A Winter's Reprieve
Timeline: 5th year
Summary: Summer is over. Harry is back to school and Rabastan is with Voldemort. Secrets unfold, masks fall and Harry faces the consequences of his summer romance.
Pairs: Harry Potter/ Rabastan Lestrange
Author: enchanted nightingale
Beta Reader: pussycatadamah
Disclaimer: The characters from Harry Potter books do not belong to me. I merely use them in my plot for fun.
A/N: I Changed Chapter 1
Return to Light
The magic of the Portkey gave Harry an upset stomach. Remus had to catch him when the dark and depressing hall of No. 12 Grimmauld Place in London cleared around them.
"I hate Portkeys," the teen muttered as he dry heaved. The werewolf shook his head and tried to sooth the teen.
"I'll go tell Sirius," Tonks beamed at them and practically ran to the direction of what Harry would learn to be the kitchen. "Kreacher will take care of your things."
"Let me take Ciel," Remus offered Harry. It was good thing the teen agreed because a man came running towards him, arms open wide in a hug.
Said teen was swept into Sirius' still bony arms as the escaped convict twirled him around calling his name with delight.
His loud voice started a commotion as more people arrived. Harry lost count of the red heads that came to greet him. Somewhere in there Hermione stood, as well as Severus Snape and a couple of people he did not recognize.
"Siri, put him down," Remus cut in when it seemed that the poor boy was going a bit green.
Harry's knees wobbled when he was finally in touch with the ground. He had no chance to recover as Hermione and Ginny tackled him, all tears, Ron hovered behind him and offered a pat on the shoulder and a smile. Then Molly took her turn. By the end of it he was dizzy and needing a place to sit down.
"Now, now, I think Harry has had enough, give him some room to breathe," Dumbledore cut in Molly's hug. His eyes sparkled at the grateful look Harry gave him.
"I have dinner ready," Molly commented, pulling Harry to the kitchen.
"No, thank you, Mrs. Weasley," Harry told her. "I've eaten."
"Nonsense," the witch sniffed. She pulled him after her, or tried to.
The teen's green eyes hardened. He was not even five minutes back in England and he was finding it hard to breathe. Harry stood still, pulling his arm away from her. "I told you, I have eaten. It was a three course dinner. I'm full." He turned to Sirius. "I'm tired. Where do I sleep?" he asked his godfather.
"I'll show you," Sirius told him. If he was surprised he hid it well.
Harry thanked Dumbledore, Moody and Tonks, muttered a 'goodnight' to the room and practically ran past Sirius to get out of the room. Remus hurried after them with Ciel and Kreacher appeared and took the luggage the teen had brought.
Molly was left blinking.
"Well, it is late," Dumbledore commented. "I better return to school. Severus? Alastor? Will you come?"
The two wizards nodded and the Weasley family, Hermione and the few Order members were left bemused in the hall.
Among them, Kingsley Shacklebolt stared after the raven haired till, feeling a prickling of awareness. Something about Harry Potter was familiar.
Sirius walked the narrow path that led to the bedrooms. He had thought briefly of putting Harry in the same room with Ron for the friends to be together but now he did not know. Harry looked different. He had grown, not physically as much as mentally. And he looked well dressed, his glasses were gone and he had gained some weight. He looked healthy, Sirius realized. And before Molly had tried to pressure him to eat, he had looked happy.
"Creepy place," the teen commented.
"I grew up here," Sirius told his godson.
Green eyes blinked. "Um, it looks… nice?"
Sirius laughed. "It's damp, full of Merlin knows what creatures, spiders and Dark objects." He shook his head. "I hate this place."
"Well, add a little colour, get rid of the house-elf heads, a few windows here and there, brand new house," the teen suggested.
Sirius ruffled his hair and stopped before a door; a golden plate with the name 'Regulus' sparkled before him. "It used to be my brother's room," he informed Harry.
The teen caught the past tense and winced. "Is that really okay?"
Sirius waved his wand and the door opened. "Sure, come on in."
Harry followed after him, not expecting much due to the condition of the house. He was pleasantly surprised to see the good condition of the room. It was full of greens and cherry wood and it had a charmed window and its own bathroom. "I-Thank you very much," Harry turned to his godfather. He hugged the man and Sirius beamed at Remus.
"I brought Ciel," the werewolf cut in. Harry pulled back and took the cub.
Sirius blinked. "Is that a wolf?"
"He's mine. I named him Ciel," Harry petted the black fur.
The dog Animagus cocked his head to the side. "He looks… cute."
"All babies are," Remus commented. He took Sirius' arm. "Come; let Harry rest for now."
Harry saw how reluctant his godfather was but he did want to be alone. He watched them go with a smile. When he was alone he fell backwards on the bed, Ciel bouncing on his chest.
