Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Friendship’s Price :: 13 :: Privacy

13 • Privacy

Breakfast was a cheerful enough affair. The prospect of shopping had everyone in a good mood and the holiday coming up was a chance for everyone to relax and have some fun without worrying about classes or homework or revision. So it was that when they had finished eating, Harry and his friends trooped back up to the tower to get their winter cloaks and what money they had—the headmaster had stopped Harry in the hall over the week and handed him a small bag to augment what he already had, causing Harry to be torn between gratitude and annoyance—and headed out to Hogsmeade.

Harry was glad for the warming charm he’d placed on his clothing given the amount of snow that was being kicked or thrown in his direction by a very obvious Ron. But he gave as good as he got, even managing to whack Hermione in the back of the head at one point. Neville was tentative about joining in, but when Ginny plastered him right in the face with a snowball, he began scooping up snow for his own attacks after looking at her blankly for a moment.

When they did arrive each of them had a fair dusting of snow on their heads and clothing, but nobody seemed to mind. They passed right by the Three Broomsticks and headed to the very end of the village, intending to start their expedition at Dervish & Banges. It wasn’t that anyone needed anything repaired, but they did sell some interesting objects. Harry wondered idly if Remus already had a lunascope, then decided that it wasn’t the kind of gift he really wanted to give.

They left without purchasing anything and continued on to Scrivenshaft’s to top off their supplies of inks and parchment, then moved on to Gladrags. Harry was tempted to buy himself a new wardrobe on the spot, but knew the headmaster had something else in mind. Instead, he pulled Ron and Ginny close and asked them their opinion on something.

“I was thinking,” he said, “about getting your mum a nice winter cloak. Do you think she’d like one?”

“They’re a bit dear, mate,” said Ron uneasily.

Harry favored him with a scowl. “It has nothing to do with money. It has to do with getting your mum something she’d appreciate and enjoy using. You’re like my family, remember? And if I can’t indulge my family, what’s the point?”

“Harry’s right, Ron. It’s time you got over that,” said Ginny firmly. “I think she’d love a new cloak.”

Ron opened his mouth to speak, then snapped it shut. A curious look crossed his face as his eyes went briefly distant. “All right,” he said a few moments later. “I think it’s a grand idea.”

“Splendid. What colour to do you think, then? I’m hardly known for my fashion sense.” He smirked slightly.

“I’ll take care of that,” said Ginny loftily, grabbing an arm of each of them and hauling them over to a rack of cloaks. After a great deal of discussion, during which Harry nodded a lot and Ron looked mostly blank, Harry took a winter cloak to the counter. It was a rich shade of chocolate brown with a touch of gold scrollwork trim—not too fancy and not too plain, but definitely warm and cozy with a large pocket on the inside for incidentals.

Hermione and Neville wandered by as he was paying for it and approved, and Harry paid extra to have it wrapped on the spot. Well satisfied, they wandered out and stopped in at Zonko’s, though no one was particularly interested in purchasing anything. It did give Harry an idea, though, and he resolved to speak with Remus in private about it.

Harry noticed several books at their next stop that he wanted to purchase, but didn’t want to tip his hand with his friends standing right there with him, and what he wanted for Neville wasn’t available. He just hoped that Moony wouldn’t be put out with him asking for a few favors for those things he couldn’t purchase on his own. He did, however, quietly pick up an owl order form and slip it into his pocket.

At Honeydukes he spent a while looking at sweets, trying to decide if he could get anything there for Martin. Their chocolate was a wonder, and it wasn’t prepackaged, so there wouldn’t be anything to give away its origins. After a short consultation with Neville, Harry went ahead and purchased a big block of their best and had it wrapped up. Just having their name on the paper was fine, as the address wasn’t listed.

Harry carefully didn’t pay attention to what Ron and Ginny were up to, preferring to stay with Neville and Hermione until they were done, just in case Ron had decided to get Harry the usual sort of gift. Their next stop was a little place next to the owl office called Esoterica. It was filled with myriad things in an eclectic jumble, causing one to have to dig around to see what was actually hiding under more visible objects.

