Disclaimer I do not own Harry Potter and everything recognisable belongs to J K Rowling
Protecting The Ones You Love – Part 3
James, Lily and Sirius managed to get Harry back upstairs and into a room, but they couldn't get him to sit long enough to check him over for any injuries. The spell protecting the front door of the Headquarters had thrown Harry back with such force, it left a dent in the wall where he had smacked into it.
Lily gave up on having a calm patient, and waved her wand, scanning a frantic Harry from head to toe, even as he tried to make his way past James again.
"Harry, sit down," James said, pushing him to sit at the edge of the bed.
Harry barely touched the covers, before he was up again. "You have to let me go," he repeated the same phrase again and again. "Don't do this, please, please, just let me go."
"We're not letting you go anywhere," James said sternly. "And definitely not anywhere near that monster again."
"You've cracked two of your ribs, Harry," Lily said, having finished her examination. "Please, stay still so I can heal you."
But Harry was already pushing past both of his parents. "You're not listening to me!" he snapped. "You have to let me go, right now."
"You're the one not listening," Sirius interrupted from his place next to the door, guarding it. "You're not going anywhere, Harry. You're home." He held Harry's panicked gaze. "You're safe," he emphasised.
Harry shook his head, pacing as he ran both hands through his hair. "You don't get it," he fretted. "You think this...this plan of yours is going to work?" He rounded on his parents and Godfather. "It's not. Voldemort isn't going to back off. He's not going to give in. He'll do whatever it takes, kill however many he can, to teach all of us a lesson." He took in a steadying breath and stepped towards them. "It's not too late," he said. "There's still time to fix this. Just let me go; one of you escort me out of here and I'll apparate back to Voldemort. I'll tell him I was knocked out, or – or that I had to lay low for a while to avoid the Aurors, and that's why I'm late. He'll never know. Things will go back to the way they were–"
"And what's that?" James asked quietly. "Seeing you once every two to three months? Stealing visits here and there. Never knowing if you're okay, if you're hurt, if that bastard has you committing crimes – making you do things you don't want to do? Is that what you want, Harry? Is that what you want things to go back to?"
Harry fell quiet.
James reached out to him. "I know you're scared," he said. "I know this seems risky and you're afraid of the consequences, but we've thought this through," he assured. "You were captured by the Order; that protects you against your oath to Voldemort. You are in the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, which is protected by the Fidelius charm, and whose only secret keeper is Albus Dumbledore himself." He held Harry's eyes as he said the next words slowly, injecting as much confidence as he could into them, to ease Harry's mind. "Voldemort can't get to you. The Headquarters is never empty. There are always at least ten Order members here at all times. You're safe, Harry. I promise you, son, you're safe."
Harry dropped his head, shaking it slowly. "You're going to get everyone in here killed," he said quietly. "Voldemort will find a way. Fidelius charm or not, he will come here and he won't leave until he finishes every last Order member."
"No he won't," Lily said. "Why can't you trust us on this?"
"Because I know him," Harry said. "Better than any of you."
"That may be the case," James said. "But you also need to know that we're not going to let him, or any of this Death Eaters get near you ever again," James said.
Harry nodded his head. "Just like you didn't let him get to me in Diagon Alley?" he asked.
Harry looked around the room, at his mum, and Godfather, before locking eyes with his dad again.
"Diagon Alley was supposed to be safe, but nothing stopped Voldemort and his Death Eaters from coming there. A woman died that day, because of me; because I was in her shop. Her death is on my conscious because I was naïve enough to believe I could escape Voldemort."
"Madame Fiona's death was not your fault," Lily said quickly.
"Yeah it was," Harry said. "It was my fault. It was all my fault. If I wasn't there that day, she would still be alive." He looked back to James. "He came to Diagon Alley just to threaten me. He came to the Ministry of Magic, and took me in front of all the Aurors, what makes you think he can't do the same in the Headquarters, in front of the Order?" Harry was breathing hard, his eyes glistening as he stared at James. "Nothing can stop Voldemort. I've accepted that, so should you."
"No," James said, with a shake of his head. "I will never accept that, and I won't let you think like that either. Voldemort can, and will be, stopped. You have my word, Harry."
Harry pulled back, his hands in his hair again as he walked away from James.
