Disclaimer: I do not nor will I ever own the Harry Potter story, characters, villains, heroes and creatures. I also sadly do not make any money off this story. Trust me; my bank account cannot lie about that.
Thanks to Nancy for her help as always!
FLAMES OF BETRAYAL
Ron pulled away from Harry and looked at him with amazement and suspicion. "I thought you were catatonic. How come you aren't out of your mind?"
Harry looked at his friend, amusement shining from his eyes. "You sound like you're disappointed that I'm not. I can try and go crazy if you want me to," he said with a grin.
Ron stared at him for a second then smirked. "Harry, mate, you're already crazy."
Harry laughed aloud and squeezed his friend's arm, joy filling him at having his friend back. "I didn't know what was going on. I was in my cell when I heard footsteps. I thought it was the guards coming to take potshots at the Traitor of the Wizarding World," he said bitterly. "I blanked out and waited for them. Imagine my surprise when I saw Percy come into my cell, talking to me as if he cared." Harry looked a little bewildered by that.
Ron looked at Harry sharply. "Percy? Huh...who would've believed it? Then again, I haven't seen the bloke since your trial. I might have to change that," he replied idly.
Harry glanced at Ron, his expression surprised. "I thought you didn't like your brother."
Ron waved his hand in dismissal. "A lot of things have changed since you were convicted. I'll get to them later, but right now, I want to know more about your condition."
Harry nodded in understanding. "After I realized that it was Percy, I got very confused. When he told the guards to help me, I was even more baffled. I decided to keep pretending I was catatonic until I knew what was going on. I was portkeyed to the Infirmary, where I proceeded to pass out. When I awoke and realized I was at Hogwarts, I got concerned. I figured they were moving me to a "safer" location, but I wasn't for sure. I continued my deception when I heard the old fool and the werewolf come into the room. Madame Pomfrey discussed my "condition" with them and I decided that I would keep the deception going until I felt knew what was going on. They brought me to this room and left Dobby in charge of my care," he explained.
"I continued with my deception, but somehow Dobby could see through it. He was very happy to know that I was all right, well as all right as I could be with eighteen months in Azkaban. He fed me and I fell asleep. I awoke to hear you and the old man talking. I had planned on staying catatonic until I heard you talking. I couldn't let you think that I hated you for what you assumed was your betrayal. I decided that I needed my friend more than I needed the deception," Harry informed him.
Ron gripped Harry's arm, his face shining with gratitude. "Thanks, mate."
Harry smiled at him. "Now that you know I'm not catatonic, maybe you can tell me what the hell is going on. I heard Percy say something about a pardon," he inquired, his face baffled.
Ron sighed. "The Malfoys were captured. When questioned, they told the Aurors that you were framed for the deaths of Ginny, Cho, and Colin. Draco Malfoy is the one who killed them. Lucius Malfoy helped Voldemort at your trial. He was there under a polyjuice potion and he was the one to cast the spell to help you become more receptive to Voldemort's control. When all this came out, your pardon was granted and you were released from Azkaban. Merlin, Harry, I'm so sorry for doubting you in the end. I just didn't know what to think," he said with a guilty look.
Harry patted him on the arm, trying to comfort him. "Ron, you have nothing to feel guilty about. I understand why you never came to visit. I confessed under Veritaserum and you had no way of knowing that I was manipulated into doing so. I forgave you the instant Voldemort took over my mind. You stayed by my side before the trial. You were the only one of the very few who even thought I hadn't done it. I don't think I've ever told you how grateful I was for your support," he said emotionally.
Ron tried to swallow the lump that had formed in his throat. "You're my best friend, my brother. I know you, Harry. I know the torture you went through when you had your visions. I know how you felt when Sirius died. There's just no way you could've killed anyone. There's no way in hell you would've killed anyone you thought of as family. Ginny was a sister to you and you loved her as such. Cho was someone you cared for as well. Colin was the annoying little brother who would constantly pester you but you cared for him as well. There was no way that you would've killed them. Anyone who knew you should've known that," the redhead exclaimed angrily.
