Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JKR, not me (sad face).
The day, however 'well' it had started off, only got more difficult.
After they had all gotten cleaned up and dressed, and the twins had left to the kitchen, the time travelers were readying themselves to face their second obstacle/challenge: walking into a room of mostly dead people and not giving away their secret.
"Wizards aren't supposed to mess with time," Hermione whispered to them as they trooped down the stairs. "It's probably for the best we don't let them know what happened."
"Easy enough," Ron muttered back. "Seeing as we don't know exactly what happened ourselves…"
Hermione gently smacked the back of her boyfriend's head. "Yes, I realize that we don't know how this happened, but what I'm saying is that we mustn't let them know it has – and I know you understood that the first time I said that! If we let them know too soon or maybe even if they find out at all, it could mess up the timeline completely!"
Harry nearly stopped walking. "You can't honestly mean we're not going to change anything, right?" he asked incredulously. "I mean, just by being back here in the first place, even if we try not to do anything different, will cause some things to change, so why not just go the whole way and try to change things for the better?"
Hermione sighed, and as they stepped onto the second-to-last landing, she abruptly shooed them all down the hallway and into a vacant room. "Until we know what's going on, as much as we can figure out, we'll discuss things to change, when to change them, and whom, if anyone, we're going to tell about…this. Just try not to give anything away until then, all right? I know it'll be hard, but don't."
So it was with great trepidation they all walked down the final flight of stairs and entered the kitchen. As their group's collective sometimes-great-sometimes-terrible luck would have it, there weren't very many people in the kitchen. However, the ones that were in it were Molly, Arthur, the twins…and Remus and Sirius.
Harry felt his throat close up as he laid eyes on them, and he had to hastily blink his eyes to prevent the tears that were welling up there from overflowing.
"Would you four help set the table?" Molly called out from where she was supervising several different pots and pans. "I've almost finished preparing a quick breakfast for the lot of us before we can start cleaning again."
With an effort, Harry tore his gaze away from his godfather and surrogate godfather, and walked to the cabinet on the far wall to pull out some dishes. Ginny silently joined him as Ron and Hermione got out silverware and glasses for drinks.
"Strange, isn't it?" Ginny muttered under her breath.
"And sad," Harry sighed back. Then the two turned around and started to lay the dishes on the table, beginning at the end where they were and slowly moving towards the head of the table, where Remus and Sirius were poring over a copy of the Daily Prophet.
"Morning, Harry," Sirius said absently as the raven-haired teen set a plate down next to his godfather.
The twin monsters of grief and guilt rose within Harry at the sound of Sirius' voice, not allowing him to speak, so he merely nodded in return.
It was jarring. In his time, his proper time, they were both dead. The pain of their deaths had scabbed over, and he thought that he had managed to mostly move on from them, but he found now that no, it had never completely healed. Talking to them would especially be difficult seeing as how the last time he had talked to the two of them, they had been spirits brought back by the Resurrection Stone so that he could convince himself to walk to his death.
With a sudden pang, Harry realized that when he and the others had come through time, they had left all others behind them…including little Teddy Lupin. Harry could at least take comfort from the fact that if nothing else, Andromeda would be taking care of him. He shied away from thinking of what the remaining Weasleys' reactions to the news of their disappearance would be…three gone from their blood family, with one of them dead and two mysteriously vanished, plus four others that were counted among their family disappearing as well? He would not wish that on any mother, but especially not on Mrs. Weasley.
"Good morning, Harry," Remus said, looking up from the newspaper. He frowned concernedly at the teen. "Are you all right?" he asked. "You look a bit shaken up…"
Sirius looked up at that, peering into Harry's face with worry.
Harry forced a smile onto his face, though he knew it looked more like a grimace and would do absolutely nothing to convince Remus or Sirius that he was fine.
"I'm as well as can be expected," he said, and mentally groaned as his voice came out slightly thick. "I didn't sleep very well last night – nightmares made their rounds to all of us." He paused for a moment. "Except for Fred and George…they probably dream of pranking and not much else…"
"Oi!" the twins shouted from the other side of the room, not even attempting to pretend they weren't listening in, but feeling slightly worried that they had all apparently had bad dreams.
Harry grinned at them tiredly, and then directed his attention back to the two men sitting in front of him.
"Nightmares?" Sirius asked, frowning. "How bad?"
"They were – okay, how do I put this? Just…really, really bad," the raven-haired teen said, sadness creeping into his tone. He sat down and rubbed at his eyes, still not quite adjusted to seeing these two most definitely alive men in front of him.
"What were they about?" Remus inquired gently. The werewolf could tell even before Sirius had asked how bad they had been that they were something that had deeply affected Harry, and they were bothering him even after waking up. Somehow he got the feeling that they weren't the usual nightmares Harry had said he'd been having about the graveyard.
"I – they—," Harry started helplessly. He looked at Hermione, who had finished up with the drinks and was approaching fast. She had heard what was being said and nodded the slightest bit to say he could talk about it after twisting the truth a bit, though her eyes told him to be very careful.
Remus and Sirius didn't miss the byplay, but they didn't quite know what it meant, and they were more focused on Harry in the first place than wondering what expressions Hermione's eyes were making.
