Nothing familiar in this story belongs to me, of course. The rest is MINE. Read and review, if you have the time. Be warned that this fic does contain violence and a bit of swearing, and that Harry may seem a bit out of character at times. If that's not your cup of tea, then move on. Harry is also, as I vowed in my Yahoo group, not in a slash relationship at any point in this first part of my 'saga'. Enjoy...
Harry shut his window with a hard thud. It had been raining for some time this night, with no sign of stopping. Frustrated, he flopped back onto his untidy, narrow bed, muttering to himself. Hedwig's soft, sleepy hoot failed to reassure him -- there would be no news tonight.
Harry sighed, turning over to look up at the greying ceiling. Dumbledore had been true to his word, making sure to send Harry regular owls once every three or four days. The owls changed each time, and stayed only long enough to drop off a letter or two, before launching out of the window regardless of Aunt Petunia's nervous grumbling.
"What would the neighbours say -- " would drift upwards through his door in her shrill, nasal moan. Harry never bothered to get up to answer her, or Vernon, for that matter. Harry never really bothered to get up for very much these days -- save an owl from the Order or Dumbledore or his friends, or to handle some easy chore Dudley absolutely refused to set his pudgy, inept hands to, or to shower or use the loo. The urge to eat became something of a vague pain in his stomach that he rewarded with a few halfhearted helpings of whatever bland meal was being served downstairs, and much of Harry's time was spent on his bed, thinking on the debacle of the Department of Mysteries that had occurred two or three weeks ago.
Harry had not emerged from his room for the first week. He'd lain in bed and kept on turning the events in his head till it hurt, and sobbing silently when he thought of Sirius. The pain had now faded to a dull, heavy ache in his stomach -- although that might have been because he hadn't eaten since the rain began -- and had helped to sharpen his resolve not to make such a monumental mistake like that again.
That was, if he ever got out of this place in the first place.
Harry sighed again. Hours had flown during his week of self-imprisonment; once he left his room, however, and started to slowly rejoin the world of the living, they'd become interminably long. The summer dragged slowly by, his routine everlastingly monotonous, consisting of a shower, one or two chores, a meal or two if he remembered, and -- the most remotely exciting thing about his stay at Privet Drive so far -- hours of studying and feverish writing. Harry had sent off for a sturdy leather-bound notebook the day he'd emerged from his room, and was proceeding to fill it with as many offensive curses, hexes and charms as he could find in all his textbooks, most of which were stacked in a lopsided pile under his old desk. Most of them he knew -- the D.A. had been everlastingly useful in that respect -- but some of them he wondered (sometimes, aloud) why on earth he'd overlooked. Several charms he'd dismissed as useless beforehand took on a new, ingenious light when he recalled the fierce duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort at the end of that awful night's battle. Some very familiar hexes were noted down for use as distracting mechanisms, and he practiced the wand movements of those he didn't know over and over again. Sirius' death had taken a harsh toll, but instilled a harsher determination -- Harry had vowed, at the end of that first week, that he'd not be taken advantage of again.
In conjunction with his newfound resolve, Harry had written directly the owners of Flourish and Blotts, asking for information on Occlumency books. They'd sent him a very short list of rare texts, and he'd sent them an order for the books. Harry devoured the first one to arrive, and had been able to sleep through the night for the first time three days ago. The book, Unearthing the Art of Occlumency -- For Beginners, had explained in depth how to clear one's mind of all thoughts.
The small victory had not come cheap, though. Harry remembered the fruitless, frustrating hours had of trying to think of nothing for five days before hitting on the exact technique during one of Uncle Vernon's rants after Mad-Eye Moody had appeared on their doorstep, thinly disguised, for a "check-up". Harry had tuned out completely, nodding contritely and looking at the floor at opportune moments, all the while thinking longingly of cool, relieving water. The thought had somehow calmed and enveloped him, so that he'd realised with a start that Uncle Vernon was now ranting at Dudley, who had snuck out of his room for an impromptu raid on the refrigerator. Harry, mind still oddly full of water and the lapping of waves, had suddenly realised that his mind was clear, though full of thoughts of water.
