Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 13 :: Relocation

13 • Relocation

Harry was bored and restless. Granted, he wasn’t supposed to be aware that anyone was coming for him, but that knowledge weighed heavily on his mind. He had been lying there only for a short time when his thoughts rolled back around to the idea of the sorting hat and why Tom would have wanted to discuss it with Snape.

“What is it that he didn’t say?” he whispered, then folded his arms back behind his head. “I’m only going to talk to it, right? Or is he worried that it might try to re—” Harry let out a groan and shifted his gaze to the ceiling. Thinking back, he did recall his last conversation with the hat about Slytherin. Even then it had seemed quite confident in its original assessment.

He decided that the possibility existed and had prompted Tom to talk to Snape on the slim chance he ended up in Slytherin. If he was willing to be honest with himself, he would have to admit that being re-sorted had both bad and good points. The obvious was very much so—who in their right mind would not feel trepidation at the idea of switching from Gryffindor to Slytherin?

On the other hand it could also serve as a test of sorts. How many people would have their compass swing right back to believing he was well on the road to becoming a psychopath, and how many would believe it was simply a mistake, or unfortunate? Voldemort had returned and his words had been vindicated, so it was potentially even odds as to the results.

“It is wrong to think that, though?” he asked himself. “To wonder how that would hold up as a test of Ron’s and Hermione’s loyalty?” He wasn’t nearly as concerned about the others. Ginny—he tended to think she would not believe the worst, but then, they weren’t exactly close in the first place. Neville—who knew? Seamus and Dean were harder. Seamus had apologized, but Harry thought that it might not take much for the boy to reverse his opinion again. Dean had seemed fairly neutral thus far.

When it came right down to it, the only opinions that tended to matter were those of Ron and Hermione. He knew, without giving it even the briefest of consideration, that Hermione was a great one for finding a reason for everything. Ron, though. . . .

Perhaps he was being unkind again.

Tom probably wanted to make sure that Snape wouldn’t tear him apart should it happen. Or Dumbledore? He frowned and shifted his gaze to the open window, watching as a light breeze flirted with the curtains. He didn’t think he could quite figure out Dumbledore. Had Tom not said anything to see if he would figure it out on his own?

Harry rolled his eyes and sat up, then rose and crossed to his trunk. He rummaged in it for a few moments and pulled out a book, then returned to his bed to read. Better this than letting his mind run in circles with questions he could not yet answer.

*

:Harry?:

He let his book drop to his lap in surprise. :You’re in London?:

:Good, you can hear me. Yes, I am.:

Harry cheered inwardly. There was absolutely no question about them being able to talk once he was back at Hogwarts. :So, you’re all done telling Snape about your suspicions that I might end up re-sorted?:

There was a pause before Tom responded, and some feeling that Harry couldn’t define leaked through. :Yes, I am. Have you decided whether or not you’ll do it?:

:Do what? Still ask to talk to the hat?:

:Correct.:

:I think I will. If I refused it once, I suppose I could a second time. I freely admit that the idea of ending up down there is a bit scary. You yourself said I could be knifed in my sleep.:

:That assumes Dumbledore would allow it. However, should it come to pass, I am sure your room can be adequately warded against intrusion, or tricks. For that matter, there are rituals which could make you much more aware of your surroundings.:

:Things you’ve done to yourself.:

Harry could feel amusement clearly as Tom sent, :Yes, and probably Dumbledore as well.:

:You really need to share your library with me.:

:I will. By the way, Severus is under the impression that talking to the hat is your idea.:

Harry blinked; that wasn’t entirely correct. :Well, I suppose, in an odd way, it was. I did bring it up first. Does it matter?:

:It might to him, Harry. He does persist in thinking you lack any modicum of common sense, or brains. The more evidence to the contrary, the more chance he will cease baiting you out of choice.:

:I . . . don’t know. Maybe you should ask him why he hates me.: Harry sure as hell wasn’t going to explain. :Who knows? He may even tell you.:

:I will certainly consider it. You know, I think he’s starting to loosen up a bit.:

Harry snorted. :Is he? Are you sure it’s not just him sniffing too many fumes from experimental potions? It would be nice, though. You’d like another friend, wouldn’t you?:

:I wouldn’t mind, no.:

They continued to talk, and it wasn’t until Tom mentioned the time that Harry realized just how long they’d been at it, and that he was rather hungry. A glance at the clock confirmed it was just shy of noon, and with Dobby having been told not to come today. . . .

