Synopsis of prequel (for those who haven't read it!)
This story is a sequel to 'The Fight for Harry' and picks up six weeks later.
In 'The Fight...' Harry walks to his death in the forest after discovering he is the 7th Horcrux and his friends and family seek to reach him in time to stop it.
As in Deathly Hallows, Voldemort casts the killing curse and Harry 'dies', only to be resuscitated by Ron and Hermonie. Voldemort is killed by the Order and in the ensuing chaos, Bellatrix Lestrange kidnaps a still unconscious Harry.
The remainder of the story follows Harry's friends and the Order as they desperately race against time to find and rescue Harry from Bellatrix before he is killed or tortured into insanity.
They thankfully find him and Severus Snape heals the worst of his injuries and returns him to safety. This story will follow his recovery and battle to begin a normal life free of the threat of Voldemort.
Please note that this will be a 'process' story. There are unlikely to be big adventures, enemies or excitement and it will focus strongly on developing relationships and characters. I am writing this as it is the type of story I like to read myself but will not be everyone's 'cup of tea'.
If you have not read the first in the series then the other departure from DH is that Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Fred and Severus have survived so will all feature in the sequel.
It was the screaming he heard first, just like the night before, and the night before that. Sirius jumped from his bed with a start and stumbled down the hallway, trying and failing to tie the belt on his dressing gown.
Entering his godson's bedroom, he took in the familiar sight with a weary sigh. Harry was tangled in his bedsheets, his face drenched in sweat and his voice hoarse with his own cries. Sirius took a moment to take a deep breath and calm himself. He had learnt early on that rushing in and waking Harry was a bad idea.
That would result in a very distressed boy sobbing onto his shoulder for an hour and then unable to get back to sleep. After a month of this had left them both so exhausted that Sirius had collapsed in an Order meeting, Sirius had finally asked for professional help.
Harry had refused to see the counsellor from St Mungo's, too afraid that anything he said would end up on the front page of the newspapers, but he had permitted Sirius to get advice. So, once a week, Sirius flooed to St Mungo's and spent an hour with one of the mind healers. It was the healer that had given Sirius some techniques to help Harry with his nightmares and shown Sirius the best way to support the young teenager.
Sirius kicked off his slippers under the bed and gently lowered himself down beside Harry, who had curled into a ball and was whimpering quietly. Sirius laid a hand on his godsons back and started to gently rub circles, ignoring the initial flinch away. Harry's sobs increased, as they always did at the first touch and Sirius kept his movements light until his cries quietened again. He then slowly moved, slipping his arm beneath his godsons waist and drawing the boy into his arms.
It was half an hour before his gentle rocking and murmured words of comfort finally settled the boy and Harry's breathing deepened and evened out. Sirius relaxed with a sigh. Tonight must have been a bad one, it didn't always take so long and again he mentally thanked the healer for his words of advice. By not waking Harry, the boy was able to sleep for the rest of the night and sometimes Sirius could nod off again too.
He ran a hand through the boys hair and looked sadly at his tear streaked face. Sirius wished he could persuade Harry to talk to the healer, it was helping him so much and he knew the boy would benefit too. He felt the familiar weight of rage settle in his stomach when he thought of what Harry had been through. Bellatrix had tortured Harry to the point that he was unrecognisable and Sirius didn't have a clue how to help Harry get over something like that. It was unimaginable to him that a human being could do that to another soul, let alone a child.
Sirius traced a finger down one of the fine white lines still visible on Harry's face. Each one had been a gaping cut and his body was covered with them. The burns had all healed without scars but the cuts had been sliced with a cursed silver blade and Harry would always carry them. The puckered skin around his wrists would also stay with the boy for life, a mark from the manacles he had hung from for nearly three days.
Harry also carried a limp, his right hip having been shattered by the force of the killing curse Voldemort had thrown at him the night of the final battle. It was the second time this remarkable man had survived the Avada Kadavra and for a few awful minutes, Sirius had thought he had lost Harry for good.
