Chapter 17: Sirius
Thoughts of Pudding by Brian64.
Chapter 17: Sirius.
Tuesday 25th June, 1996.
"What were you thinking, Fawkes? I didn't mean 'right now'!" Harry said in frustration to the phoenix perched on his shoulder.
He was currently standing with Luna in the middle of the Lovegoods' tent, having just been flamed there by Fawkes.
Fawkes looked down at him with an expression that Harry took to be embarrassment.
"Well? Are you going to take us back?" Harry demanded of the phoenix.
A second later, Harry and Luna appeared back at the café Gråmunken in Västerlånggatan, surrounded by their friends.
"Oh, thank goodness!" Hermione said, relieved at seeing her friends return. Fortunately they hadn't been gone long enough for her to work up a true panic, but she'd been working on it.
Harry looked around the group and couldn't fail to notice a rather knowing smirk on Moody's face. He looked away, more than a little annoyed that Fawkes had kind-of proved Moody correct.
It was Tonks that asked the question. "So, where did you go then, Harry? You can't have just gone for a quick snog, or you wouldn't be back so soon… unless you're really shite at snogging?" she said, her tone turning her last comment into a question.
Harry blushed at the suggestion, and tried to focus on the question instead of the very appealing idea of snogging Luna. "No, we just went back to the tent."
This prompted quite a few widened eyes and a huge grin from Tonks. "So you did go back for a–" she began before Harry interrupted.
"No! I was just thinking about how we were going to get back to the camp after we finished snog– I mean shopping! When we finished shopping," he said, correcting his faux pas and blushing furiously now.
"I was just thought about the various methods of travel I knew of. Then, just for a moment, I wondered what it would be like to be flamed there by Fawkes. Next thing I know I'm there with Luna since we were holding hands at the time."
Thinking of Moody's smirk, he looked at the man and added. "He brought me back as soon as I asked though, and I don't think he'll make that mistake again."
"Yeah, well until you know that for sure, I suggest you don't express any desire to see the inside of Dumbledore's office." Moody said, still smirking.
Harry groaned as he couldn't help but imagine the inside of Dumbledore's office at Moody's words. It was the same thing as yesterday when Remus mentioned thinking about the girls nak– 'oh bloody hell!' he thought, and closed his eyes in embarrassment.
Harry prayed the phoenix only had the ability to flame people somewhere, not flame away just their clothes.
When he was game to open his eyes again, he saw that Fawkes had twisted his neck and was looking at him in that peculiar upside-down way he did from his shoulder. He also got the distinct impression that the bird was laughing at him.
'This is entirely your fault you know.' he thought to the phoenix. Fawkes didn't respond in any way, but after a little while, the bird straightened his neck and went back to looking around the Western Long Street.
He felt Luna squeeze his hand, but he wasn't sure he could afford to look at her until he got his thoughts under control, so he just squeezed back.
"Well now that we've finished lunch, I think we should move on before someone notices all the unusual stuff going on." Dan suggested. He still didn't understand why everyone around wasn't gawping at Fawkes as they walked around, when he could barely take his eyes off the phoenix himself.
Remus answered his unspoken question. "Don't worry, Dan. We've got enough notice-me-not charms on that we'd have to almost blow up a building before any of the Muggles would pay attention. Even then they'd just be looking at the building. Still we don't want to attract the attention of their Aurors."
"Einhärjers." Xenophilius interjected.
"Pardon?" Remus asked, turning to the man.
"Einhärjers. That's what the Swedish government uses instead of Aurors. We do not want to mess with them, not at all," he said, surprising everyone by not mentioning any of his wild conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, they thought this too soon.
"Of course, since the Swedish minister doesn't have an army of heliopaths at his beck and call, he had to make sure his military police were up to scratch, didn't he?" Only his daughter gave him a reassuring nod.
Harry grinned as everyone tried to hide their various looks of amusement, disbelief, or in some cases, concern for the man's sanity. Poor Tonks had tried to stifle a loud laugh that ended up becoming a snort instead, and she tried to disguise it as a coughing fit.
"I think she must have accidentally swallowed a Nargle." Remus said in a loud aside to Xenophilius, before he walked over to pat her back as though trying to assist her.
