Title: Be Good and Don't Make a Sound
Snarry Games 2007 Team: Wartime
Prompt: Chain of Command
Length: ~18,000 words total. ~2,000 in part 1.
A/N: To me, this fic is very cheesy. It's sticky, it's smelly, but I'm still unreasonably fond of it. It also came very close to getting the title 'Snarry for Beginners'. Dedicated to Ac1d6urn, for offering a figurative shoulder, much amusement, lots of help, and writing advice I would never forget. Written between 24.3 - 21.4.07.
Disc.: Harry Potter belongs to whom it belongs, and that 'whom' is not me.
Betas: Sazzlette, Eeyore9990, Medawyn, Unrequited Angst, Joanwilder, Perfica and Ac1d6urn. Thank you all.
Summary: How can Harry rush to the rescue when it's his own dad who stands in his way, and Death Eater Severus Snape who needs his help?
Be Good and Don't Make a Sound
For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.
- Jonathan Swift
Harry jumped when the front door was kicked wide open, breaking through the thin plaster wall of a corner alcove. He dashed into the corridor, but stumbled when he heard Sirius's raspy voice shouting out, "JAMES!"
He regained his footing and lunged into the dusty corridor towards him. Hunched under an unconscious body, Sirius was trying to make his way to the stairs, without much success.
"Sirius?" Harry asked, stunned by the blood that was running down from Sirius's swollen nose. He pretended it didn't sting when Sirius only glanced at him tiredly before hollering for James again.
"I'm coming!" Harry's dad shouted back from the floor above them. "Stop shouting, you impatient mongrel!"
James tumbled down the stairs a few minutes later, scowling and tying the sash of his dressing-gown around his waist. "It's our week off," he grumbled, but shut his mouth with an audible click when he saw Sirius and the man Sirius was carrying.
"Merlin," he breathed, and an ugly grin stretched his lips. "You got him."
Sirius smirked. "I got him good."
James's laughter was hoarse and so full of hatred and victory it terrified Harry. He was one breath away from shouting Stop! and making Sirius put the stranger down and explain.
One breath away. One breath that Harry found impossible to draw.
"C'mon," Sirius told James and shifted uncomfortably. "Help me get the bastard up to the attic."
James hopped the rest of the way down the stairs and took out his wand. "Mobilicorpus," he said imperiously with his grin still in place, and went back up at an easy gait.
"Buthe'shurt," Harry finally said in a rush. He meant that Sirius was hurt, but when his dad made the unconscious man float high in the air, his face and robes no longer sticking to Sirius, it was easy to discern that the blood that dripped to the floor came from the unconscious man's hair and sleeves, and that his face had an unnatural greenish tint to it.
The two Aurors took it the wrong way and shrugged. Sirius turned to Harry and finally said, "He deserved it." Then he turned and followed James, leaving Harry alone and in the dark.
Harry fussed for some time in the kitchen over the pasta he was cooking, before giving up and sitting on a stool. He put his hands in his lap, hiding them from view – especially his own.
This wasn't the first time Harry had seen people hurt and bleeding. After all, he'd been the youngest Seeker Hogwarts had had in a century. He himself had even lost all the bones in his arm when an essentially stupid teacher had tried to mend them. He'd also been in fistfights where he'd broken his nose and once, when he'd been really little, he'd played with his father's wand and almost set himself on fire.
The teacher had been sacked when Sirius had learnt what had happened, despite James's claims that Harry's arm was fine and no real harm had been done. After Harry's fistfights Sirius sent advice via owl post, or he'd Floo past curfew to teach Harry how to beat his opponents quicker.
Those were the daily injuries. There were many more that Harry refused to think about, things that others had done to him and things he had done to others with the help of his two best friends. He had no doubt that nothing would be ending quite yet, not until the war was over.
He reached a decision then and took the pasta off the stove, replacing it with a water-filled teapot. While he waited for it to boil, he looked for some gauze.
