Categories > Books > Harry Potter > The Darkest Hour

The Last Two Marauders

by Ham 1 Reviews

Sixth Year!PostOOtp Its Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts and he has to make some hard decisions in order to survive. But will these decisions help him or make him weaker? Martial arts, dueling, anima...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Dumbledore, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Neville, Ron, Voldemort - Warnings: [!] [V] - Published: 2007/04/12 - Updated: 2007/04/12 - 13255 words

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Title: The Darkest Hour (04)

Author name: Ham

Summary: Harry is back in Privet Drive just a few days after the happenings in the Department of Mysteries. He is struggling to cope with his loss and the immense burden placed on him. He suddenly finds it very hard to go on - To find a reason to live. Will his task break his spirit? After all he is just a sixteen year old...

He knows that he must fight. Knows that he has to win at all costs. But he knows that if he even is to have a slim chance of defeating Voldemort he will need to make some hard decisions. Decisions that would hurt him and those close to him.

But will Harry be able to take the hard road back when he finally realizes that his decisions only made him weaker? That they took away his only reason to live. His only reason to fight.


DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

As usual I want to thank my Beta and Britpicker Sharon. You rock!





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Chapter 04 - The Last Two Marauders

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Harry stumbled into his room, half dead with exhaustion. He had gone for a run before his usual session with Sean and it had taken almost everything out of him. If he had been tired yesterday it was nothing compared to today.

He knew that Remus would be here in half an hour but he was in no condition to go shopping. Harry cursed Sean and Roger heartily.

"Is Harry Potter all right?" asked an anxious voice from behind him.

Harry nearly jumped out of his skin in shock. He looked down to see Dobby looking at him with wide, worry filled eyes.

"Don't do that, Dobby," Harry said nervously. "You nearly gave me a heart attack."

"Dobby is sorry, Harry Potter. He was just wanting to know if Harry Potter is all right."

Harry had managed to get Dobby to knock off the bowing and drop the 'sir' and he considered it a major accomplishment. Of course he wasn't proud of the fact that he had threatened to send Dobby back to Hogwarts if he didn't do so. But Harry had been really uncomfortable with all the bowing and prostrating and so considered the means justified. His latest project was to try and get Dobby to eat with him, his excuse being that it was lonely to eat alone. Dobby would hear none of it and Harry decided not to push his luck.

"Yes, Dobby, I'm fine," Harry said with a groan, collapsing in one of the armchairs and shutting his eyes tiredly." I'm just very tired and I have to go shopping in a little while. I don't think even you can help me with this."

Dobby shook his head vigorously, his large ears flapping. "No, Harry Potter, Dobby can help. He can go to Hogwarts and get Harry Potter some medicine to make him feel better."

Harry opened his eyes and looked at Dobby hopefully. "Could you, Dobby? I would be very grateful."

"Dobby will be right back, Harry Potter," said Dobby, vanishing with a loud crack.

True to his words Dobby came back within five minutes carrying a few vials of some purple potion. He handed one of these vials and a note to Harry.

He opened the note and groggily read it.


Mr. Potter,

Here I am on holiday thinking that I am rid of students for a while and I find a house elf barging into my quarters asking me for some rejuvenation potion for you. I had hoped that you could have kept yourself out of trouble in the holidays at least, but it seems that it is not to be so.

Anyway, I have given your house elf a couple of vials of potion. But do not take more than one at a time and do not use it unless you absolutely need to, as it can be very addictive.

Madam Pomfrey.



Harry smiled and opening the vial drank the potion in a single gulp.
He felt the potion burning down his throat and immediately felt the effects as his muscles began to relax and the tiredness began to ebb away.

"Dobby, I am eternally in your debt," Harry said grinning at the tiny creature.

Dobby smiled happily his ears perking up. "Harry Potter is most welcome," he said giving Harry's legs a tight hug.

Harry headed to the wardrobe with a bounce in his step and looked around for something to wear. He was glad that he was finally buying some clothes for himself today. He was sick of wearing Dudley's foul cast offs.

He finally pulled on a baggy pair of jeans that were ripped at the knee and an old blue sweatshirt that was three times too large for him. He ran a comb through his untidy hair and tried in vain to get it to lie down flat. He finally gave up and it seemed not a moment too soon, for as he put away the comb the doorbell rang.

A moment later Petunia Dursley's loud screech drifted up. "Get down here, boy, there's one of them come to meet you." The 'them' was said in a tone one usually reserved when they spoke about slugs and maggots.

"Coming," Harry shouted as he hurried down the steps.

He smiled as he saw Remus standing by the door. He looked tired and Harry remembered with a pang that the full moon had just passed a few days ago. He was dressed in an old plaid shirt and faded, worn blue jeans.

"Hello, Harry," Remus said, looking up at him with a smile. "Ready to go?"

"Absolutely," Harry grinned.

"I'll bring Harry back by dinner time," Remus said to Petunia, who was standing nearby with a sour look on her face. This was probably because Harry had forgotten to tell her that Remus was coming around today.

He was partially right. She, of course, didn't like the idea of one of 'them' in her house and if they had to come at least they could take her abnormal nephew away for the summer. The second reason was that she did not approve of Harry going out two days in a row as she felt that he was having entirely too much fun. Something she and her husband had done everything in their power to prevent since Harry was a year old.

"Come along, Harry," Remus said walking outside.

"How are we getting there?" Harry asked curiously, as he caught up with Remus after closing the door behind him.

"We'll be flooing from Figgy's house," Remus replied distractedly.

Harry noticed that he looked very anxious and saw his eyes darting around everywhere scanning the area. He also had a very tight grip on his wand. Harry too had a hand on his wand, but as he had been going for his training daily he wasn't as nervous as Remus.

They reached Arabella Figg's house and Remus knocked twice, in what Harry assumed was some kind of code and waited. The door was opened a crack and Mrs. Figg, the batty old cat lover, peered out cautiously.

"Shoo, Tufty," she said pushing a cat back inside the house. "Oh, hello, do come in," she said smiling at Harry and Remus as she pulled the door open.

Tufty tried to get out of the open door again, but Remus swooped down just in time and picked the annoyed cat up as it was streaking past him. Harry noticed that he had very quick reflexes. Remus handed the struggling cat over to Mrs. Figg.

She took the yowling cat and quickly shut the door after Harry and Remus entered.

The house was exactly as Harry remembered it. Cats were lying all around, on the chairs and sofas and on the various rugs strewn around the living room. It was also filled with photos of her precious cats, from the looks of it of all the cats she had ever owned. They were there crammed untidily on the small tables and the mantelpiece and from the walls hung even more photos of the felines.

Harry personally felt that the lady was crazy. There was a difference between being a cat lover and being unnaturally obsessed with the creatures. Mrs. Figg was definitely in the second category.

He lifted his nose up and sniffed gently. Ah! The familiar smell of cabbage. Yes, it was all exactly as he remembered it. Some things never changed!

But things were different. He all of a sudden noticed the little magic oddities all around the house that he had never noticed before when he had thought that Mrs. Figg was a muggle. A few of the photos moving around, a pot of floo powder above the fireplace, small things that he would never have noticed before if he didn't know what to look for.

Harry turned to face Mrs. Figg. "I want to thank you for helping me last year," he began awkwardly. "If it wasn't for you they would have expelled me for sure."

Arabella Figg smiled. "Don't mention it, Harry. I was only sorry that you had to go through that at all. It was our job to keep you safe and the very moment that something happened we weren't there to help. The least I could do after that was testify. Now I'll leave you two alone, you probably have a lot to talk about," she said nodding at Remus.