His left hand was missing a pinkie finger that Bellatrix had cut off although Sirius was not supposed to know that. Harry had kept that hand bandaged in an attempt to hide the injury and only Severus Snape and Poppy had tended to it. Sirius had accidentally knocked off the bandage one night whilst trying to calm one of Harry's nightmares and he had wept for an hour when he had seen the missing finger; more distressed at Harry's attempts to hide it than the injury itself.
Most problematic was an open wound on Harry's abdomen that completely refused to heal. It was a constant fight to keep the wound clean and fight off infection and Poppy had taught Sirius how to change the dressings so that Harry could go home and finally escape the hospital wing. It had been nearly nine weeks since Harry had been rescued and the wound was larger now than it had been originally.
Poppy and Severus had been in an almost constant search to find a solution but things had been complicated by the fact that Harry couldn't remember when the injury had happened or what curse had caused it.
Sirius settled down onto the pillow beside his godson and dropped a light kiss on his head. Normally he would gently extract himself and go back to his own room but tonight he didn't, deciding to stay in case Harry had another dream. He drifted slowly off to sleep, thinking of ways to get his godson out of the house or at least put a smile on his face.
It was late the next morning when Harry padded into the kitchen of Grimmauld Place, still in his pyjamas and fluffy socks. Sirius looked up from his paper and smiled at the messy hair and yawning face.
'Morning sleeping beauty, you've got quite a haul there,' Sirius nodded to the large pile of mail waiting for Harry. Harry grimaced and reached for a piece of toast before plonking himself down clumsily beside Sirius.
'I can't believe this has already been screened,' he whined, picking up the first large packet on the top of the pile.
'Well, believe it kid. Arthur says there are still three aurors working full time to screen all your mail. They are getting close to a thousand owls a day.'
Harry groaned and dropped his head onto Sirius's shoulder.
'They must all hate me,' he mumbled and Sirius chuckled.
'Actually, it's the complete opposite. Arthur said there is a fight every morning as to who gets mail duty. They are all rather in awe of the great Harry Potter you know. You did get rid of Voldemort for them.'
'No, I didn't.' Harry protested. 'All I did was take a short walk and let the git kill me. It's was hardly an impressive piece of combat.'
Sirius slipped an arm around the skinny teenager and poured him a cup of tea.
'Mmm, of course there was the whole destroying a bunch of Horcruxes thing; and fighting giant snakes and death eaters, breaking into Gringotts, escaping on a dragon; freeing a bunch of innocents from The Ministry...'
'All right, all right,' Harry mumbled into Sirius's shirt. 'Maybe I had something to do with it but really, don't these people have something better to do than send me love letters?'
Sirius chuckled and gave Harry a nudge with his shoulder.
'Come on you, sit up and eat some breakfast. You don't have to worry about love letters any more. I asked the team to screen them out seeing as it was embarrassing you so much. They will only forward mail from people you know, anything official and any serious job offers. From the size of some of these packets, I think most of these are job offers.'
'What are they doing with all the stuffed toys and flowers?'
'They've been sending them to St Mungo's and St Lucian's Orphanage.'
Harry smiled. 'That's nice.'
'I'm not sure where they are redirecting all the panties though?'
Harry blushed and buried his face back into Sirius's shoulder whilst his godfather laughed heartily.
'I really hate you,' Harry muttered and Sirius snorted.
They ate the rest of their breakfast in silence and Sirius spread his morning paper out across the table. Harry munched his way through two pieces of toast and slowly worked through the pile of mail, splitting them into four piles.
Sirius had watched this routine every morning for the last few weeks but had yet to ask about Harry's methods. He was still finding it hard to know what role to take in this independent young man's life. Should he be offering advice or setting rules? Harry was of age now but if anyone could do with a bit of loving parenting it was Harry.
Glancing over at the young man, he tentatively took the first step into his godsons future.
'That looks an efficient system you have going there. How does it work?'
Harry paused and looked up from his latest letter.
'Well, it's reasonably simple. The first pile is social invitations that I have to send a polite 'bugger off' to. The rest are all job offers and are split into three categories, 'Interesting,' 'Definite possibility', or 'Hell no!'
Sirius snorted into his coffee.
'Which pile is the 'Hell no' one?'
'The biggest one!' Harry said with a laugh.
