It was bloody awful. One would think one’s life got better once they got rid of the mad man trying to kill them, but no, apparently not. For Harry it only got worse. First he shrugged of his discomfort, thinking they only meant good, but only one week after the final battle he wasn’t so sure of that any more. But now, one could argue whether there is anything one couldn’t do when one was Harry bloody Potter and just saved the Wizarding World from old Voldy. There isn’t anything on this planet that could possibly unravel the Boy Who Lived Twice, right?
Well obviously that’s a lie, because right now there were three reporters standing outside his house in Grimmauld Place. This god damn house is supposed to be hidden, for fucks sake! Was this how his life was going to be from now on? Well, he could always flee the country... But really, he would rather not.
Hermione kept buggering him that he should just give them what they wanted, make a few interviews and so on, but Harry just couldn’t believe that would stop them from camping on his doorstep. Anyway, maybe he just was a bit too stubborn to give in. And since Harry probably was one of the few people who knew that Hermione Granger, despite her knowledge and all, was just a human being and could make mistakes, too, he didn’t feel very guilty ignoring her.
She was also frequently ranting about this old house and how Harry couldn’t possibly live there. He knew she just wanted him to be happy, but what if he was happy here? Even if it was an old house full of dark magic, dangerous objects and rubbish. It felt confusingly right to be there all alone.
He had started sorting some things out there; it put his mind off from other things. He couldn’t quite grasp how the others did it, though. They were happy Voldemort was dead as if it actually solved all their problems. Okay, it solved quite a lot, but still, people had died and even if he got over them, the Wizarding World did not seem to learn. This whole war started not with one mad man, but with loads of them discriminating others. Voldemort was just the top of the iceberg, didn’t they understand?
And right now they’re repeating their mistakes, discriminating each and everyone: People who didn’t fight in the war, people who used dark magic, people who were sceptical, Slytherins, werewolves (thanks to Greyback), giants, and in general everything and everyone they didn’t know. It was really awful to look at, but still, everyone else was able to just go on with their lives as if nothing ever happened.
So, here he was, sorting through his godfather’s old stuff all alone. After Harry had explained, Ron and Hermione were actually willing to help, but he declined. And god damn, he was so happy he had done that. Nothing against their company, but he wanted to do this alone. Last time they searched the house, Mrs. Weasley would always be there and they would just throw away everything that could be a bit dark, and look where that got them. They had to break into the bloody ministry of magic to get their stuff back.
Anyway, now Harry could really look on the things, sometimes even treasures that lay inside this house. He found a lot of things for protection, like charmed amulets, a ring that functioned like a sneakoscope, but they were probably better than the auror stuff, because they were additionally charmed with dark magic.
That was one thing Harry found out recently: Dark magic doesn’t equal bad magic. They were some entirely different things. He supposed if he hadn’t slept through History of Magic, he would have known earlier, but since generations of pupils did exactly the same thing, there wasn’t anyone who could have told him incidentally. Dark and light magic were merely developed by two different societies of wizards. There even was a war, but soon afterwards, the so called Dark Wizards and Witches had to cover their identities since they lost the war because they were simply outnumbered. This made the whole situation of the Wizarding World even worse, Harry thought.
But how was it supposed to get better? Killing Voldemort didn’t solve that at all. And maybe Dumbledore was a great man, really, but he had absolutely no idea how to find a proper teacher. A Deatheater, Voldemort himself, a werewolf, a ghost, the mobbing bastard Snape (hero or not)... they all taught at Hogwarts. How were young wizards and witches supposed to learn from their mistakes? But maybe, this time this stupid society couldn’t trust in Harry to save them all (Anyway, who expects an eleven year old to do their job, like – really?).
At the moment Harry worked his way on the second floor, but since Sirius’s room was right there and he didn’t especially want to go anywhere near it, he soon came to Regulus’s room. The door was locked, but a simple Alohomara got the trick. It was a lot tidier than he remembered Sirius’s, but that much was expected. The walls were painted a slight green and there were some framed photographs on the wall over the bed. The wardrobe in the corner was bit open and all in all, when one ignored the dust, it looked as if Regulus just left the room for a short while, coming back in a minute or two. Somehow it was disturbing.
