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Home / Fan Fiction / Harry Potter Slash / What Started That Summer, Chapters 3 & 4

DISCLAIMER: the following is a non-profit, amateur effort not intended to infringe on the rights of JK Rowling, Scholastic books, Warner Brothers or any other copyright holders that I might not be aware of. This is also a slash story not meant for kids in spite of the Harry Potter subject matter. Do not read if you are underage.


Chapter Three

Dear Sirius,

Thank you so much for everything. I don't know how much you did but I know you must have had some hand in my new location. It's very kind and generous of you and everyone to do. I just wish I didn't feel so horrible about this. I feel like I'm taking advantage of everyone's generosity. I had no idea so many people were working to keep me safe. I know most people think that I'm special but I'm not. Everything with Voldemort was an accident. I'm only here because my mom loved me so much, not because of anything that I did. I wish I could be normal, like Ron or Hermione. I wish I didn't make everyone work like this.

Harry read over what he'd written so far. Behind him he could hear Ron snoring. He tried to write quietly, detailing for Sirius everything he'd been feeling since coming to the inn. Somehow, Harry felt that he could tell Sirius anything.

I'm scared. I keep dreaming about Voldemort's attack and thinking that there was something I could have done, some sign I could have seen. If only I'd remembered more about the dreams I was having! Maybe I'm having more dreams like that right now except I don't understand them! What if what I'm feeling is a warning that Voldemort is near and I just don't know? I don't want anymore people to get hurt because of me!

On the desk beside him was the pedestal bearing Cedric's name. Harry tried to think of how many other names could appear on similar pedestals thanks to him. Sirius's name topped the list.

What if I gave it all up? Maybe there's some spell that would take all of my powers away. Maybe I could become a full-blooded Muggle again and stop Voldemort from wanting to come after me. Maybe if I was normal he wouldn't care.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful, Sirius. I am grateful for all of this, truly I am. I just don't want to repay everyone for what they've done by giving them my problems. My mother died to save me. Why isn't there something I can do to save everyone else?

Harry sighed. He hated how bad his words looked on paper, but he couldn't keep himself from writing them. He felt a compulsion to tell Sirius all of this as though he would only feel better if he revealed these feelings to him. Harry wished Sirius was there so he could talk to him properly, maybe even let Sirius hug and comfort him as Mrs. Weasley had done.

Thank you, Sirius, he wrote by way of a closing. For everything. I promise I'm taking care of myself. Love, Harry.

He folded up the note, gave it to Hedwig to take to Dumbledore, and then returned to bed to try to get some sleep.


The world closed in around Harry. A blanket of darkness covered him, wrapping itself around him and slipping into his mouth as he tried to breathe. His hands were tied, holding him still as he felt the pressure around him increase, felt the darkness move inside of him, filling his lungs, making it impossible for him to breathe, to fight, to try to cast some spell to save himself. He tried to resist anyway, knowing that he knew how to fight against an Imperious Curse but unable to make his brain work quick enough to give him the information. He felt himself loose the struggle, saw the glint of a knife as Wormtail approached him, already missing the limb he'd severed to cast the horrible spell -

"Harry!"

The ground took a sickening dip and turn as the sound of Ron's voice ripped Harry out of his sleep and brought him back to the waking world. Harry sat up, trembling, wiping the sweat away from his eyes as he felt around for his glasses and tried to compose himself.

"Here," Ron said, handing them to him.

"Thanks," Harry muttered. He put them on, needing to try several times before his shaking hands could hook the frames around his ears properly. He drew his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. He could feel his heart pounding inside of his head. As the pain from the nightmare receded he felt, without surprise, that his scar was throbbing.

"You had a nightmare," Ron said. He was sitting on the very edge of Harry's bed, as though scared to come near him. The weak light of the morning sun filtered into their room as still more thunderclouds rolled through the sky.

"I know," said Harry.

"Was it like what you had in Professor Trelawney's class?" Ron asked. He tried to give Harry a smile. "Cause if it was I just bet I can tell you what it meant."

