Disclaimer: I wish I owned it ...
Burdens of a Champion
A strange sense of calm seemed to wash over Harry as he and Neville followed Snape morosely through the corridors. The potions professor seemed to take great pleasure in watching Harry squirm, knowing that he was probably in more trouble than he had ever been in. all the stuff from last year, the exploding pudding fiasco, sneaking out of the school grounds, it all paled into comparison to what Harry had done this time.
He had directly disobeyed both Sirius and Remus' orders. They had told him to stay put where it was safe, and yet, being his usual Gryffindor self, Harry had ignored them. Swallowing his nerves, Harry just ducked his head and allowed Snape to lead him silently through the corridors, his cloak flying behind him. He chanced a glance and felt guilty at Neville's pale face.
He knew how scared Neville was of Snape. That had even been his boggart last year in Remus' lesson. The chubby Gryffindor had become a lot more confident and braver in himself these past few months, slowly flourishing under the delicate friendship that had developed between them. And now it was all to be undone by the man that so smugly lead them to their doom.
Harry burned with a prickling sense of hatred. He hated Severus Snape and everything he stood for. From his greasy hair down to his hooked nose and evil smirk. Harry had had enough, enough of his cheap jibes and blatant ignorance of Malfoys attempts at sabotage. As long as Harry would live, he would always hate Severus Snape.
"In here, Potter." Snape drawled.
Harry blinked, realising that they were standing in front of the gargoyles that guarded Dumbledores office. The gargoyles were peering curiously down at him, and he glared at Snape as he stepped onto the revolving staircase, hearing Neville stumble and fall as it started moving. Harry glared at the man who looked amused at Neville's misfortune. Why did he have to bring Neville into this? Why did the man who terrified Neville most have to drag Neville into Harry's mess.
Harry threw Neville an apologetic glance and the young Gryffindor just shrugged, furthering Harry's guilt. He closed his eyes, preparing himself for the encroaching storm as he stepped into Dumbledore's office. The headmaster himself was sitting behind the large, oak desk, fingers steepled in front of him as he regarded Harry over half moon spectacles. Fawkes cooed gently and the sound seemed to bounce off of the intricate trinkets and travel down Harry's spine, sending a shiver through him, instantly making him feel relaxed.
Remus was upon him the moment he stepped over the threshold of the door. He hugged Harry as tightly as he could, not realising that that small move sent pain shooting through his entire body. He winced and tried to push Remus away, but even in his weakened state, Remus was stronger than Harry.
"Remus," choked Harry. All too aware of Neville's alarmed eyes on his back.
Remus pulled away. He looked angrier than Harry had ever seen him. His brow was set in deep crevices and his eyebrows knitted together. His lips were so thin that they would rival Professor McGonagalls impossibly thin ones. Sirius stood to Remus' right, eyes filled with worry.
"What the hell were you thinking?!" Remus yelled, holding Harry by the shoulders and shaking slightly.
Harry flinched and threw his arms over his head, age old remnants of his time with the Dursleys floating through his skull. The air in the room seemed to physically change as Remus dropped his arms to his side, looking stricken. Sirius looked ready to kill and even Dumbledore looked thunderous. A quick glance at Snape revealed nothing. He was his usual dour self.
"Sorry," Harry apologised. "I – I thought I could help."
Remus turned away from him in exasperation.
"Idiot child," Snape sneered. "the famous Harry Potter believes that he is a match for fully trained death eaters. So the famous Harry Potter goes against an adults word and does as he pleases!"
"Severus, please, you're not helping. Please take Mr Longbottom back to his dorm. There is no need for him here." Dumbledore said tiredly, eyes losing their sparkle as he looked sternly at Snape.
Giving Harry a contemptuous glance, Snape whirled around, dragging Neville with him.
"Mr Potter. Please explain." Dumbledore said, when a reply from Remus was not forthcoming.
Harry's chest hurt. It was the cold disappointment, more than the shouting and raging that made Harry sincerely regret his actions. Seeing the same looks mirrored on his uncle and godfathers faces made Harry feel physically sick,
"When I – I heard about the death eaters attack at Hogwarts, I just couldn't sit behind and let my friends get killed."
"Harry. You are in a school full of highly skilled wizards. I should know because I hired them. Please believe me when I say that never, while I stand before this school, shall a single pupil be harmed. You have my word that your loved ones are safe."
The sincerity in Dumbledore's words felt real, furthering Harry's guilt. Remus seemed to get his voice back as he gazed sadly at Harry. Sirius, for once, was silent, glaring at the door that Snape had just stepped through as if will alone would set it on fire.
"I-" Harry was lost for words.
He was tired, the sort of fatigue that clung to your bones and only came with serious illness. In that moment, Harry could feel every single one of his aches and pains, amplified by his shame like some sick kind of karmic punishment. Remus' chest was rising and falling rapidly, a funny puce colour appearing on his cheeks. Harry flinched.