Once he had all he wanted, he took everything upstairs to the attic, feeling awkward. He wasn't supposed to be up here; it was completely off-limits to anyone who wasn't his dad or Sirius. Even Remus was banned from the attic, when he visited.
The higher Harry went, the more noise reached his ears. Moans, snarls – occasionally somebody spoke, but Harry couldn't make out the voices. Not sure what to do, he stood for a moment before he forced himself to walk to the door of the attic and knocked, careful not to hit his head on the low ceiling.
The sudden silence was eerie, as if more than one person were biting their tongues and straining not to make noise.
Harry waited, but nobody came to open the door. He put down the teapot and gauze before the door, turned around, and walked back, face still turned towards the door.
He hit his head on the support beams on his way down.
Way too early the next morning, a big, slobbering dog jumped on Harry's bed and woke him up.
"Urgh," said Harry in response and batted Padfoot's wet snout away, burrowing deeper in his blankets and trying hard to ignore his father's soft chuckle as the curtains were opened, letting in too much light for Harry's liking.
Padfoot barked and sneaked a lick on Harry's nose.
"Go 'way," Harry mumbled and pushed Padfoot away again, unknowingly stretching enough to allow his father access to start tickling his feet.
Doubling over and laughing, Harry started kicking – if asked he'd say it was reflex -- but James held down his legs and tickled Harry harder, sharing a grin with the dog, who promptly began licking Harry's neck.
"I give in!" Harry screeched, unable to breathe. "I give in!"
The licking stopped. The tickling stopped. Then Padfoot jumped off the bed, hitting Harry in the face with his tail in the process. Harry sat up and drew his knees to his chest, gasping and glaring at the two blurry figures.
"Good morning," his dad said pleasantly, offering him his glasses.
Now that Harry could see the dog's mocking pink tongue and his dad's shiny white teeth, he straightened and proclaimed, "That wasn't fair!"
Chuckling once more, James ruffled Harry's hair and said, "Breakfast is in fifteen minutes." Then he turned to Padfoot and asked, "Coming?"
With that, Padfoot padded to the door, looking back at Harry with his tongue still lolling out. James nudged him out firmly and closed the door behind them, leaving a groggy Harry to get ready for the day.
Harry eyed the pillow, shifted his eyes to the blankets still on the floor and sighed, deciding to get up and stretch. If he'd had any hope that after his birthday his dad and his godfather would treat him like the adult he now was, he had obviously been sorely mistaken.
He glanced at his bedside clock and groaned. It was half past six in early August and he was expected to get up?
Nonetheless, he was already awake, so what would be the harm in finishing his morning routine and being grumpy at his dad for the remainder of the day for his little morning tickle?
At quarter to seven – exactly! – Harry held back a yawn and went to the living room for breakfast. He slouched in his chair all over the table, hiding his face from view as he tried to sneak in a few minutes more of sleep.
He shifted slightly in acknowledgement when he heard Sirius grumble somewhere above him, "You could've given us a hand."
"Nah, let him sleep. He's going to be active enough in a few hours."
Harry raised his head and looked at his dad without much understanding. "Huh?"
James laughed and put Harry's plate where his head had been. "Auror training, remember?"
"Oh, shit!" Harry exclaimed. "Today's Monday?" How had he managed to forget?
He couldn't help but feel dismayed when they laughed at him.
Everything went wrong that morning. Never before had time gone as fast as it did then, in a flurry of stairs, clothes, almosts, and one broken mirror.
It took Harry longer than the assigned forty-five minutes to pack, which was why his dad dragged him by the scruff of his neck to the fireplace and ordered him to get a grip on himself and get moving.
Harry had never been to the Auror Complex. He didn't expect the strange Floo security measures of hands holding him still and searching him thoroughly – in his pockets, under his robes, inside his underclothes. One even tried to sneak into his mouth and under his tongue, but Harry bit down hard enough to sever a finger, had the hand been real.
