|SIYE Time:14:00 on 30th July 2021|
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Category: Alternate Universe
Warnings: Mental Abuse, Mild Language, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: When Harry goes missing from Privet Drive without a single personal possession, the worst is assumed by the Order of the Phoenix and the magical community of Britain at large. Upon his rescue, Ginny and the others find that everything they thought they knew from the moment Harry returned from the maze with Cedric's body in his arms must be called into question. Will Harry be able to heal from a traumatic ordeal that has left scars too deep to see?
Hitcount: Story Total: 9189; Chapter Total: 672
Awards: View Trophy Room
Two chapters in one week? You lot are being spoiled lol
I really like this chapter for the ending. You'll see what I mean when you get there ;) enjoy!
Chapter Ten: Forward
Sirius was sitting on the stairs when the front door opened and Albus entered Grimmauld Place. “Good,” he breathed, rising. “This way, please. I don’t think we want to be overheard.”
Albus nodded and followed Sirius upstairs to Regulus’s old room. Sirius shut and locked the door firmly before turning to face the headmaster.
“Your Patronus said this was an urgent matter,” said Albus. “Is it to do with Harry?”
“Yes, and no,” said Sirius. “It’s – well, I don’t rightly know what to make of what occurred earlier today. I mentioned Kreacher, and well – Harry claimed the elf was supposed to be dead, and at Voldemort’s hand.”
Albus raised his eyebrows but said nothing.
“Obviously I called for Kreacher to prove otherwise, but Harry became very agitated and started asking Kreacher about a locket.”
“A locket,” repeated Albus, expression unreadable.
Sirius nodded. “I got Kreacher talking and –” He broke off and shook his head. “Quite the tale, it was.” He described all that Kreacher had told him about the cave, the potion, the locket, and his brother’s fate.
He had long assumed his brother had gotten cold feet and backed out of being a Death Eater only to die for it, but this story… it told of a very different brother to the one Sirius had thought he’d had at the end there.
Albus’s expression was like stone by the time he finished the story. “Harry insisted on knowing where the real locket was, said it was difficult to destroy.” Sirius reached into his trouser pocket and pulled it out now to show the headmaster. “He says it’s like the diary,” he told him. “He also says you know what it is and how to destroy it.”
Albus reached out almost hesitantly for the locket. “Harry knows,” he breathed. At last his fingers closed around the cold metal and pulled it from Sirius’s palm. “But how…?” He looked at Sirius. “I must speak with Harry. I need to know what he knows.”
Sirius scowled. “Not happening,” he said.
“Sirius, this is of the utmost importance.”
“I don’t care,” snapped Sirius. “He’s not ready to talk to anyone who isn’t real, and you’re not on the list.”
“Sirius, I understand Harry is struggling to trust those who were fooled by Voldemort’s deception –”
“He saw you be fooled!” Sirius hissed venomously. “Snape’s potion was used to make him reach across that connection they’ve got and see everything Voldemort was doing. He watched you look at him without seeing it wasn’t really him!”
Albus closed his eyes for a long moment as he drew in a deep breath. “I had wondered,” he finally spoke, “if that had been Voldemort’s intention. It explains how I saw nothing but Harry when I attempted Legilimency the day after the Third Task.”
Sirius nodded angrily. “His friends, Molly, you... none of you are trustworthy in his eyes. Remus and I escaped the same fate by virtue of not having been there for him to witness the deceit in person. We really only had letters.” He swallowed. “Ginny is the only one who’s earned the right to be real. She saw the moments that didn’t make sense, and even if she didn’t connect the dots quickly enough, Harry still saw her trying. He trusts her, Albus.”
Albus sighed. “I still need to speak with Harry,” he said.
“No.” Sirius crossed his arms over his chest, ready to stand his ground. “He’s too fragile right now.”
“He knows the prophecy, Albus,” Sirius cut him off, inwardly pleased when Albus’s face paled. “Or at least, as much of it as Voldemort knows. Do you really think he would want to so much as look at you given your refusal to tell him the truth on your own terms?” He glared at the headmaster. “It seems clear to me Voldemort’s experiments were designed to figure out why Harry’s the one from the prophecy.” He spun away, disgusted. “I expect he found what he was looking for and that’s why he was ready to kill him.”
Albus was silent for so long Sirius finally turned back to look at him. “If Voldemort had realized exactly why Harry is the one from the prophecy,” he said softly, “he would not have killed him. Had he known the truth, then we would never have found Harry at all.”
