Categories > Books > Harry Potter > The Darkest Hour

Bitter Truths Revealed

by Ham 0 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: 2007/04/15 - Updated: 2007/04/15 - 6260 words

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Title: The Darkest Hour (13)

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: If you truly believe that I own Harry Potter and that I'm making money out of this, just imagine in what other ways I can con you. (Rubs hands in glee)

This chapter is dedicated to SarahLuna. Happy birthday sweetie.

Thank you Tricia. You have helped me reach my full potential as a fanfic writer.

Sharon thank you yet again for the wonderful job you are doing as my britpicker.






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Chapter 13 - Bitter Truths Revealed

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Harry sprinted through the door Snape had just opened, screaming loudly, "Wait! Don't go... He knows... He knows."

He looked around desperately for the Potions Master and spotted him just ahead. Snape had stopped and was looking back at him in great annoyance. He ran up to him and grabbed his arm.

"Wait, don't go," Harry said quickly.

"Potter, I don't have time for your nonsense. The Dark Lord is calling me and I have to leave immediately," Snape snarled, jerking his hand away.

The portrait of Sirius' mum had woken up at hearing Harry's screams and started screaming fit to bring the roof down. "MUDBLOODS! BLOOD TRAITORS! VILE, PUTRID HALF BREEDS!"

Harry grabbed his arm again. "Don't be an idiot. He knows about your loyalty to Dumbledore."

Dumbledore, Moody and Kingsley had rushed out after Harry and were just in time to hear Harry's latest comment.

"What do you mean, Harry?" Dumbledore asked quickly.

"I mean that Voldemort knows that Professor Snape is spying for you," Harry said tersely.

"Don't talk nonsense, Potter. If he knew I would be dead by now," Snape scoffed.

Mr. Weasley and Remus had come out as well and were trying to shut the curtains on the screaming Mrs. Black's portrait. "YOU! YOU ARE STILL HERE? I WILL NOT HAVE WEREWOLVES IN MY HOUSE! AND YOU... FILTHY LITTLE BLOOD TRAITOR! YOU SHALL DIE MOST SLOWLY AND PAINFULLY!"

Mr. Weasley and Remus had nearly succeeded in shutting the curtains when Ron, Hermione and Ginny came bounding down, curious to find out the cause of all the screaming.

"What's going on, Dad?" Ginny asked, looking around wide-eyed.

"Nothing. You three go back upstairs. Everything is under control," Mr. Weasley said over the loud yells of the portrait.

"I thought you said that Harry wasn't going to be allowed to join the Order," Ron said suspiciously. "What's he doing down here attending the meeting then?"

"Ron, we'll discuss that later. For now, all three of you just go up."

"That's not fair, Dad! You can't do that. If Harry is being allowed into the Order then it is only fair that we be allowed to join," Ron yelled.

Mr. Weasley sighed tiredly and in his frustration let go of the curtain. This was a big mistake. As soon as he left the curtains, they were again thrown open and the screaming continued unabated. Mr. Weasley gave Remus an apologetic look and hurried off to deal with Ron.

"KREACHER! WHERE ARE YOU? THROW THESE TRAITORS OUT AT ONCE! THEY ARE NOT FIT TO STAND IN THE HOUSE OF BLACK!"

Harry was quickly losing his temper at Snape's attitude and the loud banshee-like screaming of Mrs. Black. Ron's loud arguments with Mr. Weasley only served to increase his rapidly growing headache.

"He isn't dead because Voldemort is using him to spy on the Order and on you, Headmaster," Harry said slowly, lowering his voice so that it did not carry over to his friends.

"Harry, we have been through this. Professor Snape is not a traitor," Dumbledore said patiently.

"I never said he was," Harry snapped. "Voldemort is getting the information through some other means. Most probably Legilimency."

"KREACHER! WHERE ARE YOU? WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM, YOU FILTHY EXCUSES TO THE NAME OF WIZARDS?"

Remus struggled mightily with the curtains and nearly had them closed, but the screaming was affecting him due to his oversensitive werewolf hearing, and the vile woman was nearly screaming right into his ear.

"That's not possible, Potter. I am not a dunce at Occlumency like you. I have years of experience blocking out the Dark Lord," Snape said arrogantly.

"Oh fine!" Harry snarled. "If that's the way you want to be, go ahead. Get yourself killed and see if I care."