"Well, I guess we're home," he whispered to the wolf cub.
His reply was a soft nuzzle.
Sirius and Remus were cornered by Molly the moment they entered the kitchen. The witch had it in for the last male Black since she met him. Remus winced at the memory of some of the shouting matches between the two and hoped he would avoid the upcoming. It was no use.
"SIRIUS BLACK!" the witch yelled the moment she saw him.
The dog Animagus groaned. "What now?"
"How could you? That boy is far too skinny and you sent him to bed without dinner," the witch accused.
"We already told you he ate," Remus tried to reason.
Molly scoffed. "Who knows what those people fed him…"
"That will be enough, don't start, it's too damn late," Sirius told her.
She flushed. "You don't tell me what to do! I raised seven kids! Seven! Six of them boys. I know about kids. You don't."
Sirius glared at her. "Yes, your two elder sons left the country and the others try to run away from you as soon as they see you."
Remus and Arthur winced at the background of all this.
"How dare you insinuate I'm not a good mother?"
"You are an overbearing witch with no thought whatsoever about what Harry said to you. He told you he ate. You ignored him. How good a mother does that make you? My godson looks better than he ever did since I met him, he's even gained weight. And he was smiling before you saw him and tried to boss your will over him." Sirius glared at the gob smacked witch before him. He knew he had shocked her but he was not about to let it go. "Harry is my godson but he has also grown up alone quite well so far, all on his own. He can think for himself. Now accept that or don't, I don't care, but try to put pressure on him again and I'll take his side. Remember Molly, this is my home and I listen to Dumbledore only so far." He turned and stormed out of the kitchen.
Remus said his good night hastily and went to his room.
Molly turned to her husband. "Can you believe him Arthur?"
"Well, luv, you did come on the boy strongly." Her face reddened with indignation and he hurried to pacify her. "No one said you don't love children no matter if they are yours or not, but you are a bit… strong willed. Anyway, I'm off to bed and I bet you are tired too. Come on now Molly."
"You take his side, Black's side," the witch accused.
"No dear, I'm on Harry's side."
Harry woke up immediately that morning and promptly ran to the bathroom to empty his stomach. He had rarely woken up in such a state and it left him weak and disorientated for a while, before he slowly got his bearings and went to wash up. He did not even pause to consider why he woke up the way he did except that it was from nerves. He had been feeling anxious ever since his return to Britain and the confrontation with Mrs. Weasley the night before left a bad aftertaste in his mouth.
After his nasty wake up, the teen chose the clothes to wear for breakfast with fondness for the family he left in France. He smiled with happiness at the memory he had when the whole family declared he was like a son and a brother to them.
"Hey, Ciel, what are the chances I can still hear when they are done yelling at me?" he asked his wolf. "Merlin, I wished I had stayed in that hotel room with him. I really miss him and it's been only a day," the teen whispered to his pet.
Meanwhile the kitchen was loud with noises as the residents of No. 12 Grimmauld Place had breakfast.
Molly Weasley was in a foul mood and Sirius sat far away from her. The twins were making noises to cover for the tension in the packed room. Remus was talking to Tonks in low tones. Once in a while they talked to Sirius and Kingsley.
"There's something entertaining when seeing an Auror eating with an escaped criminal," Fred told George.
"There are probably a ton of jokes out there," their sister added.
Next to Ginny, Hermione was on a roll; excited her friend had been to Paris. "I hope he went to the magical Louvre," she told Ron.
"He stayed with Veela," the teen grouched. "You care about some fancy museum?"
The witch scoffed. "You still mooning over Fleur Delacour?"
"Bacon?" Molly yelled, spatula raised.
Ron called for more and so did all the male Weasley's.
That was the sight Harry walked into. His appearance caused noise to stop for a while and then resume louder. He was greeted by everyone at once and only because of Sirius he managed to get to the table, next to the long haired man.
"Got hungry enough and decided to join us?" Harry was teased by his godfather. The teen merely smiled at the wizard.
"Juice?" Remus offered the teen.
Harry looked around the table, filling his plate with fruit and toast. "Is that pumpkin juice; because I prefer orange juice. Oh! Coffee!" The teen happily reached for the hot beverage.
"Bacon dear?" Molly asked him. "And I can do some eggs as well."
"Um, no thank you Mrs. Weasley. I'm on a steady diet. Fats and grease are no good. Apolline's Healer put me on Nutrition Potions too," Harry told her. "I'll ask Madame Pomfrey to exam me once I return to school."
"You saw a Healer?" Molly frowned.
"Yes," Harry told her. " Apolline did not like my size and Armand was adamant I saw one. They were right. I had calcium deficiency and I was low on iron and vitamins. The Dursley's did a good job starving me," the teen commented. He noticed how everyone winced. "Found 'them' yet?"
