32. My Lover's Curse
Harry had arrived in the Burrow kitchen to a panicking Mrs Weasley. Apparently both Ron and Tonks' portkey and Fred and Mr Weasley's portkeys had come back empty. Harry's stomach sank at this.
If Tonks, or any of the three Weasley men who had not made it back home had died it would be because of Harry. Harry had known they were going to be attacked but had let his friends disguise themselves as him and his protectors anyway in effort to protect Severus. How could he be so cruel to choose his lover over his friends despite the fact that they would have their own loved ones waiting for them back home!?
Tonks had just got married to Remus. Remus finally had a chance to be happy and Harry had let his wife go and pretend to be his protector. Remus had only just got over Sirius' death. If his wife died extracting Harry Remus would never forgive Harry.
And Ron was Harry's first friend. Okay maybe Harry couldn't trust Ron with everything because the red head was a hot head and might blurt things out accidentally. Harry couldn't trust the safety of his lover and son to someone like that.
But if something happened to Ron, Fred or Mr Weasley the whole Weasley family would be destroyed. Never mind Mrs Weasley and Hermione who were completely in love with Mr Weasley and Ron respectively even if neither Hermione nor Ron could admit it to themselves never mind each other or others Harry knew it was true. Harry knew that Hermione and Mrs Weasley were strong women but Harry didn't think they would survive loosing the love of their lives.
Ginny was looking worried but wasn't saying much. Harry knew that the red haired girl had never got over Harry and still wished that Harry was straight. It made things very awkward with the two teenagers.
Harry guessed that if Ginny's brothers and father hadn't been in danger she would have either been avoiding Harry or trying to seduce Harry – again. But Ginny wasn't looking at Harry as she chewed her lip nervously. Harry tried to give her a reassuring look but there wasn't much she could say to comfort either of the two Weasley women.
Harry had to give the news that Voldemort and his Death Eaters had been waiting for them to the worrying women. Harry should have done something to change the plan as he knew what was coming. Or he should have convinced them to only use golems apart from Harry who couldn't use magic to leave Privet Drive despite being emancipated.
'I'm sorry Mrs Weasley,' Harry said, 'I knew Voldemort –'Harry ignored as the two red haired women flinched, 'would be waiting for me. Four Death Eaters followed me and then Voldemort came. I-I don't know what happened to the others, I'm sorry.'
There was nothing Harry could say that would comfort Mrs Weasley or Ginny and Harry didn't try. Harry knew there was nothing Harry could say to comfort the two women. Harry now understood exactly what they were going through.
Last year Harry didn't understand Mrs Weasley's over protectiveness but after Aeron's birth Harry knew exactly the fear that a parent felt for their child every day of their child's life. The natural fear of a parent was made even worse by the time of war their children were born in. The fear that had lead to Harry sending his son half way across the world and Mrs Weasley panicked state.
Harry and Severus may not be married but that didn't mean that Harry loved Severus any less than Mrs Weasley loved Mr Weasley. Harry knew what it was to wait alone in the house for the man you loved knowing he might never come home. It was exactly the scenario Mrs Weasley was facing now.
And as for Ginny Harry didn't have any biological siblings or remember his father but he knew what Harry was currently all but pacing in worry about Hermione and Ron and what do you think led Harry to rushing after Sirius at the end of fifth year. Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley were the closest things Harry had to siblings and Sirius Black had been a father to him for the few times they had met. Ginny and Harry may have issues but Harry could still sympathise with Harry.
Mrs Weasley, however, didn't blame Harry. Mrs Weasley was just glad that Harry had made it home safe. Harry still felt guilty for having led her children and husband into all this. It was made even worse by the fact that Mrs Weasley didn't blame Harry just like the Diggorys.
Mrs Weasley left to get brandy for Hagrid for shock. Harry honestly didn't blame the half giant he had just come face to face with Lord Voldemort, the man responsible for him being expelled and his classmate's death. It did leave the uncomfortable moment when Harry was left alone with his fan girl.
Ginny and Harry stood in silence waiting for Remus and George to appear, if they appeared. Harry and Ginny exchanged a nervous, frightened look and for a second Harry was able to forget the awkwardness that usually occurred when they were alone together. Still neither of them said anything to each other.
Then George and Remus appeared suddenly. Harry felt sick when he realised that George was injured. Harry could tell he was alive at least for now. George didn't look anything like Cedric or Dumbledore did post mortem.
Ginny shouted for Mrs Weasley s as Harry rushed forward to help Remus carry the larger teenaged boy into the living room of the Burrow. Harry and Remus laid the red haired boy onto the couch as Mrs Weasley bustled around Harry. Harry knew from Ron that before she had fallen pregnant with Bill she had been a healer.