She went off into the kitchen leaving Harry and Remus alone. There was a heavy silence for a moment as both tried to find a way to resume the old relationship they had shared as teacher and student. It was difficult as both had their demons to battle.

"Why don't you sit down, Harry. I need to talk to you before we head out," Remus said finally.

Harry nodded and sat down on a large overstuffed couch, after moving an angry sleeping cat from it. Remus took the seat opposite him.

"Before you say anything I have to say something, Professor," Harry said quietly. He found that he was unable to meet Lupin's eyes.

Remus nodded slowly, wondering what Harry wanted to say.

"There isn't any easy way to say this, Professor," Harry stammered. "I know that Sirius and my parents were your best friends and I know how much they meant to you. I just hope you can forgive me," Harry said quietly. He looked up at Remus through blurred eyes that were full of unshed tears.

Remus was silent for a moment and then he asked in a puzzled tone. "Forgive you? Forgive you for what, Harry?" He had a sinking feeling that he wasn't going to like whatever he was going to hear.

"I as good as killed them myself. It was all my fault," Harry whispered brokenly.

Remus looked stunned. Whatever he had expected Harry to say, it certainly wasn't this. He moved forward and grabbed the boy into a rough hug.

"Why would you possibly feel that it was your fault, Harry?" Remus said gently. "And how could you possibly think that I blamed you for it?"

"I know you'll never openly blame me, Professor, but I can hardly run away from the truth when it is staring at me in the face," Harry sobbed. "If it wasn't for me Voldemort would have never gone after my parents and if it wasn't for my stupidity Sirius would have never come to the Ministry. Merlin, you must hate me so much!"

Remus was horrified at Harry's words. What had possibly made him feel this way? He knew that he would have been blaming himself for Sirius dying, but not like this.

"Harry, look at me," Remus said pulling away from him and gently lifting his chin so that it Harry's eyes were level with his own.

"I have never, ever, held you responsible for your parent's death, not even for a single second. And as for Sirius, that was not your fault. You did not kill Sirius, Harry, Bellatrix Lestrange killed him," Remus said firmly.

Harry looked away from those concerned eyes. He was unable to meet them.

"Sirius chose to come there that day. He chose to fight knowing and fully accepting the consequences. You think he could have lived with himself if something had happened to you?"

Harry shook his head violently. "No. He never needed to come. It was all my stupidity. I put everyone in danger."

"Listen to me, Harry," Remus said urging the young boy to believe him. "You could not have known that it was a trap. You saw Sirius in danger and without even a thought for your own life you went off to try and save him. If he was in danger and you had died trying to save him would you have wanted him to blame himself for your death? If it was anybody's fault it was ours. You didn't even know what was happening around you. How could you have possibly known that Voldemort was trying to trick you?"

"No, Professor, I could have found out. He gave me a two-way mirror to contact him with. I could have contacted him through that. But I was so stupid. I didn't even stop to think for a second. Hermione told me it could have been a trap and I just ignored her," Harry said bitterly.

"Hermione also told me the reason you forgot to use the mirror, Harry. You didn't want Sirius to be caught so you purposely forgot about it. You were willing to have no contact with him at a time when you needed him most, just so that he would not be caught. If anything, it is the final proof of how much you cared about Sirius' wellbeing. You always gave his safety more importance than your needs."

Harry was still shaking his head trying to deny everything Remus was saying as it was ripping his sanity to shreds.

"Harry, he loved you more than life itself. You don't know how upset it would make him to see you like this. You are not to blame for any of it and if you even have a little trust in me, please believe me."

Remus pulled Harry back into a tight hug. Harry wondered whether Lupin knew about the Prophecy. What would he think if he knew that Voldemort had only attacked his parents to get to him? He probably wouldn't be hugging him like this.

"Harry, you cannot know how proud I am of you and of the man you are becoming. Don't you ever blame yourself again. How could you even think that I blamed you? That I didn't love you?"

Remus felt the tremors in Harry's body and felt his hot tears wetting his shirt. He held him tightly and let him cry. Harry was all he had left in the world and he was heartbroken to see him in so much pain. He thought of Sirius, James and Lily watching them right now and his eyes filled with tears.

"I...I'm sorry, Professor," Harry stammered, pushing himself away hastily and wiping his tears roughly with the back of his hands. "The last thing I wanted to do was cry on you. I know that it must be hard for you too."

Remus looked at Harry gently. "I am glad that you did, Harry," Remus said simply.

He gently pushed back Harry into the chair and knelt down before him taking both his hands in his.

"Harry, now that Sirius is gone, we are both alone in a sense. But we still have each other and I would like to think of that as something worth living for. I know that I can never take your parent's place or even Sirius'. But I would like to try to create my own place in your life. If you will let me."

Harry smiled through his tears. "I... I'd like that very much."

Remus pulled back and grinned.

"All right, now with that out of the way, I have something important to tell you. As you know the Blacks were a really old and rich family. Sirius was the sole heir to the Black fortune and he has named the two of us as his beneficiaries in his will. We have to go to the reading of his will at Gringotts today."

Harry looked horrified. "I don't want anything. You think I would ever take anything from that horrible family of his? They hated Sirius."

"Harry, listen to me," Remus said grimly. "You can refuse to claim your inheritance, but if you do so it will go to the next of kin. Unfortunately in this case it would mean the Malfoy's and Bellatrix Lestrange. I for one am not going to sit back and let that happen. I don't want the money any more than you do. But it's the least that I can do for Sirius."

Harry's face hardened at Lupin's words. "All right, Professor, you are right, Sirius would hate it if the money went to them."

'And so would I,' Harry thought furiously. He had a long debt to settle with Bellatrix Lestrange and the Malfoy's and he would pay it in full even if it was the last thing he ever did.

"Harry, what's this 'Professor' business? I haven't taught you for years. Why don't you just call me Remus?"

"I could never call you that! Not after having you as a teacher," Harry exclaimed.

"Well, you can't go on calling me Professor," Remus said with an amused smile. "How about Lupin then?"

Harry shook his head. "No, that would seem too impersonal."

"Well, Harry, there aren't too many more choices left are there?" Remus said gently.

"How about I just call you Moony?" Harry asked thoughtfully after considering it for a bit. "I... If that's all right with you, that is?"

Remus grinned. "Moony, it is. Now let's get going or we won't be able to complete the loads of shopping that I know you probably want to do, seeing the state of your clothes."

Harry grinned back and got up, following Remus to the fireplace. Remus flicked his wand and the fire roared to life. He grabbed a pinch of floo powder, threw it into the fire and stepping inside clearly shouted. "Leaky Cauldron."

Harry hesitantly took a pinch of floo powder. He had never got comfortable with this form of travel, especially since his very first time of traveling this way had landed him in Knockturn Alley. He knew that it would be very dangerous if that sort of thing happened now.

'Hell, maybe he was doing it wrong! After all, the Weasleys and nearly everybody else had no problems with it,' Harry thought crossly 'Ok, Potter, tuck your elbows in, stand with your legs together, and say the bloody destination clearly. Piece of cake. He could do this.'

He threw the powder in. Then quickly before his nerve gave out he moved into the green flames and yelled, "Leaky Cauldron."

Harry stood like a statue as the fireplaces whizzed by. The ride was making him dizzy and the soot was going into his nose making him want to sneeze badly. He held on and finally he fell out through the Leaky Cauldron entrance. He stumbled and was going to fall down when Remus moved forward and caught him.