"Dumbledore had a few words with them," Tonks spoke up. Then she winked. "He got his due as well."
Harry smirked. "I know, Fleur told me her mother made his ears ring."
"It was a sight," Remus chuckled. "I'll tell you later," he told Sirius.
"That was rude of her," Molly commented.
"Really?" Harry turned to her. He studied the witch. Every since he met the mother of seven on the way to Hogwarts Express Molly Weasley had been there, gentle, caring, mothering and attentive. He could not understand why she disregarded his words the night before and now was so hostile towards Apolline. They were both mothers and women, was it so bad that he felt loved and cared for this summer? Then again she was always babying her children too much. She had been in constant disapproval of Bill's choices the year before, from his job to his appearance. She was also criticizing the Twins at every turn even though they were brilliant and creative.
But she seemed to second guess anything that came out of his mouth. And despite being tired the night before he had heard her yelling at Sirius and the glares she sent him this morning were telling. It hurt that she would prefer him unhappy and it hurt she talked so bad about Sirius when the man was doing the best he could under the circumstances.
"Do you really think that? Were you not the least bit angry that my relatives abandoned me? That they had been using me as their own personal slave for years?" he asked the witch, his green eyes looking at her sadly.
Molly flinched. "I-No! Harry I didn't mean that!"
"I'll eat in my room," the teen commented, picking up his plate and coffee.
The silence in the kitchen was heavy.
"You could not just keep your mouth shut," Sirius told Molly. "I'm not hungry anymore." He too left the room.
"Well, that was awkward," Tonks commented.
"Harry?" Sirius knocked on the bedroom that used to be his brother's.
He found his godson eating on the bed and playing with his new pet wolf. "I heard you last night. When you were arguing with her." The teen met his eyes. "Thank you."
Sirius sat on the edge of the bed. "No need to thank me little doe."
Harry glared. "I thank you from the bottom of my generous heart and this is what I get?" he mock scowled.
Sirius ruffled his hair. "Sarcasm does not become you."
Harry grinned sheepishly. "I need practice, don't I?"
Sirius laughed and the two spent the next hour teasing each other.
Ron and Hermione came to him when Sirius left and Harry had just started unpacking his trunk.
"Mate?" the red head was hesitant but overcame that at the smile the green eyed teen gave him.
"Ron, Hermione, come on in. Sorry for the mess, I'm still unpacking," Harry told them. "If you can find a place to sit then by all means do."
The duo shared a look and finally Ron lay down on the floor while Hermione sat in a spare chair.
"Why didn't you write us?" the youngest male Weasley asked. "We would have come for you." He sounded hurt.
"Or me," Hermione added.
Harry offered both of them a smile. "I know that. I never doubted that you wanted me, I just… it didn't really cross my mind at the time. I was nervous and tired. And they were not showing up. I thought something might have happened to make them late."
Hermione studied his form. "You thought they forgot or did not care," she whispered.
Harry shrugged. "I know they never cared. I just never expected them to be that cruel? No, I did, I just hoped I guess."
His friends had nothing to add to that. They seemed to understand that he did not want pity and the situation was truly beyond them as they both had loving parents and happy childhoods.
"So, what really happened? The letters were rather vague," Ron told him.
"And belated," Hermione accused.
Harry winced. "I know, I get it."
"Do you?" the witch questioned.
"Well, I know better now," the teen replied.
"Good, now is that a leather jacket?" Hermione gushed.
"Hands off," Harry warned. "See those bags near you Ron? Blue for you, orange for Hermione," he told them. Ron's eyes lit up and Hermione let out an excited cheer. Harry had Fleur help him buy a perfume for Hermione and a jacket similar to his for Ron. The red haired teen just stared at his present.
"Fleur took me to the Muggle world shopping for gifts. They're not that expensive," he added for Ron's benefit. "More like a symbolic gift. For making you worry."
They both smiled and thanked him.
"Really now, how was the Louvre?" Hermione asked Harry.
"Still standing?" Harry offered.
Ron went into peals of laughter while Hermione started laying it in on Harry for not being serious.
"Come on, Mione, I'm a teen. I spent months in Hogwarts and you want me to go visit museums voluntarily?" Harry was incredulous. "Well, unless you count the museum for the National French Quidditch Team…"
"Boys," Hermione sighed while the two male teens shared a smirk.
"Hermione," Harry returned.
"What's that supposed to mean?" the witch demanded.
Harry gave her a cheeky grin. "You are in a category of your own."
There was an Order meeting that night and Harry was allowed to participate, at least for part of it. He was not seventeen and not a proper member but Dumbledore wanted him to have an idea as to what took place the months he was missing. Even Molly could not argue with that though that did not stop her glare to a very smug Sirius Black.
So Harry was seated between Moody and Auror Shacklebolt, conversing with both of them about Patroni until the meeting started.