"Harry, why do you think Tom knows about Professor Snape being a spy?" Dumbledore asked gently.

"YOU WAIT. THE DARK LORD WON'T SPARE ANY OF YOU. EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU WILL DIE."

At this screech, Harry finally lost it and, going up to the screaming portrait, pushed Remus aside. "Shut up, you old hag. Your son died fighting Voldemort. Don't you care at all?" he shouted.

At Harry's words, Mrs. Black stopped screaming and turned her maddened gaze on Harry, her yellowed eyes glaring at him with disgust. "That traitor was no son of mine. I just hope he died most painfully for betraying the Black Family name."

Upon hearing these words, Harry stiffened. A slow, fierce anger began to boil within him starting from the pit of his stomach. It quickly spread until his whole body was trembling with rage. A green flame lit up in his eyes.

He raised his wand with shaking fingers and pointing it at the portrait pushed all of his hurt, all of his rage and all of his frustration into a tight ball and releasing it all in one burst screamed, "REDUCTO!"

The force of the spell was so tremendous that the entire house shook from the impact. Bits of plaster and sawdust rained from the roof and the walls. The wall where the portrait had hung was blown into smithereens and the curtains and draperies on it were set aflame, causing a large cloud of smoke and dust to rise making it impossible to see the damage the spell had truly caused.

Remus, Kingsley and Moody quickly shot streams of water from their wands to put out the fire. The Order had all come running out after hearing the explosion and they and Ron, Hermione and Ginny looked stunned at the sight before them.

When the smoke finally cleared, they saw that a whole portion of the wall had been blown to pieces. There was no sign of the portrait except for a few pieces of wood lying on the floor and a few charred pieces of canvas. The whole wall was looking like it was in danger of crumbling any second.

Harry gazed at the destroyed wall blankly, and he looked to be struggling to keep his emotions under control.

He was still taking in the damage his spell had caused when Dobby and Winky appeared on the scene with two soft cracks. They looked at the wall in horror for a minute before quickly starting to prop up the wall to prevent its total collapse.

The Order was still staring at the damage and nobody knew what to say. It was then that Mrs. Weasley's eyes fell on Ron, Ginny and Hermione. "What are you three doing down? Go back up to your rooms. The meeting isn't over yet," she said sternly.

"But, Mum..." Ron began.

"Don't 'but Mum' me, young man. Just do as you are told to do," Mrs. Weasley said sharply.

Ron was about to open his mouth to argue, but seeing the look in his mother's eyes, he shut his mouth and sullenly stomped up the stairs, muttering all the way. Hermione and Ginny followed right behind him, both too shocked by the scene they had seen downstairs to protest much.

"Let's go back in. We have much to discuss," Dumbledore said gravely.

"Headmaster, I must protest. If I don't leave now it will be too late. The Dark Lord does not tolerate any kind of tardiness," Snape said frustratedly, clutching his arm in pain. "He is calling me again. I have to leave."

"No, Severus. If what Harry says is true then we cannot afford to let you go to him today," Dumbledore said shaking his head.

The Order filed back into the kitchen and Snape followed reluctantly after giving Harry a poisonous glare.

After everybody had sat down and the door was charmed shut again Dumbledore turned to Harry. "Please explain what you mean by Voldemort knowing Professor Snape is a traitor."

Harry sighed. "Isn't it obvious to you yet? The Philosophers Stone... Professor Snape tried to threaten Quirrel and discourage him from stealing the stone. When Voldemort came back to power after the Triwizard Tournament he mentioned two traitors. I never paid attention to it. But its obvious now, isn't it?"

Dumbledore's face blanched. "Severus? Is this true? Did you directly threaten Quirrel?"

"Headmaster, I fail to understand how this makes any difference. Quirrel died down there. There was no way that the Dark Lord could have known," Snape said irritably.

"It matters," Harry said with a bitter smile, "because Voldemort was residing at the back of Quirrel's head. He heard every word you said to him."

Snape looked at Harry sharply. "The back of his head?"

"Yes, why do you think he wore the damn turban?" Harry said shaking his head in dismay. "You really mean to tell me that you didn't know?"

From the expression on Snape's face, it was quite obvious that he didn't know. "Why didn't he kill me immediately?" he muttered, almost to himself. "Why keep me alive all this time?"