Harry stood shakily, taking deep breaths to calm the dizziness as he felt Remus brushing off the soot on his clothes. One thing was clear to him. He still hated traveling by floo!

The dizziness started ebbing and Harry looked around the crowded pub consciously. He realized with a sigh of relief that he hadn't been recognized - yet. He nervously flattened his fringe making it cover his scar.

"Come, Harry, lets go," Remus said quietly.

Harry nodded and followed Remus out. On the way he looked at Tom and the toothless bartender nodded at him in recognition and called out a greeting. Harry replied in kind. He realized that Tom knew he didn't like unwanted attention and had therefore refrained from calling him by his name. Harry smiled at him gratefully as he exited the pub.

Remus quickly tapped the brick to open the entrance to Diagon Alley and Harry followed him in. Once they were in Harry quickly lost his fear of being recognized as they blended into the crowd.

Harry had always loved Diagon Alley. It was so colourful and thronging with activity. There were always people buzzing all around doing their shopping in the many fascinating stores. It was the place where he had seen magical items for the first time in his life as an eleven year old, so it held an extra special place in his heart. He had always felt that Diagon Alley represented the lifeline of the magical world.

Harry glanced at the shops as he and Remus made their way to the large white building that was Gringotts, mentally making a note of what he had to buy later on.

They entered Gringotts and looked around and quickly joined the shortest queue to the counters. They waited as the people before them conducted their business and when they finally reached the counter, Remus walked forward.

"State your business," the Goblin said in a bored tone.

"Remus Lupin and Harry Potter, we've come for Sirius Black's will reading."

The Goblin pointed his finger, "You'll want the Claims department. The fourth door to the right."

They reached the aforesaid door and noticed a small bronze sign outside it proclaiming it to be the door for the 'Claims department.' Remus knocked smartly on the door.

"Come in," a voice said from within.

They walked in to find themselves in a large, opulent office. There was a large island circular desk dominating the centre of the room and several wooden filing cabinets were leaning against the walls.

"Hello, we have come for Sirius Black's will reading," Remus said politely to the Goblin sitting behind the table. Harry noticed that the Goblin was very well dressed and had an air of authority in his posture.

"Oh, right, do take a seat. My name is Hridwlig," The Goblin said with a smile that revealed a set of sharp teeth.

Harry was having second thoughts about coming here. He just wasn't ready to deal with this yet.

"Mr. Potter, it is a pleasure to finally meet you," Hridwlig said looking at Harry, his gaze flicking briefly over his scar. "And you must be Mr. Lupin?" he asked as the two took a seat.

Remus nodded. "I am."

"All right, then," Hridwlig said taking out a file from his desk drawer. "Let's get on with it. As you know the Black family was a very old and respected name and they were very well off. Sirius Black was the sole heir of the Black family fortune and he has named you two as his beneficiaries."

Harry started feeling very uncomfortable at his words and Remus gave him a small smile. Harry saw that he was finding the whole process very difficult too.

"I will just quickly read his will to you now," Hridwlig said removing a thick document from the file and started to read it.


I, Sirius Black, being of sound mind and body do make my last will and testament. I am acting under my own will, am under no kind of spell and have taken no potion that may affect my actions or state of mind.


Hridwlig paused here. "The legal jargon goes on for a while here. Do you wish me to just skip ahead to the actual will?"

Harry and Remus both nodded. They couldn't get this over with quickly enough.

Hridwlig flipped through a few pages and started reading again.


To my friend, Remus Lupin, I leave the sum of twelve million galleons.

To my godson and ward, Harry Potter, I leave the sum of twenty five million galleons, the Black jewels and all other contents in my family vault.



"This disposes the contents of the Black Family vault," Hridwlig said looking up at the two stunned faces. "But there is still the matter of the properties and shares."


To Remus Lupin, I leave 10,000 shares in Nimbus Inc. and the Black summer cottage in Windermere. He shall also be granted permission to stay at No. 12 Grimmauld Place as long as he is alive.

To my Godson, Harry Potter, I leave 10,000 shares in Nimbus Inc. and 10,000 shares in Smith and Thorn Publications. I also leave him No. 12 Grimmauld place and the island off the coast of Malta.

Also, as my last action as Harry Potters legal guardian, I specify that upon my death, if he is still not reached the age of seventeen he be declared as coming of age in the magical world, and have the full rights of an adult.




Harry felt absolutely stunned. What was he supposed to do with so much wealth?

"Well, that disposes of Mr. Black's will," Hridwlig said putting the documents back into the file. He removed two letters from the file and handed them over to Harry and Remus.

"Mr. Black had also left these letters for the both of you and requested that they be given to you after the will was read," Hridwlig explained.

Harry sadly looked at the pale green envelope. He turned it to see his name written on it in Sirius' untidy scrawl. His hands began to tremble violently as he broke open the wax seal at the back and took out the parchment from within. The letter was written on the same sort of thick parchment as the envelope.



Harry,

The first and most important thing that I want to tell you is how much I love you. I could not be more proud of you, and being your godfather was one of the greatest honors of my life.

I haven't really spent as much time with you as I would have liked, but even in the short time that I've known you, I know that you must have found some crazy logic to blame yourself for my death. How do I know this? Because I saw you all of last year where you were beating yourself up about Diggory dying.

Harry, please don't blame yourself for any of it. We all knew the risks when we joined the Order to fight against Voldemort. We knew that any one of us could die at any time. But we chose it, and we wouldn't have had it any other way. We fought and died for our beliefs, Harry. We fought and died for those we loved. The risk was worth it.

Harry, with me gone I know that you must be feeling alone. But you aren't. There are so many people who care so much about you. You can put all your trust in Remus, as he loves you very much and would die rather than betray you. The Weasleys too, are good, honest people and Molly and Arthur consider you as one of their own children.

Harry, you have been blessed with wonderful friends. They love you and would give their lives for you. They are your greatest strength. Keep them close and listen to them, especially Hermione.

But, Harry, you must start making your own decisions. You need to prepare yourself for what's out there, and us hiding you from it isn't going to help. I respect Dumbledore immensely but I have always felt that hiding the facts from you and trying to keep you safe was never the answer. Yes, I knew about the Prophecy. I should have told you but I let Dumbledore convince me otherwise.

If you don't know what the hell I'm blabbing about go give Dumbledore a swift kick up the arse and ask him about it.

Be brave, Harry. Your courage and strength will see you through these difficult times, I am sure of this. But you need to be careful. You cannot afford to make stupid mistakes. You are too important. You need to survive.

With that out of the way I also want you to enjoy yourself. You are young and this time will never come back. You are the son and godson of marauders and I want you to keep up the tradition. I want you to have fun, party hard, get drunk, and seduce innumerable girls - not necessarily in that order. Anything less will displease me greatly.

I know that you will be fine, Harry. You will not fail when the time comes. Myself, James and Lily will be there with you watching till the end.

Your Godfather,

Sirius a.k.a Snuffles



While Harry was reading his letter Remus was busy reading his.



Moony,

I have known you long enough to know that you must be beating yourself up about me dying. Well, snap out of it. We both knew that we could have died anytime in this war. And if I see that you are blaming yourself for my death I swear I will kick your arse when I meet you next time. (Which I don't want to do for a long, long time)

Look, Moony, I know that it will be hard for you, but you have to be strong. You need to be strong for Harry. You are the last of the marauders (I never considered that bastard Wormtail a marauder) and now you will have to look after Harry. Make sure that he is safe, Moony. The kid has been through the wringer and I don't think that he can take much more.