Harry smiled sadly at Ron. "Maybe, but you know as well as I do that they didn't know me. They only thought of me as the Boy Who Lived, the one person who defeated Voldemort. At the first thought of me going dark, they turned on me. There were no explanations, no investigations, nothing. They didn't care. While I don't really care what the Wizarding World thought, the betrayal of my former friends is something I will never forgive. They should have known better, they should have known me better, Ron. Dumbledore did nothing, and I begged him for his help. I was a weapon Ron, and since he lost control of that weapon, he could've cared less what happened to me," he explained angrily.
"Let's not forget Hermione, shall we? She was the very first person to turn on me. There is nothing in this world, or the next, that will allow me to forgive her. Voldemort could be torturing her in front of me and I would just sit back and watch. She was supposed to be my friend. Why, Ron? Why did she turn on me?" Harry cried out, his face filled with pain and anger.
Ron grabbed Harry and hugged him close. He felt his friend trembling with emotions. He wished that there was something he could say to help Harry, but he knew that nothing would help ease the pain that his friend felt. The same pain that Ron himself felt to a lesser degree. They sat there together in silence as Ron waited for Harry to compose himself. After a few minutes, Harry pulled back and gave Ron a grateful look.
"You know, as I was coming to find you, Dennis Creevey stopped me," Ron commented softly.
Harry looked at him warily. "Oh? What did he have to say?"
"He wanted me to tell you that he was sorry for what he had said to you, for believing that you were capable of killing his brother."
Harry looked at him, an understanding look on his face. "Dennis was very close to Colin. I don't blame him for being angry. He was grieving and the things he said were not a surprise. Funny enough, he never hurt me. He didn't know me well enough to know any different. After the one time he yelled at me, he never said anything else to me. Not even at the trial," he sighed.
"I told him that you wouldn't have any hard feelings about it, but he wanted me to tell you, just in case," Ron explained.
"As I said before, it's not the Wizarding World opinion that hurt me, it was those that I had considered my friends and family. They are the ones who betrayed me without thought," Harry replied.
"What about Lupin?" Ron asked curiously.
Harry's gazed hardened and grew cold. "He should've known better. He already had one friend framed and sent to Azkaban. What makes him think this could have been any different? He should've thought of that first. But no, Merlin forbid he should go against anything Dumbledore says. I don't know if I'll ever forgive him for that, Ron," he answered bitterly.
Ron nodded his head in understanding. "And the Weasleys?" he sneered.
Harry looked at him curiously. "Ah, yes, the Weasleys. That reminds me, what exactly is the Emancipation Rite?" he asked. "You said earlier that you were going through with it."
"It's a ritual that happens when one wants to disown their family name. When I perform the ritual, I'll no longer be a Weasley by name or magic. I'll be giving up all that comes with being a Weasley, not that there's anything worth being part of that family anymore," Ron bit out venomously.
Harry frowned before asking, "Ron, what happened? I figured that since I was in Azkaban, your family would treat you better."
Ron snorted angrily and glared. "Not hardly. You might've been in Azkaban, but I was also in a prison. I was going through hell, Harry. After you were convicted, my loving family decided that I hadn't paid enough for going against them. They proceeded to destroy my property, belittle and insult me wherever I went, or ignore me depending on their mood. The twins decided that I needed to be taught a lesson, so took me out one day and beat me."
Harry gasped with shock and Ron looked away, ashamed. "They sneered and jeered that I shouldn't have been allowed to live. I was seriously injured and they would've done more, but my Father had come out to see what all the noise was about. He looked at the twins and told them to leave. He looked at me in disappointment and helped me into the house where I was given very little care, only the very minimum that would keep me alive. Merlin knows, they couldn't let me die. Oh no! I had to live so that they could teach me the error of my ways," he said with such bitterness.
Harry gazed at him, horrified. "Merlin, no! Ron I...They...but...," he stuttered.
Ron smiled grimly. "Oh, yes. That was just the beginning. While I didn't have another beating as bad as that, I was pushed, tripped, and slapped whenever the mood struck them. Mum decided that I shouldn't eat as well as the rest of the family, so I was given bread, gruel and whatever nasty food my mother could think of. I lost weight, not that I ate much. I was underage so I couldn't leave my family home and once I could, I didn't have the money. The whole time they were doing this, they told me that they were showing me the error of my ways, that they were doing it out of love," he sneered, his face twisted with hate and pain.