"Not helping!" Tonks said quietly, between 'coughs'.
Leaving the café, they walked across to the eastern side of the street. Many of the buildings on this side had their entrances facing Prästgatan, the next street over. The goodly number of blank rear walls was obviously too great a temptation for the Swedish magical community, and they used the opportunity to magically add their own stores right under the eyes of the Muggles that ignored them completely. Magical shops also flourished in the tiny alleys between streets.
Harry wondered whether the doorways took them to completely different buildings and locations like Gringotts, or platform nine and three quarters at King's Cross, but in the end decided to just accept it.
The group spent the afternoon touring the shops, both muggle and magical. The magical bookshop ended up getting a substantial hammering by the time Hermione, Luna and the four order members had grabbed a copy of just about every book on the shelves. Or at least, that's what Harry assumed by the time he saw the pile on the counter.
Harry's eyes widened as the shopkeeper announced the price in galleons, and everyone looked at him. It was at about this time that Harry regretted asking for help in selecting good books that would help his training.
Grumbling, he started digging through his money bag for galleons until the shopkeeper just asked him if he would prefer to just charge it to his vault. When Harry agreed, the shopkeeper asked him to press his vault key and a drop of his blood on a slip of parchment. It glowed briefly to show that the transaction had been approved.
The shopkeeper then handed Harry the parchment slip, and at his blank stare, advised him that it now served as his receipt.
With five adults shrinking the books, it didn't take long before they were all tucked away in a small bag that Hermione happily volunteered to carry.
It wasn't until they were almost about to leave Västerlånggatan that Harry finally had an opportunity to buy something nice for Luna.
The girls had found a hat shop, and all of the women were admiring the various hats, fascinators, tiaras, hairclips and other headpieces available. Harry noticed Luna spending some time admiring what appeared to be some scrunched up white lace attached to a hair clip, and decided this would make a nice gift for her.
Noticing Harry approaching, Luna reluctantly replaced the clip back on the display she'd taken it from, and took his hand. She was a little surprised when Harry handed the clip back to her, but as he led them towards the sales counter she caught on and hugged his arm tightly as they walked.
Eventually they found themselves back in front of Gringotts, and everyone decided that they had shopped enough for one day. Talk of a possible return trip prompted Minerva to create a portkey, and she asked Hermione for the parchment that Vanir had given her originally. Concentrating carefully on their current location, she cast the portkey charm on the parchment, and then gave it back to her student.
Shortly afterwards, the group activated another portkey back to their camp at Näshultasjön.
A little later, Harry was back in his room and staring at his bed. Or rather, he was staring at the piles of stuff sitting on top of it. Once they'd returned, it seemed that almost everyone had come in and dropped off at least one bag onto his bed. Tonks had just laughed at his expression as she decided to dump the contents of what must have been about half a dozen bags on the bed, instead of leaving them in the bags as the others had.
Hermione knocked and entered his room, cheerfully waving the bag containing all of his shrunken books. Harry just groaned back at her.
"What's wrong, Harry?" Hermione asked.
"What am I going to do with all of this stuff, Hermione?" he asked, an irritating little whine had crept into his tone and he cursed himself. "Sorry," he added.
Hermione smiled. "Why don't you just pack it all into that new trunk Moody ordered you to buy?" she asked.
Harry looked over at the multi-compartment trunk and shuddered. "I'm not so sure that's a good idea. I have enough trouble finding things in the regular trunk I've got. This is just going to help me lose seven times as much stuff as before," he replied, confident that he'd just spoken a true prophecy.
"Well, you're going to have to put everything away somewhere, or you'll have nowhere to sleep tonight. You're too big to share that stone nest you made for Fawkes. She waved over to the nest in question, still a little surprised it had held its shape.
"Come on, the sooner you get started, the sooner it'll be done. How about I put the books away in the trunk for you, while you put your new clothes away in your wardrobe?
"Thanks, Hermione." Harry said, nodding with some relief. He knew that if she got things sorted out, then he stood a good chance of being able to find things again. He handed her the keys to the trunk, and started sorting through the clothes. Naturally it was his new underwear that Tonks decided to spread out all over the top of everything else.
