Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to Joanne Kathleen Rowling and associates, of whom I am not one. This is a rewrite of a fic from 4 years ago.
Warnings: AU, mentions of child abuse, ongoing theme of drug abuse, some character bashing (but only such that it follows canon and canon trends), spoilers through Deathly Hallows, coarse language, some minor OCs.
Chapter 12: Filled With Laughter
"Why did they let you in though?" Ron's lips were tight and his face slightly red. The room that had been his throughout the past month he would now be sharing with Harry, so he had reluctantly agreed to hold their meeting in the girls' room for the sake of avoiding the somewhat creepy older boy. "We've been here all summer and they haven't so much as let us stay long enough to finish dinner!"
Hadley couldn't help but smile. If it hadn't been for her staying with Harry all summer, she might think they were being unfair. After all, they were here, at the Headquarters of the main resistance against Voldemort's rise, so they surely must have heard something. But living with Harry, she knew how secretive wizards could be when they wanted. Silencing charms, imperturbable charms… Harry may have had no skill in warding, but he knew enough charms to cast on his walls and doors for that to not matter.
Living in a house where wizards were constantly coming and going and Dumbledore himself had done the warding, she could understand just how little they knew and how frustrating it must have been.
"It's because… remember what I told you the other weekend? About that prophecy?" Hadley kept her voice low. Ginny was helping clean up in the kitchen, the twins were probably researching something for pranking purposes in their room, and most of the Order members who weren't living at Headquarters had left, but she couldn't be too careful.
"Is that what they've been having all those meetings about? But that doesn't make any sense! The twins said they overheard Mundungus Fletcher complaining about some sort of guard duty last week," Hermione frowned, her brow furrowing. "Unless tonight's was different than normal?"
"No… well…" Hadley bit her lip. "The guard duty has to do with the prophecy. Professor Dumbledore said the Department of Mysteries has a room filled with prophecies, every prophecy spoken somehow ends up there. Dumbledore didn't explain how, maybe he doesn't even know. But the one about me and Voldemort is there too. He said that Voldemort only heard part of it, and doesn't want to really go into the open until either he knows the rest or he has enough influence again that it won't matter.
"The guards are there less to hold someone off and more to be an early warning system if Voldemort sends anyone to scout out the Department. Only people who are part of a prophecy can pick it up, or those who know the whole thing, so only me, Voldemort, and Dumbledore could do that. He said that maybe Professor Trelawney could too, but that was only a guess since she doesn't remember her own prophecies."
"And that's it?" Ron eyed Hadley. "That's all they were keeping from us?"
"Probably not," Hadley brushed her hair behind her ear. "They kicked me out before the end too, you know. But… I suppose that has to do with why Snape is here tonight, right? He probably has a report about Voldemort's movements. In the pensieve, I told you how he was a spy before didn't I?"
"Well yeah, but…" Ron frowned, his ire thoroughly dampened. "I just don't get it mate. We've been here all summer and all they do is tell us to help clean. I've already got my fingers nipped by doxies in the linen closet, and there have been at least two boggarts that attacked. One was living under my bed for the first week. I thought it was just nightmares until Mum popped in to check on me and screamed bloody murder."
"She did, really," Hermione winced. "It woke everyone else up. By the time Ginny and I got to the door Mr and Mrs Weasley had gotten rid of it, but it was… it was ridiculous. This house isn't just unhygienic, it's dangerous. For everyone."
"Mum didn't want to move straight in, you know," Ron countered, as if the statement were a slight against him. "She wanted to come in and get all the creatures out before letting us all in, but… Dumbledore needed the house as Headquarters. The Ministry was already banging at the door of the house Professor Lupin was living in, and they had to hide Buckbeak somewhere… Mum only agreed because Professor Lupin and Sirius were already living here since the day before we left Hogwarts."
"Aside from that, we haven't been told anything of any sorts of movements in the Ministry or Death Eaters," Hermione sighed. "We aren't even allowed to look at the Prophet most of the time. Bill sometimes tells us there hasn't been anything in the prophet about You-Know-Who to hide from us, but… the Twins are going to steal one tomorrow morning, if they can. Then we'll find out why."