Then, later that night, as he tossed and turned from his latest dream of Sirius and his inexorable fall into the Veil, he'd risen in desperation, his scar burning hot, and thought hard of calming, cooling water. At first, he'd thought of the lake in Hogwarts, then of a vast ocean, tossing angrily. The high waves had calmed gradually to gentle lapping, and Harry found himself easily falling asleep. The rest of his dreams had been shadowy and vague, but non-threatening, and he'd woken refreshed for the first time since the Ministry.
Since then, whenever pain from his scar knifed into him, or when he felt a foreign consciousness tugging violently at the edges of his mind, he'd sat down and thought hard of that vast, endless ocean, and the insistent tugging would rapidly dwindle to a vague echo of something that he could easily dismiss.
Now, the echo of the ocean he'd created in his mind calmed him, and his frustration with the absence of owls began to peter out. Lulled by the waves, his eyelids began to droop --
Harry instantly became alert. That almost sounded like --
Crack -- crack -- crack -- crack --
-- someone apparating. Harry rolled off his bed speedily, wand leaping into his hand from his desk. That had begun to happen when he got nervous -- his wand appearing in his hand from wherever it was. Harry opened his door hard, striding across the hallway to Dudley's door, which he hammered on.
"Piss off, you freak!" came Dudley's scared voice through the door. Harry shoved the door open.
"Get up," he ordered, in a tone that minced no words. "Get to your parents' room -- now -- " Dudley rose from his bed, his fat frame wobbling as he caught the note of fear in Harry's tone.
"What's going on?" Aunt Petunia's shrill tone demanded from behind him. "Tromping about in this night -- waking everyone -- "
"I heard something outside," Harry said, tersely gesturing for Dudley to follow him out of the room. "It could be anyone -- I want -- I want you to stay in your room -- till I come back -- "
"What do you mean, you heard something..." Aunt Petunia sniffed, not budging an inch.
"It was -- " Harry began.
The walls of the house rattled around them as something exploded nearby. Dudley and Petunia stilled in shock, disregarding Harry's bellow.
"IN THE ROOM -- NOW -- "
He darted back into Dudley's room, heading for the window in the corner as his shaken relatives began to comply, stumbling for his Aunt and Uncle's bedroom, which Mad-Eye Moody had warded the day he'd come last week --
Harry's eyes widened in shock. God -- they were attacking the house of Mrs. Figg --
Five voices called the incantation of the Dark Mark as one, and five of the evilly glowing green symbols soared into the sky --
Harry ran for his Aunt and Uncle's bedroom -- they were coming for him -- the portkey -- he needed the --
Crash. The front door downstairs exploded violently, even as Harry seized his school bag, which was filled with his most important --
"Potter!" a voice boomed triumphantly below. Harry skidded across the corridor, slipping and sliding in his haste to enter the bedroom --
"Come out, Potter -- give yourself up, and maybe we'll let the Muggles live -- "
That shrill voice -- Bellatrix Lestrange --
Harry slammed the bedroom door, pulling out the worn portkey from his bag, yelling at his relatives.
"Take my arm -- touch me -- "
"Potter -- " The hated tones of Bellatrix Lestrange's voice came closer. "We know you're there -- " All the glass in the house seemed to smash at an incantation from someone, causing Dudley to shriek in fright --
"Protego vitalis!" Harry whispered, putting all his strength into the spell, in case they found him before he could say the long string of latin that would activate the portkey, "Memorae sacrificum vitalis," he began, ignoring Aunt Petunia's terrified sobs.
"Oh god -- they'll kill us -- just like Lily -- "
" -- maternam protego filius est!" Harry finished, shouting now, with desperation. The door to Dudley's bedroom exploded, followed by the sound of his own. The portkey grew warm in his hands -- Harry closed his eyes --
"He's hiding -- "
The bedroom door smashed open, even as Harry felt the telltale jerk of the portkey behind his navel --
Several miles away, in a dank house in London, four shaken humans crashed to the floor.