"Merlin, Ron. I'm so sorry," Harry said with a guilty look on his face.
"Why?" the redhead asked, confused.
"If you hadn't supported me, you wouldn't have had to go through that. I can't believe that they would do that to you." Harry commented with a shake of his head.
"Why are you surprised? They turned on you easily enough, and they were supposed to be your adopted family. They considered you a member of the family, but they had no problems with betraying your trust and love. What does it matter that it I was also betrayed. In some ways, it makes perfect sense," Ron muttered.
"I may have been like family, but I wasn't, Ron. Molly didn't give birth to me and I wasn't raised by them. I was never actually a Weasley. I would've thought they would've cared more for an actual member of the family," Harry sighed sadly.
Ron snorted, his face filled with disgust. "No, they didn't care that I was family. What they cared about was that I embarrassed the family. I went against the Wizarding World and supported you. I stayed by your side and publicly declared you innocent. That is the reason my family," he sneered, "treated me like they did. Now that you're out of Azkaban, I'm not leaving your side. You need me and I'll be there for you. It finally gave me the courage to do something I've been thinking about for months. I can't be a part of that family anymore. I don't want the Weasley name anymore. The very word brings to mind betrayal, pain, and rage. I don't want to be associated with it anymore," Ron said adamantly.
"What are you going to be called then?" Harry asked curiously.
Ron shrugged his shoulders. "Not sure. I'll think of something."
Harry thought a moment. "You know I would give you the Potter name if I could don't you?" he asked anxiously.
Ron grinned. "I know, but you can't. No one not of Potter blood, unless by marriage, shall be given the Potter name. I know that. I don't need your last name to be your brother, Harry," he replied softly.
"Maybe, but it would've been nice," Harry said wistfully.
Ron smiled at his best friend and answered, "Yeah, it would've."
Harry and Ron sat in companionable silence, each in their own thoughts. After a few minutes, Harry perked up. "I have an idea," he said slyly.
"Oh?" Ron asked, intrigued by the sly look on Harry's face.
"I'm the Head of the Potter family estate and the Black family estate. While I can't do anything about the Potter name, I can give you the Black family name. As the head of the Black family, I can do with it what I want. The family doesn't have the same conditions as the Potter's do, which is why I'm the head of the family. I can adopt into the family whoever I wish," Harry explained.
"As my first official act of the head of the Black family, I offer you the name of Ronald Bilius Black. As such, you will have a right to the family fortune and property," Harry said rather pompously, then grinned mischievously at Ron's stunned gaze.
Harry grinned softened into a smile. "Ron, seriously, I would like you to take the last name of Black. Sirius would've approved. Also, think of it this way, it'll piss off your mother," he teased with a mischievous grin. "Not to mention a few other people and quite a few purebloods."
Ron perked up at that. "I suppose it would at that. Thank you, Harry. I accept your gracious offer. I don't need the fortune, though. Just that fact that you offered the name is enough."
Harry shook his head. "No, Ron. What's mine is yours. I trust you with it. If I hadn't, I would've never made you my caretaker in case something happened to me. As a member of the Black family, you have every right to the money and properties the name offers. I'm not about to keep that from you," he exclaimed firmly.
Ron choked up and tears filled his eyes. "Damn, mate, you got me sniffling like a girl," he whined. "All right, if that's what you want, then I'll allow it." He watched as Harry beamed brightly. "I have a condition too. Well, not really a condition, more like an idea. I've been thinking about it for years, but with all that's happened, I think it would be a good thing."
Harry looked at him curiously. "What is it?"
"I know we can't share the same last name and we're not brothers by blood, but I would like to perform the /Cognatio Frater /ritual," Ron mumbled shyly.
"What does that mean?" Harry asked.
"It means Blood Brother. With this ritual, we would be bound together by blood and magic as brothers. It would be a sharing of our blood and magic. I would get a bit of your blood and magic and you would get a bit of mine. If scanned by any medical or revealing spells, we would be recognized as being actual brothers. The bond would have to be recognized by the Wizarding World and can't be ignored. If we perform this ritual, then by all rights, we'll be brothers," Ron said softly, watching Harry closely.