I also want you to promise me that you will take care of yourself. Use the money I have left you and pamper yourself a bit. I hated to see you struggling all those years to get by. Do me a favor and accept the money. It will do an old dog good to know that you are well looked after.

You were always the wisest and most level headed of all of us and I have been proud to call you my friend all these years. All those nights that we spent together in the forest were the best times of my life.

We will meet again and be together as we were. But till then take care of yourself. Look out for us when the moon is full. We shall be with you.

Goodbye old friend,

Padfoot.



The two of them had trouble controlling their tears as they finished their letters.

Hridwlig gave them a moment to compose themselves and then looking at Harry said. "Mr. Potter, now that you are of age we have to discuss another matter with you. You see, your parents had made a will before they died and according to it you were to receive control over the Potter vault when you where declared of age or reached the age of seventeen, whichever came first. Now that you have been declared an adult in the magical world by your godfather you can take possession of this too."

"The Potter family vault? But I already have control of it," Harry said bewilderedly.

"No, Harry," Remus said softly. "That was only your trust fund that was set up for your education and your use during your years at Hogwarts."

"Why wasn't I ever told about this? Don't you think I would have liked to visit my family vault?" Harry said angrily.

"Harry, you couldn't have visited it unless you were of age or were accompanied by Sirius. The will made that very clear. And, Sirius, being a wanted criminal, couldn't very well have come with you," Lupin explained patiently.

Harry still didn't look convinced. "I don't think that the will said anything about telling me about the vault."

Lupin looked embarrassed. "We, that is, me and Sirius, thought that it would be better if we didn't tell you, as it would have disappointed you if you knew about it and could not visit it," he said awkwardly.

Harry was silent as he digested this. He realized that if he had known about the vault he would have been very curious to see it and he would have been really disappointed when he couldn't have seen it. Maybe it was all for the best that it happened this way.

"Don't think you're off the hook, Moony. I have found that all of you have kept quite a lot of things from me over the years. I'll just let it drop for now," Harry said, giving Remus a disappointed look.

Remus closed his eyes not wanting to see Harry look at him like that. He knew that he had to do a lot to win over Harry's trust and keeping things like this from him had maybe not been the wisest of moves.

"What's in the vault?" Harry asked finally. "Are there any personal possessions of my parents in it?"

Remus shook his head sadly. "No, Harry, the only thing inside belonging to your parents was Lily's jewelry. The rest was all destroyed with the house. Most of it is just Potter family heirlooms and gold."

Harry tried to hide his disappointment. "Ok, when can we go see it?" he asked.

"I just need to get you to sign some documents and then I will have somebody take you down," Hridwlig replied.

Harry and Remus were kept busy signing various legal documents for the next fifteen minutes.

Hridwlig then collected all the documents from them and put them away in the files.

"Mr. Lupin, we have transferred the money and shares to your vault. Mr. Potter would you like to retain the Black vault or would you like to have everything transferred to your own vault?"

Harry shook his head. "Leave everything where it is for now. I will see to it later."

"Very well, Mr. Potter," Hridwlig said. "I'll just have someone take you down to the vaults now." He rang a bell on his desk and a minute later a Goblin appeared.

"Ah, Griphook, take these Gentlemen down to the Potter and Black Vaults, please."

Griphook bowed and waited for Harry and Remus to follow him out.

"Thank you," Remus said politely, shaking Hridwlig's hand.

"You are most welcome. Please do come to me if you need anything else."

Harry and Remus then followed Griphook out the door and towards the carts.

"I know you," Harry said suddenly to the Goblin. "You were the one who had taken me down to my vault during my first year."

Griphook looked surprised that Harry remembered him after so many years.

"Yes, it was I," he said politely.

They got into a cart and soon they were off rushing through the tunnels at a blinding speed, deeper and deeper. Harry realized that he had never gone this far down before. He chanced a look at Remus and saw that the werewolf didn't particularly care for the ride. They continued going down and Harry thought he saw a flash of fire as they passed one of the tunnels.

Griphook had noticed his look. "Dragons," he said with a nasty grin.

They finally stopped before vault number 54 and Harry noticed that there were no handles or keyholes.

"The Potter family vault," Griphook said, as they got down from the cart.

Griphook ordered them to stand back, and moving forward quickly stroked the door down the centre. The door vanished and Harry saw into the vault for the first time. It was much larger than his vault and if Harry thought that his trust fund vault had a lot of money he was amazed by the amount in this one. There were piles of gold and silver everywhere.

Harry looked around in disbelief. "How much gold is in here?" he asked not really expecting an answer.

"Five million three hundred and thirty six thousand galleons and thirty four Knuts as of today," Griphook said carelessly.

'If this was five million how much would twenty five million be?' Harry wondered in shock.

He moved into the vault and walked over to the back where other items were kept. He noticed a few old books and paintings and a box full of what looked like share certificates. He also found a couple of velvet topped jewelry boxes.

He quickly opened one of these and looked in wonder at the beautiful object inside. It was a breathtakingly beautiful white gold necklace, and it was studded with small flawless pink diamonds. But it was the jewel in the centre of the necklace that was most beautiful. It was a large flawless emerald the likes of which Harry had never seen before. It shone brilliantly in the torchlight.

Remus smiled at Harry. "That was one of your mum's favorite necklaces. She only wore it to very special occasions. James had it made especially for her."

Harry nodded distractedly as he ran his fingers over the beautiful piece. He sighed and shut the box, opening another one.

This box contained a tiny brooch. It was in the shape of a lily and was again exceedingly beautiful. The body was made of platinum and the stem was set with emeralds. The rest of the flower was studded with small shimmering diamonds.

Harry wondered how his mother would have looked wearing these jewels but found it very difficult as he had hardly any memory of her. He tried to form a mental image of her wearing the jewelry from the photographs he had of her and was unable to.

He shut the box abruptly and picked up another one. This was smaller than the others and when Harry opened it he realized why. They were a pair of earrings to compliment the necklace - delicate little emerald teardrops.

Harry shut the box and reached for the last one and smiled as he saw what was in it. It was a delicate charm bracelet, made of the finest white gold, from which three charms already hung. There was a tiny gold stag, its horns made of silver. A shaggy gold dog and a silver wolf.

Prongs, Padfoot and Moony! Harry realized with a start.

Remus took the box from Harry and stared at the bracelet, tears forming in his eyes. "This bracelet was one of your mum's most prized possessions. Every year, for their anniversary, James would give her a charm to add to it, things that were special to her. Well, it never got completed. They only had time to add the three charms to it."

A lump formed in Harry's throat as he heard Remus. Suddenly he wanted to get out of here. He was not ready to face the memories yet.

"Shall we leave?" he asked Remus.

Remus instinctively understood how Harry was feeling and they exited the vault quickly and got into the cart as Griphook closed the vault door again.

The cart started moving again and they went deeper still until they finally stopped at vault no. 12.

"Black family vault," Griphook said getting out and opening the door like he had done for the Potter vault.

As the door vanished a bright gold haze blocked Harry's vision. He blinked and narrowing his eyes, saw piles and piles of gold, silver and bronze coins. The vault was even bigger than the Potter vault and was about the size of the hall in No 4 Privet Drive.

Harry walked around dazedly completely astonished at the amount of wealth he found he now had. He looked over to a corner and saw a box that held some stock certificates. He also saw a few old portraits and books plus several suits of armor and weapons. He realized that he would have to get somebody to keep track of it all and catalogue it for him. He walked over to a small hardwood chest and curiously opened it. He was shocked to find the inside full of all kinds of precious gems - Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, pearls, amethysts and some stones whose names Harry didn't even know.