When Harry noticed something he thought was perfect for Ginny he quietly asked Hermione to distract the other girl, then brought his selection up to the counter and paid for it, tucking it away quickly when he was done. He ignored the amused look Hermione was giving him over Ginny’s shoulder and went back to sorting through the items to see if anything would be nice for Remus. Ginny found a lovely cloak pin for her mum, though, and asked Harry if he would mind lending her a few sickles as she was a bit short, which he gladly handed over.

After rummaging around a bit longer he found some odd knickknacks he thought Bill and Charlie might like and bought those as well. Eventually they arrived at the Three Broomsticks in good time to capture a large booth and slide in. Harry sat between Ginny and Neville, with Ron and Hermione on the other side. It was over a round of butterbeer that another idea came to him.

“Hermione, I have a muggle friend I wanted to get something for. I was thinking he might enjoy a few bottles of butterbeer—what do you think?”

“He doesn’t know anything about us?”

“Nothing. I thought these would be safe enough, though.”

She took a few moments to carefully examine the bottle she was holding, then said, “I don’t see why not. Though, your friend might like it enough to wonder where you’re getting it from.”

“I can always tell him it’s home-brewed and that if he wants more that I could arrange for it on occasion when it’s available.”

Hermione couldn’t seem to find anything wrong with that logic and nodded. Before they left, Harry spoke to Rosmerta and bought six more bottles from her, which she packed into a neat little crate filled with straw for a bit of extra coin.

Back up at the castle Harry packed everything away neatly in his trunk, though it took some time to arrange things to fit properly. Luckily, school trunks were a bit bigger on the inside than they appeared. He was able to send off an owl order for Ron’s and Hermione’s gifts, and those too went into his trunk when they arrived, tucked under the crate of butterbeer.

Curiously, Malfoy left them alone on the train aside from pausing at their compartment door long enough to smirk through the glass. When they disembarked at Kings Cross Station, Mrs Weasley, Remus, and a disguised Tonks were waiting to escort them to Grimmauld Place. Though it was only a short walk to the house, a car had been arranged for due to the quantity of people and belongings.

Outside headquarters Neville was handed a slip of paper from Tonks, who was pretending to be a crotchety old woman. Having been vaguely warned already, he knew enough to read over the contents and hand it back, then look up to apparently see the house spring into view. Harry really had to wonder what charms or enchantments were present to prevent the muggles from seeing people appear or disappear in front of their eyes.

Inside, Ginny and Hermione headed for the room they’d shared previously with Mrs Weasley fussing along behind them, while Ron led Neville up to the one he normally shared with Harry, Tonks following up at the rear with their trunks floating at her direction. Harry stayed behind to engulf Remus in a hug, though it was several heartbeats before he felt the arms that had automatically wrapped around him tighten. Harry stayed like that for a few more seconds, then gently pulled away.

“I need a room, and I have something I want to talk to you about privately,” he said.

“Then why don’t we go choose something now,” suggested Remus, then levitated Harry’s trunk and started up the stairs. Harry followed him all the way up to the fourth floor and was presented with a number of choices aside from the room that Remus was staying in already. After peeking into all of them, Harry chose the one at the end of the hall with windows that overlooked the conservatory at the back.

Though it was fairly dark and grungy looking, it wasn’t really dirty, and Remus quickly located fresh linens for the bed and swept away the minor accumulation of dust with a wave of his wand. Harry closed the door, quietly but firmly, and set about helping Remus make the bed, sitting down on it cross-legged when they were finished and patting a spot next to him in invitation.

Remus sat down, one leg bent in front of him with the other foot on the floor, and said, “What was it you wanted to talk about?”

“I was hoping you could help me,” Harry began. “There are a couple of gifts I’ve yet to get for people because I’d have to get them in muggle shops.”

