Black & Red by CharmHazel



Summary: Raised by his godfather, following the events of Halloween 1981, Harry spends his childhood, hidden from the Wizarding World, preparing to face his destiny. However, his world is turned upside down when he reunites with the beautiful redhead he rescued down in the Chamber.
Rating: PG starstarstarstarhalf-star
Categories: Alternate Universe
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2020.05.02
Updated: 2021.06.15


Index

Chapter 1: A Different Decision
Chapter 2: An Unexpected Task
Chapter 3: A Long Awaited Reunion
Chapter 4: An Unexpected Find
Chapter 5: Truth and Explanation
Chapter 6: Reluctant Departure
Chapter 7: Seeking Advice
Chapter 8: Secret Meetings
Chapter 9: The First Steps
Chapter 10: A Change in Plans
Chapter 11: An Awkward Christmas
Chapter 12: Breaking News
Chapter 13: Unexpected Defeats
Chapter 14: A Change in Power


Chapter 1: A Different Decision

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for her brilliant editing and help with Hagrid's speech. (Edited 10/07/2021)


October 1981…

How could he have done this? Why did he betray them? How had he managed to fool them all for as long as he did? Had they ever truly known him?

Sirius pushed down the anger he could feel welling up inside of him, knowing that now was not the time to go running off to find Peter. He needed to find out if his best friends and godson had survived their encounter with Voldemort, but just looking at the huge gaping hole in the roof, where he knew Harry’s room was, he could tell that it was highly unlikely that any of them had. Even so, he needed to confirm it before he went after that traitorous rat who had fooled them all.

“Sirius?”

Tearing his gaze from the roof, Sirius’ eyes moved towards the front door to find Rubeus Hagrid, a fellow member of the Order of the Phoenix, moving towards him. It looked like there was something in Hagrid’s arms, but Sirius was unable to tell due to the sheer size of the man walking along the garden path.

“Are they…” Sirius started to ask but a lump quickly formed in his throat, forcing the end of the question back down.

“Lily and James didn’t make it, but Harry here somehow survived whatever happened in his room.”

Sirius immediately shifted his gaze to the bundle the half-giant was carrying, shocked to see a mess of black hair that he knew belonged to his precious godson. He quickly glanced back up to the hole in the roof and wondered how Harry had managed to survive the destruction that had been caused.

“Pa, Pa,” a tiny voice came, pulling his attention back to the bundle in Hagrid’s arms.

Sirius couldn’t help the small smile that graced his lips as he heard the name Harry had come to call him in past few months. Padfoot was too big and hard a word for a child his age to say, especially when he was still learning to talk, and his vocabulary was extremely limited. However, the smile disappeared the moment he caught sight of a lightning-shaped cut on the forehead of his godson.

Moving nearer to Hagrid, he conjured a cloth and carefully cleaned the cut clean of the blood and dust covering it. He carefully looked at the cut, intrigued by its shape. His healing skills were limited at best, but something told him that even the best Healer would not be able to rid his godson of the cut that now resided on his forehead. Shaking the thoughts away, he Banished the cloth and took his godson into his arms, who immediately curled into his godfather’s chest.

“What are you doing here, Hagrid?” Sirius asked as he turned his attention back to the half-giant.

“I’m here on orders from Professor Dumbledore,” Hagrid explained. “He notified me about an hour ago, saying something had happened at the Potter’s house and he needed me ter come find out what had happened and see if anyone had survived. He told
me ter meet him in Surrey at an address he gave me if Harry was alive.”

Sirius knew Dumbledore was considering placing Harry with his relatives as he knew Petunia, Lily’s sister lived there. He knew they were Muggles who didn’t like magic, James had told him as much, but they could keep Harry safe while he went and apprehended Peter for his betrayal. He knew it was a risk to go after the rat. There were too many unknowns now when it came to dealing with his so-called friend and if he didn’t play it right, it could end with him being taken away from Harry.

“Pa, Pa.”

Sirius glanced down at the little boy in his arms, who was starting to drift off to sleep, and he knew in that moment he needed to put Harry first. He couldn’t be making reckless decisions anymore and going after Peter would be doing exactly that. He had to keep his promise to James and Lily that, no matter what happened, Harry would always come first. He loved this little boy more than life itself and he knew he would do anything to protect him.

“No, Harry won’t be going to his relatives. I’m his godfather and he is my responsibility now.”

Sirius paused, waiting for Hagrid to protest, knowing he would want to follow the orders he was given from the headmaster.

“Where will you go?” came the unexpected reply.

Sirius looked up at the half-giant, surprised to see a glimmer of understanding in his eyes.

“James and Lily made me set up an additional safe house that only I and one other person alive know about. They wanted to make sure Harry would remain protected if they died.”

Sirius choked as the reminder of the fact that his best friends had been killed slammed into him. He didn’t know how he and Harry were going to survive without them, but he knew he was going to try his hardest to give his godson the best life he could, even if they were in hiding.

“What will I tell Dumbledore?” Hagrid asked once he could see the grieving man had regained his composure. “He was insistent that Harry was to go to his relatives.”

“Tell him I will be in contact with him in a few days’ time once Harry and I are settled at our new home. I will need to speak to him as he was not aware of everything James and Lily had planned to protect Harry, but make it known that they were insistent that Harry did not go to his relatives, unless it was the only option available.”

The conversation with Dumbledore would be unavoidable as most people, including the headmaster, believed himself to be the Secret Keeper for the Potters. He knew, then, that he would have to remain at the safe house with Harry until it was made known who the real traitor was “ Peter Pettigrew “ and he could safely leave the house without fear of being arrested. That meant he would need to notify his Secret Keeper that he would be at the house and that they would need to reveal the location so Dumbledore could meet with him.

“I need you to also pass on a message to Professor McGonagall for me.”

Sirius carefully passed a sleeping Harry over to Hagrid to hold and then proceeded to summon a piece of parchment and a quill. He caught them easily and he quickly wrote a note stating where he was going and what he needed the Transfiguration teacher to do for him.

“Please make sure you give this to her the moment you see her,” he asked Hagrid as he passed the note to him.

Hagrid gave him a nod in understanding as he placed the note securely in his pocket.

“Could you hold Harry for a few more minutes?” Sirius asked just as Hagrid went to pass Harry back to him. “I need to Summon a few things of Harry’s before we leave.”

Hagrid held onto Harry as requested as Sirius raised his wand and immediately Summoned a bag to place the items in that he didn’t want to leave behind. Then, in quick succession, he Summoned into the bag several items, including clothing, a toy broom, several stuffed toys and a few framed photos he knew Harry would appreciate when he was older. Satisfied that he had everything he wanted from the house, while also knowing the essentials were already stocked at their safe house, he zipped up the bag and put it over his shoulder.

“We’d better be going,” Sirius said as he took Harry into his arms and placed him in the baby carrier he had also Summoned. “I don’t want to be here with Harry when the Aurors inevitably get here to investigate what has happened.”

Sirius turned away from the half-giant and began to walk towards the gate.

“Sirius!”

The wizard paused and turned his head to look back, carefully keeping his eyes on Hagrid to avoid looking at the house where his friends had died.

“Will yeh be okay?”

Sirius nodded as he replied, “We will be eventually.”

Even though it looked like Hagrid wanted to say something else, Sirius looked back to where he was heading and moved towards the gate once again before anything else could be said.

“Just please pass that note onto Professor McGonagall, Hagrid,” Sirius called out as he finally reached the gate and left the property. He quickly moved to his motorbike that was parked across the lane from the house, wanting to leave the area before anyone could stop them.

Before he settled onto the bike, he made sure Harry was secured and cast a number of charms to protect the baby while they travelled. Once he had cast his own charms to protect himself while travelling, he jumped on the bike, turned it on and drove away, not once looking back at the village.

HP&GW

It was about an hour later when Sirius finally pulled his motorbike onto the lane that led to the safehouse. As he drove through the wards, he felt a bit of tension drain away from his body at the knowledge that he and Harry were now safe and hidden from anyone who could cause them harm.

The wards surrounding the cottage were the strongest wards that could be used around a property and the best that money could buy from the warding team at Gringotts. The Fidelius Charm had obviously been used with only himself and Professor McGonagall, their Secret Keeper, being aware where the property was. The goblins had added a number of complicated wards that used magical signatures that would only allow select people, specifically those that did not carry the Dark Mark and those who did not mean them harm, to cross the wards onto the property. The sheer number of wards that had been used meant that this was currently the safest place they could be, and Sirius wished that James and Lily had used them too as it would have meant them having more time to escape once Voldemort had been able to get through the Fidelius.

Looking down at the sleeping child, who was still comfortably strapped to his chest, Sirius could only sigh in defeat at a now unachievable wish. He knew his friends had refused the idea of the additional wards for multiple reasons, one of which they had refused to reveal. They had chosen this option to make sure Harry would have somewhere safe to live, far from prying eyes and from those who wished him further harm. He could only hope, therefore, that their decision would be fully revealed to him in some way now that the worst-case scenario had come to pass.

Sirius shook the thoughts from his head and focused on what needed to be done now “ taking care of his precious godchild. He finally climbed off the motorbike and headed into the small cottage that would now be their home.

The house had been chosen specifically for its location, far from any villages or towns, with their nearest neighbour being a good couple of miles away. The property had plenty of land, with James specifically stating, when they had found the house, that he wanted to build a mini Quidditch pitch when Harry was old enough, something Sirius knew he, himself, would make happen. The house had everything that they could need, having been fully furnished and set up so it was ready for use if they needed to use it. He knew James had come out here once a week to check on the house and to add any additional things, like food, that would be needed.

On reaching Harry’s room, Sirius stood in the doorway and took a look at the layout of the room. He had not seen the room since he came with James to take a look at the house, ahead of his friend buying the property. He couldn’t help the small smile that appeared on his face as he realised that James had made sure the room was a complete replica of Harry’s room in Godric’s Hollow. It seemed James had wanted the transition for his son to be as smooth as possible.

Sirius felt Harry begin to stir, causing him to finally move into the room and over to the changing table. He quickly and carefully removed Harry from the carrier onto the table. Luckily, Harry settled back down, making it easier for Sirius to clean the child up and change his clothes and nappy before he transferred him into the cot.

He remained by the cot watching over his godson as he slept. He didn’t know how he was going to manage suddenly becoming the parental figure in Harry’s life, but he knew he would manage somehow, because James and Lily trusted and believed in him to do so. He also knew it meant that he would be responsible for protecting Harry if Voldemort ever returned, something Dumbledore had been adamant would happen if he was defeated too soon. If Dumbledore’s guess was correct, and it most definitely would be, then Voldemort would more than likely come after Harry in retaliation for what had happened tonight. Therefore, Sirius needed to make sure that Harry could fight when the time came.

Grateful that Harry had settled down without any problems, Sirius finally left his godson’s room and headed to the bathroom to clean himself up.

Once clean and changed into fresh clothes, Sirius headed back downstairs and into the living room, where he proceeded to collapse onto the sofa. The silence of the house didn’t ease the heartbreak he felt deep within him and before he could gain control of his emotions, the tears began flowing from eyes. Knowing it was no use to ignore his grief, he allowed himself to fully succumb to it as he wept for the loss of his closest friends.

Back to index


Chapter 2: An Unexpected Task

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for the quick turn around on this chapter and for your amazing support as always. (Edited - 13/07/2021)


May 1993…

“Thank you, Fawkes. I shall call for you when I need you again.”

Albus Dumbledore watched as his companion flamed away before beginning his brisk walk down the lane to the house he wished to visit.

It had been nearly twelve years since he had last visited, having remained away out of respect for the owner and his godson. Sirius Black and Harry Potter had lived here since the night Harry’s parents, James and Lily, had been killed by Lord Voldemort. It had kept them safe and hidden from the rest of the wizarding world all these years, with only a very small number of people being aware of the location.

He had been shocked to learn that his groundskeeper, Rubeus Hagrid, had willingly allowed Sirius to take Harry with him, but Minerva McGonagall had told him that she was well aware of where the pair had gone and knew that they were well hidden. She made clear that, while she had not been given the secret of where the Potters had been hidden, she was well aware of whom the Secret Keeper had been. His Transfiguration professor had then made it clear that he was not to meddle and that he was to do everything within his power to make sure Sirius’ name was cleared and guardianship of Harry was secured for him. Admittedly, Minerva may have also had some choice words for him when he had asked for the secret of the property’s location that had made an impact on him deciding to stay away from the property for all these years.

Albus had done as he had been asked. He had come to the house and spoken to Sirius about the events of that night, shocked to discover that Peter Pettigrew had been the spy within their midst. They came to an agreement that he would leave the pair alone, hidden from the world, allowing Sirius to raise Harry without interference. He, in turn, had made sure Sirius’ name had been cleared “ Minerva having given sworn testimony under Veritaserum that Peter was the Secret Keeper for the Potters “ and officially declared as Harry’s guardian. After that, they’d had no contact with one another until Harry was sent his acceptance letter to Hogwarts.

Sirius had appeared at the school to speak to the Headmaster, uncertain as to whether he should allow Harry to attend the school. The pair had spoken for several hours, going back and forth on what the best course of action would be. That was until Albus had let slip that he had agreed to look after a precious artefact of Nicolas Flamel that coming school year. Sirius had stood, told him that Harry would not be attending the school under any circumstances, and had left his office immediately. He had not heard from the man since.

Now, Albus found himself with a situation at the school that he required help with and the only person he knew could help was young Harry himself, something he knew would not go down well with Sirius. He knew Harry was aware of the prophecy, why his parents had been killed and why he was called the Boy Who Lived, but Sirius had made it clear that Harry would remain away from any potential problems until he was in a position where he could face a Death Eater and survive. How was he going to convince the man to allow Harry to help, especially when time was of the essence?

He knocked on the door the moment he reached it and waited. It wasn’t long before the door opened to reveal a young boy that looked like the spitting image of James Potter, but with the eyes of Lily Potter.

“Hello, Professor Dumbledore,” the boy said, recognising the man his godfather had told him so much about.

“Hello, Harry,” Albus replied in kind. “Would it be possible to speak to your godfather? A matter of urgency has arisen that I require help with.”

“Let me just get him for you, Sir.”

Albus watched as Harry disappeared into the house.

“Dad,” Albus heard Harry say, much to his confusion. He could only wonder when the relationship had shifted to that of father and son. Sirius had not mentioned the change the last time they had spoken.

“Professor Dumbledore, what a surprise,” Sirius said as he came to the door. “Please, come on inside.”

Albus entered the house, looking around at how much it had changed in the past twelve years. It had changed from a house with only the basic furnishings to one that felt homely and full of love. He smiled as he walked past a wall full of photos of Harry, ranging from just after he was born to more recently.

“What can I do for you, Albus?” Sirius asked as he indicated to the headmaster to take a seat.

“I have come to ask for your help, Sirius,” he replied. “A matter of great urgency has come up at the school and I require assistance that I believe, right now, only your godson can provide.”

“Me?” Harry asked, confused at what he could possibly provide that no one else could, even one of the greatest wizards to ever live.

Albus looked towards Harry, having not realised the young wizard had followed them into the living room.

“Yes, you, Harry,” Albus responded. “I believe your godfather informed you of the events that led to you living here with him.”

Harry nodded in confirmation.

“Sirius informed me during our last conversation that you were able to communicate with snakes,” Albus continued. “That talent is what we call Parseltongue. It’s rare and it is generally a trait that is hereditary.”

“My dad said that my parents didn’t have the talent and that he thinks I somehow gained the talent from Voldemort the night he tried to kill me.”

Albus looked to Sirius, surprised he had informed Harry of that small piece of information.

“As I told you, the last time we spoke, I refuse to keep secrets from Harry,” Sirius said defensively.

Albus could only nod in response, not wishing to start an argument when time was of the essence.

“I require the talent of a Parselmouth to open an entrance to a secret chamber that has long thought to be just a legend,” Albus continued on. “A young girl has been taken down there and could potentially lose her life if we do not gain entry.”

“Why are we sitting here talking then?” Harry demanded to know as he jumped up from where he had been sitting. “The longer we sit here, the more chance there is that she will die.”

Sirius looked as though he was going to argue with Harry about heading into something dangerous, but at the last second, he set his eyes upon Albus and demanded that he informed them of the situation. Albus quickly gave them an overview of the events of the past year, of how a number of students had been Petrified, the message that had appeared on a wall proclaiming how the Chamber of Secrets had been reopened, how there were no clues to how it was done or who the culprit was. He explained how he had been forced from the school by the governors before he could discover the truth. He confirmed he had discovered the answer earlier that evening and had been about to head to the school when he had received an urgent message from Minerva McGonagall informing him that a girl had been taken down into the Chamber of Secrets.

“How did you figure it out, Sir?” Harry asked.

“A ghost, known as Moaning Myrtle, haunts the very same bathroom where the messages have appeared,” Dumbledore told the younger wizard. “It wasn’t until Hagrid was taken away to Azkaban that I thought to speak to her. Even then, I was denied the chance to do so as I was forced from my position as headmaster. Professor McGonagall spoke to her on my behalf and passed along that she remembered a hissing noise and two yellow eyes. It wasn’t much, but I finally made the connection earlier today.”

“Is it a Basilisk?” Harry innocently asked to Dumbledore’s shock. “Dad gave me a book on snakes after we discovered I could speak to them.”

“It is,” he confirmed for the young wizard. “Now, unless you have any more objections, Sirius, I really do insist on us making a move. I do not wish to delay any longer as we are unaware of just how long the student has been down there.”

Sirius could find no argument to stop Harry from going to help, but he knew he needed to lay some ground rules.

“Harry, you have to promise me that you will listen and follow anything either myself or Professor Dumbledore ask of you?” Sirius asked as the wizards stood to leave.

Harry nodded as he said, “I promise.”

Sirius pulled his son into a rough hug before turning to Dumbledore and stating, “Let’s go, then.”

HP&GW

Harry couldn’t stop the gasp that escaped his lips as he saw the writing on the wall of the corridor. A feeling of dread filled him as he took in the words, ‘Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber for ever’. He didn’t think they had much time to be standing around if they were going to prevent those words from coming true.

“Tell me again, Dumbledore, what you know,” Sirius demanded. The anger that laced his voice told Harry that his godfather suspected that they had only been given the basic facts of what had happened over this past school year.

While he knew Sirius would be mad at him for wandering off without him, Harry decided to head through the door opposite the message and into the girls’ bathroom in hopes of finding the ghost Professor Dumbledore had mentioned to them.

“Ooh, who are you?”

Harry turned in the direction of the voice to see the ghost of young Hogwarts student floating just inside one of the stalls of the bathroom.

“I’m Harry,” he replied kindly. “You must be Myrtle.”

“How do you know my name?” she replied as she floated over to where Harry stood. “I have never seen you around the school. Are you even a student here?”

“No, I don’t go to school here, but Professor Dumbledore told me about you after he asked me to come and help him with something. Can I ask how you came to be a ghost here at this school, in this bathroom?”

“Ooh, no one ever asks me about how I died!” the ghost exclaimed in excitement. “It happened right here in this very bathroom.”

Harry listened patiently as she explained how she had been hiding from Olive Hornby when she heard a hissing noise. She had left the stall she had been sat in to find out what the noise was only to see two big yellow eyes and die.

“Do you remember roughly where you saw those eyes?” Harry asked, knowing the entrance had to be in the bathroom somewhere.

“Over here,” Myrtle said as she floated over to the sinks.

Even though he was not certain about what exactly he was looking for, he knew there had to be some sort of clue as to where the entrance was. That’s when he spotted the small snake on one of the sinks and the reason Dumbledore had requested him then became clear. They would need a Parselmouth to gain entry.

Harry took a step back and hissed, “Open!

There was a low rumbling noise as the sink shifted and moved to reveal a pipe large enough for him to climb into. However, before he did so, he turned back round to the ghost.

“Myrtle, did you see a young girl come into this bathroom and enter this pipe?” Harry asked as Dumbledore and Sirius finally entered the room.

“Yes, she has been here and gone in there several times over the last several months,” Myrtle confirmed. “It’s funny, though, as it always seemed like she struggled to open entrance. It was never like the way you just did it.”

Harry nodded, recognising the useful piece information Myrtle had just given him, before he turned back to the entrance.

“Harry?” Sirius said, but before he could ask his godson what they had spoken about or how he had found the entrance, Harry jumped inside the pipe and disappeared from view.

HP&GW

Harry arrived at the bottom of the pipe with a thud, landing on the damp stone floor. He quickly stood and dusted himself off before grabbing his wand and lighting it to see more clearly in the dark tunnels.

Moving his wand around to help take in his surroundings, he quickly spotted what looked like a body lying on the ground. It appeared to be too big for it to be the girl they had come down to rescue. He quickly moved over to the body and turned it over to discover it was a man, perhaps a teacher.

“HARRY!”

“I’m over here,” Harry called out, not taking his eyes off the man lying unconscious on the floor.

The footsteps of the other two wizards became louder as they neared the younger wizard. Within seconds, Harry had pulled into a rough hug by his godfather.

“Why did you just jump into that pipe without telling us what was going on?” Sirius demanded as he pulled back to check Harry over for any injuries.

“Because I am not going to hang around talking while someone’s life is on the line,” Harry replied stubbornly. “Plus, I discovered someone unconscious on the ground behind me.”

Dumbledore quickly moved forward and knelt down next to the body.

“This is Gilderoy Lockhart, our Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” he noted. “I was not aware he had gone missing before coming to your house. Perhaps he will be able to give us some more information about what has happened here, this evening.”

Sirius and Harry watched as Dumbledore revived his teacher.

“Gilderoy?” Dumbledore asked as the man finally opened his eyes and looked round, seemingly unable to focus on any one thing.
“Gilderoy? I need you to focus on me, I need to know how you came to be here.”

“Here?” the wizard finally responded. “Where is here? Who are you? Who am I?”

Dumbledore didn’t respond as he appeared to be keeping eye contact with the confused wizard.

“Oh dear, it appears that he has completely lost his memories.”

Sirius chuckled, “Well, to be brought down by the one spell he loves to use regularly, isn’t that just ironic?”

“Sirius, if you can take Gilderoy to the hospital wing, while I continue on with Harry.”

“Of course,” Sirius replied as he looked round to speak to Harry, only discover he was no longer there. “Damn it, Harry snuck off while we were distracted.”

HP&GW

Harry barely took in his surroundings as he rushed into the chamber through the gap where the wall had parted. The only thing he truly noticed was the greenish haze that seemed to fill the area. He only came to a sudden pause when he reached a huge statue of a wizard, who he assumed to be Salazar Slytherin.

There, at the bottom of the statue, lay the body of the student he had come to help rescue. The girl was lying face down on the floor of the chamber, her long red hair scattered as it covered any sign of her face.

Harry ran over, skidding to a stop next to the girl. He fell to his knees, dropping his wand to the floor as he did so, and carefully rolled the missing student over. She was so pale and barely breathing. He didn’t even know this girl, but the very thought that she could die because he was too late immediately weighed upon his heart.

“Come on, please, I need you to wake up,” Harry begged as he gently tapped her cheek with his hand. “Please!”

“She won’t wake,” a voice said from behind Harry, one he knew did not belong to either Sirius or Professor Dumbledore.

Harry twisted himself slightly as he turned his head to see who it was that was talking to him. There, behind him, was another boy “ tall with black hair “ who didn’t look quite right, which gave Harry an uneasy feeling.

“Who are you?” Harry questioned the unknown boy. “I wasn’t aware of any other student being brought down here into the chamber.”

“I wasn’t brought down here against my will,” the boy replied as he moved slightly closer to where Harry knelt. “I came down here with little Ginny Weasley, who is helping me with a special project.”

The comment immediately raised Harry’s suspicions that this boy was somehow behind whatever had been happening at the school this past year and was also responsible for the state that Ginny Weasley was currently in. As the boy continued moving nearer, Harry realised he didn’t seem complete as a weird, misty light shone around him.

“Again, who are you and what have you done to Ginny?” Harry demanded to know as he went to pick up his wand which no longer appeared to be where he dropped it.

“Looking for this?” the boy asked as he held up the wand for Harry to see.

“Yes, thank you,” Harry replied quickly, holding out his hand for the boy to return it.

“Oh, I won’t be giving it back to you. I shall be needing it very shortly once Ginny has completed her task.”

Harry stood up, ready to do whatever he needed to get his wand back and Ginny out of this chamber.

“You see, Ginny here has been helping me to regain my body,” the boy spoke, not paying attention to Harry’s movements. “I attended this school many years ago and I learnt many things, including how to preserve my memory in a diary. A diary that Ginny received and began writing in. She spilled her secrets, her wishes, her desires to me. She revealed her loneliness, her sadness at being ignored by her brothers. The more she poured her heart out to me, the more powerful I became until I was able to bring her down here and create this form, one that is nearly complete.”

As the boy spoke, Harry’s eyes were roaming the floor around him and Ginny, looking for the diary that had been mentioned. Somehow, he knew it needed to be destroyed, but he needed to find it first.

“Once I have regained this form, I can finish off what I know needs to be done for me to truly take my place in our world. Little Ginny Weasley was extremely helpful in filling me in about what has happened in the past fifty years, especially about the defeat of Lord Voldemort. It seems that Ginny was fascinated by the child who somehow managed to defeat the greatest wizard to ever live by sheer luck.”

“He is NOT the greatest wizard to ever live,” Harry retaliated. “Albus Dumbledore is considered the greatest wizard in the world. The whole wizarding world believes and knows this to be true!”

“Except he is not here, now, is he?” the boy hissed in response. “No, he has been driven from the castle and nothing he can do can prevent me from returning. And now, I intend to end the life of Harry Potter once I am in a position to leave this wretched place for good.”

Harry’s jaw dropped in shock. He knew Voldemort had not been destroyed that night in Godric’s Hollow and that he would one day return. However, it seemed that day had already come, and he needed to find a way to delay the wizard’s return.

“You’re Lord Voldemort,” Harry spoke confidently.

“Yes, I am,” came the response from the boy. “Though, Ginny here knows me by my former name “ Tom Riddle.”

“It seems your chance to destroy Harry Potter has come a little sooner than expected, Tom,” Harry replied, determined to call this boy by his original given name. “Nice to meet you, Tom. I’m Harry Potter.”

Before Tom could respond, music suddenly filled the chamber. The sound spread through Harry, giving him hope and courage that he could do what needed to be done.

A giant bird flew through into the chamber, a bird Harry recognised to be a Phoenix, and circled around Harry for a few seconds before it dropped a ragged-looking hat at his feet.

Harry bent down and picked up the hat, unsure why he had been given it. He did, however, recognise it as the school’s Sorting Hat, something Sirius had told him about whenever he had told stories about his and his parent’s time at Hogwarts.

“The Sorting Hat?” Tom Riddle questioned. “I am not quite sure how that will help you survive, Harry Potter. Shall we see if you survive against my little pet?”

Riddle turned towards the large statue and hissed, “Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four.

Harry understood the words Tom Riddle spoke perfectly and knew instantly that he had called forth the Basilisk. He wasn’t quite sure how he was meant to defeat the giant snake, stop Tom Riddle and save Ginny Weasley, but he knew he needed to try. The only thing he could think of to do at that moment was to put some distance between himself and the Basilisk to give himself time to figure out what he was going to do.

HP&GW

Harry picked up the diary and studied it with fascination, wondering how one book could cause so much damage. It was certainly something that would interest the headmaster, especially considering it had belonged a teenaged Voldemort.

A groan caused Harry to pocket the diary and look over to where Ginny Weasley was starting to come round. He picked up the Sorting Hat and the sword before quickly making his way over to the young girl, intent on making sure she was okay. Once he had reached her, he dropped to his knees just as she sat up and looked around, confused as to where she was.

“Oh,” the young witch gasped when Harry came into her view, causing her to shuffle away in fear.

“No, please, don’t be scared of me,” Harry quickly said, desperate to ease her fears. “The Basilisk is dead; the diary has been destroyed and Tom has gone. He can’t hurt you anymore.”

Ginny looked around the chamber again, making sure to really take in what was around her. The Basilisk lay there, dead, just as the boy said. There was no sign of Tom, who she had seen start to come out of the diary just before she collapsed and lost consciousness. However, she couldn’t see the diary.

“The diary?” she questioned, turning back to the stranger.

“Here,” Harry said as he pulled the book from his pocket and held it out for the girl to see. “I used a Basilisk fang to destroy it. Tom disappeared the moment I drove the fang into it.”

Ginny stared at the diary, not responding to the boy’s words, before she burst into tears. What she didn’t expect was the feel of arms wrapping round her and pulling her into a warm, and much needed, hug.

“Everything that has happened this past school year,” Harry gently said after a few minutes, “it isn’t your fault. I don’t know everything, just what I was told by Professor Dumbledore and what I was able to gleam from Tom’s ramblings. I know enough to know that the very fact you have survived an encounter with one of the darkest wizards to walk this earth means you are a strong witch!”

“He was a Dark Wizard?” Ginny asked, pulling away to allow herself to see her rescuer’s face.

“Tom Riddle, the boy who befriended you through the diary, was the wizard we know today as Lord Voldemort. He killed my parents when I was a baby, he destroyed so many lives before that, and you only met a memory of him from when he was still in school. It seems he was just as evil then as he was at the height of the war.”

“He killed your parents?” Ginny repeated as she studied the face of the boy sat next to her. There was something about his face that she recognised, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. “Who are you?”

“I’m Harry,” Harry told her. “I was told your name is Ginny Weasley.”

“Yes, it is,” she responded absently as she continued studying Harry’s face. Then, she spotted the biggest sign as to just who Harry was “ his famed lightning bolt scar. “Oh, Merlin!”

Ginny shuffled away from Harry again, mortified at who he was and the fact he had rescued her from near-certain death. Her brothers would tease her mercilessly if they found out that her childhood crush had been the one to risk his life for her.

“Please,” Harry begged as he realised she knew who he was. “Don’t be embarrassed; I hate the title everyone calls me. I am just a normal boy “ just Harry! The only difference between me and other boys my age, bar my stupid title, is that I am home-schooled and don’t actually have any friends my own age.”

Harry looked away in shame at having admitted the one thing Sirius had never been able to provide for him. He didn’t resent his godfather for keeping him away from the public eye or the lack of people in their lives as he knew it was for his own protection. He couldn’t resent his godfather for any of that when he now called him Dad, something they had both agreed his actual father would be happy about, all thanks to the relationship they had developed.

“I’ll be your friend,” a small voice said, breaking through Harry’s thoughts.

Harry turned back to see that Ginny had crawled closer to him. “I’d like that. Perhaps, maybe, I could write to you.”

Ginny smiled, “I’d like that, too. It would be nice to be able to write to someone who knows and understands what happened down here. I don’t know if my family are going to be happy with me when they find out what I have done. Tom said they would hate me for all the horrible things I did on his behalf this year.”

Harry wrapped Ginny in his arms again as he firmly told her, “It isn’t your fault! Your family won’t hate you, especially once they know the truth. They will still love you! I suspect your parents, at least, will be waiting for you when we get out of here! I know there was a lot of people worried about you when I arrived at the school.”

Ginny pulled away from Harry, tears still swimming in her eyes, and stood up, ready to leave the chamber and face the teachers and her family.

“Remember,” Harry said as he stood up and took her hand in his, “you are going to be fine and, no matter what happens, I will back you up and support you, because you’re my friend.”

Ginny simply nodded as her eyes watched the Phoenix that was flying around the ceiling of the chamber.

“Hold my hand tightly,” Harry said to her as his grip on her hand tightened. “I think the phoenix is going to help us get out of the chamber.”

Just as Harry finished what he was saying, the phoenix swooped down, grasped Harry’s shoulder and flamed the pair away from the chamber.

Back to index


Chapter 3: A Long Awaited Reunion

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for your brilliant editing skills! (Edited - 13/07/2021)


July 1995…

The Weasley Family, minus Percy, Charlie and Bill, shuffled through the front door and into the dark hallway of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. It was clear to them, from the run-down state of this one room, that the house had not been lived in for an awfully long time. Even though, they knew they were in the right house, having been divulged the secret of its location, they could feel the darkness seeping through the entire building.

The family were startled when the door shut behind them and a voice addressed them from the staircase.

“My apologies.”

The family turned to see Sirius Black halfway down the stairs.

“It’s been a long time since anyone has lived here. The house-elf has not continued to keep this place anywhere near habitable. However, given the darkness of it, I doubt anyone would think to look for any of us here.”

Sirius finished walking down the stairs and approached Arthur and Molly, greeting them warmly, much to Fred’s, George’s and Ron’s confusion. None of them were even aware that their parents knew this man or even when they could have possibly met him. So, it was an even bigger shock when the man turned to greet their sister.

“Hello, Ginny,” he said kindly to the youngest Weasley as he gave her a quick hug. “It’s good to see you, again.”

“Is Harry here?” she asked, looking behind Sirius in hopes that her friend would be there waiting to greet her.

While they had not seen each other in two years, after Harry had rescued her from the Chamber of Secrets, they had written to each other on a near-daily basis. They had spoken of everything and anything, from the most mundane things to the deeply personal things they knew they would never share with anyone but each other. They had wanted to visit each other during the summer when Ginny was home from Hogwarts, but something had always come up that had made it impossible for their parents to make it happen.