"You, um, you don't need to," Hadley grimaced. She had only looked at a few of Harry's Daily Prophet's, and while what she thought was being hidden wasn't front page news, it tended to be rather prominent. "The Prophet is dragging Dumbledore and I through the mud because we said Voldemort is back. It's bringing up all these things from the past like Dumbledore's questionable hiring choices, or me saying in third year that Sirius was innocent, and he's lost most of his titles I think. He came by for tea after he lost his position on the Wizengamot, said he didn't mind so long as he didn't lose his chocolate frog card, but it still must be a blow."
"Oh, we… we hadn't heard anything," Hermione bit her lip. "But I suppose for Dumbledore it can't be all bad. If he has fewer positions in the Ministry then he must have more time for the Order and Hogwarts. If he also had to deal with Court proceedings all the time, I don't think he would be able to effectively juggle everything."
Hadley hadn't thought of it that way. She had only seen it the way the Ministry was undoubtedly seeing it – they were taking power out of Dumbledore's hands. But he was the only wizard Voldemort feared because of magical power rather than political clout.
"I guess you're right," Hadley nodded slowly.
"Dumbledore aside, what are they saying about you?" Hermione was eyeing Hadley, cautious and concerned. Ron was looking a bit confused by it all but apparently determined. She couldn't have picked better friends.
"Less than they could be, since I'm not exactly showing up door to door telling people to Voldemort-proof their houses," Hadley smiled lightly, but still cautious. "Mostly it's just questioning how sound of mind I was after being kidnapped by 'the unidentified Kissed Death Eater and Mad-eye's imposter' rather than really saying I'm a liar. Whoever the fake Moody is, the Ministry isn't releasing any information on his trial. Harry says he's Barty Crouch's son who died in Azkaban, which means he must have escaped before, but they put him in on a life sentence after a closed trial. And since that was after Dumbledore was removed from the wizengamot, I don't think even he knows what went on in there."
"Unless he was a witness for what happened at the task," Ron shrugged. "I mean, he and the real Mad-Eye are friends, right? And I don't think they could've kept Mad-Eye out if they tried. Mum is in a tizzy over his comings and goings every day as it is!" He winced a bit at the last. Hadley could understand. She had barely even met the real Mad-Eye but he was both less frightening to her than the fake and still somehow more intimidating.
"I think you're right, Ron," Hermione was biting her knuckle as she thought, not looking at anything in particular. "Not that there's anything we can do. Your father said Cedric is still in the hospital, so whatever it was that was done to him was serious. Whatever the fake Moody really did, whether he was part of You-Know-Who's conspiracy or something else entirely, I think… I think he deserves life in Azkaban after that."
Hadley sighed and nodded with Hermione's assertion. "It would be better if Cedric hadn't been attacked or Wormtail kissed though. He deserved it too, but only after Sirius got his name cleared. It's not fair."
Half an hour later, Mrs Weasley called curfew and demanded Ron return to his own room with Harry and let Ginny return to the room she was splitting with Hadley and Hermione. In that same time, she turned Hermione's bed into a bunk bed with some handy transfigurations, now making it more clear how the three girls would manage to sleep together.
After lights out, the girls weren't ready to sleep yet. Hadley had questions of her own.
"Hermione, did you get to see your parents this summer at all?" She had wondered that since Hermione and Ron had stayed the weekend at the flat, but hadn't found the opportunity to ask.
Hermione was silent for a moment. "Only a day or two. We were going to go on holiday, like we always do, but… I thought I was needed here, in Britain, to help you," Hermione's voice was quiet as she spoke, but it grew stronger as she went on. Hadley could hear Ginny holding her breath. "Every year when the adventure ends after exams, it's over. That's how it was every summer. But… it's not over this year. If I went on holiday with my parents this year, I would still be thinking about You-Know-Who. And if you aren't allowed a holiday from him, I think I need to be here for you."
"But your family –"
"Hadley, you may as well be family too." The sound of Hermione's hair brushing cloth as she shook her head vigorously in the dark was harsh. "My parents don't need me to go on holiday with them, they want it. And even though I wanted it too, and to take them to Bulgaria to meet Viktor… I think it's better this way. And they understand, a bit. They went to boarding schools too, even if they didn't have death defying adventures every term."