“I see the problem. What is it that you wanted?”

Harry explained briefly what he was after and Remus agreed that it was no trouble for him to pop round a muggle book shop to pick things up. “There is one other thing, though.”

“What’s that, Harry?”

“I bought my friend—the muggle I told you about—a Christmas gift, but I didn’t have time to send it before we left Hogwarts. The thing is, it’s kind of heavy.”

Remus cocked his head to the side and asked, “What did you get him?”

“Um, some bottles of butterbeer and a huge slab of chocolate from Honeydukes. I’ve got a lovely crate to hold it all, it’s just I don’t think Hedwig could manage to get it to the owl office.”

“Just make sure it’s properly wrapped and addressed and I’ll take care of it. I’ll go out tomorrow for the books you wanted, so I can do it then.”

“Are you sure it’s really no trouble?”

“Don’t worry about it, Harry. Just have it ready by tomorrow morning, all right? Now, Molly should have dinner just about ready, so why don’t we go down, hm?”

Harry tipped up onto his knees and gave Remus another hug, then slipped off the bed awkwardly. “Okay.”

The kitchen was just as depressing as he remembered, but hopefully they’d be able to do something about that. If this was to be his home, he wanted to be able to make a cup of tea or a sandwich without his mood taking a downward plunge every time. The company, however, was enough to make up for it, and Mrs Weasley informed them all that Fred and George would be coming to stay for a few days as well. Harry made a mental note to give her the gifts he had bought for Bill and Charlie since she made no mention of them.

Tonks, of course, was strictly forbidden from trying to help with anything, including the washing up. Harry was also shooed away when he made as though to assist with clearing the table, so he returned to his new room to take care of the package for Martin, then joined the others for games until it was time for bed.

The next morning after breakfast he provided Remus with a list of the books he wanted and the package for Martin. He and his friends then started looking over the house with an eye toward sprucing it up, beginning with Harry’s new room.

“I was thinking maybe something in a blue-green shade,” Harry said while gazing at the peeling wallpaper.

“That might be nice with your colouring, Harry,” said Ginny. “And it would be restful and calming.” Then she giggled. “We could always decide on colour schemes for each room and give them names—this could be the Peacock Room. Another one could be red and gold and called the Phoenix Room.”

Harry grinned and said, “Maybe. I suppose it depends on how much the headmaster will let us do.”

“He did say it was to be your home now, Harry,” pointed out Hermione. “Surely he won’t mind. Though, I wonder, how will the Order fit into all this? It’s really inconvenient that they use the kitchen for meetings.”

“Can’t a floor be set aside for that?” suggested Neville a bit timidly. “The second floor just seems to be spare rooms.”

“They could always knock out some walls, remove some doors,” said Ron. “I should think there’s enough space for a meeting room and a couple of spares left over for visiting Order members, right?”

“Why don’t we make a rough map of the house and start deciding what to do where?” asked Hermione. “Er, contingent on approval from Professor Dumbledore, of course.”

They spent most of the morning happily arguing back and forth about various rooms and marking up sheets of parchment with ideas. When Remus returned to the house he poked his head into the drawing room briefly, then disappeared, only to return a few minutes later to see what they were up to. After assuring them that Albus likely wouldn’t mind, he joined in the discussion and made his own suggestions until it was time for lunch.

Fred and George showed up and slipped into seats at the long table just as their mother was spooning out portions for everyone, causing her to fuss over the fact that they hadn’t arrived sooner. Harry very carefully avoided anything the twins handled after that, not wishing to get pranked. They didn’t have much of a chance with their mother keeping a close eye on them, though.

Remus leaned over at one point and whispered into Harry’s ear, “I put those things under your mattress for now.” Harry beamed and nodded. A second later Remus added, “I also delivered that package to your friend. He seems like a nice young man.”