"Because he has been getting information from you," Harry said. "That's the only possible reason."

"That's not possible, Potter. Can't you get it through your thick head? I have been building an immunity to Veritaserum for years and I have much experience in blocking out the Dark Lord through Occlumency."

Dumbledore had been silent through all of this thinking deeply. Suddenly a flash of understanding lit up his eyes. "The Cruciatus Curse," he muttered softly. "Of course... it is so simple."

"The Cruciatus Curse? What do you mean, Albus?" Moody growled. Ever since Harry had revealed his suspicions that Snape was being used by Voldemort to spy on the Order, the old grizzled ex-Auror had kept his wand out and trained in the general direction of Snape. His whole demeanor was extremely tense and it was almost as if he was expecting the Dark Lord to come bursting through the door any second. Looking at him, Harry thought that if someone suddenly said 'Boo' he would immediately start throwing lethal curses left and right.

Dumbledore was silent for a minute and seemed that he would not answer Moody. Then he softly spoke. "When a person is put under the Cruciatus Curse, the pain is so intense that it is impossible to keep one's mental shields intact. It would be easy in such a situation to invade that person's mind."

"But wouldn't Severus remember being under the Cruciatus Curse, Albus?" McGonagall asked in a horrified tone.

"No, Minerva, not if he was given a Post-Cruciatus potion immediately afterwards and then put under a memory charm," Dumbledore sighed.

Snape's face was growing more and more tense as Dumbledore spoke. The truth was very difficult for him to accept. It was even worse that the person who had stumbled upon the truth had been none other than Harry Potter. He grudgingly admitted that he probably owed his life to the brat. If the truth hadn't come out, he would have certainly died sooner or later, probably in a very horrible and painful manner. This fact was the bitterest pill of all to swallow. He would have rather died than be indebted to a Potter.

"Severus, would you be willing to let me make sure that I am right?" Dumbledore asked gently.

Snape looked up and nodded briefly.

Dumbledore quickly entered Snape's mind and looked for evidence of memory charms being performed on him. A minute later he broke contact and nodded grimly. "It is as I feared."

A tense silence took over the room. The Order realized in horror that they had been played like fools for more than a year. Voldemort had most probably been informed of their every movement and laid his plans accordingly.

"This is terrible, Headmaster," Kingsley said in his deep voice. "Everything has been compromised. When You-Know-Who realizes that Severus won't be coming, he will know the game is up. What's to stop him from going after the members of the Order and picking them off one by one? Is even Headquarters safe anymore?"

"We will have to start anew. It is impossible to know just how much Voldemort now knows," Dumbledore said slowly. "Headquarters is safe for now. As long as I am the Secret Keeper, Voldemort can never breach it. But everything else will need to be changed. Kingsley, you, Alastor and Tonks stay at Auror Headquarters for a few days until we can make other arrangements. Nobody is to go out anywhere alone. Move around in groups of three."

The meeting ended soon after that and Snape immediately left without even giving Harry a second glance. The other Order members followed his lead. Mr. Weasley left for the Ministry along with the rest of the Order, after giving Molly a quick peck on the cheek. Ever since he had become the Head of Law Enforcement his responsibilities had increased tenfold as he was responsible for the entire Auror forces.

Soon the kitchen was empty except for Harry, Mrs. Weasley, Dumbledore and Bill.

Dumbledore turned to Harry. "I must be going now, Harry, but I will come around day after tomorrow at eleven to continue our Occlumency lessons."

"Thank you, Professor," Harry said politely.

Dumbledore gave Harry one last glance before he disapparated away with a tiny pop.

Bill grabbed Harry's arm and pulled him to the side. "Harry, the deal is all set, just as you wanted it. The papers are to be signed this afternoon. Are you sure you want to go through with this?"

"I'm sure."

"Think again, Harry. They are my brothers, but I think you might be making a mistake that you will regret later," Bill warned.

"No, I'm sure. Just get it done."

"Ok, Harry, It's your decision. I'll have the paperwork ready by this evening and you can tell the twins then."

Harry nodded. "Thanks, Bill."

Bill smiled at Harry and, grabbing his briefcase, apparated out to Gringotts.

Finally, it was just Harry and Mrs. Weasley left. "Go on up, dear. I suspect Ron and Hermione are waiting to talk to you. I have to start lunch."