Hadley wasn't sure how to respond. And, she supposed, she probably shouldn't. It was Hermione's sacrifice to make.
Instead, Ginny piped up. "So you were planning to introduce your parents to Vicky then? I hadn't thought you were that serious."
"His name isn't Vicky! And w-well, I… Viktor invited me to visit over the summer, that's all, and my parents have never been to Bulgaria, and I know they wanted to meet the first boy I went out with since Dad didn't get to give him the strict father speech before the Yule Ball…" Hermione trailed off. Hadley was sure she could picture just how red Hermione was going as she wound to a halt.
The girls' room at Number 12, Grimmauld Place was filled with laughter and light-hearted nudging until they fell asleep.
Sirius Black, as Harry discovered, was a hard man to avoid. Not only did Sirius know the old house like the back of his hand, something Harry had never managed, but he had everyone in the house on his side in trying to corner Harry for a chat. It was only by ducking into the loo at the right moments and joining in group cleaning that Harry managed to avoid Sirius' attempts to talk to him for the three days he did.
On the third of August, Harry found himself confronted with Sirius as he re-entered the room that was that week's cleaning project for Mrs Weasley and her many helpers. Her many helpers who, apparently, had gone to the kitchen for an early lunch while Harry was in the bathroom to sneakily take his Serenity Solution.
On the bright side, it was good timing.
"We haven't had the chance to speak yet, Harry, but by this point you know who I am, right?" Sirius was eyeing him strangely, in a way no one else in the house had.
"Sirius Black, the second man ever to escape Azkaban prison, dog animagus, and Hadley's godfather," Harry nodded. Facts were safe. He was calm and everything was fine, and simple facts were perfectly safe.
"Right, right," Sirius looked a little uncomfortable under Harry's stoic gaze, but it seemed like most were. "As Hadley's godfather, I need to make sure you've been taking care of her properly. You may be her official caretaker until she is properly of age, but…" He hesitated.
Harry smiled, lightly, a serene look that made Sirius look even more uncomfortable. "You have questions."
"You look like James," Sirius was eyeing him harder, but Harry didn't twitch. It was surprising, true. Since his hair had grown shaggy last year – and stopped growing as it tended to do – and it had been lightly bleached by the sun to make it look a dark reddish brown rather than the previous jet black, he hadn't looked like James. He looked more and more like his grandfather Briar from the pictures.
"Do I? The family my surname comes from is muggle," Harry shrugged. There might still be some resemblance, but no one else had mentioned James Potter. No Hogwarts professor or student seemed to make any connection, and it had taken months for anyone to even realize his relation to Hadley.
Sirius wasn't amused. "I went to school with James for years. We were roommates, best friends, and I outright lived with the Potters the last two years of my schooling," Sirius was looking at Harry closely now. "You look like a Potter, kid."
"Well… I'm sorry?" Harry didn't know how to respond, so he reiterated his false origin story. "I'm only related to Hadley through the Evanses. We have a grandfather in common through a pre-marital affair, and my mum, who would have been Hadley's aunt, married into a muggle family with the name Potter. I was raised off and on between my alcoholic uncle and my morally bankrupt grandmother. If either of them were related to the magical Potter family, they certainly didn't look it."
"I suppose it could be a coincidence, but you have-"
Harry didn't get to find out what he had as the cleaning crew re-entered the parlor, some still eating and Ron bearing a tray full of sandwiches. Molly Weasley was at the back, making sure none of her children tried to escape to cleaner pastures, and it was she who spoke first.
"Oh, Sirius, there you are! The Headmaster is in the kitchen waiting to speak with you about improving the wards on the house," Molly's smile to Sirius was as strained as Harry remembered. She turned her look to Harry, similarly not-quite-friendly. "Harry dear, I think he'll want to speak to you next, so you may wish to toddle on."
