Chapter 6: Demons

Beta-read by MrHolbyta

The Grangers prided themselves on raising a well-adjusted daughter. They knew it could be rough nurturing teenagers, since most parenting books had affectionately termed children in their adolescent stage as 'aliens'—barely recognisable—while they struggled with hormones and their need to define their identity . For the first time in their lives, the Grangers found themselves at loss for what to do with their usually rational daughter. They were almost surprised to see their only daughter, Hermione, pacing worriedly along the garage, visibly upset that they had returned later than she had expected.

Her brown eyes held accusation as they met her parents' gaze unswervingly.

Emma and Dan stared at each other, stunned.

She made a beeline for Harry. Those stormy orbs turned to check him thoroughly, as the young man grabbed the bags of groceries from the trunk of the car. Her worries were slightly alleviated when she found him well and even thrilled. Hermione cheered up considerably, approaching him to offer her help with the groceries.

Emma sighed inwardly as she glanced at Dan. He merely lifted his shoulders in a shrug.

Amusingly, Harry was oblivious to Hermione's emotional tempest, too absorbed with his impending undertaking to notice his best friend's abnormal behaviour.

"Do you need help with dinner?" offered Hermione brightly.

Harry paused mid-way, swirled, and shot an arched look at her.

Hermione coughed, turning away sheepishly. She comprehended his misgivings and incredulity. Harry had every right to reject her help since he knew that she was terrible at cooking. Their short stays at the Weasley's revealed the little knowledge she had about cooking and her lack of passion for it—Harry was trying to be nice. The lingering smile faded from her face.

Harry understood that it was Hermione's way of caring. He set the grocery bags on the floor carefully, contemplating what he could do to help her feel useful. Harry levelled his gaze, as he balanced on the balls of his feet.


"Why don't you let Hermione assist you while I have a change of clothes? I think you're unfamiliar with the kitchen and you'll probably need an orientation of it," intervened Emma immediately, looking at both of the teenagers.

Emma smiled when she saw Hermione light up at the suggestion.

Harry warmed up to the idea quickly. "That's a great idea. I'll try to stop Hermione from breaking too many things," teased Harry, relieved that Hermione felt better. He felt her mock-glare but he persisted. "Maybe I shouldn't, so that you'll have a chance to see her perform magic." That earned a swat on the arm from Hermione as he guffawed at her annoyance. "You're pretty much brilliant in everything…but cooking," remarked Harry, grinning light-heartedly.

She snorted. It was clear from her eyes that she was enjoying the light banter. He nudged her playfully, teasing a small smile from her. His jovial mood was so infectious that Hermione was soon smiling.

"So what did you do in my absence?" asked Harry, picking up the bags of groceries again. He intentionally left a few bags behind for her. The teenagers soon made their way to the kitchen, updating each other on their day while ignoring the adults.

Dan scratched the back of his head, wondering inwardly if such a development between the teenagers was normal.

"Not dating, but they are usually lost in their own world," commented Sirius from the corner of the garage, chuckling brightly. He shook his head in amusement. His long sleeves were pushed up to his elbow, as if he was doing hard labour in their absence. The Grangers were so caught up with their observation of the teens that they did not hear him enter into the garage. Sirius looked almost rejuvenated and happy. "The wards are good. Oh, Gaston said that he was coming for dinner."

That announcement took the Grangers by surprise. "Gaston? Some important news?"

He lifted his shoulder as he lowered his gaze. "Probably. I'm quite sure he must have met the Head of DMLE today. I can't see what other reasons he might have to meet us later when we have plans to celebrate Easter together." He frowned slightly. The mention of his ex-colleagues usually put a sour taste in his mouth. His mind drifted to his partner.

"Perfect timing anyway. Harry wanted to cook tonight to celebrate. I'll inform him," announced Dan, sharing a look with his wife—he was concerned with Sirius's low moods. Gently, he squeezed his wife's shoulder after she nodded at him. He headed towards the kitchen.

Sirius was jolted back to his senses. "Celebrate? Pup can cook? Should I stand by with my wand?" He looked almost torn as he shot glances between the door out of the garage and the kitchen. "There is a project I really want to complete before dinner though."

Emma chuckled. "Don't be silly. I'd be more worried about Hermione setting the kitchen on fire than Harry. He's a proficient cook. You can return to whatever that you were busy with." She patted him on his shoulder sympathetically—she knew it wasn't easy for Sirius to provide any sort of information to Gaston about his ex-colleagues so that they could help Harry. If giving up his guardianship of Harry was not a proof of his love for the young boy, the fact that he was willing to confront or move on from the past was a testimony of his love. She was moved by Sirius's great love for Harry. "Don't dwell too much on things you've little control of."

He sighed, running his hand through his short locks. His hair stopped at the nape of his neck as if he just realised that he had cut his hair short. He chose to rub the back of his neck instead. "Do you have some time?"

The poignant plea in his eyes motivated Emma to nod her head. "It's about this Head of DMLE, isn't it?"

A flash of surprise appeared in his eyes before he turned away to examine the hacksaw on the wall closely. His body was tense. "I…I don't know what to think." Sirius rubbed the back of the hacksaw absently. "You know, I used to be able to go through any precarious situation, confident that she had my back. I tried to figure out what changed. I know I should have told her when I wanted to go after the rat but there wasn't time…"

He clenched his hands into balls of fists.

Her heart went to him. "You think that she lost faith in you and thus betrayed the trust you had in her."

The light that drifted through the window cast his features in such sharp relief that it made him look even more troubled.

He looked at her with haunted eyes, his jaw clenched.

"What was I supposed to think? She never visited; she never defended me; she never tried to understand…and I can't forget," spat Sirius with clenched teeth. He slammed his fist on the wall. "I can't forget the things she would do for me. Besides Prongs and Moony, there isn't anyone else I would trust."

Sirius looked almost crushed at the admission—the very man who had the fortitude to endure the mental tortures of Azkaban, escape that hellhole, and endeavour to reconstruct his life.

Her heart broke for him. She remembered the last conversation she saw between Jamie and Sirius; Jamie seemed surprised at how much Sirius allowed Amelia to rein him in. That suggested a unique and profound partnership between Sirius and her. She could not imagine the depth of their attachment to each other. Emma pursed her lips as she considered her words carefully.

"Have you tried seeing the situation from her perspective? Mr Lupin, your best friend, believed that you were guilty. Is it fair to blame her? She could have been strong-armed by the system she pledged to serve or even by her superior. Didn't you say that she had held Mr Crouch, the man who decided to put you behind bars, in high esteem? Would she have openly questioned his decision, given the circumstances then?"