"He's not invincible," James continued. "But he wants the world to think that he is, and by accepting that, you're letting him win. You're letting him–"
A gasp from Harry cut James off. Harry's hands went from his hair to his forehead and he doubled over with a groan.
"Harry? Harry!" James cried and darted forward, as did Lily and Sirius.
Harry fell to his knees, clutching both hands to his forehead. James crouched by his side, a hand on Harry's shoulder, the other gripping one of Harry's wrists. His heart lurched when he saw Harry's fingers digging into the scar on his forehead; the lightening bolt scar Voldemort had cursed Harry with. James remembered only too well how Harry suffered because of it.
Lily and Sirius were by Harry's side too, looking at him with panic, holding onto him, but at a loss as to what to do to help him. They knew there was nothing that could be done. They had to wait for the attack to pass. They knew it would dull eventually, they had to just grit their teeth, and watch with a bleeding heart as Harry suffered through it.
But that all changed when they noticed the thick line of blood seeping out of Harry's nose. James grabbed Harry's wrists, pulling them away from his forehead, gaping in horror at the nosebleed. He didn't remember that being a part of the scar acting up.
Harry yanked himself free from James's grip, grabbing at his head again, keeling over in agony. His cries were guttural, nothing more than moans, but they were tearing his parents and Godfather apart .
James met Sirius's eyes, seeing his panic and pain mirrored in them. They didn't know what was happening to Harry, and they had absolutely no idea how to make it stop.
The pain dulled, enough for Harry to pull his hands away for a shaky moment. His bloodshot eyes met James's. "He knows," Harry groaned. He closed his eyes and dropped his head into his hands in despair.
It was too late for Harry to escape the Headquarters and go back to Voldemort now.
The Dark Lord knew the Dark Prince had been captured.
And he was going to raise all manners of hell, to get Harry back.
That evening, Lily headed to Harry's room with a plate of dinner. She knocked on the door, but he gave no answer. She walked in to find her son sitting by the window, staring out at the darkened street. He didn't look around at her. Lily put on a brave smile, trying hard not to get upset at his behaviour.
When James had first proposed the plan, Lily had predicted Harry wouldn't be happy about it. After all, he was going to be – for all intents and purposes – kidnapped and held against his will. But Lily knew it wasn't as simple as that. They weren't kidnapping him; he was their son, they were rescuing him from Voldemort's evil clutches. If Harry wasn't so worried about keeping everyone safe from Voldemort's wrath, no one would have to force Harry to stay here. She knew Harry wanted nothing more than to be with them. He was only fighting to go back to Voldemort in a bid to keep the Dark Lord away from them. That's why he had made a deal with Voldemort after all, took an Unbreakable vow, in order to protect his family. But now it was Harry's turn to learn his family were willing to do whatever it took to protect him.
Lily walked in and closed the door behind her. "How are you feeling?" she asked.
Harry gave no reply.
It had taken twenty minutes for Harry's nose to stop bleeding. Lily had never felt so helpless in her life, watching her son suffer in such excruciating agony. But the pain in his scar had eventually dulled down. Poor Harry looked close to passing out by the end of it.
"Do you want more pain relief?" Lily asked, walking over to the small coffee table in the room.
At this, Harry gave a slight shake of his head.
Lily put the plate down onto the table. "I brought you dinner," she said.
"I'm not hungry," Harry replied, without looking away from the window.
Lily tried, but she couldn't hide her hurt. "Harry, please," she said, her voice breaking. "Don't do that – don't take your anger out by not eating. Don't talk to us, if you don't want to, but please don't go hungry just to punish us."
Harry turned to look at her. Seeing the tears in her eyes broke whatever resentment Harry had against his parents. He hurried to her side. "That's not what I'm doing," he said. "I'm not trying to punish you, and I'm not being difficult. I'm honestly not hungry." he told her. "There's this...this heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I feel too nervous to eat. If I try, I'll just end up being sick."
Lily reached out to touch his chest, placing a hand to his frantically beating heart. "You have to trust us, Harry," she urged. "Don't worry. Put your mind at ease. Nothing bad is going to happen."
"How can you say that?" Harry asked. "Have you forgotten how bad things can get? How a simple Halloween party turned into a spectacle for my crimes? How it got me arrested and thrown into Nurmengard? How I almost stood trial?" He stopped and reached up, rubbing at his smarting scar. "You have no idea how angry he is," he told Lily. "Voldemort is going to come looking for blood, and he's not going to care whose it is. He's going to kill, Mum. He's going to lash out, attack innocent people, and I can't do anything about it because you're keeping me here."