Harry got up immediately, but not before his uncle began to bellow --
"WHAT DID YOU DO -- WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH OUR HOUSE -- "
"Be quiet!" Harry ordered, too late, as the hated screeching of Mrs. Black began in the room next to them.
"Traitor! Filthy half-blood -- besmirching the house of my fathers -- "
Harry extracted his painful leg from beneath Dudley's sobbing bulk, his blood roaring in his ears as he stalked over to the screeching work of art, ignoring the wailing and shouting from his aunt and uncle.
Green flames leaped from the end of his wand to scorch the stark frame of the portrait, effectively silencing Mrs. Black.
"You will be silent," Harry hissed, shaking with anger and shock, "or else!"
The screeching, wailing and shouting all ceased as one, and Harry lowered his wand, which was still burning with green flame.
"Out of my way -- " he strode past his shaking relatives, heading for the fireplace in the kitchen. Glancing back to see the Dursleys edging towards the forbidding front door, he spoke again. "Stay where you are -- it's not safe outside -- "
"And it's safe here?" demanded Aunt Petunia, angrily scrubbing at the dust on herself.
"Your house is probably burning to the ground as we speak," Harry said coldly, brimming with frustration and fear. "There are probably people watching the street outside, waiting to see if we appear here. We'd be dead before we got to the nearest bus stop if we set a foot outside."
"What about your precious friends?"
"Do you see any of them here?" Harry shouted, frustration clear in his tone. "Something's obviously gone wrong -- there must be attacks somewhere -- I've got to contact Dumbledore, he'll know -- "
Suddenly, a low muttering could be heard as a small, bent, dirty creature crept into the kitchen, dodging round the frightened Dursleys. Harry's whole body went still.
"Filthy mudbloods...besmirching the house of Mistress...filthy master has come..."
The Dursleys' eyes all turned to their freak of a nephew, who now appeared as unbalanced as they thought him to be. His dark green eyes glittered with some nameless emotion, and his body, previously still, began to twitch in the most frightening --
"I can't believe it -- you're here -- still alive -- " Harry smiled, raising his wand, his frame stilling once more, green eyes shining eerily. "Not for long -- but first -- Gurgulio suffocare -- " The Dursleys backed away from the sight that began to unfold before them. The -- the creature began to choke, its large eyes widening with rage and helplessness, clawing at its own throat as Harry continued to speak, his voice going low with rage. "Sirius always wanted to do this -- he should've killed you when he had the chance -- " Kreacher whimpered, his tiny body convulsing as he began to glow a dim, sickly lavender.
The convulsions abruptly came to a stop, and the creature began to gulp in air, shivering as it tried to speak...
"You shut your mouth!" A blast of white light slammed into Kreacher, throwing him violently against the wall, out of the line of sight of Harry's now terrified relatives. "You have the guts to call me traitor -- I'll shut you up -- "
The fireplace in the kitchen suddenly filled with green flames, and a battered-looking forty-year-old man stumbled into the kitchen. Sighting Harry, who was now muttering a curse, his wand shaking with anger, the man strode for him, calling out.
"Harry!" The boy started, pointing his wand at the newcomer and incanting a red beam of light that struck the man so that he fell down, looking thoroughly dead to the world. Aunt Petunia finally began to shriek, fearing her nephew would turn on them next. Kreacher took the opportunity to drag himself under a nearby table, still shaking from what Harry had done to him. Meanwhile, Harry had rushed to the man, first relieving him of his wand, then, on turning him over, gasped in surprise.
"You murderer -- "
"Keep it down, will you? He's not dead," Harry shot at his Aunt, pointing his wand at the man and starting to incant something. He stopped short, seeming to change his mind, and motioned to the Dursleys, who were rooted to the spot. "Stand back -- it could be anyone -- Rudentis ligo -- ennervate -- "
Ropes flew from the end of Harry's wand, binding the man tightly even as he choked down a breath of air and started, finding Harry's wand at his throat. "Harry -- thank god you're alright..."