Dumbledore was also present, talking in low tones with Minerva McGonagall; both wizards shooting looks at Harry every now and then.
"What are we waiting for?" Harry asked the two Aurors.
"Snape," the older Auror growled.
Kingsley eyed Moody for a moment before he focused on Harry. "He has information to give us so we wait for him. It is best not to repeat things."
"Say," Kingsley told him. "Have I met you before?"
"I can say I haven't," the teen replied. "Why?"
"I get this feeling from you, something familiar…" the Auror trailed off."I might have seen you in Paris," he finally concluded.
"It could be possible," Harry commented. "But where?"
"The market place? The street? A club?" Kingsley mused. "You just seem familiar. And I'm not talking pictures of Harry Potter before this summer."
"Well, I got around, a lot," Harry told the dark skinned man. "Which clubs did you visit in Paris?"
"I went to the Muggle world," Kingsley told him. "Though things are pretty much mixed up."
The teen smiled. "Well, I went to Le Baron, La Queen and to Les Bains, to name a few."
Something prodded the Auror's memory. "In the company of a beautiful blonde?"
"Fleur Delacour," Harry smiled as he mentioned the witch he had in his heart like a precious sister.
Kingsley's eyes widened. It was undoubtedly the name of the witch he had spent the night with. Another thing that hit him was the irony that while they ran around searching for him Kingsley had known his location all the time. He shook his head. It was no use thinking about that. Though he would not mind meeting that blonde minx. Before he could ask anything Snape arrived and the Order meeting began.
Harry was introduced to the members present. Most of them he had heard of by name, others were complete strangers. Dumbledore spoke about how the Order of the Phoenix came to be and how recruitment usually took place.
"However you are not seventeen yet so not a member. You do deserve to know what is happening since the end of the Triwizard Tournament," Dumbledore told him. Harry could only nod as he was told about seeking alliances with werewolves and giants and attacks on Muggle and wizard homes, as well as the constant denial the Ministry was in. The old man hesitated at first but in the end he told the youth about the slander campaign against him from the 'Daily Prophet'. By the end of it Harry had a calm acceptance of the situation. It seemed the only break he would get was his limited time in France. He had not been back for a day and he was ready to leave again.
"So I should expect hostile glares instead of open hugs," the teen made a joke out of the future situation. "I can survive."
"You should also know that a Dementor was viewed near your former residence," Dumbledore commented. "A Muggle was Kissed and the MoM is in a difficult position because of it. Fudge will not be Minister for long. In fact elections are going to be held before Yule. You and everybody else just have to bear the situation until that time."
Again Harry nodded. He had nothing to offer as he knew nothing of political intricacies and the like.
"Basically in general the public is unaware Voldemort is back," the teen summed up. "And I'm crazy and dangerous, again. Oh, well. Is that all?"
Several adults were bewildered by his reaction while others were bemused.
"No, that was a wonderful way to summarize things," Dumbledore told him. "I believe it was not what you expected?"
"It was not," Harry admitted. "Armand told me that certain British papers were writing horrible things but I never cared enough. And the French press was busy criticizing the British, it was a mess."
"Exactly what did you do in France all this time?" Elphias Doge asked Harry.
The teen shrugged. "Believe it or not in the beginning I was taken to a Healer for general health check up and then to counter some damage done to me by long lasting malnutrition…" Several people winced at the connection to his errant relatives. "…Then I did my homework…" Here Snape snorted and ignored the looks he was given. "…Went shopping with three overzealous witches," Harry mused with an accompanying shudder which had many males laugh. "And of course sightseeing."
"Of course," Alastor grumbled.
Tonks giggled. "How much of the sights did you actually see Harry?"
Harry blushed. "I saw plenty!"
"Oh, I bet!" the metamorphmagus teased.
The teen rolled his eyes. "Enough with the suggestive comments."
"I haven't even started yet!" Tonks pouted.
"Harry?" Molly Weasley spoke up. "You did not get involved with bad company, did you?"
The teen shook his head. "If I did Apolline would not let this slide," he told her.
"Nymphadora is talking about Potters lover," Moody said then.
"He's too young to have a lover!" Molly exclaimed. "Harry dear, is it some crush you think you have?"
Harry glared at her. Did she really think him so helpless or such an idiot as to not know his own feelings?
Instead of Harry it was Tonks who answered the witch, quite indignant at her words. "Actually Harry has a lover, an actual lover, none of that pink hearts and bunny stuff. And I bet he's a hunk."
"Your lover is another boy!" Molly exclaimed.
"Yes, well, these things happen," Dumbledore intervened trying to stop an argument from exploding in their faces.
But Molly would have none of it, demanding they discussed the latest development in Harry's life, something for which the teen was not happy about and it showed in his narrowed green eyes.