He turned away, his hand pressed firmly on his chest— the ache blossomed again. "I don't know. All I do know is that it hurts. I don't understand why would she behave this way, but I don't want to put her in the uncomfortable position of choosing between duty and friendship by looking for her."

She sighed inwardly when she finally realised the crux of the issue.

"No, don't you try to justify your avoidance of her with pretty words. You refused to contact her because you're afraid that she would choose her duty over the close relationship you shared. This fear is a testimony of how little faith you have in her—"

"Little faith?" exploded Sirius, his eyes wild with rage. "How would you describe her behaviour?" roared he, his body stiff. His breathing grew rapid and shallow as he glared lethally at Emma.

Silence stretched out between them as she waited for him to calm down.

Her eyes were filled with compassion for him and she offered a gentle observation. "You'll only have your answer if you speak to her. I know you admire her greatly. "

His wrath was reduced to nothing like chaff blown away by the winnowing wind. Sirius opened his mouth, ready to protest.

Ignoring him, Emma continued, without giving him room to interrupt. "You owe it to yourself and you need to take that step of faith to see that your instinct wasn't wrong. She can't you than she already has."

The gleam of defiance ceased in his eyes as the realisation struck him. He stared at her, open-mouthed. His mind, however, was processing that epiphany quickly.

Emma would laugh if the situation were not so grave.

Sirius sighed deeply.

"You're right," concluded Sirius, staring at his feet. "I let my fear consume me. It's difficult to learn how to trust again after staying in Azkaban for a decade. The Dementors thrive on joy and happiness, leaving only despair and fear." He felt a weight lifted from his shoulder when he realised that he was really looking at world with very tainted lens—past hurts and fear. With Emma playing the devil's advocate, he realised what a bitter man he had become—he may have escaped from Azkaban but he hadn't escaped his personal Dementors.

Tenderly, she patted him on the back. "It's okay. You've already began the journey. You're not alone, either."

He allowed the sincerity of her words to ring through his being. A surge of warmth filled his being at the thought that he was no longer alone in his journey. For the first time, since James' death, he wasn't alone. His thoughts drifted to his godson. Harry was also battling with his inner demons. He owed it to Harry to triumph over his own demons so that he could be the support the teenager needed.

He managed a small smile. "Thank you. I-I'm sorry for yelling at you." He rubbed the back of his head, as he stared at the ground.

He was almost unsure—he never had a positive maternal figure in his life. Emma could have easily passed off as his mother since most witches bear children right after they graduate from school.

Emma waved it off nonchalantly. "You're welcome. I'm more than happy to help."

A sudden wave of tenderness struck him. He was moved by the generosity of her spirit. Was this the reason why Prongs and Lily chose her as one of the guardians to Harry?

"I thought you had a project you wanted to see to?"

Sirius smacked his forehead. "Merlin, how could I forget?" An excited grin spread across his face. "You'll like this surprise. I'll see you at dinner." Quickly, he left the garage, headed to the house next door.

Emma smiled to herself, glad that both wizards were starting to heal. It was almost painful to see the haunted expression on his face when he recalled his past. Hurriedly, she headed upstairs to change so that she could join the teenagers in the kitchen, hoping that Hermione did not cause too much damage.

Gaston smiled appreciatively at the new wards that the goblin had constructed. His attempt at trying to Apparate into the building threw him and his companion almost a mile away. The apparition point for the house was at the end of the street, behind a dilapidated house. There were only two houses along the street which meant that their location was very secure. He had to check if anyone owned the other house so that he could maximise their security.

Beside him, Amelia was staring at the place in muted surprise. The neighbourhood was obviously non-magical but there was a strong presence of magic in this street. Moreover, this wasn't a place that the Potters had owned. Amelia had made it a point to research the properties that the Potters did own so that she could have an idea of where she might be going.

She was glad that the Duc had reminded her to transfigure her clothes into those of non-magical fashion after she had make an Unbreakable Vow not to reveal anything she might have learnt without the expressed permission of the Potters, the Delacours or the Blacks. Considering the occasion, she went for black and formal office attire, which always reminded her of the non-magical female bodyguards she had seen around Buckingham palace.

Amelia was convinced to meet the retainers of the Potter Family quickly after she had visited Azkaban. The grave which held Barty Crouch Junior looked as if it had not been attended to for a few months. Green ivies grew around the grave haphazardly but it was considered very well-maintained and grand compared to the other graves in the ground. According to the groundkeeper, Mr Crouch requested that he maintained that grave on his own and he visited it twice monthly.

That was suspicious.

Mr Crouch did not even want to collect the dead body. Besides, she didn't remember that Mr Crouch had adored his son. To cement that sense of doubt, she found a bouquet of faint purple, blossomed Magnolia and creamy white Queen Anne's Lace before the grave. She remembered seeing those particular flowers on Mr Crouch's office desk once and he had told her that they were for his wife.

Mrs Crouch had passed away a short while after the death of their son. Mr Crouch had buried her on the grounds of their family home. She had visited the grave of Mrs Crouch in the past when she had visited Mr Crouch and found it strangely bare. She took no notice then because she always thought that her former boss was a private person and did not like to display his affections for his wife.

What if the grave at the Crouch's Manor belonged to his son rather than his wife? She remembered that no wake was held for her—Mr Crouch wanted it to be a private affair since he had just lost all his family. A shiver went down her spine. What if the grave was bare simply because it didn't contain anyone?

She took in a deep breath.

The only way she could continue with her investigation was to exhume one of the graves but she needed more evidence. Mr Crouch wielded considerable influence: she needed either his permission or sufficient evidence to carry out the exhuming of the grave. With mounting evidence that Barty Crouch was not as just as she thought he was, her instincts motivated her to arrange for protection for Harry quickly.

The Duc could not hide his surprise from her when he found her at his doorstep. Her urgent plea to meet the Potters' retainers was nearly denied until she offered to make an Unbreakable Vow. She had the honour of seeing the respectable Duc gape before he gave in. He took her along since he was just about to meet them.

Gaston withdrew a hand-drawn map from his pocket, and checked it again. He scanned the area carefully. Convinced that he was in the right place, he approached the metal gates. She could barely see the house due to the high fences that surrounded the two houses. The new retainers of House Potter obviously liked their privacy. He stopped at the gates, wondering how he should inform the hosts of his arrival.

"Allow me, please" said Amelia, pressing on the doorbell next to the main gate. Noticing the enquiring look on his face, Amelia answered that it was a device to inform the owners of the house of guests.

