"I know how you feel, Harry." Dumbledore began.
"No you don't." Harry responded as he stared at the floor on the headmaster's office. "It's my fault."
"No…the fault is mine. I knew it was only a matter of time before Voldemort made the connection between you. I thought that distancing myself from you as I've done all year, he'd be less tempted, and therefore you might be more protected."
Swallowing a knot in his throat, Harry looked up at Dumbledore and spoke again.
"The prophecy said, neither one can live while the other survives. It means…one of us is going to have to kill the other…in the end."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"For the same reason you tried to save Sirius. The same reason your friends saved you. After all these years, after all you've suffered, I didn't want to cause you anymore pain. I care too much about you…"
Rolling over in bed, Harry opened his eyes as laid on his back and looked up at the ceiling as he remembered his last talk with Dumbledore before heading off to the Dursley's house for the summer.
For the past few days he'd been back Harry had just stayed in his room, laying in bed asleep. And for the first time in a long time, he wasn't having any nightmares, any dreams, nothing at all so he just slept. It surprised him, especially given what had just happened. He tried as hard as he could not to think about it, to push it out of his mind. But it was getting harder and harder each day, and being here at the Dursley house wasn't helping.
He was alone with none of his friends around.
But in the end Ron or Hermione being around would not have made any difference. He knew they cared, put they just didn't understand what it felt like to know that you were responsible for someone's death. They didn't understand the pain and guilt he felt, and the heavy responsibility that had been placed upon his shoulders.
Sighing heavily, Harry pushed himself up and swung his legs over the bed. He glanced at the clock on the small table next to his bed and it read five past twelve. Putting his glasses on, he got to his feet and decided to get a glass of water from the kitchen. Being mindful not to disturb his sleeping Aunt and Uncle, Harry slowly walked down the stairs, but just as his foot hit the first step on the way down, a voice echoed through his mind.
"Nice work, James!"
Harry shook his head as he took another step down.
He then had to hold onto the rail tighter as he heard the sound of Bellatrix Lestrange shouting the killing curse at his godfather, watching helplessly as Sirius was struck, Sirius smiling at him one last time before fading away in the veil. Harry remembered running after her, step by step before finally catching up with Bellatrix and attempting to use the Cruciatus Curse.
He then heard Lord Voldemort's voice in his ear.
"You have to mean it Harry…she killed him…she deserves it."
"You know the spell."
Harry had spent hours trying to free his mind of all thought, of all emotion, as Professor Snape taught him to do in Occlumency lessons, even though he hated every single lesson he ever had. Whenever he was almost there another image of someone he cared about in pain or dying appeared in his mind. He then realized he had reached the bottom of the stairs and took a short deep breath as he walked to the kitchen. He poured water into a glass and after taking a sip of it, he rubbed his forehead and his fingers brushed over his scar.
Sirius is dead, Sirius is dead, you killed him, you went to the Department of Mysteries, you made him come there, you killed him…it's all your fault...
Harry was suddenly snapped out of his thoughts when he heard the front door open and closed. A little startled, Harry glanced out the doorway to see it was only his cousin, Dudley.
"Potter," he snarled while walking towards the kitchen and moving past him.
"What were you doing out so late?" He asked.
"None of your business," Dudley snapped while grabbing some food out of the pantry. "And what are you still doing up? Another one of your stupid nightmares?" He asked as a grin pulled over his lips. He knew about his cousins nightmares from hearing him in his sleep in the past few years.
Harry glared at him.
"Shut up Dudley."
Harry was use to Dudley's taunts and insults but he just didn't have the energy to deal with his cousin right now. Fortunately for him Dudley took his snack and walked out of the kitchen, taking it up to his room.
After he finished the water, Harry set the glass down in the sink and went back upstairs. Sighing, he reached his room and sat back down on his bed. He then glanced out the window, wishing he was anywhere but here. Wishing that he wasn't in the predicament he was in.
He was still in shock…or denial. Maybe he still hadn't quite accepted it yet.
Harry then realized he was shaking. He shoved all the thoughts and feelings away, as hard as he possibly could. It was difficult, far too difficult, because they never went away entirely, they never left no matter how much he wanted them to.
Closing his eyes, he tried to imagine what life would have been like if none of this had happened.