Harry paused in mid-chew and gave Remus a bewildered look, then resumed when Remus said, “Muggle post never would have got it there in time, not this close to Christmas. I caught him as he was leaving. Once I explained why I was there, he was quite friendly. Even invited me in for tea. Said any friend of yours was a friend of his. Though, I do have to wonder why he said I must be ‘that lovely older man’ you’d told him about.”

Harry choked slightly and took a hasty sip of pumpkin juice. He gave Remus a weak smile and shrugged helplessly. “Hm,” said Remus, then straightened up to tackle his own food.

Albus arrived after lunch, and after pulling Remus aside for a short chat, came to see their plans for the house. He approved of setting aside a floor strictly for the Order, though he pointed out that until it was ready the kitchen would still be used for meetings. The rest of their plans he nodded at, saying they were perfectly acceptable if they were willing to put in the effort to achieve them.

When he had left, eyes twinkling at Ginny’s whimsical name ideas, Harry realized that Remus had disappeared again. He shooed everyone off and slipped up to his room to wrap presents, refusing to let anyone in until he was done. By then Remus had reappeared, so Harry hid everything in his room so he and his friends could start work on his bedroom.

Fred and George were a big help in getting the remaining wallpaper stripped and the walls smoothed, and even popped out to get paint for the walls and ceiling. By the time dinner rolled around Harry’s room had taken on new life, though the fumes were a bit noxious. They left the door open so it could air out and went downstairs to eat.

That evening Remus pulled Harry aside and up to his room, waving the others off with a negligent motion of his hand. Once they were settled in private, he pulled out a catalog and a ball-point pen, handing them to Harry. “You’ll want to go through this and mark anything you’d like to have. So long as we get things in the right general size, they can be spelled for a perfect fit.”

Harry had all but forgotten his request for new clothes again, so that came as a pleasant shock. He started flipping through the pages and circling things that looked interesting, as well as what colours he liked. It didn’t take long; he wasn’t interested in a huge investment. When he looked up again he noticed that Remus looked drawn and tired. “Are you all right?”

Remus smiled faintly. “The full moon is soon. Christmas Eve, in fact. Rather bad timing, I should say.”

“But that means—wait.” Harry put down the pen and slipped off the bed, going to the stack he’d left in the room earlier and pulling out an envelope. Once he had sat down again, he handed it to Remus. “Then I’m giving you your present early.”

“That’s not necessary, Harry.”

“I want to,” he said firmly, thrusting the envelope closer. “My choice.”

Remus took it and opened it, pulling out a small slip of parchment to stare at it with a puzzled expression. “I don’t understand,” he said at length, looking back up.

“I admit it’s a bit unorthodox, but I didn’t want to give you just any old thing. So I had a question for you, and this was my way of arranging for privacy to ask.”

“All right.”

“You see—and I don’t want you to take this the wrong way—I wanted to know if you’d be my godfather.” Remus’s mouth dropped open, so Harry pushed on. “I feel like—it’s all very well that the Weasleys have all but adopted me, but I feel like you’re family too. I’ve thought a lot about what you said this summer. And I’m not trying to replace Sirius, really I’m not. But I would like it if there were more between us than just a father I don’t even remember except for the seconds before his death.”

Remus stared at him for a minute, then said, “I’m not sure what to say, Harry. The Ministry would never allow it, not for a werewolf. Certainly not for you.”

“I don’t care what they say—it doesn’t have to be official. I care what you think. I’d be proud to have you as my godfather, even if only in spirit. And I think mum and dad would have approved. Will you at least consider it? Someone said to me if I don’t take a few chances when it comes to relationships and open up a bit, I may end up dead with no clue what I’ve missed.”

“That’s a bit harsh, Harry.”

“But it’s also true. I may be scared sometimes, Moony, but I’d rather be scared with someone I think cares about me and that I can talk to. I mean, I hope you wouldn’t pat me on the head and spout platitudes about how everything will be all right. We both know that may not be the case, no matter what anyone says. I’m not looking to die—I sincerely hope we live through all this. But—please think about it?”