"I hardly think my love life is any of your business or at all important to the war effort against Voldemort," Harry all but hissed at the witch who was slowly becoming his least favourite person in the room and that included Snape.
Said Potions Master and spy snorted in agreement. "Really Molly, the boy had a summer fling, it's not the end of the world."
"With a boy!" Molly enthused.
"Man," Harry, Tonks, Remus and Dumbledore corrected without realizing while Moody growled his agreement.
"Man?" Sirius echoed.
Harry blushed. "Um, he was kind of twice my age?"
Sirius gaped while Snape choked on air.
"That is preposterous!" Emeline Vance commented. "The Boy-Who-Lived cannot be gay!"
"Well, too bad I'm just Harry and you aren't my mother," the teen replied with a glare.
The witch flushed but a nudge from Tonks at her side shut her up.
"Well, back to the meeting then…" Dumbledore spoke up then.
"I cannot believe this," Molly muttered, cutting the Headmaster off.
Sirius groaned. A few seats next to him Snape fought to roll his eyes. It was by far the most dramatic meeting he had attended in the Order and oddly enough the Potter brat stayed quiet and respectful, mostly.
"Molly?" Dumbledore queried. "Is there a problem?"
"Yes, there is. What about Ginny? The poor girl is in love with you Harry? How can you do this to her?" the witch complained. Next to her Arthur winced. He did not appreciate airing family laundry and that was exactly what this was. He knew his younger daughter had a crush on Harry but even he saw that it was a bit much to ask of the teen to respond to her feelings when he did not. He wished he could have stopped his wife from speaking about this matter ever and especially during an Order meeting.
In turn Harry merely gaped at Molly Weasley. She could not have possibly said what he thought she did.
"Perhaps this matter should be discussed at a later time?" McGonagall had stayed quiet so far. She too did not approve what was going on. She had a lot to say to Harry about his summer but she would do so another time, preferably when they were alone. What was happening now only served to agitate the teen and she knew well that Harry had an explosive temper. So far he had kept it in check but Molly was being ridiculous. If Harry had to pay attention to all who crushed on him then he would be dating most of Hogwarts!
"No, it must be now. He will just disappear later," Molly told her.
"Molly," Sirius said his voice low. "I have already warned you. Keep this up and you will never step foot inside this house again."
The witch glared him. "You think you know Harry better? I had him in my home; my children are friends with him. I've even known him longer…"
"Is this again about me being on the run?" the wizard demanded. "Albus explained it with simple words. I did not kill my best friends nor anyone else. I don't care what you think, but while in my home you will not disrespect me this way."
"Perhaps I should leave, I can ask Sirius or Remus about what happened later," Harry suggested.
"See? He won't answer," Molly pointed at the teen.
"The wisest I have seen any Potter act," Snape commented. "And I think I speak for everyone when I say that I could really live without hearing about Potter's love life."
"I think I entered the Twilight Zone," Harry muttered. Tonks and Remus smiled at the comment. Still the teen shrugged and stood.
Dumbledore observed the teen leave and sighed. Things were slowly going out of control and Harry was slowly but surely starting to resent Molly and the old wizard feared what that would mean in the future.
The Weasley Twins tackled Harry the moment he stepped out of the kitchen. Before Harry had time to react he was lifted by the elbows and carried to the sitting room where Hermione, Ron and Ginny were sprawled on the couches. He was winded when he was released and he could only blink at the inquisitive eyes he was met with.
"What?" he asked them.
"Mate, you were in an order meeting," Ron told him. "We want details."
"Or you can use pantomime…" Fred grinned.
"We don't mind," George grinned.
Harry rolled his eyes. "It was not much of a meeting," he replied.
"Yes, you did come out rather quickly," Hermione commented.
Harry squatted before the unlit fireplace. "It had to do with this summer. I met someone." He did not miss the mischievous looks the twins gave him, the spark of curiosity in Hermione's eyes, the interested and a bit jealous look from Ron, or the hurt look from Ginny. And truthfully he would not take it back. He had never said anything to the young witch, never given her any hope of anything romantic and he was peeved that Mrs. Weasley reacted that way merely minutes ago. He knew of his habit of blaming everything on himself, the Dursley's had him well versed on guilt trips, but this was not his fault no matter what Ginny's mother said.
"Perhaps one of Miss Delacour's…"
"…busty friends?" the twins finished each other's sentences with precision and the ease of someone who had practiced for this.
Now Harry was in a dilemma. He could lie and wait till his friends heard it from Molly Weasley or some other Order member. He never had a chance to learn what his friends thought about homosexuality and he never really cared before. There was really no easy way to tell them and he would not let them accuse him of being a coward and lying to them. The dread spread in his stomach as he tried to sound calm.