He looked through the things on the desk in another corner, but there wasn’t really anything of interest. Then he approached the photographs. At first he was surprised, how many people on them he actually knew. He saw Sirius, one photo of the Black family and very often there were two boys. Regulus, as it seems, and next to him stood undeniable Severus Snape, having thrown his arm on Regulus’s shoulders while he was waving in the camera. Regulus looked almost shy. He left the photos behind and turned. Just out of curiosity he opened the wardrobe and was surprised to find one half completely empty. He ran his fingers over the old wood and startled as he felt it shift under his fingers. Soon the bare wood had disappeared and now there was a painting of a young man with black hair in front of him. A snoring young man. He was very curious, but waking the portrait now wouldn’t serve him any good. The man would just be annoyed. So he went on with tidying up the house, but kept checking whether the man would wake up. After he was nearly finished with the floor in front of the two brother’s rooms, he heard a voice.
“Hey you!” the man shouted, “What are you doing inside my house?”
Oh no, he didn’t sound too happy to see Harry here. Well, too late to do something about that... Anyway, he approached the painting.
“Hello, my name is Harry Potter. And you are?” he asked as politely as he could.
“Not even a Black? You definitely are not asking me questions in my own house. So answer me, why are you here?”
Well, so that didn’t go too smooth. But he saw no bad thing in just answering truthfully.
“I am the godson of Sirius Orion Black. He owned the house and since he died two years ago I inherited it. May I ask who you are?”
Harry saw a small change in the portrait’s expression, but soon it was the cold mask again.
“I’m Orion Black and I was the rightful owner of this house for years. But it kind of makes sense. Regulus told me, his brother would spend all his time with the Potter boy.”
Harry suddenly looked up. Could it really be? “You... you are Sirius’s father?”
“The one and only. What else did you think?” the painting countered snappishly.
“Well, I... I don’t know...” Harry stuttered but soon regained his composure. “So you talked with Regulus before he died?” he asked, but soon realised his mistake.
“Why else would I be in his wardrobe, stupid boy? He was always the more delicate of them both. After my death he had to cope with Walburga all on his own. And when she tossed my painting in the trash, he hid me here.”
“Why did she want to get rid of you?” Harry more but blurted out.
“Because I disagreed with her”
And this seemed to be the last thing Orion wanted to say on this matter. “So tell me a little more about you. You look very young, shouldn’t you be in Hogwarts?”
Not very happy with the change of subject, Harry nevertheless went along with it, to keep the wizard in a good mood. “They need some more time to rebuild it, so school starts in November this year” He told the other man casually.
“Wait, why rebuild?” Orion interjected.
“Oh, when was the last time you spoke with someone outside a painting?” Harry knew he had to explain some things, but he didn’t want to tell something he didn’t have to.
“That would be Regulus. You see” Orion started to explain after Harry’s gasp, “Walburga first charmed my portrait, so that I can’t leave it, and since only the head of the house can allow me to visit their paintings, Regulus couldn’t reverse it. Anyway, you seem to have interesting news, and I’m not one to let this chance pass.”
So Harry told Orion the story: about Voldemort, a brief summary of his school years and the battle of Hogwarts. And since Orion couldn’t leave his portrait and he himself was the head of house, he found it save to tell him these things. Anyway, he just told him what you could read anywhere.
“So you say you killed the Dark Lord?” Orion asked at the end of Harry’s story. “He isn’t dead. He will come back, just like he did before.” Orion predicted.
“How come you think that?” Harry was confused.
“I just know, mark my words, boy.” The man growled.
And then it hit Harry like a lightning. “Of course” he shouted out, “Regulus knew, naturally, and he told you, right?” he exclaimed.
“Told me what?” the portrait asked.
“About Voldemort’s secret! Anyway, don’t worry about that.”
Orion frowned. “So you claim to know about” he dropped his voice, “...the horcrux?” Harry figured, when Regulus could trust his father, then so could Harry. Orion was very surprised and engrossed to hear about the fact, that Voldemort made more than one horcrux.
It soon was clear, that Orion believed quite a lot in blood purity, but never considered the idea of following a mad man and a muggle homicide a good one. So Harry found himself with quite an amusing company. Also he could ask Orion about all the things he found in that house, since he seemed to be the only portrait in the house, as much as willing to speak with him. Soon Harry talked to the man all the time, first trying to get some information and later just because he began to like the portrait. But he still was somewhat uncomfortable around the older man. So when he requested to be free to leave his painting, Harry hesitated. As he answered, Slytherin himself would be proud of him.
“So what is my benefit of this?” he asked the portrait. “You could spill all these little secrets to the wrong people, and soon we’d have another Dark Lord. So?”
Orion waited a moment and then said “I’ll show you my greatest secret, so no one of us will spill the other’s secret. Is it a deal?”
Harry thought about it. He even waited a night to consider all possible outcomes, something his younger self would have never done, but in the end he came to the conclusion, that he could risk it.