An Alternate Chain of Events

Chapter 2 - Lost and Found

Chapter Two – Lost and Found

Harry couldn't remember ever being in so much trouble with his parents. Lily could barely look at him and although James wasn't so hostile he wasn't nearly as jovial as usual. Harry had stopped trying to convince them that it was a house elf because it was making matters worse.

He couldn't wait for Hogwarts. His mother would forgive him because she'd miss him as soon as he was away and then things would go back to normal. Hogwarts would also mean seeing Ron and Hermione. Harry had been grounded so he couldn't go to Ron's house this summer. He'd sent Ron a long letter explaining and it made Harry feel a million times better that someone in the world would believe him.

Lily caught a fleeting glance of Harry as she left for work. She was still so angry with him that she was in physical pain. She could she how much she was hurting him but she couldn't control the way she felt. James had reminded her that Harry was still only a child and that he'd never done anything like this before. James also pointed out that the Dursleys hadn't acted impeccably either. James's reasoning fell on deaf ears because Lily was furious at him too. She blamed James for Harry's attitude, James was so outspokenly anti-Dursley and Harry had clearly picked up on that. All in all, the Potter household was decidedly unhappy.

To Lily's delight, Remus had met Veronica at the hospital for lunch.

"Come on, Lil." He smiled. "We're celebrating, I finally have a few weeks worth of work."

"Oh Remus that's wonderful!" Lily pulled up a plastic chair and joined them in the café.

"It's a miracle." Remus sighed, but he seemed genuinely delighted.

"I've been telling him it was only ever a matter of time." Veronica held his hand on top of the table. Remus felt like he was the luckiest man in the world.

Remus dragged his eyes away from his girlfriend and looked at Lily. "Is everything alright with you?"

"Did James tell you what happened at my sister's house?"

"He mentioned it." Remus grimaced. "Are you still mad?"

"Yes." Lily said frankly. "I'm also worried. This just isn't like Harry at all."

Remus nodded sympathetically. "It's characteristically James though."

Lily frowned. "I always thought enough of my genes would cancel out James' more dubious ones."

"Was James a naughty child?" Veronica asked, picking at her salad.

"He was a prat." Lily and Remus replied, Remus was smiling and Lily looked pained. She'd always hated that side of James and she was starting to worry that she might dislike Harry.

"Lily, he's not James." Remus hit the nail on the head. "You need to talk to Harry, find out why he did it."

"He insists that a house elf appeared in their house and it was the house elf that did it!" Lily's voice rose in pitch as her frustration increased. "I can only put it down to this business with the Philosopher's Stone increasing his ego. And I'm starting to consider-" she stopped herself, it was too awful.

"Consider what?" Remus pressed her gently.

"Well, that Severus may actually have a point in what he said about Harry." She felt like the worst mother in the world, Lily wished that she had a time turner so that she could unsay that.

Remus didn't judge her; he remembered what James had been like at school, he privately agreed with Lily that young James wasn't a persona Harry should aspire to.

"You need to talk to him." Remus repeated firmly. "Appeal to your genes in him."

"Come on," Sirius said. "It's a bit funny."

James bit his lip. "It would have been bloody hilarious if it hadn't ruined things between Petunia and Lily." The men were sat on opposite sides of the office talking into enchanted mirrors. Scrimgeour had separated them from their adjoining cubicles because he thought that it made them unproductive, so they had resorted to their old detention method of communication. It might have fooled Scrimgeour but Kingsley was on to them.

"Petunia will never accept Lily." Sirius said frankly. "She's kidding herself."

"Of course she is," agreed James. "But their relationship has gone firmly backwards thanks to Harry's escapades."

"Has he said why he did it?"

"He won't admit it was him. He's insisting it was a house elf."

Sirius erupted into his bark like laugh. "Bloody hell he's a bad liar." He shook his head. "Then again, they are vile little creatures."

"I always liked ours. I'd happily have one but Lily says she'd feel awful about it."

"I can't imagine this has made her warm to the idea." Sirius chortled.

"Sirius?"

Sirius jumped, immediately assuming it was Scrimgeour he hid his mirror under some loose parchment on his desk. "Nymphadora!" He smiled in surprise, "what are you doing here?"

"It's my first day of practical training." Tonks beamed. "And if you ever call me that again I'll curse you and trust me it'll be a bad one, I learnt from Mad-Eye."

Sirius laughed. "Sorry. Force of habit."

Tonks was ecstatic. She was so nearly qualified; it was so close to becoming reality. The Auror office only minimally disappointed her. Tonks had expected it to be a vibrant hub of activity, but everyone was sat quietly in mahogany cubicles scribbling on parchment. Even the memos flew around lazily.

Sirius caught her gaze. "Don't be too put off, we're just having a slow few months. I'm sure crime will pick up again soon."

"Ooh I hope so." Tonks had said that before she realised how it sounded. She blushed and her hair turned pink. Sirius was laughing. "You know what I mean. Anyway, mum asked me to track you down. She's sent you an owl but I've also been told to ask you to come over tonight."