"You don't have to be the one who stops him," Lily said. "We won't let anyone get hurt, Harry. The Order is on high alert, they are anticipating Voldemort's reaction to your – well, abduction." She pulled a face at the word, sensing the irony behind it. "We're not going to get caught out by him. We're ready for Voldemort."
Harry shook his head. "You don't know what you're getting yourselves into."
"I don't care," she said. She cupped Harry's face. "We are willing to do anything for you."
Harry was about to speak, when the door swung open, and James appeared. He looked at Harry, his gaze darting immediately to the angry red scar peeking out from under his messy bangs.
"How you feeling?" he asked. "The pain gone yet?"
Harry nodded his head, even though that was a complete lie. The pain wasn't going to go away, not until Voldemort got what he so furiously wanted.
James observed him. "When did the nosebleeds start?" he asked.
Harry faltered in his answer. "Relatively recently," he said.
James looked like he wanted to pry further, but he gave up with a sigh. "You might not feel up to this right now, and that's perfectly okay," he started. "You can say no. I don't want you feeling like this is an interrogation."
Harry's gaze darted behind James, to see the other Order members in the hallway, at a respectful distance from his room, but still there all the same. Harry looked back at his dad.
"But it is an interrogation, isn't it?" he asked.
James shook his head, but Harry could read the worry, the guilt, in his dad's tight expression.
"Dumbledore would just like a quick word," he said in explanation.
Harry looked back at the Order members waiting for him. He could practically hear Auror 'Mad-Eye' Moody's magical eye whizzing around in its socket, searching every inch of his room, and Harry no doubt.
Even though Harry was utterly exhausted by the day's events, he had the urge to put up a fight, just to piss the Aurors off. But he didn't want to embarrass his mum and dad any more than he probably already had; trying to escape the Headquarters and being thrown across the hall as a result.
So he held back his sigh and gave a small nod.
Harry walked into the dining room, to see a few of the Order members around the table, apparently waiting for him. Harry recognised the red-haired Arthur Weasley and his wife, Molly; Ron's parents. Neville's parents were seated across from them. Sirius was sitting with his and Bella's cousin, Nymphadora Tonks. On her other side, was Remus Lupin. Harry's gaze halted on Remus, taking in how much more haggard and tired his 'werewolf uncle' had grown in the five years he hadn't seen him. Remus looked like he wanted to get up and hug Harry, but he remained in his seat, looking at Harry with glistening eyes.
Everyone around the table smiled at Harry, nodding their heads in silent greeting. Harry ignored them all, turning his attention to the white-haired wizard sitting at the head of the table. Albus Dumbledore looked at him with twinkling blue eyes, a small smile on his face. He too nodded his head, but his greeting was accompanied by a soft, "Welcome, Harry."
Harry came to rest just past the threshold of the door. His parents, along with Aurors Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt, came in after him. Dumbledore gestured to an empty chair with his hand.
"Please, Harry, take a seat," he said.
"I'd rather stand, if it's all the same to you," Harry replied.
The smiles around the table turned to frowns, as they looked to one another in confusion. Harry felt his mum's hand on his arm.
"Harry, please," she whispered at his side. "Come and sit down."
"Harry," James said a little sternly. "Sit down."
But Harry didn't move, stubbornly staying where he was.
"It's okay," Dumbledore said, shaking his head at James and Lily. "If he wants to stand, he can stand." He smiled. "Whatever you are comfortable with, Harry."
Harry didn't say anything.
Sending him pleading looks to behave, James and Lily moved to sit at the table. Moody and Kingsley remained at the door, almost as if they were guarding it.
"I want to apologise for the way you were brought here," Dumbledore started. "I wish there was another way we could have done this, but with your Unbreakable vow to Voldemort, it meant we had very little choice."
"You could have left me alone," Harry said, his tone growing cold. "Or was that not an option?"
"No, it wasn't," James answered tersely.
"James," Dumbledore quietly reprimanded. "Let him speak his mind. He has every right to be upset." He turned back to Harry. "I can understand your concern," he said. "I know you must be anxious, worrying about Voldemort's reaction to this situation. I want you to know every precaution has been taken. You are safe here, Harry, I promise you that. Voldemort can't come here."