"I met someone that many did not approve, not that it's anyone's business really. It's mostly prejudice and outdated thinking," Harry told them.
"Is she older than you?" Hermione guessed.
"That too," Harry replied with a smile. It grew strained. "She is also not a 'she' at all. I'm gay."
Utter silence. For a minute there Harry thought that he had thought it and never spoke aloud. But the paleness on Ginny's face, Ron's wide eyes and horrified look and Hermione's shocked face told him that he had indeed spoken. He chanced a look at the twins but they were looking blankly at him and he could not for the life of him understand whether that was a good or a bad thing.
"You… Harry, are you sure?" Hermione finally squeaked out.
"You cannot be a poof, Harry," Ron said after her. "I mean you wanted to ask Cho to the Yule ball last year."
"Ron," Hermione said. "He's not joking." Then she turned to Harry. "You're just confused. Someone was kind to you and you liked that. I bet he wanted to take advantage of you."
"Y-yes," Ginny finally found her voice. "Hermione is right. He was just leading you on, probably wanted the fame. You are the Boy-Who-Lived."
Harry cringed at her words.
"You are just confused Harry. You are merely experimenting, right?" Hermione tried again.
"We sleep in a dorm," Ron said then. His face was horrified. "Common showers!"
Harry tried not to wonder at them but failed. He was slowly getting angry but bit his lip and swallowed it. They were shocked. They needed time. He would grant them this right, he would. But he would leave first. Or else the slowly mounting anger in him would explode.
"I'm going to bed," Harry told them. "We'll talk in the morning." 'I hope'
The majority of the Order members fled the room as soon as the meeting was over. In the end despite Harry leaving the tension ran too high for the meeting to go smoothly. A clash between Molly Weasley and Sirius Black was a possibility.
"You…" Sirius hissed at her. "Stay away from Harry you hear me? I cannot believe the things you said to him! I don't care about your daughter and whatever notion of love she has for Harry. My godson will not be coerced into a loveless life nor be filled with misplaced guilt for it. You will never try to tell him who to love. It is not your place, never will be. And I want just one more thing to happen before I throw you out Weasley."
"Molly, don't," Arthur told her, sounding stern. While he loved his wife he did not agree with half the things she told the teen. He did not care that the teen preferred his own sex since he was discreet. And he knew that his youngest daughter had feelings for the green eyed wizard, but again he could not begrudge Harry for not returning her feelings, it would be irrational to do so. He could understand his wife's confusion. She had not expected things would change and had an image of the future built in her mind. Now that future was impossible but Harry should not have to feel responsible for that as well.
Molly turned to her husband. "But our poor Ginny…"
"Ginny will find someone to love her. Our Harry cannot. He never noticed her that way, treating her like Hermione or Ron, a sister that is. Do not force the matter, Molly. I have already told you where I stand," Arthur told her with dignity.
From the side, Snape watched the drama unfold with no small amount of amusement for the ginger haired family. It was so satisfying seeing someone standing up to the mother of seven, even if that someone just had to be Black. Still, the happenings of this meeting were interesting.
For instance he had never imagined that the last of the Potters would be homosexual and the boy had never given any indication for it. But then again he did not have a gaggle of love struck girls following him around, with the exception of Ginny Weasley that is. Then there was the fact of his Muggle relatives. He had been with Albus when the older wizard went for them. He still had trouble reconciling the grandfatherly image Dumbledore usually had with the enraged, powerful wizard he had been when he found Petunia Dursley and her pathetic family. That evening had been eye opening and whatever beliefs he had about Potter, Harry Potter, being an immature brat were shot to hell. The boy had serious issues and now the Potions Master could understand the distrust and disregard for authority; since most of the boy's life adults ignored his situation. He was also angry that Lily's son grew up with those people. Severus was of the opinion that the Delacour's had done the boy some good. And it was obvious to whoever looked that the youth's mystery lover had made him more confident and gave him another air. Harry Potter had returned a new man and it was for the best. The surly wizard could only wonder how the teen would get by. It was obvious that he would have a lot of opposition from the Weasley's.
He studied Dumbledore and noticed that his usually luminous eyes had dulled. And Severus suspected it had to do with Potter. Albus did not like prejudice and he was feeling guilty about how he had made Harry grow up. If Molly Weasley continued posing a nuisance Sirius Black would have to get in line to defend the teen.
"As fun as this may be," Severus said then, "Pomona is expecting her burning salve. If you will excuse me I must return to Hogwarts."
"Of course my boy," Dumbledore told him. "But make sure you rest as well."
"Of course," Snape contained a roll of his eyes and left the kitchen.
"I'll go say goodnight to Harry," Sirius said and left the room as well.
"Albus?" Molly turned to the Headmaster. "You're not angry with them, are you?"