The door soon swung open, revealing a cheery-looking man of average height. He was at least an decade older than she was. He was dressed quite formally in a navy blue dress shirt and white slacks. A large ginger colour half-kneazle appeared, staring at her warily. He mewed before trotting away.

Dan welcomed Gaston with a warm smile. "I thought that you might have lost your way." His gaze became wary when it fell on her.

The Duc stepped in smoothly. "I was 'eld back by an unexpected visitor. Zis is Dr Daniel Granger, ze retainer of 'ouse Potter," began Gaston, gesturing to the host. "Zis is Lady Bones, 'ead of 'ouse Bones and 'ead of ze DMLE."

His brows swooped into a frown but he extended his hand towards her after meeting the gaze of Gaston.

Cautious, she took his in a firm handshake.

"Welcome. We weren't expecting guests," replied Dan, interpreting her caution correctly. He smiled kindly at her. "Please come in, Your Grace."

The Head of DMLE entered the gates and scanned the area. It was her second nature to take note of her surroundings. She was amazed to see a well-maintained house a distance away from the main gate. "It's a good set-up. This will give you time to run or hide when the alarm goes off," commented Amelia, offhandedly. "A second exit hidden near the back of house leading to the main street rather than the street your front gate is facing will be a good idea since the apparition point is on this street."

Dan nodded affirmatively, leading them down the path towards the main door.

She glanced at the portly French aristocrat speculatively, wondering if he was responsible for the house's defence since the walls looked newer than the house. Her eyes trailed to the wall that separated the Granger's house from the other house sharing the street. "Is there anyone living in that house? You must be careful about the violation of the Statute of Secrecy because it's the fastest way to alert the Magical world of Mr Potter's new address."

"Not really but we're aware of the law, Your Grace," returned Daniel with a smile. "Nonetheless, I appreciate the warning. It is good to have the Head of the DMLE give us tips on how to avoid violating the law."

She sensed only a warm appreciation of her willingness to impart advice so she inclined her head in a polite nod of acknowledgment, following after the host.

"Zat's true," commented Gaston. "Per'aps, you should show 'er around after dinner and see if zere are ways to improve security if, 'er Grace is willing."

Harry Potter was Sirius's god-son, so she owed it to her partner to look after the teenager.

"If we have time after dinner, I wouldn't mind," returned Amelia politely.

Her answer delighted both Gaston and Daniel and it was clear that both men cared for Harry greatly.

"That would be much appreciated," answered Daniel cheerfully.

Their conversation, as they walked into the house, became more pleasant and relaxed. She learnt that Dr Granger or Dan, as he preferred to be addressed, was a dentist, rather than a General Practitioner and he shared his private practice with his wife. The Duc, unexposed to the non-magical world, was delighted at learning this new titbit of information.

She spotted several species of magical plants growing in their garden and suspected that a magical person stayed with them.

Amelia had a pleasant first impression of the Granger's house. The home looked lived-in and homely. A quick scan of the living room revealed this was a home to three—the Grangers had a daughter and she was magical. She spotted a picture of their daughter dressed in Hogwarts robes. She smiled when she realised that they were most likely great readers since the living room was filled with books of different genres. Before they entered the dining room, a voice interrupted them.

"What took you so long, Dan? I cannot wait to dig in. You could show Gaston around after dinner!"

She knew that voice. Stunned, she whipped her head around to determine the identity of the speaker. Sirius Black stood behind her, his black hair cropped so short that it sat neatly on his scalp. He was thinner than she had remembered but the olive green dress shirt and black slacks he had worn fitted his frame well.

His excitement was replaced instantly by shock. His eyes were wide, gaping openly at her.

Soon, the young lady joined him, looking curiously at them. She glanced at her father for clarification.

Of everything, she didn't expect meeting Sirius Black in Granger's house.

He was well—better than she had expected him to be—and he looked fairly unchanged. The smiling Sirius she had known merged with the mug shots of a bitter Sirius in her mind. The warm feelings—her faith and irrevocable trust in him—that she had consciously bottled up, seeped through her slowly as she met his steady gaze.

Sirius was the first to compose himself from the surprise reunion. His reaction made her realised that the man before her wasn't the Sirius that she knew. Sirius schooled his face into an impassive mask, his body stiffening—a hostile sign that he was preparing for a fight.

He saw her as the Head of DMLE, not the partner that he had once prepared to lay his life to protect.

Amelia expected no less from him.

Slowly so that he would not be intimidated, she lifted her right forearm, revealing her holster, ejected her wand and presented it to him. She could barely control the tremble of her hands. She knew he would understand the gesture since it was the first exercise they had as partners.

His eyes grew stormy as they fell on her wand.

Silence stretched uncomfortably between them.

Then, a gleam of understanding flashed in his eyes.

Amelia expelled the breath that she was holding unconsciously. He remembered!

That gleam was soon replaced with confusion and hurt. When he levelled his gaze on her, he had schooled his face into an emotionless mask so she could not discern his thoughts.

Her heart ached at his aloofness but what else could she expect from him?

Sirius tucked his hands into his pockets. Wordlessly, he turned away and stormed into the dining room, leaving her alone.

It took her a while to realise that Sirius had just agreed to her silent entreaty for a truce. Her body relaxed. She was not prepared to meet him so soon. Amelia returned her wand to the holster. Conscious that she was not alone, she looked around and attempted to discern their thoughts.

Amelia was astonished to see concern in Dan's eyes. He had placed both of his hands on the shoulders of his daughter as he looked at her. He gave her a kind smile.

The corners of her lips lifted slightly. She met the gaze of the youngest Granger. The knowing and wary gleam in those intelligent eyes caught her attention—the youngest Granger knew her identity. Amelia was impressed at the hint of her quick rationalising process and caution. The teenager was different from the photographs Amelia had seen of her. She was starting to show signs of growing into a beautiful lady: the long hair that appeared untameable and bushy gradually softened into large curls, her baby fat was nearly gone, highlighting her petite and sharp features, her teeth straight and perfect.

"This way please, Your Grace."

Amelia finally understood why they had dressed up when she entered the dining room. The dining table groaned under the weight of a large and detectable spread. The rich aroma of food promised gastronomic delights. Harry Potter, dressed nicely in a black dress shirt and slacks, carefully placed a plate of roasted meat on the table. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbow, an odd-shaped scar in prominent display. He took a step back and grinned triumphantly at the feast.

She smiled inwardly, pleased that he was contented.

The new spectacles looked good on him.

A woman, she had recognised from the photographs as the other Dr Granger, entered into the dining room, patting Harry affectionately on his shoulder. He returned the smile.

It warmed her heart knowing that the retainers genuinely cared for Harry.