“He’s in his bedroom, hopefully sleeping,” Sirius answered, concern lacing his words. “He has not been sleeping all that well for the last couple of weeks. Don’t worry, though, he is definitely eager to see his best friend.”

Ginny beamed at the older man’s words as it sent a shiver through her spine at being called Harry’s best friend. They had never said in their letters that they consider themselves as best friends, but for Ginny, at least, she knew deep down that they were.

“Right, let’s get out of this gloomy hallway,” Sirius said, now addressing the entire group. “Not that the rest of the house is much better. Molly, I hope it’s not too much trouble if I ask if you could help me with the task of cleaning this house, perhaps even providing some suggestions for how we could decorate.”

“I would be honoured,” the Weasley Matriarch replied. “I doubt that we will get it all done before the kids go back to school, but I think we could possibly do a clear out and a thorough clean in that time.”

“Sounds good to me. Now, let me show you to your rooms and then, I will give you all a tour of the house.”

Sirius led the family up the stairs, grateful the mounted heads of their former house-elves no longer lined the walls. With each floor they climbed, he showed another Weasley to the bedroom they would be using throughout their stay at Grimmauld Place. He had placed Ron in one of the bedrooms on the second floor and the twins and Molly and Arthur on the third floor, the same floor his bedroom was located.

“As you can see,” Sirius said as he showed Molly and Arthur their room, “the bedrooms have all been cleaned out, but are in dire need of decorating.”

“Well, it is certainly better than I had expected after seeing just the hallway,” Arthur said with a slight chuckle as he walked into the bedroom.

“Molly, would you like to see where Ginny will be sleeping?” Sirius asked before she could follow her husband. While he was very much aware of the fact that the Weasleys had rejected the old ways that many Purebloods followed, he knew that Molly was protective of her children, especially her only daughter.

“That would be very appreciated,” she replied. “I am assuming that it is up on the next floor?”

Sirius simply nodded before leading the two female Weasleys up the last flight of stairs to the fourth floor where only two doors were located.

“This is your room, Ginny,” Sirius said as he pointed to one of the doors. “It used to be my brother’s room and is actually the best kept room in the entire house. I have removed all the décor he personally added, but please let me know if there is anything else you would like to have removed.”

“Thank you,” Ginny politely replied.

Just as Sirius went to open the door to the bedroom, the noise of another door opening caused him, Ginny and Molly to turn round. There, peeking through a small gap, was a pair of startling green eyes; eyes Ginny knew she could never forget.

“Ginny?” a quiet voice inquired in surprise.

“Harry!” Ginny responded with her excitement obvious to the two adults.

The two teenagers stared at one another for a few seconds before Harry opened the door fully and exited his bedroom. He walked over to Ginny and wrapped her tightly in a hug, not acknowledging the fact that Sirius and his friend’s mum were stood in the hallway as well.

Harry and Ginny held onto each other for several seconds, both comfortable with the closeness, even though neither had seen one another in two years. When they finally let go, Harry grabbed Ginny’s hand, gently pulled her down the hallway and into his bedroom with the door closing behind them.

Sirius and Molly glanced at each other, neither surprised by what had just happened.

“If it helps,” Sirius said, breaking the silence, “I figured they would want to turn to one another if one of them had a nightmare and having this floor to themselves means they are less likely to disturb everyone. So, I placed a number of different wards and charms on this entire floor, among them some charms that will stop anything inappropriate from happening.”

Molly appeared to be surprised by Sirius’ actions as she asked him, “When did you realise those two liked each other?”

Sirius chuckled in response; glad he had not been the only one to notice how the two teenagers were beginning to fall for one another.

“Honestly? It probably wasn’t until a few days ago, when I told Harry that Ginny and your family would be coming to stay with us for the summer. He was so excited at the prospect of seeing your daughter. It was the only thing to make him smile after what he went through a few weeks ago. If it had been anyone else, I doubt he would have cared.”

“Did he get excited every time a letter arrived from Ginny?”

“Now I think about it, yes, he did,” he responded, wondering how he hadn’t realised that Harry was falling for Ginny before now. “He was always so excited to get a letter, always eager to read it as soon as possible. He hated the days when he didn’t get a letter or when he couldn’t write back promptly.”

“Ginny was the same,” Molly explained. “I would think, however, it would have been easy for you to overlook Harry beginning to have feelings for her, because their letters were the only contact that he had with someone of his own age. That’s not me criticising you, though. You did what you needed to do and that was to protect him.”

“I know,” Sirius sighed, desperately wishing he could have made Harry’s childhood a little better through giving his son friends of his own age.

“There’s no point dwelling on what could have been,” Molly told him gently as she looked to the door the two teenagers were behind.
“Let’s leave them to it. I doubt they are ready to be anything more than friends yet.”

Sirius stood there, frozen to the spot in shock, as he watched the Weasley matriarch enter the bedroom her daughter was to use.

“Don’t dawdle, Sirius,” Molly said with a slight chuckle as she came back out into the hallway without Ginny’s bag. “You still need to give me and my family a tour of this house.”

HP&GW

Harry dragged Ginny into his bedroom, closing the door on Molly and Sirius, and immediately wrapped his arms back around her. His heart was beating rapidly in excitement at having his best friend with him for the summer.

“I’m so happy to see you again, Gin,” Harry whispered, not wanting to let her out of his arms.

“I’m happy to see you as well,” Ginny responded, enjoying being held by her best friend.

The pair eventually pulled apart, allowing Ginny to get a proper look at Harry. She couldn’t help but notice the dark circles under his eyes, a clear indicator that he was not sleeping well and was more than likely suffering from nightmares.

“You’ve not been sleeping,” she quietly said as she ran a hand gently through his hair.

Harry looked away as though he was ashamed to admit what was happening to him.

Ginny sighed, figuring he might be reluctant to have someone help him. He had helped her through her nightmares throughout the summer after he had rescued her from the Chamber, so she was determined to repay him. At least, this time, she could do it in person, rather than via letters.

“It’s ok to admit you’re not sleeping,” she continued gently as she took Harry’s hand and led him over to his bed.

Harry’s eyes widened in shock as he watched Ginny climb onto his bed and made herself comfortable, using his pillows to cushion her back as she sat back against the headboard, her legs stretched out in front of her.

“Come and lay your head on my lap, Harry.”

Harry couldn’t believe what Ginny was asking him to do. They had not seen each other in two years and here she was asking him to lay his head on her lap. While he knew in his heart that she was his best friend, this, to him, was a big step to be taking, especially when her family were somewhere in the house.

“Harry, please, come and lay down,” she pleaded. “You helped me after what happened to me in the Chamber, so now it is time for me to return the favour. Please, let me help you the way you helped me.”

The sincerity in her eyes made it so Harry couldn’t refuse her. He knew that if anyone understood just how he was feeling and the weight of nightmares, it would be her.

“You know you are the best friend anyone could possibly ask for,” he told her as he climbed onto the bed, lay down and settled his head on her lap.

“We can discuss just why I am the best another time, Harry,” she said with a slight chuckle as an ecstatic feeling shot through her at being called his best friend. She began to gently run one of her hands through his messy locks in a similar manner her mum had always done for her and her brothers. “For now, you need to rest and relax.”

“Are you going to stay here even once I am asleep?” Harry asked, hating how vulnerable he sounded, but not wanting to be left alone while sleeping.

“I am not going anywhere, Harry.”

A couple of hours later, Harry slowly woke to the feeling of a small hand running through his hair. He couldn’t help the smile that appeared across his face at knowing Ginny had continued the soothing gesture even as he slept. While he didn’t want the redhead to stop, he twisted his body round so he could look up at her face.

“How did you get that book?” he asked sleepily as he noticed Ginny was now reading a book that she not had with her when he pulled her into his room.

Ginny immediately dropped the book in shock, having not felt Harry move his body due to being so invested in what she was reading.

“Harry, you’re awake,” she said, quickly calming herself from the unexpected question.

“I feel better for the nap,” he said before she could ask how he was feeling. “You want to tell me how you got the book when there is no way you could have moved without waking me?”

“I asked my mum to bring it to me when she came in and checked on us.”

Harry immediately panicked at the thought of Mrs Weasley having seen him curled up asleep with his head on the lap of her daughter.

“Oh, Harry,” Ginny said as she chuckled at her friend’s reaction to knowing her mum had seen them sat on a bed together, “my mum trusts us in a room with the door shut. Plus, you were asleep, and she told me Sirius would be happy to know you were getting some rest. Anyway, my mum was pleased to see me helping you.”

“Why would she be pleased?” Harry asked, slightly calmer now that he knew he wasn’t going to be hexed by his best friend’s mum.

“Well, she told me, before we came to your house, that it was my job, while we were here, to help you after everything you had been through,” Ginny carefully told him.

Harry didn’t say anything as he sat up, swung his legs over the edge of the bed and hunched over as he placed his head in his hands. He knew Ginny meant well, but he didn’t want to be reminded of what had happened to him. Even then, he was not entirely sure how much the Weasleys had been told before coming to Grimmauld Place.

“How much do you know about what happened to me?”

“Only the basics,” Ginny calmly informed him, having not yet moved from where she had spent the last couple of hours sitting. “I was told that you had been kidnapped and used in some kind of ritual that helped Voldemort regain his body.”

Ginny finally shifted from her spot on the bed and moved across so that she was knelt behind Harry. She tentatively wrapped her arms around his waist from behind, relaxing when she felt him grasp her hands, and rested her chin on his shoulder.

“You don’t have to tell me anything, not if you don’t want to,” she whispered into Harry’s ear. “I just want you to know that I am here and willing to listen if you ever need someone to talk to.”

For a moment, Ginny didn’t think Harry was going to say anything, and she would have been fine with that as she knew they had time to talk in the coming weeks. If he all needed at the moment was her physical presence, that was fine with her.

“I’m not even sure how it happened,” Harry suddenly spoke, finding strength from the warmth of his best friend’s body wrapped around his. “It all happened so suddenly. One moment I was flying on my broom, the next I was tied tightly to this statue in a graveyard. It’s all a blur. Dad said it looks like I accidentally flew through the wards surrounding our home, but even he is uncertain because he taught me where all the ward boundaries are.”

“Do you think, perhaps, someone managed to lure you out?”

“Maybe,” Harry replied uncertainly.

Neither one of them spoke for the moment as Harry allowed the guilt that had been wallowing inside him to consume him. No one seemed to be able to figure out how Harry had managed to cross the boundary.

“There was this cauldron in a space between all the graves with flames burning underneath,” Harry continued, pushing his guilt aside for the moment. “Then, Wormtail appeared, holding some sort of bundle in his arms.”

“Who’s Wormtail?” Ginny asked. She didn’t want to interrupt him, but Harry had always pushed her for more details when he felt it had been necessary and she had found it had helped to confront every detail.

“He was my parents’ friend,” Harry automatically replied, which made Ginny believe that he had become so wrapped in his thoughts that he didn’t seem to remember she was there at that moment. “He was their Secret Keeper, and he was the one who revealed to Voldemort where me and my parents were living. He is part of the reason I have no parents.”

Ginny could only tighten her grip on Harry’s hands, uncertain how to bring him any more comfort. She felt like she should stop him as it seemed to becoming all too much for him, but, at the same time, she knew he needed to talk about what had happened to him.

“I have Sirius now, though,” Harry continued talking, slightly more positive than Ginny had expected. “He’s my dad now. He was frantic when he discovered I was missing. He already felt like he had let my parents down because he had been the one to suggest Wormtail be their Secret Keeper. He didn’t want to let me down.”

Ginny didn’t respond, knowing that Harry had now hit the point where he would keep on talking until he had told her the whole story. Her knees were hurting from staying knelt behind her best friend, but she didn’t want to risk stopping Harry from telling his story just so she could get more comfortable. All she could do, therefore, was to ignore the pain as Harry hauntingly told her about the ritual used to bring Voldemort back, how he had fought against the man who had killed his parents and how their wands had somehow connected.

“I still don’t quite understand how it happened,” Harry told Ginny quietly, “but my parents were right there or some shadow of them was. Seeing them gave me the strength to hold on until Sirius and Remus arrived with help to rescue me. I didn’t really see what happened after I broke the connection, but I think they, along with the other shadows that appeared, somehow protected me as I ran to Sirius so he could get us out of there.”

“Where did you go from there?”

“We came straight here. I think we came by Portkey. I was so out of it that I was barely aware we were here until the next morning,” Harry told her as he seemed to physically relax. “Dad told me it would be best for us to stay here until the wards at our home could be checked and strengthened. Not quite sure how they could be improved any further, considering Dad said they were the best money could buy.”

Ginny finally shifted position, her knees aching far more than she realised, and she sat on the edge of the bed next to Harry, her arms still wrapped tightly around him. She felt a shiver shoot through her as she felt Harry adjust his arms around her and pull her into a proper hug.

“Thank you,” he whispered, “for listening to me.”

“Anytime,” she replied, grateful that he couldn’t see her face at that moment as she was certain she could feel herself blushing at their close proximity. “I am proud of you for being strong enough to go up against him and survive again.”

“I didn’t feel very strong.”

“You may not have, but you were,” Ginny stubbornly replied. “You said the same thing to me after what happened to me.”

Harry chuckled unexpectedly at her response. She had used his own words against him. He should have known that she wouldn’t let him get away with trying to think he hadn’t been strong enough against Voldemort.

“I remember asking Dad if there was any chance that I could see you this summer,” Harry said, changing the direction of the conversation, “but I don’t know why I saw your Mum when I dragged you in here.”

Ginny gently moved back, so she could look up at Harry’s face, and she instantly missed the warmth and safety she had felt from being wrapped in his arms.

“Did your dad tell you about the Order of the Phoenix?”

Harry nodded, remembering the photo his dad had shown him of the original Order when he had told Harry about the group and how it would be reforming now that Voldemort had regained his body.

“Well, obviously, it is going to be based here and Mum and Dad were asked to join,” Ginny explained. “So, my parents and your dad thought it might be good for us to be based here for the summer so you could have company your own age for once. Plus, Professor Dumbledore felt because of my involvement with the diary that it would be better for me to be here for my own safety as he was not sure if Voldemort would be interested in me or not.”

“Honestly, I want you to be safe as well,” Harry said as he pulled her back into a tight hug. “However, right now, I don’t care what the reason is for you all staying, I am just happy to have my best friend here with me for the summer.”

HP&GW

“Ok, I have to ask, but why did they have the house-elf heads up on the wall?” Ginny asked as the two friends made their way down the staircase to the ground floor.

The teens had finally left Harry’s bedroom, once the young wizard had showered and dressed. As they walked down from the fourth floor, Harry had given her a brief tour of the house.

“I honestly do not know, but I am glad they have been removed,” Harry admitted. “I think Kreacher still wants his head to be mounted up there, though.”

“That is just creepy,” Ginny said with a tone of disgust in her voice. “I can’t believe your dad grew up here and turned out relatively sane.”

“Relatively sane might actually be pushing it when it comes to describing him, Gin.”

As they came to the bottom of the staircase, Harry pressed a finger to his lips to indicate to Ginny to be quiet. He was not in the mood to have Sirius’ mother scream at them.

“I will explain in the kitchen,” Harry whispered when Ginny raised an eyebrow at him in question of his action.

Harry grabbed her hand and tugged her along the hallway as quickly and as quietly as he could until they reached the door to the kitchen. However, the moment he pushed the door open, he froze. There, gathered round the table, was his dad, Remus, Ginny’s parents and brothers.

“Don’t be shy, Harry,” Ginny said as she felt him begin to shuffle backwards. “They don’t bite.”

Harry wanted to tell her that it wasn’t her family that was the problem, but the fact that he wasn’t used to being around so many people. He was feeling overwhelmed, even if it was only seven other people besides himself and Ginny in the room. He was used to it just being his dad, Remus and himself.

“Harry! How wonderful to see you again!”

Any chance to escape was taken away from Harry as he was swept up into a bone-crushing hug from Mrs Weasley.

“Come and meet my boys,” Molly told him as she pulled away and tugged him further into the kitchen. “You remember Arthur?”

“Hello, sir,” Harry greeted Ginny’s dad as they shook hands.

“This is Fred, George and Ron,” Molly continued as she pointed to each of her boys in turn.

Harry gave them an awkward wave, not sure what to say for the moment. He could see his dad, sat at the end of the table, desperately trying to hold in his laughter at Harry’s awkwardness. He was grateful, however, when he felt Ginny take his hand and lead him over to two seats at the table.

“So, umm, do you like Quidditch?” Ron asked Harry, cutting through the tension that settled over the table.

“I love it,” Harry answered, “but I have never actually had the chance to play a proper game.”

Harry’s eyes flickered over to his dad once the words had left his mouth. He hoped that the words hadn’t made his dad feel guilty for denying him the experiences of a typical child in exchange for keeping Harry safe.

“Well, it isn’t easy to play a proper game when we don’t know enough people to play one,” Sirius commented jokingly.

“Maybe, once it is safe enough for us to do so, Harry could come to The Burrow to play a game,” Ron suggested.

“Can I?” Harry asked, excitement shining in his eyes for everyone to see.

“It probably won’t happen until next summer, but as long as Arthur and Molly are happy to have you, then I cannot see why not,” Sirius replied, knowing the wards around The Burrow were being strengthened for the Weasleys’ safety.

The tension eased as the teens began discussing Quidditch and their favourite teams. The adults were pleased to see them all getting along, all knowing Harry had not had any friends his own age up until this moment.

As lunch continued, a thought crossed Harry’s mind about what Ginny had told him about why the Weasleys were staying with them at Grimmauld Place for the summer. If Professor Dumbledore deemed Ginny as potentially being at risk for her involvement with the diary, then she needed to be able to protect herself. Even more so if Voldemort was ever to discover their friendship.

“Dad? Uncle Moony?”

Two large gasps distracted Harry from asking his question as he turned to see the twins looking at him in shock.

“Do you think it is the same Moony?” one of the twins asked as they turned to look at each other.

“Has to be. I doubt it is just a coincidence,” the other twin responded before they turned back to look at Harry.

“Remus is Moony,” Harry told him before they could even ask. “How do you know that name?”

No answer was forthcoming as one of the twins, Harry suspected it was George, jumped up from his seat and disappeared up the stairs. He returned a few minutes later and held out a blank piece of parchment to Harry.

“Is this what I think it is?” Harry asked, hoping it was the Marauders Map. His dad had taken the time, every day, to tell Harry a little bit about his parents and their friends. He hadn’t held back on what he had told Harry, owning up to being a bully in their younger years and the horrendous incident involving sending a student to the Shrieking Shack on a full moon. Even with all that, Harry lived for those stories and had hoped that one day they would recover the items that belonged to his dad and his friends.

“I can’t believe it!” Sirius exclaimed, pulling Harry from his thoughts. “I thought we would never see it again after Filch confiscated it from us.”

“If it hadn’t been so close to our N.E.W.T. exams, I think we would have tried to steal it back,” Remus continued. “We didn’t think it was worth the risk of getting expelled.”

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” Sirius said as he pointed his wand at the blank piece of parchment.

Harry and Ginny watched in awe as the content of the parchment revealed itself to them. The detailing was extraordinary and a reminder to Harry just how incredibly talented his birth father, dad and uncle were.

“So, who is who?” one of the twins asked.

“My dad, James, was Prongs,” Harry told them without looking up from the map. “He was named for his Animagus form, which was a stag.”

Harry tuned out the conversation as Sirius and Remus explained their own names, who Wormtail was to them, and some of the work that went into making the map. He knew the stories behind the map and their names, so he didn’t need to hear them again at that moment.

“Are you okay?” Ginny whispered, causing Harry to shiver slightly at the feel of her breath on his skin.

“Yeah, I am good,” he replied. “Just happy to have something that belonged to my dad.”

“This is truly a piece of art, Harry. Though, I am wondering why the twins never thought to pass it on to either me or Ron.”

Harry noticed, out of the corner of his eye, that Ginny’s hand appeared to be creeping to her side. He suspected that was where she stored her wand.

“Hey,” he said, distracting her from her movements. “How about you ask them before hexing them?”

Ginny pouted for a second. “Fine, spoil my fun, why don’t you?”

Harry laughed at her response, happy to have someone who could pull him from the melancholy he felt at having been given something that had been his dad’s.

“Maybe later you can do it, especially if they don’t have a good enough excuse as to why they never gave it to you. I wouldn’t mind seeing this Bat-Bogey Hex of yours.”

Ginny smiled brightly at him, and Harry felt his heart swell with joy at having been the one to cause it.

The two teens turned back to the map, exploring it in detail and laughing at some of the named parts of the castle that neither had been aware of. As they laughed together, neither were aware of the look on the faces of Ginny’s parents, Sirius and Remus. All were pleased to see how close they had become after only writing to one another for the previous couple of years.

“Harry?” Remus asked, hating that he was interrupting the two teens. “What was it you wanted to ask before?”

Harry looked up, quickly noticing how everybody seemed to be staring at him and Ginny. He quickly fought the blush he could feel forming on his face before answering.

“Oh, erm, Ginny mentioned that Professor Dumbledore was not certain if Voldemort may be potentially interested in her,” Harry explained, “you know, because of what happened with the diary.”

Harry felt Ginny stiffen slightly at the mention of diary. While they had worked through the worst of it together, he knew Ginny would never be fully over what had happened to her. Harry didn’t think anyone could ever come to terms with their trust being betrayed and violated in the way Ginny’s had been.

“I was hoping, because of that, Ginny could begin training with me, while she is here this summer,” Harry asked as he slipped a hand into Ginny’s and gently squeezed it.

“Yes, she can,” Sirius answered immediately, much to the two teens’ surprise.

Ginny looked to her parents, expecting them to protest such an idea. She knew her mum wanted her and her siblings to remain away from the war that was heading their way. Her mum had sat with her when she hadn’t been able to sleep in the summer after her first year. So, Ginny knew that her mum didn’t want any of them to go through the nightmares that she had.

“Sirius and Professor Dumbledore both spoke to us before we made the move to Grimmauld Place,” Arthur explained, knowing his daughter was expecting them to refuse her the chance to train. “We all felt, your mother included, it would be best for you, Ginny, to have some additional training. We don’t know what You-Know-Who is aware of currently, so it is better to be safe than sorry.”

“Thank you, Dad.”

“The training is going to have to wait for a few more days, though,” Sirius told the teens. “I need to finish off arranging the rooms I want to use for training. I haven’t had the time to sort it with everything else that has been going on and the fact that I hadn’t expected us to be here throughout the entire summer. Until then, Harry, I want you to spend time with the Weasleys, get to know them, and, most importantly, relax.”

Harry nodded, easily accepting what he was being asked to do until they restarted his training. He didn’t think it would be such a hardship to spend time with the Weasley children, especially if meant spending time with Ginny. Somehow, even being stuck in such a dark house and knowing Voldemort was back, he knew this was going to be a good summer for him.

Back to index


Chapter 4: An Unexpected Find

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for picking up on all my careless mistakes as always and for your wonderful words about the story going forward. (Edited - 14/07/2021)


Over the next few days, Harry started to slowly come out of his shell and make the effort to get to know the Weasleys. With Sirius busy setting up a room in the house for training and working to discover how Harry had managed to be lured outside of the wards on their home, the family of his best friend were his main company.

Mr Weasley, or Arthur as he had asked Harry to call him, was only there in the evenings as he worked at the Ministry in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office. Arthur had been delighted to discover that Harry had spent time in the Muggle world as a child and had promptly questioned him over a number of things.

“Harry, what exactly is the function of those small plastic boats?” Arthur had asked one evening as the occupants of Grimmauld Place sat down for dinner.

Harry had been taken aback by the question, especially as it was the last thing he had expected to be asked about.

“Oh, erm, they don’t really have much of an important function,” Harry had explained to the older wizard. “They are nothing more than a bath toy for children.”

“A bath toy? How fascinating!” Arthur replied, seemingly pleased by the answer Harry had given him.

Molly had immediately begun fussing over Harry, much to the amusement of her children and his own dad. Harry had taken the teasing about it from everyone rather well, having quickly silenced them all by saying that he didn’t mind the fussing. Molly had beamed in response and had asked him what his favourite dessert was, which led to them all enjoying treacle tart that evening.

However, most of his time was spent with the four Weasley children, who had taken over the library as a place for them to do their summer homework from Hogwarts. Harry was happy to join them, especially after Remus had set him some essays to write, knowing that the events at the end of June had delayed him finishing off the last of his schoolwork for the year.

“So, what is it like at Hogwarts?” Harry asked one afternoon, longing for an understanding of the school that had not been influenced by his father and uncle. Ginny had told him a fair amount about Hogwarts already, but she had admitted to him that her view of the school had been tainted by the events of her first year.

“Don’t tell my mum,” Ron said quietly in fear that Molly would overhear what he was about to say, “but I sometimes think the food is better than what she cooks.”

Harry laughed as he replied, “That might be because it is house-elves who cook the food. Based on my own experiences with them, they will always go above and beyond when any request is made of them.”

“Could you please explain that to our friend, Hermione?” Ginny asked with a slight desperation in her voice. “She has been obsessed with this need to help them, and to free them, ever since she saw the awful treatment of one while we were at the Quidditch World Cup last year.”

“Is she a Muggleborn?” Harry asked curiously.

“Yeah, how did you know?” Ron asked.

“Dad told me my mum reacted similar to your friend when she discovered that house-elves help keep the castle running,” Harry explained. “My dad, James, took her down to the kitchens to meet them and she took the time to learn about them, their magic, their history and so on. It helped her to accept that they like to work, but still deserve to be treated with respect. I would advise your friend does the same and speaks to them before jumping to conclusions about what she thinks they need. They are incredibly powerful magical beings.”

Harry quickly learned more about Hermione Granger, Ron’s best friend at Hogwarts. He was surprised to hear that she was a Gryffindor after being told she was extremely bright and loved to learn everything she could about their subjects and the magical world.

“I will be shocked if she isn’t named as a prefect, this year,” Ron said, a proud tone seeping through his words. “She will make it harder for the twins to get away with their pranks, especially if they take more of their own creations with them to school.”

“Did we hear our baby brother talking about us?” one of the twins said as they came into the library.

“Don’t call me that!”

“Ron was just saying that his friend, Hermione, should be prefect, this coming school year, and would probably make life more difficult for you,” Harry told them.

“Percy couldn’t even control us, and he was Head Boy!” the other twin said. “So, trust us, Hermione will not be a problem!”

Harry enjoyed learning more about Hogwarts and what it was like to go to school there. He was amused by how much Ron talked about his friend, Hermione, making him suspect that the youngest male Weasley had a crush on the girl. He laughed at all the pranks the twins had pulled, including the one they had played on the Potions professor that had left him covered, head to toe, in various shades of pink. The very fact it had been done on Severus Snape, the man he knew had once been friends with his mum, was even more hilarious. In return, he told them more stories of the pranks the Marauders had pulled at school, which only served to give the twins some more ideas. However, it was the evenings, after dinner, that Harry loved the most.

Every night, since Ginny had arrived at Grimmauld Place with her family, Harry and Ginny had spent a few hours talking, just the two of them. They would talk about anything and everything from their childhoods to the nightmares they both had. Harry had never felt so comfortable talking to anyone as he did with Ginny, even more so than his dad, someone who he had always been open and honest with. With Ginny, however, he knew she would understand his fears and the nightmares in a way no one else possibly could. Even then, Harry felt drawn to her in a way he couldn’t yet explain.

“Harry?”

Harry’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of his name being called. He turned his head towards where the voice had come from to find a blurry outline of his best friend.

“Ginny?” he said as he reached over for his glasses, bringing her and the room into focus.

Looking at her, he could tell she had been woken by a nightmare. With a house as Dark as this one was, he would have been surprised if it hadn’t caused her or anyone nightmares. He had told her, that first evening, that if she had a nightmare that she was welcome to wake him if needs be, which she had quickly responded to by telling him he could come to her as well. Somehow, just knowing she was across the hall from him was enough to keep the nightmares away for now.

“Sorry to wake you,” she said as she slid under the covers when he raised them in invitation to join him. “It’s just that you said…”

Harry just wrapped his arms around his best friend and pulled her closer until she was resting her head on his chest.

“What did you dream about?” he quietly asked as he slowly began to run a hand through her long, red hair.

“I was back in the Chamber,” Ginny whispered as Harry felt her tears hit his chest. “There are so many snakes on display in this house. I have managed to ignore them for the most part, but tonight… they were all I could think about when I went to sleep.”

“Were you dreaming specifically about the Basilisk?”

“Yes, which is weird, because the only time I remember seeing it was when I woke up after you stabbed the diary. I don’t remember any of the times he possessed me and then forced me to use the Basilisk to hurt people. I mean, I did begin to suspect I was the one behind the attacks, but I wasn’t certain because I didn’t remember anything. All I knew was that the blank spots in my memory seemed to line up with the attacks.”

Harry sat up, bringing Ginny with him so he could look directly into her eyes as he said, “You know you’re not to blame for anything that happened? Tom used you to get what he wanted, but you fought him every step of the way.”

“I do know that, Harry,” Ginny replied with a small smile on her face. “I know it in my heart, but sometimes, my brain seems to forget.”

“Is it just the snake décor that is bothering you? Because I wouldn’t blame you if it wasn’t as this house is just so Dark. Dad always told me it was, but I didn’t grasp just how much until we arrived here after what happened the other week.”

“Maybe,” Ginny answered, though Harry could sense her uncertainty. He knew, however, that she would talk when she was ready.
He wasn’t willing to push her in the same way he knew that she would never push him to say more than he was ready to admit.

“Do you want to stay here and sleep?” Harry asked nervously, acutely aware that he was asking his best friend, who just so happened to be an extremely beautiful girl, to sleep in the same bed as him.

Ginny’s response was to push Harry back down onto the bed before curling up next to him and pulling the covers over them. Harry was certainly not going to complain about it, especially when Ginny seemingly settled down and fell asleep within minutes.

In amongst all of the excitement of having Ginny and her family staying with him and his dad for the summer, Harry felt this big ball of confusion begin to grow inside of him. They had only met once in person before this summer and yet, when he saw her that first morning, it had not felt weird to hug her and then drag her into his bedroom. It didn’t seem to matter that she had essentially been his pen pal for the past two years; she had quickly become his best friend and the one person he knew he could confide in about anything. However, he would be a fool to deny just how much Ginny had changed physically in those two years and how she was growing into a beautiful young woman. Now, here she was curled up against him in his bed and calling her his best friend didn’t seem quite right. She was so much more than that, but he wasn’t quite sure what that was. He knew, though, that he would figure it out at some point.

HP&GW

“I am hoping that you have all completed or have at least done the bulk of your summer homework,” Molly Weasley said as she served up breakfast the next morning. “I will be needing your help in getting this place cleaned up. If you all help, then we can get a good portion of the house done before you return to school in September.”

Her children nodded in confirmation, though Harry suspected that the twins and Ron had not done anywhere near as much as Molly had hoped for. He knew Ginny was close to completing her work as he had helped her with a couple of subjects. She had told him that the sooner she had the work completed, the more time she could dedicate to training alongside Harry. He just hoped helping with cleaning the house didn’t cut too much into the time they would need for it.

“Sorry for sneaking out of your room without waking you, this morning,” Ginny whispered, pulling Harry from his thoughts.

“That’s ok,” Harry whispered back as he felt his cheeks begin to heat up at the thought of them having slept in the same bed together. “I dread to think what would have happened had your mum caught us. I know my dad would have had too much fun teasing us about it.”

“Thank you for last night. I haven’t slept that well in quite a long time.”

Harry couldn’t help but notice Ginny beginning to blush. He wondered if it was just because they had shared a bed for a few hours or if there was something more to it. Whatever it was, he knew he didn’t feel embarrassed by what had happened, not that he planned to tell anyone, as it had felt natural to him to have her curled up next to him. He hoped Ginny felt the same way about it as he did, not that he was ready to have that conversation until he understood why things seemed different when it came to her.

“I was wondering, though,” Ginny continued, leaning into Harry more to make sure no one overheard them, “if you had forgotten you could come to me if you had any nightmares? It’s just… well, you seemed to be sleeping peacefully when I came in last night, but…”

“I haven’t had any nightmares since you arrived,” Harry told her honestly. “Well, at least nothing that has stopped me from going back to sleep. Talking to you that first morning really helped me. I think if someone had been killed that night then the nightmares would have been far worse than they already are.”

Ginny smiled in response, causing Harry to feel a fluttering in his stomach.

“I promise, though, that if I have one bad enough to stop me from sleeping, I will come and get you.”

“Good. I would hate to have to introduce you to my Bat Bogey Hex I have told you about,” Ginny replied, making Harry laugh loud enough to capture the room’s other occupants’ attention.

“What’s funny, Harry?” Sirius asked his son as he entered the kitchen.