Hermione had planned to open up the compartments in turn until she found the one she wanted, but when she opened the first compartment, she found a parchment which explained the features of the trunk and how it worked. After reading it, she learned that the fourth compartment was the one she wanted.
Keeping hold of the instructions, she closed the lid and unlocked the fourth compartment. As the lid opened, an empty four shelf bookcase rose up from the trunk, expanding in size as it did so.
Pulling a couple of the shrunken books from the bag she'd dropped at her feet, she restored them to normal size and placed them on the first shelf. Then she gave the handle at the right of the bookcase a small tug, and watched as the bookcase smoothly rotated clockwise as though on a turntable.
As it spun, another empty bookcase came into view. Ignoring it, Hermione tugged again at the handle on the right side, and again the bookcase swung around clockwise easily.
Hermione stared at the new set of empty shelves. The instructions had said that this would happen, but for some reason she had still expected to see the two books she'd added earlier. Sometimes seeing really was believing, even for a witch.
Grabbing the handle on the left side this time, she swung the bookcase back through two anti-clockwise rotations and was pleased to see the two books back where she'd placed them.
This is going to be fun, she thought, and spent the next hour unshrinking books and adding them to the shelves by topic, leaving the first bookcase empty for him to store books he was currently reading.
As she placed the last book on the shelves, she looked around the room only to find that she was alone. He could at least have said something before leaving, she thought to herself, and then acknowledged the possibility that maybe he had said something and she'd just been too preoccupied to notice.
Turning the key caused the bookcase to shrink back into the trunk and the lid to close. She looked over at the bed and the still fairly large assortment of items and pondered whether to continue putting away his new stuff or go looking for Harry.
Deciding that Harry was probably spending time with Luna, she sighed and reached for the nearest bag lying on its side on the bed. As she lifted it up, she found it had been hiding a pair of bright pink boxers decorated with love hearts, and she started laughing her head off.
Harry had been in the middle of putting away his clothes when he saw Luna standing in his bedroom doorway. She had changed into a white summer dress with a floral print and she looked completely adorable. She smiled at him and gestured for him to follow her, and as he passed Hermione, he muttered something to his friend about finishing the rest later.
He took the hand Luna offered and she led him out of the tent. They didn't talk as they walked slowly along the bank of the lake, as there didn't seem to be anything that either needed to say. They just enjoyed the peaceful surroundings in each other's company.
Harry had already taken a half-step before he realised that Luna had stopped walking, and he looked back at her to see why. He saw her staring at him with the same look on her face that she'd had when they were in her back garden yesterday.
As she moved towards him, fully intent on kissing him, he wondered briefly whether anyone would be interrupting them again as they had yesterday.
Then as her lips met his, he stopped wondering about anything but the soft, warm girl in his arms.
When he next started thinking about the world around him, he found himself sitting against a tree with Luna sitting sideways on his lap. Their arms were wrapped around each other and she put her head on his shoulder, giving his neck soft kisses.
"Uh, Luna… That feels incredible, but umm, I think you'd better stop now… please," he asked, cursing his inexperience. There wasn't anything in the talk he'd had yesterday to suggest he should be feeling so close to boiling over just from holding a girl and kissing her.
"But I really like kissing you." Luna protested.
"And I like kissing you." Harry agreed fervently. "It's just become my most favourite thing ever. But, I… umm, well, I'm not used to this and…" he paused, trying to think of the last embarrassing way to tell her his problem.
She lifted her head from his shoulder and gave him one of those looks that he decided must be her desire for him. She leaned in and kissed him tenderly and then softly said. "I understand, Harry. Would you like me to head back to camp and leave you alone for a while?"
Harry's eyes widened a little as his brain interpreted what she was really saying. "No! Err, I mean, no that's fine. Let's just talk for a bit though, okay?"
Luna nodded "That's a good idea," she said, as her fingers toyed with the hair at the nape of his neck. "Did you give some thought to what I asked you last night?"
Harry tried thinking about the conversation, and gaped at her as he realised what she meant. "Are you serious? I can barely remember my own name at the moment, let alone think of another girl. You're gorgeous! Why would I want to think about anyone else?"
She smiled at him. "I think that's your hormones talking. But thank you anyway, Harry."