"What important spell did you teach me during third year at Hogwarts, and why?" Harry demanded, his wand steady.
"The Patronus Charm -- and because you wanted to be able to deal with them in case they ever attacked you at a Quidditch match again -- "
"Wait -- someone could've known that -- what did I hear during those lessons?"
The man stilled, his face paling. "Your -- your parents being murdered by Voldemort." His voice softened at the end, eyes locking with Harry's. Harry sighed again, worrying at his lip.
"One last thing -- what did I do after -- after Sirius died, at the Department of Ministries...?" The man gulped, looking worried.
"I'm not sure, Harry -- you ran off, and -- " The ropes binding him disappeared, and Harry helped him to his feet. "Harry -- about Kreacher -- "
"I don't want to -- "
" -- you inherited him. With the house -- from -- from -- from Sirius." The man, who Harry now knew to be Remus Lupin, friend of his dead father, clasped him on the shoulder comfortingly. Harry looked at him for a long moment, then shrugged the hand gently off.
"It's okay." He said, in a tone of resignation. Lupin peered sharply at him, before ordering Kreacher out of the kitchen in a stern tone.
"Go to your cupboard -- "
At Kreacher's shaking and muttering, Harry stepped back toward him, looking positively furious once more. "Get out -- or I will kill you." The vengeful house-elf eyed Harry's unflinching stance for a minute, then hurried from the kitchen, ignoring its obvious discomfort. Harry spun back towards Remus, anger gone, worry and excitement in its place.
"Remus -- five Death Eaters just showed up -- I did the first thing I could think of -- "
"It's alright, Harry, I know," Lupin said, shoulders sagging as he took a seat at the forbidding kitchen table.
"You -- you know what happened to our house?" Petunia demanded, shuffling a few feet toward them, evidently only brave enough to fidget in the doorway. Remus nodded, and extended a weary hand to them.
"Come, sit down -- it concerns all of you, too." Harry took a seat opposite him as Vernon, Petunia and Dudley nervously drew closer. Remus sighed, and began.
"There've been at least ten or twenty attacks tonight, Harry. Everyone's been running here and there, trying to get hold of survivors and help defend certain strategic places -- that's why no one's here. We couldn't spare anyone to stand watch for too long at a stretch. I was in east Surrey with Dumbledore trying to help round up the survivors of an attack when the wards around your house," he shot a sympathetic look at Aunt Petunia "failed. We all of us panicked, but Dumbledore told us to stay there, and told me to return here as fast as possible to meet you if you arrived safely. There wasn't a wizarding home or office within five or ten miles of the place, so I had to apparate in jumps towards the Ministry of Magic, and use a Floo office nearby. Dumbledore didn't want any of us apparating in here, because of the spies in the Department of Magical Transportation we know -- you can easily trace apparition signatures, you know." Remus paused for air, then continued.
"Flooing in here is much safer, because Voldemort's intelligence has not, to our knowledge, infiltrated the network. The fact that this house is also Unplottable and under the Fidelius helps a lot -- you can't floo to a place you don't know. And that," Lupin finished wearily, "is why I am here."
"What about our house?" Vernon Dursley demanded, sitting down near Remus with a thump. "Breath Eaters attacked it, you say..?"
"Death Eaters got through the magical protections Dumbledore placed on your home, yes," Lupin answered patiently, obviously trying not to take offence at the fat man's rude tone. "How they did that is still to be discovered."
"Dumbledore doesn't know why?" Harry demanded, eyes widening. "I didn't do anything -- I tried not to think of anywhere else as my home or call anywhere else that, if you know what I mean -- "
"Is that how they work?" Lupin said worriedly. "Sounds a bit iffy, such important wards depending soley on your thoughts..." Lupin thought for a minute, then sighed. "I'm sure Dumbledore made sure they relied on something more substantial, so it couldn't have been you -- or at least, I don't think it was -- "
The fireplace whooshed with green flames again, this time a man dressed in flowing -- if slightly dirty -- purple robes stepped out, looking immensely worried.
"Harry! Ah, I see you made it here safely..." It was Dumbledore, looking so relieved and weary that it was slightly alarming.
"Professor Dumbledore! Remus -- Mr. Lupin told me the wards -- "
"It's just Remus, Harry," Harry heard his old professor mutter, even as Dumbledore took a seat beside Dudley, who looked very alarmed that such an odd old man was beside him. Dumbledore, ignoring the way Dudley squeaked and tried to move his bulk out of any contact with him, took a deep breath, and began to speak.
"Yes, Harry. I checked on them just after the Death Eaters that attacked Privet Drive tried to disapparate and found that they could not -- they failed for a few moments, during the attack, but, it seems, repaired themselves right away. Quite remarkable," he muttered to himself.
"They -- they repaired themselves...?" Harry asked, bewildered.
"Yes, Harry. And, as your Aunt and Uncle will be pleased to find out, the Death Eaters -- now in the Ministry's custody, of course -- did not manage to cause any irreversible damages to the house. Unfortunately -- " Aunt Petunia spoke up then, her tone subdued, but still very sharp.
"Then why did we have to come here?" she demanded, peering at the weary old Headmaster. "He dragged us here somehow -- did some -- some magic..."
"Indeed, Mrs. Dursley, Harry did -- and he did well. Had you have remained in your house a moment longer, the Death Eaters that attacked you, though unable to hurt you magically, would probably have caused your murder all the same." Harry's relatives all blanched.
"Will we...be able to go back...?" Petunia stuttered, shooting her nephew a look of fear. Dumbledore sighed.
"I am afraid not, Mrs. Dursley." At the sounds of protest that arose around him, Vernon's voice being the loudest, Dumbledore rapped sharply on the table for silence, continuing only once the muggles had calmed down. "Until Harry departs for Hogwarts, it will simply be too dangerous for you. The wards may fail again -- "
"But -- but where will we -- " Vernon spluttered.
"After Harry's return to Hogwarts," Dumbledore continued, ignoring the large man, "any -- ah -- attempts on his life will be confined to the school, and you will be safe enough from then. As for where you will stay, if your nephew is willing" he shot a look at an astounded Harry "you will be welcome to reside temporarily in this house."
"What do you mean, 'if he is willing'?" Petunia said, eyes widening. Dumbledore gave a little smile, some of the twinkle returning to his eyes.
"Why, Harry inherited this house only a month and a half ago," he replied, pointedly ignoring the gasps of Harry's relatives. "It is heavily protected, and thus, perfectly suitable as a temporary location for you, as well as for Harry himself. Now, Harry," Dumbledore turned to the pensive boy "I need to return to the Ministry immediately. If you have any questions...?" Harry blinked, suddenly recalling something that had been nagging at him since Dumbledore had said the house at Privet Drive was fine.
"What about -- what about Mrs. Figg?" Harry's gaze wavered as Dumbledore sighed again, shaking his head. "Oh." Harry blinked again, flopping back into his chair. Dumbledore paused for a moment, waiting to see if Harry would say anything else. When the silence held, he rose from the table.
"Now, Harry, I do not need to tell you how paramount it is that you -- and your relatives -- do not leave Grimmauld Place without it being arranged," Dumbledore began. Still no answer from Harry, who was staring, numb, at the table in front of him. "The supplies for your sixth year at Hogwarts will be procured for you by the end of the week. If you have any urgent questions or concerns, do not hesitate to owl me." He paused again, his eyes resting on the still young man. "Otherwise, I will see you at Hogwarts in two and a half weeks' time. Remus, the rest of the Order are at the safe house. The Weasleys may be joining you if it is safe to do so, but I doubt it. Use your pendant if you need me..." In another moment, Dumbledore was gone, accompanied by the whoosh of green flames.
Harry put his head in his hands, the excitement of the night finally catching up to him. Looking round at the subdued, yet angry faces of his relatives, he sighed.
It would be a long two and a half weeks.
A/N: I heartily apologise for any errors - I hate seeing them in fanfics myself - and am happy to inform you that I will be searching for a beta to help with this stuff. Thanks for reading...