Soon as Harry had placed George on the sofa Harry felt strong hands seize him from being. Harry's initial reaction was to grab his wand kick his attacker where it hurt and hold the man at wand point. Harry was still working on pure adrenaline so it was a while before Harry realised that his "attacker" was Remus Lupin.
'Remus!? What the hell was all that about?' Harry demanded.
But even as Harry said it Harry knew what it was about. Remus knew that someone had betrayed them to Voldemort. Harry as the one to warn them that Voldemort would be attacking was the first one on Remus' list of suspicions.
Honestly did the werewolf think he would really betray himself and all his friends to Voldemort? No Harry realised Remus thought Harry wasn't really Harry but was a polyjuiced Death Eater. Honestly if he was a Death Eater did he really think that he would warn them before leaving Privet Drive?
'You think I'm not really Harry Potter,' Harry groaned. 'I'm not polyjuiced.'
'Somebody betrayed us,' Remus said, 'and you appeared to know we were going to be attacked.'
'If I really was a Death Eater do you think I would warn you?' demanded Harry.
'Harry, have you been having visions?' demanded Remus. 'Is that how you knew he was going to be there? Because if you have-'
'Voldemort could be reading my mind, I know,' Harry said sharply. 'I haven't had a vision since Sirius was killed. I am employing Occlumency and I wouldn't risk dropping my shields…'
Harry trailed off not saying what he was thinking. Harry couldn't lower his shields for even a second. If Harry did lower his shields Voldemort could and would find out about Aeron and Severus. Harry couldn't let that happen.
'…not after the connection got Sirius killed,' Harry said sharply. 'But as I said before there is any number of reasons they could have cottoned on. If they are keeping track of known Order members as we are keeping track of known Death Eaters they could have realised that a lot of Order members have stopped doing what they were doing even Kingsley who's protecting the Muggle Prime Minister.
'The people and things who the Order would stop guarding the Prime Minister for is few and far between. One of those things is me. Voldemort isn't an idiot. He would have gathered his Death Eaters to wait for us.
'Or he could have heard it from another source. Or he could be using listening spells or Animagi. There are multiple reasons that Voldemort could have found out. If we go pointing fingers we're just going to cause fights amongst ourselves which we can't afford.
'The week before the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw Quidditch match you brought me Butterbeer and I let it slip that I'd had it before,' Harry said.
Remus appeared to calm down, 'sorry Harry.'
'I know,' Harry said quietly. 'Sorry as well I reacted without thinking.'
'I'm glad,' Remus said softly. 'You need it.'
Harry nodded, 'Remus take this so we can get in contact with each other if needed.'
Harry handed Remus a two way mirror. Harry knew that when Harry, Ron and Hermione went into hiding they wouldn't be able to contact the Order. This was one of the few ways to keep in contact with them especially as Harry was the one with the inside information on the Death Eaters.
'Will George be okay?' asked Harry.
'I think so,' sighed Remus, 'there's no chance of the ear being grown back not when it's been cursed with dark magic.'
Harry knew that this was true after all Harry had been sleeping with Severus for almost a year. Severus was covered with scars that Voldemort had given him over a year. Severus often felt self confident about them even if he hid it well but Harry didn't think it took anything away from Severus' attractiveness only showed that he had suffered more than anyone should have.
That second the sound of another portkey coming in appeared. Hermione and Kingsley were here. Harry could only be relieved that Harry's sister in all but blood had made it through safe and sound. The talk Hermione would want about where he had spent the summer would come later when they had a definitive answer about their friends and allies safety or … or … or that they hadn't made it through.
Hermione and Harry flung themselves at each other to assure themselves that they were really alright. Hermione's eyes held relief about Harry and worry about the others who she didn't know what happened to. Not that Harry knew anymore than Hermione did about what had happened to Fred, Mr Weasley, Tonks and Ron.
Kingsley on the other hand had put Remus at wand point despite the fact that his werewolf DNA made it impossible for his hair to be used in Polyjuice. Either Kingsley didn't know a lot about Polyjuice potion or was suspicious of Remus simply because he was a werewolf. If that was true Harry would bloody well murder him.
'The last words Albus Dumbledore spoke to the pair of us,' Kingsley said.
'Kingsley,' Harry said, 'it would be impossible for it not to be Remus, he's a werewolf, remember.'
'Harry is right but the answer is "Harry is the best hope that we have. Trust him,' Remus said.