The smile from Harry's face faded slightly when he spotted his godfather. "Is something wrong, Sirius?"

Sirius looked sullen, sitting by the table alone, with his arms folded before his chest.

"We have another guest, honey," announced Dan, cheerfully. "Someone to help us to polish off the feast." He rubbed his stomach in anticipation. "It looks great, Harry."

Dr Granger's gaze fell on Sirius momentarily and she seemed to comprehend his behaviour. Wiping her hand on her apron, she offered her hand warmly to Amelia. "You must be Amelia? I'm Emma Granger."

"She's a head of the House of Bones, so it ought to be Her Grace," corrected the young girl. She glanced at Gaston probingly.

The Duc merely inclined his head in approval. Hermione relaxed slightly but continued to keep an eye on her.

Harry was now glaring at her, as if expecting that she would arrest Sirius.

Amelia could sense a heightened level of distrust from Harry and Sirius. She was bemused by Emma's warm welcome. "Amelia would be fine. I have made an unbreakable vow not to reveal anything I know about you without your expressed permission with Duc Delacour, which can be accepted due to the alliance your families have formed. "

Sirius's glowering gaze fell on her momentarily. It betrayed his astonishment. She smiled inwardly at the thought that he remembered that she disliked giving such an absolute promise. It seemed to confuse him.

She met his gaze bravely. "I won't arrest you," promised Amelia firmly. Her heart leapt when she saw a flicker of hope shining in his eyes.


Sirius lowered his gaze and opted to stare at the empty plate.

Amelia growled inwardly in frustration at his skepticism.

"Oh. That's good to know. Minister Fudge doesn't listen well," commented the youngest Granger, smiling. The tensions in the room abated slightly. She proceeded to introduce herself as Hermione Granger. She also introduced Harry, seeing that he did not intend to do so.

Harry lifted his shoulder in a shrug before smiling at Amelia. It was clear that he didn't bother to introduce himself because he was certain that it wasn't required.

She was glad that they were treating her more cordially.

"It is most unfortunate," commented Amelia, keeping a straight face. She was starting to like Hermione. Her name seemed familiar as if Susan might have mentioned her before. Hermione returned a polite smile.

"Please join us. Dan went to get a bottle of wine for the occasion. Harry made a lot today. It looks absolutely lovely," complimented Emma, smiling at Harry.

Harry blushed, lowering his gaze to his hands.

Hermione grinned brightly at him. "He did it all by himself. He was afraid I might ruin his culinary masterpieces."

That prompted a smile from Sirius. "I'm surprised that there is something that Hermione Granger can't do."

Hermione placed her hands on her hips, arms akimbo.

"You should have told me zat you were celebrating. I'd have brought a bottle," smiled Gaston. "I really apologise for not informing you earlier. I doubt zat you would've received ze letter on time."

She waved it off. "Don't fret about it. It was an impulsive decision," replied Emma, shooting a warning stare at Sirius and Hermione as if they were misbehaving children.

Sirius and Hermione had the decency to look sheepish. Silently, both of them agreed on a temporary truce. Quietly, she slid into her seat.

Harry was smiling to himself, amused by the sight of them. It looked as if he was used to the sight.

Amelia laughed inwardly—Sirius was deliberately being irksome. It was clear, however, that Sirius and Hermione shared a close relationship. It seemed as if Sirius treated her like an equal. Curiosity welled within Amelia.

Gaston stroked his goatee, his eyes gleaming with enjoyment. "My daughters occasionally need a reminder, too."

Hermione and Sirius looked slightly uncomfortable.

"Please take a seat, Amelia," invited Emma warmly.

She noticed that the only empty place available was opposite to Sirius, next to Harry. She disliked the fact that she was unsettled by Sirius' presence. Wordlessly, she took her seat. She noticed that Sirius had become sombre.

The tensions in the room increased.

Thoughtfully, Harry watched her.

"His Grace met me today to talk about your forced entry into the Triwizard Tournament. I apologise for the pain it must have caused you. Since the Grangers are now recognised as your guardians, their request to withdraw you from the competition will be accepted by the Ministry."

Everyone around the table looked really pleased at her guarantee.

Harry looked away, a slight frown on his brow. "If my request to withdraw wasn't accepted in the first place, why would the request of my guardian's be approved? Does the Goblet of Fire recognise that I'm a minor?"

Amelia leaned into her seat as she considered his question carefully. "The very act of entering your name into the competition, if it is accepted by the Goblet of Fire, should have declared you as a willing participant and a legal adult. In rare cases, such as yours, the laws recognise your rights as a minor first; as such, the Ministry has to accept the express wishes of the legal guardian."

"If they do not…"quipped Hermione.

Amelia's grin turned feral. "—since it will be civil lawsuit, the court has effectively granted you emancipation should they refuse. Barring that the Grangers' status as your guardians is unquestionable."

The table burst into cheers, delighted at the first good news. Once Dan was seated, they dug in.

Gaston explained the meaning of the unbreakable vow that Amelia had willingly made. Emma thanked her for being so pro-active since they were starting to lose their trust in Hogwarts and the magical world.

Amelia felt almost uncomfortable, since she was aware of Sirius's stare. He turned away to speak to the Duc whenever she turned to look at him.

It was infuriating. It was so unlike Sirius to be so passive aggressive.

They complimented Harry frequently. Sirius, being his usual vexatious self, dramatically displayed his appreciation for food after every mouthful. It earned him a swat on the shoulder from Hermione when it became too grating.

Harry merely found it amusing, shaking his head.

Amelia enquired about the distinct scar on Harry's forearm and he began to recount the tale of slaying the Basilisk. She was taken aback when she realised that Harry had singlehandedly resolved the situation that had resulted in the near closure of the school.

"No, I wasn't informed of it. My niece, Susan, might have mentioned it in her letters but I did not know that it was so severe. I can't believe that Headmaster Dumbledore did not report this matter to the DMLE…"

"But Minister Fudge was aware of it," interrupted Hermione.

Amelia frowned, staring at her hands. She hated to admit the weakness of her department. "I know I sound highly irresponsible but sometimes, the Minister doesn't see fit to inform the right department if he believes he can solve it. The Triwizard Tournament is a good example of this pervasive problem: most Directors of departments don't believe in involving other department even if they are facing problems, either because they are afraid of looking incompetent or because they're too assured of their own ability."

"Didn't Hogwarts inform you?" questioned Harry, spearing his food.