Harry and Sirius both chimed a "Yes Mrs Weasley" at the directions, Sirius' considerably more annoyed and mocking that Harry's. Harry stayed a little longer than Sirius did to sling a couple of scourgifies at the window. That, as Molly had said, was alright to do by magic, unlike most of the cleaning as much of the grime and dust could have soaked up the dark magicks of the house.
However, Harry didn't head to the front hall and stand beside the portrait of Sirius' mother and wait to be allowed into the kitchen. Instead he made his way to the drawing room and a certain glass cabinet full of dark magical artifacts. Slytherin's Locket was resting atop a box that, if memory stood, was full of instant wart powder. One alohamora later and Harry was picking up the locket. He thought he could almost feel the dark magic in it trying to make him angry, but his fresh dose of Serenity made the magical probe naught but a tickle to him.
The sharp crack of Kreacher apparating beside him did not make Harry jump, though it was a close thing.
"Filthy half-blood will unhand Master Regulus' locket!" Kreacher's voice was grating on Harry's ears. It had been nice, when he had gained Kreacher's favor by giving him the fake locket and promising to destroy the real one. The mad elf had been much better after that point. But Harry was certain that, when they had initially tossed the horcrux in the trash, Kreacher had simply snuck it out, not confronted them.
Then again, Sirius wasn't in the room, so there was that.
"No, the filthy half-blood won't," Harry opened the clasp at the back of the necklace and closed it around his neck. The weight of it was foreign to him after the many months that had passed since he last wore it. "The filthy half-blood is taking it. I'm going to destroy this thing, Kreacher. I'm going to take it with me to Hogwarts, down into the Chamber of Secrets itself, and destroy it. Do you understand?"
"Filthy… you is going to finish Master Regulus' work?" Kreacher's eyes were wider than normal. "You know how?"
"I'm going to try, but do you know what his work really was? It wasn't just destroying this locket," Harry plastered on a small fake smile. "It was destroying items like this that Voldemort enchanted. A ring, a diary, a snake, a cup, a diadem, a locket. Two are dealt with, and then this one." Harry lifted the locket with one finger before slipping it under his robes. "Whether they know it or not, what this Order living here is doing is finishing your true master's work."
While the elf was stunned and quiet as Harry left the drawing room and headed down to the Kitchen. Sirius was leaving just as Harry arrived. He still eyed Harry curiously, but made no more fuss about him looking like James.
Harry passed his not-godfather at the doorway and wondered, but he didn't make a fuss. Dumbledore was at the kitchen table, a large tray of sandwiches before him. Harry didn't feel hungry, but he knew he should eat. If he kept eating and trying to sleep and trying not to increase his dose of Serenity Solution each day, it would last him that much longer.
He didn't want to move on to the Draught of Peace. Not if he didn't have to.
"Headmaster," Harry greeted. He took a sandwich and tore a bite off of it. It was completely without flavor. Unless Mrs Weasley had let someone else make sandwiches – not likely – that was not a good sign regarding Harry's addiction.
"Harry, glad you could join me," the Headmaster smiled, but it was not quite right. His eyes weren't twinkling like normal. "There are a few matters to deal with today, but first I was wondering if there was anything you might like to bring up yourself?"
Harry thought a moment. "How are the wards on keeping out Dark objects?" he asked. "This question is not based on prediction sir, at least not any that will require your attention soon, but for the here and now. If there was an object of extremely dark magic, what would the wards do?"
Comparing Dumbledore's normal twinkle to the dark look now presented to him, Harry could tell how the question affected him. "At one time it would have barred the bearer of the object and shut off all access to the castle," he said, "whereas now all the wards do is alert me of lesser dark objects and perhaps make the air thicker around the bearer. Any owls carrying them are redirected for confiscation of course."
"Which is how the diary made it through," Harry nodded. Unless it had been in Ginny's trunk, he supposed. The elves apparated through Hogwarts' wards like they didn't even exist after all. "I'll be bringing an artifact of significance through with me at term start. I'll destroy it then too. I'd do it here, but the only things that can do it…" he paused was letting Dumbledore know about the horcruxes early going to change anything? "It is like that diary. Fire won't destroy, neither will physical force. The only things I know of that can do it are Fiendfyre and basilisk venom."