Sirius stared in confusion at Albus as he looked once more at the locket in his hand. “There is much I must do,” he said abruptly. “I still need to speak to Harry, but I think you are correct in that he is not ready for such a thing yet. I will instead attend to this locket.”
“What is it?” asked Sirius. “Harry only said it was evil.”
“It is that,” said Albus softly. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Sirius. I will do all I can to ensure the destruction of this… artifact.”
Albus left shortly after that. Sirius watched him descend down the stairs, feeling confused and worried, but eventually he forced himself to return to his room.
“Did he take it?” asked Harry as soon as he saw him. Sirius nodded as he shut his bedroom door, and Harry let out a relieved sigh.
“He wanted to speak with you,” Sirius told him, unsurprised to see his godson flinch. “I told him no, obviously.”
Harry nodded and stared at his hands which were clenched together on top of the blankets. “Have to, eventually,” he said softly.
“It gets to be on your terms,” said Sirius firmly, “not his.”
“Did he say what it was?” asked Ginny.
Sirius shook his head. “Just agreed with Harry that it’s evil, and that he’ll destroy it.”
Ginny frowned but nodded.
It slowly became obvious over the next few days that there were certain topics over which Harry would clam up tighter than a Niffler’s grasp on a particularly shiny necklace. He would not discuss the final two weeks of his imprisonment, nor was he willing to divulge more of the night Voldemort had returned.
However, Harry quietly enquired about Cedric’s funeral, and whether or not the Diggory’s believed that Voldemort had returned. “Arthur says that Amos Diggory has taken an extended leave of absence from work,” said Remus in answer. “I truly do not know what he or his wife believe at this point.”
Harry looked down and nodded. “He told them he didn’t know what happened,” he said. “He thought it was – amusing to leave them with more questions than answers.”
“It was Wormtail who cast the – the spell, was it not?” asked Remus carefully.
“It – it happened so quickly,” said Harry, nodding. He touched his scar. “Started hurting, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything – one moment Cedric was standing there, and the next –” He broke off and shook his head. “His parents deserve the truth,” he said.
“Fudge had been going out of his way to discredit Dumbledore before Privet Drive,” said Sirius. “Even now, he’s trying to claim Crouch is delusional after all the years he spent under the Imperius Curse.” He shook his head. “I still struggle to grasp his father’s actions, saving him from Azkaban only to lock him up inside his own mind.”
“Given how well he impersonated Moody, the idea of delusion isn’t holding water too well,” pointed out Remus. “Many of the professors at Hogwarts have come forward to state how well he had fooled them. Everyone thought he was the real ex-Auror.”
“Crouch was so young when he was sentenced to Azkaban, though,” said Sirius, frowning. “Barely out of Hogwarts, wasn’t he?”
Remus held up the latest issue of the Daily Prophet. “New evidence has been coming out that his father had been hiding his misdeeds for years. Even his old Head of house, Reginald Barkley has been quoted admitting that he covered up his involvement in several incidents at the insistence of his father.”
“What?” Sirius seized the paper from his friend. Scanning the article, he quickly found the retired teacher’s statements. “He was involved in the incident with those two Ravenclaw girls,” he breathed. “I told you I saw three boys heading to the West tower that night!”
The actions of Crouch Jr. was a topic Harry didn’t tend to shy away from as much. He was more willing to explain the things the man had done out of devotion to his master than he was much of anything else, including how he framed Karkaroff for putting his name in the Goblet of Fire as well as charming the Triwizard cup to be a Portkey. Still, it seemed he mostly wished to focus on regaining his strength. Harry was finally able to manage using the bathroom independently, but Sirius or Remus would still take the stairs with him to ensure he didn’t take any tumbles, or have unwanted run-ins with those he did not view as real. He was also finally feeding himself on his own, and started requesting more solid foods, which Molly got approval to start making from Madam Pomfrey.
Regardless, he wished to see no one else he knew, though he did have a brief run-in with Tonks three days before Ginny’s birthday that became something more than any of them could have anticipated.
“Oops, sorry!” she said, reaching out her hands and placing them on Harry’s shoulders to try and steady the both of them on the landing beside the bathroom. Sirius quickly intervened on his cousin’s behalf. “One of these days I might not be dead clumsy,” she remarked as she grasped the stairway railing.
“It’s okay,” said Harry softly.
“Harry,” said Sirius quickly, “this is my cousin Nymphadora Tonks.” Harry glanced up at him. “Well, her mum is my cousin, along with Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange.”
Harry’s face stiffened. “Bellatrix Lestrange is your cousin?”