She got up off his lap and then stood over by a nearby tree, looking over at him.
Harry sulked a little at her departure, before he accepted the need for her to have done so and sighed. "I did think about what you said last night, Luna, but my thoughts just kept going in circles. Then today, after our kiss this morning and how things have been going between us today and just now… I really hoped that the issue had been dropped," he admitted.
"Hermione and I came to an agreement, Harry. We decided that we were going to leave it up to you to decide, and not get in each other's way. Whatever happens we agreed we were going to still be friends."
Harry just stared at her.
"Harry, you should know that she feels about you the same way that you feel about her. She was also worried that your friendship would suffer if a romance didn't work out."
Harry shook his head as though trying to clear it. The idea of having Luna attracted to him was still so new and unbelievable. Then to learn that Hermione, his best friend, felt something similar was a little overwhelming.
He looked up at her with a pleading expression. "But Luna, you're my girlfriend now, and I'm happy that you are. Can't we just be happy together? I can't think about anyone else while I'm with you, that wouldn't be right."
"Well then, maybe we should–" Luna began.
"Please don't finish what I think you're about to say!" Harry said, interrupting her, his eyes glistening.
"Alright, Harry," she said, smiling at him.
He got up and took her into a hug, feeling as relieved as if he'd just managed to dodge a curse.
"We'll leave it for now then, and I'll give it some more thought," she said, and then kissed his neck.
They stood there for a while enjoying their cuddling and gentle nibbles, before a silvery patronus found them and announced that dinner was ready.
At the same time, and at various locations around the UK and Sweden, owls were delivering invitations to the reading of the will of Sirius Black.
As Molly and Arthur read the invitation for the Weasley family, their thoughts went to Harry and the hope that they might see him there tomorrow. Arthur comforted his wife as she cried at the thought of the pain her as-good-as seventh son would be going through.
Albus Dumbledore also thought of Harry as he read his own invitation. Various plans arose and were discarded as he considered how he might utilise this opportunity to meet with Harry for the first time since the night Sirius had been lost.
Draco Malfoy smiled in anticipation at what the morning would bring to him. He knew he was the closest heir to the Black family, as neither of his aunts had sons.
Narcissa looked impassively at the expression on her son's face as he read the letter addressed to the Malfoy family. She thought it highly unlikely that Draco would inherit from Sirius, yet the boy seemed to think it was a fait accompli. He was such a disappointment to her. Lucius had ruined her son; instilling arrogance and an undeserved superior attitude from an early age. If he was to inherit the title of Lord Black, she doubted that her old family name would recover for generations.
Andromeda and Ted Tonks read their letter, and hoped it meant they would have a chance to talk with their daughter in the morning.
The owl given the task of carrying a letter to Bellatrix Lestrange, merely looked at it in disdain, and then settled itself back to sleep. The goblin swore at it, and then reviewed the file he had on the vault holder. A short time later the owl was flying off to a different target with a larger envelope containing a parchment and the original invitation.
In Sweden, a parliament of owls delivered letters to Harry, Tonks, Remus, Minerva and the Grangers. They were sitting around a campfire in conjured sofas, having just finished eating dinner.
"Well, looks like a few of us will be coming along with you tomorrow for the will reading, Harry." Remus announced after reading his letter.
Harry looked down for a minute, before looking back up at the group. "Is there any reason why you can't all come with me? If you don't mind, that is?"
Remus looked around to see if anyone else was going to answer, and then shrugged. "There aren't any rules against beneficiaries bringing guests along that I know of. I can't see it being a problem."
"Good." Harry replied, relieved.
"Now that that's settled, perhaps we can get back to what we were discussing before those owls interrupted us." Moody said irritably.
Harry nodded his agreement. The conversation had just started about the training Harry would be undertaking. "I'd like to learn to apparate. I think we all should be able to, so that we can get out of nasty situations if we have to. If I had known how to apparate back in fourth year, maybe I could have escaped from the graveyard before Wormtail had a chance to take my blood for the ritual."
"Maybe, or maybe there were wards up to prevent you from apparating out." Moody growled.
"There weren't any wards. If there were, then how did the Death Eaters arrive after Voldemort called for them?"