“Ginny was just threatening me with her Bat Bogey Hex,” Harry explained, trying to ignore the looks on both his father’s and Molly’s faces. They both appeared to seem happy, but Harry couldn’t figure out why. He just hoped neither of them knew that he had slept in the same bed as Ginny for a few hours during the night.

“Oh, no, you definitely don’t want to be introduced to that, Harry,” Ron said with a shiver. “The feeling of bats coming out of your nose…”

Harry laughed at the look of horror on Ron’s face. He was impressed that Ginny had her brothers wrapped round her fingers with a threat of a simple Hex.

“You’ll have to tell me more about this hex, Ginny,” Sirius said with genuine interest, “but for now, I need to get going as I have a couple of meetings to attend today. When I get home, Harry, I should be able to update you about what is going on and set up a schedule for your and Ginny’s training.”

“Ok, Dad,” Harry replied, relief flowing through him at hopefully getting some answers as to what had happened to allow Voldemort to successfully kidnap him.

“Be good and have fun cleaning the drawing room, kids,” Sirius said with a laugh as he exited the kitchen.

HP&GW

Harry was not convinced that Molly’s idea of having the house cleaned by the end of the summer would happen. They had already spent the morning working on removing the Doxy infestation from the curtains. If they continued at this pace, they would be lucky to get started on the bedrooms. They may have been fit for use, but that didn’t mean the bedrooms could be neglected from being scrubbed from top to bottom. Even then, a fair few things in the house had been stuck to the walls with a Permanent Sticking Charm, which left Harry thinking that, perhaps, the house was better left in the state that it currently was. However, his dad had made it clear he wanted it cleaned up and fit for use for the Order and as a safe house, therefore, it needed to be done.

“The tapestry will have to be left for now,” Molly said as she, Harry, and the four Weasley children re-entered the drawing room after lunch. “I will have to speak to Sirius about the best way to clean and repair it. So, in the meantime, we are going to clear out the cabinets. I have no idea if any of the items in there are safe, so I need you all to concentrate as you remove the items in case just the act of touching or moving them makes them do something nasty.”

Molly glared at the five teens, making Harry extremely glad that she was not his mother. He suspected Molly was not a woman to be crossed.

“Right, Harry, Ginny and Ron, you can work on that cabinet,” Molly said as she pointed to the cabinet to the left of the mantlepiece, “and you, Fred and George, can help me with the other one.”

Harry held in the chuckle at the expressions on the twins’ faces, knowing that they were being punished for trying to sneak some of the Doxies away to experiment with, earlier that morning.

“They deserved that,” Ginny whispered before turning to the cabinet they had been assigned to.

“Like that will stop them,” Ron commented. “Those two are too sneaky. I sometimes wonder how they were never sorted into Slytherin.”

The three teens quickly began working on removing items from the cabinet as they noticed Molly glance suspiciously at them. It didn’t take long for them all to realise it was best not to examine any of the items once a silver snuffbox tried to bite Harry as he removed it and after Ron had opened a musical box that played a tune that caused the occupants of the drawing room to become sleepy. Luckily, Ginny had the sense to snap the lid shut before it had caused further problems.

“No examining anything, unless it is deemed necessary,” Molly had declared after those two incidences. “Straight into the bag, no questions asked.”

They all did as she asked, until Harry picked up a large, heavy locket. Harry knew he was not meant to examine it, but something was drawing him to do so. It was gold and decorated with glittering, green stones shaped into a serpentine S. Turning it, he could see the seam, but yet there appeared to be no logical place to open it. As Harry went to examine it a little closer, something hard slammed into his legs, causing him to stumble into Ron, who fortunately stopped them both from tumbling over.

“That is my master’s locket,” Kreacher cried as the house elf grabbed Harry’s wrist. “You must give Kreacher back the locket.”

Harry and Ron exchanged a look of confusion as Kreacher’s words drew the other Weasleys over to the two teens.

“My dad has not lived here in a long time, Kreacher,” Harry calmly told him as Kreacher continued to wrestle with Harry’s wrist. “I am certain this is not his locket.”

“No, no, not him, never him,” Kreacher mumbled as he moved onto attempting to uncurl Harry’s fingers from around the locket. “My master, Regulus. Poor Master Regulus.”

Harry wrenched his hand free from the house-elf, wondering why this was such an important possession to Kreacher.

“Kreacher, can you tell me why you must keep it?” Ginny softly asked Kreacher as she knelt down next to the house-elf.

Kreacher looked at the youngest Weasley, shock evident in his eyes at being spoken to in such a kind manner. Harry could tell, however, that he was not going to speak as Ginny was not a member of the House of Black.

“Kreacher, you need to tell us why this locket is important,” Harry demanded, despite knowing that they would be going round in circles until his dad came home and intervened. While he knew he was heir to the House of Black, Harry was certain Kreacher would not respond to his requests or demands until Harry was officially the head of the family.

“No, no, no,” Kreacher mumbled as he began to pull his ears in frustration. “Kreacher has said too much. No, Kreacher cannot tell you. Master Regulus forbade Kreacher from telling anyone.”

Harry turned his head to look at Molly, but that was all Kreacher needed for him to grab hold of Harry’s hand and pry the locket free. To everyone’s surprise, instead of Apparating, the house-elf turned and shot out of the drawing room on foot.

“We need to stop him,” Harry said as he took off after Kreacher.

The Weasleys followed Harry through the house and down into the basement to where Kreacher’s cupboard was.

“Kreacher, we need to know what is so important about that locket,” Harry demanded once again as he ripped opened the door to the cupboard.

Kreacher looked up, wide-eyed, at Harry as he kept the locket hidden in his hands behind his back.

“What’s going on here?” a voice from behind them said.

Harry turned, relieved to see his dad having arrived home. He knew Kreacher would answer to him if his dad demanded it.

“We were clearing out those cabinets in the drawing room and I found this locket. I was just taking a look at it when Kreacher
attacked me, demanding he be given the locket. He mentioned your brother, Regulus, Dad,” Harry explained quickly, fearful that
Kreacher would take the chance to disappear.

Sirius turned to Molly, who nodded her confirmation that Harry had told the truth.

“Kreacher,” Sirius said in a firm voice, “please give me the locket that Harry speaks of and remain where you are.”

The house-elf obeyed the command of his master, even though the occupants of the house could see him trying to fight against them.

“Explain what this is and what it has to do with my brother?” Sirius asked as he took hold of the locket, quickly looking at it before turning his eyes back to the house-elf.

“Master Regulus forbade Kreacher to tell anyone.”

“Then, perhaps, I can just add this item to the bag of junk I intend on throwing out.”

It seemed every person in the room was holding their breath as they waited for Kreacher’s reaction to his master’s threat. Harry knew his dad had no intention of throwing the locket away as it had invoked a reaction that did not involve any sort of insult from the house-elf.

“The locket, Master, was stolen by Master Regulus,” Kreacher finally responded. “He ordered Kreacher to destroy it, but nothing Kreacher did worked. I failed Master Regulus.”

“Kreacher, who did Regulus steal the locket from?” Harry asked with a sense of foreboding. The small pieces of information he had seemed to be coming together quickly. He knew from what his dad had told him that Regulus had been a Death Eater and had died at a young age. No one knew what had happened to him, but it was assumed that Regulus had died personally at the hands of Voldemort himself. If the locket was given by Regulus to Kreacher to be destroyed, then the locket had to belong to…

“The Dark Lord, Master Harry.”

Back to index


Chapter 5: Truth and Explanation

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for brilliant editing skills as always. (Edited - 15/07/2021)


Several weeks had passed since the unexpected discovery of Slytherin’s locket and Kreacher’s revelation about how it had come to reside at Grimmauld Place. The occupants of the house had continued on as though nothing of importance had been revealed to them, having been sworn to secrecy through the use of a modified Unbreakable Vow. Sirius had been certain that Dumbledore, who they had spoken to that same evening the locket had been discovered, would not want the information being revealed and had searched the library for a suitable charm that would stop anyone revealing what they had learned. No one’s life or magic was at risk, but instead they risked being jinxed to not being able to talk for a month if they spoke to anyone, except for those in the know or anyone who would be informed at a later date.

Once everyone had moved past the shock of what Kreacher had revealed to them, Molly had tried to usher all the teenagers back into the drawing room to continue with the cleaning, just as Sirius led the old house-elf into the kitchen to talk. Harry, knowing the locket was important, had ignored the Weasley matriarch and had followed his dad into the kitchen to listen to Kreacher’s story. Ginny had tried to follow as well, but had been spotted by her mum, leaving her no choice but to follow her brothers.

Harry had been amazed to hear how his dad’s brother, Regulus, had realised his mistake of becoming a Death Eater and had given his life to help bring down Lord Voldemort. However, he couldn’t imagine how Sirius felt, given that he had believed his own brother had been an ardent supporter of the Dark Lord. When Kreacher finished his story, though, Harry could only watch as his dad stared at the house-elf in shock before he stood abruptly and disappeared through the Floo. Minutes later, his head reappeared, summoning both Harry and Kreacher to the Headmaster’s office at Hogwarts.

The moment Harry had stepped into the office he had been asked to use his Parseltongue skills to open the locket. Sirius immediately brought the Sword of Gryffindor down upon it, destroying it beyond repair. The look of relief that crossed Kreacher’s face when Dumbledore confirmed they had successfully destroyed the locket had been a blessing and a revelation. The house-elf had finally fulfilled his final order from Regulus, making Harry realise just how hard it was for any house-elf to follow the orders they were given and the impact it could have on them if they were unable to complete them successfully. Kreacher was instantly more willing to follow the orders that his dad gave, finally accepting that Sirius was his true master.

Dumbledore had then gone on to tell them, once Kreacher had returned home, that he had been researching Voldemort’s past over the last couple of years, ever since the events of the Chamber of Secrets. He confessed that he had held back the information from them as he had wanted to pass over every piece of necessary information to them at the same time.

Harry had been shocked at what he had learned as the headmaster went on to explain just how far Voldemort had gone to avoid death. Admittedly, he had felt some relief at knowing that they now knew what needed to be done if they were going to defeat Voldemort once and for all, but he also felt frustrated that it would still take time to discover what each of the Horcruxes were and where they were hidden. Harry knew he needed to accept it was going to take time, though, as they would not all be as easy to find as the locket had been and that had been pure chance. He would just need to be patient.

Thankfully, Dumbledore had agreed, when asked by Sirius, to arrange a time to meet with them in the coming months to give them everything he had discovered and discuss it all in detail with them. Having been a teacher during Voldemort’s time at Hogwarts meant that Dumbledore had a little more insight into the person Voldemort had once been. However, he needed a little more time to obtain one more piece of information that he felt would be absolutely vital to the fight against the Dark Lord.

“I must ask, however, that you do not reveal anything that we have spoken about here this evening,” the headmaster had told them as their discussion drew to a close. “You may, Sirius, give those who were present when the locket was discovered, some kind of explanation for it, but they must also keep its discovery a secret. It is absolutely vital that the knowledge of the Horcruxes is kept between the three of us to avoid Voldemort from learning that we are now aware of how he can be defeated.”

“No,” Harry had simply responded, much to the shock of the two older wizards.

“Perhaps you don’t quite understand the danger of this information becoming known, Harry,” Dumbledore had replied, talking to Harry as though he was one of his students.

“No, I do understand.” Harry fully understood the dangers and he was not going to let anyone prevent him from fulfilling the prophecy his dad had made him aware of. “There is one person, though, who deserves to be informed of what the locket was. Considering the diary that nearly killed her was a Horcrux, I genuinely believe that Ginny should be made aware of the truth. Not only will it give her some sort of closure and help her move on from it, but she may be able to provide her own personal insight to the sort of person Voldemort was.”

Harry held the headmaster’s gaze, standing his ground when it came to his best friend. He knew, even if Dumbledore refused his request, that he would still reveal this information to Ginny. He truly believed that if anyone deserved to be told about the Horcruxes, it was her. Even through her letters, Harry had been able to see just how much of an impact it’d had on her and he wanted to continue to help her process it all. No one, in his opinion, could possibly expect him to keep information from her, especially when it had the potential to help her. At the same time, for Harry, it was even more than that “ he needed to be able to talk to someone about what he had just been told and what it meant for him. Yes, he had his dad and his uncle, but he wanted someone beyond them whom he could confide in, someone who was there just for him and him alone.

“I am going to have to agree with my son on this, Albus,” his dad unexpectedly said, pulling Harry’s eyes from the headmaster and towards where his dad stood. “I was already planning on arranging some sort of oath or vow to make sure no one can speak about the locket or to whom it belonged. However, Ginny deserves to be told of the significance of the diary, while allowing Harry to have someone he can confide in beyond myself and Remus, who I will be informing about all of this as well. I think you know as well as I do that, had Harry been a student here, you would have given him permission to tell whomever his closest friends were. He needs to be able to confide in someone of his own age, otherwise he will be left to feel like he has to carry the burden of that information alone, especially if, god forbid, something were to happen to myself or Remus.”

“Thank you,” Harry whispered as he walked over to his dad and hugged him tightly, grateful for his understanding and backing on the issue.

“It would seem that I am outnumbered,” Dumbledore said with a sigh, “but, I do understand and accept your reasoning. I will allow you to tell Miss Weasley about what has been discussed here tonight and any further information I relay to you in the future. I would be happy for you to bring Remus in on all of this as well, Sirius. I suspected that you had planned to before you confirmed it. However, beyond them, I would ask again, that no one else is informed of the prophecy, or of the Horcruxes.”

Harry and Sirius nodded in agreement. Neither wished for Voldemort or one of his Death Eaters to become aware that they now knew how to defeat the Dark Lord and risk making it harder for Harry to fulfil his destiny.

“I would highly advise that you add Occlumency to your training schedule for the two teens, Sirius,” the headmaster suggested, “if you have not already done so.”

“I will do so for Ginny as Harry has already been trained in the Mind Arts, but, and as much as this pains me to say, I would very much appreciate it if Snape could take a look at Harry’s defences.”

“I will arrange a time with Severus that is convenient for you both.”

Thankfully, the conversation had come to an end quickly after that. Harry had wanted to return to Grimmauld Place to speak to his best friend about what he had learned once he had understood the diary was a Horcrux. He had only remained at Hogwarts because he knew it would have been rude and disrespectful to leave before the conversation was over. Plus, he didn’t want to disappoint his dad.

The moment Harry had stepped out of the Floo, he had briefly acknowledged those who were present in the kitchen before running off to find Ginny as quickly as possible. Finding her in her bedroom, he closed the door behind him and sat down on her bed, knowing this was where he would be holding the daunting conversation. Hopefully, his dad would be able to keep anyone from interrupting them until it was time to go downstairs for dinner.

“Where did you end up going?” Ginny asked as she put down the book she had been reading. “You disappeared from the kitchen without telling anyone.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Harry replied, having not realised at the time they had failed to inform Molly, at least, to their whereabouts. “We went to see Professor Dumbledore at Hogwarts.”

“That’s what we assumed.”

“He obviously knew what the locket was,” Harry explained, avoiding eye contact with his best friend as he tried to figure out how to tell her the truth about the diary. It didn’t seem to matter that he had fought for her to be informed, he now couldn’t find the words.

“I can see that whatever Professor Dumbledore told you is bothering you, Harry,” Ginny gently said as she placed a hand on his cheek and coaxed his face back to looking at her. “Given the fact that Kreacher told us the locket belonged to Tom, it isn’t hard to figure out that it is the sort of information we cannot speak freely about. So, if you have been told to keep it to yourself, I understand.”

Harry stared at Ginny in awe, thankful to have her in his life. He knew in that moment that she was strong enough to handle what he was about to tell her.

“Actually, I fought for you to be told,” he confessed, finding the strength and courage he knew he would need for the conversation. “Once Dumbledore revealed what the locket was and why it was important in the war against Voldemort, I knew you, of all people, needed to be told.”

Ginny smiled in response to being told her best friend had fought for her to be included.

“It’s hard to explain, though,” Harry continued, still processing everything he had been told himself, “and I haven’t been given all the details yet.”

“Tell me what you do know, then.”

Harry slowly and carefully explained what Kreacher had told them about Sirius’ brother, Regulus, and how the locket came to be in his possession. He told her how they had destroyed the locket and what had happened when they did so before explaining as best as he could what a Horcrux was.

“They will all need to be destroyed before I can even contemplate finishing Voldemort off for good,” Harry told her as he wound down his explanation. “Dumbledore confirmed he definitely made more than one. As it turns out I have already destroyed one.”

Harry turned to look at Ginny, knowing he could not avoid telling her now he had come this far. The expression on her face, though, was hard to read. He suspected she was just processing what he had told her, which was understandable given the information.

“Harry?” Ginny finally said, having remained quiet while he had been talking. “Was… was the diary a Horcrux?”

“Yes.”

Ginny’s face fell in response. Harry said nothing as he allowed his best friend to process the bombshell he had just dropped on her.

“That explains a lot,” Ginny unexpectedly replied.

Harry’s jaw dropped. He knew the youngest Weasley was strong, but he had not expected that reaction at all. He knew it was likely that she wouldn’t cry as Ginny didn’t like to cry, but, right now, he honestly felt he would have coped better with tears than immediate acceptance.

“But… I can’t deny that knowing that makes me feel…” Ginny continued before Harry could say anything. However, whatever it made her feel, Harry never found out, though he suspected he knew what word she was going to use. His best friend, instead, let out a gut-wrenching scream before collapsing against Harry in tears.

Harry didn’t know what else to do in that moment, except to hold her and let her cry it out. As much as he knew this information was tearing her up inside, he was certain that this would only make her stronger and more determined to work hard when they began training together.

“It makes me feel dirty,” Ginny whispered painfully. “Just knowing that a piece of his soul was possessing and controlling me makes the whole experience far worse than it was.”

“I’m sorry, Gin. I wouldn’t have told you if I thought it would make it worse for you.”

“No, don’t say that, Harry,” Ginny said forcefully as she sat up straight and looked Harry directly in the eyes. “Yes, it makes me feel dirty, but, at the same time, you have given me the final piece of the puzzle that I could never solve. I knew the Mind Arts were extensive, complex and dangerous, but it never made sense to me that a memory could have that much power over one person.”

“Neither did I,” Harry agreed.

“I would have reacted like that whether I had been told at the time or not for another ten years. It is going to take me some time to wrap my head around what you have just told me, but knowing the truth makes it easier to know I can put this behind me once and for all.”

“Don’t you ever forget what he did to you, Gin,” Harry told her, needing her to take that pain Voldemort had caused her and channel it into their training. “While we should never live in the past, we should never forget the experiences that impact us and shape who we become.”

Ginny smiled as she reached out and took Harry’s hands in hers.

“I am not going to forget what I have been through, Harry. I doubt I ever could, but I won’t let it dictate my life or define the person that I am. It doesn’t mean I can’t let it drive me to train as hard as I can, though!”

Harry laughed at hearing her declaration. She had proven him right that she deserved to know and that it would help her move on from the event that had impacted her deeply and defined her life for the past couple of years.

“Though, I do think you could stand to take some of your own advice, Mr Boy Who Lived,” Ginny stated, shocking Harry out of his laughter.

He wanted to glare at her for the suggestion and tell her he couldn’t ignore the event that ended up determining his course in life. Yet, he couldn’t because he knew she was right. She hadn’t let the fact that he was the Boy Who Lived determine their friendship. She, instead, knew and accepted him for who he truly was “ just himself, Harry.

Several days later, they finally began training. Ginny stayed true to her words and allowed her experiences of the Chamber and new knowledge about the diary push her to train hard. This was something that Harry had discovered not long after they had walked into the newly renovated basement.

“Right,” Sirius said as he clapped his hands together, “I think it would be best if we start with a duel between you two. I obviously know what Harry is capable of, but we need to know where Ginny stands in terms of her knowledge of spells and duelling.”

Neither teen said a word as they took a place at either end of the room within the wards Sirius had set up to absorb stray spells and prevent any potentially fatal spells.

“The aim is to disarm,” Sirius explained, “but anything goes. Just none of the Unforgivable Curses, not that either of you could cast them, and nothing intentionally deadly. The wards around you should minimise any injuries and will absorb any stray spells. Ready?”

The two teens nodded in agreement.

“Ok, on the count of three, you may begin. One… two… three… DUEL!”

Ginny didn’t wait around for Harry to throw his first spell as she immediately tried to Disarm him, which was blocked easily by Harry. Admittedly, the raven-haired teen was holding back on his full potential, worried that he would hurt and Disarm his best friend far too quickly. However, Ginny quickly picked up on this, making sure to use every spell in her arsenal in her attempt to win the duel. In the end, though, Harry still won, having thrown three spells in quick succession “ the first having smashed through her weakening shield, the second Ginny had side-stepped, only for her to move directly into the path of the third spell, which had ripped her wand from her hand.

“Wow, Ginny, that was impressive,” Sirius exclaimed as he quickly took down the wards surrounding the teens. “I am disappointed that you held back, though, Harry.”

“What would you prefer? Me taking out Ginny in seconds or an actual duel that gave you an idea where to focus on in her training?” Harry said in defence, refusing to admit his fear of hurting the person he cared for the most out of all those close to him. He could see Ginny glaring at him for holding back, but she did not attempt to argue with him about the decision he had made.

“Fine, that does make sense,” Sirius replied, knowing his son was right, while also recognising there was far more to Harry’s choice.

“Well, I am not remotely surprised by what Ginny has accomplished,” Remus spoke up as he gave the redhead a smile. “She was certainly one of my best pupils while I was teaching at Hogwarts and I can see that she has also improved in the past year.”

“Thank you, Professor Lupin,” Ginny responded earnestly.

“Remus or Moony is fine, Ginny. Remember, I am no longer your teacher.”

Ginny gave the werewolf a nod in acknowledgment before turning her eyes towards Harry.

“I will let it slide today, but, before I return to school, I want us to duel again with you not holding back,” Ginny demanded, hands on hips and a fierce glare that made all three wizards realise she would not back down.

Harry nodded meekly, much to the amusement of his father and uncle.

“Remus and I will come up with a plan of what we need you to work on,” Sirius explained when he realised Harry was not going to respond to Ginny. “We will set an official schedule once we are done here. Next, I need to know what you know about Occlumency and check your natural shields.”

It turned out Ginny had begun attempting to learn Occlumency in her second year but had struggled to advance with it. With no one to help or check her progress, she had immediately hit a wall in her learning. Thankfully, Sirius quickly discovered her basic skills were good and felt she would make significant progress by the end of the summer if she worked diligently.

Harry was extremely impressed by his best friend’s work ethic and determination to learn everything that his dad and uncle threw at her over the next several weeks. However, he was most proud of what Ginny had achieved that very morning, something she felt had been her biggest breakthrough throughout their entire training. She had finally produced a fully-fledged corporal Patronus.

Ginny had started to learn the charm back in her second year with help from Remus. Neither had expected her to perfect it that year, given her age at the time, but Ginny had managed to create the basic mist. She had continued attempting it over the past year, but had made no more progress. Harry had been quick to pinpoint the problem when he discovered her chosen memory had been the feeling she had any time she flew on a broom. Minutes later, with a new memory, she finally created her own personal Patronus “ a silver doe.

Harry had been shocked to discover it was the partner of his own Patronus “ a stag “ and had not been able to stop thinking about it all day. To be honest, it was another thing to add to the list that seemed to be ever-growing when it came to Ginny. He had no experience and, therefore, nothing to compare it to, but he suspected he had a crush on his best friend. He wasn’t ready to admit it yet, at least, not to Ginny or anyone else. It was something, instead, he wanted to speak about with his dad, but there was never a free moment to do so with the house full of people. He would have to be patient and wait until the Weasleys had returned to Hogwarts.

“Harry?”

Shaking himself from his thoughts, Harry turned to see his dad standing in the doorway to the sitting room.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine, Dad. Just thinking.”

“It’s time to head to the Ministry and swap the Prophecy ball,” his dad responded. “Are you ready to go?”

Harry nodded, quickly getting up and joining his dad, hoping that their planned swap would go unnoticed for as long as possible. While they didn’t need it in their possession, given Harry already knew the exact wording, they were not willing to take any chances. If everything went to plan, Voldemort would not be getting his hands on the prophecy.

Back to index


Chapter 6: Reluctant Departure

Author's Notes: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hopefully this year will be much better than last year. I am really pleased to let you all know that I am putting this story into a three rotation with two other brand new stories (10/1 and 17/1). Barring no problems or delays, the next chapter will be published on 24/1. Thank you to Arnel for your brilliant editing skills as always! (Edited - 20/07/2021)


“Your shields look good to me,” Sirius said as he pulled out of Ginny’s mind. “I cannot get through them, but I am also not the best at Legilimency. However, considering I could not get through them like I could when we first started, I think it would be safe to say they are good. I just don’t know if they would be strong enough to go up against someone like Albus or Snape.”

Harry breathed a sigh of relief. If Ginny’s shields were strong, then, he could finally tell her the full wording of the prophecy and the fake one that they had placed in the Department of Mysteries. The switch had happened with no problems and with no one else being aware of what he and his dad had done a couple of weeks ago. The Order was still doing guard duty and Death Eaters were still attempting to gain access. How long that would last though, Harry didn’t know; he just hoped it would be for as long as possible to keep Voldemort and his minions distracted.

“I have asked Snape to check your shields himself once you return to school,” Sirius continued, bringing Harry out of his thoughts. “He has already checked over Harry’s and given him the all-clear. I suspect he will arrange for you to have detention, given the Ministry official who has taken the Defence post.”

“Why would anyone care about Ginny having one short meeting with Snape?” Harry asked, not recognising how harsh the words could possibly sound to his best friend.

“Harry’s right,” Ginny said in agreement. “As harsh as it did sound, the Ministry is only there to interfere and cause problems for Professor Dumbledore. Harry has not given any statement about the return of Voldemort, nor do they know he is my best friend. One meeting with Professor Snape shouldn’t cause suspicion.”

Harry was certain his dad knew that they were right. He had only left Grimmauld Place once since they had brought him back from the graveyard as his dad had made clear he was not chancing his safety until he knew what had happened to allow for Harry to be captured that night. Therefore, Harry had not spoken to anyone, outside a select few people, about what had happened, and he certainly had not gone on record in public about Voldemort having regained his body. He was grateful that his dad had prevented him from doing so as Dumbledore had been crucified in the press for announcing it without firm evidence. Given that no one had seen Harry or Sirius in public since that fateful night, as far as they were aware of, the press would have been happy to destroy his name as well for suddenly making a return to only cause panic.

“You are both right,” his dad confirmed, “but only to a certain extent.”

“What do you mean, Dad?”

“The Ministry has no reason to believe the pair of you are friends, but, thanks to Lucius Malfoy, they will be aware of the fact that you, Harry, were the one to rescue Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets. They may potentially question her to your whereabouts, to draw you out as a way of discrediting you, like they have done to Dumbledore. On top of that, it is well known that there are children of Death Eaters currently attending the school, many of whom will be happy to send home any information that could be of use to Voldemort himself.”

Harry noticed Ginny glance at him, looking as though something had occurred to her. It was the look in her eyes, though, that let him know that whatever it was, could not be a good thing.

“Do you think they may monitor all my post?” Ginny asked.

Harry gasped, shocked that he had not even thought about that possibility. It would mean that he would not be able to remain in contact with his best friend. He could admit, probably not out loud, that he had come to depend on the letters they exchanged on a regular basis. The idea of losing that contact between them after Ginny returned to Hogwarts was honestly devastating to him. He didn’t want to hear his dad telling them that they could no longer write, so he stood up and headed for the door to leave the training room.

“Harry, don’t leave,” his dad called out to him. “I am not going to leave you two in a position of having no contact.”

Harry paused, his hand on the door handle. He couldn’t possibly imagine how that was going to happen without the need for writing.

“Do you really think I would be willing to return to Hogwarts with no possibility of being able to talk to you until Christmas?” Harry heard as two soft arms wrapped around his waist from behind him.

“No, you wouldn’t,” Harry replied with a sigh as he turned round in Ginny’s arms to hug her properly. “You are one of the most stubborn people I know. Even if my dad didn’t have a plan, you would somehow find a way.”

“Yes, I would,” Ginny proudly told him. “Now, let’s go and sit back down and hear what your dad has to say.”

The two teens pulled apart and walked back to join Sirius, where he sat on an array of cushions they used for when they were training in the Mind Arts. Harry ducked his head, refusing to look at his dad, who he knew would be ready to tease him about the moment he had just shared with Ginny.

“I felt the need to prepare for this possibility, immediately after the first article came out about Dumbledore,” his dad said, choosing to ignore the moment between the two best friends. “While they have yet to try to discredit Harry, there has been rumblings around the Ministry about his whereabouts. Luckily, I have avoided having any conversations with the Minister whenever I have met with Kingsley about the investigation into your kidnapping, Harry.”

“You know I am going to have to eventually appear in public to speak out about what happened,” Harry responded. “I understand why you have kept us hidden all these years, Dad and why we only go to public places using glamours or Polyjuice Potion. I know that will probably remain the case until Voldemort is defeated, especially if it allows me to train and find these Horcruxes without Him knowing. But don’t you think that the odd appearance here and there may be of use to the public, especially once the wizarding world knows and actually believes Voldemort is back?”

Sirius looked at his son, wondering why it was only now that he was beginning to complain about the restrictions in his life. Harry had never been one to rebel against what was asked of him, but he had always made sure to explain why they couldn’t take any risks, except when it was absolutely necessary. Yet, sitting there, watching his son sitting close to his best friend, he realised he already knew the reason “ Ginny Weasley. Harry had fallen for his best friend and had spent the entire summer together, only for them to have to say goodbye to one another when she returned to Hogwarts. Even so, the point of being seen in public once it was revealed that Voldemort was back made complete sense.

“Fine,” Sirius confirmed. “However, I am not making any promises about when or where. The decision will be last minute to make sure there are no plans for Death Eaters to disrupt where we plan to go.”

“That’s fair, Dad,” Harry replied with a sigh of relief and happy to know he would not necessarily have to wait until Christmas to see Ginny.

“Right, back to what I wanted to explain to you,” Sirius stated as he stood up. “The only reason I did not give these to you earlier was because I had to create a new one for Ginny and add some additional spells to Harry’s.”

Sirius picked up two packages from a shelf before turning back to the two teens. He checked each package carefully before handing each teen a package, which they discovered had their names on.

“Open them,” he told them, excited to see their reactions.

Harry and Ginny glanced at one another before ripping the packaging open to discover a small, square mirror. Both teens were confused by what they found, not understanding how these could possibly help them to remain in contact.

“These are two-way mirrors, which will allow you to communicate with one another. Harry’s mirror used to belong to his father, and I have one as well. James and I used to use them when we were stuck in separate detentions at school.”

Ginny chuckled at the reason for their original use as Harry stared at the mirror in awe, grateful to have yet another item that had once belonged to his father.

“All you have to do is say each other’s names into your mirror,” Sirius explained as he recognised the look on Harry’s face. “When the other person picks up their mirror, you will see each other’s faces, which, in turn, will allow you to talk. I added some additional spells to make sure no one else can use your mirror. The moment your fingers physically touched the mirror, it read your magical aura and registered it. When you use it, if anyone attempts to look into it, they will only see your reflection and theirs if they are at the right angle. They will also not be able to hear your conversation as I added the Muffliato Charm to the mirror as well.”

“This is amazing, Sirius,” Ginny exclaimed as she stood and hugged the man, grateful for the gift he had given her and Harry. “Thank you so much for this gift!”

“You’re very welcome,” Sirius replied as the pair pulled apart. “Just remember to be careful where you use it though. Even with all the additional charms I have added, I still don’t want you take any chances. Also, I would advise that your letters only contain basic information if you choose to continue writing to each other. Anything important you can pass onto Harry through the mirrors, and we’ll make sure to get the message to right person.”

“I take it my mother knows about these, then?”

“She breathed a sigh of relief knowing you could securely communicate with at least one person outside of Hogwarts.”

Sirius turned to look at his son, realising the boy had yet to respond verbally about the mirror. He had known that the mirror would probably cause this kind of reaction in Harry, given how little he had from his parents. Neither of them, nor Remus, had had the courage or strength to return to the cottage in Godric’s Hollow to visit and attempt to salvage any more items from the ruins. All they had was what Sirius, himself, had managed to secure that night, plus a selection of items James had chosen to leave at the back-up house and the odd few items they had obtained since then. Harry had reacted the same way when Albus had returned James’ Invisibility Cloak to them. It didn’t matter what the item was, it would be precious to his son if it had belonged to one of his parents.

“Harry?”

The boy finally looked up at his dad, a small smile on his face and whispered, “Thank you, Dad.”

Sirius knelt down, took his son into his arms and hugged him tightly, grateful for the close relationship they had.

“Why don’t you take the next few days off from training?” he suggested as he pulled away from Harry. “There isn’t much more I can teach Ginny now and I would much rather you two enjoyed yourselves during the last few days she has here before returning to Hogwarts.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Harry replied as he jumped up and grabbed his best friend’s hand before dragging her out of the training room, no doubt heading for one of their bedrooms.