Sirius sighed and ran his hands through his hair. He crossed the room and placed a hand on Harry's aching shoulder. "Well I better be off, mate. Got lots of paperwork to fill out." he shared a grim glance with Dumbledore and stepped into the fireplace.
Harry watched as he was whipped out of sight by the green flames and swallowed audibly, turning with some difficulty to Remus and Dumbledore.
"Remus, perhaps I could have a word with Harry?" Dumbledore's xray eyes fixated on Remus.
He opened his mouth like he wanted to argue. But something in the headmasters eyes seemed to change his resolve. "Okay. You know what? I'll go down to the kitchen and see the house elves."
He sounded falsely optimistic. He turned and smiled slightly at Harry before exiting the room, robes swishing behind him. Harry stiffened. It wasn't like Remus to just leave Harry like that. A horrible thought occurred to Harry.
"Have a seat, Harry. Lemon drop?"
Harry slumped into the high backed seat in front of Dumbledore's desk and politely refused the offered bowl of candies. Dumbledore surveyed him for what felt like a long time, his penetrating gaze xraying what felt like his soul. He shifted uncomfortably as he waited for the headmaster to speak.
"Your father would be proud of you."
Harry blinked and sat up straighter. He had been expecting to be assigned detention or even expelled. He hadn't expected those words to leave Dumbledore's mouth.
"He would?" Harry said. "because right now, I think he would be pretty ashamed of me."
"Not at all. You are a rather admirable young man. By far more so than I could ever aspire to me. You have suffered so much in your short life, and yet you continue to be an unbending tower of strength. James Potter would be very proud, Lily too."
Harry fizzed lightly at Dumbledore's praise and the mention of his parents. But he was confused. Why was Dumbledore telling him this?
"I'm not brave," he muttered; embarrassed.
Dumbledores eyes grew impossibly sad. "Contrary my dear boy. You are a tower of courage, an inspiration to many."
Harry shook his head. Almost ashamed of what he was about to say. "I get scared." he whispered.
"Alas as do I. Fear is a basic part of life, Harry. To not feel fear is to not feel emotion and that means to not be human. I should say that even Lord Voldemort feels fear at times."
Harry raised his eyebrows.
"After all. Voldemort was human once. Is it really yhat hard to believe that even the Dark Lord felt emotion," he chuckles darkly. "perhaps dark magic has torn his soul. But once upon a time, Voldemort was a child, with real emotions."
Why was he telling Harry this.
"Sir. I hate to sound rude and all, but why are you telling me this?"
Dumbledore chuckled. Much to Harry's surprise.
"Because it is of the essence that you understand. Perhaps with that thought in your mind, you can see that we are all just human. We all suffer from the weakness of emotion."
"Sir," Harry said slowly. A thought occurring to him. "are you saying that Voldemort was scared of me? I mean I was just a baby. Is that why he tried to kill me?"
Dumbledore looked into Harry's eyes and not for the first time, Harry was under the impression that he was being x rayed with those bright blue eyes.
"Alas. At this moment in time. I cannot tell you. But please know, that when the time comes. I will tell you. But you are young, and although your life is to be shorter than it should be, I wish for you to enjoy your life before I burden you with knowledge."
Harry frowned. His head hurt.
"Now onto why I asked to talk to you. If you ever wish to speak to me, please know that I will hold anything you tell me in the strictest confidence. I give you my wizards oath, that anything revealed within these walls will stay within these walls."
Harry stirred uncomfortably. The thoughts of the strange, yet realistic dreams, in which, and as stupid as it sounded, Harry was the dark lord surfaced but he immediately shut them down. For a moment, Harry thought he saw a spark of emotion flare within Dumbledore's eyes but then it went back to the serene, calming look that he always seemed to possess.
It was for the umpteenth time since meeting the headmaster that Harry thought maybe Dumbledore could read minds. He shook the thought off as preposterous. "No. thank you, sir. Everything's fine."
To say that Harry was in trouble would be an understatement. Remus paced the living room so many times that he feared he would wear a hole in the carpet. Several times, Remus opened his mouth to speak, but then snapped it shut again when words failed him. Had it not been for the dire circumstances, it would have been rather amusing.
"What were you thinking? You could have been killed, Harry!" Remus said, hands clutching at his hair at the very thought.
Remus had been down in Hogsmeade at the time, helping to reset the wards. He would always remember the horror for as long as he lived when Dumbledore came rushing towards him, telling him that the wards in his office had been breached and Harry's magical signature was all over the room. Remus could swear that he aged ten years on the spot. The stupid boy! Death eaters could still have been hiding out in the school.
