Author's Note: I wrote this story on an impulse - an impulse to write a story with Albus Severus Potter in it, I guess. I didn't have a planned story, it just came to me, flowed from my mind and through my fingers and onto the computer. This is one of those sirius, angsty, internal-deep-thought fics that are really sirius. Okay, I just wanted to say 'sirius' again. Anyway, I wanted to write an Albus Severus story mainly because when I was looking for some myself to read, there were only a select few. It made me sad, so this fic was . . . hatched. (I guess fanfictions are not mammals. They hatch out of eggs.)
Kept in the Dark, Shoved in the Light
Blissfully unaware, that's one way to describe us. Another way, much more favorable in my eyes, is kept in the dark. All three of us had been kept in the dark about everything, while everyone else in the entire Wizarding World knew.
Should I feel betrayed by this? I don't know what to feel anymore. My parents, after all, were great. A perfect painting of happiness, and until my first year at Hogwarts, there was no smudges in that portrait. Now there's a big, black splat of lies and misplaced trust. Our family's blighted.
James felt just as hurt, if not more so. He had, after all, gone to Hogwarts for an entire year before finding out. It wasn't until I came, Dad's look-a-like, that people began talking. At first, we didn't believe the whispered rumours. The hushed tales of the Boy-Who-Lived, the one who defeated a Dark Lord. What did that have to do with us?
It was a Gryffindor sixth year who finally made the connection for us. It was our third day at Hogwarts, and I'd been sitting in the Common Room, doing my Potions homework. James was sitting in the next chair, ranting about something he'd been caught doing already.
"And then she gave me a detention! On the third day! All I did was –"
"You're the Potter kid, right?" A voice said behind us, cutting James' angry tirade off. We both looked up, confused as to which one of us he was talking to. His name was, I think, Evan Lautervan. He was looking directly at me, and I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. Why would a sixth year talk to me, a first year?
"Yeah," James said stiffly, eyeing Evan warily. His brown eyes narrowed to unforgiving slits.
James' attitude didn't bother the sixth year, apparently. "You're Harry Potter's son?"
This seemed really odd to me, but judging from James' expression, he'd been expecting this. "Yeah, so?"
"So?" Evan's eyes grew huge. "How can you say 'so'? Harry Potter was brilliant!" Now if I was confused before, I didn't know what I was now. My mind tried to find a reason for this sixth year knowing who our dad was. Maybe his dad works in the Auror Department that Dad is head of. Anyone in the Ministry would know him.
"How do you know? You're dad an Auror?" I couldn't help asking, my mind was whirring with questions.
Evan shook his blonde head, eyes still wide with something mirroring disbelief. "No, my dad's works with the Daily Prophet. But everyone knows Harry Potter, be them Auror or not!"
I narrowed my green eyes, my grandmother's eyes as well as my father's, in thought. I felt like I was missing something incredibly important, that there was something in this conversation that I wasn't getting.
"Don't you know anything about your own father?" Evan asked boldly. I thought he was rudely overstepping his boundaries, but I didn't say anything.
"What are you on about?" James asked furiously. He wasn't able to keep his thoughts to himself like me. Some would call it big-headedness, but I call it arrogance. My red-headed brother was overly-confident. Mum always said he was just like Uncle Ron.
Evan made a noise in his throat. "Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived? The one who killed You-Know-Who about 19 years ago? Everyone knows him!"
My eyebrows shot up, eyes wide. James' mouth dropped open. I could have sworn I heard it hit the floor.
Our father, the savior of the Wizarding World that people still talked about? It seemed so far-fetched, so unbelievable that at first I thought that Lautervan was mistaken. I knew my dad, and he wasn't a famous war hero . . . was he? My parents never talked about the war, but James, Lily and I knew enough to know who was in it. They'd fought in the Final Battle, the Battle of Hogwarts, it was called. That was the war that Teddy's parents had died in, as well as Uncle George's twin, the uncle we'd never meet.
I always suspected that Mum and Dad were hiding something, but never did I expect it to be this big. Monumental, actually. How could they keep something like this from us? Lily I could understand - she's only 9 - but James and I? We're plenty old enough to know something like that about our dad! When were they planning on telling? When we were their age?
This mental rant is taking all of my concentration. I haven't even put my quill to my parchment to start my essay - the one I sat down to do about fifteen minutes ago. I shake my head in exasperation, pulling myself out of the slump I'd been in since Evan told us the 'big secret'. I felt bad, yes, but I still needed to do my homework.
After about ten minutes of trying to focus long enough to start, I threw my quill down in disgust. I just can't concentrate when I've got so much on my mind! And Mum and Dad, at home, ignorant of what happened - I couldn't take it anymore!
Getting up from my seat near the fire, I started pacing. It was late, and the Common Room was empty. I glanced at the piece of clean parchment I had planned on writing my essay on, then at my quill; I made up my mind.
I grabbed the quill and sat back down, pulling my parchment close. I wrote without thinking, it was as if my hand was writing of it's own accord. I didn't stop, though. The paper said exactly what I felt, and when I finished, I nodded in silent approval. Then, as if I had become a clockwork, I left the Common Room.
