I don't remember much of what happened after the Department of Mysteries. Being possessed by Voldemort and then grieving Sirius - it didn't leave much time for anything else. This chaos however, very well turned out to be my saving grace, as even the most skilled legilimens would have had a hard time sorting through the mess in my mind and discovering just what I'd done.
Honestly, I have no idea why I did it. It was just one of those things in the heat of battle, right after I hit Bella - /Lestrange /- with the... with the curse. For asecond, I had her, really truly had her, and she let out a shriek, her right hand spasmed, and in an instant, unnoticed by anyone but myself, her wand rolled across the atrium floor, stopping just in front of me.
I'd like to say Itook it as a memento, some perverse artifact to link me to my godfather. Pretend that there was something good in my motivations, but that would be alie. As I said, I didn't think, just reacted - and in an instant the wand was off the floor and jammed into my front pocket.
Odd, how clear that instant is, followed by the blur of suffering that followed. Bellatrix recovered, and then disappeared, my battle with Voldermort. Dumbledore saved me, and the next time I can recall with any detail was that time in the headmaster's office.
I wanted to hate Dumbledore. Truly, I don't think anyone can understand just how much rage and anger I held against him. Even when I returned to Privet Drive, my desire to hurt him, to see him suffer the pain that I was feeling - it was like earlier this year, except it wasn't Voldermort's emotions fueling it - they were all mine.
But truthfully, Icouldn't do it. Not without looking at everything else in my life, and if anything, I turned that anger inward. The headmaster has never been perfect, but much of what I blamed him for...well at best I could accuse him of naivety and foolishness, but compared to my own...eagerness to please, the arrogance that allowed me to believe I could storm the ministry and suffer no foul...I found it impossible to hate him without hating myself, and as he's so often told me, that is never a road worth traveling.
That's not to say that the anger diminished, or that my trust hadn't been irreversibly shattered. I spent the better part of two weeks rummaging through my school trunk, going over years' worth of material, practicing wand movements with a twig...really, looking back it would be amusing if it weren't so pathetic. It was soon painfully obvious that not only had I taken the easiest possible course load, but I was mediocre at even /that/.
I've always dreamed of leaving Privet Drive over the summer - some daring escape, reminiscent to second year. I couldn't fight this war like I had been - a school curriculum isn't designed to transform children into killers, and after that discussion in the headmaster's office, it was clear that that's what Ineeded to become.
But now - now Ihad a method of escape, and for the first time since the ministry, I pulled out Bella - /Lestrange's - /wand from its hiding place underneath my winter clothes. Twelve and three quarters inches, exactly. The first thing I did was measure the thing - no idea why, though Ollivander seems to hold length in high esteem... wand envy, maybe it's just a wizard thing.
I had no idea what wood it was, what core it had - but really, these are superficial things. Iknew this wand had killed, time and time again for more years than I had lived, and its owner had no doubt enjoyed every one. This wand had tortured into insanity the parents of one of my dorm mates, and the very last spell, the last act of this wand, was to kill the last remaining person I considered family.
Really, I must have been mad to hold it so fondly.
I'll be the first to admit I couldn't have been in my right mind, but suddenly, this wand provided me with two things I rarely have. Hope. Opportunity. This wand could not be traced, I could do magic, outside of Hogwarts, not a soul the wiser.
And so the third week, I stopped studying those damned silly spells that turned gerbils into tea cups or made hair purple. I organized my escape, away from this madness, until I had a fighting change of surviving.
As far as great escapes go, it was rather anticlimactic. I really wasn't rational, and that only aided me. There was no hesitancy, no fear that I might be expelled. Isimply took my wands, put on the invisibility cloak and then shrunk my broom. Nothing else was of any consequence, though I did knick a few twenty pound notes from Dudley. And so with a notice-me-not charm on top of already being invisible, I simply snuck into the back of Vernon's car just before he left for work.
Out in broad daylight, funny how plans in practice differ from theory. I had all sorts of grandiose schemes, blasting my way out with Death Eaters on my trail, or sneaking out in the middle of the night, trying valiantly to throw the Order off my scent. More than one of my plans involved seducing Tonks into aiding me, and I'd like to imagine that the primary factor against that would have been knowing which days she was on guard duty, and not that I'm an adolescent male with no clue about girls my own age, let alone an older woman...
An hour later, and we came to Grunnings, not too far out from London proper. Not that I really knew what London proper /was, /as I've only ever seen the magical elements and King's Cross, but I'd taken an old road map that was stuffed in a neglected corner of Dudley's other room, and I was working on the assumption that LondonLondon was the area crammed full of 'places of interest', and not the dreary grey blob that we were currently resting in.
