Harry wandered down the street with a scowl. Eyes on the ground, he trudged along the hot sidewalk, wishing that he was elsewhere. Anywhere, really. Harry felt the slightest bit guilty about running out like that, but he couldn't take it any longer. He snapped and something within him had been yearning to run for a while now.
Not long after he left, while still under the invisibility cloak, Harry heard Severus's calls after him, glimpsed him on a street corner even. At the look on his face, Harry almost ripped the cloak off and revealed himself, but he wasn't ready for that just yet. He wasn't ready to go back, to get scolded and to go on knowing just as little as before. And so Harry had turned away, wandering down the next street instead. Eventually, it had gotten too hot to remain under the cloak and so Harry had bunched it up, stuffing it under his arm as he walked. The night was peaceful, for once. So little seemed truly peaceful these days. And so Harry walked on.
Severus looked around wildly in panic. He was searching for some sign, any sign of Harry but simply could not find one. If only Harry were allowed to do magic, he might have been able to track the trail of the spells, but alas. The sun began to creep lower as Severus hurried from street to street. Clearly, Harry wasn't thinking of the risks of running off like that; he wasn't thinking of the evil things that could be lurking, of all the people after him.
And if Harry got hurt, it would be Severus's fault, and he knew it. He had pushed Harry too far, kept him too in the dark. Let the wrong words slip. If Harry got hurt, he would never forgive himself.
Rounding a corner, Severus almost ran right into Lupin.
"Have you found Harry?" Severus asked hopefully.
"No," Lupin admitted. "But we've got everyone available out looking." He paused, taking in Severus's almost crazed appearance. "We'll find him, Severus."
"But will we find him in time?" Severus muttered. "He's already been attacked once, you would think he'd have more sense."
"No, I don't think he would. He's been through a lot these past few days and he had to blow off steam. Harry isn't exactly known for thinking of the consequences of his actions," Lupin said honestly. "We'll find him," he repeated.
"I hope so," Severus said earnestly.
They parted and Severus headed farther away as night fell. How far could Harry have gotten by now? He could be halfway across town. He could be dead. Severus's gut twisted painfully as he called out once more, "Harry!"
There was no reply.
Harry wandered in and out of the houses and streets, watching the darkness close in on the town. With the dark came a chill in the air, making Harry wish he had brought his cloak. He patted his wand in his pocket, knowing that if worst came to worst, he wouldn't freeze to death.
That wasn't his plan, however. By walking, he had calmed down for the most part, and was certain he had proved his point. Harry wasn't sure that he was quite ready to forgive Severus but he was more than ready to go home. He began heading back to Grimmauld place, luckily having spent just enough time at his godfather's to be able to find his way home.
He turned down the familiar street that held Sirius's house and eyed the numbers. On the even side of the street, the numbers went from ten straight to fourteen. Harry frowned. Suddenly, Harry couldn't remember where his godfather lived, only that it wasn't either of those two places. He knew, however, that it was between them, yet there was nothing there; the buildings were side by side. Why wasn't it there? How was he supposed to find it, to get back home? Harry looked around. If it hadn't been for the small cluster of muggles hanging out under the street light across the road, he might have tried shouting out to see if they could hear him within.
It was then that the chill of the night deepened into the cold familiar ice that cast dread upon Harry's soul. Dementors. Again. They must have been tasked with following him, wherever he happened to go. Someone knew he was here. Harry drew his wand to meet the dark gliding figures that advanced across the pavement, drawing nearer by the second. Harry faced a moment of indecision. He was underage, he could be expelled from Hogwarts for casting a spell. The alternative, however, was the loss of his soul. Surely self defense was justified, Harry thought as he raised his wand and readied the spell.
"Harry, duck!" a voice came from behind. Harry twisted, ducking as he did so. "Expecto Patronum!"
A large spectral dog form shot from Sirius's wand, eliciting a scream from one of the muggles across the street. The dementors were dispelled and Harry rushed over to Sirius.
He whispered to Harry, "I live at number twelve, Grimmauld place. Remember that."
Harry nodded, deciding it wasn't the time for questions. The dementors circled above, waiting for another pass. Harry looked back at the buildings and all of a sudden, number twelve was there. Sirius ushered him to the door, glancing up at the sky in concern.
Harry didn't argue but stepped inside, Sirius close behind. Sirius closed the door and turned to Harry grimly.
"I hope you now realize the foolishness of what you've done. That could've ended very, very badly," Sirius said.
Harry was truly beginning to regret leaving. "I'm really sorry, I just sort of lost it."
Sirius sighed. "Well, I guess I can't talk. I ran away once too." He rubbed his forehead. "I'll send a message to the others that you're safe. Severus is worried sick."