If Sirius hadn't died, if there'd never been a Prophecy, if Lord Voldemort had never come to power, if my parents hadn't been murdered, if I never had to come live with the Dursleys. I'd just be normal. I'd just have a normal life.
That was what Harry had ever wanted. Just to be normal. To not be known as "The Boy Who Lived."
Laying back down in bed, Harry closed his eyes as he tried to push the thoughts away, but it wasn't working this time. He just kept thinking about the Department of Mysteries, the Death Eaters attacking them, Sirius...
You killed him, you led him to his death. He's gone now, forever, because of you. And all those people who the Death Eaters are killing, they're going to keep on dying, all the time that you're getting ready to fight Lord Voldemort, people are going to die. More people you care about are going to die...
"Stop!" He then yelled, forgetting all about his sleeping relatives as squeezed his eyes shut. "Just stop."
It was now morning and the sun had risen early, already halfway up the sky as it brightened the castle that was HogwartsSchool for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Severus Snape sat across from Albus Dumbledore in his office, discussing the latest Death Eater attack.
"It appears that the attack left several Aurors dead," Snape began, reluctant to inform the Headmaster of the news. "One of them was Alastor Moody."
Dumbledore sighed heavily after the potions master said that. Moody was arguably the most renowned Auror of all time. His death would be a tremendous blow to the Order.
"Because of their failure to obtain the prophecy, I believe the Dark Lord is going to increase his attacks," Snape continued. "Which means Potter must be taken to safer place for the rest of the summer, and I don't believe staying with the Weasleys will be safe enough."
"I know," Dumbledore said. "Harry needs a visible presence from the Order within reach at all times, to deter any attempts on his life. He needs to stay at a place where the Death Eaters wouldn't even think to look for him there."
"I agree," said a female voice. Dumbledore looked over as Narcissa Malfoy appeared from the shadows. "Don't look so surprised Albus," she laughed as she walked closer to them.
"What is she doing here?" Dumbledore asked Snape.
Snape stared at the desk.
"Mrs. Malfoy insisted she accompany me to visit you."
"And why is that?"
"I want to help." Narcissa began. "I'll take Harry in for you, and keep him safe from any attempts on his life."
Dumbledore looked back at Narcissa and shook his head.
"I'm afraid what you are asking is out of the question," he stated calmly, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms over his chest. He wasn't about to turn over the boy who lived to the wife of a Death Eater even if Lucius was locked away.
Narcissa smiled coolly.
"You really don't have any say in the matter Albus. Blood traitor or not, Sirius Black was Harry Potter's godfather, his legal guardian. I am his next of kin by blood. Therefore, as the eldest of the remaining Black family, I inherit the Black Manor, all relating properties, the family fortune…and Harry Potter. I am now the boy's legal guardian."
"His muggle relatives—"
"Will be more than happy to sign over any legal rights and obligations they have towards him. Severus told me they've never been too happy to have a wizard in the family."
Dumbledore glanced at Snape and sighed heavily.
"You don't have anyplace else for Harry to go, Albus. Any other place you send him to, the Death Eaters will find it, I guarantee you. They would never think that he is being kept at the Malfoy Manor, which means that nobody outside this room can know. No one from the Order, they be can't tortured into revealing Harry's whereabouts if they don't know."
Dumbledore studied the woman in front of him for a long moment. She met his gaze fearlessly with her head held high, challenge in every line of her posture. Finally, he spoke.
"What about your son?"
Her eyes narrowed.
"I'm well aware that Harry and my son have never gotten along very well."
Snape snorted. That was an understatement.
"But, they are both sixteen now. It's time they made amends and began focusing on the real danger they both are facing. As for Lucius, he is in Azkaban. The bonds he laid upon me are gone, I have no desire to return to them."
Dumbledore was still not sold on this idea.
"Albus, I will not betray Harry to the Dark Lord," Narcissa assured. "I would have nothing to gain from it, and doing so would put myself and my son into danger, and I would never do such a thing. So, are you going to play nice or not? I can do this with or without you."
Looking down at his desk, the older wizard finally gave in.
"Only on one condition," Dumbledore began. "Either myself or Severus is to make routine visits to the Manor, just to make sure things are going alright."
"Fine," he said while standing up. "I will accompany you to collect Harry, just to make sure he understands the situation."