Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs solely to the author, j.k. Rowling. This story is purely a fictional piece and is not for profit.
I really hope you enjoy reading this story, a work which will be eleven chapters in length once all chapters have been published. The chapters, as they progress, seem to increase in length and quality and so I hope you take this into account while reading. Have fun!
Chapter 1: Shaken
The sound of tapping, or rather pecking as he would soon discover, roused Harry from his fitful sleep and drew him to the single small window of his bedroom at number four, Privet Drive. An owl, the dull grey colour of which indicating its being a part of a mass delivery service, was perched precariously on the small sill outside, pecking feverishly at the glass. It had, tied to its foot, a roll of parchment, which Harry thought was rather strange seeming as this owl clearly didn't belong to anyone he knew, and surely therefore would have been unable to find him unless given specific directions by someone who knew of his whereabouts and was aware of the fidelius charm.
Harry threw open the window, admitting the owl into his room, which quickly flew in and landed on the pile of books stacked upon his desk. He removed the message and just as suddenly, the owl was gone, into the deep purple that was the night sky. This was the first letter he had received from anyone since his return from Hogwarts for his final holidays with the Dursleys. He unrolled the parchment, not expecting the small object within, which fell to the desk. It was a silver key, old and elegant, but with no distinct markings. The letter was written in flowing black script, and read:
It will be your seventeenth birthday soon, and as you no doubt know, that will mean that you will legally be able to perform magic outside of school. More seriously however, this will also mean the end of the protective enchantments that keep you safe while you remain in your aunt and uncle's house.
I am writing this letter as you sleep soundly here in Grimuald Place, mere walls separating us, and two years will have passed before you receive it. This letter is so I can be sure that, if something should happen to me, you will receive something from me on your seventeenth birthday. I certainly don't plan to leave you, however in these times I would be a fool not to consider the possibility, and if you are reading this letter it means that I have passed on, and for that I am truly sorry.
But the mere matter of my death should not stop me, and it was important to me that you receive one final gift, even if I will not be there to give it."
Tears, great warm droplets, filled Harry's eyes and ran down his cheeks, dripping onto the parchment as he realised that this letter was from Sirius, his godfather. He had not hoped that Sirius would have had the foresight to predict his own death, and nor had he expected any present from him after he was lost two years ago. Memories of Sirius, of his death and his life, filled Harry's mind and threatened to overcome him. He breathed deeply, forcing himself to focus once more on this letter, this small connection to the man who had been his family for a short time.
"Harry, my gift to you is one that I had hoped to share with you, and one that I know you of all people will know the true value of. For I understand you, and I know that what's really important is family, friends and life. And it is my greatest wish that you enjoy this gift, and that it will help you to unite all of these things. Harry, to you I give a home. Not just a house, some cold, empty shell, but a home. Grimuald place is already yours by this time and is undoubtedly being used by the Order as a Headquarters still. I wanted to give you another place, one that you can truly call your own and one where you can live, rest and laugh.
It already possesses every magical protection I could think to cast, and belongs entirely and solely to you. You will find the title in your vault, and enclosed in this letter is the key. This key will take you to your home only after you seventeenth birthday has passed, and can be activated with a simple tap from your wand. Upon entry, you will be made secret keeper and will therefore have authority over who may enter."
Harry's eyes were still watery as he looked down at the key he held in his hand, glimmering in the moonlight.
"I hope that, even though I am gone, you will enjoy your gift. Let not sadness for me tinge your thoughts. Do not dwell on the sorrows of the past or on my loss. I ask only that you live and know that, whatever has happened, I will be there with you always. So Harry, for the final time, as I sit in this room with you sleeping above me, I say goodbye and farewell.
Harry clung tightly to the parchment with one hand, the other moving up to wipe the tears from his eyes. He was trembling, and although the letter had bid him otherwise, he could not help but recall those memories of happiness and closeness that were so painful to him still.
Sirius had given him a home. Two years after his death, Sirius was still able to give Harry what he wanted most in the world. Hope. Support. Family...
Harry twirled the silver key between his fingers, not really watching as the glimmering metal blurred and twisted. He was watching Sirius in his mind, cheerful and smiling as he danced around hanging Christmas decorations. He had been happy then, and Harry had known what it would be like to live with somebody who cared for him. The edges of his mouth pulled up slightly into a smile, and he clasped the key in his hand. A home.