"This is unbelievable!" Harry burst out. "What am I ever going to do with so much wealth?"

Remus smiled. "You are young, Harry, you'll find it useful. And no one says you have to spend it all. You can leave it for your children, when you have them."

Harry was tempted to say that it would be highly unlikely that he would live long enough to have children, but stopped himself. It would be terribly churlish of him to say something like that.

He wondered whether it was fair that he had so much and the Weasleys who needed the money so badly had none. Suddenly, an idea struck him, and he smiled.

"Griphook, can I transfer some of this money to someone else's vault?"

Griphook nodded. "You can, sir,"

"Can you also make it so, that the people who own the vault cannot give it back without my consent?"

Griphook nodded again. "Yes, sir, I can do that as well."

Remus looked interested. "What are you up to, Harry?"

"Oh, just something I've wanted to do for a very long time. Griphook please transfer two million galleons into the Weasley vault and make sure that they can't give it back."

Remus smiled. "Harry, even though I agree with your actions I don't think Molly and Arthur will accept such a big amount from you."

Harry smiled mysteriously. "Time will tell." He knew that the Weasleys wouldn't accept such a large sum from him. But he knew that there was one card that he could play that might force them to accept the money.

"I will have it done as soon as possible, sir. What are they to be told when they ask where the gold came from?" Griphook asked.

"Oh, you can tell them it was from me. Just make sure they can't give it back," Harry replied.

"Very well, sir. Would you be needing anything else?" Griphook asked.

Harry nodded. "Yes, I would like to withdraw two thousand galleons and enough galleons to change into two thousand muggle pounds."

Griphook looked at him curiously. "Mr. Potter, that much money is a lot to carry around. If you just want to shop in Diagon Alley you can have the shopkeepers charge the cost to your account directly. That way you need not carry so much gold. You can just take enough out for any shopping you might need to do elsewhere."

Harry looked at the small Goblin thankfully. "Thank you, Griphook. I did not know that such a service was available. I think I will do just that. Now what about the muggle currency?"

"You can get the required muggle currency from the counters on the top and that too will be charged into your account," Griphook answered.

"All right, then," Harry said. "Let's get back, shall we?"

Remus nodded. "May I ask what you plan to buy that you need so much money, Harry?"

"I need to buy a complete wardrobe," Harry answered. "I really am tired of Dudley's cast offs. I also need to buy a few books for studies and a watch and some other things."

Remus smiled. "Yes, I guess it's about time we bought you some new clothes."

Harry looked at him thoughtfully. "You know, you could do with some new clothes too."

Remus shook his head. "No, Harry, I have enough clothes. I really do not..."

"I'm not asking you, Moony," Harry said cutting him off. "You are buying clothes or else I'm not buying them either. You could do with a new wardrobe."

Remus sighed. "You're just like your father at times. Very well, I'll buy some clothes for myself too."

Even though he didn't show it, Harry could tell that Remus was pleased.

The ride back up was much slower as it was uphill this time and Remus had a much easier time of it. They finally got off the cart and after they thanked Griphook for his help they headed back to the counters.

They soon reached the end of the queue and after five minutes headed out of the bank to begin their shopping.

"Ok, Harry, what do you want to buy first?" Remus asked with a grin.

"Hmm... let's go and buy our new robes first," Harry suggested.

Remus agreed and they headed over to Madam Malkins. They entered the shop to find that they were the only customers at the moment. Before he had taken more than a few steps into the shop a loud voice exclaimed.

"Harry Potter! What are you doing here?"

Harry turned to his right and suddenly found himself face to face with Alicia Spinnet, his old Gryffindor Quidditch teammate.

Harry grinned at her. "Well, normally people come here to buy robes. What brings you here?"

Alicia smiled. "I work here now. Did you say you wanted to buy new robes?"

"Yes, I did. Both me and Prof. Lupin here," Harry said waving at Remus.

Alicia nodded and motioned for another girl to attend to Lupin. "All right, Harry, come with me. It was always a point of discussion in the girl's dormitories as to how we would dress you up if we could. Today I actually get to do it," she said gleefully.

Harry blushed. "Why would any of you ever spend time on thinking about dressing me up?" He asked curiously.

Alicia grinned. "You have no idea do you? Harry, you git, you may not know this, but a lot of girls have had crushes on you over the years. They always felt that with a little bit of grooming you could really look very good. But unfortunately you have a horrible dress sense."

Harry arched an eyebrow disbelievingly. "I find it very hard to believe that the girls in Gryffindor spend their time talking about my dress sense. Even more so, that any one of them would have these so called crushes on me."

"I didn't say it was only the girls in Gryffindor," Alicia said with an impish grin. "Face it, Harry, you are one of the most eligible males in Hogwarts, whether you like it or not."

Harry groaned. "It's probably the bloody scar!"

Alicia shook her head at his naivety. He didn't realize that it was much, much more than his scar.

"You really need to get off the modest bit, Harry. It really gets on my nerves sometimes."

"Why does everybody think I'm being modest when I'm saying the truth?" Harry exclaimed. "Seriously, what is attractive about me? I'm not that tall, I'm skinny, I wear glasses and my hair is always untidy. I know what I am and what I'm not. And sex symbol I'm not."

Alicia shook her head sadly. "Harry, you may be skinny, but that's not something that can't go away. You may not be that tall but you're no dwarf either. As for the hair... I think its one of the really sexy things about you. But the thing that is most sexy is your eyes. You have gorgeous eyes."

Harry blushed and lowered his face so that it was partly hidden from Alicia.

Alicia smiled at this. What she had mentioned was only part of what was the 'Harry Potter' charm. He was incredibly brave, exceedingly humble, and could be really sweet. He was a born leader and had the ability to motivate people, to inspire them to do things that they never thought possible. If Harry did not notice his qualities it didn't mean that everybody else hadn't.

"Let's get on with it, shall we?" Harry said finally. He felt totally lost in conversations like these and couldn't wait to change the topic. "I will need a few school robes and a dress robe or two and some robes for training."

Alicia nodded. The school robes were easy and he selected a few of a nice soft, black material that she showed him. But the dress robes were more difficult. Alicia showed him numerous choices and finally helped him choose two.

One was a shimmering white robe made of some silky white material. It had a magnificent red and gold Chinese fireball embroidered on the back of it. When held up against the light it almost glowed.

The second robe was coloured a bright emerald green with a thin black and silver border. It brought out the colour of his eyes.

They moved on to training robes and Harry selected a material of thick, deep, midnight blue and ordered four sets of robes to be made.

"All right, Harry, the robes will be ready by tomorrow. Will you be coming by to collect them?" Alicia asked.

"Um... no, is it ok if I send my house elf for them?" Harry asked after doing some quick thinking.

Alicia smiled. "Of course."

Harry found that Remus had finished his shopping too and they both paid and left after Harry had hugged Alicia goodbye.

"All right, what's next?" Remus asked.

"Hmm... I need to get contacts. Do you know anywhere we can get them?"

Remus nodded and led him to a small shop that was hidden behind Florean Fortescue's. Harry read the sign hanging outside. 'Jenkins Eye Care - taking care of eyes since 1851.'

They entered the shop to find themselves in a small room that was lined with shelves crammed with all kinds of eye care equipment. Frames for glasses, sunglasses, eye drops, and even a few magical eyes that were rolling about in their display cases.

They were greeted by a jolly, balding, middle aged man.

"What can I do for you, gents?" the man asked.

"Erm... I was looking for contact lenses," Harry said looking around. The movement caused his already long fringe to fall into his eyes and he impatiently brushed his back.