"Others?" Harry asked.
Sirius looked at him. "Your safety is paramount, Harry. Did you honestly think we wouldn't send every available hand out to look for you?"Harry looked down, feeling even worse. "Sorry," he repeated.
"The important part is that you're safe," Sirius said tiredly. "Go on inside; your friends have been worried too."
Harry nodded and headed farther inside, feeling sheepish and childish. He entered the sitting room where Hermione was sitting on the couch, face filled with worry, and Draco's arm around her shoulders. Ron sat in a chair across the room, looking into the fire.
"Harry!" Hermione said, jumping up. The other two looked at him in surprise and relief. "Oh, thank goodness!"
"They wouldn't let us out to look for you," Ron said apologetically. "But I think everyone else is."
Harry was soon enveloped in a hug from Hermione, then treated to a nice scolding.
"Though you shouldn't have run off like that, it was rash and foolish and you're lucky to be here now," she said sternly, sounding disconcertingly like Mrs. Weasley.
"Yes, especially being that I was attacked by dementors again," Harry said, slumping down in a chair. Before they asked, he elaborated, "Sirius saved me from having to use magic underage."
"Harry!" Severus's sharp voice came from the hall.
Harry cringed, shrinking down in his seat.
"In here, Professor," Draco spoke up, sending Harry a wry grin. Harry responded with a glare.
Severus entered the room, glancing around and spotting Harry in the chair, looking a bit apologetic. To Harry's surprise, he rushed over, gathering Harry up into a hug.
"You're safe," he breathed in relief.
"Uh, yeah. I'm sorry, really," Harry said, wondering if his few hours of absence had truly driven Snape mad, for he hadn't let go yet. When he did, Harry knew he was in for it. Much like Hermione's change, Severus's face hardened into the look that Harry knew to be his looking-forward-to-doling-out-punishment expression.
"If you ever run off like that again, you will be locked in your room for a solid month, do you understand me?" he asked.
Harry gulped. "Yes, sir." The politeness couldn't be overdone at this point, he figured.
"I told you that we weren't telling you anything to keep you safe and then you go off and put yourself in jeopardy like that? What in Merlin's name were you thinking?" Severus demanded.
Harry could see the worry in his eyes. "I wasn't really."
"That much is obvious," Severus said stiffly.
Harry apologized again, noticing that his friends shuffled awkwardly over in the corner, obviously not comfortable with the entire exchange. "I was just frustrated and when you said you didn't want me-"
"I never said that," Severus interrupted. "I said you shouldn't be here, and it is true- you should not. I should have been able to protect you at home, without relocating you. I certainly did not mean that I did not want you here."
Harry looked away, feeling even more chagrin than before. "Sorry," he said again.
"Stop apologizing, you are obviously forgiven," Severus said in a tone that contradicted his words.
It didn't seem so obvious to Harry. He was about to say more when Sirius walked in with Lupin, face pale.
Harry could almost see Severus preparing a snide comment about the dementors but he cut himself off. Something was wrong.
"What is it?" Harry asked. "What's wrong?" What other horrible things have I caused? he added silently.
"I...I-" Sirius tried to speak but looked so shocked that he failed.
Lupin took the paper from Sirius's shaking hands. He read from it, "Sirius Black, you are hereby formally being summoned for trial under the Wizengamot for use of magic in the presence of a muggle, thereby threatening the integrity of the International Statute of Secrecy. Your hearing will be held at ten o'clock on the morning of August eleventh. Sincerely, Harriet Scott, Department of Wizarding Security."
There was a palpable tension in the room as silence fell. The knot in Harry's stomach tightened into a knot that seemed to be tearing him up from the inside. Finally, he broke the silence.
"Sirius, I'm so sorry. This is all my fault, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," Harry said hurriedly, expression apologetic.
Sirius waved him off. "It'll be okay, I think." He sounded anything but certain.
"But you might get in trouble now, all because of me," Harry said, feeling his heart twist. "I can't tell you how sorry I am."
"I think you just did," Sirius said, a failing attempt at humor.
"Surely once you explain that there were dementors on your doorstep, the Wizengamot will understand," Lupin said comfortingly.
"I'll go with you, testify," Harry offered.
"Thanks, Harry, but I don't know if it will help," Sirius said. He ran his hand through his hair. "I think I'll head off to bed now," he said, almost in a daze. "Goodnight."
Sirius left the room and Harry slumped back into the chair, burying his face in his hands. It was all his fault; all of it. He was rash and stupid and he had done more damage than he could possibly imagine. Harry could feel the guilt welling up, swallowing him whole. At least it enveloped the anger he previously felt. Harry wondered if perhaps the anger would have been better.