Remus shook his head, his eyes averted. “No.”

“No?” Harry’s eyes went wide with disbelief.

Before he could begin to feel more than the first stirrings of hurt, Remus said, “No. I don’t need to,” then pulled Harry into a hug. “I guess you’re stuck with me, kid,” he whispered. “This is a wonderful Christmas gift.” A good five minutes later Remus pulled away and said, “So what’s this about me being ‘that lovely older man?’”

Harry shifted uncomfortably and cleared his throat. “Those were his words, not mine.”

“Mmmhmm.” Remus arched a brow; he looked a bit more lively than he had earlier. “And? I take it that Martin appreciates other than the fairer sex, or both?”

Harry slanted his eyes off to the side. Remus didn’t look disgusted or anything, just curious. He glanced up at Remus from beneath his lashes and said, “Well. . . .”

“You know, Sirius and I were a lot closer than most people think,” Remus said conversationally, though his gaze was intent. “We shared a lot of things.” When Harry straightened up he said, “That’s part of why his death hit me so hard, though I did my best to not let that affect my dealings with others.”

Harry absently picked up the pen and began twirling it between his fingers. Slowly he said, “Seamus asked me out once.” Remus tilted his head curiously. “Hermione overheard. She cornered him later and told him he was wasting his time.”

“Oh?”

“Every time he talks to me now, she gets upset. He only wants to be friends.”

“Have you said anything to her about this?”

“Just the day after. I wanted to know why she did it.”

“Does she. . . ?”

“No.”

“And Ron?”

“Maybe. He doesn’t seem to care either way.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. Have you considered saying something more to her?”

“I don’t know,” Harry confessed. “She’s been treating poor Seamus like a pariah.”

“You don’t have to admit to anything, you know. Just point out that her behavior is upsetting to you and why. I admit to being surprised that she’s narrow minded on this subject.”

“More like obsessive,” muttered Harry bitterly.

Remus reached out and plucked the pen from his hands and placed it back on the bed, then grasped his shoulders. “If she persists, take her aside and tell her why it upsets you. She’s always been fairly reasonable about things, so perhaps if you explain to her that she’s entitled to her views, but that they shouldn’t be expressed on your behalf when you don’t share them, she might see that she’s being a little excessive. Of course, it would be as well if Seamus called her to task for it, but I wouldn’t count on that happening. If nothing else, she might appreciate your honesty in approaching her personally.”

Harry remained undecided on that score, so he was relieved when Remus changed the subject a bit, even though it caused him to flush in embarrassment and squirm.

“So did this Martin teach you anything besides self defense?” Remus gave a low chuckle at his reaction. “All right, I won’t tease you any further. I’m sure you’ll tell me as much as you want me to know.” Remus pulled him in for another hug, then let go. “Anything else you want to talk about while we’re holed up in here?”

“A couple of things. Is there a way to see through something, like a door or a wall? I promise it’s not for anything bad. There’s a place I like to go at school that’s private, but the only way I know it’s safe to leave is if I check the map. I don’t always remember to carry it around with me.”

“Are you talking about the room you used for the DA?”

Harry shook his head. “This doesn’t show up on your map either, actually. Dobby told me about it.” After careful consideration of Remus’s expression, Harry launched into a brief explanation of what he and Neville had been up to.

“I see. All right, I’ll teach you how to cast a revealing charm if you make me a promise.”

“I wouldn’t use it for anything bad,” Harry repeated.

“No, that’s not it. Albus has told me about the few attacks you’ve had to handle so far this year. I want you to promise me that you won’t go there alone. If something were to happen, Neville could get you out, so he needs to be with you. You can teach the spell to him once you’ve learned it. Is it a deal?”

“He already has once,” Harry confessed.

“There you go. Promise me, Harry?”

He nodded. “I promise. I won’t go there alone, and if Neville has to leave, so will I.”

“Fair enough. This is a one-way spell, so. . . .”