"Then he'll draw me out," Harry said. "Either way, I'm going to end up back with him."
"No, you're not," Dumbledore said. "Not again. I won't allow it."
Harry smiled, but it lacked any kind of warmth. "What are you going to do?" he asked. "What can you do? What is it that you've done to fight against him in all these years?" He looked around the room, at the Order members gathered at the table. "You can't fight him. None of you can. There is nothing you can do to defeat him."
"You're right," Dumbledore said, surprising Harry, and everyone in the room. "We can't fight him, and we certainly can't defeat him." His eyes twinkled. "The only one who can, is you, Harry."
"I don't believe in the prophecy," Harry said at once.
"But I do," Dumbledore replied. "I have faith in it; I have faith in you."
"Then you'll be left disappointed." Harry held his eyes. "I've promised him my allegiance. I can't fight against him."
Moody snorted behind him. "Sounds like you don't even want to try."
Harry ignored him.
"You are the chosen one, Harry," Dumbledore said. "You are meant to defeat Voldemort and end this war. But nowhere does it say you have to do this on your own." Dumbledore smiled and raised his wand.
A twirl of it had files materialise out of thin air, covering almost the entire length of the table. Despite himself, Harry moved to the table, pulled closer by curiosity. His eyes narrowed at the numerous files. He reached for the closest one, flipping it open to reveal loose leafs of parchment, covered in scrawled ink; notes about something – artifacts...exceptional historical relevance...powerful...splitting of souls...seven pieces...
Harry raised his head, meeting Dumbledore's eyes, looking thunderstruck.
"We know about his Horcruxes," Dumbledore said quietly. "We know he has seven, but what they are, how to get to them, how to destroy them; I'm afraid we have nothing more than theories." He inclined his head towards Harry. "We were hoping you could be of some assistance."
Harry stared at him, the file forgotten in his hands. "You want me to help you, kill him?" Harry asked, his voice laced with disbelief.
"We want your help in destroying his Horcruxes," Dumbledore corrected.
"Which are by definition, pieces of his soul," Harry argued. "Pieces of him." Harry looked around the room, stopping on his dad. He shook his head. "I can't do that." He dropped the file back onto the table, still holding his dad's gaze. "I won't do it."
"Harry," Dumbledore started.
"No!" Harry snapped, turning back to him with blazing eyes. "You shouldn't have shown me this," he said. "I told you my allegiance is to Voldemort. Now that I know you are trying to find his Horcruxes, I'm forced to stop you–"
"Not necessarily," Dumbledore said, with a gentle smile. "You promised Voldemort your allegiance when you made the Unbreakable vow; it means you have to fight for him, but that doesn't mean you have to stop those trying to weaken him." He gestured to the files spread across the table. "You know about his Horcruxes. If you were to help us find them, work out how to compromise them, that won't negate your vow because you are not physically destroying Voldemort's Horcruxes. You are only helping us identify them."
Harry shook his head. "I gave him my loyalty, I can't do anything that would go against him or his wishes."
"But you've been coming to see your family?" Dumbledore argued. "In Voldemort's eyes, that is going against him; an act of defiance, yet you've been visiting them in secret for months."
Harry turned to glare at his parents, furious that they had told the leader of the Order about their private family meetings.
"You can work around the vow you have taken," Dumbledore continued. "You can defeat him, Harry. You just have to believe in yourself."
"What I believe," Harry started, with a step towards Dumbledore, "is that you are so desperate to defeat Voldemort, you are willing to endanger everyone around you. Have you considered what will happen if you fail? If Voldemort finds out you are trying to go after his Horcruxes, do you know what he will do?" He gestured to the people around the table. "He will kill everyone involved in this mission of yours. He will go after their families, their friends, their children–" He glanced directly at the Weasleys and Longbottoms – "everyone that they love and care, just to teach the world a lesson; to make sure no one ever tries the same again." He looked at Dumbledore with darkened green eyes. "Do you even care? Do you?" He shook his head. "You don't. Because they are just pawns to you, aren't they? It doesn't matter to you how many are sacrificed, as long as you win the game."
"It's not like that, Harry," Dumbledore said. "I know this isn't a game."
"You're right, it's not," Harry said. "This is people's lives you are risking."
"No one in this room has been coerced into fighting against Voldemort," Dumbledore said. "They have come because they want to defeat him."