"I know what it meant," Harry said quietly. He found it hard to face Ron, as though doing so would let the nightmare figures in his mind know what Ron looked like and how important he was to Harry. Pidwidgeon stirred in his cage, startled by a muted thunderclap.

"Is your -" Ron gestured to his forehead, questioningly.

"Yes."

Ron grimaced. He looked down at the floor. Harry noted with a sense of irony that Ron was staring at the same spot he had four days ago, on their first day at the inn.

"Harry," Ron said. He spoke uncertainly, as though not sure if he should. "You've been having nightmares ever since we came here - "

"I know," Harry said. He ducked his head down so that Ron would not see him blush. He'd hoped at Ron and Hermione wouldn't find out about these dreams and realize how weak he was for being unable to stop them.

Ron continued as though he hadn't heard. " - I was never sure if I should wake you but this one seemed like the worst of them. I figured if you wanted to talk about it you'd tell me and otherwise I'd just shut up."

Harry blushed even deeper.

"But I was wondering," Ron said, his voice was softer now and he was very obviously not looking at Harry, "if there was anything I could do?"

Harry wished he could crawl under the floorboards and die. It was bad enough that all of Ron's family had to be inconvenienced just to keep him safe, now Ron, his best friend, had to be saddled with the fact that Harry was no better than a baby who needed to be coddled and tucked in each night. Harry hid his head in his hands, hoping that Ron couldn't see. He frantically tried to think of something, anything to say to recover from the situation.

"I'm sorry I got mad at you about the Triwizard Tournament," Ron said. Harry couldn't see his expression to understand why Ron was bringing up their fight yet again. "I know it's not easy or fun being you. At least, I know now. Can't be any better having a stupid jerk like me for a friend."

Harry was momentarily shocked out of his mortification. He looked up at Ron, blinking sweat and tears from his eyes. "You're not a jerk! And you're not stupid! I'm the one who's the troublemaker! If it wasn't for me you and your family wouldn't have to do all of this! I don't even know how much cost and trouble I've put them through since we've met. And all because I was too stupid to figure out how to use the train station!"

It was now Ron's turn to blush. "Yeah, well, when you don't have much money to begin with what's a few coins more? It's OK, Harry, really."

"No it's not OK!" Harry felt himself warming up to the subject as though shouting like this could release all of the pent-up emotions he'd been hiding for weeks. He leapt out of the bed and began pacing back and forth in front of Ron. "Don't you realize? I'm nobody! You keep looking at me like I'm something special and I'm not. I'm not the best wizard in the world, I'm not the best student, all the money in the bank - " Harry gestured vaguely in the direction of Gringotts "that was my parents' doing. I don't have anything, Ron! In the Muggle world I'm even poorer than you! Do you think that this is how I live normally? Do you think that the Dursleys ever treated me this well? No! I'm just a normal person. I'm nothing special!"

In the rush of his emotions Harry found that he couldn't speak as clearly as he had in his letter to Sirius days ago. He wanted to tell Ron the rest of it, the fact that he shouldn't be special enough for Voldemort to want that much, but he couldn't make the words come out right. He kept on talking, though, hoping that Ron would somehow understand.

"I'm just some stupid, dumb kid," Harry said. He sank down on Ron's bed wearily. "Somebody call Rita Skeeter and tell her the news. 'Harry Potter: Not Good Enough For Anything'."

Ron stared at him quietly for a few moments, then favored him with a slow smile. "Better not let Malfoy hear you say that. You know he'd be all over it."

Harry felt a smile of his own tug at the corners of his lips.

"Oh I knew he was useless all along," Ron said, standing up and doing a horrible imitation of Draco. "In fact the very first day I saw old scar-head I wrote to my father, who you know is a very important man, and I said to him 'Why, Father, the fact that Harry Potter is in this school is utterly useless to me.'"

Harry felt a snicker escape him. "Shut up," he said, not really meaning it.

"And I don't know how he got into this school in the first place," Ron said, continuing the imitation, "I mean I thought that Hogwarts had such high standards since they admitted me and all but if they let in someone like Harry Potter who can only beat me in Quidditch when he's got one hand tied behind his back when then I just don't know what the school is coming too."