The sound of metallic objects striking the floor broke through his thoughts, and he jumped from his seat and threw open his bedroom door. The last rattling sounds of the objects settling echoed in the empty silence of the house, where Harry had believed he had been alone. A soft blue light shone from the kitchen, illuminating the stairs as Harry tip-toed his way down, wand drawn and the key safely in his pocket.
A familiar voice then filled the heavy silence, and Harry exhaled loudly.
"Sorry! I lost my balance when we landed and slipped. And who stacks their pots and pans on the counter like that anyway?"
Harry raced into the kitchen, smiling widely as he came face to face with several members of the Order and some of his closest friends. "Wotcher Harry!" And before he knew it he was being held in a tight hug, Tonks having been the closest to him. Over her shoulder he could see the faces of Order members and friends. Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, Bill and Charlie stood to one side of the kitchen staring at Harry and smiling with Lupin, Fleur and Kingsley. Mr Weasley was looking gleefully about the room at the muggle appliances. Mad-Eye and Mundungas were the only two not smiling, the first with a serious expression as his magical eye rolled in its frantic searching of the surrounding area, and the second with his arms crossed and face set with defiant expression.
Tonks finally released him, and after a few quick greetings, the plan was explained. There would be seven Harry's with seven Order members escorting one each. Harry had opposed this plan vehemently at first because he did not want his friends risking their lives for him. But after some arguing with Mad-Eye, he reluctantly handed over a lock of his hair for the polyjuice potion.
All fourteen of them then moved into the yard, where broomsticks, thestrals and one large black motorbike which Harry recognised with a pang of sadness as Sirius' waited for them.
"So, who am I going with?" He looked around, thinking that it would probably be Moody or Kingsley as they were the most experienced.
"You'll be with me Harry." A rich, velvety voice called, and Harry looked around to see Charlie step forward, beaming at him. "The original plan was for you to go with Hagrid, but we had a little trouble with the bike and the sidecar was sort of... well destroyed. So I volunteered because you would be able to fit with me on just the bike, and because I've really got nothing else to do since I came back from Romania." This last part was said jokingly as Charlie moved forward and took the trunk and Hedwig's cage from Harry, the owl squawking indignantly. He passed them to Hermione and Kingsley, who would be able to take them on their brooms.
Moody's voice broke the silence which seemed to fall suddenly on the group as they all considered what was going to happen in just a few moments. "Everybody, prepare to depart."
People moved to mount both brooms and thestrals, and Charlie took hold of the bikes handlebars, Harry climbing up behind him. "Hold on to me Harry, it may be a bit gusty once were up there." Harry looked around and then hesitantly eased his arms around Charlie's waist, feeling uncomfortable with the closeness of their bodies. The bike roared to life, and Harry, who had not been expecting such a loud noise, squeezed Charlie tight, causing him to chuckle softly.
"On my mark everyone," called Moody over the roaring of the bikes engine. "And... GO!"
Simultaneously all fourteen of them rose into the air, some moving faster than others. Each pair shot off in a different direction, the wind whipping both robes and hair. And then, all of a sudden, the sky seemed to be more crowded than it should have been. Close to thirty hooded figures appeared around them, and Harry realised that they were all in serious trouble. But there was no time to make decisions, and the plan was the only thing left to follow as flashes of light began streaking through the air in every direction.
Charlie aimed the bike straight into a large group of the Death Eaters, scattering them as he pushed through and into the open, speeding away from number four, Privet Drive. Harry fumbled in his pocket for his wand, pulling it from his jeans and turning his upper body to face the three figures now pursuing them. Green and red curses tore through the air around them, and Harry tried to steady himself to aim as the bike swerved and rumbled beneath him.
"Expelliarmus!" His voice was ripped away from him by the wind as the jet of red light shot out of his wand, hitting one of the figures and throwing them with great force from their broom. And then the other two stopped dead, and Harry could hear them yelling but was unable to make out the words.