"Maybe they used portkeys?" Moody suggested, getting more irritated.
"No, they popped–"
"Look, Potter, playing the what-if game can be useful sometimes, but not if you use it to beat yourself up over things you have bugger-all control over. Move on, it's done with, regardless. Learning to apparate is a good idea, Leave it at that."
"I can teach you three how to apparate if you like, Harry." Remus offered, interrupting another budding argument between Harry and Moody. Harry nodded at his offer.
Looking over at Minerva, Harry wondered whether it was worth asking the question he wanted to ask.
Minerva saw the look and guessed what he wanted. "Harry, I can teach you about the Animagus transformation. I think Remus can provide some insight as well, since his friends all went through the process. Just don't expect to be able to change anytime soon."
"You mean, you think it's possible I have an animagus form?" Harry asked hopefully.
Minerva laughed. "Harry, have you never wondered how it was that all of the Marauders were able to transform into animals? What do you suppose the odds are of that?"
Hermione, sitting alongside her professor, let out a yell. "Oh my God! How could I have missed that?"
"You missed it because you were supposed to miss it." Minerva said. "There aren't any texts at Hogwarts that explains how the transformation is achieved, and the professors, myself included, are required to emphasise the difficulty of achieving it. Still, it is possible for the majority of magical people, providing they have suitable motivation."
The three teens looked as though their Christmas had come early.
"Ok, now for the bad news…" Tonks began, waiting for their attention to turn to her. "I'm going to help you build up your stamina and fitness. So there is going to be some exercising, running, swimming, and– What's wrong?" Tonks asked, looking over at Harry who had glanced over at Luna next to him and started blushing as swimming had been mentioned.
Harry shook his head. "Nothing. Well… I can't swim yet," he said, blushing a bit with embarrassment.
"That won't take long to learn." Tonks said impatiently. "Anyway, we'll run you lot through the Auror training program, as that's as good a place to start as any."
She looked around at the others. "What else is there?"
"Occlumency." Moody said immediately. "We don't want another screw-up like what happened at the Ministry."
Harry shook his head. "Well, since neither Snape or Dumbledore are here, I can't see how I'm going to learn that."
"What are you talking about? All Aurors get basic occlumency training. I can take over from what Snape started and give you the basics." Moody said with a scowl.
Harry shook his head. "I'm not letting you into my head if I've got any choice in the matter. Besides, I don't think I can learn it. I didn't get very far with Snape."
"How about I have a go then?" Tonks suggested.
Harry thought about it, and nodded slowly.
She got up from the sofa next to Remus and knelt down in front of Harry with her wand out.
Harry looked alarmed. "What? Right now?" he blurted out.
Tonks grinned. "Yeah. No time like the present. I'll just have a quick peek to see how far along you are, and then I can plan out some lessons, alright?"
Harry struggled to come up with an objection that sounded even halfway plausible, anything that would let him defer or avoid what was to come, but he couldn't think of a single reason.
He nodded, not willing to trust his voice at the moment.
"Hey, buck up. I'm not that scary, am I?" she said playfully, trying to get a grin out of him.
Harry smiled weakly. There were so many memories he didn't want to remember, and he knew from experience that the chances of not having to go through them all were probably slim to none.
"All right then, Harry? You ready now?" she asked.
Harry sat up straight on the edge of the sofa, and tried to clear his mind of thoughts and emotions. He nodded.
"Legilimens!" Tonks cast.
The others watched as she held her wand on Harry, then after a while she dropped it and launched herself at him with tears in her eyes.
"It's NOT your fault Harry!" she said firmly, hugging him tightly. "I want to hear you say it!" she demanded.
"But it is." Harry replied, tears falling down her back as he let himself be held by Tonks without hugging her back. "If only I–"
"It is not your fault!" Tonks insisted.
"Oh God! Sirius!" Hermione whispered, suddenly realising what was going on. Tears filled her own eyes as she got the urge to wrap Harry in a hug as well. Minerva put an arm around her and tried to soothe her, while her own eyes glistened.
Remus put a hand to his face, hiding his own tears. He'd failed Harry yet again, this time by not picking up on his misplaced guilt. I'm so sorry, James, Lily… he thought.