Amelia burst out in hallow laughter. It took her a while to regain her composure. "Most unfortunately, Headmaster Dumbledore helms so many organisations that he might have forgotten the essential duty of an educator: ensuring the safety of the students. He can be worse than Minister Fudge, since he considers himself as Champion of the Light." She took another bite of the meat.

Tension seemed to heighten at the mention of the headmaster.

Hermione frowned in thought as she chewed her food.

"Why don't you suggest a change of 'eadmaster?" asked Gaston, taking a sip of wine. "Back in France, we could do that if we feel that the 'eadmaster or 'eadmistress is not doing a good job."

Amelia swallowed her food as she shook her head. "Most wizards and witches put their faith in him. It is difficult to persuade the Board to suggest a change of headmasters."

The table grew silent as they digested the information.

"May I ask you a question, Your Grace?"

"Amelia," she interrupted, setting her cutlery down. It looked as if Harry had many questions to ask. She glanced around the table and found the rest surprised.

A slight frown was on his brow. "Did Headmaster Dumbledore inform you or the investigating Auror about the truth about the betrayal of my parents?"

Sirius dropped his cutlery noisily, earning a glance from Harry. He returned Harry a weak smile to assure him.

Amelia had the attention of everyone sitting around the table. She took a sip of her wine before addressing the occupants on the table, while deliberately ignoring Sirius's stare.

"No. I had the confirmation that I was correct when His Grace delivered the copy of the Potters' will to me."

"If you really believed in me, why did you allow Fudge to do what he nearly did? He ordered me to be kissed upon capture!" interjected Sirius, his tone hitching with his agitation. "I wouldn't mind being kissed if I'd really killed that traitor!"

"Wait, Pettigrew isn't dead?" demanded Amelia, stunned. She scanned the faces around the table: none of them was startled at his disclosure.

The pieces of the massive puzzle were starting to fall in place. "Will you please enlighten me as to what's really going on?"

None of them seemed inclined to share a tale that was not theirs.

She turned to look at Sirius. "Please," she pleaded.

Sirius's eyes grew tempestuous. "If you really needed an answer, why didn't you visit me in Azkaban?" roared Sirius, leaping to his feet.

Amelia met his gaze unwaveringly, feeling her temper rise with his accusation. "What do you expect me to do, Sirius? I'm an Auror, for Merlin's sake! There are boundaries we cannot cross! " She was on her feet, glaring at him. "My instinct told me that you were innocent, despite all the incriminating evidence. Mr Crouch decided on your case and left me completely out of the loop because I was your partner!"

She allowed that fact to sink in him. Sirius knew that her hands were tied. There was no way she could have help him.

Sirius remained quiet.

"I wanted to visit you and clear the air but I was afraid." Her voice grew soft as she stared at her hands. "I was afraid to discover that the partner whom I would have willingly died for, was really a turncoat who could betray his closest friend—a brother in all but blood. I was afraid that I had trusted an illusion."

His face became tight. He looked as if someone had just slapped him.

"The next logical question you might ask is why didn't I look into your case when I was promoted to the Director of DMLE?"

Sirius remained unusually quiet.

Amelia continued with her tirade. "I was tossed into the rebuilding of our department for peace-time after Mr Crouch was politically side-lined. Besides, I had lost my brother and his wife then: I needed to care for Susan and took on the mantle as the Head of my family. I didn't even want to think about anything else. The war was so ugly. So few of us survived the war. I didn't even want to think about the war." Her tone was thick with feelings as she stared distantly into space.

Silence stretched between them, as none of them knew what to say.

Amelia closed her eyes for a moment, regaining her composure. She turned to look at him.

"When you escaped Azkaban, I assigned Kingsley to find you. It was the perfect chance to re-examine your case without political interference. You must have remembered him. He believes in your innocence—one of the few Aurors who questioned Mr Crouch's decision. He was under my orders to find you and keep you safe until you could receive a proper trial—a trial that we believe will return your freedom. However, Fudge decided that he ought to intervene to keep his popularity." Amelia made a sour face.

"I'm sorry, Sirius. I ought to have been faster in finding you." She stared at her hands. She knew that her apology could not undo that pain of living in Azkaban for more than a decade. "I'm sorry, Sirius, for failing you. I was weak and a coward. It is no excuse."

Sirius's anger left him like air escaping a balloon. He understood her struggle and pain but he didn't know what to say. Amelia made the best decision in those circumstances. It was a relief that a part of her always believed in his innocence. He was reminded of Emma's words—hadn't even Remus doubted in his innocence?

An incessant and loud beeping broke the stillness in the dining room.

To his horror, her face turned ashen white as she gazed her signalling device—as if she'd sent her men to their grave. It was a device issued to all Aurors so that they could communicate during emergency. Considering that she was the Head of DMLE, he thought that she would not be alerted in the case of an emergency.

His eyes darted to Amelia's signalling device. It was flashing an angry red—a signal he was sure not used since the war.

"I-I need to go now-Where—"

Sirius blocked her way. "That was the signal of the Head of Aurors. What's wrong?" He was worried for her. "Why are you so afraid?"

Her face turned grim as she held his gaze "Where is the closest apparition point?"

His jaws tightened. "What's—"

"For Merlin's sake! Where is the closest point? I might have sent one of my men to his death," growled Amelia loudly. She dug her hand through her hair carelessly, furious that he would stop her. She would have apparated from their house, but it would have alerted the Ministry.

"Take a deep breath," advised Sirius calmly, placing his hands on her shoulder, undaunted by her fury.

His presence was soothing. She closed her eyes and took a deep and cleansing breath. It cleared her mind.

He could read the change in the demeanour—she was the cool-head leader of the DMLE again. "Let me bring you to the point," promised Sirius. Wordlessly, he summoned his wand. It flew from the living room—the place where Hermione had hidden—into his open palm.

Amelia refrained from commenting.

"Is everything okay?"

"We'll be back soon!" yelled Sirius. In quick strides, he led her out of the house through the kitchen to the other house. "Are you calling for back-up?"

"The rest won't get to Rufus in time," replied Amelia evasively.

He lifted a brow, stunned that the Head Auror did not carry a magical beaconing device. It meant that it was an informal assignment. She was doing this alone.

She was surprised that he had led her to the grounds of the abandoned house. Suddenly, the illusion of the abandoned house was torn away, revealing another house identical to the Granger's place.

"I'm going to accompany you," declared Sirius gruffly.

Amelia spun and stared at him. "Are you mental?!"

It seemed to touch a nerve because his brows furrowed.

He spat through clenched teeth. "I won't let you go alone. It isn't a formal mission, so there will not be any back-up."

Amelia could barely hide her surprise at his perceptiveness. She saw the relentless determination in his eyes. She could not be stubborn since she did not know what she was heading into. It helped that they worked well together.