'Listen, this one's interesting. It's a magic school in Sweden that wants me to come and run a practical defence course, a bit like the DA. I would be an associate professor but wouldn't have to do essays and stuff because they would have regular defence classes alongside mine.'
Sirius frowned over his coffee. 'Nope, you can't take that one.'
'You can't go to Sweden, it's more than 200 miles away.'
Harry laughed as he shrugged the thick parchment back into it's envelope.
'What's that got to do with anything?'
'It's a new house rule,' Sirius replied deadpan. 'You are not allowed to go anywhere that's more than 200 miles away from home.'
Harry chuckled and shook his head, placing the packet on the 'definite possibility' pile which earned him a scowl from Sirius.
'I thought you were thinking of going back to Hogwarts for your 7th year anyway?'
'Well, I can't now can I?' Harry said with a sad face, and at Sirius's questioning look added. 'It's more than 200 miles away!'
'Ha, ha, very funny. I thought you wanted to go back to school?'
Harry looked down at his tea mug and sighed heavily.
'I don't know what to do. It feels really important to get my NEWTS but it's hard to think of going back to the castle. There are some really difficult memories there and a lot of the people from our year will already have graduated so it won't be the same. There are some really good offers here,' Harry pointed to the mail piles again. '...and I'm worried that if I wait a year then I will miss out on all these opportunities.'
Harry leant into his godfathers side again and started worrying his bottom lip.
'What do you think I should do Sirius?'
Sirius smiled in relief at the question, maybe he could be of some use after all.
'I think you should do something that will be fun and not worry too much about the future,' he answered quietly, dropping a kiss on Harry's head. 'You have carried so much on those shoulders of yours these last few years, it's time to ease up a bit. If you did want to go back to school then I bet any one of these would hold a place open for you if you expressed a serious interest. What are Ron and Hermione planning to do?'
Harry shrugged. 'We are planning to meet up this weekend and talk about it. I know Hermione wants to go back to Hogwarts but her parents aren't very happy about it. They still haven't forgiven her for altering their memories and nearly getting killed a few dozen times.'
Sirius laughed. 'Yes, I imagine finding yourself in Australia and realising you have forgotten your own daughter could be a bit unsettling. What about Ron?'
Harry sighed heavily. 'He's not sure. I think he would go back if 'Mione and I did but he's also been getting offers and he's not so fussed about his NEWTS. I think if he could convince Molly then he might be tempted by the auror programme. They've offered him an exemption so he could start in October.'
Sirius felt himself tense at that and he carefully kept his voice even as he asked. 'Have they offered you that too?'
Harry nodded, his face still pressed into Sirius's shoulder and the older man felt his stomach drop. He really, really didn't want Harry to go into the auror programme.
'How do you feel about that? I know you always wanted to be an auror.'
Harry shrugged and snuggled closer. 'I'm not sure. I don't think I want to take a short cut like that. It would feel as though I am trading on my name and I always swore I wouldn't that.'
'It's also rather dangerous,' Sirius added quietly and Harry looked up at the man's sombre expression.
'Yeah, I know. I must admit after this last year I'm not sure I could take any more...' he trailed off and let Sirius wrap his arms around him.
'You've certainly seen your fair share of danger and dark wizards,' he murmured, holding the boy protectively. 'How about gardening? That's a nice safe profession.'
Harry sat up and snorted out a laugh. 'Gardening?'
'..or dressmaking, florist, postman, owl handler?'
'You're barking mad!' Harry said with a laugh.
'Juggler, ice-cream maker, nanny, caretaker? I hear Filch is due for retireme...ow! That hurt!' Sirius exclaimed as he got punched in the arm.
After a few minutes of mock fighting and giggling, Sirius laid his hands on Harry's shoulders and looked his godson in the eye.
'Harry, you are only seventeen. It really doesn't matter if you don't know what you want to do and there is no rush to decide. Just remember that whatever you decide I will support and help any way I can. I just want you to have some fun kid.'
Harry smiled shyly and nodded. 'Thanks Sirius.'
'Now what about all those social invitations? Are there none that appeal?'
Harry grimaced and waved his wand to banish them to the waste paper basket.