Harry stared at Ron, his face filled with awe. "You want to do the ritual? I would finally have family?" he asked with a quiver in his voice. Ron nodded and Harry smiled brightly. "Yes! Let's do it."
"You sure, mate?" Ron asked seriously. "Once it's done, there's no going back. We will be brothers until we die. The ritual is very special and it's not performed a lot because a wizard doesn't like to share their magic. They don't usually have the trust that is needed for the ritual. It can be dangerous. If the wizards who perform the ritual do not trust each other explicitly then they can die."
"Ron, you know that I trust you with my life. I want to do this. I have no problems with sharing my magic with you. I trust you with it. I've always thought of you as my brother, and now I finally have a way to make that become true. I say we do it," Harry said excitedly.
Ron grinned at Harry's excitement. "All right. We'll have to do it away from Hogwarts. I don't want the old man interfering in the ritual. He would try to stop it and I don't want that to happen. He is already unhappy about losing control over you," he sneered.
"How did the manipulative bastard act when he found out he had no control over me?" Harry asked gleefully.
Ron smirked. "He was quite livid. He didn't say anything per se, but the looks were enough to figure it out. He thought you had given control to Lupin, so he proceeded to try and persuade Lupin to his way of thinking. Once I let him know that I was in fact your caretaker, he was not happy. I believe he was going to contest it until I brought up the contract that he so foolishly signed," the redhead said with relish. "Oh, Harry, the look on his face was beautiful. I'll have to show it to you sometime."
Harry started to laugh. He always knew that the Headmaster would try to gain control over him somehow. He must've been angry to realize that a teenager had tricked him into signing the contract. Harry heaved a happy sigh at the thought of getting one over the all-knowing Dumbledore.
"Harry, I thought you should know that I went to Gringotts today. I checked over your finances. The Ministry never froze your accounts. The goblin in charge of your accounts told me that there had been a Ministry decree signed by Fudge, to leave your accounts open. I found several accounts that had been opened in the Potter and Black fortunes with Dumbledore's name on it. There were also several that had something to do with Hogwarts and the Order of Phoenix. There were other miscellaneous accounts that I knew nothing about so I had them frozen until they could be looked at. The accounts that included Dumbledore, Hogwarts, and the Order of Phoenix were closed. I didn't do much about them. I figured I could go over them later to see what the hell was going on. Apparently, Dumbledore himself opened these accounts. I think that is one of the reasons he was not happy about me becoming your caretaker. He should find out sometime tomorrow that the accounts are closed," Ron explained.
Harry looked livid. "That bastard has been stealing my money," he exclaimed angrily. "I assume I'm helping to support Hogwarts and the Order? Oh, hell no! This will be dealt with Ron, don't you worry."
Ron nodded. "I know, but my concern is what Dumbledore will try to do once he finds that the accounts have been closed. I don't think he thought I would check out your finances this soon. I have a feeling that he might try something to keep us here, even with the threat of the contract over his head. He has the ability to manipulate other people to do his job so that he doesn't get his hands dirty. We need to leave Hogwarts and we need to do it tonight when everyone else is asleep," the redhead said.
"All right, but where can we go that Dumbledore doesn't know about?" Harry asked anxiously.
Ron smirked. "Did you know that you have a castle in Ireland, some property in the US, Germany and France? Wherever we go, we can use the Fidelius spell to hide the home. As long as we're out from under Dumbledore's watchful eye, I don't care where we go. He can't do much if he doesn't know where we are. It's my right as your caretaker to take you wherever I feel you're the safest, and right now, Hogwarts isn't safe," Ron explained.
Harry nodded in agreement. "All right, I think I would like to see the castle in Ireland. We need a secret keeper. You would be the obvious choice, but it's a little too obvious. It needs to be someone that nobody would think of. Sadly, there isn't anyone I would trust with this information besides you." He glanced out of the bedroom door and looked thoughtful.
"Dobby, could you come here," Harry called out.
Dobby came into the room quietly. "Yes, Harry Potter, sir?"