However, she was concerned about his well-being too, since she did not know if she could protect the new life he had begun to construct for himself. He thrived being a part of this household, watching over Harry.

He could lose all of that in an instant.

Time was running out and she did not have much time to dwell on making a decision.

Sirius understood her struggle. He sighed deeply, drawing his hand through his hair. "I'll transform into Padfoot. I will not reveal myself unless it is safe." Wordlessly, he changed into a mammoth shaggy dog. He sat on his hind legs and barked at her impatiently.

Without hesitation, she looped her arm around the neck of Padfoot and apparated.

Padfoot was sniffing the air carefully when they landed in the garden of the manor, a short distance from the house. She dropped into a crouch before hiding behind some shrubs so that she could observe the house.

It was dusk, giving them good cover. She noticed that the house was barely-lighted, giving it a haunted look. Where was the house elf? She should be alerted to an unwanted presence by now? She remembered that Mr Crouch had an elf by the name of Winky.

Padfoot wasn't surprised that they did not follow the protocols of entering the house through the main door. Suddenly, he froze.

She ejected the wand into her hand, as she examined the gardens closely. What happened to Winky? The grounds appeared to be lacking from care since the grass was uncut and the flowerbeds were choked with weeds. She estimated that something had been going on in the manor for months. That thought sent the shivers down her spine.

Padfoot's hackles were raised. His lips drew back in a snarl before he bounded towards the manor. He blended seamlessly into the fading light.

Hurriedly, she followed him into the house, keeping to the shadows, trusting that Sirius knew what he was doing. Padfoot mauled the door open and waited for her inside, his ears twitching left and right nervously. Their forced entry went unnoticed, judging from the heavy silence.

Her heart thudded loudly in her chest.

The house was deathly silent. Immediately, she picked up signs of lack of upkeep in the house despite the lack of light.

The fire in the fireplace was dying, leaving the large living room in darkness. However, she spotted signs of scuffling: an overturned table, a damaged armchair, and a broken vase. She noticed some odd and old mud stains on the carpet trailing from the open window. She knelt on the carpet to take a closer look. It was about five times the size of her arm, with prominent and darker stained concave and convex edges in the middle. Confusion flooded her as she tried to recollect if Mr Crouch had owned a pet.

A loud bark alerted her to the fact that the room was magically warded to mute all noise. It was difficult for her to pinpoint Padfoot's location. It took her a while to find him sitting by the door that led to the foyer.

Hurriedly, she moved towards the door. The oddity of placing such a ward in the living room motivated her to check the runes used to form it, an arcane magic she had learnt from a ward breaker. A string of multi-coloured runes floated in mid-air after she touched the door with her wand. She smiled when she realised that her instinct was spot on—the ward muted all sounds from the room and shut the door automatically.

Her instinct told her that they had to leave this manor soon.

She nodded at him, ready to open the door. She stood aside and magically threw the door open. Immediately, Padfoot bounded into the foyer.

The sight of such a large black dog surprised Mr Crouch, who was standing over a still Rufus. Padfoot immediately tackled Crouch on the marble ground, causing him to crash on the floor with a loud 'thud'. The impact took the wizard out immediately.

Hastily, Amelia dropped on her knees to check on Rufus. A sense of relief washed over her when she noticed his even breathing: he was merely unconscious. Rufus looked very pale and he was badly hurt. She left Sirius to deal with Mr Crouch.

Amelia hastily cast a spell to check Rufus's vitals as she staunched the bleeding from his wrist with a cloth torn from her sleeve. It was his wand hand. So where was his wand? She summoned the lamp that was standing in the foyer closer to them. Her eyes followed the trail of blood, using the different and evident splatter of blood to estimate the location of the wand.

"Mr Crouch has passed out," answered Sirius dispassionately, climbing on his feet, after checking his vitals. His jaws were clenched as he glared at the unconscious wizard. Mr Crouch looked unkempt with his hair flaying all over the place and strangely pale.

His strange tone caused her to glance at him.

"Sirius?" Her heart clenched at sight of Sirius standing over Mr Crouch with Rufus's wand. The sight of his expression sent shivers down her spine—he did not look like the partner she knew but the homicidal convict in those mug shots. The hand that was holding Rufus's wand was trembling fiercely as he pointed the wand at him. "What are you doing?"

Her heart hammered violently in her chest. He wouldn't do that to Mr Crouch when he was so close to freedom. He wouldn't murder Mr Crouch with another wizard's wand.

Sirius paid no heed to her and continued to glare at the unconscious wizard. Out of whim, Mr Crouch had put Sirius behind bars. It was no surprise that he held such hatred for this man and a lack of faith in the system.

"Please don't," pled Amelia, desperate to reach him through the cloud of rage. "Don't do this." Please trust me to do it right by you.

He must have heard her entreaty since he stumbled backwards, lowering the wand. He shut his eyes for a moment, as if to centre himself. Then, the trembling of his hand stopped.

Amelia waited with bated breath as she exerted pressure on Rufus's wound.

His eyes gleamed with determination. Suddenly, he whipped the wand and shot a spell at him. Ropes shot from the ends of Rufus's wand and bounded the unconscious wizard. Sirius looked almost drained at that decision. "We need to leave now," croaked Sirius, dropping the wand on the ground.

It rolled towards her.

Relief washed through her. She agreed immediately. She summoned both Rufus's and Mr Crouch's wand into her hand and pocketed them. She proceeded to bind Rufus's wound and prepared to take both of them to St Mungo's.

A loud 'crack' resonated in the foyer. A small and plump man with mousey brown hair appeared in the room. It was Peter Pettigrew! His eyes widened in fear when he took in the sight of Sirius and Amelia and the two unconscious victims.

Sirius roared in rage as he tried to stop him.

Hastily, he changed into a rat before they could react to the sight of him. He dived for the mouse hole on the wall at the end of the room. However, he slammed into a well-placed shield, causing him to see stars instantly. Before he knew anything, he was lifted into mid-air.

He floated at the level of Sirius's face, giving the rat the best spot to take in the effect of his triumphant but evil smirk.

The light from the lamp gave Sirius a menacing look.

The rat wiggled violently mid-air, trying to break from the invisible hold. "So, we finally caught ourselves a rat," announced Sirius softly. "Harry let you go once, but I'm not my god-son." His face transformed into a mask of fury.

If it was possible, the rat grew even more hysterical.

With a well-aimed stunner, she knocked the rat unconscious and dropped it unceremoniously into a magically reinforced jar. She shrunk the jar so that it was small enough to put into her pocket. She pocketed Rufus's wand again.

Amelia had to tread around Sirius carefully lest she set him off. Sirius's body was stiff, his hands balled into fists of rage.

"Take a deep breath," encouraged Amelia. Hesitantly, she placed her hand on his shoulder. He seemed to relax at her touch. Trustingly, he followed her instructions. He closed his eyes as he regulated his breathing.

The fury was almost gone when he opened his eyes again. His eyes fell on the jar again.

"What are you going to do about it?"

This was the moment.

"Use it to set you free," answered Amelia evenly, trying to keep her irritation off her voice—how could he question her motives in this juncture? She remembered that he was imprisoned in Azkaban for more than a decade and her irritation vanished. She picked the jar up. "A dead rat is no good to you..."

After baring her soul to him in Granger's house, the ball was finally in his court.

He looked about to explode but he managed to keep his mouth shut.

"-or Harry." She looked at him, waiting for his outburst, as she stuffed the jar into her pocket.

To her disbelief, he did not. He looked as if he was slapped on the cheek. He stuffed his hands into his pocket as he considered her answer. Finally, he let out a sigh. He relented reluctantly and nodded at her.

Her spirit soared at his acceptance.

"Now, we really need to leave," continued Amelia briskly as she considered how they should leave. "Head home. I'll take these two to St Mungo's before summoning back-up."

He nodded. Although Sirius had chosen to trust in her, he was petulant about her decision to put the rat on trial.

Amelia sighed. She closed the distance between them so that she could grasp his hands. A flash of uncertainty appeared in his eyes when their gaze met. There was no hostility or distrust at this moment. A surge of familiar warmth filled her. "Thank you," whispered Amelia, squeezing his hands.

He rubbed the back of his neck as his cheeks grew flushed. He knew that she was thanking him for trusting her, besides assisting her in rescuing Rufus. Then, he remembered the argument in the kitchen. He drew his hand through his hair again. He met her enquiring gaze. "I owe you an apology too, Am. I had too little faith in you. It was wrong of me to blame you and for that I'm sorry."

A wide smile blossomed on her face.

Sirius lowered his gaze to the ground immediately. "I-I'll see you in a bit. Be safe." He apparated away noiselessly and swiftly.

Amelia chuckled to herself. She was almost certain that Sirius was embarrassed. She took a moment to compose herself. She schooled her face into an impassive mask. Grabbing both men, she apparated away to deal with her duty.

Sirius was assaulted by teenagers flying at him from both sides when he appeared in Granger's living room. He collapsed at the impact of their embrace which left him to chuckle boisterously. He couldn't remember a time he was given such a warm welcome.

"You're going to give me a broken rib. Let me up for some air." He ruffled their hair for good measure before climbing to his feet. He found his muscles aching from all the unfamiliar activity since the adrenaline had disappeared from his system.

Hermione and Harry did not seemed offended as they checked him for injuries.

Sirius smiled at their concern. It felt good to be cared about again. He lifted his arms to show that he wasn't injured, merely tired.

Noticing his discomfort, Harry helped his godfather to the couch. He was surprised to see Gaston sitting with the Grangers. "You're still here?"

He nodded. "Somessing 'appened tonight?" He rubbed his goatee.

"You could say that," joked Sirius. Muscles that he did not know he had ached when he settled on the couch. Hermione fetch him a glass of water.

Sirius drew his hand through his hair again, wondering how much could he share. Amelia didn't have the time to brief him. Besides, he didn't know exactly what happened. His mind drifted through the mostly anticlimactic rescue. Suddenly, his eyes widened.

"You said that you dreamt that Pettigrew was with Lord Voldemort, right?" He turned to look at Harry. He remembered Harry mentioning briefly.

Harry nodded, wondering why he would mention that dream again. He had it at the start of his summer holidays. "Killed a non-magical by the name of Frank I reckon? He was staying with Wormtail in the place where a mysterious murder case once happened. The entire family died in one night and the police couldn't find the murderer. The town believed that the non-magical had done it. You found him?"

Dan looked engrossed with his thoughts.

Sirius nodded, taking in the information carefully. Harry needed to speak to Amelia soon. The presence of Peter Pettigrew in Crouch's home hinted that Harry was in more danger than they had expected. The thought that they might have stumbled on the Dark lord made him shiver in fear. "Amelia has him in custody."

Harry exchanged a glance with Hermione. "You didn't kill him?" The question was carefully posed so that Harry wouldn't offend his godfather.

Immediately, Sirius became sullen. "She needed him to clear my name. I can't waste any opportunity that will give me a fighting chance at sharing this with you openly." He gestured around him, referring to the life he had living with the Grangers. "Besides, a murderer can't be there for you, Harry," smiled Sirius.

To his surprise, Harry gave him the biggest smile before throwing his arms around him in gratitude.

At that moment, Sirius saw that his sacrifice was completely worthwhile. He looked forward to clearing his name so that he no longer needed to hide.

It took them a while to settle down. Ignoring what Amelia might think, he recounted what had happened in Crouch's home. They were glad that everything was in their favour. Their timing was impeccable. If Pettigrew had returned earlier, Amelia, Sirius and Rufus would be at risk. Amelia's Patronus, a large dog which resembled Padfoot, brought the message that she would visit them the day after, in the evening.

Sirius grinned at the sight of his doppelganger. The solid-looking Padfoot vanished after a while, the remnants of the magic blown away by the wind. Sirius caught Hermione's knowing smirk.

"'Is absence from work was ze raison why Amelia sent someone to sheck on 'im. I believe she didn't expect such trouble, non?"

Sirius nodded grimly. "The fact that Am was desperate to meet you, Emma and Dan, after she had sent someone to check on Crouch suggest that she has chanced upon the link between the Triwizard Tournament and him. However, this is merely speculation. We don't know why exactly she came, today. However, finding Pettigrew in Crouch's home puts things in a different level. I think Am will have more to tell us tomorrow."

Harry shrugged nonchalantly. "It won't be the first time he's after me. He made it clear to Pettigrew that he wanted me for a ritual of sorts."

That declaration sent shivers down their spines.

"We will do what we can to keep you safe, Harry," promised Gaston. "Even if zis means zat I 'ave to apply some 'eat."

The rest of the adults agreed.

"I ssink it will 'elp if you record all ze dreams involving 'im zat you 'ad. If we can prove zat any portion of your dream is true, zen—"

"It'll help us prevent Lord Voldemort from carrying out whatever that he's planning,"offered Hermione.

