Title: Runes of War
Rating: NC-17 (in later chapters)
Summary: Post-HBP. The first anniversary of the death of Albus Dumbledore is fast approaching, and people are beginning to lose hope. The fate of the wizarding world rests in the hands of one young man and the strange power he holds.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything belonging to Harry Potter - that delight rest solely with JK Rowling.
Warnings: This story contains m/m relationships, minor death/violence and minor references to incest.
The War was reaching the end of its third year. The sides of Light and Dark fought on, clashing again and again in bitter combat, battling, killing, drawing those around them into the fight.
There was no winner as yet.
Losses on both sides had been great, and across the wizarding world panic and terror reigned. With the first anniversary of the death of Albus Dumbledore nearly upon them, people were losing hope in the Light, and the outcome of the battle now rested on the shoulders of one young wizard.
On the parapet of the highest tower of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stood looking up at the starlit sky. He had grown taller over the last year, and lean from training and exercise, but the War had left its toll on him. At seventeen he was too young for the lines that framed his face, and the weariness in his bright green eyes. His raven black hair was longer now, and tied back in a ponytail. He looked older, and so, so tired.
Dumbledore's death had spelled the end of whatever childhood he had claim to, in more ways than one. Now the leader of The Order of the Phoenix, he was in charge of the fighting force for the Light, and each death, each victory by Voldemort, left a hollow wound deep inside. He was no longer the child he had been.
His eyes roamed over the Hogwarts' grounds, sightlessly, as his mind returned to the many plans and schemes in place at the time, seeking out any weakness or fault, anything that might lead to a mistake and the death of someone else. He didn't think he could take any more…
Losing Hermione in a trap had been a hard enough blow to him, but having Ron follow only a week later had nearly crippled him. They may not have been perfect, and they may not have stood by him at all times, but they were his friends, and he would miss them. That was over two months ago. He had been the one to inform Hermione's parents of her death, and he never wished to have that honour again. Then again, this was war, and he knew he would not be so lucky.
He sighed, and shrugged, trying to shake off his melancholy mood. It would do no good for the members of the Order to see him like this; their morale was low already, seeing him in despair would cause worry that none of them could afford to take.
A moment later, Harry heard soft footsteps tread on the stairs that led up to the tower. He let his wand drop from the holster on his right arm and into his hand, expelliarmus on his lips, even as his body moved into one of the defensive positions he had learnt over the past year. His tense muscles relaxed however, when he caught sight of the person approaching.
'I thought I might find you here.'
Harry straightened, eyes warm as he looked on Remus Lupin. The gentle amber-eyed man had been a godsend to him during the hardships of the past months, and they had formed a closer relationship than most would have expected between a student and a former teacher, even if that person had been a friend of his parents. However, it was with Remus that Harry was able to relax and let go, enjoying the man's unique method of soothing, a welcome change after hectic days or disappointments. They sometimes spent the whole night talking – of the Order, of Voldemort, but more recently of things that they would not have told anybody else. Remus spoke of his love for Sirius, and the dreams of a life lived together they had made. Harry spoke of fears that he would fail the prophecy, and Voldemort would rule, along with the confusion over a recent realisation that he was attracted to other men. There had also been one night, when the two of them had secretly celebrated the death of Peter Pettigrew, and the revelation of Sirius' innocence. So it was no surprise now that it had been Remus who had come to find him.
'Hello, Remy.' He smiled in welcome, tucking away his wand.
Remus came to stand next to him, leaning elbows against the wall, looking over to the lake much like Harry had done earlier. The full moon had been a week ago, and lines of pain were still evident on his face. Without Snape's superior potions, his transformations were only marginally less painful than if he had taken nothing.
Harry rested a palm on his shoulder, squeezing slightly in silent understanding and comfort.
'You really shouldn't be up here, you know. You need your sleep if you're to go on the raid of Lestrange Manor tomorrow. We don't know what we might find there.' Remus said quietly.
Harry sighed. 'I know. I couldn't sleep.'
'Nightmares?' Remus asked, turning to face Harry with a worried expression on his face. 'Anything specific or – ?'
Harry shook his head. 'No, just the usual.'
'Have you thought about taking a Dreamless Sleep Potion?'
'I don't want to take anything that might affect me tomorrow.'
'Lack of sleep will affect you tomorrow, Harry.'
Harry shot him a withering look.
'Have it your way.' Remus sighed.
Harry nodded, and they stood in silence together, both lost in thought. Finally Harry spoke again.
'Do you think we'll find it tomorrow?'
'Gryffindor's shield? I honestly don't know. All the information we have points to it being the shield, but whether or not we'll find it in Lestrange Manor is another thing. Even if we don't, you shouldn't think that tomorrow is a failure. Another Death Eater home raided is another of the Dark Lord's possible hideouts removed.'
Harry smiled slightly. 'It's been almost a year though. I want it to be over.'
Remus placed an arm around his shoulders and drew him into a one-armed hug. 'Four out of Voldemort's six items have been destroyed Harry. There's Gryffindor's shield and Nagini the snake, and after that only Voldemort.'
'I suppose.' Harry pouted.
'You're a good leader Harry. You may not be Albus, but you're good in your own way.'
'You're welcome.' After a last squeeze he let go and stood taller. 'Now, I suggest you get to bed. If I hear you haven't, there is nowhere you can run to.'
Harry chuckled at the joke, then bid his friend goodnight, watching until he turned out of sight. Remus was right. Harry would have to get some sleep if he were to be ready for the raid tomorrow. And it was true that even if they didn't find the horcrux, one less place for Voldemort to hide was not a bad thing.
He sighed and turned away from the view, where even now dark clouds were rolling their way across the sky, obscuring the stars. As he made his way down the tower steps he prayed that tonight he would be free of dreams. He didn't want to see the faces of those he had lost, and he didn't want to relive the night that had destroyed those last childish dreams of his. Above all, he did not want to dream about Snape.
Words: 1,215 - 30.06.06
A/N. When I finished reading HBP I hated the book. It had no plot, substance or character development. I vowed never to read it again and told myself I would have nothing more to do with it...which really doesn't explain why my first fanfiction is a post HBP. Anyway, I hope you liked it, and will continue to read it. And review of course. :)