It didn't cross my mind that I wasn't supposed to be out of Gryffindor Tower this late at night. The only thing I thought about was the piece of parchment with my angry words that stained the page like black, sharp thorns. I wanted them to hurt, I wanted those words to sting - like they had stung me. So, with only the paper in my mind, I headed toward the Owlery, not even bothering to sneak.
Later I would wonder how I had managed to make it to the Owlery without getting caught, but it didn't bother me now. I looked up at all the owls, their shining bulbs glaring accusingly at me, and found a sturdy Barn Owl. His white, heart-shaped face tilted as he perched on my shoulder, and his ebony eyes shone in the moonlight. I had always thought that owls knew what went on around them, that they understood wizards better than we ourselves did. It seemed so especially now, as the big tawny-and-white bird stared at me unblinkingly, as if reading my thoughts.
I only hesitated for a moment, though. Shaking my head to clear the stupor, I took the paper out of my pocket, unfolding it and smoothing the creases I'd made to make it fit. I then tied it securely to the owl's leg and walked over to the window. He spread his huge wings and took off, taking the letter I'd written with such malice.
I almost regretted being so rash. As I walked back to the Common Room, taking much more care in not getting caught, I went over my letter in my head. It had seemed right at the time, but was it really necessary? Maybe I could've just . . . no. There was no other choice. This had to be done, and when I was back in the Common Room, I had no more doubt.
The next day at breakfast I sat by James. Luckily no one else was near enough, so I decided to tell him about what I'd done.
"You did what?!" He leapt up as he said it, causing several others in the Great Hall to look at him in surprise. He grinned sheepishly and rubbed the back of his neck before sitting down again, ears as red as his messy hair.
"I had to, James!" I said, almost pleading for him to understand. "I couldn't take it anymore!"
James gave a humorless laugh. "Er, hello! I felt the same way as you, Al, and you don't see me doing such a stupid–" He was cut off abruptly by the morning mail, as owls flew in by the hundreds, dropping off letters, parcels, and news. My stomach lurched as I saw the Barn Owl fly in, carrying a small box. He landed smoothly in front of me and James, setting the box down at his feet and tilting his white head expectantly. James offered him his bacon, which he gulped up excitedly.
My hands shook as I reached out and took the little box. It was light, and I hadn't the slightest idea as to what was inside. Before I could undo the clasp to open it, however, James stopped me.
"Look, there's a letter. Read it first."
I turned the box over carefully and saw that he was right. There was actually two letters attached to the back, and I tore them off. When I unfolded the first one, my heart almost stopped.
We didn't want you to find out the way you did. Before I say anything I want you to understand that. We were going to tell you eventually, when we thought it best. The story in itself is impacting and far too horrible for anyone so young to know, especially when it's their own father. But your letter hurt him, Albus. Guilt has always been an emotion that he carried strongly, even when he was younger. Blaming himself for things that even he had no control over. Your letter brought about the guilt that came from not telling his own children about his past. We're sorry for not telling you, but maybe next time you phrase your letters better? I don't think your father slept last night, and Lily has been asking all morning what was wrong with him. When you come home for Christmas, we will tell you and James everything, but until then, you're just going to have to stay in the dark. This kind of story is better told from the heart, not the quill. Your father and I love you very much.
I looked up from the letter to see James reading over my shoulder, his eyes wide. When he'd finished, he looked at me, mouth open, horror written all over his face.
"What did you say in that letter, Al?"
I hesitated, looking at my breakfast sullenly, having lost my appetite. I really didn't know what to say, so I settled on, "Oh, well, you know . . ."
"No, I very well don't know! What you said obviously made Dad feel horrid, or maybe Mum's exaggerating, I don't know." He paused, eyes roaming the table until they rested on the other, unopened letter. "Open the other letter!"
I really didn't want to, but I snatched it before James could get it. I opened it so slowly.
"Will you get on with it?" James snapped impatiently. I unfolded the paper. As my eyes scoured the page, my stomach ached and my whole body felt numb.
Albus and James,
I'm sorry for not telling you anything, for keeping you in the dark like I did for so long. I really never meant to hurt you, just protect you. It really is some . . . well, its not cheerful, my past. My whole time at Hogwarts was interlaced with trials, horrors, and sadness - don't get me wrong, I loved Hogwarts. The real reason for that was kept from you too, I guess. But the truth was I never really was what you would call "normal". I had someone constantly trying to hurt me, in any way possible. I lost so many people who were dear to me that I grew somewhat reckless with my own life. I stopped caring whether I lived or died. I was numb. The only thing that mattered was my family - the Weasleys, your Aunt Hermione, and many others - and whether or not they were hurt. I would have done anything to help them, and in the end I did. I died for them. The only problem is that I hadn't counted on hurting anyone I cared about myself. I hurt you two, and Lily (though she knows nothing about any of this), and I don't know what to do. Maybe this will help a little, but I can't make you forgive me. I love you both so much.
I read it over twice, and as I finished it the second time, I felt numb as well. I really had hurt him. I felt terrible, and James was not helping.
"Al . . . what did you say?!"