"I see," Dumbledore intoned. Harry wondered whether or not he really did see. Did he understand that what Harry wore around his neck was exactly the same as the diary, or did he just think of the Sword of Gryffindor, sitting in its elaborate casing in his office? It didn't really matter, Harry supposed. "As a member of the staff you are expected at the school one week before term starts. You will be working extensively with Sybill. Let me know when you intend to arrive; I don't suggest using the Floo."
"Of course, sir," Harry nodded. Good. That would make his plans easier. "When the time comes, don't bother with the cave. Of the things you could possibly fetch yourself, only Gringotts and the Gaunt family have your answers. The other two will have to keep breathing until Voldemort himself is dead."
Dumbledore, too his credit, didn't react much to that. Of course, he hadn't had his months off from Hogwarts to truly research horcruxes just yet either. He would have no idea what Harry was talking about until he really drew the connection. Mentioning the Gaunts by name, however, was a rather large clue.
"Thank you, Harry. On to other business, then." From there the Headmaster went into further detail regarding the terms of Harry's employment at Hogwarts and again made certain that Harry knew he ought to inform the Headmaster of any other "important visions" such as what occurred in June. The Headmaster left satisfied. Harry merely shrugged at his departure and returned to cleaning with the others.
Except to apologize later that same night, Sirius didn't speak to Harry again for the rest of the month.
A girl to girl talk had been exactly what Hermione needed going into the second month of the summer holiday. Her parents had returned from their shortened trip in July, and Hermione borrowed both Hedwig and Pig from their respective owners the day after Harry and Hadley's arrival. She revealed, after writing her letters and sending them away, that the quick Pig was headed for her parents, to ask if they were still up for a trip to Bulgaria. The durable Hedwig was flying to Bulgaria to ask if Viktor would still appreciate a visit. The eagle owl they were using as penpals had been sent off the day before, though Hermione suspected Hedwig might overtake it regardless.
Hermione had both her replies by the end of the first week of August and through sheer force of will managed to arrange between her parents and Viktor that the third week of August would be spent in Bulgaria. Mrs Weasley, as much as she loved Hermione, somewhat disapproved of her going on vacation specifically to see a boy, and an older boy at that.
But there wasn't much she could do when Bill was tasked with escorting Hermione to Heathrow airport to take an International portkey with her parents, and Mrs Weasley had to sit on her hands.
Hadley felt glad for her friend. Whether Hermione and Krum were still involved or not – a point that Hermione never clarified, come to think of it – she was maintaining the connections she made that year. Hadley hadn't really made friends with her fellow champions except perhaps a little with Cedric. Krum was the older superstar who was dating her best friend. Fleur was the glamorous French girl who deigned to give Hadley a little advice.
Hadley would have been proud to call any of them friends of course, but the small connections she had to the older competitors were enough for her. Fleur was dating Bill, Krum had dated or was dating Hermione, and that was a closer relationship than she had ever thought to have with anyone abroad.
Meanwhile Cedric was still in a coma. Hadley did hope he got better soon. Dumbledore had told her the day before Hermione left for Bulgaria that the healers had managed to figure out what damage the close range cruciatus had done to Cedric. It wouldn't be permanent, but having the harmful magic go straight through his temple… it would be a long recovery, at least a year before anyone would dare let him hold a wand, let alone allow his magic to do anything but focus on healing him.
She wished Mr and Mrs Diggory had accepted the entirety of the money rather than demanding she keep her half. Cedric deserved it most, she thought.
Cleaning out the drawing room gave her entirely too much time to think, Hadley thought as she dumped several items of unknown nature from the cabinet into a magically expanded bag of trash beside her. Ron was tackling the curtains with his brothers, using aim and teamwork to take down every doxy that thought it could get the better of them.
"Keep that one," Harry's voice floated from where he was clearing the flu of the fireplace adjacent. Hadley looked at him but he didn't even seem to have looked at her. "The twins will want it. But don't open it and tell them to use gloves when they do."
Hadley's hand was resting on a small wooden box with some grotesque carvings on it. She dropped it in the bag the twins had provided her for things she thought they might like. It was, until then, empty. Most of the items in the cabinet were very dark after all.
