Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Friendship’s Price :: 02 :: Grimmauld Place

02 • Grimmauld Place

Harry landed in the kitchen, losing his balance and knocking into the table. A light chuckle made him raise his head to see Remus leaning against the wall near the door.

“I see you’ve lost none of your grace, Harry. Want some help getting your trunk upstairs?”

“Ha ha. And yes, please,” Harry said as he righted himself and brushed down his shirt with his hands.

Once they were upstairs, and his trunk was sitting at the foot of the bed he normally used at 12 Grimmauld Place, Harry turned to Remus. “Could I ask you for a favor?”

“Depends, Harry. What is it?”

“Well, there’s this friend I made this summer, and it wasn’t like I had any time to tell him I was leaving. If I were to write him a letter, could you bring it to the post office for me?”

“I take it this friend is a muggle,” said Remus. When Harry nodded, he said, “I don’t see why not. Just let me know when you’ve finished it.”

Harry nodded again, and Remus left the room. I probably should have asked him when the others are coming, he thought. He shrugged and decided to worry about it later, instead getting out supplies and starting the letter.

Martin,

I’m sorry I have to do things this way, but I was called away unexpectedly. Though I normally never stay for the whole summer (I often spend the last week or so with friends I go to boarding school with), I had to leave with no advance warning this time.

I know that by the time you get this you may have realized something is up, as I won’t have come by. I’m sorry if I’ve worried you, but it was unavoidable. I did want you to know I was all right. It isn’t that I’m ill or anything.

Harry paused, and frowned. What if Martin wanted to write back? He put his quill on the desk and went off to find Remus, finally locating him in the kitchen.

“Um, Moony?”

“Yes, Harry? Problems?”

“Yes, I think. I’ve been writing that letter, but what if my friend wants to write back? I mean, I spent nearly every evening with him - he’s the one that’s been teaching me self defense. He can’t very well owl me at Hogwarts.”

“Harry, don’t worry about it. There’s a drop-off set up in a muggle town not far from Hogsmeade. You can use that address as the return. Your friend can write you there, and the wizard or witch who collects the mail each day has them sent on to recipients at Hogwarts. When you want to write back, you just owl the letter to the owl office in Hogsmeade and they’ll take care of it.”

“Really? How do you know this stuff anyway?”

“I am a half-blood, Harry. Go finish your letter. I’ll be up in a little bit to give you the return address, all right?”

“Thanks, Moony.”

Anyway, please write if you like. I know I never actually said much of anything, but I will miss you. You helped me a lot, actually. And I don’t mean the lessons. Some of my friends here never do quite understand when it’s better to stay quiet than question. Hopefully I’ll see you again next summer holidays.

Harry

Harry carefully folded the letter and slipped it into an envelope. After sealing it he addressed the front and left it on the desk for later.

With most of the day left, Harry opened his trunk and pulled out a text at random and began to review the material, reading the theory behind the magic, and practicing wand movements with a pencil.

A knock at the door some time later made Harry look up, and he was glad for the interruption as he realized his stomach was complaining about the lack of nourishment. He called out, “One second,” and closed his book, putting it aside, then got up and opened the door to see Tonks shifting from foot to foot.

“Hello, Harry!” she said brightly. “It’s time to eat. Since you hadn’t come down, I came to fetch you.”

Harry nodded. “I didn’t realize I was hungry until you knocked.”

She grinned and turned, making her way along the hall and down the stairs. Harry followed her into the kitchen, looking around curiously when he realized it was just the two of them.

“Where’s Remus?” he asked.

“Had to run some errands,” Tonks explained as she went after plates and cutlery.

“Er . . . then who cooked?”

“I got it on my way in,” she replied cheerfully. “Molly has forbidden me to cook alone, you see.” Having set the table she grabbed some sacks off the counter and plunked them on the table and opened each one, pulling out small white cartons. “Ever had Chinese?”

Harry shook his head.

“I got quite a variety, so there has to be something you’ll like.”

After they’d filled their plates they conversed on a number of topics, but the one that interested Harry the most was her own recounting, though it was somewhat vague, of her late teen years, specifically when she’d come to the realization that she was a metamorphmagus.

“But I never actually used the skill until after I’d graduated from Hogwarts,” she said finally.

“Whyever not?”

“Well, not really. Everyone knew what I looked like already, after all. So there was little point in confusing anyone at the time. But after that, and moving on to decisions like what to do for a living, I could go ahead and make a new me.”

Harry cocked his head to the side and studied her. “Do you really look that different now?”

After smiling at him impishly, “I’m sure I’ve forgotten,” was all she’d say.

Before he went back upstairs she handed him a small package. “It’s a little early, but that’s not important. You can use it as much now as later, and a few days won’t matter.”