The movement though had revealed his scar to the man for a moment.

"Merlin's ghost, you're Harry Potter!" the man exclaimed.

Harry groaned inwardly and waited for the inevitable questions, which oddly, did not come.

"Welcome to my humble shop, Mr. Potter. I'm Fred Jenkins."

"Hello, Mr. Jenkins." Harry said putting up a smile with an effort.

"Mr. Potter, I would just like to say how proud I am to have such a distinguished young man like yourself in my shop. Last year, when the papers were saying all those things about you and Dumbledore, I didn't believe one word of it. I mean, what can you say about people who praise somebody to the skies one year and the next are calling him insane and attention seeking?"

This time, Harry's smile was a genuine one. "Thank you, Mr. Jenkins, it is nice to know that at least someone thought that I wasn't crazy."

"All right, Mr. Potter, now as to the contact lenses. Would you like coloured ones or normal ones? And will you take the disposable kind or the non-disposable kind?" Mr. Jenkins asked.

"Uh... non coloured. But I don't really know about the disposable or the non-disposable kinds. Could you sort of advise me?"

Mr. Jenkins gave Harry a quick explanation about disposable lenses and protein build up in the eye. And Harry finally decided on disposable contact lenses. The man then proceeded to take his eye reading to find out his prescription.

"Do you want any sort of charms on the lenses?" Mr. Jenkins asked.

"What sort of charms?" Harry asked curiously.

"Well, we have waterproofing and dustproof charms, also we have charms to enhance viewing and to make sure the lenses do not fall out of your eye, incase you rub your eye by mistake or splash water on your face, you understand?"

Harry sighed. "I just wish that there was a way to fix my eyes so I wouldn't need glasses or contacts."

Mr. Jenkins looked at him thoughtfully for a second. "Well, there is a way. Recently the Muggles have developed this technique called laser eye surgery where they can fix the eyesight of a person so that he does not need glasses. Since then we have been working on our own version. You see the muggle surgery has a bit of a risk of failure, but we have a hundred percent success rate."

Harry looked up, excited at the prospect and nodded for him to go on.

"Also, after undergoing the muggle method, you have to rest for two days and wait for your eyes to recover. Here it takes just half an hour. Another thing is that our method will make sure that your eyes do not deteriorate after a while, as will happen with the muggle method. Of course, your eyesight will fail due to old age, but that is unavoidable and happens to everybody."

"But there is a catch, isn't there?" Harry asked shrewdly. "That's why you don't offer it to everybody."

Mr. Jenkins nodded. "Oh yes, there's a catch, all right. You see, the half an hour that it takes for the process you will experience quite a deal of pain and burning in your eyes. Not a lot of people are able to deal with it."

Harry thought rapidly. Was half an hour of pain worth it to get rid of his glasses once and for all? He looked at Remus who shrugged.

"It's your call, Harry, if you think that it is worth it, go for it. But are you sure you will be able to deal with the pain?" he asked gently.

Harry knew that his faulty eyesight had always been a big disadvantage to him. He couldn't afford to let it hinder him in a fight. If half an hour of pain was what it took to get rid of the problem then it would have been worth it.

"All right, I'm ready to do it," Harry said to Mr. Jenkins, a determined look on his face.

Mr. Jenkins nodded and led Harry to a room in the back. He made Harry lie down on a small observation table and with a wave of his wand Harry was tied down so that he couldn't move.

"This is so you do not harm yourself because of the pain. I will also have to put a silencing charm on you."

"All right," Harry said. He looked to his right and saw Remus standing there eyeing him nervously.

Fred Jenkins waved his wand at Harry muttering, "Silencio."

Harry felt the silencing charm hit him and knew that now even if he screamed his lungs out nothing would be heard. Mr. Jenkins then administered Harry a vile tasting potion. But Harry was an old hand at this, as after consuming Polyjuice potion and Skelegro he could stomach anything.

He felt the potion running through his veins and he relaxed his body and watched Mr. Jenkins wave his wand in a complicated motion. He was muttering a long charm under his breath. A small purple light flew from his wand and into Harry's open eyes.

As the light hit Harry's eyes he felt a horrible burning sensation beginning in them, combined with a throbbing pain.

His mouth opened in a silent scream as the pain and burning intensified. He felt as if his eyes were being shredded with a meat scraper.

He lay there for what seemed like hours, thrashing around, sweat pouring down his body and his face drenched with tears. His eyes felt like hot coals and the throbbing pain had now become sharp stabs. Finally when he thought that he was going insane, he felt the pain and burning begin to ebb. He felt his eyes being opened gently and a cool liquid was poured into them.

Harry felt his bonds disappear and a minute later he heard himself groan and assumed that the silencing charm must have been taken off too.

"Open your eyes slowly, Mr. Potter," Mr. Jenkins said softly.

Harry slowly began to open his eyes. The bright light hit them making him squint. He got used to the light and opened them some more. What he saw made him smile despite himself and the pain he had experienced.

Fred Jenkins and Remus were standing by his side and he could see them clearly.

Mr. Jenkins moved towards a small table and picked up an eye chart from it. He moved towards Harry and held the chart up for him to see.

"Could you read from this chart for me, Mr. Potter?"

Harry slowly began to read from it and his smile grew broader and broader as he reached the smaller letters at the bottom and was able to read them clearly.

"Thank you, Mr. Jenkins, this feels really great. Though, I can assure you that this method of yours will not be catching on. Except for the Cruciatus curse it was the most unpleasant thing I have ever felt."

"You are welcome, Mr. Potter, and I realize that it might not be quite so popular. I am working on a little less painful method but it will take time," Fred Jenkins replied with a smile.

Harry gave Mr. Jenkins his vault number and asked to be billed to it directly. Then saying their goodbyes he and Remus left the shop and went on their way to complete the rest of Harry's shopping.

"I must say that looked quite painful, Harry." Remus said with a shudder as they exited the shop.

Harry grimaced. "Well, yes, in a way it was the most terrible thing I've ever experienced. When I was under the Cruciatus curse it was taken off after a few minutes, this felt as if it would go on forever. But it was worth it."

"Ok, what next?" Remus asked wondering what else Harry had got planned.

"Hmm... I need a watch," Harry said thoughtfully. "I've never owned a wizard watch and I thought that it might be nice."

Remus nodded and he led Harry towards a large shop that proclaimed in loud gold letters, 'Bowden Jewelers.'

The shop was large and flashy inside and Harry immediately felt uneasy.
He felt shabby and out of place standing there in his old castoffs.

A thin greasy looking man walked towards them and surveyed them coldly.

"Yes, may I help you?"

Harry was irritated at the tone and was ready to walk out of the store immediately. But Remus spoke up.

"We are looking for a watch for him," he said pointing at Harry.

The man looked at Harry surveying him as if he was something smelly. Harry recognized the look, as it was one he got from Uncle Vernon all the time.

"Please, come this way," the man said finally leading them to a small counter.

He took out a couple of cases from below the counter and started showing the watches to them. He was deliberately showing them the more expensive watches, making sure that they saw the price tag of each one.

Harry was getting really irritated at the man's behavior and was on the verge of walking out of the shop when his eye fell on a beautiful watch.

"That one. Show me that one," Harry pointed.

The man smirked and took it out. "This one is white gold, mother of pearl dial and inlaid with sapphires. It is charmed to be unbreakable, shockproof and waterproof. It has the function for you to add family members to its hands to show where they are at the time." the man explained, showing Harry the watch face.

