Title: Harry Potter and Choices
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Harry is back at the Durleys after the battle at the DoM. He's been there a whole week and he has had terrible nightmares every night. It finally occurs to him that many of the problems and thoughts he's having a difficult time with are due to choices he's made, and more importantly how he chooses to look at his problems. Harry decides to be a Gryffindor in his mind and face those problems directly, making different choices and approaching life differently than he has in the past. Along the way, he finds that he and Ginny Weasley share a very special power. {post-OotP and Alt-HBP, H/G }
Disclaimer: The HP-universe is owned by JKR. Anything that looks like it belongs to her does. The plot of this story and other original material is mine, the rest is obviously hers.
(A/N: (2012) This was my very first fanfic, originally written in early 2006 when I was more idealistic than I am now. It came after reading about a dozen stories and finding myself asking "Why isn't there a story like…" and then deciding to write one. I've been hooked on writing since - which is really hilarious to me because I hated "Creative Writing" back in high school (I now think it was because they forced topics and lengths on us). Anyway, this is version 1.1, which has some blatant errors fixed (typos, grammar, and the occasional logic error). My original and less experienced style has been left as is; this is not rewrite to bring it up to my current standards {that would be too much work}, just an edited version. I've also expanded some scenes slightly. Any plot devices that were introduced in books 6 and 7 after this was originally written will continue to be ignored.

Also, to those who are wondering, the last chapter of Accidental Bond is in the hands of my beta, who was caught up in a hurricane. Hopefully, I'll have that back from him soon. In the meantime, I'll start publishing this. Because I'm only editing, I hope to post 2 chapters a week.)

Version: 1.0 (2006); 1.1 (2012)

Harry Potter and Choices

Chapter 1: Choices

Harry awoke panting and in a sweat. He didn't need his glasses to know that he had woken up early as the night sky had yet to begin to lighten. It had been yet another nightmare with him in the Department of Mysteries, though this time it was all his friends who were falling into the veil after Sirius. Ron and Hermione went hand in hand as soon as Sirius had disappeared. Neville courteously stood back and waved Luna through before following in himself. Finally Ginny trooped in too, but not before waving good-bye to him. It seemed like there had also been a laugh in the background, but that part was a bit hazy as he was struggling to gain full consciousness.

It had been like this every night for the week he'd been home from Hogwarts. Usually it was something from the Department of Mysteries. Twice it had been the graveyard scene from the end of his fourth year. Last night it had started off in the Chamber of Secrets for some reason, then changed into him trying to save Ginny in the spinning room of the Department of Mysteries before ending at the veil.

As he lay there trying to get over the nightmare, he realised his breathing wasn't slowing down and there was a cramping pain in his chest. He had to calm down. Grasping for any calming thought, his mind grabbed flying. He imagined he was on his broomstick, that should have been in his trunk, soaring peacefully and enjoying the wind whipping through his hair. Slowly he got a grip on himself and almost five minutes later his body felt nearly normal, if he ignored his T-Shirt and pyjama bottoms sticking to him from his sweat.

Like a bomb dropping, he realised he was near his breaking point. He couldn't go on like this; either he was going to go mental, or else Voldemort was going to take over his mind. Neither outcome was welcome.

Attempting what little Occlumency he could do, he tried to push his emotions, and especially his fear, aside. While he wasn't sure it was enough to really help, it was the best he could do. Then he pulled his problems to the front of his mind one at a time trying to analyse them. Part of the problem was there were so many of them. From all the things that had happened last year under the toad Umbridge, to his reactions to those events, how he'd acted around his friends, his scar almost always hurting in some way, and not to mention all the things Dumbledore had said, including the Prophecy; it was a problem in itself as to where to start.

Deep down he knew he'd been lucky so far and that he was wasn't ready to face Voldemort, as his last confrontation had proved. If it was kill or be killed, the latter seemed more likely; he knew he needed training. Well that was one thing he could do something about, he could seek training.

From his huge mental list, he pulled the next thing out that bothered him the most: his actions around his friends. In trying to be honest with himself, he decided he really had been a great prat and he knew they deserved better than that. They had done a lot for him, and though it was hard to admit, he knew he shouldn't have treated them that way. But that stuff had made him so angry at times. Then it dawned on him, not everyone around him did let things get to them. While he felt like he'd had it the worst, he realised he wasn't the only one with problems. Could it be that he'd let himself get so angry and that was changeable? If that was true, could he choose to not let that happen? That deserved some thought.