"Molly, my dear, children grow up. Who am I to stunt their growth?" the man replied. "Rest well you two."
Sirius heard the murmur in the kitchen before he entered. Remus was outside and seemed to listen in. The werewolf sensed him and turned around, lifting a finger to his lips. Sirius frowned but nodded. He gestured to the living room and Remus followed. Once inside they locked the door.
"What is it?" Sirius asked his friend.
"Apparently Harry told his friends he is gay," Remus told him.
Sirius winced. "I gather it did not go well."
"An understatement. Ginny took it badly and now Molly is spouting nonsense to cheer her up; honestly that woman only makes things worse, giving the poor girl false hope."
"Ron and Hermione?"
Remus shook his head in exasperation. "Those two… Well, Ron is stuck on the fact that Harry is gay, much like James was when you came out," the wizard told Sirius. "It has only been a day and if memory serves me right, James was being an idiot for a week."
Sirius smiled fondly and nodded.
"Now Hermione, she's quiet," Remus said next. "I have no idea what she thinks on the matter. But I can tell you the twins are not bothered. Turns out their friend, Lee Jordan I believe, is dating a Ravenclaw. Ron threw a fit about that as well."
"Well then, we better get to Harry before he enters the kitchen," Sirius announced. They hurried out of the room and caught up with the teen once the lad was leaving his room. He was looking rather pale and pensive; until he caught sight of them and whatever bothered him seemed to go away. The two adults told him of their breakfast plan.
Harry took one look at their faces and nodded. "Does Kreacher know how to cook?" he asked them.
"Not really," Sirius smiled at him as he heard the teen's stomach protesting.
Harry blushed. "Well, I guess it doesn't matter as long as it is food."
"There is a bakery around the corner," Remus said then. "Croissants and juice?"
"Coffee?" Harry perked up hopefully.
"Coffee as well," Remus smiled at him.
"We'll wait here," Sirius told him and waved.
"Well, then, my treat," Harry told them.
"I'll get it," Remus assured him. "The least I can do for such a dramatic evening.
Harry stuck his tongue out at his former DADA professor and that was that.
When Remus returned they had already made Regulus' old room accommodating enough to eat. Harry took the bed while the two adults sat near the desk.
"This is good!" Harry commented. He licked a finger. "So, kitchen is a no-no for today? They still haven't calmed down?"
"Well, as we said with Sirius, it took James a week once this dog spilled the beans," Remus replied.
"You are gay?" Harry asked his godfather.
Sirius nodded. "It is not that uncommon."
"I'm bisexual," Remus offered, not without a blush on his cheeks.
Harry blinked. Then he smiled. "Good. So you mean dad was a…"
"Prat," Remus said for Harry. "Lily shouted that from the Gryffindor tower."
Harry chuckled. "Okay, so what do you suggest?"
"Answer questions truthfully. Sometime the shock will wear off," Sirius said with a shrug of his shoulders.
"And as for Ginny…"
"I know Remus, she's not my fault," Harry chewed on a bite. "I guess saving her from that Basilisk and Riddle gave a whole new dimension to hero worship."
"Sucks to be you," Sirius said pensively, but with a spark in his eyes.
"I hate you," Harry groaned.
"Liar," Sirius smirked.
"So, Harry," Remus spoke up. "That lover of yours, how was he like?"
Immediately the teen perked up. "Well, he was…is simply amazing."
"Do tell," Sirius prompted.
Harry had been staying out of everyone's way for a couple of days. He still greeted and talked to Arthur Weasley, the Twins and Tonks, when she popped by, but he had avoided Hermione and Ron, and most of all Ginny and Molly Weasley. He took lunch and dinner in the kitchen as more Order members usually stopped by and no awkward questions were asked.
One day though, Ron and Hermione caught up with him.
"Can we talk?" the young witch asked.
"Library?" Harry offered. They agreed.
Once they reached the room Harry took a seat and waited. Hermione sat closer to him while Ron kept his distance. Somehow the whole picture did not make Harry feel better and did not give him much hope.
"So, what's up?" Harry asked them.
Hermione cleared her throat. "Um, I-we wanted to talk to you," she declared. Ron gave a short nod.
"Okay," Harry told her. "Talk."
"This is not exactly easy," the witch said. She took a deep breath. "Are you really gay? Mrs. Weasley, and a few other Order members, told us that you met someone…"
"That I told you as well," Harry cut her off. "Don't stall, just talk to me."
"Is it a phase?" Ron asked. "I mean it has to be! You liked Cho! And we shared a dorm!"
Harry sighed. "Oh, for Merlin's shake! I'm gay, alright? But I have never, ever even looked your way, or anyone else's for that matter, I just like him! And to be honest redheads do nothing for me except remind me of my mother. I'm not going to jump you in your sleep or in the shower or anywhere else for that matter."