Vernon got out, and I followed a bit later, though heading in the opposite direction than the office complex. Which led to my second trial of the day, and one that revealed another painfully obvious truth about my level of ignorance to the world around me.
My experiences in the muggle world are really quite minimal, and it's shameful just how much Iassumed the real world would be similar to the films Dudley was always watching. In the real world, one doesn't simply wave their arm, and then hop into the cab that swerves gracefully up to the curb. Cab drivers seem to be hesitant to pick up scraggly looking teenage males waving hysterically. Notice-me-not charms probably don't help matters.
When I finally did get a cab, it took the driver all of ten seconds to decide I was an idiot. Iwas obviously English, so the 'stupid tourist' concept wasn't an option, thus Iwas simply stupid. Can't really blame him for thinking that - first I answered his question of destination with "Err...London please" and then after a raised eyebrow and a not so subtle prompt as to where exactly in the city sprawl Iwanted to go, I pulled out a yellowed map dated to 1970, before crumpling it up and stammering out, "King's Cross". And to think for years I've laughed in silent amusement at Mr. Weasley.
I /did /eventually get to King's Cross, and even though I later discovered that the cabbie had charged me far and above the going rate, I was in London, hopefully my absence undetected, and if I lost a few extra quid in the process...well it had all been Dudley's to begin with. So with no further ado, I started walking, heading towards Grimmauld Place.
I suppose after making a complete fool out of myself in the cab, I deserved a little bit of true inspiration. Bella's.../Lestrange's.../well, now it's my wand... came in handy again. I couldn't exactly ask directions to an invisible house, but I remembered the Point Me spell from fourth year, and there was not a lick of magic protecting /ten /Grimmauld Place from magical detection, so off I went, trying not to look conspicuous with a wooden rod in my hand. Thankfully, muggles and wizards alike, only notice what they want to see.
/Point Me/didn't show me the fastest way there, only the general direction, and it was the better part of an hour wandering through an increasingly dreary London that I finally recognized the row of old homes that held my final destination. After a deep breath, I focused on Headquarters, and was relieved to see it when the house did in fact appear. I was not mad, at least not entirely.
The door gave instantly, and my senses went haywire, straining to hear any possible noise. All was quiet, and forcing down a lump in my throat, I moved slowly forward, wand at the ready and cloak back in place.
No one was here. Everything was dead - a fact personified when I found Kreacher's body, decapitated. Honestly, I couldn't even muster the energy to cheer - I simply didn't care. Later, I found out that there is a clause within servitude of the Black family that requires a treasonous house elf to take his own life. For all the denial from both sides of the family, Sirius was a Black, and the contract held. At the time... at the time I was just relieved, that I wouldn't have to take such action myself.
Truthfully, I have no idea why I went to Grimmauld Place. I hated the home when Sirius was alive, and loathed it more now that he was dead. I think a part of me knew it would be the last place the order would look for a runaway, and none of them would want to be back here anytime soon. It was also free lodging, which until I had abetter idea of where I was going, was certainly a perk.
I found myself in Sirius' room, suddenly immersed in a frantic search for something, anything,that would be a link between the two of us, something tangible to remember him by, other than my own memories - they just didn't seem enough some how. My memories of him were solely as a prisoner, first an escapee from Azkaban, and then under house arrest. For someone who was once so full of life...it just didn't seem /right. /Like I was holding something stale and dead - which Isuppose in a way, he now was.
I don't know what I was looking for. I had a desperate hope, that maybe he'd written a final letter, a Dear Harry, if you're reading this, then it means I died saving you... Real life doesn't work that way, I realize that now. Sirius I have no doubt would have risked his life a thousand times over to save mine, but he wouldn't contemplate the concept that he could die. Even after all the world had thrown at him, he was always resilient, always confident in his own ability to survive.
In a lot of ways, we're really quite similar.
I spent the day there, going down once in the evening to scavenge from whatever was left in the kitchen. Ten minutes and a bit of bread and cheese later, I was back in Sirius'room, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
I obviously fell asleep, as my next memory was a blinding beam of sunlight crashing across my face. I lay there for a long time, thinking about what I'd do next. I needed to get out, train, find some way to come through this war alive, though the jolt of Sirius was both a source of inspiration and depression. Sirius knew more about magic and the real world than I certainly did, and he was dead, as were most of the more competent wizards and witches of his generation, or at least those that weren't out to get me.