'I'm not really in the mood for parties right now,' he mumbled grumpily.
'Well how about a trip to Diagon Alley then? I'm running short of few things. It would be good to get out of this old house for a bit.'
Harry worried his lip before answering nervously. 'Can I stay here? I'd rather not have everyone staring at me.'
Sirius tried to give an encouraging smile and hide his worry. Harry hadn't left the house in weeks and hadn't gone anywhere in public since leaving the castle's infirmary. It was starting to panic Sirius. He wondered if the boy was developing acrophobia.
'Harry, I would really like it if you would come with me. It's not healthy to be holed up here with just an old dog like me for company. How about if we floo the Weasley's and see if Ginny and Ron could join us? I can treat you all to ice cream?'
Harry took a deep breath and nodded reluctantly.
'OK, when do you want to go?'
'How about this afternoon?'
It was a very reluctant Harry Potter that stepped out of the floo into the parlour of The Leaky Cauldron four hours later and immediately found himself assaulted by a mess of bright red hair. After a moments confusion he realised it was Hermione cutting off his air supply and he gently extracted himself from her embrace, aware of the floo flaring behind him and his godfather stepping out.
'Mione, you changed your hair!' he exclaimed and she smiled shyly.
Hermione's normally frizzy hair was cut in a sleek bob and had somehow been straightened and curled under at the ends. It was also dyed a deep, rich auburn and fitted perfectly with her smart black dress and royal blue robes. She had somehow managed to combine a rather stylish muggle look with the latest fashion in wizarding robes and looked amazing.
'You've haven't seen the half of it mate,' Ron said forlornly. 'She keeps this up and some slick git is going whisk her away from me.'
Harry grinned at his friend in sympathy. Ron was wearing a 'Weasley jumper' and frayed jeans and looked the same as he always did, which was a bit of a relief as Harry was also dressed in scruffy muggle clothes.
'How are you mate,' Ron asked seriously, eyeing the cane that Harry now carried with him everywhere.
'I'm good. It's great living with Sirius. I'm getting loads of job offers.'
'Isn't it amazing? 'Hermione enthused, bobbing a little on the spot. 'I've been offered a paid intern-ship at the Ministry in The Magical Creatures department. They heard about S.P.E.W and offered me the job. It's so exciting.'
Harry looked at his two friends and felt his heart lift. Sirius was right, it was good to get out and see people. He had been moping a bit at Grimmauld Place. He stepped forward and spontaneously pulled the two teenagers into a fierce hug.
'It's so good to see you both. Have you got the whole afternoon?'
Ron returned the hug enthusiastically and then pointed to the booth at the side of the room where Arthur and Molly were sharing a pot of tea and some cream cakes.
'Yeah, Mum and Dad are meeting with Hermione's parents this afternoon to try and calm them down a little so we have loads of time. Fred and George said we have to visit them in the shop because they have some things to talk to you about and that if you have time we should all go to dinner together.'
'There's a lovely new restaurant on the alley,' Hermione added, her arms still resting on Harry's waist. 'We read about it in The Prophet although I think you're supposed to book in advance as it's a bit exclusive.'
'Well that sounds a lovely idea,' Sirius's voice interrupted from behind. 'It's been years since there was a restaurant in any of the magical streets. The purebred families tend to be a bit snobby about them. They think it's an example of muggle culture invading our world.'
Ron smirked. 'Sounds like somewhere the great Harry Potter should visit, ' he said, dodging the punch to the arm that Harry had thrown.
Sirius chuckled. 'Well that would get past the booking issue. Do you think your parents would join us if we reserved a table Hermione?'
The girl winced and gave Sirius a wry smile. 'I'm not sure. I had to practically bribe them to come today. I suppose it depends on how well things go this afternoon with Ron's parents. They don't want me to have anything to do with the magical world any more. It's been really difficult.'
'I'm sorry 'Mione,' Harry said quietly. 'Is there anything I can do to help?'
She shrugged. 'I don't think so. Lets just have a fun day shall we? I can't wait to see the alley. It's been completely rebuilt you know and half of Knockturn Alley has been cleaned up and remodelled.'