In his room he unwrapped it, setting aside the plain brown paper she’d used, and checked the cover of what turned out to be a book—a book on meditation techniques. With nothing better to do beside revision, he settled back on his bed and began to read.

*

The next day was a repeat of the same; both Remus and Tonks were present in the house though. Harry read through his books, including his new one, and spent some time with each of them. It was Remus, though, that he was most interested in, and entirely due to questions he’d never been able to ask before, or get answers to.

“What is it that you see, Remus?”

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

“You never talk much, and there never seemed to be a good time to. You hid many things from me in third year, and to some extent I understand why, but even after that. . . . I didn’t hear from you for a year, and then when I did, it was because you were part of the Order. So, Remus, what is it that you see? I’d really like to know.”

“Yes, you’re right. I did keep things from you. And there was little time to talk after that, partly of my own making, I admit.”

Harry waited patiently, not wanting to push, nor make things any easier.

“It would be very easy to see you as a younger version of your father, except that you simply aren’t. He was proud, and privileged. He never had to deal with the kinds of things you have, and didn’t really grow up until it was, well, normal to do so.”

He glanced over at Harry, who continued in his silence. “You are his son, there’s no denying that. But you aren’t him. I think you’re a very nice young man. A competent one, powerful, and are far more mature at this age than he ever was.”

Remus looked over again to see Harry stoically quiet and sighed. “For all that I was one of them, I was still set apart. Each of us had our own problems and strengths. James was a snob and he often failed to see how his actions affected others, but he was also intensely loyal and talented. Sirius had his family to deal with, and their reputation. He was brash, often unthinking and unfeeling, but also loyal and talented.”

“Peter was the weakest, I suppose. A born follower, now that I look back. But at the time he was a part of us, a friend, and obviously willing to join in our pranks. We helped him to do better in school. Friends help friends, right? He was neither as confident as James and Sirius, nor as smart. I still don’t understand why he turned. Oh, he said he couldn’t help it, that he’d die if he didn’t. But we meant what we said—he should have died rather than betray us.”

“And then there’s me. The really odd one by virtue of disease. By whatever luck, or reason, they did not shun me for it once they found out. Possibly because by then they already had come to know me and realized I was no different, except for the one night a month. They still could have rejected me, but they didn’t. Being smart is one thing, or talented, but I was not the best influence on them, James and Sirius especially. They were like brothers and inclusive on their own.”

“I didn’t always agree with the things they did, but I couldn’t always object, or felt like I couldn’t. I was always worried that my nature would give people an excuse to use it against me. I was a prefect but didn’t always use that power to reign them in when I should have.”

Remus looked up at the ceiling for a moment and said, “And by now you’re no doubt wondering what all this has to do with you. You and I are the last of a legacy, and a broken legacy at that. I cannot not be around you, nor would I wish to never see you again. But there are times when I look at you and I can’t help but see him. Other times I see a completely different person, as it should be.”

“Seeing you and talking to you is a difficult thing for me. Logically I know how things are, but emotionally, things sometimes get in the way. All I guess I can say is, I know you aren’t James, and I do like the person I see.”

Harry finally spoke. “And what of Sirius?”

“I don’t blame you, if that’s what you mean. Sirius was like that—impetuous and foolhardy—and if he thought you were in danger, that would have been all it took. There are too many factors that come into play for it to be the fault of any one person. And if you, in ignorance, began the chain reaction, it is you that should be the least blamed, as none of us were willing or able to tell you the kinds of things you’d have wanted to know.”

“And if I blame myself?” Harry asked, quite curious as to the response.

“You shouldn’t, but nothing I say is likely to make much difference. I know all about guilt, Harry. It eats up your insides, even when your head is telling you it isn’t yours to bear, but your heart is right there screaming out that it is. That there must have been something you could have done differently, or better, or that it was an action of your own that would or could have made all the difference.”

“If I hadn’t gone into the woods that day, if Sirius had told you what he’d given you, if Albus had told you why he wouldn’t meet your eyes—the list goes on. Plenty of things for someone to think themselves guilty of.”

Harry changed the subject abruptly, not wishing to continue the current line further, almost speaking over Remus’s last words. “Are any others coming here? If not, that’s fine. I can always use the time to study. Well, it would be helpful if someone went to get me books for this next year, but I guess we’d have to wait on my OWL scores. But really, I expect I passed Defense. Do you know when scores are due in?”

Remus blinked at Harry before answering. “Soon. They should arrive soon. And when they do, one of us will be happy to go fetch your supplies for the upcoming year, Harry. As for any others, I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t doubt that some will. At least for the last week or so, which is close enough anyway.”

Harry nodded. “Well I wish they’d arrive then. I hate waiting to find out how I did.”

Remus apparently felt it was safe again, or safer, and chuckled.