"Dobby, Ron and I are going to leave Hogwarts tonight. We'll be sneaking out of the castle so that no one knows that we're gone. Would you like to come with us? I need someone I trust to take care of me and my home," Harry asked his friend kindly.
Dobby's large eyes filled up with tears. "Harry Potter is a good friend to Dobby. Dobby would like to be Harry Potter and Wheezy's elf. Will Harry Potter bind Dobby to his family?" the house-elf asked with some trepidation.
"Bind you? Why would I want to do that?" Harry asked.
"That is how house-elves are used. Their magic is bound to the wizard's family and home. It decreases the chance of disloyalty and betrayal. Their magic is weaker if it's bound and they can't disobey an order if one is given," Ron explained.
Harry looked disgusted. "No, Dobby. There will be no binding of your magic. You're a free elf and you'll stay a free elf. If you decide to come with us, you'll have free reign over your magic. Personally, I think the stronger you are, the better. I have no fears of you betraying Ron or me at all. You're my friend, Dobby. I would never do anything to harm you," he stated adamantly.
Dobby looked at Harry with adoring eyes. "Dobby chooses to go with Harry Potter and Wheezy. They are Dobby's friends and they need to be cared for. Dobby will never betray them. Dobby will always protect them until Dobby dies. This is Dobby's oath," the house-elf said firmly. There was a flash of light and Ron and Harry felt magic rush over them. They looked over at Dobby and to their amazement; they saw a taller, prouder looking house-elf. To Harry, he had a slight glow surrounding him that he hadn't had before.
"Dobby, what just happened?" Harry asked curiously.
"Dobby gives Harry Potter his protection oath freely. It is rare for a house-elf to do so. Dobby must protect Harry Potter and Wheezy so Dobby gives them his oath. It makes Dobby's magic stronger. Dobby is now a strong, free elf. Much better to protect Harry Potter and Wheezy with," the house-elf answered proudly.
Harry and Ron smiled at the house-elf. "I'm glad, Dobby. I'll call for you when we get ready to leave. Go and get anything that you need to take with you." Dobby nodded then disappeared.
"Well, you learn something new everyday," Harry commented after a few minutes of silence.
"You got that right, mate," Ron replied, amused.
Harry leaned against the pillows and yawned. He was still very exhausted and his body was still weak from Azkaban. Ron watched as Harry blinked at him sleepily. "Harry, go to sleep. I'll wake you when its time." Harry nodded and closed his eyes, falling asleep instantly.
Ron got off the bed and stretched. He walked towards the bathroom to take care of some business. Several minutes later, he walked out of the bathroom and went into the main room. He looked around and debated what to do. He was startled by the knock on the door. He opened it and saw Snape standing outside. He stepped back from the doorway and let the man in.
"How can I help you, Professor?" Ron asked warily.
"I have some potions that Potter needs to take. It's for his malnutrition. There is also a couple of energy potions that should help him get around," Snape explained coolly.
"Thank you, Professor. Harry just went back to sleep."
"Has there been any improvement in his condition?" Snape asked politely.
Ron gave the man a strange look. The Potions Professor was being nice. Well as nice as he could be. That was very odd. "No, he's still not aware of his surroundings, but then it hasn't even been a full day since he left Azkaban. I'm sure it'll take some time," Ron lied smoothly.
"Yes, I'm sure. I'll leave the potions with you to be given to Potter whenever he awakens," Snape said. He walked over to the small table and set the bottles down. He turned towards Ron and nodded at him. He walked to the door, then paused and turned around. He walked back to the table and brought more vials of potions out of his pocket, setting them down on the table. He glanced over his shoulder and gave Ron an unreadable look. "The Headmaster is not a happy man right now. He doesn't appreciate being shown up by a couple of teenagers. The contract he has unwittingly signed will not deter him for long. A person would be smart to relocate elsewhere before he has time to regroup. There are enough potions here to last a week." With that, Snape turned and walked out the door, shutting it behind him.
Ron stared at the closed door, amazed. Snape had as much as told him to leave before the Headmaster could try anything. Shaking his head, bewildered, he walked over to the bookcase and grabbed a magazine on Quidditch. He sat down on the couch and began to read.
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