"You can add six people to this. You need a piece of hair or a drop of blood of the person you want to add. Just put the drop of blood or hair on the watch face and push this button here," said the man pointing the button out to him. "You then say the name of the person and they will be added to the hand. When you need the time you just press this button on the other side and the time will flash across the face for twenty seconds. "

Harry liked the features and the watch was very beautiful.

"Another a special feature of the watch is that it will cast the disillusion charm on you if you press this button here," said the man indicating yet another button.

Harry was very interested at the mention of the disillusion charm feature. It could be useful in a tough spot.

"How much is it?" Harry asked casually.

"It is seven hundred and fifty galleons," said the man with a nasty smile. He was certain that the price would shock the two shabbily dressed idiots who were wasting his time.

Harry was a little stunned at this, but by now he was determined to buy it, no matter what the price. He knew that the salesman had been trying to embarrass Remus and him and he'd be damned if he was going to let that happen.

Harry looked at the salesman and nodded. "All right, don't bother wrapping it up. I'll wear it out."

The salesman's jaw dropped several inches in shock. But he immediately recovered himself. "Yes, of course, sir."

Harry flashed a grin at Remus amused at the man's behavior.

"Moony, you sure you don't want to buy a watch?" Harry asked casually.

"Quite sure," Remus snorted.

The man handed Harry the watch together with a small pouch containing the warranty papers and the case for watch. "Sir, you will find a detailed manual on the watch's features inside."

Harry quickly gave the man his vault number, had the required amount of money transferred and then they exited the shop, glad to leave it and the unpleasant, greasy salesman.

Harry looked at his wrist and admired his new watch. It really was something and Harry doubted that he had ever owned anything as beautiful.

Remus saw his glance and his look of pleasure and smiled. It was good to see Harry happy for once.

"I know you must think that it was a foolish, indulgent buy, Moony," Harry said not looking at him. "But I couldn't help myself. The greasy git needed to be put in his place."

"I don't think it was a foolish buy at all. I think it was an excellent choice," Remus said with a smile.

"Hmph... you don't need to say that just to make me feel good. Though, I must say the watch is very beautiful."

"Harry, you are a rich man now. A watch is something you don't buy everyday and it is sensible for you to get something nice. Besides, Sirius would expect no less from you. And, confidentially, if you hadn't picked up the watch then I would have bought it for you."

"Thanks, Moony," Harry said smiling up at the older man.

"Don't mention it. Now, what else do you need?"

"Hmm... I need to visit Flourish and Blotts, get a new cauldron plus potion ingredients and get a new trunk. My old one won't hold all my belongings now and I dare not leave anything behind for the Dursleys."

"Let's get the trunk first then. Then we can put the books and other shopping into it."

Harry followed Remus to a small shop that he remembered coming to during his first year with Hagrid. They looked at the various models and Harry finally selected a large three compartmented trunk similar to the one that he had seen Moody use during his fourth year, except that this had no room in it, just three large compartments that expanded to two hundred percent of its normal size. It also had the feature of shrinking itself down to the size of a small notebook at a command.

Harry quickly paid for it and then they hurried to Flourish and Blotts. Harry spent a long time in here browsing through the books.

He started with the Defense against the Dark arts section and with Remus' help picked up a few books. Amongst them - Dueling for Amateurs, Advanced Dueling, The Rise and fall of the Dark Arts, Dueling Against Multiple Opponents, The Standard Aurors Handbook and a slim volume titled The Unforgivables. He also picked up a couple of other books that he found interesting, for light background reading.

They moved on to the Transfigurations section and Harry picked up - Advanced Transfigurations, The Art of Conjuration, The Animal Within: the Animagus Transformation and Transfiguration in Dueling.

While Harry was browsing in the Transfigurations section Remus was out in the charms section picking up a few books for Harry. Harry then followed him to the Potions section.

He had decided that by the end of summer he was going to try and brush up on his potions work and if possible practice brewing a little bit.

He quickly picked up some books that he thought would help him - Potions for Beginners, Common Mistakes in Potion Making and Newt Level Potions. He looked around and a large volume caught his eye, he pulled out the book, noticing the title - Moste Potente Potions. Harry's eyebrows rose as he remembered that this particular volume was the one they had sneaked out of the restricted section in their second year. He quickly added it to his other selections.

Harry browsed around the bookstore and picked out a few books that he liked. Including - A Guide to Arithmancy, The Theory and Practice of Wandless Magic and Strengthening Your Mind: A Guide to Occlumency.

Finally, Harry was done, and he and Remus lugged the trolley towards the counter. Harry quickly gave the clerk his vault number and then emptied the books into his trunk. Remus shrunk the trunk with a tap of his wand and they were off.

They made a quick stop to pick up a cauldron and the basic potion ingredients Harry needed, then they headed to the Leaky cauldron for lunch.

Tom led them to a private booth in the back, and after taking their order, left them alone.

"What's Voldemort up to, Moony?" Harry asked quietly, as soon as Tom had left.

Remus looked at Harry, a pained expression on his face. "I thought you would ask that."

"Look, Moony, we both know he's coming after me, and he could attack any time. I need to know what he's up to so I can defend myself. I don't think we can afford another screw-up like last year."

Remus sighed. "I guess you're right. Well, as you heard Voldemort broke into Azkaban and released those that were captured at the Ministry. The Dementors have joined him too."

Harry gritted his teeth. "Damn it! It seems pointless to capture those bastards. He just keeps breaking them out."

Remus grimaced. "Dumbledore warned Fudge about the Dementors. But Fudge was his usual idiotic self and ignored him."

"Godric's ghost! Voldemort doesn't need Death Eaters when he has idiots like Fudge to accomplish his goal," Harry groaned.

"Well, Amelia Bones will hopefully be able to get things under better control. She has joined the Order recently so this time there won't be a repeat of last year at any rate."

"Thank god for small mercies," Harry muttered sarcastically.

"Anyway, attacks have been on the rise since then. Several families have been attacked. We also know for a fact that he has been recruiting people to join his ranks."

Harry sighed. "Is there any good news?"

Remus shook his head. "Not really, the only good thing is that Dumbledore has again sent Hagrid to the Giants. They didn't agree to join us, but they have agreed not to join Voldemort for now. However, my feeling is that it's only a matter of time. The current leader is a real bloodthirsty one, if Hagrid is to be believed."

"Hagrid called him bloodthirsty? Blimey! that must mean he's really nasty. He used to call dragons harmless," Harry exclaimed with a frown.

They stopped talking as Tom served their food.

"Harry, what are you up to? I heard that you refused to go to Headquarters."

Harry toyed with his steak and kidney pie. "I've joined Aikido classes, Moony. Also Dumbledore has arranged to get me some training over the summer. The next time I am attacked I aim to make them pay."

Remus looked at him sternly. "Harry, I hope you don't plan to go looking for them."

Harry laughed bitterly. "Don't worry, Moony, I don't plan to do anything of the sort. I don't normally go looking for trouble. It finds me easily enough. I can't explain how helpless I felt that night in the Ministry. It felt as if those Death Eaters were toying with us. I can't let that happen again."

"Harry, we are worried about you. You have hardly replied to anybody's letters... and now this. I realize that learning how to defend yourself is important but do you think it's wise to spend the entire summer doing just that? You need to spend some time with your friends too."

Harry shook his head. "Moony, you don't understand at all. Nothing is as important as what I'm doing right now. You and I both know that the next time I'm attacked there's a very good chance I won't survive. The last few times were just pure luck. It can't last forever, I need to have a better chance. Even with all I'm doing I don't have a hope in hell of beating Voldemort."