*

It was in fact the next morning that his results arrived. He was in the middle of breakfast, one that Remus had cooked as no one trusted Tonks in the kitchen, when the aforementioned klutz bounced through the door waving a thick envelope.

“Guess what I have!” she crowed, shaking the envelope at Harry. She bounced closer and dropped it next to his plate, then dragged a chair over and sat down. “Well?” she demanded.

Harry finished chewing and swallowed, then set his utensils down quite deliberately before picking up his napkin and wiping his mouth. Tonks was squirming in her seat with impatience.

After a pause, in which Tonks glared at him, Harry picked up the envelope and opened it, pulling out its contents and laying the envelope aside. He took several silent minutes to peruse the parchments, carefully making sure that Tonks could see nothing.

The following scores listed are the final averages. For more detailed information as to results of both theory and practical scores (as applicable) see page six of this package.

O - Care of Magical Creatures
O - Charms
O - Defense Against the Dark Arts
E - Herbology
A - Potions
O - Transfiguration
A - History of Magic
P - Divination
A - Astronomy

Harry didn’t think he’d done too badly, though he wasn’t sure if he should be disappointed or not about his Potions score. On the good side he wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with Snape in classes again, but on the bad side it pretty much ruined his chances to be an Auror, assuming he even really wanted to be one.

Assuming he lived through his final confrontation with Voldemort, who was to say it was or should be his responsibility to continue to deal with dark wizards? For that matter, considering how very little he’d been able to learn up until now from Professor Snape, was it really worth the sheer torture of continuing to be in the man’s classes for another two years?

Harry could only hope that Professor McGonagall didn’t raise too much of a fuss over this. He’d hate to see her trying to make a huge compromise with Snape in order to gain him access to a class he wasn’t sure he wanted to take any longer.

Of course, that didn’t mean he had a clue as to what he actually did want to do. Quidditch was always an option, but did he really want to take the chance of signing on to a team that only wanted him for his reputation, his fame? But what else was he good at when it came right down to it.

He didn’t even know if he’d be required to work for a living. And again, all of this assumed he lived to actually have to worry about the eventuality. Still, if he didn’t worry about it now, he’d be even worse off when the time came, if it did.

His thoughts came back around in a circle. He would have to write to Professor McGonagall to let her know not to worry about Potions. He had not made the grade, therefore he just wouldn’t worry about it any longer. Enough exceptions were made on his behalf already to occasion another. Certainly not for something like this.

A spate of coughing interrupted his thoughts and Harry looked up to see Tonks staring at him meaningfully, so he handed over only the averaged score page. Remus showed up a moment later and leaned over her shoulder to look as well, a smile slowly forming on his face.

“Does this mean one of you can get me supplies now? I’d love to be able to read through stuff early.” Harry looked at both of them hopefully.

“I assume you’d want books for everything above A?” asked Remus.

Harry nodded. “I don’t have to take more than those, do I?”

Tonks shook her head. “No such thing as required courses once you’re past your OWLs, Harry.”

“I’ll go get your books and supplies this afternoon then,” said Remus.

In consequence, that evening, Harry secluded himself in his bedroom with his new things and started to get a head start on the new year. Before he actually went to sleep he tried out one of the meditation techniques he’d learned.

*

Harry looked up from his book to see himself in a mirror he hadn’t noticed before. Then again, he was not in the same room he’d used the year before, so perhaps it was not totally strange that it had escaped his notice thus far.

Something wasn’t quite right though, but as he tried to look more closely his attention was drawn away by the door opening and Remus walking in. Harry was struck, not by the man’s expression, but the pervading sense of sorrow that suddenly seemed to permeate the room when he arrived.

When Remus said nothing, just stood there in the doorway, Harry shrugged and looked back at the mirror. He stared at it for a full minute but couldn’t quite put his finger on what was bothering him. When his mood changed a second time, lightening to something far more bland, he noticed that Remus had turned and was in the act of closing the door.

The sound of it shutting was shockingly loud.

With a start he opened his eyes, blinking several times while trying to make sense of what had just happened, and realized that he was under the covers and his book was splayed on the floor beside. He reached down and grabbed the book. After marking the page he’d been on it was placed on the bedside table, along with his glasses. A quick movement turned off the light, and Harry went back to sleep.

*

When he came down to breakfast the next morning there was a present waiting for him and Harry realized it was his birthday. That made it all the more odd that it was the only one. The card, when read, proved to be from Remus. The actual gift was a book on Occlumency. Harry had the feeling it would end up going hand-in-hand with the book Tonks had given him already.

The next few weeks were fairly quiet. There was the occasional Order meeting when Harry was confined above stairs, but aside from that he saw no one other than Remus or Tonks. His time was spent most commonly in his bedroom reading. It was just a week prior to his return to school that Molly Weasley showed up with Ron and Ginny in tow, along with Hermione.