"I can't tonight." Sirius said apologetically. "I have plans."

Tonks shrugged. "She says it's quite important."

Sirius frowned. Andromeda never summoned him, they saw each other fairly frequently for Sunday dinners but there was never a purpose. "Ok." Sirius conceded. "I'll pop by after work. Do you know what's up?"

"Nah, she never tells me anything." said Tonks, unconcerned. "Well I'm going to find my cubicle and take a nap. Doesn't look like there's much else to do."

"Soon you'll learn to appreciate a quiet day." Sirius warned. "Savour it."

Sirius arrived at Andromeda's country home that evening. He felt very uncertain, he had an inkling that whatever Andromeda wanted him for would not be good news.

Tonks opened the door. "Hello again." She smiled and moved so he could come in.

"How was your first day?"

"Really boring. I'm starting to think I've wasted my time at the academy."

"Dora you can't talk like that!" Andromeda chastened her. "We're bloody lucky it's quiet." Tonks rolled her eyes and slumped back on the couch. "Hello dear. You look well." Andromeda hugged Sirius. Although she was only six years his elder Andromeda had very maternal feelings towards her cousin. It was probably due to his mother having a heart of stone.

"How're you?" Sirius asked as Andromeda led him into the kitchen.

"I'm alright." Andromeda replied, she indicated they should sit at the kitchen table. There was a pile of parchment in front of her.

"So why did you want to see me?" Sirius sat opposite her, studying her face.

"Narcissa came to see me on Friday night, our mother died." Andromeda's voice was very matter-of-fact.

"That's no great loss to the world." Sirius shrugged.

"No it's not." Andromeda agreed. "I was more surprised that Cissy came here to tell me."

"She came to tell me when my mother died too."

"You never told me that!" Andromeda exclaimed.

"It wasn't a big deal."

"Sirius it is a big deal. Cissy clearly still cares." Andromeda explained. "She looked so defeated the other night."

"While she's still with that death eater it doesn't matter if she cares or not."

"It's not that black and white."

"It is, Dromeda. We picked our side, she picked hers." Sirius considered Andromeda. "Ok maybe she fell into her side rather than picked it, but when he comes back we'll be on those same sides."

"She's not brave. She'd come round if she could be brave, Cissy has never been bad she's just easily led and always wanted to please the family."

"Ah the Noble House of Black." Sirius said bitterly.

"That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about." Announced Andromeda. "Now dear old mum is gone, the house belongs to you."

"What?" Sirius was shocked. "I'm not the oldest."

"You're the oldest male. The only male now actually." Andromeda explained. "They were sticklers for tradition. And I've consulted the department of magical law and it seems that legally you are the owner. It's a binding magical contract."

"I don't want it!" Sirius said in disgust. "I don't ever want to go back to that prison."

Andromeda handed over the deed. "I think we should go and have a look around. You can sell it."

"Are you sure I can?" Sirius asked. "Selling the ancestral home probably carries some sort of curse. Otherwise I'd give it away for free. I'd pay someone else to take it. Or we could just burn it to the ground."

Andromeda smiled sadly. She understood Sirius's feelings completely. "Still, I think we should have a look around. Some stuff might be useful, and I imagine there are some artefacts that would be better destroyed." Andromeda glanced around her bright and cosy kitchen. The thought of going back to the dark and unfriendly atmosphere at Grimmauld Place made her shiver. She didn't want to go back anymore than Sirius did but she had a feeling that they should. Maybe it would provide them with closure. "Think about it." Andromeda urged him. "Take your time, we're in no hurry after all."

Sirius scowled. "It should be renamed the house of Black Death."

Andromeda nodded. "Although if you need comfort, just think of how miserable it'd make our mothers that you owned the house."

Sirius gave the briefest of smiles. "That's something."

Lily arrived home from work early that evening. James had already sent her a message saying something had come up and he was going to be late. This was the perfect opportunity for Lily to talk to Harry about the incident at Privet Drive. The only hitch was that the house was empty.

"Harry?" She called uncertainly. She checked the living room, dining room and kitchen and they were all empty. She looked round the garden but there were only discarded brooms. Lily assumed he must have been sulking in his room so she went upstairs. The bathroom door was wide open and he wasn't in there. Lily knocked twice on his bedroom door. There was no answer. Lily opened the door slowly and found the room empty. For a moment her heart stopped beating.

"Harry?" She tried to keep her voice calm. "Harry this isn't funny. Where are you?" There was no reply. The house was deathly silent. Lily dropped to the floor to check under the bed and ran out the room and burst open her own bedroom door. The house was empty. Lily drew her wand with shaking hands. This was her nightmare.

"Homenum Revelio." She whispered. Nothing. She was definitely the only person in the house. They'd taken Harry but they weren't lying in wait for her. Dumbledore was wrong, Voldemort was back and he'd taken Harry to finish what he had started eleven years ago.