Kingsley then turned his wand on Harry. Harry sighed. If they were going to have to go through all this again when anyone would realise that the one warning them of the attack wasn't likely to be the one planning the attack.
'I've already checked him,' Remus said.
'Alright, alright,' Kingsley said, 'but somebody betrayed him.'
'As I told you before we left Voldemort isn't an idiot,' Harry said crossly. 'There could be multiple reasons that he found out.'
Hermione looked at him sharply at that. Obviously Hermione knew that Harry had known they were going to be attacked and Hermione was the one person who knew where Harry would have got his information from. Harry was going to have to talk to her at some point.
'What happened to you?' asked Remus.
'Followed by five, injured two, might've killed one,' Kingsley said.
Harry was relieved that Harry wasn't the only one on there side apart from Severus that was willing to use the Darker aspects of magic in the fight against Voldemort. Harry could only hope that they would accept Harry using dark magic to defend himself and the fact that he hadn't used his own wand just in case the Ministry attempted to prosecute him. Harry sometimes felt he had more secrets than he had not.
'But what happened to you? Where's George?' asked Kingsley.
'He lost an ear,' Remus explained.
'Lost an ear?' Hermione asked weakly.
'Snape's work,' Remus explained.
'Snape?' demanded Harry.
Harry couldn't believe that Severus would curse off George's ear even to keep up pretences. What the hell had happened out there? Why had Severus felt the need to curse off George's ear? If it had been part of a plan Harry would never allow Severus to come near him or Aeron again.
Hermione was looking at Harry sympathetically and obviously shocked. Hermione knew that hearing Severus spoke about in this fashion would hurt Harry even more so when it appeared that Severus could have killed George. Harry was glad that it was Hermione here when the news came out.
Kingsley and Remus were obviously under the belief that Harry was angry about George and Dumbledore and that was the way Harry wanted it to remain. Too many questions would be asked if they found out that Harry was more shocked and hurt by Severus. Harry couldn't believe his lover would curse George like that.
'He lost his hood in the chase. Sectresempra was always a speciality of Snape's,' Remus said.
Remus had no idea how accurate he was considering that Severus had actually invented the secresempra spell. It was something Severus felt guilty over considering how useful it had been to the Dark side but Severus had shown it off to a bunch of Death Eaters before he had defected to the Light side. Harry wanted to know exactly what had happened on that battlefield.
'I wish I could say I'd paid him back but it was all I could do to keep him on the broom. He was loosing too much blood,' explained Remus.
'What happened?' demanded Harry. 'Tell me exactly what happened!'
'Harry I'm not sure if that's a good idea,' Remus tried.
'Tell him,' Hermione said.
'We were battling Severus kept missing us or sticking the spells that you can shield against,' Remus said, 'thank Merlin. I can guess he didn't want to risk hurting Harry before he could take him back to the Dark Lord. Then I heard him cast the curse and tried to move out of the way but got hit anyway.'
Harry closed his eyes. Harry could see what must have happened. Severus making it seem like he was actually putting his all in but in reality letting them go. Severus then planned to miss again but Remus panicked and tried to dodge in effect getting George cursed.
Harry felt guilty. It wasn't Severus' fault or Remus' fault that George had got cursed. Severus wasn't trying to hurt George and Remus was trying to protect Harry. If Harry had told them the truth it would be different but Dumbledore had made him swear not to.
They moved back into the living room to help Ginny and Mrs Weasley tend to George. George still looked a mess of blood and pale skin. If Harry hadn't seen the rise and fall of his chest Harry might have thought the worse if Harry hadn't seen too many dead.
Harry felt sick looking at George knowing that it was his lover who had done this. Harry didn't blame Severus but he couldn't take away the fact that it was Severus Snape who had caused all of George's pain. Harry dropped into a seat beside George feeling a wave of guilt hit him.
Arthur and Fred arrived sometime later with Arthur almost physically or magically making Kinsley move so he could get to his son. Harry felt sorry for both twin and father who had to deal with their unconscious, pale blood covered twin and son. Harry hoped that Kingsley didn't try and make them prove who they were in the mood they were in.
Harry wondered if it was something about having his twin there because as soon as Fred arrived George woke up. Predictably Fred made a joke about how "holey" he was now. Harry could only feel relieved that George would be the same as always only without an ear.
Harry couldn't deal with the fear that seemed ever present in that room. Harry ran out into the backyard to wait all night if he had to for the others to turn up. Harry sat down on the steps looking out into the apparently peaceful starry night.
Hermione had followed him out there because she sat down beside him placing a hand on Harry's. Harry sighed sadly. Hermione always seemed to know what Harry was thinking and what Harry needed over what he wanted.