Ron flushed red but kept his mouth shut.
"It's just weird," Hermione blurted out.
"Weird?" Harry echoed.
"Yes, I just don't know how to act Harry and neither does Ron."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "Act? You don't have to do anything but be there." They would not meet his eyes.
"It's not easy for us," Ron defended himself. "I just don't feel comfortable around you."
"We just need time," Hermione told him.
Harry studied his two friends as they squirmed under his gaze. Watching them now, they seemed like children to him. He remembered Sirius' words to be patient and give them time. It seemed though that they would also need space away from each other. For some reason that hurt. Nothing was going the way he wanted to and it made the teen frustrated that he could do nothing to change things.
"Of course," Harry said; his voice cold. He stood and walked to the door. "Take all the time you need." He slammed the door behind him.
No 12, Grimmauld Place
Harry stared at his trunk, his mood dark. Ciel was in his arms being petted by the absentminded teen.
"Knut for your thoughts?" Remus asked.
Harry blinked. "Not even a Galleon?" the teen mocked offence. It earned him a small smile from the older wizard.
Remus slipped onto the bed beside him. "You seem troubled. And I know from Sirius that you spoke with Ron and Hermione."
Harry snorted. "Some talk that was..." At Remus' inquiring look he said, "They asked for more time. But truth is they would not even look into my eyes. And that hurt."
The werewolf put a hand on the teen's shoulder and squeezed. "I had hoped that would not be the case but I guess I was wrong." He stared straight into Harry's green eyes. "You are growing up Harry. It is bound to happen sometime."
"What, lose my friends?" The teen was bitter.
"People you know will eventually stay behind," Remus told him.
"I don't like it."
"I never said you had to. Just try to make the most of it."
Harry nodded. "I guess. I'll try to be positive but I cannot promise anything."
"Come on now, we must get to the station. Are you packed?"
"Yes, and I sent Hedwig ahead."
"Good, you carry Ciel; I'll get your trunk."
The Platform was packed with students and parents and the noise made Ciel cower in Harry's arms. He was being accompanied by several members of the Order of the Phoenix, for his safety. Sirius had, after much cajoling, tagged along as Padfoot, making more ruckus than half the people on the Platform.
"Padfoot," Remus warned. "Stop attracting unwanted attention!"
The dog gave them the equivalent of a pout. Harry shook his head at his godfather's antics.
"Harry?" Remus spoke up. "I'll help you load your trunk. Want to say your goodbyes?"
The teen shook his head. "No need."
The werewolf sighed and nodded.
When Harry was safely inside the train he smiled at the view of Remus berating Padfoot with Tonks close by. It was sight that touched his heart. Then he caught sight of the Weasley's and his best friends and winced. He did not know what to think when he saw them all gathered together, happily chatting. It was his first year all over again and it felt lonely.
Harry turned his face away from the window and even pulled the curtains closed. He was not going to spoil his mood even more. He was going back to Hogwarts and that was a good thing.
The train ride was quiet for the most part. In the end no one bothered him. A blonde girl had asked to sit in the spare seat and he had nodded and that was that. She did not ogle at him nor try to have a conversation, just took out her newspaper and started reading.
"Anything from the trolley dears?" the witch with the snack cart was heard yelling.
Harry opened the compartment door and called her over.
"Don't you want anything?" he asked the fair haired girl.
She focused her eyes on him. "I'm not sure if I'm hungry."
Harry smiled. "I can understand that." He turned to the witch asking for pastries and half a dozen chocolate frogs, then paid and closed the door. "Here, we can share."
The girl blinked. "I'm Luna Lovegood, but you can call me Loony, like most people."
"Harry Potter. This year I'm mad as a hatter."
"He's not mad," Luna told him. "Just eccentric."
Harry laughed. "I'll remember that. Pumpkin pie?"
She put her paper aside and accepted the food.
"What are you reading?" Harry asked.
"The Quibbler, daddy writes it," Luna replied.
Harry had not heard of that paper before. "Can I have a look?"
"Certainly. This is good. I never tried before."
"Usually my things get lost before I reach Hogwarts and when I have to return at summer."
Harry's eyes narrowed as he realized that this girl was actually being picked on. "What House are you from?"
"You don't look…"
"Smart?" Luna asked.
"I was going for bookworm," Harry smiled. "If you are smart or not I cannot yet tell."
"I like you Harry Potter."
"Call me Harry."
"I will. And you can call me Luna then."
And Harry settled with his back on the seat for the rest of the ride, reading the odd magazine and talking with the even odder girl.
End of chapter
A/N: I want to make something clear. Harry had yet to tell his lover's name to anyone. No one in England knows his lover is named Rabastan so they cannot make the connection between Harry's sweetheart and the Death Eater.
Next chapter will be about Rabastan and his return toEngland.