While he didn't need his glasses, he put them on anyway as he sat up in bed and leaned back against his headboard. Pulling his knees up and wrapping his arms around them, he lost himself in thought. What if…

By the time the sun was starting to peek over the horizon, Harry had decided he had to grow up and get his act together. He needed to think things through, plan them out, and stop being so emotionally driven. There were several things he needed to do first, starting with gathering some more information. That was the thing that irked him the most about Dumbledore, his withholding information that would have been very helpful in avoiding some of his trials.

He wished he could just Apparate out and go talk to a few people and take care of a few things, but he knew he didn't have the skill, that was assuming the wards on the house would let him. Then he remembered someone who had done just that, Dobby!

And in popped the little house-elf. "The Great Harry Potter calls for Dobby? I is so glad to be of service to the bestest wizard ever." Harry stared at him for a moment wondering how Dobby could have known he was thinking about him, and decided he must have spoken the elf's name out loud without meaning to. Still, did that mean Dobby had a connection to Harry?

A plan was forming in Harry's mind. "Ah yes Dobby. I would, uh, like to hire you. Can I do that?"

"Hire me? You don't need to hire me. I will gladly help the Great Harry Potter!"

"But you're a free elf now Dobby." Harry was curious about how Dobby saw himself.

"Ah, well…" Dobby wrung his hands and looked at the floor for a brief moment before turning his large eyes up at Harry. "I suppose I am free, but I rather would work for you, Harry Potter. Hogwarts is boring when everyone is gone."

Harry didn't really know what to say to that, but he did recognise he needed help, and Dobby could do a lot of what he needed. "So, would you like to work for me for the next month or so while I'm here?" Harry hoped he'd be out in less than month, which would be around the time of his birthday, but he knew it could be until the week before school started.

"Oh yes, I'd love to work for you, Master Harry Potter Sir!" the little elf squeaked.

How do you hire an elf? What did you pay them? "OK, Dobby, how about five Galleons for the summer, though I probably won't need help after I leave here. Will that be OK?"

"Harry Potter is more generous than Headmaster! It will be a pleasure serving you, Master."

"Uh, Dobby, please don't call me Master; call me Harry. I'm not a master and you're not a slave, I've only hired you."

"OK, Harry Potter Sir."

Harry sighed and considered that was probably going to be the best he could get at this time.

"What does Harry need Dobby to do? I see cleaning, and laundry to be done, what else?"

"Dobby, I'm really not so concerned about cleaning. What I really need is some errands run, can you do that for me?"

"Yes, Harry Sir. That is important duty of house elves."

"Right. And Dobby, this all has to remain secret. No one is to know I've hired you, and you can't be seen here in the house. Can you do that?" Harry didn't think it would be a problem but he had to ask.

"Yes, Harry Sir. Dobby can be very secret."

Now for the hard one, "Dobby, can you also do magic here for me without getting me into trouble with the underage magic restriction?"

"Of course, Sir!"

"What?! How come you didn't do that three years ago when you got me into trouble?"

"Begging your pardon, Harry Sir, but Dobby didn't want to keep Harry Potter out of trouble. He wanted Harry Potter to be safe at home." Dobby began to tug on and twist his ears.

Harry gave an exasperated sigh. "Dobby, please stop punishing yourself." To his surprise the elf did stop immediately, though he still wore his guilty look. "What's done is done, but since you can do it without getting me into trouble, will you please put an Imperturbable charm on this room? I want what happens in here not to be heard out there, but make it so I can hear if someone out there calls to me."

With a snap of his fingers, Dobby looked at him and said, "Done. What else does Harry Sir need?"

"Well, there will be times that I'll need food. Can you fetch me some?"

"Yes Harry Sir. I can get it from Hogwarts kitchens."

"Good. I won't need every meal, just some for when I don't get enough here. Ah, Dobby? Where will you stay? Can you always hear me call you when you're at Hogwarts?"

"Yes I can, it's house-elf magic, Sir. But Sir, it would be better if I was here. What if I stay in your closet? I can make it very comfortable."

Harry didn't really care, as long as it worked out. "OK Dobby, that's fine." There was one last possible problem, but he didn't know if he wanted to tackle it. He consoled himself with the thought that it would probably never happen. "Dobby, there's one last thing I'd like to ask if you can do for me?"

"Yes Sir, you must ask." The house-elf was certainly eager to please.

"Dobby, I'm going to make one exception to the Don't be seen command and it's very important that you understand." Dobby nodded. "If I yell Dobby emergency I want you to come out no matter who's around, even if it's my Muggle relatives."