Harry nodded and turned to go. Before he could take a step however Mrs. Weasley grabbed him and pulled him into a gentle hug. Harry, at first, instinctively stiffened up, but he soon relaxed and returned it fiercely.

Finally, Molly let him go and kissed him on the forehead. "Go on then, dear. Tell them that lunch will be ready soon."

Harry nodded and was about to leave when he spotted his Pensieve on the kitchen table. He grabbed it and hurried upstairs, feeling as if he had swallowed a large slab of Honeydukes best.

He quickly went to his room and left the Pensieve on his bedside table, and then hurried off to find Ron and Hermione. He guessed that they were in Ron's room and went off to check. Sure enough, he heard voices coming from behind the closed door.

As Harry opened the door the voices immediately died down.

"Hello, guys," Harry said with a smile. "How was summer so far?"

At the mention of summer, Ron scowled heavily and looked away. Hermione looked at him nervously and put on a small smile.

"Oh, not much happened, Harry. Most of the time we were just cleaning the remaining rooms in the house," she said.

"Oh," Harry said with a frown.

"Forget what we did. It's what you have been up to that interests me," Ginny said brightly.

Harry shrugged. "Actually, it wasn't much. In the mornings I used to have Aikido lessons three times a week and I was studying Taekwondo the other three days. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I usually had Occlumency training with Dumbledore and a few extra lessons with Flitwick and McGonagall. The rest of the days I was at Auror Headquarters learning dueling."

Ron scowled even more heavily at hearing Harry's words.

"Oooh! How was Auror Headquarters, Harry? What did they teach you?" Hermione squealed excitedly.

So Harry sat down and told them how he had learned dueling from Moody and Kingsley and learnt Apparation. By the end of it Ron was positively fuming.

"So how is it going with Dean, Ginny?" Harry asked with a smile.

Ginny was about to open her mouth to tell him that she had broken up with Dean when Mrs. Weasley called up for her. "Ginny, come down here for a bit. I need your help."

"Muuuum!" Ginny wailed in dismay. "Why is it always me? Why can't Ron help?"

"That's enough, Ginevra," came Mrs. Weasley's sharp retort. "Get down here now."

Ginny scowled, and tossing her long red hair over her shoulder in annoyance, walked down in a huff, muttering all the way.

Harry turned to Ron and was taken aback by the deep scowl on his face. "Are you all right, mate?" Harry said hesitantly.

Ron glared at him and looked away.

Harry looked at Hermione questioningly and saw that she didn't meet his eyes. "What's the matter? What are you so upset about?"

"I'm upset," Ron ground out, "Because I have been such a fool. Here I am, stuck at this ruddy house worrying about you all summer and you don't even reply to my letters. We came to stay here for you, and you suddenly decide not to show up at all. What's more you don't even have the decency to tell us why. Then we suddenly find out the truth. Harry Potter is out having fun with the Aurors and is getting special lessons at Hogwarts and we are left to rot here all summer."

"Fun! You call staying at the Dursleys fun/? You think I've been having a grand time all summer?" Harry asked incredulously. "Do you think I actually want to have Dumbledore breaking into my mind again and again and write three foot essays for McGonagall? You think it was fun to have Moody throw lethal curses at me? You think it was /fun to stay in a house all summer where they think of me as something lower than a slug? Sorry, but it wasn't really that much fun to me."

Harry took a deep breath. "Listen... about the letters... I'm sorry for that, OK? I know it was wrong of me but I couldn't bring myself to do anything at that point. Finally, I got tired of sitting around in my room all day. I had to do something...anything... or I was about to lose it. I just saw this ad in the paper and I joined up for Aikido lessons. I didn't know when the Order was going to come for me. It wasn't like anybody told me. Once I started attending the lessons, I just didn't want to leave halfway."

"Why weren't we allowed to join you for the training, Harry? Why are you allowed into the Order and not us?" Ron asked angrily.

"Because there no need for you to join. There's no need for you to get trained," Harry said slowly.

"Oh, you think so, do you? Might I remind you that we were with you every step of the way all these years? Might I remind you that we were with you at the Ministry and we fought every bit as hard as you? What makes you so special? What makes you think you can fight and we can't?" Ron yelled.

"Fight? You think I'm training and joining the Order to fight Death Eaters?" Harry asked angrily.

"Well, what's the reason then?" Ron snapped.