'Are you okay?' asked Hermione.
'I just can't believe it,' Harry said sadly. 'Last night I was…'
'With Severus,' Hermione said, 'that's how you knew what a golem was. You haven't been at Privet Drive all summer.'
'No,' agreed Harry, 'I was at an old safe house of Severus'.'
Hermione nodded, 'how are you dealing with Aeron?'
Harry flinched, 'it's getting better but it still hurts sometimes I think it always will.'
'Maybe someday,' Hermione said.
'I can't believe Severus cursed George,' Harry said.
'I think it was an accident,' Hermione said softly.
'I know that,' Harry said sharply.
'You knew that Voldemort knew didn't you,' Hermione said.
'Yes,' Harry said head in his hands. 'I should have said something, used the connection anything as an excuse or I had another spy in the ranks, anything or not let you take my hair!'
'If you had we would have took it from you by force,' Hermione said casually.
'Of course you would have,' snorted Harry.
'We don't know the worse has happened,' Hermione said in a shaky voice obviously thinking about Ron.
'Then why aren't they here yet?' asked Harry.
'There could be any number of reasons,' Hermione said gently, 'that do not include them…'
'But it could,' Harry said softly.
'Yes,' Hermione said.
Harry and Hermione sat in each other's embrace trying not to think about where there loved one's were and whether or not they would ever see them again. Hermione was particularly inconsolable considering it was the boy she was in love with who hadn't arrived back yet. Harry did his best to comfort her but it wasn't working when he was clearly terrified for Ron's safety.
Tonks and Ron arrived soon after. Tonks and Remus greeted each other with a hug although Remus seemed angry at Tonks for something. Harry could only guess that he was angry that she had been so late and could have died but there seemed to be something else about the reaction that seemed familiar but Harry couldn't put his finger on.
Ron and Hermione greeted each other in much the same fashion as the older couple making Harry smirk in a Severus like way. Harry hoped it wouldn't be long before those two had put their act together and actually went out. It was so frustrating to watch them tip toe around each other like this.
Kingsley had to leave to get back to the Prime Minister and Bill and Fleur returned. Harry was relieved that meant all the Weasleys had survived there was only Mad Eye left. Mad Eye couldn't die not after everything he had been through.
And it turned out that Harry was right. Mad Eye had survived he looked more than a little battered around the edges – more so than normal – but at the end of the day the man had survived. Harry breathed a sigh of relief everyone but Hedwig had survived.
'Where's everyone else?' he asked gruffly.
'Everyone's inside apart from Kingsley who's gone back to Downing Street,' Harry explained. 'We've all been checked as well,' Harry added sharply. 'And I do not believe we have been betrayed as I said before there are plenty of other reasons that don't include us having another spy!'
Harry and Moody argued about this fact for most of the night until Harry took him off to have a shower discreetly taking the two way mirror connected with Severus with him. Harry wanted to speak to his lover both to make sure the dark eyed man was okay and to assure himself that it really had been an accident. Harry couldn't help his doubts no matter how much he tried to.
'Severus,' Harry whispered into the mirror.
'Harry,' Severus said gruffly.
'Severus, are you okay?' asked Harry worriedly.
'Shouldn't I be asking you that,' Severus said.
Harry knew what the older man was doing. Severus hated talking about his feelings even more than Harry did so he often turned personal questions around on Harry or at least tried to. Harry did his best to bring Severus out of his shell.
'I heard about the fight with the Dark Lord,' Severus said, 'are you okay?'
'Fine,' Harry said, 'although he was surprised at the type of magic I was using.'
'I'm sure,' Severus said dryly, 'did any of the Order see you?'
'Apart from Hagrid but he doesn't know much about magic,' Harry replied.
Severus nodded, 'good. What about Hedwig?'
Harry was surprised that Severus knew about Hedwig although he supposed someone would have told him. Probably Hedwig's killer boasting about killing the Boy Who Lived's beloved familiar. Bloody bastard Harry thought.
'Nott kept going on about the pain he caused to you by destroying the familiar bond,' Severus said.
Harry growled, 'him and Bellatrix both.'
'How is Weasley?' asked Severus.
Harry knew by the casual way Severus was saying it which Weasley he was referring to. Obviously Severus was sure that George had died. Harry knew that Severus was pretending it wasn't affecting him but it was.
'He's fine,' Harry assured Severus. 'He's been making "holey" jokes all evening.'
Severus' face barely changed but the look of relief that crossed those dark eyes said everything to Harry. Harry smiled at Severus and the two bid goodnight. Harry was exhausted. Today had been exhausting.