"You be wanting me to protect you, Harry Sir?"

Dobby was smarter than he looked, and Harry mentally chided himself not think less of him again just because he was a house-elf. "Yes, Dobby. I don't think it will happen, but since I'm not supposed to use magic outside of school, I thought I would make sure that I'd be safe. You know how you protected me from Lucius Malfoy."

"Yes Sir, I can do that."

"Great, now remember, it's all a secret unless there is an emergency."

"Yes, Harry Potter Sir." The elf looked very pleased.

"OK Dobby, the closet is yours to rearrange and do whatever you need to be comfortable. I'm going to take a shower and get dressed." Looking at his clothes, which were really old cast-offs from Dudley, Harry had another idea. "Say Dobby, can you change the size of clothes, either by shrinking them or by tailoring them?"

"Oh yes, House Elves can do all kinds of things with clothes, Sir."

A large smile crossed Harry's face. "Then Dobby, the first task I'd like you to do today is to take all my clothes that came from my over-grown cousin, and make them smaller so they fit me. Here, I'll pile them up for you so you know which ones they are." A couple of minutes later, Dobby was working on the pile and Harry left for his shower.

By the time Harry returned Dobby was done with half the pile, which wasn't so much Harry noticed now as he counted them. Aunt Petunia never did care what he looked like or if he had to wear the same things over and over. As Harry dressed in worn but clothes that fit for the first time, he noticed that Dobby was tailoring them and not magically shrinking them, although the needle was sewing by itself very quickly. He was using scissors and needles that Harry didn't own and only the elf knew where they came from.

As Harry was starting to enjoy his new circumstances and marvelling at how much better something as little as clothes that fit could make him feel, he heard Uncle Vernon shouting from downstairs for Harry to get up and come down for his chores, if he wanted any dinner tonight. At that, Dobby looked at Harry in outrage, that anyone would deny Harry food. Harry smiled at the elf and told him calmly, "Don't worry Dobby, that's why I asked you about food; though I'll probably get dinner anyway."

Harry heard his name being shouted again so he hollered "Coming!" then realised the charm on the room prevented that from being heard, so he opened his door and shouted "Coming!" again. Closing the door, he turned back to Dobby for a last order. "Dobby, one other thing. When you finish with the clothes, please go to Diagon Alley and get an owl-order catalog from each store that has one. I think I need to get a few things."

"Yes, Harry Sir."

"Remember Dobby, no one is to know who it's all for." Dobby nodded his head vigorously. Smiling, Harry bid him good-bye for the day and wished him well in fixing up the closet as he left his room to run downstairs before he got into more trouble with Uncle Vernon.

Harry had his usual small breakfast of a few pieces of toast before starting to mow the garden. He sort of liked mowing the garden. It was pleasant smelling the freshly cut grass and monotonous enough that he could think about other things while he did it. The only problem with that was that sometimes he came up with an idea he wanted to remember for later. Usually he could, but it would have been nice to record it, like the list of stuff he thought he wanted to buy. Taking a short break for some water, he nicked a pen and a sheet of paper from a drawer when Aunt Petunia was in the other room to start his shopping lists.

He barely managed to get all of his chores done and get cleaned up by the time the Dursleys were finishing dinner. There were only a few bites of their casserole left, but Harry didn't get more than a sour look when he took it. Trying to avoid problems, he ate that quickly and without complaining so he could leave and have a peaceful evening, but Aunt Petunia wasn't having any of that and made him wash all the dishes. It was getting late by the time he made it upstairs to be alone, but when he arrived, he found Dobby had dinner ready and waiting as well as a large stack of catalogues.

During his second dinner, Harry went through the catalogues and divided them into three stacks. The ones for things like women's clothing went into a not needed stack. There was an interesting but not needed stack that contained catalogues from places like Quality Quidditch Supplies; he'd check those out later. And the most important stack he labelled must check out and contained catalogues for things like books and camping supplies. His dinner being finished, he sat down at what passed for a desk with the last stack, his pen, and some paper. He quickly made a list for each store with items he wanted and their price.

It was late in the night when he finished, but he liked what he'd done. He was taking charge of his life in a new way. It was basic, it was mundane, but it was also absolutely essential. Still, this exercise pointed out another problem in his life. He had no one he really trusted to give him advice, well, no adult. Hermione would be really useful on this project, but he didn't want to share it with her yet.