“An unfortunate side-effect of being a pure-blood,” sighed Tonks. “Don’t think for a moment I like having her for an aunt, but we’re all interrelated in one way or another. My mum was disowned by the Black family when she married my dad – he’s Muggleborn,” she added. “There’s a large family tapestry down in the drawing room, ugly thing, has a long line of the ‘always pure’ house of Black. Mum was blasted off it when she ran off with my dad.”
“‘Tourjours pur.’ I always hated that motto,” said Sirius with a scowl. “Anyway, what brings you up this way?”
“I was looking for Remus, actually,” said Tonks. “Is he in your room? I stopped by his place at his request – looks like his contact wants to talk again before the full moon on the tenth.”
“Yeah, he is,” said Sirius. “Go on up, we’ll be here for a bit.” He ushered Harry towards the bathroom door as Tonks clomped her way up the final flight of stairs.
“She’s nice,” said Harry quietly.
“Before this summer, the last I’d seen of her was a clumsy little slip of a girl,” said Sirius. “Tonks was only eight when I was sent to Azkaban.”
Harry nodded, then asked the last question Sirius could have expected. “Is – is she real?”
Can I trust her?
Sirius met Harry’s uncertain green eyes and nodded. “Yes,” he said firmly. “She’s real.”
Tonks was still talking with Remus when he returned with Harry. Harry sat down on the bed next to Ginny and leaned in close to see what she was reading. “Ancient Runes?”
Ginny nodded. “Bill said it was his favorite subject, so I chose it as one of my classes last year.”
“Oh, sorry!” said Tonks, looking around in alarm. “I should probably clear out, I don’t want to overstep any boundaries –”
“It’s fine,” said Harry, not looking up from Ginny’s book. “Sirius says you’re real.”
There was a moment of silence.
“But Crouch fooled me,” said Tonks softly.
“He fooled everyone,” said Harry, and now he met Tonks’s eyes. “It – it’s different. Don’t know how to explain it.”
Tonks hesitated, then nodded. “I hope I prove myself worthy,” she said with a small smile.
Ginny smiled, as well, and immediately began requesting that Tonks show off her Metamorphmagus abilities, asking for some of her favorite looks. Tonks happily obliged, and Harry watched with something akin to wonder.
Remus watched them with a gentle smile. “I think Tonks was the perfect person to start with,” he murmured to Sirius.
Sirius frowned. “Meaning?”
“Expanding Harry’s circle of trust,” said Remus. “She’s related to you, so there’s that familial bond. She’s also kind, funny, has a unique ability that sets her apart from others...”
Sirius raised his eyebrows. “Misfits unite, eh?” Then he grinned. “She’s something else, isn’t she?”
Remus flushed, and Sirius knew he was seeing something new from his friend. “Yes, she is,” said Remus quietly, and Sirius found himself fascinated by the soft expression on his scarred face as he looked at the Auror with her nose now done up with a snout that was almost pig like.
Something about Remus’s expression… was there perhaps more than friendship as Sirius had first thought?
“If Harry can trust someone who’s completely neutral this easily,” continued Remus, and Sirius refocused on the topic at hand, “we can help him trust the people he actually cares about. You know I had to sit down with Hermione again yesterday?”
Sirius sighed. “Still asking to come up, I take it?”
Remus nodded. “It’s difficult for her to understand Harry’s need for space because he’s never demanded or even wanted apologies before. Still, I think we can rebuild his ability to trust them, again.”
“Yeah, I agree with that,” said Sirius, still thinking over the way Remus had looked at Tonks. “And I have just the thing to help speed things along,” he added impishly before moving forward to make his own request of Tonks – Snape’s overly-large hooked nose and greasy black hair. The grin from Harry and giggles from Ginny were completely worth it. Even Remus grinned reluctantly, and Tonks winked at him, which only looked disturbing because of the Snape-like features she still wore.
Remus pinked. There was definitely something new going on there, Sirius thought, and determined that he would get to the bottom of this as soon as he could.
Ginny hadn’t come back upstairs in the middle of the night since the night before she had figured out what happened, but it was clear she was still struggling to sleep since she had drifted off on the other side of the bed more than once while Harry also rested. Sirius had the feeling that Molly would protest this if she knew, so he kept quiet on the matter.
They were just sleeping, after all.
Ginny ended up splitting her fourteenth birthday between Sirius’s room and the rest of the Weasley’s downstairs. She came up with three slices of chocolate cake to share with them after dinner (Remus was gone for the full moon), smiling brightly as ever and raving about the book Bill had given her about her favorite Quidditch team, the Holyhead Harpies.