Harry spoke up twice more as Hadley swiped things into her bag. She didn't know how he knew that the enchantments on those items weren't dark, but one more item made its way to Fred and George's bag and the other was given over to Mrs Weasley for a more thorough inspection.
After dinner that night was another Order meeting, one which Hadley was not included on. Sirius, however, had other plans. After the meeting he had Hadley follow him to the now mostly-cleared drawing room.
Sirius didn't bother to segue.
"Peter's body gave out last week, and the Ministry buried him at the same ceremonial grave that was given to him fourteen years ago," Sirius' voice was emptier than it should have been. Like his dreams were dead. "It's not public knowledge, it was done in the dead of night, but the guard outside the Department of Mysteries heard Lucius Malfoy and the Minister talking after a full session of the wizengamot today. A lot of higher ups know that Peter was alive until that Kiss, but they aren't going to give me a trial. Next year's an election year, after all."
"But…" Hadley couldn't really do anything as Sirius grabbed her and hugged on tight. "S-Sirius… I don't get it! If they know, why… wasn't the Minister back then Bagnold? It's not like clearing you would make Fudge look bad…" Sirius' breathing was a little hitched. Hadley could feel it in her cheek that he had pressed to his chest.
"It… after all that's happened… if he rescinds the Kiss order…" Sirius swallowed. "Unless Fudge loses his position and someone like Amelia Bones is made Minister, I might not ever be free."
Hadley was silent in the embrace. She was uncomfortable, both physically as her back was bent in an odd way, and emotionally. She wanted to tell Sirius it would be okay, that there was no way Fudge would be re-elected and Dumbledore would regain his clout so he could demand Sirius get a trial. But could he? Could he really? It didn't seem like it. It didn't seem like it at all.
All she could do was hug him back as he played with her hair. Sirius needed the comfort then more than she needed to scramble to say something that could easily not be true. He was cooped up here and the way things were looking he might not be able to leave.
Unless, of course, Voldemort started acting in the open and Sirius was openly seen fighting Death Eaters or some such. But that hardly seemed likely, as much as Hadley would love for her godfather to be free. And it was looking like Dumbledore wasn't going to let Sirius leave the house without his name cleared. The Death Eaters almost definitely knew about his animagus form, Wormtail would have told his lord, so Sirius couldn't even be taken out for walks in London in that form without risking the Death Eaters figuring out that the Order was stationed in the city.
"I'm sorry, Sirius," Hadley mumbled into his chest. Sirius didn't reply, only continued petting Hadley's curls until his breath calmed and he fell asleep on the stuff old couch. Hadley extricated herself from his limp grasp and made her way back to the room she shared with Ginny.
She wished Hermione hadn't gone to Bulgaria already. She would have known what to do.
Author's Note: Sorry that this was a further week late, but I have been making toys (and mostly new designs – I don't know how to follow a crochet pattern anyway, so I make up all my own patterns as I go, meaning it takes longer). I cannot make toys and write all at once. I am pretty busy most of September though due to me and my boyfriend's birthdays, school starting, and a few opportunities to sell my toys at public events in my area, so hopefully you guys will still get two chapters then. Plus I finally got my etsy shop up so… if anyone actually orders anything from me, updates might get more sporadic. But it would also mean I have money, so there's that. I will not be at Kumoricon however. No money for it.
Of course, this chapter was never actually in my chapter plans. But I realized after writing last chapter that there were a lot of things that ought to be addressed in the summer rather than after school starts (and last chapter didn't manage to squish in Harry taking the locket). And here we are. A couple things I'm looking forward to will be happening in the next couple of chapters though, so let's hope my inspiration stays strong!
Finally – I have a poll up for what I should focus on next. It includes another fem!Harry (of a sort – Harry grew up thinking he was a boy and found out he wasn't. Lots of trans issues in that one), a very AU HP world (where Slytherin won the duel with Gryffindor, and what it's like 1000 years later – might just be a one-shot), and a mute!Harry (where instead of killing Harry and Neville, Voldemort decides that handicapping them is more cruel). The first chapter of Broken Past should be up soon though.