"Harry, that bloody son of a bitch didn't teach you the first thing about Occlumency, so it's not your fault you couldn't learn it. That means it's not your fault Sirius died!" Tonks said firmly.
"But… if I had listened to Hermione, if I hadn't gone to the Ministry…"
"Harry. I've just seen it, remember? You had no way of knowing that the vision you had of Sirius being tortured was any different to the one you had of Arthur, and you saved him by acting on it. It's the same thing. You were doing everything you could think of to try and save Sirius, even racing off to face You-Know-Who! There was no way you could have known it was a fake vision." Tonks said, relentlessly and repetitively beating at his objections.
"But…" Harry hesitated, wanting to believe her, but not knowing if he could.
Luna moved from the sofa beside him and into his line of sight behind Tonks. "Harry," she began, waiting for him to look at her. When he did, she said calmly, "It wasn't your fault he died."
He looked at her for a second and then slowly nodded, and then began sobbing in earnest. His arms came up to hug Tonks back fiercely. Luna simply moved closer to join the hug, with Tonks sandwiched in the middle. One hand went to Harry's head where it now rested on Tonks' shoulder, and she started stroking his hair.
Fawkes started crooning softly from where he perched on a nearby tree branch.
When his tears subsided, Luna kissed his forehead and they all separated. Tonks looked steadily at the teen, and Harry understood the unspoken question.
"It's not my fault," he said softly.
"That's right, Harry," she agreed. She touched the side of his face briefly, and then got up. "Oh my poor bloody knees!" she exclaimed, rubbing at them as she moved back to the sofa next to Remus. Luna sat back alongside Harry and wrapped his arm in a hug.
A few minutes later Harry got up. "I think I'll get an early night," he said softly. "Goodnight, everyone." The group wished him a goodnight as Luna walked with him back into the Lovegoods' tent. Fawkes flew down from his branch onto Harry's shoulder.
Once he'd left, Moody asked the question everyone wanted to know the answer to. "Alright, Tonks, what can you tell us?"
She shook her head. "I hardly know where to begin. He's been crushed with guilt and firmly believes that Sirius would still be alive if it wasn't for him. As you've probably guessed, he thinks that if he'd only learned Occlumency properly, he wouldn't have had the vision that set off the events at the Ministry."
Something else occurred to her. "Oh, and that's something else he's not dealing well with either – all of the injuries his friends took at the Ministry. He's somehow got it twisted in his head that he dragged them all along, even though most of them had to bully him into joining him."
"You told Harry that Severus hadn't taught Harry Occlumency? Is that true?" Minerva asked, afraid of what the answer might suggest.
"The bloody scumbag used the sessions to mind rape Harry and bring up all the horrible crap he's had to live through. He didn't teach him anything useful. All he told him was to clear his mind and empty himself of his emotions. Even then he didn't give him any information on how to do it."
"How bad is it, Tonks?" Moody asked gruffly.
"Between Snape and You-Know-Who he's got no natural defences left. We're going to have to start from scratch, and I'm not a master at this. It's a pity Dumbledore couldn't have taught him." Tonks said with a sigh.
Luna came out of the tent and sat down on the empty sofa she had shared with Harry. "He's gone right to sleep. Fawkes is with him," she told them. Hermione got up and sat beside her friend, putting an arm around her back in support.
Nobody spoke as they each pondered their own thoughts. Eventually the girls departed for bed and wished the group goodnight before heading into the room they shared.
After changing into her pyjamas, Hermione got into bed. She wasn't too surprised when Luna climbed in to join her after she had finished getting changed as well.
"I'm sorry, Hermione." Luna said, as she cuddled up to Hermione much as she had the previous night.
"Sorry for what, Luna? For not picking up that Harry wasn't just grieving for Sirius? I'm the one that should be apologising to you then, since I'm supposed to be his best friend after all. A fine friend I turned out to be!"
She started crying again, and Luna joined her as Hermione's tears triggered her own release of emotion that she'd held in earlier when Harry needed her to be strong.
Neither girl could think of anything to say to help the other deal with their guilt, mostly as they were focussed on their own perceived failures. They did gain some comfort from each other's presence though, and they once again drifted off to sleep with tears in their eyes.