There on his nightstand were several letters he'd gotten from her, and one from Ron. They had the obvious how are you doing questions, but Hermione went beyond that to you'll be all right, grieve over Sirius, and go on with life. Intellectually, Harry acknowledged she was probably right, but he didn't want to deal with her on that subject right now. Fortunately, she had now left for a vacation with her parents so the owls from her would be less frequent. Ron's letter was pretty bare, but that was OK. Ron knew Harry needed space and was giving it to him. However good a friend Ron was, Harry knew he needed help from someone who had lived life for a while.

Silently tapping the end of the pen on his chin, he considered the question very carefully. He needed information very badly, so that meant someone who was connected to the Order, yet independent. As much as he would like Mr Weasley to be his advisor, and probably guardian, that would involve Mrs Weasley's and her mothering. If the truth were known, he thought that was nice most of the time as he'd never had that growing up, but he didn't want her protectiveness. Someone like Sirius was whom he needed. That caused some dark thoughts, which he tried not to dwell on. He needed a Marauder type person, he needed someone like Moony. Yes, that was the answer.

He was getting quite tired by now, but decided he wanted to see Moony as soon as he could, so he grabbed some parchment and wrote a note to him asking him to come over the first evening he was available to discuss a big problem. Fortunately Hedwig was awake, so he tied the note to her leg and told her to see that Lupin got it first thing in the morning; and to hunt while she was out. Hedwig rubbed his hand with her head in affection and took off.

Harry stumbled into bed and fell into a deep sleep. If he had a nightmare that night, he didn't remember the next morning.

The next evening after another exhausting day doing chores, though this time he had made notes of good ideas while he was working in the back garden, he started going through his interesting catalogues. The Quidditch one sporting the new Firebolt II really caught his eye. While he was checking out its specs, he heard a disturbance from downstairs in the form of Uncle Vernon shouting. Uncle Vernon normally didn't shout unless it concerned him. As that thought hit him, he dropped the catalogue and raced for the stairs.

When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he saw a very red-faced Uncle Vernon shouting at calm and almost amused looking Remus Lupin. Upon his arrival, Lupin looked over and saw him and smiled. "Ah, there he is." Then turning back to Vernon Dursley he cheekily said, "You know, you really should do something about that temper of yours. I wouldn't want to have to turn you into a toad so you'll behave yourself." With that, he left a sputtering Vernon and walked over to join Harry.

"Hi Harry. Would your room be a good place for us to talk?"

"Um, yeah sure, come on," Harry said a little uncertainly as he guided his old professor up. When they got into Harry's room, which was not showing a house-elf, Harry waved his former professor to his desk chair while he took the bed. "So what got Uncle Vernon wound up?"

Lupin laughed. "Not much let me tell you. I just introduced myself and asked to see you. I sort of had to push my way through the door as he was about to slam it. That might have gotten him going." A mischievous smile crossed Lupin's face. "Of course it also might have been when I told him that if I didn't get to see you I'd come back in my werewolf form and take care of him." The two of them laughed as they both knew Lupin would never purposefully attack anyone in his werewolf form. "So how you doing Harry?"

"Mostly OK." Harry cheerful mood deflated as he answered. He knew some questions would get asked he really didn't want to answer, but he also knew he'd have to answer at least some of them if he was to get any help. "I'm doing better every day, but some, uh, thoughts are still troublesome."

Lupin nodded. "I know Harry, I miss him too."

Harry felt tears coming to his eyes, but he did his best to get them under control. He didn't want to cry in front of his former professor. "Professor Lupin?"

"Call me Moony or Remus. I'm not a professor anymore and can't go back."

With a small brief smile, Harry tried again. "Moony, how long does it take before it doesn't hurt so bad?"

Lupin looked at the young man with much sympathy and laid a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder. "It depends, Harry. It depends on you, and it's something you'll just have to work through. Of course in some ways, you'll never be over him because you'll always carry a part of him with you. Eventually it'll stop hurting and you can enjoy the good memories. As hard as it is, hang in there and live life; he'll become a part of you in a new way given time." Harry nodded and hoped he could deal with the pain until then. Lupin paused to give Harry a moment to recover. "What else is bothering you Harry?"

Now that the time had come, Harry wasn't sure he could ask; but somewhere in the back of his mind came the words, I am a Gryffindor. Taking a deep breath, he looked at the old werewolf and asked, "Moony, who's my guardian now … now that I don't have Sirius?"

Remus was taken aback by the question. It was truly one he had not considered Harry asking. "Well, Harry, in the Muggle world it is obviously still your relatives; but it's a little more complicated in the Wizarding World."

"How so?"