:I guess . . . I’ll go get lunch.:

:Do you want me to stay?:

:It’s all right. I have to get over my fear. But I won’t say no if you want to lurk when they come for me.:

Harry sensed that strange feeling again as Tom sent, :As you wish, and I’d be happy to. I’ll talk to you shortly, Harry.:

As Harry marked the page of his abandoned book he realized that the earlier feeling had been pride. On that note, feeling uncommonly bold—perhaps it was just a side effect of the day before, and even that morning—Harry slid off the bed and unlocked his door, then opened it and tripped lightly down the stairs and into the kitchen. “Aunt Petunia, is there anything special you’d like for lunch?” he asked on seeing her seated at the table reading a glossy magazine.

She appeared startled, as though she had forgotten he even lived there, but quickly regained her composure. “Something healthy, of course,” she said, though her tone lacked its usual sharp disdain.

Harry nodded—a shrug was ruthlessly suppressed—and opened the refrigerator to hunt out ingredients for a salad. Ten minutes later he had made enough for four people, though he had no idea if his uncle or cousin would appear. He dished a portion for himself onto a plate and splashed on some of the somewhat tasteless low-fat dressing his aunt had, then turned back to her.

“Would you like me to get you a plate, or are you going to wait?” he asked.

She looked up again in surprise, giving Harry the impression that her interpretation of Tom’s commands was something akin to forgetting he existed at all. “Let it chill.”

“All right,” he said, and did as she asked, then poured a glass of juice and got a fork. By the time he was ready to head back upstairs she was engrossed in her magazine again. After a slight shrug which went unnoticed, he returned to his room to eat at his desk, and a short time later he skipped back downstairs to drop off the dishes, quickly returning to his room once he had accomplished that minor task.

Having nothing better to do, Harry opened his book and read.

*

A knock at the door had Harry glancing up from the page. With only a slight sense of nervousness he called out, “It’s open.”

It swung open slowly, like a drawn out moment in time, then Moody stepped through and said gruffly, “It could have been anyone, Potter.”

“Aw, give the kid a break,” came a female voice, followed shortly by Tonks bouncing into the room, and right behind her, Remus.

“Hello, Harry.”

:Tom? They’re here.: He lowered the book to his lap and gazed at them expressionlessly. “Hello. Why are you here?”

“Get packed,” Moody ordered.

Harry looked at him for a moment, then back at Remus and repeated, “Why are you here?”

“Harry?” Remus stepped forward and crinkled his brow, then twisted and said, “Could you two wait outside for a minute?” After they complied, though not without Moody muttering the entire time, Remus approached the bed and sat at the foot.

“I don’t wish to be rude, but it’s a simple question,” Harry said.

“Harry, I’m so—”

“Stop. Please do me the courtesy of telling me why you’re here.”

Remus sighed heavily and massaged his forehead. “All right. Albus wants to move you to headquarters. He’s worried about you, as am I.”

“Thank you,” he said with a hint of warmth. “I am happy to see you again, Moony. Are you coping?”

Harry had to struggle to keep a straight face when he heard, :Setting a new trend, I see.:

“I’ve . . . been better. Are you all right?”

Harry tilted his head to the side, then marked his page and closed the book, setting it to one side. He then said softly, “Remus, I am very sorry that my actions, in part, led to such a tragic end and caused you to lose someone close to you. I hope you will consider granting me forgiveness.”

“Harry, it wasn’t your fault.”

Harry smiled slightly. “Don’t excuse what I did so lightly. I’m not asking for a hair shirt, Remus, but I would like for you to take me seriously. I’ve had a lot of time to think about what happened, and I accept responsibility for my actions. Out of everyone, it’s you that I feel deserves my apology.”

Remus gave him a somewhat wide-eyed look, prompting Tom to comment, :Care to bet that he’s seeing you in a whole new light?:

“I forgive you, Harry, if you forgive me not chaining him to a chair to prevent him chasing after you.”

Harry shook his head. “We aren’t trading chocolate frog cards, Remus, but I do forgive you, just like I forgive Sirius for being an idiot.”

A ghost of a smile crossed Remus’s face before he said, “When did you get older than me?”

Harry shrugged and plucked at his shirt. “Why is he worried? Or should the answer to that be obvious.”

“You haven’t left this house since you got here.”

“They haven’t set me any chores this year,” Harry countered, “or sent me on errands.”

“I see. That might be because Albus sent your aunt and uncle a letter explaining in a vague way that your godfather had passed away.”