On that cheering thought, I gathered the small pile of Sirius's things that I'd decided to take with me. It was a shabby lot - a penknife similar to that which I'd broken in the Department of Mysteries, a slightly worn cloak that had the sole advantage of being both wizarding and at the same time not Hogwarts dress, and after apained look at my taped up trainers, a pair of what appeared to be genuine dragon hide boots. Sirius could have pulled the look off, I just felt out of place.
'Right Harry, time to think.' Either Dumbledore - and consequently the Order - knew I was missing, or they were still clueless. Either way, traipsing around Diagon Alley was both reckless and stupid, and if Dumbledore trusted me enough to mind my guardians and stay safe enough that whatever guard I had was lax enough to allow a daytime escape, he certainly wouldn't any longer if he caught me unattended in the middle of Wizarding England.
So money was tight, and I had no knowledge of wizarding Britain outside of about four isolated points throughout the U.K. Brilliant. Even after the cab, I had about sixty pounds left, and with a working wand and invisibility cloak, I could make that stretch for some time, provided I didn't mind doing a few things I shouldn't. Funny, how being the target of a psychotic madman tends to shift the boundaries of right and wrong.
Muggle it was then, and ideally, somewhere outside of Britain. I needed contact with the magical world to get what I needed, and doing so discreetly in England wasn't an option. Unfortunately, my knowledge of geography growing up was generally restricted to a cupboard, and I've never left the country since then. Hermione would know what to do, and I bet she could probably get by alright - she seemed to be able to manage a conversation or two with Beauxbaton witches from time to time during the tournament - of course, I had no way of judging her fluency, but that's the way the bludgers fly.
Nothing for it, but Ihad to jump out the frying pan and into the fire. At least my total ignorance of muggle culture would look less conspicuous in a foreign country, or that was my logic. In for the knut, in for the galleon. Five minutes later, I had taken a satchel from the closet, stuffed in some clothes that looked like they might fit at a stretch, and left Grimmauld Place, no final destination yet, but the Black family home, the Order of the Phoenix, even Voldemort himself be damned, I was not staying here to die.
"You'll forgive me Harry, if I find this turn of events shocking."
Harry looked down into his hands, unable to meet the headmaster's eyes. "Yes sir, and looking back, I can see just how careless I was." A sense of resolve seemed to fill him, and he turned his gaze up to meet the headmaster. "In all fairness sir, Ididn't /know /that it wasn't Uncle Vernon who took me out for a day in London, but a Polyjuiced death eater."
"Constant Vigilance lad! Time and time again I've told you, and after your fourth year, I'da thought you'd be on the lookout for people who weren't what they claim to be."
Harry turned red, his still wounded body taken second place to his battered pride. "I know Ishould have been paying attention! Look at me...I know it's no excuse," his breath hitched, and he suppressed a grimace as his movements jarred his fragile body. "But...I wasn't thinking straight, Sirius had just died, and when the Vernon look-alike said he wanted me out the house to give Dudley and Petunia some time without my '/bloody boo-hooing' /I just went along with him."
Harry took a deep breath, calming as he felt a soothing hand brushing against his upper leg. Turning to give Fleur a grateful smile, he took another breath, looking slowly around the room. Everyone seemed to be speechless, the only sound for a moment a whispered 'Oh, Harry" from Hermione.
The moment was broken by a cough from Dumbledore. "Harry, I realize this is hard for you, and no one is placing blame, save for on those who put you through this torment. Are you able to go on, or perhaps we should let it rest for the evening."
A shuddering sigh, and Harry turned back to the Headmaster. "I'm fine, sir - really. As I was saying, I think my kidnapping was possible because /technically, /I left willingly, and anything anyone would have seen would be me leaving peacefully with my uncle. An odd sight perhaps, but not impossible." Harry finished with arueful chuckle.
"Harry, do you have any idea whose wand you took?" Dumbledore asked, his curiosity as to the rest of Harry's ordeal at odds with the puzzle pieces already laid before him."Any idea at all?"
Harry shrugged, followed by a shake of his head. "No idea sir, there were lots of people there that night, and I can't remember any of it very well. I assumed that it was adeath eater's once I was captured, but I suppose it could be a ministry employee acting out on his own. All I gathered was it was through the wand that they were able to track me to Privet Drive, and it's wasn't long after that they took it from me - I haven't seen it since."
Dumbledore nodded, gesturing for Harry to continue his tale. "So the next morning, we left wherever it was in London we were staying, and left Britain entirely." Harry let out a mirthless chuckle. "My first time to a foreign country, and I was doing it tied up and bound under my own invisibility cloak in a muggle vehicle. It was only days later, when I got a glimpse outside, did I have any clue where we were - right in the middle of Germany."