Again, Harry looked to his parents, seeing their quiet, but defiant expressions. He looked back to Dumbledore. "That's not true," he said. "You're trying to force me."
"I would do no such thing," Dumbledore said. "I am merely asking for your help."
"Then the answer is no," Harry said. "I'm not willing to take the risk."
Moody let out a gruff laugh. "Think you had bigger balls when you were ten," he muttered.
Harry tensed, but didn't say anything.
"Alastor, please," Dumbledore held up his hand to quieten him.
It didn't work.
"Come on, Albus," Moody pointed at Harry with a gnarled finger. "He has the key to defeating Voldemort, but he's too scared to help us."
"This has nothing to do with you," James said to Moody with quiet fury. "Keep out of it."
"I may have had issues with your boy when I first met him," Moody said to James. "But there's no denying I had respect for him. He was a brat then too, but he had the gall to raise a wand at me." His mismatched eyes bore into Harry's back, and his lip curled with disgust. "Never thought he'd grow up to be a coward."
"That's it!" Sirius smacked his hands against the table as he shot to his feet.
"Sirius, no!" Tonks was quick to grab his arm, stopping him from going for his wand.
"Get out, Moody!" James yelled, "before I do something you'll regret!"
"Tell me, I'm wrong," Moody argued. "All of us are risking our lives to fight against Voldemort, but your son is too damn scared to do the same."
"Enough, Alastor!" Dumbledore raised his voice.
The room quietened at once. Sirius and James were still on their feet, glaring at Moody.
"I think it's best you take your leave," Dumbledore said to Moody, disappointment evident in his quieter tone.
Moody wouldn't disobey Dumbledore's direct order. Without another word, he made to walk out, when Harry's call stopped him. "You're right."
Moody looked to Harry with surprise. Harry turned to meet his eyes. "You are risking your life by fighting against Voldemort, and you're right, I am scared."
Moody smirked. "Glad you admit it," he said gruffly.
Harry smiled. "Alastor 'Mad-Eye- Moody," he said. "Graduated at the top of his class, the youngest Auror to join the Ministry of Magic," he said as he slowly walked over to him. "Considered to be the most famous Auror of our time, and a pivotal member of the Order of the Phoenix. At least half of the cells in Azkaban are habited by the wizards you've personally arrested."
Both of Moody's mismatched eyes were on Harry, his chest puffed out with pride as Harry recounted his greatest accomplishments.
"You're an inspiration to young Aurors, a mentor to many," Harry said. "That's what it says in the file Voldemort has on you. He has one for almost every Auror in the Ministry." Harry stood before Moody, holding his gaze."It also says you never got married." Moody's stance shifted, his back wasn't as straight anymore, neither were his shoulders. "You didn't start a family," Harry continued quietly. "You come from a linage of Aurors, all of whom have perished in battles long ago, meaning you have no family left."
Moody didn't say anything, but stared at Harry, his mouth pressed into a grim line. Harry pushed his face closer to his, and hissed, "You have no one," he said, emphasising each word. "If you face Voldemort, there is no one he can use against you. You can risk fighting him because other than your life, you have nothing else to lose." Harry's eyes burned. "I do," he whispered. "I have a family, and I will do whatever I need to, to protect them. If that means I keep Voldemort's Horcruxes a secret, or I fight on his side, then so be it." He stared at Moody with dark eyes. "So yes, Auror Moody, you're right; I am scared. I'm fucking terrified, but not of dying." He shook his head. "That would be a kindness on Voldemort's part. But he won't kill me, that much he's assured me." He paused, and fear flickered in his eyes. "He'll only make me wish I was dead."
Standing to the side, listening to Harry, James felt his heart lurch painfully. He had no doubt as to what kind of threats Voldemort had used to force Harry into submission. It made James sick to his stomach, thinking how his son had gone through the last five years with those fears playing on his mind. It was no wonder Harry was so panicked about Voldemort finding them.
"So you can stand there and call me a coward all you want," Harry said. "If refusing to risk my family's safety makes me a coward, then so be it. I'll gladly bear that title." He stepped closer. "But don't compare yourself to me and tell me if you are fighting then I should be too. If you had what I have, you wouldn't risk it either." He turned to look at Dumbledore with dark eyes. "The same goes for you."
Harry moved past Moody, opened the door, and walked out, leaving the room in complete silence.