Remus opened his mouth to interrupt but Harry cut him off.

"You know what scares me, Moony? He will go after Ron and Hermione or Ginny if he can't get to me. He knows that it worked for Sirius. It will work again. It's only a matter of time and I need to be ready."

Remus didn't know what to say. He knew that Harry was right. But what disturbed him was the fact that Harry had accepted the situation so easily.

After that, lunch passed by fairly quickly. Harry told him about his new friends and their trip to the Bowling Alley.

Remus was pleased that Harry had found some friends to spend time with during the summer but he cautioned Harry to be careful when he went out with them as there was the danger that they could get attacked.

They finished their lunch and washed it down with a couple of butter beers. Finally they finished and left the pub for Muggle London.

"Where to now, Harry?" Remus asked.

"Hmm... I need to buy clothes and get a haircut. Then I'm all done."

"Any idea where to go to buy the clothes?" Remus enquired.

"Yes, I believe that we might find the right shops around Piccadilly Circus," Harry said thoughtfully. "We can take the Underground to get there."

They soon found an Underground station and bought tickets. A short ride later they were standing outside a large clothing store in the heart of Piccadilly Circus.

Harry hesitantly entered the store followed by an equally hesitant Remus. The store looked far too expensive and neither of them had much experience shopping for clothes.

The problem was solved, however, when they were approached by a pretty brunette. She looked to be in her mid twenties and had a pleasant air about her that put Harry at ease.

"May I help you?" she asked politely.

"I need a complete wardrobe. But I really don't have too much experience buying clothes," Harry said awkwardly.

The girl laughed. "My name is Angela," she said pointing at the name tag on her chest. "I'll help you to pick out the clothes if you want."

Harry smiled and nodded shyly.

"Do you have any sort of budget?" she asked hesitantly.

Harry shook his head. "No, go all out. Money's not a problem."

She nodded and led him towards the men's wear section. "All right, let's start with a few tops. You have quite a slim build so I think polo necks and sweatshirts will suit you well."

She looked at Harry thoughtfully and quickly pulled out a few polo necked t-shirts and handed them over. "Here try these on," she said pointing him to a dressing room.

Harry quickly pulled on a black coloured Polo shirt and walked out to show it to Remus.

Remus smiled. "It looks quite nice, Harry."

"Really? Don't you think it's a bit too tight?" Harry asked as he looked down at himself critically.

"Not at all, sir. It is a perfect fit. You just feel this way because you have been wearing rather... loose clothes," Angela said with a smile.

Harry smiled back. "Thank you, and please call me Harry."

He went back into the changing room and modeled a few more polo shirts in various colours for Remus and Angela. She helped him select five and then handed him a few soft woolen sweatshirts to try on.

Harry liked how the soft material clung to his body and he and Angela selected a few of these too. Next they picked up a few casual t-shirts and also a few shirts - both formal and semi-formal.

He was happy with her choices and realized that she had really good taste. He was more than happy to leave the choices up to her. He realized that there were some things that women were just better at than males, and shopping was one of them.

She made him try out a few styles of jeans and they decided on the straight and boot cut styles. Harry picked up two of each. She was totally against the baggy loose fitting style and Harry finally gave in.

They also selected a couple of wool slacks and formal trousers. "In case you have a hot date," she said slyly. Harry rolled his eyes at that.

They finished selecting a few pairs of pyjamas, then sweatpants and sleeveless t-shirts that he could wear while jogging. She then led him to the leather section where she convinced him to buy a beautiful black leather jacket. Harry fell in love with it at once. The leather was soft and felt great against his skin.

"It will look great over just about anything you wear," she explained.

She also convinced him to buy some aftershave and deodorants. "You will be dating in the future, Harry. You will find that girls will be much more receptive to you if you smell nice," she said gently when Harry hesitated.

Finally he picked up two pairs of trainers - one for his morning runs and one for daily wear.

He thanked Angela for all her help and after paying for all they had bought, which came to a hefty eighteen hundred pounds, left the store, staggering under all the purchases.

They headed to a small alley, transferred all that they had bought to the trunk and shrunk it again. Harry suddenly found that he was exhausted. Shopping was not as easy as it looked.

Remus and Harry roamed around the street until they found a trendy men's saloon. Harry's hairdresser, a man in his late twenties, was very good at his job. He was dead against cropping Harry's hair really short. "It won't look good and would just stick up." He instead trimmed Harry's hair so that it wouldn't fall into his eyes and gave him a nice style that managed to tame the unruly mop a little bit.

"Your hair is naturally untidy and it looks good that way," the hairdresser said. "You should get a trim every month or so and you'll be fine."

Harry thanked him, really pleased with his haircut. They left the saloon and hailed a cab to take them back to Privet Drive.

"Thank you for all your help today, Moony. I really had fun," Harry said earnestly, after they had taken a seat in the back.

"Don't mention it. I had a lot of fun too. In fact I should have done something like this with you a long time ago," Remus replied.

"Why didn't you, Moony?" Harry asked suddenly. "I was here at Privet Drive for eleven years before I came to Hogwarts. I knew Sirius was in Azkaban, but why didn't you ever come to visit? Didn't you care about what happened to me?"

Remus looked sad at Harry's words. "Look, Harry, there's no excuse for what I did and I regret it every day. All I'll say is that it was a difficult time for me. I couldn't get a job anywhere and had no permanent place to live. And most of all I didn't know what I could say to you. I...I couldn't bear to look into your eyes and tell you about your parents."

"Yes, there is no excuse," Harry said angrily. "I was rotting there for ten years. Ten miserable years, Moony! I didn't even know what my parents names were until I was eight. I didn't know who they were, or for that matter who I was. All I had were the Dursley's words to go on. And they certainly never had anything nice to say about them."

Harry rubbed his eyes tiredly.

"They used to tell me that they were freaks and that they were useless people. They always said I was like them too. Sometimes I couldn't help believing them. After all no one ever came for me, did they? If what they said was a lie why didn't anybody ever come?" he whispered brokenly.

Remus closed his eyes and shuddered.

"Please forgive me, Harry," Remus said wiping the tears from his eyes. "We've failed you, all of us. But I promise you that will never happen again."

Harry nodded. "There's no need for forgiveness, Moony. I realize that you must have had a hard time. I know that your life isn't exactly a bed of roses."

"Yes, but that's no excuse. The truth is that I was afraid of what you would think of me, Harry."

"I assume you mean your condition?" Harry asked quietly.

Remus nodded hesitantly.

"I would never have held it against you. I know it wasn't your fault. It wasn't as if you chose to be like this."

"I know that now, Harry. But I was scared at that time," Remus said running a hand through his thick brown hair.

"Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your childhood? I feel I hardly know you," Harry said hesitantly.

And so Remus told him. All about his childhood, how he had got the bite, how everything had changed for him after that.

Before they knew it the cab was pulling up outside the Dursleys. They got out and paid the cabbie before walking up to the door.

"Keep in touch, Moony," Harry said softly as they walked up the pathway to the house.

"I will, Harry, I promise. I'll come to visit you again and I'll take you to Lunch."

"I'd like that very much," Harry said. "Take care of yourself, Moony."

"I think that should be my line," Remus said, raising an eyebrow in amusement.

"Yeah, right! Who's the Marauder here?" Harry laughed.

"Harry, you were a marauder from the moment you were born. You are the son of a marauder and therefore a default member." Remus replied with a grin, before he disapparated away with a soft pop.

Harry smiled. 'Yes, in a sense they were the last two marauders.'


~~~*~
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