Harry sat and listened to her chatter on about their successes over the years – “Gwenog Jones as the captain is easily the best thing to happen to the team in the last twenty years!” – his expression content as it rarely managed to be.
A couple days after Harry accepted Tonks, he willingly met Kingsley. It was plain to see that Kingsley’s easy-going manner and soothing voice set Harry at ease, and as Kingsley had been the one assigned to hunt down Sirius, the stories of the false trail he documented became a source of amusement for all of them.
The day Remus returned from hiding out for the full moon, Kingsley came bursting into the bedroom without warning, looking amazed. “New development with Crouch,” he announced loudly, interrupting the game of Gobstones Ginny and Tonks were playing on the floor.
“What?” asked Remus at once.
Kingsley met Sirius’s gaze. “Madam Bones and I have been pushing for acceptance from Fudge that Crouch couldn’t have acted alone. Of course, he wanted to place you as his accomplice.”
“What a surprise,” said Sirius sarcastically. “Did he succeed?”
“Crouch refused to name you,” said Kingsley. “He kept saying the real traitor of the Potter family aided him in Voldemort’s return and Harry’s kidnapping.”
Harry stiffened on the bed, but continued to listen.
“The real traitor,” repeated Sirius. “He – he told them it was Wormtail.”
Kingsley nodded. “He claimed he was by Voldemort’s side the night Pettigrew brought the news he had been made Secret Keeper, and shared his amusement that everyone had been blaming the wrong man all this time.”
“And how did Fudge take that?” asked Remus.
“Not well at first,” answered Kingsley. “Crouch has been firmly insisting that they locked up an innocent man all those years ago. I was asked to review all the evidence collected at the time of your arrest.”
Sirius snorted and dropped onto the bed next to Harry. “There’s no proof Wormtail is alive,” he said dully.
“Actually, there is.”
Silence filled the room. “What?” said Ginny.
“Crouch said that Pettigrew captured Bertha Jorkins in Albania,” said Kingsley. “He even told them about which forest to check.” He shook his head, still looking amazed. “That’s where I was the last two days, working with the Albanian Ministry of Magic to track down Bertha Jorkins’s remains.”
Harry looked down at his hands. “Voldemort possessed Wormtail to read her mind and then kill her,” he said.
Kingsley nodded, unsurprised by all Harry knew. “I found residents nearby who were able to confirm that they saw Pettigrew when shown pictures of him before he supposedly died. They also corroborated seeing him with Bertha Jorkins at the village inn.” He paused, then said, “We found her remains along with the remains of dozens of snakes and other small animals.”
Harry nodded. “He preferred snakes to other animals to possess while he was in hiding.”
Kingsley grimaced slightly, but carried on. “There were clear signs of Dark magic in the area. The Albanian Ministry has the area under further investigation, but the evidence I have... Sirius, Fudge has been convinced to declare you innocent and allow me to start tracking Pettigrew, instead.”
Shocked silence now filled the room. Sirius stared at Kingsley, feeling as though he hadn’t heard correctly.
“I… I’m free?” he said weakly.
“Fudge is holding a press conference tonight to announce it,” said Kingsley. “He’s going to publicly apologize and ask you to submit yourself to the Ministry in the morning to accept the official pardon and get your old wand back.”
“This isn’t some sort of trick?” said Sirius. “I come in and get chucked back in Azkaban, is that it?”
“No,” said Kingsley. “Bones convinced Fudge to do exactly as I have stated. There has never been evidence that you have ever been to Albania or interacted with Crouch. Given that the public isn’t fully convinced that Crouch is a nutter, giving him an accomplice is a step in the right direction. It also allows me to be more truthful about Harry’s rescue.”
“How so?” asked Tonks. “You said you went with just Dumbledore while I stood guard over Crouch.”
“I intend to admit that Sirius had been trying to track down his godson and started tailing me,” said Kingsley. “That way we establish Sirius’s determination to prove his innocence as well as his desire to be Harry’s rightful guardian – something that ought to have happened the night Voldemort vanished.” He looked at Harry. “It also allows me to explain where you’ve been since Crouch’s capture. If Sirius has been caring for you, then it establishes him in a positive light as a proper caregiver.”
“That’s good, isn’t it?” asked Ginny.
“It is the best outcome we could have hoped for, short of the Ministry admitting to Voldemort’s return,” said Kingsley, nodding. “Tonks and I will escort you in tomorrow, Sirius. You’re going to get your life back.”
It was… Sirius didn’t know what to say, but when Harry suddenly threw his arms around him, he returned the hug and buried his face in Harry’s shoulder.
At last, he was going to be free.
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