Sirius couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face at the sight of his son with his best friend. Harry was growing up fast and was blatantly falling head over heels for Ginny. Things were about to worsen for the wizarding world and Sirius knew he would give anything to keep that smile on his son’s face. He just wished he knew how much longer it would be before it became impossible to do so.

HP&GW

The next several days passed in a blur of laughter, pranking and packing. The adults, whether living there or passing through, took great joy in hearing the sound of the teens laughing, despite knowing that the darkness of war was fast approaching them. It was something that Harry had chosen to make sure would continue.

“I have a proposition for you two,” Harry said to the twins, a couple of days before the Hogwarts Express was due to depart for another year.

“What sort of proposition?” Fred asked as Harry took a seat opposite him and George, who had a number of books laid out before them.

“I want to invest in your joke shop dream.”

The twins said nothing as their jaws dropped in shock. Harry couldn’t help but smirk at leaving them speechless and quickly whipped out his camera to take a photo for evidence and potential blackmail.

“I would like to give you a thousand Galleons,” Harry continued, “and my dad has said he would match my investment, which would therefore give you a total of two thousand Galleons.”

The twins looked at one another, shock and glee both evident on their faces, and appeared to have some sort of silent conversation with one another.

“That’s a lot of money, Harry,” George said.

“Why invest in us and in our dream?” Fred asked.

“My dad told me just how bad things became during the first war, and how finding a reason to laugh and smile was important, even if it only lasted for a fleeting moment. Voldemort is back and war is coming, no matter how much the Ministry wants to deny it. We are all going to need a laugh every now and then, and I believe you two can help make that happen.”

“Ok, we accept your offer to invest in our joke shop,” Fred said on behalf of the two of them. “However, we are not going to have time to go to Gringotts to set anything up.”

“My dad is sorting that out. We’ll either send the documents to you or wait until we can see you in person. I do, however, have one stipulation on giving you this money.”

“Who do you want us to prank on your behalf?” George asked eagerly.

“Sadly, no one. I just want you, without letting her know that I have asked, to keep an eye on Ginny for me once you return to Hogwarts.”

“We can do that,” the twins replied together.

“Good, but if she finds out, I will be taking you down with me.”

Harry knew he was risking being hexed to within an inch of his life for asking the twins to help him out, but he had not been able to stop thinking about potential problems for Ginny. It was one of the many things that had kept him from sleeping the night before the Weasley children were to return to school. Admittedly, he was grateful that their return also meant that he would be going home to the cottage, a place of familiarity and security for Harry. The problem was that it also meant not spending all day, every day with his best friend as he had done for the past two months.

Yes, he knew they would be able to talk every evening via the mirrors, but it wouldn’t be the same. He liked having her there with him, willing to listen whenever he needed to talk. Her reaction to the prophecy had not been one he had been expecting either. She had not cried or panicked, but had, instead, remained calm and made clear that she believed in him and that she was completely certain that Harry, when the time came, would face Voldemort and win. Her belief and faith in him had been overwhelming.

He knew he could admit to himself that Ginny had become the person who meant the most to him. Ever since she had encouraged him to fall asleep on her lap the day she had arrived at Grimmauld Place, he had known that she would remain a permanent fixture in his life. She knew how to make him laugh, was not afraid to give him a piece of her mind, and never pushed him to talk until he was ready. He knew now that he was falling for her and the idea of her not being in his life was not one he was willing to entertain, even if it did mean them just being friends. However, he was definitely not ready to confess his feelings to the red head.

Harry sat up, pushing the bed covers off, when he heard a knock on his bedroom door that was accompanied by a voice saying his name.

“Come in,” he called out, moving across the bed to make room for the person he knew was about to walk in.

“Did I wake you?” Ginny asked after popping her head round the door. Seeing that Harry was awake in his bed, she walked in and closed the door behind her.

“No, I couldn’t sleep,” Harry admitted as his best friend climbed into bed with him. “I’m not looking forward to tomorrow.”

“Neither am I,” Ginny replied, shifting across the bed to curl up against Harry. “I feel torn about returning to Hogwarts. I cannot wait to see Luna, Hermione and Neville, to play Quidditch and be back at the castle, but, at the same time, I am worried about being there and something happening like Sirius suggested.”

Ginny left out how she didn’t particularly like the idea of being away from Harry until Christmas. Even though, Sirius had agreed to take Harry out in public, she was not holding out hope that it would be one of the school’s Hogsmeade weekends. For some reason, returning to Hogwarts felt like stepping into the unknown. Yet, somehow, she felt like that everything would change this coming school year, but she just didn’t know how.

“Promise me that we will speak every night, even if it is just for few minutes or just to say good night?” Ginny pleaded with Harry, not caring if she sounded desperate at that moment.

“You know I will, no matter what. You need to promise that you will keep yourself safe and away from whomever this Ministry person is where possible.”

“I’ll do my best,” Ginny promised, much to Harry’s indignation. It was all she could promise him, because if this Ministry puppet said anything horrible about her best friend without him being there to defend himself, she knew she would stand up for him.

“Do you want to stay in here, tonight?” Harry asked, knowing he wanted to spend every spare second with her until she departed for King’s Cross Station.

Their night spent talking was evident for the occupants of Grimmauld Place to see the next morning. The two teens looked like they were sleep walking as they came into the kitchen for breakfast. Thankfully, no one said anything to the pair, knowing they would have to say their goodbyes to each other for the next three months.

At ten o’clock, the time came for the two best friends to say goodbye and part ways as a select few members of the Order arrived to accompany the Weasleys to Kings Cross. No words were exchanged, except for the agreement for Ginny to call Harry on their mirrors after the welcoming feast, as they hugged each other tightly. Then, she was gone.

“I know you are going to miss her,” Sirius said as he approached Harry, “but, do you really think I am going to make you wait until Christmas to see her?”

Harry’s eyes finally left the front door as they shot to look at his dad.

“I was thinking about letting you meet her in Hogsmeade at the start of October,” he told his son with a smile.

“Thank you, Dad,” Harry said as a smile finally crossed his face.

“You’re welcome. Now, let’s head home.”

HP&GW

Being back at the cottage brought mixed feelings for Harry. It was the place in which he had been raised by his loving godfather, but it was, now, also the place from which he had been lured and kidnapped from. He couldn’t help, therefore, questioning whether he would still be safe in the one place he had always believed he would be.

“It was never the wards,” his dad explained as they sat down at the kitchen table. “The goblins confirmed that they remain strong, and they even took the time to fix any minor issues they found while strengthening them further.”

“That’s all well and good, Dad, but how did I end up outside the wards? I know where the boundaries are like the back of my hand and would never purposefully leave them. I would only do so if we are going out somewhere.”

Sirius sighed, knowing he could no longer delay telling Harry what had happened that evening. He had held off for the entire summer mainly because he had wanted to give his son all the facts at once, especially if the Aurors came across something they had not picked up in their initial investigation. The other reason was because he had not wanted to bring down Harry’s mood. His son had been in a bad place in the immediate aftermath of the kidnapping, which was understandable. However, by the time the goblins and the Aurors had begun to piece together what had happened, Harry was smiling more often than not and that was mainly thanks to the presence of his best friend, Ginny. He had not wanted to destroy that piece of happiness. He was grateful, though, that he had held off as they finally figured out the final piece of the puzzle a couple of weeks previously “ how Harry had been able to be lured out of the wards and into the trap waiting for him.

“How much do you remember from before you were kidnapped?” he asked, already knowing that Harry’s memory of the events had been hazy.

“The last thing I remember was sitting down to have dinner at this very table,” Harry replied, closing his eyes to picture that evening in his mind. “Just before you served up the food, an owl arrived with a letter for me. I remember removing it from the owl and then… nothing.”

Harry opened his eyes and looked at his dad, “It was the letter, wasn’t it?”

“It was,” Sirius confirmed. “I didn’t realise immediately because you didn’t act any differently. We had dinner as normal, we talked and then, after dinner, you went out to go for a fly on your broom. I had no reason to believe the letter was a problem as you receive letters from Ginny at all times of the day. Plus, you have received letters from her at dinner time before, so I had no reason to think otherwise.”

“Dad, it wasn’t your fault, you know,” Harry told him as he reached out and grabbed his dad’s hand. “I opened the letter thinking it was from Ginny as well.”

“I know you did. Anyway, it didn’t click into the place that the letter may have been the problem until after the goblins confirmed the wards were never the problem. Thankfully, the letter was still on the table where you had left it, so I was able to take it directly to the Aurors, who confirmed it had a number of spells on there to make sure you continued to act as normal, to force you to walk outside of the wards and to not fight against what was happening to you. It was very Dark magic; most of these spells are unheard of.”

The many meetings Sirius had been to, over the course of the summer, had been with the goblins and the Aurors. Both had handled the kidnapping and the return of Voldemort differently. The goblins had accepted that the Dark Lord was back, having helped Sirius to make sure he had taken control of any vault belonging to those who were part of the Black family, especially those that had connections to Voldemort. The Aurors, however, had not gone beyond investigating how Harry had been kidnapped and had not looked into who had done it, stating there was no evidence or leads to suggest who they needed to arrest. That had angered Sirius, but he had kept his opinion to himself and had made sure to cooperate fully to, at least, find answers to how Harry had managed to be lured off the property. This, in turn, had led to another meeting with the goblins about additional wards to stop this from potentially happening again.

“The goblins have updated and added to the wards to make sure this can never happen again,” Sirius continued, desperate for his son to feel safe in the one place that had always felt that way for them. “The Aurors, on the other hand, feel there is not much more they can do in terms of investigating your kidnapping. They claim there are no clues as to who is behind what happened. Your case has been downgraded to non-essential for the moment.”

Harry sighed in defeat. He may not have spoken out about what had happened that night and the fact Voldemort had regained his body, but he felt like that the Aurors could have at least tried to go further in their investigation. If they did, perhaps the news of Voldemort being back would be taken seriously and accepted by the Ministry. His memories of that entire evening still remained hazy and now, with the news of the spells on the letter, the Aurors would claim his mind had been manipulated into believing Voldemort had returned, when, in their opinion, he had not. He pushed those thoughts aside for the moment, remembering that he was now safe and needed to concentrate on working towards taking down the man who had destroyed so many lives. However, one thought still lingered.

“Why did my parents not use the same wards we have around their own home?” Harry asked. It was something that had bothered him for a long time, ever since his dad had explained the magic that was keeping them safe from those who wished to harm them.

“I honestly don’t know why they didn’t, Harry,” Sirius said earnestly. “I know they had their reasons for not choosing to. I know they didn’t want to be hidden so well that no one could find them. For them, it had to be a last option. I have always wondered if the prophecy played a role in their decision, but I feel like they would have just moved in here if it had. All I know is that they wanted this place here and set up as an additional safe house and a place to raise you if the worst-case scenario came to pass.”

“I wish they had done more,” Harry confessed. “I love that you are my dad, but I miss my parents.”

“I do, too, kid,” Sirius said as he stood, walked around the table and pulled Harry into a hug. “I do, too.”

Back to index


Chapter 7: Seeking Advice

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for pointing all my horrendous mistakes as always! (Edited - 26/07/2021)


It had been just over a week since Ginny had returned to Hogwarts and Harry to his home with Sirius. The two friends had communicated via their mirrors, speaking about their days and other things for a couple of hours before saying goodnight and going to bed. Despite how much they missed each other, the mirrors had helped them handle the feelings that came from them being separated from one another. Sirius had also been right to be concerned about how they communicated as Ginny had found out on her first night back at school.

“Some Ministry Official by the name of Umbridge is our Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” Ginny had told Harry when he had asked about any new teachers. “She actually interrupted Dumbledore as he was giving out the Start of Term notices.”

“What did she say?” Harry asked, his feelings torn over what this unknown woman had done. He was amused that someone had had the courage to interrupt the headmaster, but he was also concerned that she had spoken to the entire school on the first night.

“I couldn’t tell you exactly what she said to us,” Ginny told him as she thought back to earlier in the evening. “A lot of what she said seemed to confuse most people, but I think that was the point. By confusing most of the students, she didn’t make it immediately obvious that her purpose at the school isn’t to teach, but to interfere.”

“That was what my dad was afraid of. I need you to promise that you will be careful around her. Please don’t let slip that you know me. I have been lucky so far that the Ministry have used the fact that my memories from that evening are fuzzy, but if they find out you know me and know the truth, they may use you in some way. My dad and I feel like we could make some progress in learning about Voldemort and his Horcruxes, maybe even begin searching for them. We won’t be able to do that if the Ministry is constantly on our backs about what happened in June.”

“I will try my best, Harry,” Ginny said, knowing she would not stand for anyone insulting Harry, “but you do know that you are going have to speak out eventually.”

“I know and I promise I will,” Harry admitted. “Dad is trying to hold out as long as possible to protect me and the privacy we have had all these years. Even then, I suspect he has a plan. However, for now, I will have my dad and Remus do some digging on this Umbridge woman. I suspect she is someone who loves power, and we cannot have her destroying the school for her own means.”

Sirius and Remus had come through on Harry’s request for information on Delores Umbridge. What they had found was not good and had only served to increase Harry’s concerns for Ginny’s safety.

“What did you find out about her?” Ginny had asked the moment she had discovered Harry had information on the woman.

“Well, she is a half-blood witch, even though she claims to be a Pureblood,” Harry started, looking down at the notes he had made when his dad and Remus had told him everything they had managed to dig up on the woman.

“What does that have to do with the situation at Hogwarts?”

“It has everything to do with it,” Harry stated firmly. “It’s important because of what we found out about her and the person she has become.”

Ginny just looked at Harry like he had grown a second head. Yet, she knew he would not bring up a piece of information like that unless he deemed it absolutely necessary.

“Her father is a wizard, who used to work in the Department of Magical Maintenance before he suddenly retired earlier than had been expected of him. No one knows what happened to him after he did so,” Harry continued after Ginny nodded her approval to do so. “Her mother, however, was a Muggle and her brother was a Squib. They left to live in the Muggle world while Umbridge was still attending Hogwarts.”

Ginny still didn’t see what this had to do with what Umbridge was planning to do at the school, but she couldn’t help but notice a strange similarity between her and Tom Riddle.

“It took a bit of digging, but my dad did manage to speak to a few people she attended Hogwarts with. Turns out she had no love for her mother or brother, because of the fact that they were not magical, and she felt they were inferior to her. We suspect her father may have influenced her feelings about them.”

“Was she sorted into Slytherin?” Ginny asked as she was reminded of the many taunts that had been thrown at Hermione about her Muggleborn status.

“Was it that obvious?” Harry chuckled in response. “She is definitely your typical Slytherin “ ambitious, ruthless, cunning “ something that was obvious to all those that knew her. Yet, despite how high she has risen in the Ministry, she was never a Prefect or Head Girl.”

Ginny gasped, realising just what Umbridge planned to do.

“She is going to attempt to have Dumbledore thrown out, isn’t she? She wants to become the headmistress herself and make changes to Hogwarts that would favour those who she deems acceptable and worthy of studying magic.”

Harry smiled, impressed at how quickly she had come to that conclusion.

“That’s what we think,” Harry confirmed. “We know she was the one behind the Anti-Werewolf Legislation that passed a couple of years back, making it harder for Remus to find work. So, it wasn’t really surprising to find out that she has quite the anti-Muggle rhetoric.”

“Was she a Death Eater?”

“No, but we all believe she would follow Voldemort without question if he ever managed to take control of the Ministry.”

“While I am grateful that you have told me all of this, it is going to make it harder for me to keep my mouth shut. I barely made it through my last lesson with her. Now that I know this about her, it’s going to leave me glaring at her throughout the entire next lesson!”

“Let me give you something to laugh about then,” Harry said as a cheeky smile, the one Ginny always associated with mischief, appeared on his face. “My dad really went all out with researching Umbridge’s past to the point of speaking to Mr Ollivander. Her wand is only eight inches in length, which is unusually short for a wand. Mr Ollivander told Sirius those that had much shorter wands than the norm meant that they were morally stunted!”

“You mean to tell me that the wand that chose her recognised her awful character long before anyone else knew?” Ginny said, biting her lip to keep her laughter in.

“Yes,” Harry just about managed to reply before the two friends burst out laughing.

“Oh, I cannot wait for my next lesson with her,” Ginny said gleefully.

That lesson came the very next day and, even armed with that piece of knowledge, the lesson ended badly for Ginny.

Like the fourth years’ previous lesson, the class had started with a reminder with just how far behind the Ministry felt they were when it came to Defence Against the Dark Arts before she told them to read the second chapter of their assigned book.

Ginny opened her book to the set chapter and stared at the page. She tried to keep herself focused on the page in front of her by reminding herself of what Harry had told her about Umbridge’s wand, but she quickly found her mind wandering. She had taken the time, after their first lesson, to flick through the book and had quickly discovered that it would not help them to learn or understand the necessary skills and spells needed to defend themselves. Adding in the fact that Umbridge had stated that there would be no practical lessons, Ginny knew that the Ministry was desperate for control over the students to the point of making them defenceless and leaving them dependent on the Aurors.

“Miss Weasley?”

Ginny looked up from her book to see Umbridge stood in front of her, a questioning look on her face.

“You do not appear to be reading. Is there a problem?” Umbridge asked loud enough for the entire class to hear, causing them to stop reading and turn to look at Ginny.

“I have already read this chapter,” Ginny said, twisting the truth slightly. The woman didn’t need to know that she had only skimmed through each chapter.

“Then, you may proceed to the next chapter you have not read.”

“I have read the entire book, Professor,” Ginny replied, twisting the truth again.

“Ah, yes, well, this book was meant to cover you for the entire year’s classes, Miss Weasley,” Umbridge replied, obviously stunned that someone had completed the reading. “Perhaps you could summarise what Wilbert Slinkhard taught you.”

Ginny had not been expecting to be asked for her opinion but knew this was an opportunity to call out the woman’s teaching ability and the impact it would have on the students in the future. She knew, however, she needed to do it in a way that didn’t bring Harry’s name into it, something she felt would be incredibly difficult to do.

“I found the book to be dull and boring,” Ginny started. She had grasped enough of the content to understand how useless the book was and how damaging it would be on the students’ education.

“Please stand up, Miss Weasley, as you speak,” Umbridge said, a scowl on her face. “You may come to the front of the room to address the class.”

Ginny did as she was asked, feeling the questioning stares of her entire class on her as she did so. When she turned to face her classmates, she could see that some were also worried about what she was going to say, but she was not going back down from the truth for anyone.

“As I was saying,” Ginny said clearly once Umbridge indicated to her to continue, “I found the book to be dull and boring. It would appear that the author felt the need to discourage the use of any potential spell that could protect you from being hit by something harmful. While I accept that our lessons have been disrupted by the constant change in teachers, I do not believe that this is the book that will help us to catch up to where it is believed we should be or to prepare us for the real world.”

The silence that hung over the classroom as Ginny finished speaking was deafening. Ginny knew she had more than likely overstepped with her comments, but she had been asked to reveal her thoughts on the book and she had not wanted to lie.

“Miss Weasley, this book was chosen as a way to teach the students at this school in a secure and risk-free environment. The Ministry believes that this will be sufficient for all students to take and pass their exams,” Professor Umbridge explained in response to Ginny’s statement. “So, I must ask you what exactly it is that you object to?”

“The lack of practical lessons,” Ginny stated firmly, refusing to back down. “Not only will it impact our final exam scores, especially for those taking their OWLs and NEWTs this year, but it leaves each and every one of us vulnerable to attack.”

“Who are you expecting to attack you or anyone here in this school?”

“Voldemort or a Death Eater,” Ginny said as the class gasped at her saying Voldemort’s name. She was glad that Harry had drummed into her that it was better to say his name rather than live in fear of it.

“Ten points from Gryffindor for your unacceptable lies,” Umbridge said to Ginny before turning to face the class, who were still in shock from Ginny’s comments. “You may have heard that Professor Dumbledore believes a certain Dark wizard to be back, but let it be known, this is a lie!”

“From what I heard, the Ministry was offered solid evidence that Voldemort had returned, but the Minister refused to believe what was in front of his eyes,” Ginny argued back as she felt her temper begin to build beyond her being able to control it. “Is Fudge that desperate for control that he would happily ignore the biggest threat to our world?”

“Detention, Miss Weasley! I do not know who has filled your head with such nonsense, but your lies are unacceptable and dangerous.”

The squat witch walked over to her desk and scribbled something down before handing the piece of parchment to Ginny.

“Take this to Professor McGonagall,” she told Ginny. “I shall see you in my office for your first detention at seven tonight.”

Ginny quickly grabbed her things and shoved them into her bag before fleeing the classroom. She knew she had gone too far, but she would not back down from what she knew to be true. Harry’s name may not have been brought up, but Umbridge’s refusal to believe the truth meant refusing to believe Harry. She just prayed that Professor McGonagall was not too angry with her and that her awareness of Ginny and Harry being best friends would reduce that anger to understanding. Then again, she also hoped Harry wasn’t upset by her losing her temper.

HP&GW

“She did what?” Harry asked in shock.

It was much later than usual when Ginny had called him via their mirrors, apologising for the lateness as she had been stuck in detention. Harry was stunned as his best friend explained what she had done to end up there. He was more than impressed by the fact, though, that she had managed to stand up for him without revealing she knew him or saying his name. As she had stated to him, anyone criticising Dumbledore for speaking the truth was essentially criticising Harry as well, especially given that the headmaster had stated that Harry had been used in a ritual to bring back Voldemort.

“She made me use a Blood Quill,” Ginny quietly repeated.

“Show me your hand, Ginny.”

A hand appeared in the mirror. Harry was grateful that there currently appeared to be no scarring, though it was extremely red. However, if Ginny continued on with the rest of the detentions, her hand would definitely be left scarred for life.

“You need to tell Professor McGonagall, Ginny,” Harry told her calmly. “You know full well that the use of a Blood Quill on minors is illegal. Umbridge can claim all she wants that your detention is deserved, but her chosen punishment is not.”

“I can’t tell her, Harry,” Ginny protested. “McGonagall made it clear that her hands were tied when it came to the detentions. We may be a couple of weeks into the term, but it is obvious to everyone that the teachers are literally walking on eggshells around Umbridge. I don’t think there is anything that she will be able to do. Plus, if I do tell, Umbridge wins.”

Harry sighed in defeat. As much as he hated how stubborn Ginny was being, he knew he would behave exactly the same way if he was in her position. The woman would think Ginny was weak if she spoke up and would easily fall into the Ministry’s line of thinking. It wouldn’t happen, though, because of Ginny’s own experience with the younger version of Voldemort, her knowledge of what had happened in June and what needed to be done to eventually defeat him.

“You’re right,” Harry admitted. “I hate that there is nothing I can do to help you. I know you don’t need me to protect you, but I wish there was something I could do. Just promise me that you won’t lose your temper with her and end up in detention again.”

“I’ll try, but I suspect she will goad me now until I do. I’m sorry, Harry.”

“Don’t you dare apologise! I love that you stood up for me, for the truth. We are in a tough situation, thanks to the Ministry’s denial and Voldemort’s decision to remain hidden. Yes, it buys us some time to move forward without anyone questioning what we are doing, but it puts so many people at risk. I don’t even know what to do.”

“I think it may be time for you to speak out,” Ginny confessed. “You may have your name dragged through the mud, but they won’t be able to seek you out when you are well hidden. If it helps, you have more support here at the school than you realise. I think, therefore, you may have more support from the public than the Ministry even realises.”

Harry’s dad had already stated to him that there was a plan to allow him the chance to speak out and make his story known. The problem was finding the right publication that would not only be willing to print the story but support it. He would need to speak to his dad to ask him to make it a priority. People needed the truth and they needed it sooner rather than later.

HP&GW

Harry blinked open his eyes, feeling disoriented as he did so.

“What the hell was that Harry?” came the voice of his dad.

Ignoring the question for the moment, Harry shook the feeling of disorientation away before sitting up. He realised that he was on the floor of the duelling room that his dad had set up for them when they began his education. He was also wandless. He quickly came to conclusion that his dad had managed to beat him in a duel for the first time in over a year.

“Sorry,” Harry muttered as he clambered to his feet and held his hand out for his wand.

“Oh, no, you are not getting your wand back until you tell me what happened,” his dad sternly told him. “I have just managed to Stun and Disarm you in under five minutes. That has not happened for quite some time.”

Harry kept his eyes down, unable to bear the thought of seeing the look of disappointment on his dad’s face. He didn’t want to tell him that he had been distracted by the overwhelming feeling of anxiety. He certainly didn’t want his dad knowing that the anxiety was over his best friend, who he could now admit to himself that he had fallen for her. Distraction, as he had been told time and again, increased the risk of losing, of being injured, and of being killed.

“You were distracted,” his dad stated when Harry still did not respond. “This session is over for the day. We are not even going to do any other lessons until you deal with whatever is bothering you.”

Neither wizard moved. Harry knew his dad was waiting for him to open up rather than leaving him to wallow in his thoughts. It was the reason he didn’t move himself, because he knew the time had come to say out loud what he had been afraid to admit.

“It’s Ginny,” Harry blurted out.

“I figured as much,” Sirius replied with a smirk.

“She lost her temper with Umbridge,” Harry explained, knowing he needed to tell his dad everything before he could even contemplate admitting his feelings. “She stood up for me. She didn’t mention my name, but she still stood up for me. Gave the woman her honest opinion about the book they are using at Hogwarts for Defence this year. She also may have let slip that she was aware of Fudge’s reaction to the news of Voldemort being back, even with actual evidence. Then, she had the cheek to question if it was Fudge’s desire to retain control that made him deny Voldemort’s return!”

“I would have loved to have seen that!” Sirius said with a chuckle. He loved Ginny’s no-nonsense attitude, even if it did risk getting her into trouble as it had on this occasion.

“She is now stuck in detention for the next few evenings, but that isn’t the part that is bothering me, Dad. It’s the fact that Umbridge made her write lines with a Blood Quill!”

“Are you serious?”

“Do you really think I would make such an accusation without good reason?” Harry asked rhetorically. “Ginny refuses to tell anyone what is happening, something I can understand. I want to help her, but there is nothing I can do for her. I just wish she had not gone back to school and that she was here with me.”

Harry froze as he realised what he had just confessed. He had all but admitted to his dad that he had fallen for the red head.

“Firstly, I am going to, whether you want me to or not, have a word with Kingsley about the Blood Quill,” Sirius responded, seemingly ignoring Harry’s final comment. “I doubt he will be able to do much right now because Fudge will easily overrule anything he tries to do. If I make him aware, it can be used against her if the opportunity presents itself. It doesn’t help Ginny out, but we can at least start making the necessary steps towards having Umbridge removed from her position.”

Harry nodded in agreement, glad that his dad had some sort of idea of how to deal with that awful toad of a woman.

“Is there any chance we could speed along me making a statement about what happened in June?” Harry asked, remembering what Ginny had said to him the night before. “It isn’t right that Professor Dumbledore takes on the burden of the abuse for speaking out about Voldemort. I still don’t even understand why I have avoided it all, but Ginny says I have more support than the Ministry realises.”

Sirius sighed, knowing his son hated how much he was kept from the public eye. Even though they had remained hidden successfully, Harry had still developed a strong sense of right and wrong and had become someone who would always speak up for those who could not. The opportunity had never presented itself until now and Sirius knew that the time had come.

“Dumbledore has taken on that burden because, like me, he wants to protect you,” Sirius told his son as he walked up and placed his hands on Harry’s shoulders. “The Auror department put out a statement about your kidnapping and blurry memories, so that is what has predominantly protected you from any sort of abuse. If you speak up…”

“Then I will take whatever they throw at me,” Harry interrupted, not willing to be protected anymore.

“I am proud of you for being willing to do this and accept whatever the consequences are,” Sirius said, pulling his son into a hug. “Your parents would be proud of you as well.”

Harry sucked in a breath at hearing his dad speak of his birth parents. While they spoke regularly about James and Lily, his dad had always been careful not to compare him to them or to put pressure on him to live up to their reputations. He had been given the chance to become an individual rather than allowing his parents’ actions to influence who he became.

“Don’t think I have forgotten about making my second point, Harry,” Sirius said as he pulled away from his son. “I heard very clearly what you said about Ginny. I think that conversation would be better off taking place in the kitchen.”

Harry followed his dad out of the duelling room and through the house to the kitchen. Taking a seat at the table, he kept his eyes down as he tried to figure out what he was going to say to his dad about his feelings for his best friend.

“So, you like Ginny,” Sirius simply said as he placed a cold bottle of water in front of his son.

“I… yes, I do,” Harry finally admitted out loud before taking a long sip of water.

“I was starting to wonder if you were ever going to figure out that you like her.”

Harry’s eyes snapped up to look at his dad as his jaw dropped in shock at the statement.

“Seriously, Harry?” Sirius asked in amusement. “You really think no one knew that the pair of you were falling for one another? It was obvious to everyone who saw the two of you together throughout the summer.”

“She likes me, too?” Harry whispered, ignoring everything else his dad had said.

“Of course, she does and, like you, she is probably wondering if you like her as well.”

Harry could not believe that Ginny liked him. He couldn’t imagine why she did, given the mess he had been at the start of the summer and the numerous flaws he had. Yet, somehow, she was able to overlook all that and be his best friend. Now, there was potential for more. The problem was he had a severe lack of experience when it came to the opposite sex.

“I know I have done you a disservice by keeping the number of people you interact with to a minimum,” Sirius admitted, pulling Harry from his thoughts, “but any questions you have, you know I will happily answer. I will even redo the sex talk we have already had.”

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Harry replied awkwardly as his cheeks heated up. “At least, not yet. Right now, I want to find the courage to tell her how I feel, and I would rather do it in person.”

“And not wait until Christmas?”

Harry nodded. Now, that he knew that his best friend was falling for him, he didn’t think he would be able to wait three months before admitting how he felt. On top of that, he was fearful that she would be asked out by someone at Hogwarts and actually say yes to them, not believing she ever had a chance with her best friend. No, it needed to be sooner rather than later.

“And you definitely don’t want to tell her over the mirrors?”

“No, I want to do this in person and in private with no potential for interruptions,” Harry firmly stated. He just hoped that knowing what he now knew wouldn’t make things awkward when talking to her every night.

“Ok, that one I can sort out for you,” his dad told him with a calculating look in his eye. “I can make that work with the original plan I had set out for Hogsmeade next month. However, I have to ask you this and I need you to really think about your answer.”

“Ok,” Harry slowly said as he wondered what his dad was going to ask him, worrying that it was something that could put him off asking out Ginny altogether.

“I understand you wanting to go public with the truth about June,” his dad said, a concerned look now in his eyes, “and I understand your desire for a normal teenage experience, something I have struggled to give you, but…”

There it was, the ‘but’ that Harry had been expecting. It was enough for him to know that he was about to be asked a question he had not even considered.

“Do you plan to be open and honest about dating Ginny or do you intend to keep the relationship private?”

The conversation they’d had back at Grimmauld Place came rushing back to Harry. There were concerns that Voldemort could potentially kidnap Ginny, though no intelligence had confirmed that either way. Then, there was the fact that no one was even aware of their friendship, except for those who had been present at Grimmauld Place this past summer. If the Ministry, or even Voldemort knew, they could potentially use her to draw Harry out into the open before he was ready. There were so many factors to consider that Harry began to wonder if it was even worth telling Ginny how he truly felt.

“Don’t do that, Harry,” his dad sternly said, his voice breaking through Harry’s concerns. “Don’t let what is happening stop you from having something good in your life. Your parents didn’t let the war stop them from being together, getting married or from even having you.”

“I don’t want her getting hurt,” Harry whispered, feeling his heart break over the possibility of never telling his best friend how he felt. “I don’t want them using her against me. I don’t want to lose her, Dad. I love my life with you and Uncle Remus. You are the best family I could have asked for, but Ginny, she’s different. She’s the best thing in my life.”

“Then, I think you have your answer, son.”

HP&GW

Ginny climbed through the portrait hole, relieved that she had now completed her weeks’ worth of detentions with Umbridge. She was determined not to find herself back in detention as she didn’t think she could physically or mentally take another week of using the Blood Quill. The words, ‘I must not tell lies’, were now permanently etched into her hand, which was currently sore and bleeding from her final round of writing lines. She had fallen behind in her homework and was losing sleep as result of the scramble to catch up and the stress it had caused her. All she wanted to do right now, however, was to get her hand cleaned up, crawl into bed and speak to Harry through their mirrors.

“Ginny?” said the voice from the last person she wanted to speak to at that moment.

Taking a deep breath, Ginny turned and saw Hermione Granger sitting in an armchair that stood in the corner of the common room. A pile of books was stacked neatly on the floor with one book open on the older girl’s lap. She should have known that Hermione would most likely still be up, prepping well in advance of the OWL exams.

“Hi, Hermione,” Ginny greeted her kindly while praying that the fifth year did not keep her too long. “I didn’t see you there, not that I’m surprised to see you down here, studying.”

Hermione did not answer as her eyes were glued to the sight in front of her. Ginny quickly realised that, despite her having covered the worst of the damage, her hand could still be seen and was dripping blood.

“What happened, Ginny?” Hermione asked as she threw her book to the floor and quickly approached the youngest Weasley. “Why is your hand bleeding?”