Lily tried to stay calm and think. She wandered back into Harry's room and looked around. There was no sign of a struggle. The room was tidy, there was nothing strewn on the floor, no broken items, there was also no owl. Hedwig's cage was gone too. Lily flicked her wand at the wardrobe, it burst open and was decidedly empty. Harry's trunk was missing too. Lily slowly realised that Harry's room wasn't tidy but empty. He'd taken his things and ran away. He hadn't been kidnapped at all. Lily flopped onto his uncomfortable single bed in relief. Voldemort hadn't taken him and he wasn't dead, he had just left them.

This is my fault. Lily felt overwhelmed with guilt. She'd been so terrible to him that he thought the only option was to run away. And where was he? He was out in the world vulnerable and unprotected. He wasn't safe at all. Lily felt much less relieved than moments previously.

She sat on his bed and thought hard. If she were a teenager on the run, where would she go? The only person she had ever known who had run away was Sirius, but he'd had a terrible home life, she surely hadn't been as evil as Sirius's mother, had she? Sirius had lived at James's house for a year after that. James, his best friend. Lily stood up, she knew exactly where Harry was.

Molly Weasley was furious. Her sons had driven an enchanted car and flown it across the country to collect a boy whose parents had no idea where he was.

"What were you thinking?" She had shouted. "What if someone had seen you?" Fred, George, Ron and Harry all looked decidedly sheepish. "Harry, did you even leave your poor parents a note?"

Harry felt even more ashamed. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. He looked at the floor as he told Mrs Weasley that he had forgotten to tell them where he was.

Molly had just sent a long apology to Lily when she appeared at their doorstep.

"I'm so sorry! They've just arrived back, I've sent you an owl."

"So he's here?" Molly nodded. Lily let out a sigh of relief and cupped her own face in her hands for a few seconds.

Molly understood. She patted Lily consoling on the shoulder and invited her inside.

Harry's stomach dropped when he saw his mother. She was standing cross-armed with that scary blank expression that she had been giving him for days. He turned to look at Ron who looked back sympathetically.

"Boys you do not look like you're scrubbing those shoes! I can still see great patches of mud on them. Get on with it!" Molly Weasley shouted. Fred, George and Ron turned back to their sponges with stricken expressions. "Harry, your mum would like a word with you outside." Molly returned to the stove and Harry followed Lily in to the garden, it felt a lot like being led to his own funeral.

Lily watched Harry look glumly at the ground, not daring to meet her eye. Her anger abated slightly. "Harry you must never pull a stunt like that ever again! I thought you'd be taken by a dark wizard, I thought you were dead!" Her voice shook.

"I'm sorry," replied Harry in a very small voice. "I told Ron what happened and he just turned up. I didn't mean to scare you, I just thought you'd prefer me gone for a while."

"Oh Harry." Lily said gently. "I'm angry about what you did at my sister's house. But I'll get over it eventually."

Harry looked up from his shoes. Lily could see that his face was genuinely remorseful. She felt a modicum of relief, if Harry couldn't truly be like James, if he was a few words from her would not have made him repent.

"I'm sorry." Harry mumbled.

Lily sat down on the Weasley's garden bench; it was very pretty in the twilight. She patted the seat next to her and Harry sat down.

"Harry, once and for all, can you tell me why you did it?"

Harry hesitated. He could tell that she was coming round and if he repeated that it was a house elf, she would be even madder. It was with regret that Harry lied. "I'm sorry, I just really wanted to leave." He looked at her earnestly. "I'm very sorry though."

Lily sighed. It was the poorest excuse she'd ever heard, but at least he'd admitted it. That was something.

"So what happens now?" Asked Harry after a lengthy silence.

"That's a very good question."

"Can I stay here?"

Lily didn't answer immediately. On the one hand, Harry was being punished and letting him stay with his friends would be a reward. On the other hand, there was hardly any of the summer left and she didn't think it could do any harm to have him stay with his friend really. "I'll talk to Mrs Weasley about it."

Harry was cautious not to look too happy.

The two women decided that Harry could stay there but he would join in with the Weasley boys' punishment for stealing the car. That way Lily felt that there would at least be some repercussion for his actions.

James was surprised to find the house empty when he arrived home from work. Lily returned not long after and surprised James further by telling him about the chain of events, which had taken place that afternoon.

"They flew a car to come and get him?" James checked for the fourth time.

"Yes." Lily replied, exasperated. "But that's really not the point of the story."

"I can't believe you let him stay there." James didn't sound angry, if anything he sounded impressed.

"We're at work all day and he doesn't have any siblings, I think being around other children will do him good." She reasoned. "I like the Weasleys, they're good people. Harry staying with them can't be a bad thing."

"I agree."

"I said we'd go down there for dinner the last night before Hogwarts, so we can say goodbye." The last word caught in her throat. "Am I a terrible mother?"

James put his arm around her. "Of course you're not."

"I drove him out of the house." Lily sniffed. "I was terrible to him."

James smiled sadly. "I loved my mother very much even though she shouted at me when I misbehaved." The corners of his mouth twitched. "I think it's quite normal."

Lily wiped her eyes. "I just don't want to lose anymore family."

"You know Lil, I think we've got quite a big family. We're just not related to them."

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