"I'm doing it because Voldemort won't stop coming after me until I'm dead. The attacks are just starting and I need to be able to get away if i'm ambushed. I have joined the Order to be able to be updated on what he is up to, not to go on missions. He's after me, Ron. Don't you get it? You guys are not targets of his yet, and its best to keep it that way."

"Oh, that's absolute dragon dung," Ron yelled furiously. "I'm not a coward, Harry. I'm not afraid to fight, and we beat them at the Ministry. Why can't we do it again?"

"Don't be a fool!" Harry said coldly. "The only reason that we survived that day was pure luck. Don't ever delude yourself thinking otherwise. If they had been using Unforgivables we would all have died. And we are just talking about the Death Eaters. You have never faced /him/, have you? If you had you wouldn't be talking like this now."

Harry saw that Ron's temper hadn't abated at his words.

"Look, Dumbledore has asked me to start the DA again this year. You guys will be learning everything I know. I just thought that there was no need for you guys to spend the entire summer learning to duel," he said trying valiantly to control his temper and salvage the situation.

Hermione finally broke her silence.

"Harry, I understand why you didn't write and why you didn't come to stay here for the summer. But we have always been there with you for everything. That's not going to change. If you get into any trouble we are going to be right in there with you. Don't you think we need to be as prepared as you are, in that case?" she said softly.

"Listen to me...both of you..." Harry said, running his hands through his hair wearily. "As long as we are at Hogwarts and Dumbledore is around, we are safe. This year we can't afford to go looking for trouble."

"So tell me, Harry. Why is he specifically after you?" Ron asked bitingly.

Harry hesitated. He couldn't tell them about the prophecy... it wasn't safe.

Hermione came to his rescue. "Don't be a prat, Ron. It obviously has something to do with that Prophecy. But since it broke, Harry can't very well know the reason, can he?"

Ron looked at Harry and shrugged. "I don't know. It just seems that he is hiding a lot of things all of a sudden."

Harry struggled to keep his face blank. "I'm not hiding anything from you, Ron."

"You aren't? Are you sure?"

Harry hesitated for a brief second. "Yes, I'm sure."

"You liar," Ron spat. "Did you think I'd never find out about it?"

Harry cringed. How had Ron found about the prophecy? Nobody knew except him and Dumbledore...

But Ron's next words made it clear that he wasn't talking about the Prophecy.

"Why did you do it, Harry? Did you think I'd be very happy about it? Did I ever ask for your charity?"

"What are you talking about, Ron?" Harry asked in confusion.

"You know what I'm talking about, Harry," Ron said balling up his fists in anger. "I'm talking about the two million galleons that you gave to Mum and Dad. We don't need it, Harry. We don't need your charity. Keep your money."

Harry opened his mouth to protest but he never got a chance to say anything.

"You can't go and do things like that, Harry," Ron said in a dangerous tone. "People are not for sale. You knew I wouldn't like it. That's why you did it behind my back, didn't you? Tell me, damn you! Why did you do it?"

"Are you quite done yet?" Harry said quietly.

Ron just glared at Harry and didn't answer.

"You want to know my reasons? I'll tell you my reasons. Firstly, it had nothing to do with you. I didn't give the money to /you/. I gave it to your parents. And I didn't give it because I thought you needed charity. I gave it because I have nothing else to give you. It was my way of showing you that I cared for you and your family. I gave the money unconditionally, Ron. I didn't care if you didn't ever see my face after that. I didn't want anything from you for it."

Harry looked at the floor dejectedly.

"You think that I was happy to see you and your family struggling to make ends meet when I have so much gold that I'm never going to use? You think that didn't hurt me to see you going without the things you liked time and time again? I have seen that phase, Ron. Before I came to Hogwarts I never had anything. I know how much it hurts to see everybody around me being able to buy whatever they want and me never being able to buy the simplest of things for myself."

Harry looked up and looked Ron in the eye.

"You want to know another reason, Ron? I gave the money because it is useless to me. It's all just a pile of metal that can't buy me any of the things I really want. It can't bring back my parents, or Sirius, or even Hagrid. It can't buy me a single night's sleep, and it sure as hell can't save me from Voldemort. You want another reason? If I die tomorrow, and it's looking increasingly likely, I have absolutely no one to leave it to. So those are my reasons. I don't want to buy you, as you say, Ron."