Harry smiled at her enthusiasm and turned to his godfather.
'How is this going to work today Sirius? Do you want us to all stay together or are you happy for us to go off alone?
'I'd prefer if you stayed close to start with. At least until I get a sense of how people are going to be with you. I don't want you getting swamped by people asking for your autograph; or reporters for that matter. Have either of you two been out and about since you gave your testimony.'
Hermione shook her head and Ron grinned. 'I have, I've been helping the twins in the shop. It was a bit odd a first, but mainly people just wanted to shake my hand and say thanks. Now, everyone just smiles and points. It's not too bad but it might be worse for Harry.'
Harry took a deep breath and forced his stomach muscles to relax. He really did want to see the alley, so it was worth a bit of attention. He gave Sirius a reassuring smile and nod and adjusted his cane so it was taking more of his weight.
'I'll just go say hi to your folks Ron and then I'm ready if you are?'
Harry limped over to the older Weasley's table, aware of the smiles and whispers from the other patrons and allowed Molly to pull him into a rib crushing hug.
'Harry dear, how are you?'
'I'm doing really well, Molly, thank you. How are you both?'
Arthur shook his hand and held it between both of his for a moment as he gave the boy an appraising look.
'We are keeping very well Harry and we have all the children home at the moment so it is rather busy. You are looking much better, Sirius is obviously feeding you up.'
Harry laughed. 'Yeah, he practically force feeds me and Madam Pomfrey has been coming once a week to check on me. I've got my own room at Grimmauld Place now and my own bathroom.'
Molly chuckled at Harry's delight. 'Well, it's about time you had a proper home dear. I'm very happy for you.' She smoothed down his T- shirt and straightened his sweater with a smile.
'Do you have a big shopping list for today?'
Harry shook his head. 'No but I think Sirius needs a few things. I just wanted to catch up with everyone. Sirius is going to try and get us a table at that new restaurant afterwards. Do you think you could come?'
'Oh, what a lovely idea?' Molly exclaimed. 'I'm sure the twins would join us. I think Charlie already has a date this evening and Bill and Fleur are in France today but everyone else is close by.'
'Do you think you could persuade 'Mione's parents to come too?' Harry asked quietly and Arthur squeezed his shoulder.
'I'm sure we could. We'll ask them as soon they arrive and then hopefully it won't matter if this afternoon goes badly.'
Twenty minutes later they were all ready to go. The restaurant table had been booked. Sirius had floo-called the restaurant and one mention of his name had had the owners falling over themselves to reserve them the best spot. Sirius had pulled his head out of the fire with a chuckle and turned to face the rapidly growing group.
'They had a fit when they realised who I was and when I said you three were also in the dinner party, I thought the owner was going to have a stroke! I've booked the table for seven which is right after the shops close so it gives us all lots of time.'
'Ah, the benefits of celebrity status,' Ron sighed and the others laughed at the look of horror on Harry's face.
'Relax Harry,' Sirius said softly. 'You are going to have to find a way to live with this and find some of the positives in it. I know you haven't had a very positive experience of our world these past few years, but it can be a very friendly, supportive community when there aren't half crazed idiots like Voldie trying to take over.'
Harry sighed. 'I know, I think I've forgotten how not to worry. I just keep waiting for everyone to turn on me again.'
Sirius pulled the boy into a hug and ruffled his hair.
'Come on, let's go spend some money. That's bound to cheer you up!'
The boisterous group made their way on to the newly rebuilt Diagon Alley and Harry experienced the same thrill he always did as he saw the magical stores for the first time.
'Sirius, I forgot to ask. I was wondering if you would mind if I got a snake?'
Sirius laughed and clapped the boy on the shoulder. 'To be honest Harry, I'm surprised you haven't gotten one before this. If there was an animal I could speak to, I would probably have a dozen by now.'
'So you don't mind?'
'Not at all, just make sure you warn Moony when he visits. He's a bit phobic of snakes. I think it's a wolf thing.'
Harry laughed. 'Really! OK, I'll make sure it's hidden when he comes.'
'Shall we go then?' Sirius asked quietly and Harry gave a small smile. It was time to face the wizarding world once again.