CHAPTER 12

Deep Breaths


The doors to the grandiose study were intimidating and towering over Harry as he stared up at them, his mother and father standing just slightly behind him as he stared up into the blank eyes of the stone creature guarding the Headmistress' Study. Harry did not want to glance back and look to his parents; he feared that he would end up walking away if he did so.

'Are you all right?' Came the feminine voice of Harry's mum, along with a comforting but soft hand on his elbow.

'Yeah,' Harry replied, still not looking back. 'It's just - weird. People coming back.'

'Trust me,' came a smiling voice from his other side, 'it's not all sunshine and daisies on our side, either.'

'James!'

Harry grinned, but still didn't turn. 'Okay,' he said, more to himself than his parents. 'I'll go on ahead, shall I? Give them a bit of warning?'

A long pause followed Harry's speech, and he was almost beginning to worry if he had said something wrong, so insecure as he was in his newfound relationship with his parents - but thankfully, his dad spoke, if as little hesitant.

'That's fine,' he said. 'Not too long though, I'm all for making a dramatic entrance but I don't want to be here for ages.'

'Fair enough,' Harry replied, feeling a little sick - but maybe that was just the after effects of the numbing charm that Kingsley had placed on him. Deciding finally not to be a coward, Harry turned to his parents after muttering the password to the Study beyond the Griffin.

'Follow me up and I'll open the door after about a minute, yeah?'

Two nods followed Harry and he attempted a small smile.

The one thought that occupied his head more than any of the others was the overwhelming feeling that he really was not ready for the reactions of Sirius or Remus. Not that he was completely ready for everyone else's reactions, but Sirius and Remus' more than the others. Definitely.

Before he knew it, Harry's nose was mere inches away from the solid door that separated what was most certainly a pivotal moment in his life. I all their lives, really.

He hoped that it would last.

Grimacing, he clutched the door handle in a white knuckled grip, twisting it until he felt the satisfying click that signalled the door could be moved forward. He pushed the heavy weight and immediately, the noise that had previously been roaring through the door ceased.

'Er,' Harry said as soon as he stepped over the threshold, shutting the door carefully behind him. 'There's other people that have … come back.'

'We know,' Hermione said anxiously, wringing her hands together rapidly. 'Mad-Eye told us. It's not -'

Harry nodded quickly, maintaining eye contact with her as her eyes widened almost comically. One hand shot out to grasp at Ron's forearm, an action of which made his furrow his brows and look down in confusion.

'Who is it?' Came the question from Sirius, who stood strongly shoulder to shoulder with Remus, who seemed far younger than he had before his death. Tonks stood by his side, holding his hand as they had been doing constantly when Harry had seen them, as if afraid that they would be ripped from each other once again.

'My - well -'

'Oh my God!' Came the screech from Hestia as she moved her arms in a strange motion as if not being able to contain her excitement.

'Just spit it out,' growled Mad-Eye, who was leering intimidating over Mundungus' cowering form - nothing had changed there, then.

'I'll show you. Like I did with …' Harry gestured weakly to Colin, words dwindling into nothing. Colin stood awkwardly on the left hand side of Dumbledore, looking both lost but strangely animated at Harry's inclusion of him. Dumbledore simply smiled and said nothing, eyes seeming happy as he looked at Harry inquisitively.

Harry took a shuddering breath, and wished that Ginny was here to help him through it. His hands clenched into nervous fists, opened and closed a couple of times, and then were forced into relaxation by Harry.

Pulling the door away from its old stone frame, he was met with the sound of hurried footsteps that he couldn't see the owner of because of the twirling staircase.

'I told you we waited longer than a minute!'

'I know, I'm sorry, I just didn't want to storm in with the others not knowing and -'

'But we'll be late Lily, late, to our own unveiling -'

'We're not a piece of art James, honestly, don't be so dramatic,'

A smile passed over Harry's face before he could stop himself. The pure fact that he had his parents back was enough, let alone them bickering and still being happily married. It was really more than he could have ever asked for in his life - he was living some long forgotten pipe dream; it was now his reality.

His parents emerged from around the soft bend, hurriedly climbing the steps until they saw Harry at the top of the stairs. He flapped his hands a little to signify them to be quiet, and thankfully, they got his message quite clearly.

'Are they in there?' James said quietly, glancing nervously at the door. Surprisingly, he seemed to be more nervous than his wife.

'Yeah,' Harry replied, answering his question before elaborating at his mother's questioning look. 'Members of the Order, really. Some other people that've come back, most of the Weasley's, Sirius, Remus … Dumbledore. You know.'

Harry's parents didn't really look like they knew, but Harry shuffled them towards the door nevertheless.

'Do you want to go in first or …?' Harry questioned anxiously, eyes flickering back and forth between his parents'. They glanced at each other.

'I think you better,' Harry's mum said, awkwardly trying to shuffle away from the door with his dad. The staircase was incredibly narrow, clearly not made for three people to be clumped together right next to the door. Speaking of the door - it began swaying on its hinges precariously as their little family knocked into it by accident whilst trying to manoeuvre themselves around.

Harry's head swam at the movements, the throbbing becoming even more pronounced as the ginger cat slunk out of the study, twining inbetween their tangled feet. They all spoke in hurried whispers as they tried to edge around each other.