Ron started to deflate a bit at Harry's words and his eyes got a bit of an ashamed look in them.

"You guys think its grand being me, don't you? Harry Potter is famous! Harry Potter is rich! Harry Potter gets special lessons with the Aurors. Believe me, if I could, I would exchange places with you in a heartbeat. The war is here and I'm in the center of it, whether I like it or not. I wish I could just be normal and not have to join the Order or learn dueling during the summer. I wish I could go watch Quidditch matches and spend time with my family. I don't have that choice. And you know, when you are under a Cruciatus Curse, and minutes from being killed, the fame, money and all that crap doesn't matter. You are going to be involved in the war sooner or later. The time you are being given right now is never going to come back. So forgive me for thinking that there is no need for you guys to go jumping into danger just because I'm neck deep in it."

Harry suddenly felt tears start to form in his eyes, and he turned around and began to walk towards the door.

"Harry, wait, I didn't mean..." Ron called out.

"I never thought that, Harry..." Hermione said in a small voice.

"I want to be alone for a while. I'll talk to you guys later," Harry said over his shoulder before he walked out of the room.


~~~*~


Harry's heart was heavy as he walked out of Ron's bedroom. He suddenly felt very tired. Tired of the training, of the constant feeling of being cooped up, of the sleepless nights and constant worrying. Tired of the whole damn war! Most of all, he was tired of having all his actions judged by everybody. It seemed that there was no relief for him.

He didn't feel like heading to his room right now. Ron's words had hurt him very deeply. He knew that Ron's pride might come into play at some point, but he had never expected Ron to accuse him of all the things he had. He wandered around aimlessly and suddenly realized that he had unconsciously managed to make his way to Sirius' room.

He closed his eyes to stop the inevitable flow of tears. He would have given anything to have Sirius here at the moment. He needed him. He needed Sirius to tell him that everything would be fine, to cheer him up with his jokes and pranks. He needed someone upon whom he could lean on and be weak for a little while. Someone he could act like a kid with.

But he knew it wouldn't happen. It was an impossible dream.

He slowly opened the door and walked in.



~~~*~



Ginny walked in to call Harry, Ron and Hermione for dinner only to come in to the sight of a rowing Ron and Hermione.

"Do you always have to be a prat, Ron?" Hermione said angrily. "You know he's been through a lot. Can't you show some sensitivity for once, instead of acting like an overgrown baboon?"

"I am not acting like a baboon! What do you want me to do, Mione? He didn't even tell me anything. Why did he have to be so secretive? What was I supposed to think when I found out?"

"You were never supposed to find out, Ronald Weasley!" Hermione shrieked. "You peeked into Bill's confidential files. Whatever Harry did has nothing to do with you."

"Oh, it has nothing to do with me, does it? It's my family, Hermione. It has everything to do with me."

"Oooh! There's no use even trying to reason with you. You are so mule headed!"

"What's going on? And where is Harry?" Ginny asked, looking around.

"Ron, here, was being his usual insensitive self, and accused Harry of trying to buy him by giving your parents money."

"What money?" Ginny asked in confusion.

"He gave Mum and Dad two million galleons, Ginny. Two million! What else was I to think?" Ron said angrily.

"Well first of all, if Mum and Dad accepted it, then it's none of your business," Ginny said coolly. "And as to what you are to think...try thinking how lucky you are to have a best friend who cares for you so much."

Ron made a disgusted face and turned away.

"Anyway, I came up to call you for lunch. Go on down. I'll go find Harry," Ginny said, ignoring Ron. Upon saying that, she walked out of the room.

As Ginny made her way to Harry's room she sighed in frustration. Ron was such an ass. Couldn't he see why Harry had done it? How could he even accuse Harry of trying to buy him? He was supposed to be Harry's best friend. Did he not know Harry at all by now?

She hesitantly knocked on Harry's bedroom door. "Harry, are you in there?" There was no answer. "Harry, it's time for lunch. If you are in there, please come down."

Again, there was no answer.

Ginny sighed. It was possible that Harry was in and pretending not to be there. She twisted the doorknob, pushed the door open and peeked in. She couldn't see him inside, so she opened the door a little more to have a better look and saw that the room was empty.

Ginny's eyes curiously roamed over Harry's room, taking in everything. Her roving eyes fell on a strange black marble bowl by the bedside table. It had intricate runes carved on its surface in gold. She immediately recognized it as the Pensieve that Professor Dumbledore had given him. From the door, she could catch a glimpse of a silvery substance floating around in it.