Harry was laughing in earnest now, hugging one of Ron's pillows to his chest and watching him. "You've got to do something like Goyle or Crabbe," he told Ron.

"Oh yeah," Ron said. He paused, considering, then bent down so he could look more like an ape. "How's this: UGH!"

That was it. Harry collapsed onto Ron's bed, laughing hard enough to make the headboard rap against the wall. Ron joined him, swatting him with one of Harry's pillows and prompting Harry to swat him back in turn. They continued on with the pillow fight, laughing and hitting each other until Harry was certain that someone would complain. Finally they calmed down, lying back on Ron's bed and trying to catch their breath in spite of their remaining giggles.

"Thanks," Harry said when he could speak again.

"Don't mention it," Ron said. "You can more than thank me when you fix these sheets that you've messed up."

Harry hit him with a pillow again. "I'll help," he said.

"Fair enough." Ron sprang up from the bed and began straightening the sheets. Harry got off on the other side and helped him. Both boys had been doing most of their own cleaning, not wanting to take their chances with Harry's safety by leaving the room just so the maid could come in. "Think it's going to rain soon?" Ron asked, looking at the sky critically.

"Not sure," Harry said, glancing out the window. "Why?"

Ron began smoothing out his sheets with broad strokes of his hand. Harry had never seen him care so much about neatness. "I was thinking if it wasn't going to rain soon we could go somewhere for breakfast and then maybe you could show me what a movie was like."

Harry looked out the window again, trying to judge. "I can't tell," he said. "But I suppose we could try."

"Great!" Ron said. He threw his pillow down onto his bed and tossed Harry's back onto his. "Let's get cleaned up and we can get ready to go."

"Sounds good," Harry said. He realized that he actually meant it. The remnants of his nightmare had gone and even his scar felt better. He smiled, knowing that he had Ron to thank for that. Wanting to somehow show his gratitude for this, he let Ron use the bathroom first and told him to take as much time as he needed. While he waited he tidied up his own bed then began to select clothes for himself.

A tap at one of their windows caught Harry's attention. He looked up to see an owl waiting patiently on the balcony outside. Harry felt his good mood increase tenfold as he guessed who the letter was from.

Dear Harry.

Don't you ever let me hear you say that you are not special or important again! Harry, it would not matter if you were the strongest of wizards or the weakest of Muggles. What Voldemort thinks of you is never as important as what I think of you, or what your friends think of you. We don't love you because you are the Boy Who Lived. We love you because you are Harry Potter and that's that.

I know it must be tempting for you to think of what your life would have been like if things were different - I've certainly done that myself from time to time. But remember, Harry, this is the life you were given, this is the life your parents wanted so desperately for you to have. What matters most is that you have your life. Not because I say so, or even because it's what your parents would have wanted, but because that is what we must all do. We can only live the lives we have, Harry. You're only a failure if you give up on that.

So be yourself, Harry Potter, Hogswarts fifth-year, champion Quidditch player and bane of Sevarus Snape's classroom. Be yourself and know that I and your friends are being ourselves, and sometimes that means that we take care of you, just as you would do the same for us if you could.

I know that being in the inn has been a little hard on you, but you will be glad to hear that bringing you there was not my surprise for you. My surprise is yet to come, but if you can get to Diagon Alley by seven o'clock tonight I can promise you that you'll find it waiting for you.

Write to me to let me know that you read this and are safe. Make sure to use the owl that brought you this. I've had to make some new arrangements based on circumstance.

Take care of yourself.

Love, Sirius.

For the second time that morning Harry felt his hands tremble. He let his eyes scan over the letter again and again, feeling a small thump in his gut as he passed over words like "we love you".

"Why do you have such a goofy grin?" Ron asked as he came out of the bathroom. He looked over at the letter in Harry's hands and Harry felt a wave of gratitude that Ron was too far away to read it. "What's that?"

"Letter from Snuffles," Harry said. He quickly folded the letter up and put it into his shirt pocket then wrote a quick response back to Sirius which simply said "I'll be there!" He gave it to the post owl to deliver then crossed the room so that he could lock Sirius's letter away in his trunk. "He's got something planned. We've got to be at Diagon Alley by seven tonight."

"Plenty of time for us to see a movie then," Ron said.

"Maybe tomorrow," Harry replied. He returned to the desk and began writing more letters. "We'll have to leave the safe area to get to Diagon Alley and we can't do that without letting your parents know. Come on, I'll write to your mother and you can send Pig off to your dad. Between both of them we should be able to get their permission. I just hope we can get a safe passage before seven rolls around."

"Yeah, sure," Ron said. He threw the clothes he had been about to change into back onto the bed and pulled out his own quill and parchment. He sat down cross-legged on his bed and began to write. "I suppose we can just eat the leftovers from dinner last night for breakfast too?"

"OK," Harry said, not really listening. He was trying to figure out how to write to Ron's mother and let her know the seriousness of the situation without giving away too much and putting Sirius in danger. All he really cared about was making sure that he could get to Diagon Alley in time.


Chapter 4

Harry was used to the hustle and bustle of Diagon Alley by now even though it had been some time since he'd been there. He normally only had a chance to go at the beginning of the school year and last year Mrs. Weasley had taken care of buying his supplies for him. He was glad to see it again, finding a bit of comfort in how familiar it was.

Arranging passage to get there had been easier than Harry had thought. Whatever Sirius had planned he had apparently told the Weasleys about it first. Ron's father had already gotten a ride for them from a rather large, dark-haired gentleman who could have almost passed for Hagrid's cousin.

"You've got to come this way," the man, who was named Pewsly, said as he led Ron and Harry through the alley and past most of the places that they knew. Ron's father had said that Pewsly was their protection for the evening and that they'd had to stick with him. Harry had brought along his wand and cloak of invisibility just in case.

They turned corners that Harry had never seen before and finally ended up at a building called the Dewdrop Inn. Harry smiled at the fact that the name seemed to be a universal joke for wizards and Muggles alike.

The first floor of the inn was a pub. A few witches and wizards were scattered about at tables but for the most part the place was empty. Pewsly led them to a table in the corner and motioned for Ron to sit down and get comfortable.

"I'm supposed to give you this," Pewsly said. He pulled an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to Harry. "For your eyes only, given to me thanks to Mr. Weasley."

Harry thanked him and tore open the envelope. Inside was a letter.

Harry, go upstairs to room 211. Don't come with anyone else. Sirius.

"I'll be back," Harry said, stuffing the envelope in his pocket.

"Wait," Ron said. He stood as though he would join him.

"You can't," Harry said. He gestured to the letter and tried to communicate to Ron without giving too much away. Ron shook his head, not thoroughly convinced.

"It's OK," Pewsly said, motioning for Ron to sit again. "Your dad said he was supposed to do whatever was in that."

Ron still looked dubious but he sat down. "You call me if anything happens," he said, giving Harry a stern look that would have done his mother proud.

"I will," Harry promised. "I'll be quick. If I'm not, come get me." He tried to give Ron an encouraging smile to let him know he didn't think this would be necessary, then turned and walked upstairs. The stairwells and hallways were deserted, which unnerved Harry a bit but he supposed it was better than having people pass by him who were potential spies for Voldemort. He was able to find room 211 easily and, with his wand in his hand just in case, he opened the door and stepped inside.

As he closed the door behind him he was pounced upon by a large, black dog.

Harry gasped, almost crying out Sirius's name in shock but stopping himself just in time. He didn't dare say too much in case anyone was around to hear. Instead he engulfed Sirius in a big bear hug and only stopped when Sirius pulled away so that he could transform back into a human and return Harry's hug properly.

"I thought you could use some moral support," Sirius said.

Harry buried himself in Sirius's arms. He was pleased to discover that Sirius's form was much fuller than it had been when they'd last met and Sirius was surviving on rats and trash scraps alone. "Thank you," he said, his words muffled by Sirius's robes.

"You've gotten taller," Sirius said, ruffling Harry's hair. "That'll be to your advantage at Quidditch next year. You'll have more power to control the broom."

"I don't care," Harry said. All at once he felt the return of the emotions he'd felt when he woke up that morning. He choked a little, telling himself quite firmly that he was not going to cry.

"I know, Harry," Sirius said. He moved his hand to Harry's hair again, this time stroking it comfortingly in a way that only made Harry's trembling worse. "I know it's been hard for you."

"No harder than you," Harry said. He pulled away, looking at Sirius angrily. "What are you doing here? If anyone discovered you - "

"Don't worry, " Sirius said. Harry was becoming tired of hearing that phrase. "This place is owned by… a friend."

Harry wondered just how many "friends" there were in his life that he did not know about.

"I'm not going to stay long," Sirius said, laughing gently at Harry's still-scolding look. "I promise that I've taken every precaution." He reached out to touch Harry's cheek, then lightly touch his shoulder. "I just couldn't let you think you were all alone in this."

"I don't want you to be hurt," Harry said.

"I don't want you to be hurt either," Sirius said, "so it seems like you and I are even. Come, sit down, tell me everything that's been going on."

Harry and Sirius moved over to a set of wooden chairs that were nearby the carefully shuttered windows. It took only a few minutes for Harry to tell Sirius about his latest nightmares and their effects.

Sirius frowned, looking him over. "Does your head still hurt?"

"A little," Harry said. He outlined a circle around his scar. "Not burning like it did before, but it does ache."

"Let me try something," Sirius said. He leaned forward and pressed his thumbs on either side of Harry's scar. He blew one quick breath across Harry's forehead then whispered "Sanguino."

Harry felt a wave of tension leave his body as though it had been pulled out of him. For the first time in months his head was completely clear from pain.

"Is that better?" Sirius asked. He kept his thumbs on Harry's forehead, using them to move his skin a little bit so that he could study the scar closely. Harry felt a rush of blood flow through his ears.

"Yes," he said. He suddenly found it impossible to look Sirius in the eye. He wondered if that and his now-rapid heartbeat were side effects of the spell.

"Good," Sirius said. He traced the line of Harry's scar with a single fingertip. Fine lines of crow's-feet formed around Sirius's eyes as he looked for something in the scar that Harry couldn't even begin to guess about. "I learned that one not too long ago and thought it might help you. I don't think it will do anything for the real pain but it might at least help you with the aftereffects. Here - " Sirius pulled away so that he could rummage in a small pack he'd brought with him. Harry felt the sudden space between them like a cool breeze running over his skin. It felt better when Sirius turned back to him and handed him a rolled-up parchment. "That has all the details. You should practice it when you get back to school. If you have any trouble ask Dumbledore for help."

"I will," Harry said. He held the parchment in his hand as though it were made of gold. He pressed his free hand to his forehead, glad to discover that it was cold and clammy. It was something, Harry thought, that he could hang on to, something he could focus his thoughts on in a world that had become very thick and rather dizzying.

"Harry?" Sirius said. He looked at Harry in concern, bending down as though he could find out what was going on by looking into Harry's eyes. He took Harry's hand by the wrist and pulled it away, reaching out with his other hand to gently rub Harry's scalp with his fingertips. "What's wrong? Did the spell backfire?"

"No," Harry said. He found himself leaning forward as though the gravity between them both had become heavier. "I don't think so -"

"Then what, Harry?" Sirius asked. He cupped Harry's chin in his hand. Worry shaped every line of his face. "Can you look at me? Can you tell me what's wrong?"

Harry looked up as though Sirius's words had commanded him to. Sirius was very close to him now, looking at him with eyes that swam before Harry like large, black pools.

"Harry?" Sirius asked.

"Sirius," Harry whispered, "I - "

"Oh, sorry." Ron's voice suddenly cut between them. Harry jumped back, startled, and turned to see Ron standing in the doorway. "Didn't realize I was interrupting something important. By all means carry on." And with that Ron disappeared, slamming the door behind him and stomping his feet all the way downstairs.

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