“It’s nothing,” Ginny lied as she tried to shove her hand into her pocket. However, Hermione grabbed hold her wrist and pulled Ginny’s hand to her.

Ginny closed her eyes in shame as she heard the horrified gasp of her closest female friend.

“You said you were just writing lines, Ginny,” Hermione said as she pulled Ginny’s hand up to take a closer a look, causing Ginny gasp out in pain. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your hand more.”

“It’s fine, Hermione.”

“It isn’t,” Hermione scolded her before guiding the redhead over to the sofa in front of the fireplace. “From the looks of it, this is going to be a permanent scar. Have you seen or even told anyone?”

“Yes,” Ginny admitted, looking away from the concerned look she was being given.

“Well, why didn’t they do anything to stop what was happening to you? Actually, how did this happen?”

“She made me use a Blood Quill. Yes, I know they are illegal, Hermione, before you even ask. As for why no one has put a stop to it is because the person I told doesn’t attend this school and understood my reasons for not informing a member of staff.”

“You need to tell someone, Ginny. Someone who can actually take the correct steps to ensuring this doesn’t happen again or to anyone else.”

Ginny pulled her hand out of the fifth year’s hand and stood as her anger bubbled to the surface.

“Exactly what would they do? The Ministry is trying to take control of the school. Umbridge is watching the teachers’ every move. If they told her to stop what she was doing or even reported her to Dumbledore, she would lie through her teeth to make it look like I was the one in the wrong. On top of that, if I told a teacher then she would win. She would think that she had done enough to make her think I would now toe the Ministry line. I refuse to allow that to happen. I will not have her make my best friend out to be a liar.”

Ginny collapsed back onto the sofa after her outburst. She didn’t even look to see the stunned expression on her friend’s face.

“He’s your best friend, isn’t he?” Hermione whispered as she connected the dots. While she had been aware that Ginny knew Harry Potter, she had not realised how close the two teens had become. “He’s the one you told all about what that toad has been doing to you?”

“Yes.”

“I need more than a simple yes, Ginny,” Hermione said in exasperation at the lack of an answer. “You don’t need to give me every little detail, but I need to understand why you would risk that woman’s wrath all for a boy who doesn’t even attend our school and has never spoken out about what supposedly happened to him in June.”

Ginny sighed, not particularly wanting to have this conversation, but she needed someone to talk to about Harry. Perhaps, she could figure out what to do about how she felt about her best friend and whether she should confess how she felt to him.

“Fine, but you cannot tell anyone what I tell you,” Ginny demanded, knowing that Hermione wouldn’t leave her alone until she told her the truth.

Hermione nodded her agreement, leading to Ginny giving the older witch an overview of their friendship, starting from when Harry rescued her in the Chamber of Secrets. She held back a significant amount of information that she knew Hermione would pick up on, but Ginny refused to break her promise of keeping what she knew secret.

“I have been speaking to him every night via a mirror that has been charmed so we can communicate,” Ginny said as she came to end of what she felt comfortable telling Hermione. “He knows about the detentions, and I know his dad was going to speak to an Auror about it, not that they can do anything. Umbridge is literally under Fudge’s protection.”

“Oh!” Hermione gasped as she clapped a hand over her mouth. “You like him! You like him more than just a friend!”

Ginny nodded, grateful that Hermione was now distracted from the detentions by the fact she had fallen for Harry.

“Is the reason you haven’t told him because you don’t believe you are good enough for the Boy Who Lived?” Hermione asked, picking up that Ginny had not told Harry how she felt.

“Hermione!” Ginny gasped out in shock, not believing her friend could say something like she just had. She still remained unsure as to whether Harry had feelings for her; she did wonder if she was good enough for him, but not because he was the Boy Who Lived.

“Oh, no, that came out all wrong! I’m so sorry!” Hermione said as she realised how her words had come across to the red head. “I didn’t mean to say that. I think I may have been a little too excited at the possibility that my friend could end up dating the Boy Who Lived.”

Ginny sighed, understanding why Harry had been so cautious when he had first met her brothers. He didn’t want this moniker to define who he is was, especially when he was so much better than the stories she had been told about the Boy Who Lived as a child.

“He isn’t the Boy Who Lived to me, Hermione,” Ginny confessed, knowing now that if she pursued a relationship with Harry, then it would have to remain a secret for so many reasons. Yet, she realised that she was willing for it to remain unknown to most of the wizarding world if it meant she could be with him. “To me, he’s just Harry.”

Back to index


Chapter 8: Secret Meetings

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for your brilliant editing skills as always. I do not apologise for how I have chosen to end this chapter! Hehe! (Edited - 31/07/2021)


“Why me, Hermione?” Ginny moaned as she followed the older witch and her brother towards the Hog’s Head. “Why do I have to be the one to lead this meeting?”

It was now the beginning of October and the first Hogsmeade visit of the school year. Somehow, though Ginny was not sure how, Hermione had convinced her to help her form a defence group and wanted Ginny to not only lead it but teach those who joined.
It had become alarmingly obvious that, despite complaints from every year group, Umbridge would not budge when it came to her refusal to provide practical lessons. The fifth and seventh years were already beginning to panic that they would not be ready for their OWLs and NEWTs come June. The Ministry official was slowly taking over the school just as Ginny had feared and she couldn’t help but wonder what Umbridge would do next to destroy the school she knew and loved.

Thankfully, Ginny had managed to keep her temper in check and had not earned any more detentions. That was not to say there had not been moments that she wanted to call out the lies Umbridge had continued to insist on telling, but Harry had warned her, during one of their late-night chats, that she risked having her privileges of attending Hogsmeade and being on the Gryffindor Quidditch team taken away if she wasn’t careful. The atmosphere in school already felt miserable, all thanks to the interfering witch, but there was no way Ginny was going to let her take away the things that she enjoyed.

It also didn’t help that she was desperately missing Harry. Their late-night chats, via their connected mirrors, had been a saving grace, but it wasn’t the same as when they had curled up together on the sofa or Harry’s bed. Luckily, she had managed to not let her feelings for her best friend make their conversations awkward. While there had been some nights where she had thought she should just tell him when she called him through the mirror, she knew she wanted to wait until she saw him in person. She just hoped she didn’t have to wait until Christmas before she could do so.

“How many times do I need to remind you, Ginny?” Hermione replied with a huff, pausing to turn and look at the younger witch. “I know you hate talking about what happened to you in your first year, but you are, right now, the only person in school who has any experience with You-Know-Who. I don’t expect you to tell anyone the details of what happened that year, but you can, at least, make them understand just how cruel he can be.”

Ginny had not even considered that the older witch might want her to mention anything to do with the Chamber. The whole school knew she had been the one to be dragged down into it, but none of them, barring Hermione and Ron, knew the full details or that Voldemort had been controlling her in order for her to do his bidding. She didn’t know if she was even ready to have that conversation with anyone who didn’t already know the truth. Yet, here was Hermione, in her own brash way, asking her to be honest with people who could potentially laugh in her face.

“I can understand you wanting me to speak up about my own experience with Voldemort,” Ginny replied as the three teens continued their walk through Hogsmeade, “but I can’t even promise you that I will even reveal that much. It’s not easy for me to talk about with people who have minimal knowledge of that year.”

“I’m not asking you to give them a full account of what happened to you that year, Ginny,” Hermione told her. “You can still give them something without exposing how uncomfortable it is for you to speak about.”

Ginny was not sure how to take that approach without revealing more than she wanted to. Hopefully, the conversation with the other students would guide her towards a suitable answer that she felt at ease with. There was still the question, though, of why she was the one most qualified to teach the other students, all of whom were older than her.

“Why me, though?” she asked as they neared the Hog’s Head. “Why am I the one being made to teach the group? I’m just a fourth year and everyone coming today is older than me. What could I possibly teach them that they don’t already know?”

“Are you kidding me, Gin?” Ron responded. “You had extra training with your best friend over the summer. You began to learn the Patronus Charm in your second year when Dementors were stationed at the school because of Peter Pettigrew. Yes, you may not have successfully conjured a full corporal Patronus until this summer, but you were getting close by the time you finished your second year. If you don’t think you are suitable to teach other students, then think about everything you have accomplished in the last two years.”

“I am going to have to agree with Ron,” Hermione said, shocking Ginny, “because you told me you would never let anyone ever control you the way that Tom Riddle did. You threw yourself into your schoolwork, especially Defence Against the Dark Arts. Not only that, but you also made the effort to make friends beyond our house. People like you, so trust me when I say, they will listen to you.”

Ginny sighed, knowing she had lost the argument. Her brother and friend had made valid points, ones she could not refute. She also knew she had to remember that many of those invited needed a way to practice the spells they would require for their OWLs and NEWTs. She doubted she would be able to help them, except for, perhaps, assigning time for them to focus solely on those specific spells.

“Fine,” Ginny said in a huff, “but I am warning you, if we get caught, I am taking you down with me!”

“Deal,” Ron replied before Hermione could complain. “Now, can we go in? I can see the twins heading this way, which means others should be following pretty soon.”

Within half hour of entering the near-empty run-down inn, a bigger group than Ginny had been expecting filled a good portion of the available tables. George and Fred, who she had known would be coming, had talked Angelina, Alicia and Katie from the Gryffindor Quidditch Team into attending, along with their best friend, Lee Jordan. She could also see her fellow Gryffindor, Colin Creevey, as well as a couple of sixth years from Ravenclaw and a fair few others from other years and houses. She was especially happy to see one of her closest friends, Luna Lovegood, had attended. It seemed, however, that nearly all of the fifth years had come along, except for those in Slytherin. Despite how nervous this number of people made her, she knew that almost all of them believed that Voldemort had returned, accepting that Professor Dumbledore would not have announced it without good reason.

“Thank you for coming everyone,” Hermione said as she stood to face the group of students. “We all know why we are here, which is to discuss the potential idea for forming a study group for Defence Against the Dark Arts. We all know Umbridge refuses to teach practical lessons, believing that they are not needed and that a decent knowledge of the theory behind a spell will mean we would be able to cast it on the first try during our actual practical exams. I will admit that for those of us who have our OWLs or NEWTs this year are desperately in need of the practical lessons, but there is another reason for the need to learn these spells “ Lord Voldemort is back.”

Ginny sat up a little straighter at hearing her friend willingly say “Voldemort” out loud for the first time. She didn’t fail to notice the visible reactions of most of the group, however, something that angered her. She knew she could work on making sure the group could not only stop reacting to the name but teach them to say it without fear as well. Harry had managed it with her, and she’d had a real reason to fear the name.

“Where’s the proof that he is back?” said a boy she knew to be Zacharias Smith, a Hufflepuff in her year.

“Professor Dumbledore announced it,” Hermione replied firmly. “He has spoken to those involved and has seen the evidence that confirms it.”

“What evidence?” Zacharias argued back. “Harry Potter is the one who supposedly saw You-Know-Who come back, if Dumbledore is to be believed, but he has not spoken out once to confirm it.”

“Why are you here?” Ginny asked angrily. “What reason brought you to this meeting? Is it to find out details about how Voldemort returned? Because that is something none of us here can even provide you!”

The Hufflepuff shrunk back under the angry glare Ginny gave him. She knew Harry did not want her mentioning to anyone outside of her family and Hermione that she knew him personally, but she also knew he would want her to say whatever it took to make people understand and accept the truth.

“I may not have been there in June to witness his return,” Ginny said as she went and stood next to Hermione, “but I already knew he was never dead and was attempting to find a way to return.”

“You don’t need to do this, Gin,” Ron whispered as he came up behind her. “I know we said it would be good for you to say something, but not like this, not when you are angry.”

Ginny turned her head to look at her brother and was surprised by the look of concern on his face. She knew he cared for her, even though they still argued as siblings did, and he had taken good care of her on her return to Hogwarts for her second year. Yet, in this moment, his look of concern overwhelmed her.

“I need to do this, Ron,” Ginny quietly confessed to him, grateful she had him there to support her, especially if she couldn’t have her best friend by her side. “I need to face what happened to me and not hide from it.”

Ron nodded, but remained where he stood, making clear he was standing by her as she spoke to the group.

“You all know that I was the one taken down into the Chamber of Secrets back in my first year at Hogwarts,” Ginny began to explain, hiding the fear she had that people would reject her for what she was forced to do. “What you are not aware of, however, is that I was being controlled by a diary I wrote in. It somehow possessed me and forced me to open the chamber, release the Basilisk and attack Muggleborns. I apologise if you were one of those people that was attacked or affected by what I did.”

“Was it You-Know-Who’s diary?” Colin Creevey asked, one of those she had unwillingly attacked that year.

“Yes,” Ginny whispered.

“That’s why you believe Dumbledore when he says You-Know-Who is back,” Cho Chang stated, not questioning Ginny any further on her experience.

“It’s part of it. I have other reasons that I currently cannot reveal to you, but even without them, my experience with the diary would have been more than enough for me to believe Professor Dumbledore.”

The look on the faces of the students that were present was mixed, but no one seemed to want to argue with what Ginny had told them. She had made them accept he was back, but they still needed to understand how bad things could possibly become for the entire wizarding world.

“None of us here are even old enough to remember the last war against Voldemort,” she continued when it appeared no one was going to say anything further. “Yet, a fair few of our families were impacted because of it. My two uncles died and from what Ron and I have been told, they refused to go down without a fight. My mum was devastated by the loss of her brothers, but is proud by how they refused to go quietly.”

“Ginny’s right,” Neville said, standing up to address everyone. “You-Know-Who and his followers will willingly kill or destroy anyone who stands in their way. My parents were tortured into insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange and other Death Eaters, and they are now permanent patients at St. Mungo’s. Harry Potter had defeated You-Know-Who by that point, but that didn’t matter to them.”

The silence that followed Neville’s confession was deafening. Everyone knew he lived with his grandmother, but no one had ever asked what had happened to his parents. People had just assumed they had died in the war

“So, are we going to make this group happen then?” Neville asked when no one else seemed to have a response.

The next ten minutes led to a somewhat fierce debate about where and when they were going to meet. It didn’t help that they needed to figure out how to schedule around Quidditch team practices, Prefect duties and homework. In the end, it was agreed that until they could find a suitable place to meet, which was away from prying eyes, they would put the first meeting on hold.

“Who’s going to teach us?” one of fifth year Ravenclaws asked, who Ginny recognised as Michael Corner. They had met at the Yule Ball the previous school year and had shared one dance together before Ginny had gently refused his advances.

“Ginny will,” Ron said confidently. “She was given some additional training over the summer. She has accomplished so much, even mastering spells that we are not taught until seventh year.”

“Like what?” Ernie Macmillan asked sceptically.

“The Patronus Charm,” he replied proudly. Ginny knew Ron would usually be jealous of what she had accomplished, but he had understood the necessity for her to learn as the Dementors had an awful effect on her.

Every student, her brothers included, looked at her in awe, something Ginny was not comfortable with.

“I’m not an expert,” Ginny argued. “Please don’t expect me to get you through your exams. That is down to you, not me. The stuff I was taught was for me to be able to defend myself, because of fears that I may potentially be a target.”

“I highly doubt you could be a much worse teacher than Professor Umbridge,” Neville declared to much agreement from the other students.

Ginny wanted to argue back, but it seemed that everyone was set on her being the one to teach them. She didn’t know if she could do it or help them as they thought she could. She would need to ask for advice on how to do what was expected of her and she knew the perfect people to ask. She just wished they had been able to come to Hogsmeade today, but she had not received word from Harry or Sirius in any form.

“Before we go our separate ways, I think it is important that Umbridge is not made aware of what we are planning,” Hermione stated as she pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill from her bag. “I also think we should all sign our names on this as an agreement not to reveal what we have planned.”

Ginny immediately saw the reluctance on the faces of several students. She didn’t care for their arguments and just wanted to get out of there, so she could go back to Hogwarts and call Harry on her mirror. So, she walked over to Hermione, took the quill and signed the parchment.

“If you don’t sign it, I will happily learn how to Obliviate those who refuse,” Ginny said before walking away from the group, not noticing the two people slipping out of the door of the inn.

“Hey, Red,” came a gruff voice.

She turned her head in the direction of the voice to see the barman looking at her. He seemed familiar to her, but she couldn’t place why he did so.

“Have a note for you here,” he said, causing her to approach him to collect it.

Ginny immediately recognised the handwriting on the front of the note, and she quickly opened the parchment and read it. Her heart jumped for joy to discover Harry and Sirius were in Hogsmeade and wanted her to join them in the Three Broomsticks for lunch. However, she questioned how they had known to give the note to the barman to pass onto her. Had they been in here without her realising? There had been a couple of patrons, but they had ignored the group. Looking round, she noticed they were no longer here, leading her to believe they had been present during the entire meeting. She wouldn’t know for certain, though, until she asked them. The sooner she rounded up her brothers and Hermione, who had also been invited along, the sooner she could find out and ask for their advice.

HP&GW

“Madam Rosmerta? I believe you are expecting me and my brothers,” Ginny said once she had reached the bar at the Three Broomsticks.

The landlady turned and smiled on seeing the young redhead, “Of course, if you give me a minute, I will show you through.”

Ginny nodded in understanding before turning back to her brothers and Hermione, hoping they wouldn’t be left waiting too long.

“Are you sure I was invited?” Hermione asked her nervously. “I don’t even know them, so why would I be asked?”

“Yes, you are invited,” Ginny replied, hoping to ease her friend’s nerves. “As to why, well, we may have told them a little bit about you, especially your opinions on house-elves. Just don’t pepper him with questions, Hermione.”

Before Hermione could make any sort of promise, Madam Rosmerta returned and led the group through to a private room at the back of the inn. She had barely opened the door when Ginny, on spotting her best friend, burst through and ran over to Harry, throwing herself into his arms.

“You came!” she said excitedly.

“Of course, I did,” Harry replied as he hugged her close to his body. “I have been bugging my dad for the past month about coming.”

The two friends finally pulled apart when they heard someone, most likely Harry’s dad, clear their throat. Turning round to face everyone, they found knowing looks on the faces of Sirius and Ginny’s brothers and an awe-struck Hermione.

“You remember my brothers, Harry,” she said, realising she needed to introduce Harry to the one person he did not know. “And, this is Hermione Granger, Ron’s best friend, who we told you about over the summer.”

“I have heard a lot about you,” Harry said as he walked over and held out his hand to the bushy-haired witch.

For a moment, Harry thought the girl might faint as she gazed up at his scar. Instead, words seemed to burst from her mouth as she began talking about how it was an honour to meet Harry before spouting off random information from a variety of books that he had been mentioned in.

“HERMIONE!” Ginny shouted, annoyed that Hermione had done the one thing she had asked her not to.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the bushy-haired witch cried as she snapped out of her rambling. “I am so sorry.”

“It’s ok,” Harry kindly said. “It isn’t the worst reaction I have had when someone has met me for the first time.”

Ginny was stunned by Harry’s reaction, knowing how much he hated the way most people fawned over him. While she knew that Sirius had kept them hidden away from the wizarding world since that tragic night, she was aware that they did, on occasion, go to Diagon Alley. They usually stuck to the Muggle world, but that didn’t always stop someone from recognising who Harry was.

“It is very nice to meet you,” Hermione replied calmly. “Ginny told me how much you helped her after what happened in her first year.”

Harry turned and smiled at Ginny as he said, “Well, given my own experiences, it felt wrong not to help her. Not many people survive facing Voldemort and live to tell the tale.”

With the ice finally broken between Harry and Hermione, the group sat down around the table. No one failed to notice how Harry and Ginny pulled their individual chairs close to each other so there was very little space between them. The action brought a small smile to Sirius’ face, knowing just what Harry planned to do before Ginny left to return to school.

“So, you’re starting a secret defence group,” Sirius stated once Rosmerta had brought in a round of Butterbeers for everyone and taken their lunch orders, “and all under the nose of the worst Ministry official.”

“You were there!” Ginny exclaimed as the jaws of the twins, Hermione and Ron dropped in shock.

“Of course, we were,” Harry replied. “I had to come and see what Ron and Hermione had dragged you into. Quite honestly, I love the idea!”

Ginny was thrilled to hear her best friend say he loved the idea as it made her feel more relaxed at being the one to lead and teach the group.

“If you five can make up a list of spells you wish to cover, then I’ll add to it,” Sirius told the group. “Best to add the entire spell list for fourth year and above and go from there.”

“That’s all well and great, but there won’t be any point if we cannot find somewhere to meet,” Ron stated.

“Why don’t you ask the house-elves?” Sirius suggested. “They know the school better than anyone who has passed through the doors, and I say this as one of the creators of the Marauders Map. I can guarantee they will find you somewhere suitable that will give you enough space to practice and keep you hidden.”

“We can go down there and ask them tomorrow,” Fred said as George nodded in agreement to the plan. “And before you ask, Hermione, no, you cannot come with us. You have already upset them enough with your ideas of freedom and paid work.”

Hermione looked ready to argue back, but, thankfully, the door opened as Rosmerta came to deliver their meals.

Lunch remained relatively calm with no more talk of house-elves. Instead, the group talked about what had been happening at the school and how the Ministry were trying to force their way in to take control.

“Oh, I forgot to ask,” Ginny asked as she remembered the conversation that she’d had with Harry a few weeks earlier. “Have you found a suitable publication to tell Harry’s version of the events in June?”

“No, not yet,” Sirius confessed. “The publication is not even the problem. It’s more finding a journalist who is willing to write the story and risk their career. It doesn’t seem to matter if you mention the Boy Who Lived, most people I have spoken to refuse to take a chance on a story that the Ministry is denying even happened.”

“Have you asked Xenophilius Lovegood?” Ginny replied. “He runs the Quibbler.”

“Isn’t that the magazine full of crackpot ideas that Luna’s dad runs?” Ron asked his sister, which nearly resulted in him being hexed by Ginny before Harry stopped her.

“I had considered him,” Sirius admitted, “but I was concerned about how low his readership was.”

“It wouldn’t matter, though, as Harry’s name would be enough to make anyone buy a copy to read,” Hermione noted.

As much as Ginny didn’t want to agree with Hermione, she knew the older witch was correct in her thinking. Any publication would sell out quickly just from having the Boy Who Lived on the front page, even if the story was considered to be complete nonsense.

“She’s right, Dad,” Harry said, much to Ginny’s surprise. “I know we have never used my name to gain access to anywhere or get our hands on something we have wanted, but even I can recognise that there will be times that we should use it to our advantage. Dad, this is one of those times.”

The group could only watch as Sirius considered Harry’s plea, who knew he could no longer hide his son from the world as much as he still wanted to. It was time for Harry to speak up.

“Fine,” Sirius finally said. “I’ll speak to Xenophilius in the week and see if we can get something set up this month. Hopefully, we can have the article published before Christmas.”

The rest of lunch passed with the group moving away from the more serious topics and towards the subject of the twins’ plans to open their own joke shop. Sirius took the chance to hand over the paperwork he promised he would arrange that would bring Harry and Sirius on as investors. Harry, on the other hand, took the time to learn more about Hermione, as well as educate her about house-elves so she could focus on her desire to help them on where they truly needed support.

Eventually, lunch came to an end with the twins disappearing to meet Lee Jordan, Sirius going to out into main bar to pay the bill, and Hermione and Ron leaving without the need for a hint to do so. That just left Ginny and Harry by themselves, both suddenly feeling awkward and neither realising the other wanted to speak about the same thing.

“I want to tell you something,” they both said at the same time when they turned to face one another.

“You first, Harry,” Ginny said, not quite sure if she had the courage to tell him what she desperately wanted to say.

“Ok, but bear with me,” Harry asked. “I’ve never done anything like this before and I am probably going to screw up what I want to tell you.”

Ginny couldn’t help but secretly hope that Harry was about to tell her he liked her. As bad as she knew it would sound, she felt relieved if that was, indeed, the case as she honestly didn’t believe she could be the one to make her feelings known first. It didn’t matter that it had been over two years since the events of the Chamber, experiences like that left marks and one of hers was the fear of being rejected.

“I have hated being apart from you over this past month,” Harry began nervously, ignoring his own feelings about potentially being rejected. “I know we have spoken through our mirrors every night, but I think we both know that it just isn’t the same as seeing each other every day. The only good thing that I can truly take from us being apart is realising just how much you have come to mean to me and how grateful I am to have you in my life. What I am trying to say to you is that I really like you and was hoping you feel the same way about me.”

Ginny knew she was squealing inside, delighted that the boy she had fallen for felt the same way she did. Somewhere in the back of her mind, something was telling her to wait for the ‘but’, yet she ignored it, not wanting to ruin the moment.

“I really like you, too, Harry,” she replied calmly, not letting her excitement get the better of her.

“You do?”

“Of course, I do. How could I not? You are one of the best people I know and so much more than the stories I was told about you as a child. You are the reason I have managed not to let the events of the Chamber define me or my life.”

As Ginny had spoken, Harry had moved closer to his best friend. He was close enough that, when Ginny had stopped talking, he couldn’t help but lean down and kiss her. For their first kiss, it was simple and sweet, and everything they could have asked for. Pulling apart, they rested their foreheads together, smiling shyly at one another.

“Before I ask you the question that I believe I already know the answer to,” Harry said, feeling like his heart was racing, “I need to tell you one more thing.”

Ginny nodded, knowing whatever it was, it would not be an issue for her.

“I really do want you to be my girlfriend, but…” Harry paused, hating himself for what he was about to ask of her.

“You want us to keep our relationship quiet, just like we have our friendship,” Ginny stated rather than questioned. She had already decided before meeting him today that she would request the same thing. She didn’t need anyone hassling her at school about him, while, at the same time, she wanted to protect Harry from any potential problems that would come from them dating and being friends.

“Is that ok?” he asked nervously.

“Ask me the real question, Harry,” she told him firmly, causing Harry to smile widely at the request.

“Ginny, will you be my girlfriend?”

“Yes, I will,” she happily replied before Harry leaned down to kiss her once again.

Neither had noticed, however, that the door had been left ajar after their friends had left the room. Had they realised this issue, then, they would have spotted the pair of eyes watching them and understanding how what he saw could be a vital piece of information to the Dark Lord.

Back to index


Chapter 9: The First Steps

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for your brilliant editing skills! (Edited - 2/8/2021)


Ginny stared at the room in awe. Everything that they could possibly want to learn, and for practicing new spells safely, had been provided. The room was spacious enough to not only hold the number of people who would be in attendance, it was also large enough that everyone could split into pairs and duel at the same time. Multiple shelves of books lined one wall, which Ginny guessed would provide even more information than they had even thought to think of. While another wall had shelves full of Dark Detectors, something she knew she would investigate another time. There were cushions, Duelling Dummies and other items she had yet to even look at. The Room of Requirement was certainly the right name for the room.

“Wow!” Ron said in awe, breaking through Ginny’s own amazement. “This room is incredible.”

She turned to see her brother and Hermione standing just inside the door, both with the same expression she was certain had been on her face when she had first walked in.

“How has no one ever found this room?” Hermione enquired. “I mean they must have in the past, but the fact it isn’t common knowledge is astounding. To be able to request a room that meets your needs is something I would have thought everyone would want to know about.”

“Then, we wouldn’t have such easy access to it,” Ginny noted, pointing out the flaw in the older witch’s suggestion. “I doubt it would be used in the same way we plan to use it either.”

Hermione blushed at Ginny’s suggestion.

“How are you feeling about tonight?” Ron asked, choosing to ignore what his sister had said.

“I’m nervous about how people will react to me teaching them,” Ginny admitted honestly, “but, I am also excited about this group happening right under Umbridge’s nose and she doesn’t even know about it!”

Just days after the meeting at the Hog’s Head had happened, Umbridge had taken advantage of her position as the Hogwarts High Inquisitor to force through a new educational decree about student organisations, clubs and groups only being allowed to meet with her approval. Ginny had decided immediately that it would not deter her from helping her fellow students and made it clear to everyone who had asked her that the group would still be going ahead. Thankfully, all of those who had been at the meeting had agreed to attend the first meeting.

Over the next several minutes, people began to arrive in small groups, having been warned to do so to avoid suspicion. Ginny noted that Hermione was discreetly taking attendance before she gave the redhead a nod once everyone was present.

“Now that everyone is here,” Ginny said once the students had settled down, “I think we should get started. Before we begin the practical side of things, are there any questions or things we need to cover?”

“Yes,” Hermione called out as she raised her hand. “I think we need to elect a leader and choose a name for the group.”

A murmur of agreement came from the group of students as dread washed over Ginny. She was going to be named leader even though she did not want the job. She was happy to help teach what she knew, but she didn’t want the pressure she knew would come from leading the group. Somehow, though, she knew she wouldn’t be given the chance to refuse it.

“I have an idea for a name,” Ginny said in hopes of distracting everyone from the discussion of who should be the leader. Something Harry had said to her the other night had sparked the idea. “What about Dumbledore’s Army?”

“Why that name when Professor Dumbledore doesn’t know of this group?” Cho Chang asked.

Ginny held back the smirk that was threatening to cross her lips. She had found out from Harry that the headmaster was very much aware of the meeting they’d had in the Hog’s Head and of their plans to meet without Umbridge knowing. Harry said Dumbledore had been impressed by Hermione’s ingenuity.

“Well, the reason Umbridge is here is to undermine the headmaster,” Ginny explained with no plan of mentioning the conversation that had given her the idea. “Fudge is convinced that Professor Dumbledore is planning something to oust him as Minister. Essentially, an army created by the headmaster would be Fudge’s worst nightmare. They don’t need to know that Dumbledore had no part of any of this.”

“All in favour of Dumbledore’s Army?” Hermione asked.

Every hand shot up into the air.

“Dumbledore’s Army it is, then,” Hermione declared, “and, Ginny can be our leader.”

“Agreed,” Ron said, backing up the older witch. “You have the most experience and understanding with what we are facing. Plus, you have had additional training that puts you in better position to lead us.”

“Traitor,” Ginny muttered under her breath before turning her attention back to the group. “I think we should stop talking and start practicing. I want to start with a basic, yet important spell, tonight. There will be times when it is best for you to do enough to give yourself a chance to run and escape. One of the best ways to give you that chance is the Disarming Charm “ Expelliarmus.”

“Seriously?” Zacharias Smith questioned as he rolled his eyes. “How will that help us against any Death Eater or even You-Know-Who?”

“From what I have been told, Harry Potter used it against Voldemort in June,” Ginny stated firmly and calmly. She held back what she actually wanted to say, but she knew she would be revealing too much about that night.

Harry had told her that their spells had met, causing Priori Incantatem. It had been emotional to hear how he had seen his parents appear from Voldemort’s wand, but they had given him the time he needed to escape and reach Sirius, who had immediately whisked him away from the graveyard.

“If anyone here feels that the spell is one that would not be useful, then, please, feel free to leave.”

No one moved or spoke.

“Good,” Ginny said. “Now, let’s split into pairs and practice the spell.”

HP&GW

Harry stared at the package that his dad had just placed on the kitchen table. While he had never been one of those kids who would rush to open their birthday and Christmas presents, this time he desperately wanted to know what was inside. All he knew was that the package had come from Professor Dumbledore, who had sent it with his phoenix, Fawkes.

“How much longer are you going to be, Dad?” Harry called out, hoping he would be heard.

“Since when have you been impatient, Harry?” his dad replied as he walked into the kitchen, carrying what looked like a stone basin.

“I’m just eager to find out what Professor Dumbledore has sent us,” Harry said as his eyes were drawn to the basin that had now been placed next to the package. It was covered in a selection of runes and symbols, some of which Harry recognised from his Ancient Runes studies. “What is this?”

“It’s Pensieve,” his dad said as he took a seat opposite Harry. “It is used to view memories, something we shall be doing ourselves in a little bit. Before we get to that, however, I wanted to ask if you know how the first meeting of the defence group went?”

Harry beamed as he thought about the conversation that he’d had with Ginny the night before. The way her eyes had lit up as she had told him about Dumbledore’s Army was enough for him to know that it had been a success and that any previous reservations that she’d had about teaching were now long gone. He was certain this group was going to be just as good for Ginny as it was for the students who were learning from his girlfriend.

“It went better than expected,” Harry answered. “One person doubted the need to learn the Disarming Charm, but she quickly put an end to that protest. Otherwise, she said everyone worked hard practising the spell. Ginny said that not everyone managed to perfect it, but she was really pleased with the progress they made in the first lesson.”

Sirius didn’t fail to notice the way his son’s eyes lit up as he spoke about his new girlfriend. In all honesty, he couldn’t help but notice how much of an impact Harry admitting his feelings for Ginny had had on him. Harry was working harder than ever before with a new determination. Sirius was certain that Ginny had given his son something to fight for and a reason to not only defeat Voldemort, but to survive. Sure, Harry had been determined to do that before he had fallen for the redhead, but there had never been a true driving force behind it. Now, there was, and her name was Ginny.

“I’m glad to hear that,” Sirius replied, genuinely pleased to hear the first meeting had gone well. “Given the fact that the school cannot seem to keep a Defence teacher for longer than a year, this group will certainly help the students improve their skills. The Aurors have suffered because of the lack of candidates with the necessary skills and grades to enter the department over the last several years. I dread to think how that will bode for the fight against Voldemort and his minions.”

“Yeah, Ginny has complained about the constant change in teachers. She still thinks Uncle Remus was the best teacher the school has had in the last few years,” Harry said, wishing he could have been there that year to see his uncle teach.

“Yes, well, you know who is to blame for him having to leave the post,” Sirius responded. He was still angry with the Potions Master for revealing Remus was a werewolf to the school, something that had been blatantly done out of spite. “Anyway, moving on. You’ll be pleased to know I have managed to arrange an interview with the Quibbler for the end of the week. Xenophilius believes Dumbledore about Voldemort’s return and is happy to do his part to get the truth out there.”

“That’s brilliant, Dad!” Harry exclaimed happily. “Did you explain about how some of my memories of the event are still hazy?”

Even though it had now been a few months since Voldemort had regained his body, Harry was still unable to remember parts of that night. His kidnapping was a complete mystery to him, even if they had figured out that a cursed letter had helped to draw him outside of the wards. His first clear memory was waking up to find himself tightly bound to a tombstone with no idea as to how he had arrived there or where he was. He still didn’t understand how his dad and uncle had managed to discover where he was to rescue him, but he had never felt the need to question it because he was thankful that they had managed to find and rescue him.

“I did, but he wasn’t too concerned. He just said for you to be honest about what happened that night,” his dad confirmed before pulling the package from Dumbledore towards him. “However, until then I want to make a start on a new project.”

Harry watched as his dad unwrapped the package carefully to reveal a number of small glass vials that appeared to be full of white smoke. He couldn’t imagine why the headmaster would send something like that to them until he remembered that the Pensieve, which was sat on the table, was for viewing memories.

“Are these memories?”

His dad looked up and smiled, “Yes, they are.”

“Why has Professor Dumbledore sent them to us?” Harry asked, intrigued as to why the headmaster was not joining them for this conversation.

“With everything that is happening at Hogwarts, Dumbledore is not in a position to be able to leave. It would be too risky as it would invite questions from the Ministry about where he was going. So, he felt it was best if he sent what memories he had to us with the intention of us making a start on understanding what needs to be done to defeat Voldemort.”

Harry thought back to the conversation they’d had with the headmaster the day they had discovered the locket. He remembered Dumbledore talking about information he had acquired that would be essential, which Harry now assumed were the memories, but he had also stated he was missing one vital piece.

“Does this include the piece of information he was missing when we originally spoke to him?” Harry inquired.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t,” Sirius admitted. “It would seem the person he requires it from has gone into hiding and is constantly moving locations. That is one of the things I plan to work on. I may have a little more luck as they won’t be expecting me to be looking for them.”

Harry nodded in acceptance. He didn’t know what piece of information was missing, so he could only assume it was something that could wait for the moment. With Voldemort currently distracted by his need to get his hands on the prophecy, he wasn’t causing havoc in the wizarding world. Therefore, they needed to take advantage of this time to get several steps ahead of the Dark wizard.

“However, Albus did send us a false memory he had managed to retrieve from his contact,” Sirius continued.

“A false memory?” Harry asked, feeling very confused. “I didn’t think you could change a memory.”

“You can, but you have to be an expert in Occlumency to be able to accomplish that and not be found out. According to the note, this false memory is, thankfully, clear to see.”

“So, I take it we are going to watch all of these memories and…”

“As you know, Albus believes Voldemort made multiple Horcruxes,” his dad explained as he began pouring the memories into the Pensieve. “The number we still need to confirm, but these memories should help us determine to some extent the objects that may have been used and the places they may have been hidden. What I want us to do is create a timeline on Voldemort’s movements before we begin researching places we may need to search and objects we may need to find.”

Harry nodded, overwhelmed by the sheer size of the project and the realisation that he was finally beginning his journey towards fulfilling the prophecy. It was a huge task that had been set for him. He had to figure out how to make the so-called Dark Lord mortal and how to defeat him permanently. He was just grateful that he knew his dad would be with him every step of the way.

“Right, the memories are ready to watch. All you need to do is to gently place your face into the Pensieve. You will feel yourself pulled in, which won’t harm you. Once you are in the memory, you will not be able to interact with anyone and they will not see you.”

Harry stood and walked round the table, coming to a stop in front of the Pensieve. He could see the white smoke of the memories now swirling around in the bowl, ready and waiting to be watched. The idea that he was about to discover more about Voldemort filled him with dread, but, at the same time, his curiosity about how Tom Riddle became Voldemort was overwhelming. He leant over, gently placing his head into the Pensieve, and felt himself pulled into the memories.

HP&GW

Harry slumped down into the chair as he tried to process all the memories he had just seen. He thought he had been prepared for what he was about to learn, but he still felt shocked by what he had seen. In some ways, he felt sorry for Voldemort and wondered if he would have become a different person had his mother survived to raise him herself. He pushed the thought aside, knowing there was no way to change the past. He needed to focus on what he had seen and figure out what information would be the most important to their task.

“Are you ok?” his father’s voice came, breaking through his thoughts.

“Yeah, I think so,” Harry answered honestly. “I’m just a little shocked by what we saw. I don’t think I was expecting to find out that he had been a cruel person from such a young age.”

“That’s understandable,” his dad responded as he reached across the table to grasp Harry’s hand. “We can leave this for today if you want. It was a lot to take in and if you need time to process it all, then that is fine.”

“No, we need to discuss everything we saw, especially while it is fresh in our minds. I don’t particularly want to have to watch all those memories again.”

“Right, let’s start with a timeline,” his dad said as he grabbed the parchment and the quill he had placed on the table. “I want to include everything we know from his birth and all the way up to this past June.”

For the next few hours, the pair worked out a timeline of Voldemort’s life, while adding notable details they felt were essential to discovering where and what the Horcruxes were. Both Harry and Sirius also added additional information that they were aware of from their encounters with the Dark wizard over the years. Eventually, numerous pieces of parchment, all representing different years or events, were floating around the kitchen.

“Ok, so I think we can safely say that the ring and the cup are definitely Horcruxes,” Sirius said to his son as he took in everything they had accomplished. “We can research notable items that belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw, but I am at a loss for the final one. Nothing else in those memories stands out as something he would use.”

“What about the snake?” Harry said as he remembered the enormous snake that he had seen slithering through the graveyard that night. He also remembered that he had seen a snake in his vision over a year ago, one that had pushed his dad to make sure Harry had his Occlumency perfected.

“Snake?”

“The one from my vision last year,” Harry gently reminded his dad. “He called her Nagini and has a strange amount of control over her.”

Harry watched as his dad thought over what he had just suggested. He knew it was probably a far-fetched idea, especially given they had been told to look for objects and not living things as potential Horcruxes. Yet, there was something about Voldemort’s snake that just didn’t sit right with him, like there was much more to her than it appeared.

“I think it is something we should look into,” his dad finally replied. “It is a wild theory, but I want us to explore all avenues. However, finding Horace Slughorn is probably the most essential thing we need to do. We need to confirm the number of Horcruxes he was aiming to make.”

The fact that they needed to hunt down wherever it was Horace Slughorn was hiding was a concern for Harry. He didn’t want to drag out this war longer than necessary, but he was worried that finding this man would take too long. Yet, they couldn’t ignore the fact that speaking to him would confirm the most important piece of information they needed if they were to succeed.

“How are we going to find him if Professor Dumbledore hasn’t been able to do so already?” Harry asked, wondering just how anyone was meant to find someone who had hidden themselves so well.

“You let me worry about that,” his dad responded. Harry suspected, however, that he didn’t have a clue as to how to accomplish that, but he knew better than to say it. “For now, you need to concentrate on your schoolwork and the research I have set you. We’ll start with the books we have here and at Grimmauld Place before checking Flourish and Blotts. I may consider looking into us going to Hogwarts to use their library, but I don’t want to go while that woman is still teaching there.”

Even though it probably wouldn’t happen any time soon, Harry couldn’t help but smile at the idea of going to Hogwarts to use their library. If it happened during term time, then he could spend some time with Ginny. Admittedly, there were times he wished he had gone to Hogwarts and how different his life may have been just from attending the school. However, at the same time, he was happy being home-schooled and spending time with his family, something he wouldn’t change for the world.

“Don’t get your hopes up, Harry. I suspect if we do go, it won’t be until the summer holidays.”

HP&GW

Harry looked up the weirdly shaped house from the base of the hill where he stood with his dad. He was immediately reminded of a rook used in chess. It seemed oddly fitting for the man they were about to visit “ Xenophilius Lovegood.

As promised, Sirius had brought Harry to the Lovegood’s house to give an interview about the events of June that resulted in the return of Lord Voldemort. Harry had begun reading The Quibbler after Ginny had suggested approaching the publication about doing the article. Admittedly, he had found much of what was written about a little over the top, but there was no denying how passionate Xenophilius was about the topics he covered. Harry thought an article about the return of Lord Voldemort would fit right in as very few people currently believed the truth.

“Are you ready for this?” his dad asked as they started walking up the hill towards the door.

“As ready as I can be,” Harry said nervously. Being that he had been the one who had pushed for the interview to happen, he couldn’t believe how nervous he was now that it was actually happening. It wasn’t the fact that he had to talk about the events of June that worried him, but how people would respond to what he had to say. Would they believe him? Or would they accuse him of making outlandish statements?

On reaching the front door, Harry held back as his dad used the eagle-shaped knocker. A few seconds later, the door opened to reveal one of the most eccentric looking wizards Harry had ever seen in his life.

“Mr Black,” the man said as he held out his hand to Sirius.

“Please, call me Sirius,” he responded as he shook the man’s hand. “This is my godson, Harry Potter. Harry, this is Xenophilius Lovegood.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr Lovegood,” Harry said as he, too, shook the wizard’s hand. “Thank you for agreeing to tell my story.”

“Of course. It is an honour to be asked. Please, come in.”

Harry followed his dad and Mr Lovegood into the house to discover a brightly painted kitchen. Everything, from the walls to the cupboard, had been painted with a mix of flowers, insects and butterflies. It was a little much for Harry’s taste and very overwhelming in such a small space. It certainly fit the image that he had of the man after reading The Quibbler.

The group climbed the stairs to the next floor to discover a much more cluttered space, filled with many books and magazines, plus the printing press used to print the publication. Harry’s eyes, however, were drawn to a bust of a witch that was dressed in a number of items that didn’t quite belong there.

“Mr Lovegood, may I ask about this bust?” Harry asked as he pointed to the item in question.

“Oh, yes, you may,” the man excitedly replied. “The bust is one of Rowena Ravenclaw that I personally created. I am trying to recreate her lost diadem and the magical properties I believe it had.”

Harry’s eyes immediately flickered to his dad’s, both recognising the importance of this discovery. They had yet to begin researching possible belongings of Rowena Ravenclaw and now they had just stumbled upon information that had potential to be of help to their search.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Harry said, causing Mr Lovegood to stop rambling on about Wrackspurts, a topic he had suddenly just started talking about, “but I have to ask, do you know what happened to the diadem?”

“Sadly, I do not,” Mr Lovegood admitted. “It has been lost for centuries. As far as I know, no one alive today has ever laid eyes on it. There is someone, though, who may know what happened to it.”

“Who would that be?” Sirius asked immediately, hoping it was someone they could easily contact.

“A ghost at Hogwarts, who is known as the Grey Lady.”

Harry noticed his dad’s eyes widen in recognition as he responded, “The Grey Lady?”

“Yes, her name is Helena from what my daughter tells me. She is the daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw.”

Harry knew immediately that they would need to go to Hogwarts to speak to this ghost. If she knew anything that could help them track down the diadem, then it was vital that they spoke to her. The only problem was that they could not visit the school when the Ministry was currently trying to take control of it. Therefore, it was something that would have to wait for a few months, but at least they had a starting place.

“Well, how about we get started on that interview?” Sirius suggested as he took a seat on one of the only available empty seats.

“Of course, of course,” Mr Lovegood said as he headed over to his desk to grab some parchment and a quill. “Mr Potter, tell me about the evening of your kidnapping?”

Harry took a deep breath to steady his nerves. Once he felt he had control of them, he began to speak.

Back to index


Chapter 10: A Change in Plans

Author's Notes: I absolutely promise you that I am now heading back into my original rotation of publishing with In the Days That Followed and Heart and Soul swapping places. Thankfully, I am back to a normal routine at home with my kids finally returning to school in person this week! Thank you to Arnel for your brilliance as always. The suggestion you made was brilliant! (Edited - 5/8/2021)


“There’s been a change in plans,” Sirius said as Harry took a seat opposite him at the kitchen table. “Xenophilius has decided to push back publishing your interview until the New Year.”

It had been close to two months since Harry had sat down with the editor of The Quibbler to tell him about what had happened to him in June. While they had never been given confirmation of when it would be published, Harry had thought it would be before Christmas, knowing that this was not a story Xenophilius Lovegood would want to delay putting in his publication.

“Why?” Harry asked as he helped himself to a glass of pumpkin juice.

“Two reasons,” his dad began as Harry noticed a look of guilt on his dad’s face. “Firstly, Xenophilius decided he wanted to add a little extra information to the article. He visited the graveyard to see if there was any evidence left behind which, thankfully, there was.”

“Doesn’t he believe me?” Harry questioned his dad, feeling deflated at the idea that even the man, who was constantly mocked for his outrageous ideas, may not believe him.

“He does, Harry,” his dad confirmed. “However, even he recognises that the article may not be taken seriously by the public and he wanted to do everything he could to make it so that people would have a tough time refuting the truth.”

Harry was surprised by the logic of his dad’s words. He knew that Cornelius Fudge, the current Minister for Magic, had flat out refused to believe Dumbledore when he announced that Voldemort had returned and that had been with the bare minimum of evidence. He suspected Fudge, based on what he knew of the man, would continue to reject the truth unless he came face-to-face with the Dark wizard. However, providing the public with the truth, accompanied by undisputable evidence, would hopefully lead to an undeniable pressure on Fudge to do what was right.

“What was the second reason?” Harry asked, having accepted the first reason.

“I asked him to,” Sirius said earnestly.

“You asked him to delay it? Why would you do that?” Harry responded angrily as he abruptly stood from his chair. “I know you were reluctant about me speaking out or appearing in public, but you agreed to let me do this! How am I going to be able to fulfil this stupid prophecy if you are always stepping in to protect me?”

Harry walked away, having no desire to listen to whatever excuse his dad for him delaying the article from being published.

“I wanted you to have a good Christmas,” came the quiet response, causing Harry to freeze in his tracks.

“You know as well as I do that when that article comes out that you will lose so much of the privacy that we have been lucky enough to have all these years,” Sirius continued when he felt like his son would not leave the room. “I won’t be able to protect you from the ridicule you will receive from those who will no doubt refuse to believe you. The Ministry may request your presence to confirm the story and you know full well that Fudge will do anything he can to discredit you. So, I just wanted you to be able to enjoy the holidays without that hanging over your head.”

Harry wanted to walk away and ignore what his dad had said, but he knew it was the truth. They had watched the headmaster of Hogwarts be ridiculed by the press and he now had the Ministry interfering at the school. The moment the interview became public, there was no chance of being able to escape the negativity that would surely come his way. He expected it would be far more severe and intense than what Dumbledore had received as it would be the first time he had spoken out and the public knew barely anything about him.

He also knew he had to consider Ginny. They had not even seen each other in person since they admitted their feelings for one another and shared their first kiss. He was looking forward to being able to spend actual time with her during the Christmas holidays and if everyone was clamouring for his attention, then their time together would become limited.

“I wish you had spoken to me before asking for the article to be delayed,” Harry said, keeping his back turned.

“I’m sorry, Harry,” his dad said earnestly. “I should have asked. Next time, I will ask.”

“You’re forgiven,” he replied, turning back round to face his dad. “Only because I want to spend time with Ginny, and I know that might not happen if the article is released.”

“Then I think this next piece of news will make you extremely happy. I spoke to the goblins at Gringotts about the wards and made sure I could make it happen, and it can, so I intend on having Minerva reveal the location of the house to Ginny. Once she comes over, I will add her to the wards. That means she won’t need an invitation to come over to the house every time you want her to visit. Before you ask, I already have Molly and Arthur’s permission to add her. Consider it an early Christmas present.”

Sirius was relieved to see Harry go from threatening to walk out over an unwise decision he’d made to exceedingly happy over the news he’d just revealed. He knew the mood swing he had just witnessed was part of raising a teenager, but as Harry didn’t seem to flip between a variety of moods, it still shocked him that it had happened. He knew both Remus and Minerva were surprised by how calm and clearheaded Harry was, especially given the fact that Sirius had been one to raise him. However, Sirius had taken his role as godfather fairly seriously, much more so when Harry had come into his custody. While he still liked to joke around and play pranks, he knew there was a time and a place for that sort of behaviour. Being the parent figure to Harry had forced him to mature and grow up.

“Thank you,” Harry said as he came over and hugged Sirius tightly.

“You’re very welcome. Now, have you sorted out a Christmas present for Ginny yet or do I need to take you shopping?”

HP&GW

“HARRY!”

His eyes shot open, which Harry at once regretted all thanks to the excruciating pain surrounding his scar. He could barely see through it as his hands came up to clutch his forehead. He tried to ignore the pain so he could make sense of the images he had just seen, but his body had other ideas. He rolled over, pushed away whoever it was that stood at the side of his bed, and immediately brought up the contents of his stomach.

“Harry?”

Harry took several deep breaths as he tried to calm himself, but he was unable to shake the urgency that had now replaced the pain. He needed to tell someone, anyone, what he had just seen.

“Mr Weasley… snake… bitten,” he managed to gasp aloud. “Blood everywhere.”

No immediate response came, just the sound of urgent whispering, quickly followed by footsteps.

“Remus is notifying the correct people,” the voice of his dad came as Harry was handed a cold washcloth. “Calm yourself down as best as you can and then we can talk about what you saw.”

Harry did as he was asked, wiping his face clean with the cloth before taking a drink from the glass of water that was offered to him. Only then did he manage to sit up in his bed and notice his dad sat at the other end with a worried look on his face.

“What happened, Harry?” his dad asked with concern. “I thought you had learnt to keep Voldemort out of your head.”

“I have,” Harry snapped in response with an anger that did not feel like his own.

“There’s no need to snap at me, Harry,” Sirius replied, holding his hands up in defence. “I just need to understand what happened that allowed you to see through the link between the pair of you.”

Thinking back over his usual routine before bed, Harry realised his excitement over Ginny returning home from Hogwarts for the holidays had distracted him. As a result, he had forgotten to make sure his mental shields had been securely in place before he fell asleep. Even though he understood the importance of making sure Voldemort could not access his thoughts, Harry couldn’t help but think what would have happened to Mr Weasley had he remembered to perform his Occlumency.

“I’m sorry,” Harry replied earnestly, making sure to look his dad directly in the eye.

“I am not mad at you, Harry. I am not even going to complain about you having another one of your moments in Voldemort’s mind as you have potentially just saved Arthur’s life,” his dad calmly told him, allowing Harry to relax just a little. “However, I am going to need to know exactly what you saw. Albus is going to want to know as it may bring him closer to understanding this connection.”

“If I tell you, I won’t have to speak to him, will I?”

“I hadn’t planned on it. Why do you ask?” Sirius inquired, wondering why his son was so reluctant to speak to Dumbledore.

“I think he is doing everything in his power to avoid meeting with us,” Harry confessed. He had not wanted to tell his dad what he suspected, but it had been hard to ignore the way the headmaster had barely met Harry’s gaze when they had met with him after they had found the locket. “I also think he knows much more about this connection than he has actually told us.”

Sirius had been thinking the same thing as his son, having struggled to even get a face-to-face meeting with the older wizard since the start of the new school year. However, the idea that he may just know something about Harry’s scar was not news to Sirius. An idea had formed in his own mind after the discovery of the locket and its true nature, but he had pushed the thought aside, deciding it was something that could wait for the moment. There were other concerns that needed taking care of before he could even contemplate approaching the subject and what it could potentially mean for his son.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Remus said as he entered Harry’s bedroom without knocking, “but Dumbledore wants us to head over to Grimmauld Place. He intends on providing a Portkey for the four Weasleys to take them straight there tomorrow morning rather than having them take the Hogwarts Express.”

“What about Mr Weasley?” Harry asked, desperate to know his girlfriend’s father was alive.

“He was found quickly and taken to St. Mungo’s,” Remus answered. “He has lost a lot of blood, but he’s alive and should make a full recovery.”

Harry slumped back against his pillows in relief. He didn’t think he would have been able to face Ginny if her dad had died. Then again, he wasn’t quite sure he wanted to face her or any of the Weasleys. While he had yet to tell his dad exactly what he saw, he didn’t think anyone would take it well if they knew he had seen the attack from the point of view of the snake. It made him feel dirty that he had not only seen the attack but had felt like he had been the one to bite Mr Weasley. He didn’t understand how it was possible for him to see through the eyes of the snake, unless it was a Horcrux as they suspected.

A brief thought floated to the front of Harry’s mind that made him visibly shudder. He quickly pushed the idea away, not wanting to believe it could be true. However, if it was, what would that mean for him personally?

“Harry?”

Harry looked up to find his dad once again looking at him with concern.

“Were you even listening to a word I said?”

“Sorry,” he simply replied, knowing they would be returning to the subject of what he saw at a later point.

“Pack an overnight bag. If it turns out that we are staying longer, then I will come back and get what we need.”

He watched as his dad and uncle left his bedroom. While he knew he needed to clean up and change before he packed the bare essentials, Harry took a few minutes to sort out his thoughts. He could admit that the vision had scared him and made him more fearful of the connection between him and Voldemort. He was, however, now worried about how his dad, uncle and girlfriend would react to him when they discovered the full extent of what he saw. Would they reject him? He didn’t think they would, but none of them had been in this situation before.

“HARRY! Hurry up!” the voice of his dad came from downstairs. “The Weasleys will be coming sooner than expected. We need to get to Grimmauld Place in the next few minutes.”

With a sigh, Harry stood and began sorting out what he needed.

HP&GW

Ginny followed Professor McGonagall through the castle, annoyed at having her sleep disrupted. She and her brothers had been woken just a few minutes ago and asked to quickly dress and collect anything that they intended to take home for the holidays before accompanying their head of house to the headmaster’s office.

She had met her brothers in the common room, receiving confused looks from each of them. Professor McGonagall had told them nothing, other than that they were needed in the headmaster’s office, and all would be explained there. Obviously, it was something to be concerned about as no student was ever called to speak to a teacher in the middle of the night, but Ginny had to wonder if it was something that could have waited until the morning.

Thankfully, they did not have to wait too much longer as they quickly arrived in the office and took seats in front of the desk.

“My apologies for waking you in the middle of the night,” Professor Dumbledore said solemnly. “I am sorry to tell you that your father has been severely injured while performing duties for the Order.”

“What happened?” Ron asked, interrupting the headmaster.

“Alas, I am not entirely certain at this moment. I have yet to speak directly to those involved in discovering the incident. All I know was that he was attacked and found quickly. He has been taken to St. Mungo’s for treatment and your mother has been informed.”

“Is he ok?” Ginny asked with a slight quiver in her voice.

“I have been told that he should make a full recovery,” came the answer, which allowed Ginny and her brothers to relax a little. “However, I would like for you all to return to Grimmauld Place before Madam Umbridge is informed of this event. She may try to use it as a means to question you about your father and any connections you and your family have to myself and the Order as a way to discredit him.”

“What about our Mum?” George asked as the headmaster tapped a piece of rope with his wand, causing it to glow blue for a second.

“As Professor Dumbledore has already stated, she has been informed, Mr Weasley, and has already made her way to St. Mungo’s,” Professor McGonagall confirmed. “She knows that we plan to send you directly to headquarters, where you shall be met by Mr Black and Mr Lupin.”

Ginny couldn’t stop the small smile that appeared on her face on hearing who would meet them at the house. It would mean Harry would be with them and she would see him sooner than originally planned. It was not exactly under the circumstances she would have liked, but she knew he would bring her some much-needed comfort while they waited on further news from the hospital.

“Please take hold on this rope,” Dumbledore said as he held out the item in question. Once all four Weasleys had a firm grip on it, the headmaster let go and counted down. “In three, two, one.”

Ginny felt herself being pulled away from Hogwarts, her hand glued tightly to the Portkey. Seconds later, she felt herself deposited on the floor of a dark hallway.

“Glad you have arrived safely,” a voice came from the end of the hallway, causing Ginny look in that direction to see Sirius Black standing there. “Come into the kitchen. I’ll get you all a drink and explain what is going on.”

Disappointment settled upon her as Ginny realised that Harry had not come to greet them. She didn’t want to ask Sirius, in front of her brothers, if her boyfriend was here at the house or if he had remained at home.

“He’s upstairs in his room,” Sirius whispered to her as he came over and helped her up off the floor. He checked behind him to make sure her brothers had gone to the kitchen as asked before turning back to his son’s girlfriend. “How much did Dumbledore tell you?”

“He told us that Dad had been injured while doing something for the Order,” Ginny responded, wondering why he was speaking to her alone. “He said he didn’t know all the details, though.”

Sirius ran a hand through his long locks. He was torn between letting Harry have his own space and telling Ginny the truth. In the past, he would have been fine just letting his son mope in own self-pity for a few hours, but something told him that, this time, it would last several days unless someone intervened. For first time, he didn’t think it should be him or Remus. Harry needed someone who understood what he had witnessed and how he had done so. There was no one who had come close to experiencing what Harry had, except for Ginny.

“Harry saw the attack on your father,” Sirius told her, deciding he couldn’t leave Harry to wallow in whatever dark thoughts were currently going through his mind. “I don’t know the full details. He refuses to tell me, which makes me think what he saw has disturbed him deeply. I just… I need…”

“…me to speak to him,” Ginny finished for the older man. “You don’t need to say anything more, Sirius. I believe I understand just how he saw the attack.”

The pair separated at the staircase with Ginny heading up as Sirius continued on to the kitchen.

“Ginny?”

She stopped and turned to look back at Sirius.

“Don’t let him fob you off with an excuse or a refusal to talk.”

Ginny didn’t reply in words, choosing to give a look that said, ‘Do you think I’m stupid?’ instead. A grin from Sirius told her that he’d understood before she turned and continued her way up to Harry’s bedroom.

HP&GW

Harry continued staring at the ceiling as he heard the door to his bedroom softly open and then shut. He didn’t even move when he felt the bed dip slightly and a warm body curl up next to him. He didn’t need to look to know who it was. This was not the way he had wanted to reunite with his girlfriend, even if they were both taking comfort from being next to each other.

The darkness of his room suited his mood at that moment. Only a small sliver of light could be seen underneath the door from the hallway. He could hide his emotions easily within the darkness and pretend to be asleep if someone came in that he did not want to speak to. However, he knew the moment his girlfriend spoke to him, he would not be able to ignore her.

“I don’t know all the details, but I know my dad has been attacked,” Ginny whispered as Harry felt her hand slide up his chest. “I also know that you witnessed it and were able to raise the alarm. You saved his life, Harry.”

“I think I was the one to attack your dad,” Harry whispered back, not feeling like he deserved her praise. He felt his girlfriend tense up at the proclamation, making him feel like he was correct in his assumption that he would be rejected for what he had seen and what he believed he had done.

“What do you mean, Harry?” Ginny asked tentatively as she reached out and found Harry’s hand before grasping it tightly.

“I was the snake,” he replied, not knowing what else to say or even how to explain it. “I didn’t just see the attack on your dad, I felt like I was the one who was attacking him. I don’t understand how that was even possible, but that is how it felt to me. Somehow Voldemort managed to pull me into helping attack your dad.”

Ginny didn’t respond and Harry did not expect her to. She wouldn’t want to be with him now that he had betrayed her by attacking her dad. It was an unforgiveable act, and he would understand if she walked out of his bedroom without saying a word.

“I am certain it wasn’t you who attacked my dad,” Ginny’s reply finally came after several minutes of complete silence. “Sirius said that you saw the attack, but he didn’t say anything about you leaving the safety of your house, which I highly doubt happened.”

Harry felt himself relax slightly on hearing his girlfriend explain why he had nothing to do with what had happened. It was then that he realised that if anyone could have any chance of explaining how he saw what he did, it would be the one person who had survived being possessed by Voldemort for close to a year.

“He didn’t possess me then?” Harry asked and immediately regretting the bluntness of his words.

“No, he didn’t,” she calmly told him. “It was just another one of your visions that comes with having a link to him. I do understand how you would think that he had possessed you, but will the link you share allow him to accomplish that? Hopefully not.”

The calm, rational reply that Harry had just received from his girlfriend was enough to tell him that she didn’t hate him, nor would she walk away from the blossoming relationship. However, her choice of words made him also realise that there was truly much more to this link than he currently knew. He just hoped it wasn’t what he had considered earlier, because he didn’t think he would be able to cope with the potential consequences if it was true.

“Nagini, his snake, is one of the things we are contemplating may be one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes,” Harry said, shifting the conversation in a slightly different direction. “Do you think that means I might be one too if the snake is one? Would that explain how I was able to see your dad’s attack?”

Ginny was taken aback by her boyfriend’s suggestion. While she could understand why his thoughts were heading in that direction, it seemed completely impossible in her eyes. She had been possessed by a Horcrux herself, but she never became one. And, even though they were not aware of the full process required to make the forbidden object, she was certain there had to be far more to it than what had happened to Harry that Halloween night.

“Where has this all come from, Harry? Does this have something to do with the memories and research you told me about?”

Harry had informed her about the vials of memories that Professor Dumbledore had sent to him and Sirius to watch. She knew they had watched them and used what they had learned from them to begin the necessary research to discover what and where the Horcruxes were. However, he had not told her any details as a precaution and also due to the fact that he felt it would be better for her to watch them to grasp just what they were up against. That was something they had planned to do over the Christmas holidays, but now she was not so sure that would happen.

“Figuring out what items are most likely Horcruxes was the relatively easy part,” Harry admitted. “Nagini was a guess as the final one as there were no other items of such importance that Voldemort could have used. Dad wasn’t certain and said he wanted to research it to be sure, but there is just something about that snake that screams out that it is a Horcrux. After tonight, I am a hundred percent certain about Nagini containing a piece of his soul and why I am worried that maybe I do as well.”

Ginny couldn’t deny that her boyfriend had made a solid argument, but she still wasn’t convinced, feeling Sirius had the right idea about researching it before settling upon Nagini being the final piece of Voldemort’s soul.

“I think that your dad has the right idea in researching it further,” Ginny carefully replied, not wanting to upset Harry. “Not because your idea is too far-fetched, but because of the potential implication it could mean for you. Even so, don’t you think it is possible that maybe Voldemort was possessing or connected through their link at the time of the attack and that you just happened to be pulled in?”

“Maybe,” Harry sighed, knowing it was a real possibility and one he needed to consider. “It’s just that after seeing all those memories of Tom Riddle and learning how far he went to avoid death, it is hard to push the idea aside, especially when we are seriously considering he has used Nagini as an Horcrux.”

“I know that you planned for me to watch them over the holidays, but I think that may have to be put on hold for now. So, instead, how about you tell me about these memories and how far you have come in your research?”

Even with them discussing what Harry and Sirius had learned about Horcruxes, it was a welcomed distraction for both Harry and Ginny. Still, it was hard to explain the memories in detail without Ginny viewing them as they originally wanted, but she was still able to make observations that neither of the two wizards had made themselves.

“If I am able to,” Ginny said when Harry told her about the true identity of the Grey Lady, “I will speak to her. She’s never been a ghost who interacts with the students, but with Umbridge still at the castle, it may be impossible.”

“Don’t worry if you don’t manage it,” Harry replied, grateful for his girlfriend’s offer of help. “I suspect we will have to go to Hogwarts at some point as it is one of the locations we have listed as a potential hiding place.”

The sky had begun to lighten when their discussion finally came to an end, not that either of them were aware of that, thanks to the thick, heavy curtains covering the windows. An unspoken agreement seemed to pass between the couple as they climbed under the covers, cuddling up against each other and falling asleep. That was how Sirius found them when he quietly entered the room around seven o’clock in the morning.

“Ginny, I just received word from…”

Sirius stopped speaking when he noticed the two teens fast asleep. He wasn’t surprised, having suspected that the couple had talked for some time before they had even considered going to sleep. He had been worried about Harry and his reaction to what he had seen, but the calm, relaxed look on his son’s face told him that Ginny had somehow managed to help him through whatever had been bothering him. He couldn’t help the smile that crossed his face at seeing the young couple asleep in each other’s arms before he quietly left the room, knowing the update he had been given on Arthur could wait a few more hours.

Back to index


Chapter 11: An Awkward Christmas

Author's Notes: Sorry for the delay in the update. I have been ill with a chest infection for a couple of weeks to the point that I didn't turn on my computer for several days. The plan for this story is to now post every two weeks and I promise I am about to change up where this story heading in the next chapter! Thank you to Arnel for your patience and your brilliant editing skills! (Edited - 6/8/2021)


Sirius stepped out of the fireplace and into the headmaster’s office at Hogwarts. He knew it was a risk to be here, especially with Delores Umbridge snooping around, but he needed to speak with Dumbledore in private and no amount of privacy wards was going to guarantee that at Grimmauld Place. Thankfully, the older wizard had understood and agreed to his request.

“Sirius, thank you for coming,” Dumbledore said as he turned from the basin that he had been looking at. “I do apologise for asking you to come at this late hour, but I felt it would be safer than during the day.”

“And thank you for agreeing to meet here to talk,” Sirius replied as he walked over and took a seat in front of the headmaster’s desk. “I think we should get straight to it to avoid me being here longer than absolutely necessary.”

Without waiting for any acknowledgement, Sirius launched into the story of what happened the night Arthur was attacked in the bowels of the Ministry and exactly what Harry had seen through the link he shared with Voldemort.

“From what angle did Harry witness the attack?” Dumbledore calmly asked once Sirius finished speaking.

“He said he saw it through the eyes of the snake,” Sirius answered, knowing in that moment that he was going to ask the headmaster if his theory about his son was correct. “He said it was like he was the snake.”

The twinkle in Dumbledore’s eyes seemed to dim slightly as a look of sadness crossed the old man’s face before it disappeared as quickly as it came. However, it was enough to push Sirius into asking the question he honestly didn’t want to know the answer to.

“Is my son a Horcrux?”

No answer appeared to be forthcoming until Dumbledore uttered the words Sirius had been dreading, “I believe so.”

Sirius felt like all the air in his lungs had been sucked out of him with that one revelation. He had done everything in his power to protect Harry and now it felt like it had all been for nothing. He knew his son would have to die if Voldemort was to be defeated once and for all. Every piece of information that they had found on Horcruxes, which had not been much, all clearly stated that the vessel had to be destroyed beyond magical repair. Simply put, Harry had no choice but to sacrifice his life.

“You must not reveal this to Harry,” Dumbledore stressed firmly. “You told me once that you shared everything with Harry about the prophecy and his role in this war against Voldemort, but this is one piece of information you cannot share with him. The burden it would place upon him if he were to learn that he was unintentionally made into one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, it would be too much for him to bear. It could potentially lead him to doing something that could risk everything.”

The headmaster’s words made it sound like that Harry would need to die at the right moment if they were to succeed in defeating Voldemort. The very thought made Sirius shudder as he realised that it meant that he had raised his son like a pig for slaughter. Would Harry ever forgive him if he discovered that the man who had raised him had kept this piece of information from him?

“Is there any other way to remove that piece of Voldemort’s soul from Harry?” Sirius asked in desperation, knowing he had to try to find a way to save his son.

“I do not believe there is,” Dumbledore said gently. “However, your library at Grimmauld Place is far more extensive in terms of the Dark Arts than mine or that of Hogwarts. The solution may be hidden away in there. I would just ask that you do not get your hopes up over potentially finding an answer that may not be there.”

“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

It was the only way that Sirius could describe how he was feeling in that moment. He had to hold onto the hope that he could find a way in which they could remove the piece of Voldemort’s soul from his son and not kill him in the process. However, he would also have to prepare for the worst in making sure that Harry enjoyed whatever was left of his life and that meant allowing his son to spend as much time as possible with the one person who could constantly put a smile on his face “ Ginny.

“I agree with your sentiments, Sirius,” the headmaster said, pulling him from his thoughts. “However, for now, I believe it would be best if Severus goes to headquarters to check Harry’s Occlumency skills once more. I highly doubt that there are any weaknesses as Severus was impressed by what Harry had accomplished when he checked them in the summer, but it is best we make sure we did not overlook a potential problem.”

Sirius nodded in agreement as he recognised that their conversation had now come to an end.

“Thank you for being honest with me,” he said as he stood to leave. “I understand why you have kept so much of what you know about Voldemort secret from everyone.”

“A burden I wish you did not need to share with me.”

It was a burden that Sirius did not want, but would willingly carry, knowing that Harry carried one far heavier than he ever would. For that reason, he would not let this little piece of knowledge he had just obtained taint his relationship with his son.

HP&GW

The severity of Arthur Weasley’s injuries meant that he would remain in St. Mungo’s over the course of the Christmas period. It was decided, therefore, that the rest of the Weasleys would stay at Grimmauld Place for the holidays, allowing them to be nearer to the hospital. Sirius and Harry had chosen to stay with them rather than return to their own home as they had been due to spend Christmas Day with the family.

Harry and Ginny had taken advantage of the unexpected additional time together, enjoying the chance to snog and explore the new side of their relationship. Unfortunately, that meant accepting a huge amount of teasing from Ginny’s brothers, who had the uncanny knack of walking into whatever room they were in. Sirius and Molly had, however, banned them from spending time together in either of their bedrooms, stating that the first night back at the house had been under exceptional circumstances. That was until Sirius unearthed a charm that could be placed upon both bedrooms that would stop the couple from becoming too physically intimate with one another. Both teens had blushed profusely at this but were relieved as neither were anywhere near ready to even contemplate going beyond snogging.

Every day, the Weasleys had visited Arthur at the hospital and, each day, Harry would be invited to join them. He had so far refused, using the excuse that no one was currently aware that they knew each other and for their own safety, it needed to remain that way. Thankfully, Sirius had backed him up on this, stating that Dumbledore would not want to put the family in further danger. Unfortunately for Harry, Ginny was not buying his excuse and had made sure to find out the real reason he was refusing to visit her father when she returned from the hospital. It was only after talking to his dad that Harry found the courage to admit the truth to his girlfriend.

“I know I am welcome to join you, but I don’t feel comfortable going,” Harry confessed to Ginny when she finally managed to get him alone without the risk of any interruptions.

“Why?” Ginny asked, genuinely confused by his feelings. “You know you are more than welcome to join us. My parents consider you and your dad a part of our family after spending the summer with you. My dad wants to thank you for helping save his life.”

Harry looked away from his girlfriend and towards the fire that was lighting and warming up the room. He didn’t want to be thanked for something that he could not control. Yes, he knew what had happened was not his fault and yet, there was this nagging feeling that, in some ways, he was.

“He doesn’t blame you,” Ginny gently said as she placed a hand on Harry’s cheek and turned his face back towards hers. “My mum doesn’t either. While they don’t understand how you were able to see what happened to my dad, they are grateful that it allowed you to make sure the right people knew and were able to get to him in time. However, none of us will force you to go to the hospital if you don’t feel comfortable, no matter what the reason is. We just want you to understand that you have us Weasleys as part of your family now.”

A warm, fuzzy feeling spread through Harry’s body at being told his family had expanded beyond his dad and uncle. It had been just the three of them for so long, with only the odd visit from Minerva McGonagall, that it shocked him at how easily the Weasleys had taken them in and made them part of their family without question.

“I don’t think I can make you understand just how much that means to me to hear you say that to me,” he replied earnestly. “I just…”

“…don’t think you can come with us to the hospital,” Ginny finished for him as she gently ran her hand through his hair. “I would never make you do something you don’t want to, Harry. However, it was obvious to me that your refusal to come went beyond the excuse you and Sirius gave. So, I’ll let you off and let Dad know that he can speak to you, in private, when he is released from St. Mungo’s.”

“Thank you,” he whispered before capturing her lips with his and taking the chance to enjoy a private moment with his girlfriend. He wasn’t sure what he had done to deserve a someone as understanding and caring as Ginny was, but he knew he was going to do whatever it took to keep her in his life.

HP&GW

“What do you think?” Harry asked when they arrived the edge of the property where he had grown up.

“I can’t see anything,” Ginny said in disappointment. “I can feel something is there, but I cannot see it. Why is that?”

“Because I need to add your unique magical signature to the wards and give you the address of the property before you can,” Sirius explained as he stepped towards the red head with his wand ready. “It is part of the multiple layers of protection James had placed to make sure no one could find this house.”

As Sirius began casting the necessary charms to add Ginny to the wards, Harry looked towards the house that had become his home when he was eighteen months old. It had affectionately become known as Deer Run in memory of his parents. It was a subtle nod to the doe and stag that would appear when either were to cast the Patronus Charm. Harry was excited to show Ginny where he had grown up and to give her the final part of her Christmas present.

“Read this,” Sirius said, causing Harry to turn his head back towards the two most important people in his life.

The look on Ginny’s face as she read the small piece of paper was so comical that the two wizards couldn’t help but laugh.

“I know this writing!” Ginny exclaimed as she realised that the handwriting belonged to her head of house. “Why didn’t you tell me who your Secret Keeper was?”

“It would negate the point of having one if we told you,” Sirius explained before he gently turned Ginny in the direction of the house, allowing him to distract her from a potential rant about keeping secrets.

The house was nothing like The Burrow, but, then again, Harry didn’t think there was a house anywhere that was like the family home of the Weasleys. He had only briefly visited the house, a few weeks earlier, but it had certainly left a lasting impression on him. Deer Run, on the other hand, was a simple two storey house that was surrounded by a vast amount of land, far from the nearest town, whilst remaining well-hidden to anyone who meant them harm. Despite the lack of interaction with people outside those his dad had trusted, Harry had loved growing up here.

“I would suggest us moving inside the wards,” Sirius encouraged as he moved forward. “While I have never had a reason to believe anyone has found this place, I don’t want to start taking risks now. Plus, it is freezing, and I would like to get inside. Why don’t you show Ginny around, Harry?”

Grabbing Ginny’s hand, Harry led her around the grounds of Deer Run. He showed her the greenhouse where he had been taught Herbology and, of course, the Quidditch pitch, where Harry had spent many hours flying as a child. Ginny was eager to play an actual match on the pitch, something Harry wanted to do as well, but realised it would not happen until the war was over and it was safe to reveal the location of the house to more people.

Finally, they headed back to the house with a quick tour revealing a kitchen, living room, a dining room and a study that doubled as Harry’s classroom on the ground floor. All the rooms and the hall were filled with photos of Harry, Sirius, Remus, and Harry’s parents. Heading upstairs, Harry showed Ginny the bathroom and four bedrooms.

“And this,” Harry said as they reached the fourth bedroom, “is your bedroom.”

“My bedroom?” Ginny asked in shock as her eyes fell upon the sign on the door. There, in capital letters, was her name, something she had not expected to see.

“It’s the second part of your Christmas present from me,” he replied awkwardly as he rubbed the back of his neck. “I wanted you to have your own space here, somewhere you could sleep if you were to stay over. I didn’t want you to just sleep in what used to be our guest room. I wanted it to be your room.”

“I don’t know what to say, Harry.”

“It’s too much, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not,” Ginny replied earnestly as she placed her hands gently on either side of Harry’s face. “I know that my mum would do the same for you if it was safe for you to stay at our house.”

She reached up and gently kissed him in thanks, truly touched by the sweet gesture.

“Shall we take a look inside?” Harry asked as he wrapped a hand around the door handle. “I need to know if we need to add anything to what we have already done as I want you to feel happy and comfortable when you stay this summer.”

This revelation left Ginny speechless. How had her boyfriend managed to surprise her twice in the space of a few minutes?

“Did I forget to mention you are spending part of the summer with us?” Harry continued as he stifled his laughter at her reaction. “And, with your parents’ permission?”

The look of surprise on his girlfriend’s face faded after a few seconds, only to be replaced with one of concern.

“This is going to sound so rude,” she said apologetically, “but, what about what happened to you, last summer? Will we be safe here?”

Her concerns were not unexpected as Harry had been worried about the exact same thing when his dad had first told him that Ginny could spend part of the summer with them. It didn’t matter that he had already known that the wards had been strengthened and added to, but even he had needed to make sure that they would be safe there.

“Yes,” he kindly replied as he took her into his arms. “I don’t know how many Galleons my dad spent, but the wards are stronger than they were last summer. In actual fact, we are safer here than at Grimmauld Place. Only Hogwarts is better protected than Deer Run. Plus, your parents were happy to give permission for you to stay and you know your mum would never have agreed without knowing you would be safe.”

He felt the tension in his girlfriend’s body disappear, letting him know he had helped her put aside any concerns she had.

“Let’s take a look at this bedroom, then,” Ginny replied with a smile on her face.

HP&GW

Several days later, Harry found himself facing Severus Snape as the Potions Master prepared to check his Occlumency skills. Surprisingly, Sirius had not insisted on being present in the room, even though there was still an obvious amount of animosity between the two former school rivals. Harry suspected that his dad had backed off out of respect for how the man had taken the time to help Ginny with her own Occlumency during the school term.

Legilimens!

As Harry had expected, Snape had cast the spell without warning. Harry worked quickly to force out the intrusion into his mind, but not before an image of Ginny lying unconscious on the floor of the Chamber of Secrets briefly appeared.

“Very good, Mr Potter,” Snape said when he pulled out of the younger’s wizard mind, even though the compliment sounded strained. “I do not see any issues or weaknesses. I believe you have improved since I tested you in the summer.”

Harry kept a neutral face, containing the smile that was threatening to appear at hearing a compliment from the usually stoic man.

“However, I feel the need to remind you of the importance of practicing your Occlumency every night before going to sleep,” he continued without waiting for a response from Harry. “Your mind is at its most vulnerable when you are asleep and relaxed. The Dark Lord may now be able to access your mind as you did his when you witnessed the attack on Arthur Weasley, especially now he is aware of the connection that you share. It is possible he will be able to see your thoughts and influence them and it is this, as you know, that we are aiming to prevent.”

Harry nodded in response, having heard a similar lecture from both his dad and uncle, though with much more warmth. Even so, he knew the professor was correct in his assessment and he did not want to test the theory of Voldemort potentially accessing his thoughts. If his feelings for Ginny were discovered, then there was a particularly good chance that Voldemort would attempt to use that to his advantage. Given Ginny’s history with the so-called Dark Lord, Harry wanted to make it so she would never have to face him again.

“Thank you for your help, Professor,” Harry politely replied. “I know this cannot have been an easy task given your history with my parents, my dad and uncle. The fact that you have done these sessions without any snide remarks, something I was led to believe I should expect, shows me that you are just serious as I am about the need to stop Voldemort.”

The expression on the Potions Master’s face was, in Harry’s opinion, a picture-perfect moment as it appeared his comment had rendered the older man speechless. Sadly, it only lasted a mere moment before Snape schooled his features to hide his shock.

“Am I to assume that your godfather told you stories of our time in school together?”

“He did, but much of my knowledge comes from letters from my parents,” Harry admitted honestly. “My mother wrote letters for both myself and my dad to inform us that she suspected that it was you who passed on the knowledge that Voldemort was planning to come after them.”

The letters had been a surprise to both Harry and Sirius when they had discovered them in amongst a box of items that had been tucked away safely in the attic. The box itself had contained numerous valuable items, including an Invisibility Cloak that had longed been passed down from father to son. Sirius had been confused as to why James and Lily had chosen to place them in the house rather than in their vault at Gringotts and no reason was given in any of the letters.

“I know that you were once best friends with my mother,” Harry continued, not expecting any response. “It wasn’t hard to figure out from what she had written and what I have been told by my dad and Remus, she was the reason you changed sides. It certainly wasn’t for me or my father, so I can only assume that you continue to risk your life because I am her son, the last piece left of the girl you were once friends with.”

Snape nodded, confirming Harry’s words.

“I am not going to ask you to tell me stories about my mum, but I will use her memory to make one request of you. I know there is, and will always be, bad blood between you, Sirius, and Remus, but, please, for my mother, remain civil. I don’t care if that means you having to bite your tongue. I just need you to work with them, when required, to help me do what I need to do to end this.”

Harry stood and, without waiting for a response, left the room. He could only hope that his words had impacted his mother’s former friend to put aside any differences and work with two of the people that had made his life hell during his school years.

Back to index


Chapter 12: Breaking News

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for brilliant editing as always. (Edited - 6/8/2021)


It was the first morning of the new school term following the Christmas holidays with Ginny and her brothers having returned to Hogwarts the day before. It had not been easy to say goodbye to Harry after spending the holidays with him as their relationship had become stronger with everything that they had shared with one another, including the full details of what was needed to be done to destroy Voldemort for once and for all. It had also been hard to leave her father, who had finally been discharged from St. Mungo’s and was slowly on his way to recovering. For some reason, being back at Hogwarts felt strange, especially knowing what she now knew.

Ginny was just sitting down at the Gryffindor table to have breakfast when a mass of owls flew into the Great Hall, signifying that the post had arrived. She ignored the owls, not expecting anything on her first morning back, and began piling her plate with her favourite foods. However, just as she went to take her first mouthful, her goblet of pumpkin juice went flying as a package was dropped onto the table in front of her.

“I wish some of these owls would make the effort to land rather than dropping the post onto the table,” Ginny muttered angrily as she reached out to pick up the package.

“Who is it from?” Hermione asked from across the table, having used her wand to quickly clean up the mess the owl had made.

“I haven’t a clue,” she replied as she quickly opened the package to discover a note and a copy of The Quibbler. She held in the gasp that threatened to escape her lips when she saw her boyfriend’s name splashed across the cover accompanied by an image of Harry locked in battle with Voldemort, which she knew had to have been taken from a memory. A quick read of the note revealed that Luna’s father had sent her complimentary copy on the request of their mutual friend, who she knew she would be thanking for thinking of her.

“Is that what I think it is?” Hermione asked, having caught a glimpse of the cover.

“Yes, it is,” Ginny replied with a huge smile on her face. She quickly opened up the magazine to the correct page before propping it up in front of her, so the cover was on full display to those around her.

The article was certainly not one that you would have expected to read in The Quibbler, but it was definitely proof of Xenophilius Lovegood’s journalistic skills. It was far more detailed than Ginny had been expecting, going far beyond the simple interview Harry had given a couple of months ago. He had taken the time to investigate the location where Voldemort had regained his body, while publishing photographic evidence of the damage within the graveyard that could have only come from the use of Dark magic. What surprised Ginny the most, however, was the fact that he had not tried to connect Harry’s story to one of his more outlandish theories. He had, instead, provided a straightforward piece with evidence to back up his words.

“What do you have in your hands, Miss Weasley?”

Ginny looked up to see Professor Umbridge standing directly behind her and the majority of the Gryffindors staring at her. It seemed she had managed to get people’s attention, just like she had hoped.

“A copy of The Quibbler, Professor,” Ginny answered as sweetly as possible. She carefully closed the magazine and showed Umbridge the front cover, knowing full well that it would cause a reaction. It only took a few seconds before it was ripped from her hands.

“How dare you bring material like this into the school!” Umbridge cried, causing silence to fall upon the Great Hall. “The lies this so-called publication prints are dangerous and unsuitable for children.”

“Well, given that Harry Potter is still a child, and he was the one to give the interview, wouldn’t that suggest it is suitable for us to be reading?” Ginny responded, despite knowing she was probably going to end up in detention for talking back.

“The boy is lying! Why he has chosen to come out and repeat the lies of your headteacher is beyond me. It only serves to show the dangers that come from magical children being home schooled. It seems that you have also not learned your lesson about spreading dangerous lies and will be serving detention with me for the rest of the week. Longer if the message does not sink in.”

Ginny knew Harry would not be happy to hear that she had found herself in detention again and facing the use of the Blood Quill. She just hoped that it would mean that Sirius would be able to move forward with having the toad-faced teacher removed from the school before she could cause even further harm to the students and their education.

“Ginny, you promised you wouldn’t provoke her anymore,” Hermione whispered furiously when Umbridge walked away and out of the Great Hall. “How do you think he is going to react when he finds out what you did?”

“Well, Hermione, I think he may just be happy,” Ginny replied, unable to keep the smug grin off her face.

“Oh, you so know he will be mad,” Ron protested.

“He won’t be if Umbridge does what I think she is about to do.”

“And what will that be?” Hermione asked inquisitively.

“I am surprised that you haven’t figured it out. She is going to make it so the students will want to read the article, because they will want to know why she is bothered by an article that has nothing to do with anyone here at this school.”

Ginny watched the reactions on her brother and friend’s faces. Ron was confused, though she could see he was trying to figure it out for himself. Hermione, however, appeared to quickly make the connection.

“Oh, that is brilliant, Ginny!” Hermione exclaimed the moment it all fell into place for her.

“Can someone please explain it to me?” Ron pleaded.

“She’s going to ban anyone from reading The Quibbler,” the older witch replied as though it explained everything, which in Ginny’s mind, it did.

“By banning it, it will just make the students want to read it,” Ginny carefully explained to her brother. “By them reading it, more people may just start to believe the truth about Voldemort being back.”

“That is… bloody brilliant,” Ron replied as understanding washed over his face. “Oh, this will end up driving her mental. She has ended up playing a prank on herself!”

The laughter that spilled from the trio’s lips caused many people to look their way, but Ginny didn’t care. Professor Umbridge had just made sure the truth was getting out to as many people as possible and she knew Harry would be delighted when she told him what had happened.

HP&GW

Harry walked into the kitchen, the next morning, excited to tell his dad about what had happened yesterday at Hogwarts. He had been angry to discover that his girlfriend had ended up in detention once again but delighted at the same time to find out that many students had been talking about the confrontation between her and Umbridge while expressing a desire to get their hands on a copy of The Quibbler.

“Morning, Dad,” Harry said as he walked into the kitchen before freezing in shock at the sight before him. He was unable to see the tabletop as the entire length of it was covered in unopened letters. “Why do we have so much post, this morning?”

Sirius looked up with a gleam in his eyes and a wide smile on his face.

“This,” he answered as he gestured to the post before him, “is the response to your interview.”

Harry’s jaw dropped. While he had been warned that people may just write to him to express their feelings on what he had revealed, he had not thought it would be on such a massive scale.

“How did these letters pass through our wards?” he asked, knowing most of their post now went via Gringotts to be checked for anything untoward. Only a handful of people had expressed permission to send post directly to them.

“These still went through the processing system at Gringotts, Harry,” Sirius explained. “Thankfully, only a small number of letters contained spells and curses. A pair of goblins personally delivered this pile of letters around an hour ago. I wanted to ask them to throw away any more letters, but that meant risking other post not getting to us that we do want to receive. So, there is a chance that more may come over the next few days.”

Deep down, he hoped that every single letter would reveal that the writer believed him, but he knew that was a far-fetched thought. Some would be from people who would refuse to believe anything that had not been confirmed by the Ministry. The problem was that he was scared that most of the letters would fall into that category, and he didn’t think he would handle being told he was a liar.

“Whatever they say, Harry, you know the truth and that is all that matters,” Sirius told him when Harry didn’t respond or move. “And you don’t need to respond to any of these letters, whether it be to defend yourself or thank them for their support. You have said your piece and they do not need a response, even if they want one.”

Harry nodded in acceptance, knowing his dad was right. He had done his part by making sure the truth was reported and all he could do now was hope that people would sit up and take notice. There was nothing he could do if no one chose to believe him. He suspected many of those people would need Voldemort to walk right up to them before they did, and it wouldn’t matter that they finally knew the truth because they would be killed immediately.

Taking a seat, Harry took the first letter in his reach and opened it. As he pulled the parchment from the envelope, he noticed something else fall out onto the pile of unopened mail. Ignoring whatever it was for the moment, he focused on the words from a witch who had refused to believe the truth when Dumbledore had originally announced it. A smile spread across his face as he learned that his interview had now convinced her of Voldemort’s return and that she believed him to a true hero for facing the Dark wizard.

“OH!” Harry gasped in surprise when he turned his attention to what had fallen out of the envelope.

“What do you have there, Harry?”

Harry could only hand over the photo of the witch to his dad, too shocked by what he had seen. Unfortunately, Sirius found the whole thing funny.

“I suspect that there may be a few more of these types of letters in there,” he told Harry once he calmed down. “Some of these witches will have been delighted to see an up-to-date photo of you and probably find you attractive.”

“But they don’t know me,” Harry protested as he shuddered at the thought of these witches thinking he was attractive. He dreaded to think what Ginny would say if she knew he was receiving these types of letters and all because of one interview.

“If you are worrying about what Ginny is going to think, then I am going to tell you to stop. She won’t care that these witches are sending you inappropriate photos, because she knows that you only have eyes for her. You have done from the moment that you rescued her from the Chamber. So, stop worrying and start reading!”

“Can you help me, then?” Harry pleaded, knowing he would be stuck there in the kitchen all day otherwise.

They spent the rest of the morning going through the post, reading each letter that Harry had received. His dad had been right about him receiving more photos from witches, including some that had come from women old enough to be his mum, and also from a couple of wizards. The rest of the letters varied between believing him about Voldemort having returned and thinking that he had completely lost the plot and belonged in the long-term ward at St. Mungo’s. He had been disappointed to read that many people did not believe him, stating that the Ministry would never go as far as to deny something that was important to be shared with the wizarding world.

“You will never convince everyone, Harry,” his dad had told him when he read yet another letter calling him a liar. “Many witches and wizards follow the Ministry without question, no matter who has the power.”

Harry knew he was right. He could only hope, however, that those that did believe him would speak up against the Ministry and plead with them to face the truth. The problem was that Harry suspected it was going to take something much bigger for the Ministry to finally believe that Voldemort was back.

It seemed fortune was on Harry’s side as he discovered the next morning when the Daily Prophet arrived shortly after breakfast.

“Front page,” his dad said as he threw the newspaper onto the table for Harry to look at. “That will explain that brief flash of pain you had last night.”

Harry sat down, annoyed at the reminder that he had let Voldemort through his shields the night before. Thankfully, it had only been for a brief moment as he had quickly forced the Dark wizard out of his head. Taking a look at the front page, he quickly understood the feeling of glee he had caught a glimpse of the night before.

“These people are the Death Eaters that were missing the night he gained back his body,” Harry stated, not needing his dad to confirm the truth. He didn’t bother reading the profile of each of the nine wizards and the one witch that had been broken out of Azkaban by Voldemort, he already knew who they were and what they had done. Instead, he went straight to the statement that had been given by the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge.

“You have to be kidding me!” Harry spat out in disgust. “How can he continue to deny the truth now that this has happened? He has no one he can pin it on. He certainly cannot blame Wormtail because the Ministry never found out where he had been hiding before he escaped the country. Does he honestly believe that people are going to fall for a story about an Auror gone rogue?”

“They don’t, Harry,” Sirius said with a slight smile on his face. “I had a message from Kingsley this morning. The entire Auror department refutes the idea and Rufus Scrimgeour, the Head Auror, intends on making a statement to reveal the truth of what happened to the public.”

Harry felt a sense of relief flood through his body at hearing that he had the backing of the entire Auror department. Maybe this would be what would help the Ministry do what was right and be more prepared for when Voldemort finally moved out into the open.

“I have also been asked to go into the Ministry to confirm the names of the Death Eaters you and I both saw that night,” his dad continued as he placed a plate of food in front of Harry. “I don’t want you near the Ministry, right now, so Remus is going to help with your schooling this morning.”

Harry nodded in acknowledgement as he tucked into his breakfast. He was grateful for being kept from having to go into the Ministry and speak about the events of the previous June. While his dad had never shielded him from the truth or facing any situation no child should face, he had taken on the role of speaking with the Aurors after Harry’s kidnapping. It had helped that Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks were a part of the Order and therefore aware of the full story without the need to speak to Harry directly. Then again, Sirius had been present at the graveyard, so was able to supply the requested names.

HP&GW

Sirius stepped out of the fireplace and into the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic. He brushed off the soot before he began walking towards the end of the large hall to where the lifts were situated. Looking around, he was not surprised to see it was busy, it usually was. However, today, there was a small crowd gathered around the Fountain of Magical Brethren, which people were continuing to join.

As he neared the crowd, it became obvious that they were protesting about the position the Ministry was taking in regard to the return of Voldemort. It pleased him to see that Harry’s interview and the news of the Azkaban breakout was having the impact that Harry had hoped for. Hearing them call for the removal of Fudge as Minister made his walk through the Atrium much more relaxing than he had been expecting. Everything was beginning to fall into place.

His eyes were torn from the crowd as he bumped into something.

“I suggest you watch where you are walking, Black.”

Sirius found himself face to face with Lucius Malfoy.

“I’m surprised to find you here, Malfoy,” Sirius said as he took a step back. “I didn’t think you would have wanted to be seen in public after the article that was published yesterday.”

“Now, why would I want to hide when the article was just a bunch of lies?” Lucius retorted with a challenging look in his eyes.

A smile slowly spread across Sirius’ face. Given where he was heading and what he was about to do, he did not feel remotely threatened by the man who stood in front of him.

“I would advise that you do go into hiding, Malfoy. I am on my way up to the Auror Office, which has requested that I come in to confirm the names of everyone who was present the night Voldemort regained his body. I think we both know just who one of those people was.”

The reaction Sirius hoped for did not come. Malfoy remained calm in the face of the warning.

“I have some advice for you as well,” Malfoy responded. “Actually, it is more your son.”

This was not the response Sirius had expected. He knew he wasn’t going strike fear into the heart of the man, but he had hoped to at least make him feel nervous.

“Tell your boy that he will not be able to protect those he loves for much longer if the Dark Lord is successful,” Lucius told him quietly, wary of the people walking past them, “especially that red-headed girlfriend of his.”

Sirius froze in shock, unable to respond. How did he know about Harry’s relationship with Ginny? They had kept it secret to avoid Voldemort using the relationship against Harry. He didn’t know how it had been discovered but he knew he was going do everything he could to protect Ginny. The girl was now the most important person in Harry’s life and there was no way he was going to let anyone get their hands on her to use against his son.

Back to index


Chapter 13: Unexpected Defeats

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for brilliant beta work as always. (Edited - 7/8/2021)


“How many times do I need to tell you, Harry?” Ginny asked angrily. “I can take care of myself!”

“I know you can,” Harry responded in frustration, “but I can’t help but worry after Lucius Malfoy threatened you!”

It had been several days since Sirius had returned from his meeting with the Aurors to inform Harry of his conversation with Lucius Malfoy. Harry had been left stunned by the threat and the fact that Voldemort was aware of his relationship with Ginny. His immediate suggestion had been for either him to enrol at Hogwarts to keep an eye on his girlfriend or for Ginny to join him in being home-schooled. Much to his dismay, his dad had rejected both ideas, making clear that it was safer for Harry to remain away from the school and that Ginny’s parents would have the final say over her education.

Harry had somehow managed to wait until his usual time to call Ginny on his mirror to tell her what had occurred at the Ministry. He had begged and pleaded with her to consider asking her parents to allow her to be taken out of Hogwarts so she could be home-schooled with him. It had only led to an argument, one that had been repeated every night since, and tonight was no different.

“I understand your concerns. I truly do, but you said it yourself that Malfoy had not been clear on when and where this could potentially occur. I will be just as safe here at Hogwarts as I would be if I were at your house,” Ginny told Harry firmly.

Every night, she had said the same thing, something Harry knew to be true. Yet, he had not found the words to convey just how scared he was for her and how devastated he would be if he was to lose her. He knew that he had to try, however, especially if it helped them reach some sort of compromise that allowed him to breathe easier.

“I need you to understand, Ginny, how much this scares me,” Harry replied choosing his words carefully. “We have known for several months that you were at risk because of the diary, but now Voldemort is aware of our relationship, he could potentially use it against me, and I would let him. If it meant you would live, then I would willingly give my life to do so. That’s how much you mean to me.”

Harry could only watch in hope as Ginny’s brown eyes widened in surprise at his words. Her facial expressions changed rapidly as his words sank in, leaving him unable to decipher just what she was feeling. The only thing that he felt certain about was that he had finally made her understand how he truly felt about the situation and, most importantly, about her.

“I can honestly say that I feel the same way, Harry,” she eventually replied. “I promise I will be careful. I think my overprotective brothers will make sure that I am safe to the point of being overbearing, but if that helps you, then I will put up with it. For now.”

It was a fair response as he knew she wouldn’t accept her brothers constantly hovering over her. He knew that they needed to find out what the plan was for her, so they could make a solid plan that didn’t leave Ginny feeling smothered by the need for everyone to protect her.

“Would you be willing to keep your mirror on you at all times?” Harry tentatively asked, knowing that his girlfriend might consider the request another step too far. “I plan to keep mine on me at all times as well.”

Ginny blushed and looked away, leaving Harry confused by her reaction to his request.

“I already do,” she mumbled quietly.

“You do?”

Ginny did not immediately reply, keeping her face turned away from looking directly at the mirror. Harry figured that she needed a few seconds to compose herself before answering so he didn’t push her for an answer, and instead waited patiently.

“I have done since your dad gave them to us,” she finally confessed, the pinkness having receded from her cheeks. “I knew we wouldn’t be able to use them freely once I was at school, but I thought that if I, on the off-chance, found myself in trouble, then I had a way of getting help.”

It dawned on Harry that this was the reason his girlfriend had fought with him over his own overprotectiveness. She not only knew how to take care of herself, but she knew that she could ask for help if the situation warranted it.

“I’m sorry for being an overprotective prat,” he apologised sincerely. “It seems I overlooked the idea that you already had a plan in place on the off-chance that you found yourself in trouble.”

“I am sorry for not just telling you up front about what I was doing,” Ginny said apologetically. “I ended up being defensive when I knew you would be happy with my plan. I know there is no excuse, but I can’t help it when everyone wants to constantly protect me.”

“Can we come to a compromise, then?”

Ginny nodded.

“I will drop the whole attempt at trying to come to Hogwarts or having you come to be home-schooled with me on one condition… that you agree not to push aside the idea of being pulled from Hogwarts if an attempt is made to kidnap you?”

“I can do that,” his girlfriend immediately agreed, much to Harry’s surprise. “However, you need to get Sirius to speak to my parents and seek their approval for this option, so we are not scrambling to put everything in place if it comes to it.”

“I think he was planning to go and speak with them anyway for the same reason you suggested,” Harry confirmed, knowing his dad always liked to have back-up plans in place as a precaution.

The young couple finally put the argument to bed and moved onto other topics. Harry was pleased that interest in the DA had increased substantially as it meant the students were opening their eyes to the truth. He hated, however, that Ginny was stuck in more detentions with the toad-faced professor, something he knew his dad was also planning to rectify as soon as possible.

“I did have a thought about how Lucius Malfoy found out about us,” Ginny said suddenly, changing the subject from how well her lessons were going.

“You did?” Harry asked, curious if it was the same person that he believed it to be as, in his eyes, there was only one obvious person.

“Considering that it was Lucius Malfoy that gave your dad the warning, the only sensible answer is that it was his son, Draco,” his girlfriend suggested. “I just can’t figure out when he would have seen us as we didn’t meet in a public setting.”

Harry thought back to that day in Hogsmeade when he and his dad had met Ginny, her brothers and Hermione for lunch at the Three Broomsticks. It was the only place that they had spent any time together, both having arrived and left with other people. The only way that anyone, other than Madam Rosmerta, could have seen them together was when someone had entered or left the room.

“Best guess is that he was passing by the room as the door opened and he managed to get a glimpse inside,” Harry offered, knowing it was probably the only answer there was. “It doesn’t matter now as I doubt my dad will let us meet anywhere that he has not approved of, which basically means anywhere that isn’t my house, your house or Order headquarters.”

“It means I probably won’t be able to see you in person until the summer holidays,” Ginny sighed, disappointment evident upon her face.

Harry hated the fact that they would now not be able to meet up on Hogsmeade weekends, but he knew it was the better option when it came to his girlfriend’s safety. He just hoped that the threat would not come to fruition.

“We still have the mirrors,” he reminded her in hopes of cheering her up. “I know it isn’t the same, but it is definitely better than waiting on an owl to deliver a letter.”

Ginny smiled, her eyes brightening up at her boyfriend’s words.

“I miss you,” she told him earnestly before glancing away from the mirror. “It’s getting late, and I can hear my dorm mates getting ready for bed. Speak to you tomorrow?”

“Same time as always. Night, Gin.”

“Night, Harry.”

Harry put the mirror on his bedside table, feeling relieved that he had finally come to an agreement with Ginny over the question of her safety. That had been their first argument, not just as a couple, but since they had become friends, and he knew it wouldn’t be their last. He was just grateful that they had been able to settle it amicably and come to a compromise, something he hoped they would always be able to do.

He turned his thoughts to wondering what the next six months would bring. He knew he would be taking his OWLs in the Spring as they also continued their research on Tom Riddle’s background and the Horcruxes. Hopefully, that would keep him busy and focused until he could see Ginny again, but, somehow, he knew that something was bound to happen. He just hoped it wasn’t something that led him to losing anyone.

Turning over on to his side, Harry made himself comfortable as he felt sleep begin to wash over him. As his eyes finally closed, his last thought was of what he and Ginny would manage to get up to when she finally came to stay with him that summer.

HP&GW

The sight of The Burrow never failed to make Sirius smile. The distinctly crooked house, which was obviously held up by magic, represented what he knew of the Weasley family and that was chaos. He just wished he was visiting on one of those days when the family was all at home causing havoc for their parents.

Sirius knocked on the door, which was quickly answered by Molly.

“Sirius,” she said in surprise, “I had not been expecting a visit from you. Is Harry with you?”

“No, he is at home, finishing off an essay,” he explained as Molly gestured for him to come inside. “I was actually hoping to speak to you and Arthur.”

“Of course. Take a seat and I’ll just go and get him.”

Sirius took a seat at the kitchen table and took a deep breath to steady his nerves. He had already held off coming to meet with Molly and Arthur for the past several days, but he knew he could no longer wait to tell them about his encounter with Lucius Malfoy. It wasn’t that he had not wanted to inform them of the threat made against their daughter; it was more that he had needed to convince his own son that he couldn’t be making demands in how to protect Ginny. Thankfully, the petite red head had come through, like he knew she would, and had managed to come to a compromise with Harry. Now he knew he could speak to them with a solid plan to present to them.

“Sirius, it’s good to see you,” Arthur said as he walked into the kitchen and joined Sirius at the table. “Molly said you wished to speak with us.”

Sirius looked over to where Molly had begun preparing some tea for them. He suspected that she knew he was about to deliver unwelcome news, so he allowed her to continue what he knew she preferred to do to keep her nerves at bay.

“It would appear that Voldemort is aware of the relationship between Harry and Ginny,” he bluntly told the couple, knowing no good would come from beating around the bush. “Lucius Malfoy made a threatening remark to me about Harry not being able to protect those he loves for much longer and made a specific reference to Ginny.”

Neither Arthur, nor Molly responded, not that Sirius had expected an immediate reply given what he had just told them. He could only, therefore, watch as Arthur took off his glasses and cleaned the lenses before putting them back on. Molly, on the other hand, just seemed to freeze in her movements as she took in the words of the threat made against her only daughter.

“I can only assume that he gave no other details?” Arthur asked rhetorically.

Sirius nodded, even though he knew he did not need to answer.

“Why won’t that man leave our daughter alone?” Molly questioned angrily as she turned to face the two men. “He is the one responsible for our daughter ending up down in that awful chamber. And, now he is threatening her once again. I have no doubt that he will follow through on it when the chance presents itself.”

It was easy for Sirius to understand Molly’s distress over the threat to Ginny. He had felt like that every day since his best friends had been murdered by Voldemort and he had taken custody of his godson. He had always been upfront with Harry about what he would be facing in the future, except for the fact that his son was the Horcrux that Voldemort had never intended to make. No child should ever have to have something like that hanging over them. If it was even possible, then he knew that he would be willing to take Harry’s place when it came to facing Voldemort.

“I want to apologise for waiting a few days to tell you,” Sirius said, pushing away the thoughts of Harry’s current fate. “Harry did not react well to the threat and started coming up with ways he could help protect her. He wouldn’t listen to me over the fact that his suggestions were not viable, and it took him arguing with Ginny about her safety for him to come to that realisation himself.”

It had not been a surprise to discover that Ginny had been the one to talk Harry out of his ridiculous ideas. He had known that the young couple had spent every night since the threat was made arguing about how to protect her as it had impacted Harry’s mood. Thankfully, he had come down to breakfast that morning much happier than the previous few days before he had explained about the conversation that he’d had the night before with his girlfriend. That had prompted Sirius to finally reach out to Ginny’s parents and explain the situation.

“What did he suggest?” Arthur asked, amused by Harry’s overprotectiveness.

“He wanted to enrol at Hogwarts to be close to your daughter,” Sirius told the older couple. “It didn’t seem to matter to him that very few people are aware of his connection to Ginny and your family. He just wanted to be near to her in case something was to happen. He did have one suggestion that is a viable option, however, which could be a back-up plan if we feel it becomes necessary.”

He had agreed with Harry’s idea of Ginny being home-schooled alongside him from the moment his son had suggested it. However, with the way Harry had decided it should be done immediately with no thought for what Ginny or her parents wanted, he was not able to convince Harry to step back and look at the bigger picture. The whole situation only served to show just how much Harry had fallen for the youngest Weasley that he was on the verge of becoming reckless.

“Would this involve Ginny being pulled from Hogwarts?” Arthur enquired, causing Molly’s eyes to light up at the idea as she finally sat at the table with them, once she had placed a cup of tea in front of each of the two men.

“It does,” Sirius confirmed. “With your permission, I would like to offer her the opportunity to be home-schooled alongside Harry, but only if more threats are made or an attempt is made.”

“Why not immediately?” Molly asked, obviously not happy with the idea that her daughter would remain at the school and in danger.

“Molly, I think we can both agree that it would be unfair to disrupt our daughter’s education and take her away from her friends for one threat. It would be better to make a plan that can be immediately enacted if the situation warrants it.”

Sirius was thankful for Arthur’s calm approach. However, given Molly’s reaction, he knew he would be able to set up all the necessary paperwork so that they were ready the instant they were forced into removing Ginny from Hogwarts.

“Even if you did choose to remove Ginny from school straightaway, the Ministry still has to be notified,” Sirius explained, having been through it all after he decided to keep Harry away from Hogwarts. “Every child who is eligible to attend Hogwarts usually does accept their invitation, but if the parent or guardian chooses not to send them, then they have to inform the Ministry of their plans for their education. For those who choose to home-school, they have to provide a plan of how they intend to cover the curriculum and who will be teaching the child.”

“Will that be a problem if Ginny is learning alongside Harry?” Molly asked worriedly.

“It’s only on the rare occasion that the Ministry will deny the parent the option of home-schooling,” Arthur explained, well aware of the current education laws. “However, I believe that they wouldn’t deny us as we would be letting Sirius oversee our daughter’s education and he is on file there as being a home-educator. I am assuming we would need to sign a form giving you permission to do that though?”

“Yes,” Sirius confirmed, “and by doing so, it will allow the Ministry to speak to me about Ginny’s progress and sign off when she is ready to take her OWLs. Still, I would keep you fully informed of what we were doing, and I would not move forward with anything that I felt you needed to have full input on, specifically her exams.”

He watched as Arthur and Molly appeared to have a silent conversation with their eyes. He was certain that they were in full agreement with the back-up plan for Ginny’s education, but he wasn’t sure if they, Molly specifically, would be agreeable to Ginny coming to live with them for her protection.

“I have just one question before I agree to this plan,” Molly said, turning her eyes to look at Sirius. “If we remove Ginny from school because something happens to her, then how do we continue to keep her safe? While we have a broad selection of wards surrounding our property, I don’t think it would be enough to keep us safe from a potential attack.”

“I was planning to suggest that Ginny moves in with myself, Remus and Harry,” Sirius suggested, relieved that Molly had made it easier to bring up this part of his plan. “Only six people are currently aware of the exact location of the house and the wards are incredibly hard to get through and break down. Just the fact that Harry had to be lured off the property and beyond our wards shows just how hard it would be for anyone to get to Ginny.”

Molly turned back to her husband and gave a nod of her head. Sirius knew before Arthur even said the words that they were happy with the plan.

“Ok, then, we accept the plan,” Arthur confirmed. “What do we need to do now?”

Sirius smiled, knowing that Harry would be delighted with the news, before explaining to the two Weasleys just what needed to be accomplished if their plan was going to be ready to be followed through on if the situation came to that.

HP&GW

Sirius had just settled down in the living room when there was an unexpected knock on the door. Given how many people knew of the location of the house and with Remus spending the night at Grimmauld Place, he knew it could only be one of two people. Even then, out of those two, only one of them would likely to be turning up on his doorstep at this time in the evening. He just hoped it was not like the visit they had received nearly four years ago.

“Albus,” Sirius politely said once he had opened the front door to find the headmaster of Hogwarts on his doorstep. “I wasn’t expecting to see you, this evening.”

“My apologies, Sirius, for dropping in unexpectedly,” the headmaster replied as Sirius welcomed him into the house. “I did not want to arrange a meeting and then find I was unable to leave the school.”

The two wizards moved through to the living room with Sirius calling Harry down to join them at Dumbledore’s request. Once the younger wizard had joined them, Sirius turned his attention to the headmaster once more.

“What can we do for you, Albus?”

“I promise that I do not have any more secret chambers for you to open, Harry,” Dumbledore said to break the tension that had settled over the room. “I have received word from the Ministry, courtesy of Kingsley, and felt it would be prudent to inform you of the newest developments.”

Sirius looked over at Harry and saw the look of concern on his son’s face. The lack of news from the Ministry following Fudge’s statement the day after the interview had been released had been worrying for the both of them. They were not even aware of whether the man had accepted the Aurors’ statement confirming no one in their department had been responsible for the breakout at Azkaban. If Fudge continued to deny Voldemort’s return, even in the face of solid evidence, Sirius knew Harry would feel defeated.

“I am afraid that Cornelius has managed to retain his position as the Minister,” Dumbledore solemnly told them. “He is still continuing to deny Voldemort’s return, stating that the evidence is circumstantial at best and is only serving to cause disruption throughout our world.”

“That is complete rubbish,” Harry muttered angrily as his head fell into his hands.

“I don’t understand how he can ignore the evidence,” Sirius replied in confusion. “I know the Aurors went out to investigate the graveyard at Little Hangleton. They even viewed my own personal memories of that evening. Are you telling me that Fudge is still refusing to believe what is right in front of him?”

“To some extent, yes,” Dumbledore confirmed. “However, he has changed his stance on Death Eaters being behind a number of events that have occurred over the past couple of years. This includes the breakout at Azkaban. I believe that until Voldemort publicly reveals his return, then this will be the closest we will get to the Ministry admitting the truth for now.”

As much as he knew that Harry would be disappointed with Fudge’s stance, Sirius felt that it was much better than where the Minister had stood the day after the article was released. He wasn’t, however, going to allow the man to remain in power when they had enough evidence to remove Umbridge from her post at Hogwarts and hopefully Fudge from the position of Minister.

“Is he, at least, going to take the necessary steps to warn and prepare the public for more potential attacks?” Harry asked, pulling Sirius from his thoughts.

“I wish I could give you the response you are looking for, Harry,” the headmaster kindly replied, “but Fudge feels the Aurors’ priority is to round up every escaped prisoner. He believes that they may also be able to arrest any Death Eater that has previously escaped conviction in the process, therefore, removing any potential threat.”

Looking over at his son, Sirius knew that he needed to reveal their plan for Umbridge and Fudge.

“Are you aware that Umbridge is using a blood quill on any pupil who has detention with her?”

It was obvious that Dumbledore was not aware of what was happening in his school by the way the blood appeared to drain from his face. If the situation had not been a serious matter, Sirius knew he would be laughing at the fact that he had managed to make his former headmaster speechless.

“It is not a secret that Delores has handed out a high number of detentions, something I believe that you are aware of. But, no, I was not aware of the use of a blood quill as no one has come forward to complain about her choice of punishment and Madam Pomfrey has not notified me of any unusual injuries or illnesses. I can only assume, therefore, that you are in possession of a number of complaints?”

“We are,” Harry confirmed, “and it’s all thanks to Ginny Weasley.”

“Say no more, Harry,” Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eyes. “I would like some plausible deniability when it comes to your plans. However, feel free to move forward with them as I will not deny that I would love to see Delores Umbridge banished from my school.”

Sirius exchanged looks with Harry, pleased that they had Dumbledore’s backing. It was time to take down Fudge and his cronies and make the Ministry accept that Voldemort was back once again.

Back to index


Chapter 14: A Change in Power

Author's Notes: Thank you to my beta, Arnel, for your response to this chapter!


A month had passed since Ginny had completed her detentions with Professor Umbridge. Thankfully, she had managed to avoid being handed more by keeping her temper in check, while holding onto the hope that the awful woman would soon be removed from the school. Harry had informed her that Sirius had gone to the Aurors and told them of the cruel punishment that Umbridge used on the students in detention. It was now just a case of waiting for the Aurors to come and arrest her for her crime.

Ginny was eating breakfast, trying to keep her feelings in check ahead of her morning class with Umbridge, when the unexpected happened. A group of Aurors entered the Great Hall and marched directly up to the teachers’ table. It did not surprise Ginny when silence fell over the hall as every person present turned their attention to the Aurors, who had come to a stop in front of the toad-faced witch.

“Madam Umbridge,” the lead Auror that Ginny recognised as Kingsley Shacklebolt, “you are under arrest for the illegal use of a Blood Quill on minors, an illegal attempt to use Dementors for your own personal gain and abuse of power.”

“Do you know who I am?” the witch screeched in response, ignoring the excited whispers of the students. “I am the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic. I do not believe that Cornelius would have agreed to this when it is obvious that these are false allegations.”

“The warrant for your arrest, Madam, comes from the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Amelia Bones,” Kingsley calmly responded. “There is firm evidence to support your arrest. You will surrender your wand and accompany us to the Ministry for questioning. Any resistance will result in you being Stunned and additional charges being added to those already held against you.”

“I shall not be going anywhere with you,” Umbridge said defiantly as she went to pick up her wand from the table. However, before her fingers even made contact, she collapsed back into her chair, all thanks to the fast movements of one of the Aurors Stunning her.

Ginny was not surprised to hear a loud, deafening cheer rise up from three of the four house tables as they watched the woman who had terrorised them be bound with ropes before her body was levitated out of her seat and out of the hall. The fact that Sirius and Harry had kept their promise to have the witch removed from the school made the moment even more joyous for the red head.

“It would appear that I am in need of a new Defence professor once again,” Dumbledore said once the students had settled down. “Therefore, Defence Against the Dark Arts classes shall be cancelled until a suitable replacement can be found. For now, however, I would like to ask all those who have been a victim of Madam Umbridge’s detentions or other punishments to remain behind after breakfast so they can provide a statement to the Aurors.”

With her first period now free, all thanks to the cancellation of Defence classes, Ginny was pleased that she could remain behind to give her statement without worrying about the need to catch up with any work she missed.

“How did the Aurors find out about the Blood Quill?” Hermione asked as the noise levels rose in the hall once again.

“The father of a certain friend of mine,” Ginny replied cryptically to avoid anyone figuring out that she was friends with Harry. “He approached the Aurors on my behalf before I was asked to find out a rough estimate of the number of students who had been subjected to the Blood Quill.”

It had not been hard to discover just how many people had been affected by the witch’s cruel idea of discipline as many of them were a part of the DA. Ginny had quietly spoken to each member of the group to ask if they had been in detention at any point with Professor Umbridge and if they were aware of any one in their year who had also been affected. Everyone she had spoken to had agreed to give sworn testimony to what had been done to them, especially if it meant that the witch was punished for her crimes. The number of students impacted had been expected to be in single digits, but it had been quickly discovered that there had been far more punished by Umbridge than had originally been estimated.

“How many have been forced to use a Blood Quill?” Hermione asked.

“Seventeen,” Ginny admitted, having not been able to forget the number or the names of those who had been left with permanent scars on their hands. “Nine people from Gryffindor, four from both Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw and no one from Slytherin. There may be more who have yet to come forward and hopefully will when everyone leaves for lessons.”

“I cannot believe I am saying this,” Ron said, interrupting the conversation between the two witches, “but we need to make a move if we are going to get to Potions on time.”

Ginny pulled a face at the words, knowing the pair would lose points if they were late.

“Go,” she told them. “I’ll tell you how it all goes at lunch.”

HP&GW

Ginny entered the chamber from the Great Hall, unable to keep a smile from appearing on her face when she saw Tonks sitting at a small table with a pile of parchment, a couple of quills, an inkpot and a camera.

“Miss Weasley,” Tonks formally greeted the red head, “please take a seat.”

It was immediately obvious how serious Tonks was taking her job and that there would be no time for playing catch up with her. However, Ginny knew that Tonks would make sure she felt at ease while giving her statement and would know how to phrase the questions so that no mention of Harry or Sirius came up.

“What I would like you to do is to just give me a statement of your interactions with Delores Umbridge,” the Auror said as Ginny took a seat opposite her. “I am specifically looking for the situations that led to you being given detentions and also what happened during the detentions themselves. Please give as much detail as you can, but do not worry if you miss anything as you can contact us if you think of anything else that you feel will be of importance to the case.”

Ginny nodded, grateful that she was not being asked about informing Harry and Sirius of what had happened to her. From what Harry had told her, the Aurors were going to say that it was an anonymous tip that had led them to investigating the Ministry Official. Unfortunately, he had not been able to tell her why it had taken so long for them to complete the investigation before they even came to Hogwarts. Given that there were two additional charges that she had not been aware of, Ginny had to wonder what else the Aurors had discovered.

“Can you tell me about the first time you received detention from Delores Umbridge?” the Auror asked in a calm voice that made Ginny feel much more relaxed about answering the questions. “What was the reason that led to your detention?”

“It was during our second Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson,” Ginny began to explain before carefully telling her older friend about what had happened with as much detail as possible. As she explained how she had spoken back to the teacher, she knew that the detention had been warranted as no other teacher in the school would have accepted her outburst either. However, Ginny did not regret her actions, because she hadn’t been able to stand there and listen to the lies that the witch had been willing to spread.

“What precisely was the reason given for the detentions? Was it the talking back to her or the lies she accused you of telling?”

“The lies she claimed I was telling. She claimed that they were dangerous and unacceptable,” Ginny clarified for the Auror. “It led to her having me write I must not tell lies with a Blood Quill repeatedly until she felt the message had sunk in.”

Ginny held out her right hand to reveal the permanent scar with the words I must not tell lies clear for the Auror to see.

“May I ask how long each detention was and how many times it took for the words to become permanently etched into your hand?” Tonks gently asked, masking the horror she felt at her young friend being harmed by such an awful woman.

Ginny thought back to the very first detention she’d had with Umbridge as she tried to recall how long she had remained in the older witch’s office as the Blood Quill continued to carve deeply into her skin. She couldn’t remember how long she had remained there, but it had been dark by the time Umbridge had deemed she had written enough lines for the night.

“I honestly cannot remember how long each detention was,” Ginny admitted, hating herself for not being able to recall such an important detail. “I would go to her office immediately after dinner and by the time that she would let me return to my common room, it was always dark.”

“It is fine that you cannot remember the length,” Tonks kindly said to her. “What you have told me will be enough for us to work out a rough estimate of the minimum amount of time you spent in each detention.”

Ginny nodded in acceptance, thankful that she had not let anyone down by forgetting such a detail.

“What about the scarring on your hand?” the Auror asked once more, prompting Ginny to reveal the state of her hand again.

“After the first couple of detentions, it was red and irritable, but faded with the use of Murtlap Essence. However, after my third or fourth detention, it remained red, and you could begin to see the words on the back of my hand that I had written over and over again.”

Tonks gently took a hold of Ginny’s right hand and carefully examined the scar that the red head would be forced to live with for the rest of her life.

“I managed to avoid detention after I completed the weeks’ worth that she originally set me,” Ginny explained as the Auror continued examining the scarring. “The redness had faded, and the scar was light enough that it wasn’t noticeable unless you were purposefully looking for it on the back of my hand.”

Placing Ginny’s hand onto the table, Tonks picked up the camera and took a couple of photos of the words scarred into the back of the red head’s hand.

“You received a second set of detentions on your return to school after Christmas I believe,” she said as she placed the camera back on the table and indicated that Ginny could remove her hand.

“I did,” Ginny confirmed. “It was the morning after we had returned, and I had received a copy of latest issue of The Quibbler. I was reading the main article, which was an interview with Harry Potter about Voldemort’s return in June, and Umbridge ripped it out of my hands, saying that it was full of lies and unsuitable material to be reading. Admittedly, I did talk back when I shouldn’t have, but I felt the need to point out how she was contradicting herself in saying it was unsuitable for us when Harry Potter is only a year older than me.”

“I can only assume that she did not respond well to that comment,” Tonks said with a cheeky grin on her face, imagining just how irate the woman would have been.

“No, not at all. I ended up with detention again, which lasted an additional week to what she originally set me. She banned anyone from reading the interview, which only served to encourage people to get their hands on a copy.”

Tonks held back the smile that was threatening to form on her face. She knew Sirius had been delighted with the response from the public in regard to the article, especially when he discovered that more copies had been printed due to unprecedented demand.

“I just want to clarify a couple of more things with you, and then you are free to leave. May I ask why you did not report what happened in your detentions to your Head of House?”

Ginny had not expected this question, but she could understand why it needed to be asked. The Aurors obviously needed to understand how Umbridge had managed to get away with using a Blood Quill on minors for as long as she did. Looking down at her scarred hand, she knew she couldn’t make up a false excuse. She had to tell the truth, so it could be known just how much of an impact the woman had had on the school.

“I felt like if I did, then she would win. I didn’t want her believing that I was willing to fall in line with what the Ministry was saying about Voldemort not being back. I didn’t want her to think that I accepted that I had been telling lies when I had not done that. Even then, if I had gone to Professor McGonagall, I doubt there would have been much she would have been able to do as it has been obvious from the moment that she was introduced at the Welcome Feast that she was intent on interfering at Hogwarts.”

“That is similar to what most of the students I have spoken to have said as well,” Tonks explained, pointing to the pile of parchment of the statements she had already taken. “It sounds like most of you were not sure who to turn to, fearful of what the repercussions would be for admitting what was happening to them. That leads me to my final question. The Auror Department are aware that you are the one who notified our source of what Delores Umbridge was doing to the students, so may I ask how you informed the source?”

Ginny took a deep breath, knowing she needed to be careful how she answered the question. She would have to twist the truth, though it seemed she could keep names out of the answer based on how Tonks had asked for the information.

“I told a friend of mine who does not attend Hogwarts,” the red head explained, knowing there were a handful of children who were home-schooled like Harry was. “I was lucky enough to see them on a Hogsmeade weekend in October and I saw them during the Christmas Holidays, so I didn’t need to send a letter to them. My friend’s dad overheard the conversation and said he would speak to a friend of his about how to approach the situation, which led to me being asked to find out how many students had suffered at the hands of Umbridge.”

Tonks nodded, knowing she would need to inform Sirius and Harry of the story their mutual friend had given to explain how the information was passed onto them. Based on what she knew, the story given was not too far off the truth and probably wouldn’t be checked further by the department.

“Thank you for speaking to me, Miss Weasley. If we have any further questions, we will contact your Head of House before speaking to you. Due to you being underage, your presence will not be required at the trial.”

Ginny stood and made to leave the chamber before she paused and turned back to face the Auror.

“Thank you for taking this seriously,” she said graciously. “I dread to think how far Umbridge would have gone had her behaviour gone unchecked by the Ministry.”

“Off the record,” Tonks said, dropping her serious demeanour as she stood and went over to her young friend, “the Ministry should never have interfered with recruiting for the position to begin with, let alone interfering at the school. The fact you had the courage to speak up, even if it was through an unusual route, meant we have been able to remove her before she causes further damage.”

Tonks hugged Ginny tightly, proud of her young friend for speaking up and searching out others who had also found themselves in her position.

“I think it is probably a good thing a certain mutual friend of ours doesn’t attend school here as I dread to think how badly he would have been punished by Umbridge for just existing,” Ginny carefully said as the two witches pulled back from the hug. “I know you are probably going to speak to them later about what I said. Please do as I don’t want our stories not matching and then being questioned, because you know Umbridge will attempt to use it to get the charges dropped.”

“Trust me, it wouldn’t help, given the additional victims we have discovered at the Ministry,” the Auror admitted, knowing that Ginny would be given the details later on by Harry if he was aware of the new charges that had been made against the Ministry Official. “Not that I should have told you that, but something tells me a certain person will bring you up to date on the situation when you speak to them next.”

This only served to make Ginny more intrigued by the additional charges received by Umbridge. She knew she would be impatient all day until she could speak to Harry over the mirrors and find out just what was going on.

“Thank you for telling me,” Ginny replied gratefully. “I better go now as I need to at least get to my next lesson, which is unfortunately with Snape. He will only be too happy to dock me points for being late, despite having a good reason for doing so if I am.”

Ginny waved goodbye and quickly left the chamber, picking up her pace to hopefully make it down to the dungeons before Snape could find an excuse to take more points from Gryffindor.

HP&GW

The news of Delores Umbridge’s arrest sent shockwaves throughout the Ministry and the public. As Harry and Sirius had expected, Fudge attempted to use his position as Minister to overrule and dismiss the charges against her, stating she was a respected and trusted member of the Ministry. Unfortunately, for him, his attempt backfired when he was presented with evidence that he, himself, had not only known about many of the woman’s crimes, but had, in fact, encouraged her to do what was necessary to bring order to Hogwarts and the wizarding world. It didn’t help that Umbridge had also revealed, when questioned under Veritaserum, just how far he was willing to go to keep hold of his power as Minister for Magic, even if it meant denying the evidence that Voldemort was back while discrediting Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter in the process. He was subsequently sacked by the Wizengamot and arrested for aiding and abetting his Senior Undersecretary and for his abuse of power.

Amelia Bones was appointed by Wizengamot to take over as Minister with the aim of holding elections to confirm her role within six months. She wasted no time in stepping up to do what was needed by immediately announcing the return of Lord Voldemort and making a formal and public apology to both Dumbledore and Harry in the treatment they had received from the Ministry. She also announced that she had ordered arrest warrants for all people named by Harry as having been at the graveyard the night Voldemort regained his body and made clear that anyone found to have the Dark Mark would be taken into custody for questioning. It was clear to everyone that Amelia Bones meant business and would not be easily swayed from her opinions in what the path forward was.

HP&GW

“The Minister will see you now, Mr Black.”

It had been barely a few hours since the announcement was made about Amelia Bones being appointed Minister for Magic and Sirius had wasted no time in reaching out to her for a meeting as soon as possible. He had been surprised to receive a quick response, inviting him to come into her office that evening, which was where he was at that moment.

“Thank you,” he said to the Minister’s assistant as he stood from the chair he had been sitting in and walked over to the door that was being held open for him.

Walking into the office, Sirius was not surprised to discover the walls were bare and files were piled high on the desk. It seemed Amelia had thrown herself straight into the necessary work needed to prepare for the fight against Voldemort.

“Mr Black,” the Minister said, acknowledging Sirius’ presence. “Please, take a seat.”

Sirius took the only available seat in front of the desk, making himself as comfortable as he could ahead of the serious discussion that he knew would be coming.

“I have to admit I was surprised to receive a request for a meeting from you,” she continued without waiting for any sort of response from Sirius. “However, given who your godson is and the situation we now find ourselves in, I felt it was prudent to accept the request as I could assume that you have information for me that could impact the future of the wizarding world.”

If it had been anyone else, Sirius would have been impressed by how quickly they had come to that conclusion. However, he was not surprised that Amelia had put the pieces together so quickly. She had not risen through the ranks and become the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for nothing. He didn’t think he would have approached the new Minister about the information he had and needed, had Amelia Bones not been appointed.

“Straight to the point, then,” Sirius replied, receiving a nod of the head from the new Minister. “I know you are aiming to put in place measures to help and prepare our world for what is coming, and I am happy to provide essential details for that. However, in return, I require your assistance as well.”

“I will do my best to assist, but I cannot make any promises.”

Sirius had expected as much. He knew the meeting he would be pushing for might not be possible, but he had to try and asking the Minister for Magic was his best chance.

“Firstly, you need to know that a prophecy was given many years ago, not long before Harry was born, that spoke of a child that was destined to defeat Voldemort,” Sirius began, deciding he needed to explain Harry’s role before asking for the meeting.

“The child would be Harry, I take it,” Amelia guessed easily.

“Yes. I would tell you the exact wording, but I feel it would be best kept to those who already know.”

Thankfully, Amelia nodded her agreement. While Sirius hated keeping secrets, he did agree with Dumbledore that certain things needed to be kept secret to avoid the risk of it getting back to Voldemort. Right now, he needed to make sure the Dark wizard was not aware of the full wording of the prophecy or that they were aware that he had made Horcruxes. That gave them an advantage and they needed to use it to the best of their ability before Voldemort found out, because he would eventually find out.

“We removed it from the Hall of Prophecies in the summer and replaced it with a fake with the same spells used on the orbs to stop them being taken by someone it is not about. It was all above board before you ask, but it was done discreetly to avoid anyone being alerted to what we had done.”

“I agree with you on that point. Anything that could potentially stop Harry from defeating Lord Voldemort needs to remain secret among those who do need to know. Can I presume that you also know what needs to be done to defeat him?”

“We do,” Sirius confirmed, refusing to elaborate further.

“What can I do to help?”

Sirius took the chance to pass on the information that he and Remus had gathered personally and what he had also learned through the Order of the Phoenix. He passed on every name of any Death Eater that they were aware of, including those who had escaped being arrested previously and those they knew to still have jobs within the Ministry. Most importantly, he made sure to inform the Minister of their current plans of trying to secure the Prophecy for Voldemort and the threat that had been made against Ginny.

“If the paperwork has yet to be pushed through for Ginny to be home-schooled if required, leave it with me and I will personally make sure it is signed off on,” Amelia said once she had been informed of the plan Sirius and the Weasleys had come up with to protect Harry’s girlfriend. “Otherwise, the information you have provided will give me a good place to start in making sure the Ministry is made secure from Voldemort’s influence. Now, what do you require assistance with?”

Sirius took a deep breath, hoping the Minister would be able to help, before asking, “I need to speak to someone who specialises in the effects of Dark Magic on witches and wizards. Would you be able to arrange a private meeting with an Unspeakable?”

Back to index



Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at http://www.siye.co.uk/siye/viewstory.php?sid=130423