Three weeks had passed since the eventful night of Harry's capture.
Professor Dumbledore had come back only hours after Snape had sent off the owl and after he had talked with Fudge, McGonagall and Snape for a long time he had bid Harry into his office the next morning.
Harry had told him once again what exactly he had done that night, feeling more than guilty that he had gone so far as to use an Unforgivable Curse on a fellow human being.
"Professor, I don't know how I should feel about it. I mean, I'm not better than them after I've done this."
But Dumbledore had only shaken his head.
"Don't Harry. Don't think like that. You did what no one else of us was able to do. I am not somebody who lives after the motto that the end justifies the means but what you did made Voldemort vanish again, even if only for short. And I know for sure that you didn't use that curse with the same purpose that a Death Eater would have done."
"But I wanted to kill Wormtail."
Dumbledore had nodded.
"Yes, but you took the curse off him before you did, he will recover. You would not have put him under that curse if there had been a possibility to attack Voldemort himself. And you didn't cast the Killing Curse on a fellow human being, you cast it at a dark creature in order to protect what you thought was worth protecting. We are all fighting Voldemort now Harry, we all are. This is a war and unfortunately, in any war we have to take means we don't want to take. And if any of us, be it Professor Snape, Sirius or even me would have been given the chance, none of us would have done differently than you have.
But I need you to understand that despite all your efforts, I fear that Voldemort is not dead. We don't know where he is, but I don't even think that he is off as bad as he was fifteen years ago.
Voldemort has grown very powerful over the last year. I'm afraid that Avada Kedavra might not be enough to kill him. He has probably apparated away the moment he realized what was going on and so far the Ministry has no clue about his whereabouts."
Harry had merely nodded, he had guessed that much already.
"The Death Eaters?"
"Some have been captured, some have escaped. Lucius Malfoy has been arrested however, and we're very faithful that he will have some useful information for us. But that should not be bothering you now.
I still cannot gather exactly how, but Remus is still alive and Merlin, I'm glad that it has turned out to be like this. You have to look after them now Harry, your godfather has a tendency to over-estimate his strength. Why don't you go down into the infirmary and tell him to sleep a little?"
He had smiled at Harry. "And if there is anything you need to talk about and don't want to bother Sirius or Remus with, just tell me. Anytime."
Harry had nodded and left.
This all had been three weeks ago now. In the meantime, the Ministry had found out the identity of the body that had been found in Remus' garden shelter. It had been a homeless muggle who had fallen into the hands of Lucius Malfoy. The tombstone with Remus' name on his grave had been removed and he had been given a proper funeral ceremony.
This morning, Harry and Sirius had returned home with Remus. He had recovered quite well over the weeks, one of the fortunate aspects of being a werewolf was that his body healed a lot quicker, but he was still weak. Also, Harry had heard him wake up at night several times, screaming as the reminders of his imprisonment haunted his dreams. He was far from being able to live on his own again yet. Besides, Remus' cottage was far beyond repair and Harry knew that Sirius thought about talking him into moving to his house completely.
Dumbledore had allowed Harry to go home for at least two weeks and Harry knew that he wanted him to digest everything in a familiar surrounding as well as to have an eye on Sirius.
Harry sat at the kitchen table and looked over into the living room. What he saw there made him smile.
Remus slept on the sofa, a blanket spread across his body. Sirius sat next to him, Remus' head on a pillow in his lap. Sirius too had fallen asleep and his head had fallen onto his chest.
Sirius had not left Remus' side for more than an hour or so during the past weeks and even now he had refused to bring him into his bedroom.
Harry knew that if he had done so, he would have checked on him every ten minutes. Sirius still could hardly believe that all this was real, that his friend really was alive and his biggest fear was waking up and realizing that it had all been a dream. So he stayed with Remus as much as possible.
Harry knew hardly anything about what had happened to Remus during his imprisonment at Malfoy Manor and judging after what he had seen he didn't really want to know. They would tell him when they thought it was right, Harry could wait.
Harry smiled again and put his teacup into the sink. Then he went over into the living room and sat down in an armchair beside the two men on the sofa.
It would take time, but they'd get over it, Harry knew for sure. Both Sirius and Remus had seen tough times before and together they would get through this as well.
The thought that those two exhausted men on the sofa were his family made Harry feel all warm inside. It felt right.
He closed his eyes.
When Remus was doing better he would ask Sirius to take him to Godric's Hollow and to his parents' graves. He felt ready for this, now that he knew there were people who really cared for him, who would stand beside him whatever happened.
He was ready to leave his past behind, though of course there were some parts which he would always carry around with him, like the memory of his parents.
But he would leave all the anger, fear and hatred behind and would look into the future.
Voldemort was still out there and Harry felt that this would not have been the last time he had threatened his life and the lives of those he cared for. But looking once more onto the sleeping forms of Remus and Sirius, Harry knew that together they somehow would get through it.