed if you're not up by half past eight. Considering the public admission that Voldemort is back, the Ministry has agreed to send two cars which will bring us to the station. One can never be too sure these days, unfortunately. The cars will be here at quarter past nine."

Harry nodded, stifling another yawn. "All right. I'll go to bed. You coming, Ron?"

Ron, who had been sleepily staring into the fireplace, looked up and nodded. "Yeah, as soon as I think I can move again."

Harry chuckled and shook his head. They had all eaten a very good dinner, and the Butterbeer had been the final thing to make everybody a bit drowsy, and Ron downright lethargic. Harry got up from his chair and clasped Sirius' shoulder in passing.

"Good night, Sirius."

"Good night, Harry. Good night Ron."

Ron only nodded as he slowly, ever so slowly, got up and followed Harry out of the kitchen. Sirius looked after them as they left, then he got up from his chair, extinguished the fire in the fireplace and in the hearth, made sure that everything was ready for the night, locked the front door and went to bed himself.