Sirius nodded. "Am will appreciate working with more information. I can't help feeling that the night of the Quidditch Cup, the Triwizard tournament, and the disappearance of Jorkins are all related."

"Do you think Mr Crouch is the faithful servant?" asked Harry. "With the evidence?" He realised that they did not need a response from Percy about his superior any longer.

"No, he's hawkish but he's not a follower of the Dark Lord. In any case, we're indulging in hobby of speculating." They had touched on the topic in the cave after the end of the Second Task. "I can't tell why Am has decided to do what she had done."

"Not even you?" teased Hermione, playfully. "I would like to think you'd have a better idea than us."

"Hermione," admonished Emma gently. She glanced at her husband and noticed that he was barely paying them any attention. He had become absorbed with his thoughts when Harry mentioned his dream.

Hermione kept her silence but it was clear from the mischievous glint in her eye that it was not over.

Sirius chuckled brightly. "Yea, not even me, Hermione. She's the Head of the DMLE. I haven't been an Auror for at least a decade." He considered teasing Hermione back but decided against it. He ought to be the bigger person and let it go.

"Long way to go then. Don't let her title stop you," concluded Hermione indifferently, causing the room to erupt in laughter. Sirius merely shot a faux-glare at her at the playful quip.

"I believe it must be about Harry's protection in school. Since Lady Bones will only drop by tomorrow, I shall call it a night," announced Gaston, with a smile. He thanked them for the dinner before seeing himself out with a cheerful, "Au revoir."

"I don't know about you, but I think I'm gonna pass out," announced Sirius, yawing loudly. "I'm getting too old for this." He shot Hermione a glare when he noticed that she was trying not to laugh at him.

Worn out, everyone called it a night since it had been an eventful day for all of them. The teenagers decided to start on recording the dreams that Harry had of Lord Voldemort before he slept.

Unknown to the rest, Dan slipped into his office to follow his hunch and conduct his own research. All he needed to do was to dig up those articles and call up a few friends. He was almost certain that he was correct.

Harry found himself wandering through the dark passage of an old home. He came into a room that he did not recognise. A lively fire was in the fireplace, keeping the chill of the night away. However, it didn't quite keep him warm. He was conscious of the large snake slithering in the room. It was almost twice as thick as his forearm. He recognised the snake immediately. It was Nagini.

The room looked different from the previous room.

Someone was resting in the armchair, facing the fire. He couldn't really see his face but he was acutely aware of his rage.

"Where is my useless servant?" He hissed in a cold and high voice. "It is past the time of my feeding."

Nagini began to hiss in response.

He understood those hisses. "A man and woman took the foolish servant and the Ministry worker away. "It sent a spasm of horror through his body. Did it mean…

He snarled loudly. "They shall pay! They shall pay with their very lives! I will have the lives of Sirius Black and Amelia Bones after I'm done with Harry Potter! No one lives to foil the plans of Lord Voldemort!" He instructed the snake to capture another so that they could make haste to leave.

Then, he was conscious of someone shaking him violently, calling his name. "Harry, wake up!" He was sitting by the desk, with his hands pressed on his forehead. The scar on his forehead burnt as if someone had pressed an iron on it. He felt gentle hands on his wrists and another pair of hands on his shoulders.

He was breathing heavily.

"Slowly. In, out, in, out," came a soothing voice. His body relaxed at the sound of her voice. He took a deep breath, allowing her vanilla scent to wash through him. He was safe here. It was merely a dream. A very vivid dream.

Why wasn't he in his bed? Then, everything came back to him. They were working on recording his previous dreams. He had another to write now. He felt around for his spectacles. Someone else handed him them.

He placed them on and everything became clearer.

"Are you okay?" It was masculine voice. He peered up and saw Dan look at him worriedly. He handed him a glass of water. " I heard you when I was heading to bed."

His head throbbed from the pain. He kneaded his forehead with a hand as he gratefully took the glass from Dan.

"Does it still hurt?" asked Hermione gently. There were red marks on her cheeks, a result from falling asleep on his desk. Her eyes were alert though.

Dan nodded at her when she made an eye contact with him. "No drug allergy to aspirin?"

Harry shook his head slightly. He leaned into his chair, exhausted. Dan went to get medication for his headache.

"Do you think you can get into bed?" asked Hermione, noticing his discomfort.

Harry nodded. It was a good idea. She took the glass of water from his hand and set it on his desk. Swiftly, Hermione supported him into his bed, with a seriousness that nearly made him chuckle. He smiled inwardly to himself when he recalled what he thought Hermione's reaction would be when she learnt that his scar was hurting.

He rubbed his head as she tucked him in.

"At one point of time, I thought that you would want me to write to Prof Dumbledore about it before consulting a book," replied Harry when he saw her enquiring look. "I didn't expect you to react so calmly to my nightmares."

Hermione grinned. "I'd have advised you to do that after your headache is gone." The smile faded from her face. "Are you OK?"

The dream didn't really made sense to him.

"Better. Just the headache." He did not feel as edgy as before. "He was angry. He knew that Sirius and Amelia took Pettigrew and Crouch away." He looked pensive at the thought. "I'm not too sure where they are though."

Hermione's eyes widened. "Should we inform Lady Bones?" She looked almost hesitant. "I'm sure she's completely tied up at the moment. She has two witness to interrogate. There isn't much to tell her, though."

Harry shook his head. "I suppose it's a bit pointless. We don't know why my scar hurts even though he's not near me."

"Besides the fact that he is getting stronger," clarified Hermione. "Don't worry about it." She squeezed his hand affectionately. "Lord Voldemort won't know what hit him."

Dan soon arrived with the pills and handed them to him. Dutifully, he took them, under their watchful eyes. Seeing that Harry needed his rest, she recorded the dream he had, leaving Dan to sit next to him.

It was a novel experience for Harry to have someone looking after him after a bad dream. He felt safe. The sense of security was lulling him to sleep. He shifted when Dan reached over to tuck him in. "I used to do this for Hermione when she had bad dreams."

He set his spectacles on the bedside table. It was getting very late. The sky was getting an inky-blue.

"Offer her aspirin?" questioned Harry, surprised.

Hermione snorted in laughter.

Dan laughed. "Stay till she falls asleep again. I'll send her to bed soon," whispered Dan quietly, leaning closer to him. "I know she's waiting for you to sleep before she heads to her bedroom."

He nodded, before promptly falling asleep.

In those last waking moments, he realised that these dreams he had of Voldemort weren't exactly dreams at all, rather they were a faint projection of Voldemort's intense feelings.

A/N : Thank you for reading. Thank you for pointing out the errors from the previous chapter, I'll correct them soon. Have a blessed day.