Harry took a deep, calming breath, and ran his fingers through his hair (causing nostalgia to rise in Remus and Sirius) before answering. "It was about the war – this war, the upcoming war, and…a lot of people are going to die, aren't they?" he said helplessly. "I mean, people always die in a war, on both sides, and because I was thinking about that…I dreamed that I lost people close to me, like you two…and the whole thing, it seemed so real…and it terrifies me that it might actually happen. All of the people here, we're targets, and from the way the Ministry's acting they sure as hell won't try to protect us…" The raven-haired teen shuddered slightly as he trailed off.
"It was just a dream, Harry," Sirius said calmly, resting a hand on the teenager's arm as he looked over at Remus, who was sitting with a thoughtful expression on his face, mixed with a bit of compassion and understanding.
"Those kinds of dreams are the ones that are the most frightening, aren't they?" the werewolf let out a few seconds after Sirius's proclamation. "The ones where your deepest fears are shown, where the things you most dread will happen to the people you love, and you can't tell they're not real until you wake up. And even then…even when it's all over, you're scared that it will come to pass in reality."
Harry nodded, eyes shadowed.
"Those types of dreams are bad," Sirius aid grimly. "Horrible and terrifying. But in the end, it was just a dream. It may make you feel off-kilter for a bit, but you've got to convince yourself it wasn't real."
"As for our deaths in it…" Remus said, trailing off at the end. He sighed. "Harry, we won't lie to you. This will become a war again, and people will die. There's no way to prevent that. We may die as well," the werewolf admitted. "You have to understand. There are no guarantees that any of us will survive, even if we win."
"We have to keep trying, though," Sirius cut in. "Even if some of us do die, the rest will keep fighting until this is all done with, one way or another."
Harry nodded again, accepting everything the two had said to him gratefully. He had already known the odds, and had seen them die, but their words comforted him nonetheless. He could tell that the other time travelers had been listening to their hushed conversation and had drawn the same comfort he felt from it.
Of course, they all disregarded the little tidbit of believing that these particular "nightmares" weren't real, but stored it as future advice for other nightmares of the similar ilk that did not quite pertain to the future.
"Breakfast is done!" Molly called out cheerfully, having missed the solemn conversation while cooking. She levitated a pan of bacon and sausages to the table, followed closely by a plate of pancakes and a bowl of fresh fruit. The butter, syrup, and powdered sugar were already on the table.
"It looks delicious, Molly," Remus said, smiling at the woman.
"Dig in, then," she said, gesturing at everything and giving a wide smile in return to Remus. "Feel free to eat as much as you want – it wouldn't take too long to whip up some more should others come by and be hungry."
The meal was eaten slowly and savoured, but was rather quiet. The time travelers weren't talking; Remus and Sirius were watching them all (having latched onto the fact that nightmares had come to all of them and not letting it go); Molly and Arthur talked quietly to each other. The twins were the only ones that made any real noise, trading jokes and witty remarks back and forth in an attempt to cheer up their younger sister, whose eyes were still the faintest bit red when you really looked at them, along with the other teens, who the twins now knew were shaken up from their own nightmares, whatever in Merlin's name those were.
"All right," Molly said, clapping her hands together after the group had finished eating and removed all the dishes from the table, placing them in the sink. "We can work further upstairs today, try to finish up some of the partially cleaned rooms there, and then call it a day's work – that will surely be enough. We've been working so hard…you lot deserve a break."
Harry felt like banging his head against the table violently, and he could tell by their expressions that the others felt the same – they had all managed to shove the unpleasant thought of having to engage Grimmauld Place in war again to the back of their minds. It had been so much nicer when they just allowed Kreacher to work to his heart's content—
Harry suddenly felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. The locket. Kreacher had it, or it was still in the drawing room, and he couldn't remember well enough to know if they had already cleaned out the drawing room, though he was pretty sure they had.
'This is bad,' he thought to himself as they all made their way upstairs. 'We have to get the locket ASAP and destroy it…but the sword is in Dumbledore's office and the basilisk is obviously still in the Chamber of Secrets, so we'd have to wait a few weeks anyway…oh, not good…I really don't fancy the idea of having to either hide or wear the locket for weeks here, not with what happened last time or risking the chance of Kreacher stealing it back or something…but there's really nothing that can be done, is there?'
The raven-haired teen sighed to himself. 'This time travel thing is so complicated…well, at least we'll have plenty of free time this afternoon to discuss what to do…'
Dragging himself out of his thoughts as they reached the uppermost landing, Harry subtly mouthed, "We really need to get together and talk," to the rest of the time travelers.
They all nodded slightly in agreement, and then stepped into the first room they were going to help finish cleaning with simultaneous moans of disgust.
A/N: Hey, one month's better than seven, right? Sorry, guys. I'm so mean to y'all. I had it written up for weeks, I just couldn't force myself to type it up...oh, and I also apologize to those of you who read my teenage angst last author's note. I took all of your advice into consideration and shall attempt to make this non-cliche, and not ridiculous, and not beat myself up about my writing. Sorry I'm such a perfectionist sometimes! It's only with my writing...(I deleted the teenage angst, just in case you were wondering.)
In other news: Merlin, going to school on a Saturday is weird. We had to go to make up for snow days, and it was completely surreal...and then I had a one-day weekend. Great.
As always (as of now), please tell me if there are any glaring errors in here, so that I can fix them.