For a split second a white-hot flare of anger spiked in Harry’s chest. “How thoughtful,” he said stiffly. Remus looked at him askance so Harry forced himself to relax. “I’m more or less still packed. Hedwig is out, but I suppose she’ll find me just like she always does. How are we traveling?”

“Ministry car.”

Harry grimaced and nodded, then swung his legs around so he could stand and cross to his trunk and put away his book. After sweeping his gaze around the room he returned to the bed and knelt, then pulled up the loose floorboard so he could retrieve his treasures and pack them away as well. His wand was in its holster, and that was already strapped to his arm, hidden by the sleeves of the shirt he was wearing. “That’s it,” he said. “The trunk and the cage.”

“Then I guess we’re ready.” Remus stood up and grabbed the trunk’s handle, waiting for Harry to pick up Hedwig’s cage, then headed for the door.

The ride itself was quiet and tense. He might have been willing to talk more with Remus, but not with the others there, and certainly not with a Ministry driver at the helm.

:You do realize that I’ll be able to discern the location of headquarters,: came Tom’s comment.

:I suppose so. I don’t really understand how secrets work. It doesn’t really matter since I don’t think you could enter except through possession, right? I don’t care, I think you know that. They might.:

:I know. Of course, I could lurk across the street and snipe at anyone entering or leaving.:

:I’m confident that my Tom will behave.:

The amusement was back in spades. :Do I lose points if I misbehave?:

Harry’s mouth twitched. :Yes! I’m on the verge of laughing here, stop it.:

Remus leaned over to whisper in his ear, “Are you all right?”

Harry turned his gaze from the window and nodded, offering Remus a small smile.

“We’ll be there soon.”

Harry nodded a second time and looked back to the window, not that there was anything of particular interest outside. Just buildings and people and other cars. When they did arrive it was not at the exact location, but rather a short distance away. He nearly laughed—like the Ministry couldn’t set spies to eventually pinpoint the location. A brief walk was all it took, and Harry was once again inside № 12 Grimmauld Place.

Nothing had changed.

He let himself be hustled up the stairs to his old room by Remus, then gently pushed onto one of the beds. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

Harry tilted his head back so he could see Remus more clearly. “Have you considered what Sirius would have to say if we could see him for just five minutes? Or how he would be feeling if the positions were reversed? What would you have said to him?”

Remus took a seat and dropped his head, so Harry remained quiet. He didn’t know if what he had said would make a difference, but it had for him.

:Nice place you got there. Who does the decorating?:

Harry bit his lip and stared at the floor. :Yeah, I especially love the portrait over there. You remember him, right?:

:I know you’ll be careful in what you say, Harry.:

“You’re right.”

Harry’s head shot up to see that Remus was staring at him.

“I know exactly what Sirius would say. He’d tell me to stop beating myself up over this. That doesn’t make it hurt any less.”

Harry considered that, then said, “He told me something once—that the ones we love never truly leave us. I choose to believe that. He wouldn’t like to see us unhappy, so I’m going to try for his sake.”

Remus continued to stare at him, so Harry said, “Do you think I’ll be able to go to Diagon Alley this year? I’d like to see it again. You know, before—”

“Harry,” Remus said warningly.

“—school,” Harry finished. Remus’s gaze shifted, not quite meeting his eyes. “All right. I won’t ask again, then. I assume one of you will pick up whatever it is I need. Hopefully soon, so I can start reading ahead.”

Remus gave him a startled look, then smiled. “Of course, Harry. Hungry?”

He shrugged. “A little. Aunt Petunia still has everyone on Dudley’s diet.”

*

Harry flopped onto his bed and opened the book. Remus hadn’t told him when the others were coming, or even if they were. Either he did not know, or had been ordered to play stupid. Things would not be much different here, except, here he didn’t have the choice to step outside, and that amused him. They were worried because of that, so they caged him. One might think they would learn. Then again, he had no intention of fighting them, not unless they forced his hand.

:Bored already?:

:Yeah. Wouldn’t you be, stuck in here?:

:Of course I—:

A knock interrupted, so Harry called out, “It’s open.” A moment later the door opened and Dumbledore stepped in. Harry’s eyes widened slightly as he sent, :Try not to be too conspicuous, huh?:

“Hello, professor.”

“Harry. Do you mind if we talk for a moment?”

“Please, have a seat, sir,” he replied politely. “What would you like to talk about?” Dumbledore looked much the same as usual, though he was meeting his gaze now. The man’s expression was serious, though gentle.