'James move your leg over there and then I can squeeze past by the wall,'

'Harry - just to the left a bit so that I can -'

'I'm not going to last,' James said, pressed up against the door frame, balanced on one leg. 'My balance, Lily, you know I can't balance -'

'For God's sake James you play Quidditch!'

'I've got to put my foot down I can't - BLOODY CAT!'

In his quest for balance, Harry's father had gone to put his foot down in the spot that McGonagall's cat had just chosen to leap into, and seeing the animal at the last minute, swayed and directed his stomp to another place - immediately next to the door that separated them from the rest of the remaining Order. Of course, the door was kicked wide open, to reveal the shocked faces of the people in the study as well as the Potters' situation to them.

All three of them were frozen as they stared at the occupants of the study. Harry wasn't aware of why his parents were frozen with him - perhaps shock - but he was staring out of pure mortification. What an entrance.

'Er - I - um …' Harry spluttered as he still remained frozen in place, his eyes the only part of his body moving as they glanced rapidly between the other people in his company.

No face in the room was more shocked or pale than those of Sirius and Remus. Eyes wide in a way that was almost worrying, they stared at Harry's parents with a hunger that had clearly been brewing for more than a few years; all of the thoughts and feelings of grief and anger and sadness boiled to the surface so vicariously that Harry felt that he may be scorched by it.

A small, strangled sound was emitted from Sirius, barely loud enough to hear and only heard because of the complete and utter silence that was towering over the occupants of the study like Big Ben. Twitching, Remus' wand arm made small, jolting movements, making it clear as day that he would have given a lot to have his wand on his person in those moments.

It was Dumbledore, the most surprisingly unsurprising candidate to have elected himself as the ice breaker, who shattered the tension with arms spread wide and a twinkle in his eye.

'Lily, James,' Dumbledore said fondly, a small smile playing on his lips as he looked at his former students. 'How wonderful that you could join us in returning to the land of the living. An interesting experience, was it not?'

'I - yes,' Lily said, eyes wide, 'yes it was.'

'Oh Harry,' Hermione said through her hands that were clasped around her mouth. Ron was looking just as clueless as he had in their OWL Transfiguration lessons by her side, and next to him even Fred and George were at a loss for words.

Attention drawn to the new circumstances developing, Harry looked to Sirius, who had mustered the courage to approach Harry's parents with small and shaky steps, like he had only just learnt to walk for the first time. Despite his movements, it was not Sirius, but James who spoke first, hazel eyes gazing at his best friends face that was in so different a state from what he had known.

'You look - rough,' he gulped, nervously running a hand through his hair.

'You haven't changed,' Sirius murmured, staring in awe. 'You look exactly the same. Exactly the same…'

'Yes,' Harry's dad said, uncomfortably shifting his feet, 'getting killed does that to people. Listen -'

'You were all right, weren't you?' Lily interrupted her husband, taking a small step forwards. 'After we died. You too, Remus, I hope you didn't wallow - tell me you got on with life. Please.'

Desperation was evident in the way that she was worrying her lip with her teeth, fingers compulsively nagging at her clothing as her eyes glanced between the two men in front of her. It was almost eerie, how much James was mirroring her movements and mannerisms, with a touch of his own - the frames of his glasses and his achingly familiar hair were becoming more and more bedraggled as time passed.

Remus made no move to reply; his mouth opened and closed like a goldfish two or three times before shutting indefinitely, eyes warily glancing at Tonks who stared worriedly at the side of his face that she could see.

'Sirius,' James said carefully, arms raising before stopping awkwardly in midair, uncertain as to whether clasping shoulders with his hands was appropriate at that moment. 'Everything was okay, Wasn't it? Tell me it was,' a hint of pleading shadowed his speech and hung onto it like a weighted limpet. Harry certainly was not willingly going to be the one to break it to his parents that Azkaban was a major part of Sirius' post Halloween story, even though he had resigned himself to the fact that, yes, it would most likely be him.

'It doesn't matter,' Sirius said quietly, voice rasping with emotion. 'None of that matters. You're back, that's all that matters.'

A beat of silence hung in anticipation in the air, before Sirius - vengeful, moody and angst-ridden Sirius - lunged at Harry's father, encasing him in an iron grip of a hug, holding him as if he would never let go.

Remus was pulled into a warm embrace by Lily; Tonks gladly relinquishing her grip on his hand for him to be reunited with those that he had spent his youth with - to be reunited with those people that had been the first to accept him for who he was, and to not simply tolerate him as all who had done before.

The other occupants in the room shared a smile before gradually spewing out nonsensical conversation to give James, Lily, Sirius and Remus the moment of privacy that they all deserved after so many years of grief, loneliness and horror.

Harry looked on with a small smile, his only wish that Ginny could be by his side to witness this moment - but the small hand across his back and presence to his side told him that Hermione and Ron were with him in this moment - as they always were.

Eternal denial of anything even remotely like crying would ensue for many years to come.


- I'm so sorry this took so long. I got concussion from a door, a vent in McDonald's fell on my head, I got my first ever job, coursework is in for next week and it was Christmas and the like.
I hope you like this. I know it's painfully short, but it seemed the right place to stop, even if I'm not really happy about the quality. I just wanted to get it posted for you lovely people.
Much love,

- Spellmugwump x