In Harry's fragile state, he would be no good against a flobberworm.
"Look I don't know what I was thinking!" Harry stood up suddenly, losing his balance as the room whirled dangerously. Remus sighed and lowered him back onto the chair. "I – I just didn't think okay?"
"No. you never do." said Remus sternly.
Harry felt a flash of hurt. But honestly, he deserved. Remus was right, Harry never thought things through until it was too late. He should have just stayed behind.
Damn Gryffindor's and their foolish bravery.
Snapes voice drifted to the front of his mind, and Harry was rather surprised when he felt a twinge of amusement. That was probably the exact thing the potions professor would say, had it been he who stood before Harry and not Remus.
"I'm sorry." Harry bowed his head.
"I hope you know how truly foolish you have been. You could have been injured or killed! I – I. I'm sorry, Harry but I can't just let this go."
Harry nodded. He had expected as much. "What'll it be then?" he said moodily.
Remus' head snapped up, evidently surprised at Harry's willingness to accept his punishment. It was almost as if all defiance was slowly draining out of Harry along with his life. The grim comparison sat heavy in Remus' stomach.
"Okay. No Hogsmeade weekends until after the Triwizard tournament and no flying, except for Quidditch Practice. I shall have teachers keep an eye on you. Also, I think it's only fair that you help Professor Snape down in the dungeons. I'm sure he will find you something to do."
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but was silenced with a fierce look sent his way by Remus. "Okay. Fine." he said, resigning himself to his fate.
"When you return to Hogwarts tomorrow. You shall approach Professor Snape and enquire on any help that may need doing. Seeing as he went out of his way to find you, I should also hope that you express your deepest gratitude."
Harry nodded. "I really am sorry." he said, feeling horribly guilty.
"I know." Remus said with feeling. "but I can't let this go unpunished."
Not long after. Harry retired to his bedroom. The fatigue that had settled so heavy on his bones all day, suddenly felt impossibly dense. So it was with great relief when Remus suggested Harry went and slept. With the after affects of the energy potion slowly wearing off, Harry felt himself drifting off into a fevered sleep.
A huddled shape writhed on the floor at Harry's feet. He felt a rush of satisfaction at the shapes obvious pain and pointed his wand at him one last time.
Harry's voice was high and cold, and he watched with great amusement as the figure arched and screamed on the floor.
"Is it complete?"
"Nearly, master. The cauldron is set up. Our mark just has to find the most opportune moment to set the trap."
Harry felt a rush of satisfaction. His plan was nearly complete. Soon enough, everything would fall into place, bit by bit.
"You have served me well, Wormtail. You may rise."
The snivelling, hunched wreck of a man rose jerkily but remained on his knees. Harry fingered his wand lovingly, feeling a rush of satisfaction as Wormtail jerked away from him.
"You fear me so, Wormtail? I protect you from your foes, yet you flinch before me?"
"Not at all master. I only hold the highest respect for you." Wormtail bowed, his nose almost touching the floor.
"Very well, Wormtail. You may leave. But know if you fail me, you will regret it."
Fear and regret flashed across Wormtails face before he scurried from the room. Honestly. That snivelling rat was a shame to the death eater name. A long, black snake slivered across the room and settled at Harry's neck.
"Ah, yes, Nagini. Everything is falling into place."
Harry sat up with a gasp. Sweat pooled down his back and his heart raced violently. Taking several deep breaths, Harry rolled towards his window. It was just past dawn, judging by the pink – white light that filtered through the blinds.
These dreams; if Harry could even call them that. They always held the same pattern. He was Lord Voldemort, he had figured that out now. Only one being could hold such evil within them, hold such grandiose delusions of power. Only one voice could cause such fear within people.
They felt so real. But Harry placated himself that they were just that, dreams. Voldemort was dead, after all. Or a mere shadow of his former self, currently trapped within the shadowy confines of a forest in deepest Albania. There was no way Voldemort could be back. No way.
As Harry closed his eyes, for the first time in what felt like forever, sleep eluded him. He couldn't help the same thoughts that haunted him.
What if these dreams were prophetic? What if they were a precursor of terror that was about to erupt onto the world?
Sorry about the abrupt way in which this chapter ended. i just felt that this was the perfect cut off point. Anymore might have deviated from the effect that I was trying to create somewhat. As usual, I would like to thank each and every single one of you for following, favouriting and reviewing this story. It really inspires me to keep on writing this. Even though Writers Block is a female dog at times! I have a question for you guys, would you prefer quicker updates and shorter chapters or slower updates and longer chapters. I'm afraid that life is a bit too hectic at the moment and I find it quite difficult to find the time to write.
On another note. This is due to come to an end (In about ten chapters or so) There will be a sequel, the final in the series, but I plan on finishing PB before I start the sequel. Thank you for your continued patience!