“Remus has told me a little of what you two talked about, which reassures me. However, I am still very much concerned about something.”

Harry choked back his initial reaction of anger. It was possible that it had been Phineas who had reported their conversation, not Remus, and that the headmaster was simply trying to shield his spy.

:It’s possible, Harry. You haven’t been paying attention to the portrait. Though, that could not be the case for what was said at Privet Drive.:

“What is it, sir?”

“I am sorry, Harry, but I refer to Occlumency. The lessons must continue.”

:Two points for you, Harry.:

His mouth twitched, so he dropped his head. “I understand,” he said softly.

“I promise you that I will find the time to teach you myself.”

Harry shook his head, not looking up. “I don’t wish to be a burden, sir. I know you have a great deal you need to be doing and things to take care of to reserve so much of your time for one student.”

:You do subdued very well, Harry. I told you you should be more confident of your abilities.:

“You aren’t a burden, Harry,” Dumbledore said gently. “I think I understand what it is that you’re trying to say, though. I will have someone pick up your supplies today.”

“Sir?” Maybe now was the best time to approach a certain topic. A rush of approval flooded him as Tom realized what he was up to.

“Yes, Harry?”

“Sir, I—” He stopped and raised his eyes slightly, though not his face, enough to be able to see the headmaster’s expression. “I’m a little worried that—do you know anything about writing a will, sir?”

The change was subtle, but immediate. “Yes, I do.”

“I don’t want . . . the Dursleys to get everything, so, you know, just in case. . . .” He deliberately let his voice trail off in a whisper.

“If that is what you wish, Harry, I can obtain an accounting for you, and find someone trustworthy to assist you in writing a will. But, do you not feel you’re being a bit premature?”

“I think I should be prepared, sir,” he said with a bit more strength, “and not close my eyes to what could happen.”

There was a pause, and then, “I will make the arrangements, Harry. Was there anything else on your mind that you feel comfortable in talking to me about?”

:Judging by his face, I think we really need to find out if the sorting hat knows anything. He gave in far too easily on the will request.:

:Yes,: he sent, then flicked his gaze to the side for a moment, purposely focusing on how he had felt the night Sirius had died. When he looked back he said, “I—sir—I feel—”

“Harry, what is it?” Dumbledore’s expression was very gentle, and his eyes were sparkling just a little.

:I really don’t trust him.:

“It sounds so silly. I don’t know. . . .” Dumbledore chose to remain silent, so Harry continued after a pregnant pause. “I just can’t get it out of my head, sir, what the sorting hat said to me.”

Dumbledore seemed surprised, at least as much Harry could discern with his admittedly poor skill at reading others. “I’m not sure I understand,” was his response.

“I don’t either. How could it think that of me? I—” Harry clenched his fists, letting his nails dig into the palms of his hands, more of a way to keep him focused than as any expression of true feeling. “I’m not—Sirius would have hated me.”

“I think you underestimate him, Harry.”

“I’ll never know, sir,” he said in his best attempt at a broken whisper. A part of him was giggling, though whether it was from nervousness or fear or something else Harry wasn’t sure.

“There are worse things than death, Harry.”

Harry wondered how that had any relevance to the subject at hand. Shaking himself mentally, he emitted a bitter laugh and dropped his eyes. “That doesn’t stop the questions.”

“Would it help if you could talk to it again?” offered the headmaster.

:Yes!:

Harry’s gaze rose swiftly, his eyes wide. “I—maybe? Do you . . . think it’s a bad idea?”

Dumbledore aimed a gentle smile at him and shook his head. “If it would set your mind at ease, Harry, I see no harm.”

:No harm!?:

:Settle down, or he’s going to get suspicious. I can’t keep my eyes averted all the time and if you keep this up, you might show through.:

Harry summoned up a weak smile for the headmaster’s benefit and nodded. “Thank you, sir.”

“Well then, I will go and begin making arrangements. I will see you later, Harry.” Dumbledore rose with another of his gentle smiles and left, closing the door quietly behind him.

:I’m sorry, Harry.:

Harry set his almost forgotten book face down on the nightstand, then rolled over and hugged his pillow, facing away from the portrait. After closing his eyes he sent, :I think that went okay.:

:Okay? Harry, you were magnificent! You manipulated him like a professional.:

:I don’t know if I should be proud of that or not. What if he’s innocent?:

:It’s possible.: Harry could feel Tom’s reluctance behind that statement. :But I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.:

:Yes.: