Home / Fan Fiction / Harry Potter Slash / What Started That Summer, Chapters 7 & 8
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.
Great news! I should be able to see you for a quick visit next week. Don't tell anyone (except Ron and Hermione of course - is Ron speaking to you yet?) but I'm going to be at Hogwarts on Wednesday. Professor Dumbledore will send someone for you when I arrive. Try not to be disappointed but you're probably going to have to miss part of your Potions class.
I can't wait to see you.
The time between Sirius's last letter and his meeting with Harry could not pass quickly enough. Sitting through the first half of his Potions class, Harry was convinced that the clocks in the room had actually slowed down. He kept looking at his watch, telling himself Just a few more minutes, just a few more minutes…
"Potter!" Professor Snape interrupted his train of thought. "Since you find class so dull today I was wondering if you would care to lecture us on the benefits of squid ink in a Korateous potion?"
"It makes it travel to the lungs faster," Harry said, having read about this for his O.W.L.s just that weekend, "and it masks the taste of the waveberries."
Professor Snape's mouth thinned. "Fifty points from Gryffindor."
"But Professor," Hermione said, shooting her hand into the air. "He's right."
"Sixty points," Professor Snape said, staring Hermione down. "For unacceptable attitude. And as for you, Mr. Potter -"
"Excuse me," one of Dumbledore's assistants said, poking his head into the room. "But Professor Dumbledore would like to see Harry Potter in his office immediately."
Harry felt his heart leap inside of his chest. He tried not to show his excitement, though, or else he knew Professor Snape would pick up on it and probably take more points away from Gryffindor out of spite.
"If it can't wait," Professor Snape said. He gave Harry one of his nastiest looks. "But I will expect you back here at the end of school today, Potter, to prove to me you actually know the things you're pretending to understand."
Professor Snape could have asked him to clean out the Vorboil cans and Harry wouldn't have cared. He agreed to come back later, shoved his things into his bag and then made his way to Dumbledore's office.
Along the way Harry tried to somehow smooth down his hair. It had grown longer in the past few months but still would not behave. He did his best to make himself look presentable, though, wanting to show Sirius how well he'd been taking care of himself.
The week Harry had spent waiting for this meeting had been a particularly miserable one. Even though he wasn't speaking to him, somehow Ron had managed to make the distance between the both of them even colder. And Hermione, though supportive, kept making tsking sounds whenever he was near and talking under her breath. It was almost enough to make Harry wish he were speaking to Ron, just to hear what sort of joke Ron would have made about it.
But he wasn't, which was why all that had mattered to Harry that week was Sirius's visit. Harry had found he was able to get through the days if he just focused on that. He thought about seeing Sirius again, and talking with him, and maybe even having Sirius walk him through the headache spell which Harry just didn't seem to be able to get the hang of. Remembering how Sirius performed the spell in the first place, Harry knew that there was something about the way Sirius did it that was just not the same when the spell was performed by Dumbledore, no matter how hard the headmaster tried.
"Honey ice," Harry said to the stone gargoyle that guarded the way to Dumbledore's office. The gargoyle moved aside to let him pass and Harry waved goodbye to the assistant that had walked with him. He took the stairs two at a time, moving faster as he began to hear Sirius's voice.
"I can't stay long," Sirius was saying. "But I did want to come by to see him. He's been having such a hard time of it this year."
"I know," Dumbledore replied. "I wish I could help him but there are some things even I can't fix."
"It's just part of being a teenager," Sirius said, there was a note of not unkind laughter in his voice, "Just give him a few years."
"Really?" Dumbledore asked. "And here's me still going through it!"
Both men laughed at that and Harry could hear the sound of furniture moving, as though someone had gotten out of a chair. Harry had reached the top of the stairs and was now just abreast of the headmaster's open door.
"Seriously, Albus, I can't thank you enough for all you're doing," Sirius said. "Harry's like family to me. If anything happened to him I don't know what I'd do. He really is just like the son I've never had."
Harry froze in mid-step, just as he was about to cross the door. The son he'd never had?
"I'm glad to do it," Dumbledore was saying. From where he stood Harry could see Dumbledore shaking his head and smiling at Sirius fondly. "In spite of all that's happened, Sirius, I hope you know that I consider you like my family too."
And then Professor Dumbledore and Sirius Black moved closer and embraced in a hug that, while it contained no kiss, left Harry with no doubt that whatever past Sirius and Dumbledore had shared it bore no resemblance to the way that Harry defined "family" and quite a lot of resemblance to the thoughts that had been running through Harry's imagination for the past few months.
A great deal of confusion cleared up inside of Harry Potter's mind at the exact same moment that he began to feel very, very stupid.
Harry had no idea how he got through the meeting with Sirius and Dumbledore that afternoon. In the days that followed he discovered that he had mercifully blocked out the worst of it, leaving him only with the random memories of mortification and shame as he tried to hide the whirlwind of thoughts inside of his head and convince Sirius that he was safe and well.
At night, though, alone with his thoughts, Harry found himself burying his head into his pillow and once again wishing the earth would swallow him whole.
It wasn't the realization that he'd been falling in love with another man that did it. In spite of his Muggle upbringing Harry agreed with the wizard philosophy that time was too short to care about the details of race or gender when it came to companionship. No, what humiliated him was realizing how foolish he'd been to think that Sirius was the one he should fall in love with - and that deep down he'd thought Sirius had been feeling the same way in return.
How dim-witted could he be! Looking back over the letters from Sirius he had so carefully saved, Harry could see everywhere he had gone wrong, every comment from Sirius that had been meant in innocent, godfatherly caring but which Harry's mind had twisted into some sort of secret romantic declaration.
And what had Harry hoped for anyway? Sirius was years older than he and a friend of his parents besides. What had Harry thought? That Sirius would take him away from the Durselys and treat him like a lover? Harry was half his age!
The more he thought about it the worse he felt. Sirius was right, Harry was no better than any other teenager. He'd allowed himself to become moon-eyed and giddy over a man who only cared for him like a relative. Harry could only take a small measure of gratitude in knowing that he'd never told Sirius any of this. With luck, Harry hoped that Sirius never found out.
This did not help Harry's feeling of misery, however, and as the days after the meeting passed Harry only felt worse. He found himself plodding from class to class, staring at the walls while his teachers lectured, ignoring them entirely for the constant monologue in his brain of Stupid, stupid, STUPID…
Harry wished he could talk to someone but didn't dare try. He knew now why Hermione had been looking at him with such disapproval, and he didn't even have to think hard to realize that his problems with Ron had probably started because he and Hermione were of the same mind. Going to Dumbledore was out of the question and the only other person Harry had ever been able to talk to was Sirius himself.
Which left Harry with no one save himself to turn to, and these days Harry didn't consider himself very good company at all.
It was happening again.
Barbs of razorwire cut into his skin as Harry struggled against the tombstone of Tom Riddle. Clouds of smoke and fog whirled around him, obscuring his vision and muting the sounds of the Death Eaters that surrounded him. Somewhere in the distance was Voldemort's laughter and the unmistakable sound of glee as he pointed his wand at Harry and cried out "Crucio!"
Harry screamed as he woke up, thrashing violently at the blankets that had tangled around him.
"Harry, Harry! It's OK. It was just a dream. It's all right."
Harry took in several shuddering breaths and blinked to clear his vision. His eyes phased into focus and he saw Ron standing before him, looking at him with concern. Harry looked around quickly, trying to see who else he had woken up, but found only Ron looking back at him.
"You were having a nightmare," Ron said. Harry realized that his scream must have been part of the dream as well. He sat still, trying to collect himself.
Ron sighed when Harry didn't say anything. "Fine," he said, turning to go back to his bed. "Next time I'll just let you sleep."
"Ron, wait," Harry said. He held out a hand to try and stop him. When Ron turned around and looked at him expectantly, Harry found that words failed him. He decided to simply state the obvious. "I - I don't think I can go back to sleep tonight."
Ron put his hands on his hips and looked at Harry. This was the longest conversation they'd had with one another since arriving at Hogswarts. Harry guessed at what Ron really needed to hear.
"I'm sorry," he said, putting behind it the force of every emotion he'd been feeling since his discovery about Sirius, since realizing what his own feelings had been, and since he'd started to understand why Ron had been shunning him so.
Ron took this in, studying Harry as though waiting to hear him say "but". When no such qualifier came, he relaxed by only a hair. "OK," Ron said. He rummaged under his bed to pull out his robe and chess set. "Let's go downstairs."
Harry needed no second invitation to put his own robe and glasses on and join him.
When they entered the common room, Harry saw for the first time how late it was. He'd suspected it to be around midnight, but it was actually just past two. Even so, Ron sat down at a table by the fireplace and began to assemble the chess pieces. Harry sat across from him and helped.
"Thank you," he said.
Ron shrugged this off. "I wasn't sure if I should wake you but this one seemed pretty bad."
Harry gave a rueful smile, remembering the last time he and Ron had had this conversation and lamenting how much had changed since then.
"Head still hurt?" Ron asked.
Harry nodded. "But not my scar, so I suppose that's something."
When the board was set up, Ron took two of the pawns in his hand, mixed them between his fingers, then separated them into both of his hands. Harry reached across the table to tap Ron's left wrist and was rewarded with a white pawn for his trouble. He returned the pawn to its place on the board and made the first move so they could begin to play.
"So you don't think it's You-Know-Who this time?" Ron asked.
"No," Harry said. He rubbed his temples to try to make the throbbing in his head go away. "My scar always hurts when it's him."
"Why do you think it was so bad then?"
"Because I'm a moron," Harry said.
Ron looked up at him in surprise. "What?"
Harry paused. He wanted so much to talk to someone, anyone about what happened. He knew his nightmares were only getting worse because of the feelings he'd bottled up inside of himself. But he wasn't sure if Ron was the person to tell.
Looking into the eyes of his best friend, however, Harry realized he couldn't not tell him. It was the least he could do, after all the trouble he'd caused.
"It's about Sirius," Harry began.
He told Ron everything, leaving out no detail of how he'd tricked himself into thinking he was the perfect companion for Sirius and that Sirius had felt the same way about him. He told Ron about the letters he'd sent, and the ones he'd received which he'd only used to convince himself of Sirius's affections. He told Ron about the night in the Dewdrop Inn, and about realizing that he'd hoped Sirius would kiss him, and then told Ron about the humiliation of the conversation he'd later overheard.
"Like a son," Harry said. He looked down at the chessboard dejectedly. "I'm such a fool, Ron. I don't blame you for not talking to me. I wouldn't want to be seen with an idiot like me either."
"That wasn't the reason," Ron said quietly.
"Well whatever it was I don't blame you," Harry said again. He rested his head in his hands, pressing his palm against his scalp in an attempt to soothe his headache. "And I'm sorry. I was a total prat."
"Yeah, you were," Ron said, with a hint of his old humor. He played with one of the pawns he'd captured, rolling it over his fingertips. "But so's Sirius. He'd have been lucky to have you, Harry. Anyone would."
Harry thought about Sirius, and Cho, and even Pavarti and shook his head. "I don't think so."
"Just trust me, Harry," Ron said. He moved his knight, putting Harry's queen in jeopardy and drawing Harry's attention back to the game. "Come on, let's play."
Feeling a sense of great relief at having told Ron everything, Harry pulled his chair closer and began to play in earnest until finally his eyes began to droop and his head was too heavy for him to hold up anymore.