At the reception hall, Harry was high-strung. The crowd was thick enough that Harry had problems going anywhere without walking into somebody. It made him irritable, nervous, and over-alert; not a healthy combination, as the Auror guards positioned there were looking for anybody jumpy.
The amount of people thinned after they passed two more security points. Only then did Harry allow himself to calm down and stop checking the people around him suspiciously.
He didn't expect it when James and Sirius stopped in front of a large door. James pressed his lips together as Sirius said too loudly, "Well, this is it."
Harry looked at the door. Past it was his home for the next six months of his training. He turned to face his dad and his godfather for confirmation. After finding it, he turned to them hoping to find reassurances.
Instead he saw his father's lips being pressed into thin, pale lines, eyebrows drawn together; he saw his godfather's detached, glassy eyes that refused to focus on Harry.
James's hand found his right shoulder again, and Harry shifted his attention back to his dad. He didn't like the concern he saw in his dad's eyes. He'd seen this expression after he'd fought Quirrell, after the Chamber of Secrets with Tom Riddle and his Basilisk, after he'd faced Wormtail, after Voldemort had come back to life – Harry refused to think any further, the events still too painful in his mind.
"I'll be all right," said Harry quietly.
"You can still back out, if you want," said James. "Nobody will think the less of you."
Harry squared his shoulders. "I will."
James and Sirius smiled. They were proud of him, Harry knew, and couldn't think of a happier moment than this. A bit shy, he smiled back, and said, "Well . . . bye, then."
Sirius was the first who moved, shifting Harry from his place and drawing him into a fierce embrace. "Don't you dare get hurt," he murmured hoarsely.
"I'll be fine," Harry reassured Sirius and wriggled out of his hold, only to be hugged by James and have a dry kiss planted on his temple.
Harry disentangled himself from James too, and opened the door in front of them. The people behind it all turned to look at him, and with a last smile at his dad and godfather, he went inside.
Just a moment before he closed the door behind him, he heard his dad saying softly, "There were times I didn't believe he'd live to see eighteen," but Harry couldn't respond, because he was being faced down by Kingsley Shacklebolt.
"You're late," Kingsley informed Harry and fixed him with a stare, waiting for him to take his place with the rest of the group.
Harry always twists and turns in bed at night. Always he dreams of bodies, some wearing black and some scarlet – like the eyes, he thinks – and of spidery, white fingers over everything there, clenching into a fist, having the world.
Harry doesn't find it easy to relive his worst moments.
There – a fire behind him and before him something that is less than a ghost reflecting in a mirror, and when he turns from that, the fire is gone and he hears dry bones crunch under his feet as he walks down a tunnel towards the known, but not the unfeared.
No; a full moon while a rat smiles and bares its teeth as it runs for freedom in the wild, and the silence that's left behind after someone has fallen to the ground, no longer breathing, makes the rat's smile widen. . . .
Another toss and another turn. Harry thinks he can see Sirius's white smile in the darkness, but soon realises it's hardly a smile, but a scream that's forever locked in the recesses of time and Harry flees to call for help before his dad is there, witnessing his weakness. He wants to apologise, but he can only stare at something crimson dripping down a slab of stone, past which there is an underground lake, blocking his way.
He feels blood spreading along his skin, and from inside the endless, excruciating pain, he can hear the one who'd taken him. He turns to look at him and demand to be let go, but the blood drips—
—somewhere from above, high over a staircase. Harry looks up and sees the crimson drops fall from lanky strands of hair, slick and shiny with the moisture. The man whose hair it is is floating in the air, his mouth clamped shut tightly, his lips thin and pale.
But the man's eyes are open and are so black. "Will you look at that," he sneers. "Their little brat is here."
Harry doesn't always manage to jerk himself awake, but when he does, choking on his gasp and sitting up straight, his teammates always pretend that they're still asleep.