I ignored his question, not really having an honest answer for him. I didn't remember what I'd written exactly, having only been writing in blind anger. I finally realised the rash decision I'd made in owling that letter, and regretted it immensely.
"Open the parcel," James said, re-reading Dad's letter. His brown eyes stared at the page hungrily, as if dissecting every word to try and uncover any hidden secrets. "Hey, wait, what did he mean, "I died for them"? He doesn't actually mean . . ." He couldn't finish, the thought was too horrible. I didn't have an answer.
I took the small wooden box and looked at it, wondering what was inside. It was simple, yet ornate at the same time, if that was possible. It was mahogany, a rich brown-red that had been polished at one time, but a time long forgotten. There was a elaborate design carved into the smooth wood on the top, painted with gold leaf that had started to fade away. The design held a stag, his antlers held high in pride, with a bolt of lightning splitting between them. I had no idea of the significance of the stag or lightning, so I undid the clasp and opened the box.
It was filled with history. There were photos, newspaper articles, folded pages from The Quibbler - an array of my dad's childhood. My eyes grew wide as I took in everything.
"Woah." James had looked inside, too. "I've always wondered what was in that box."
I started in surprise. "You've seen it before?"
He nodded wisely. "Yes. It used to be in Dad's office, on the top of his bookshelf. I never asked about it because I wasn't even supposed to know about it . . ." He didn't need to elaborate, I knew what he meant. He'd been sneaking around.
"Can you believe all this?" I asked, awed.
"No. We haven't even read or looked at any of it, so how can I?" He took the picture that was on the top off the vast stack of items and looked at it, eyes huge.
"It's a picture of . . . woah, a younger Dad. He's in his . . ." He turned the photo over to look at the back, "oh, his seventh year."
"What? Dad didn't go to Hogwarts for seven years!" I stole a glance at the picture. It was Dad, all right. He was younger, almost 18, and he was grinning beside Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione. "That was taken at the Burrow."
James wasn't listening. He was rummaging through the box's contents, pulling out a copy of The Daily Prophet. The headline read, in bold letters:
WANTED FOR QUESTIONING ABOUT
THE DEATH OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
I almost shouted in shock. From the date in the corner of the newspaper, it was printed when Dad was 17. I read the article and stared at the huge photo of Dad's young face, staring moodily at the camera. Undesirable Number One?
"Hey look!" James pulled out a badge with a flickering marquee, one that was about to stop working from age. The glowing red words flickered uncertainly between SUPPORT CEDRIC DIGGORY - THE REAL HOGWARTS CHAMPION and POTTER STINKS!. I had no idea what the badge was for, and I didn't find out until I found the newspaper talking about the Triwizard Tournament in Dad's fourth year. It'd been a big deal, since he was famous and only 14 in a 17 year-old competition. I found out he had won the tournament, too, after the Hufflepuff Diggory was murdered.
"This stuff's all out of order!" I cried in exasperation.
James looked at all of it, then at the staff table. We were almost the last people in the Great Hall. "Let's take this up to my dormitory. That way no one will bother us, and we can sort through it all."
We did just that. It took a long time to organise the mess, but eventually it was all sorted into years. Lucky it was Saturday, otherwise we'd never have time to do all this.
"Okay, let's start with his first year," James said, picking up a photo.
We spent the entire day going through Dad's years at Hogwarts, leading up to the Final Battle in which he'd played such a big role. After we had gone through everything, I understood why they'd kept it from us. I felt dizzy now with Dad's heroism. But it was more than that, much more. He'd actually died. There had been a letter written from Dad to Mum after the Final Battle.
What the hell were you thinking?! Do you realise what I thought, what everyone thought, as we saw you lying dead in Hagrid's arms? It tore my heart to pieces, Harry. I felt like I was going to die, too. I know you 'had' to do it, that you 'had' to kill Voldemort's Horcrux, but it still hurt. If you ever do something so stupid as knowingly walking to your death, I will murder you myself, Harry Potter.
When are you going to come to the Burrow? You could help Mum - and me. You do realise that you defeated Voldemort, right? That now we can be together? That was your only reason for breaking up with me at Dumbledore's funeral, Harry, so don't go changing your mind now! Run off with Cho Chang and I might just have to kill you.
James had, at first, cringed at the obvious affection between our parents even at that age, but then he realised what Mum had said. Dad had actually been killed. The word seemed to magnify in ugliness when I pictured my Dad lying dead on the ground. I could tell I was not going to banish that mental image any time soon.
"So . . ." James said after a long silence. "What now?"
I looked over at him, tilting my head in thought like that Barn Owl had. "I have to write a letter."
RoW: I will continue with Time is of the Essence now, having gotten that out of my system. How refreshing, adding another fic! I'm so excited, it's brilliant! I've now written 6! Well, okay 5 - if you want to be picky and don't count Power of Three because I took that off and discontinued it. Well I don't care, because I really really didn't want to write it anymore - especially after reading Deathly Hallows and getting such commercial (ha) success with Time is of the Essence, which I love. Well, so, anyway. Reviews are highly appreciated, because they make me happy - like Prongs when he dangled Snivellus by his foot to expose his unmentionables! Yay Prongs, I love you!