"Well," Lupin paused to gather his thoughts. "In theory it should have been Sirius as he was your Godfather and Dumbledore treated it that way, even though the Ministry didn't because he was in Azkaban. I understand the official Ministry position to be that the Dursleys are your guardians. Family ties are very important in the Wizarding World so the Ministry would defer to them even if they are Muggles, at least until you're seventeen. However, from a practical standpoint, Dumbledore is your guardian and I believe he has temporary legal guardianship too. Why do you ask?"

"I, uh," Harry stumbled over the words; he was going to have to get them out fast. I am a Gryffindor. "I was wanting you to be my guardian Moony!" There, he'd done it.

For the second time that night, Remus was surprised. Thinking about it, he supposed he shouldn't have been, but he was. "Harry," Remus's smile was very large. "I'm honoured more than I can tell you that you would want that, but I'm afraid I have to disappoint you." Harry looked stricken. "As much as I would like to do this for you, the Ministry does not allow werewolves to be guardians or adopt children."

"That's not fair!" Harry all but shouted. He was losing control and knew he needed to bring it back in line. He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. Lupin stayed silent and let Harry work through it. "That's not fair," Harry said in an almost normal voice. "There's nothing wrong with you. You're one of the most decent people I know."

The werewolf gave the young man a sympathetic smile. "Thank you Harry, that warms my heart. Nevertheless, that is the law. If I may ask, why don't you want Dumbledore to be your guardian?"

It was all Harry could do not to snap at his friend. Again he paused and took deep breaths until he could control himself. Lupin found this very interesting, not only Harry's anger, but also that he was starting to control it. Remus was wondering what had happened in the last week, or maybe even two.

"I just want someone else Moony. Someone I can talk to if I need to. Someone who is going to treat me decently." Harry was struggling to be calm, but he was managing.

Remus considered this, he thought about the various discussions at meetings of the Order of the Phoenix, which Harry wouldn't have heard, and he tried to read between the lines. Seeing a young man … and suddenly Lupin realised it was more than a title. It was becoming real and he thought he could see the root issue. "You want someone who will treat you not like a student or a boy, but like the adult you're becoming, don't you?"

Harry had never thought about it quite that way, but … "Err, yes."

"Hmm, I can see where you're coming from then; and you're right, Dumbledore is not the best choice for you."

"Moony, I respect him, and I've never met anyone smarter, but he's also hurt me, several times. I just need it to be someone else." Harry managed to keep his voice even, but it had been hard.

"Then we'll have to pick someone else. So what are your qualifications for this perfect guardian?"

That made Harry snort, but he started thinking out loud. "I need someone who's independent and can tell me things I need to hear, good and bad. Someone I can comfortably talk to. Someone I can trust. A person who can help me train." Lupin was nodding and "uh hmm'ing" at the list. All of a sudden, Harry brightened and Remus looked at him.

"Who did you have in mind Harry, for I can tell you figured something out."

"Moony, can there be a Godmother for a guardian?"

"Sure, who did you have in mind, Molly?"

Harry made a face but managed not to roll his eyes. "No, someone with pink hair!"

Moony stared at him for a moment then burst out laughing, "Yeah, Tonks would be able to help you train." Then he started to wonder if maybe Harry chose her because he had a crush on her. "Any special reasons to pick her Harry?"

"She's an Auror so, yeah, she can help me train. She's old enough to be able to give me real advice, but not too old. She's funny, and yet I think she'll take me seriously when I need her to. And maybe most importantly, I trust her." Harry seemed pleased with himself, but he also looked a bit mischievous to Lupin as he added, "And well, Tonks is just cool!"

Remus looked at him and nodded while managing to keep the amusement off his face as he asked, "You know Harry, she can look like the girl of your dreams, or even all of them. Does that matter?"

Harry looked at him for a moment with a lost expression on his face, then Remus saw it change into something like horror while Harry started sputtering, "Ah, no, uh, Moony! That's gross!"

Remus laughed and put a friendly hand on the boy's shoulder, "Just testing. How about if I ask her to come see you and talk to you about this?" Harry agreed.

After a little more fun talk, Remus got up to leave. "Are you OK here Harry? I've heard they've never treated like they should have," he asked with real concern.

"I'm OK Moony. It's not my favourite place to be, but I'll be alright for a little longer. Though, the sooner you can spring me the better," Harry said with a grin.

Remus squeezed his shoulder then left. Harry decided that had gone pretty well, other than the one shocking part. Picking up the Quidditch catalogue, he laid back down on his bed to enjoy his evening.