An ominous calm settled over Harry and Charlie, the roaring of the engine failing to fill the void. Harry spun his head wildly, looking for any signs of pursuit or danger. And then, like some terrible bird of prey, Voldemort himself came soaring out of the darkness behind them, his red eyes glinting maliciously as he quickly covered the distance between them. He was laughing, an evil sound full of hatred and victory.
"We'll be there in just a few more seconds Harry. Don't do anything stupid, just hold on!" Charlie's voice was firm with determination colouring every word. But Harry wasn't about to let them be killed. Not if he could help it.
He fired several stunning and disarming spells backwards at the flying figure, all of which simply disintegrated as they hit some invisible shield. Voldemort's leer remained plastered on his face, and then he was gone. Harry spun around just in time to see him appear before them, blocking their path. Charlie had not been expecting this, and was momentarily stunned by the sight.
Voldemort's wand flew up to point at them, his spider-like hand moving with almost impossible speed. His voice echoed in the darkness. "Avada Kedavr!"
In the fraction of a second before Voldemort had unleashed this curse, Harry had tapped the bike with his wand and muttered something. The bike spun on the spot, and if it had been on the ground the tires would have given loud screeches in protest. Harry was now facing Voldemort, his own wand drawn.
"NO!" Charlie roared as he tried desperately to spin the bike back around.
But there was no time, and as the jet of green light soared towards them, Harry cried "Expelliarmus!" A flash of scarlet hit the green in mid air, just metres away from where Harry was. The two spells collided, and the resulting explosion sent a wave of flame and power outwards. Harry was knocked from the bike, falling through the darkness and down towards the solid ground, towards his death.
He was going to die. All of this, everything the Order had done for him, risking their lives for him. It had all been in vain. He didn't know if the others were alive, or whether they had suffered the fate he was to face in just seconds. Death.
And then a roaring filled his ears, and just before he hit the ground Charlie swooped beneath him. He landed with as sickening crack on the seat of the motorbike, pain ripping through him as the bike pulled out of the steep dive. Blood, warm and dark, dripped from his head down one cheek, and his thoughts seemed to blur together into an incomprehensible swirling.
"Harry! Harry, are you alright?" But Harry could not answer, his voice refusing to come to his lips. He was getting weaker, and his eyes were fluttering as pain turned to numbness. He saw Charlie turn to look at him, his eyes wide in shock as he saw that Harry's face was covered in blood.
"No! Just – just hang on Harry!" The deep velvety voice was not enough to call him back, and he drifted into unconsciousness, his limp body dangling over the sides of the bike. Charlie had turned the bike successfully and was now racing towards the safe house that was their destination. He couldn't believe what had just happened. Harry, the one who he was supposed to be protecting, had just saved his life. He had thrown himself in front of Charlie. And Voldemort, who had somehow known that this was the real Harry, had been blasted by the force of the explosion as well.
But there would be time to think about this later, he told himself. "I'll make sure of it," he said, speaking more to himself than to Harry, who he knew could not hear him. He could see the house, Tonks's parent's house, and he was going to make it. With one final burst of speed, the bike soared over the protective enchantments, crashing into the garden just outside the door.
Charlie staggered upright, shaken from the rough flight and feeling as if the world had turned to waves, crashing down upon him from all directions. He lifted Harry's unmoving body off the bike and carried him in his arms as he ran towards the house, where he could see Ted and Andromeda standing stunned, looking at the wreckage of the bike. Charlie reached the house, and Ted helped him to carry Harry inside. Andromeda was shaking as she asked if she could possibly help.
"No. J-just get the portkey. There isn't any time!" His voice was hoarse however still held authority.
"Yes, o-of course dear." She left them, passing into one of the adjoining rooms and returning moments later clutching a silver-backed hairbrush. Charlie took one of Harry's limp hands and placed the brush into it, curling the fingers around the handle. Then he too grabbed hold of the portkey, knowing that it still wasn't time but lingering nevertheless over the possibility that they had missed their chance.
Harry's black hair was tangled, pale skin dripping with blood. His clothes were blackened where they had been seared by the flames, and his body looked as if it had collapsed in on itself with the force of the impact.
Charlie's eyes filled with tears, tears of both despair and rage. How could he have let this happen? What were they going to do now?
The hairbrush hummed as a blue glow grew outwards from it, and with a great rush Charlie, who was clutching Harry's body to him, was gone.
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