Curiosity got the better of her and she went in to have a better look at it, and her suspicions proved correct. The Pensieve was filled to the brim with Harry's memories. Ginny knelt down by the bedside table and bent her head to have a closer look at the swirling mass of memories. She was unbearably tempted to enter the Pensieve to find out what they were.

She somehow managed to control herself by sternly reminding herself that it was a violation of Harry's privacy. She was just of the mind to turn around and go back out to continue to look for him when it happened.

Crookshanks came bounding into the room chasing a quickly flying Doxy. Both the Doxy and Crookshanks were heading straight for Ginny. She didn't notice them immersed as she was in studying the Pensieve.

The Doxy flew over to Ginny and hovered right above her head. The tiny fairy-like insect was moving about as if to taunt the large ginger half-Kneazle. Crookshanks gave an indignant 'meow' and leapt up to catch the annoying creature. He missed and landed right on Ginny's head, sending her face splashing right into the Pensieve.

She only got a moment to figure out what was happening when she found herself leaving the room and falling... falling... into a childhood of horrific proportions.



~~~*~



Harry entered Sirius' room to find it looking exactly as if it was still being lived in. Clothes were strewn around. Papers and books were scattered around the room. A few large posters of Vintage bikes adorned the walls, and the bed was unmade.

He walked through the room, looking around aimlessly. His eyes fell on a few framed photos on the desk in the corner of the room and walked over to it to have a better look. He recognized one of the photos as being from his parents wedding. Sirius was looking very handsome in a tux and was standing beside James and Lily, cheering them on as they kissed after completing their vows.

Another picture was of the Marauders sitting by the lake at Hogwarts. Harry noticed that Wormtail's picture was missing his head in this one.
His hands were moving about frantically, feeling the place where his head used to be.

His eyes roved over the desk and suddenly he noticed something peeking out from under a sheaf of papers. He curiously pulled the object out.

When he saw what it was, his face paled. It was the mirror/. The twin of the one Sirius had given him. Tears threatened to overwhelm him, and all of a sudden he was feeling suffocated in the room. He wasn't ready to handle it. Not yet./

He quickly made for the door and left the room, closing the door behind him, and then quickly made his way back to his room.

When he arrived he found the door open. He wondered who had gone in. 'It's probably Ron and Hermione,' he thought irritably. He wasn't ready to face them yet. He wanted some more time to himself.

He sighed and chanced a peek into the room. What he saw surprised him, for it wasn't Ron and Hermione, but Ginny inside the room. She was kneeling by the bedside table and her face was inside his Pensieve. For a moment Harry felt a quick flash of anger at having his Pensieve invaded. But it passed when he saw Ginny's body shuddering violently.

He was beside her on two quick steps and jerked her face away from the Pensieve. Ginny became limp and opened her eyes in confusion. She turned around and stared at Harry for a second before leaping up and grabbing him into a tight hug and bursting into tears. Harry was too shocked to do anything but hug her back.

"Oh, Harry! H-h-how could they? The m-m-monsters. You must hate them so much!" Ginny sobbed.

Harry awkwardly soothed her, running his hands down her back. "It's okay, don't cry. It's in the past. It's all in the past. It doesn't matter anymore," he said in what he hoped was a soothing voice.

But she couldn't stop crying. What she had seen inside had jarred her badly. It was even more terrible for her because she loved Harry so much. She couldn't bear to think about what else he had been through.

'The Dursleys will pay. I will make them pay. No one can do that to my Harry and get away with it,' Ginny thought fiercely, an intense anger beginning to grow within her.

"Why didn't you ever say anything, Harry? All these years, why were you silent about it?"

Harry slowly let her go. "What difference would it have made?"

"Of course it makes a difference," Ginny said angrily.

"No, it doesn't. It's in the past. What happened can't be changed, and I don't want to keep remembering it."

Ginny had opened her mouth to argue when Mrs. Weasley's voice came from the stairs. "Ginny, Harry, dear, lunch is ready. Where are the two of you?"

Harry turned to Ginny. "Come on, let's go."

Ginny looked at Harry for a second as if she wanted to protest, but then she wiped her tears and quietly followed Harry out of the door.


~~~*~
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