Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Second Fiddle

Needle's Eye

by Crucio_Crusade 17 reviews

Harry Potter is aware of the wizarding world. The only problem is he grew up apart from it. When he explored the magical world, he found dangers, wonders, and friendship.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres:  - Characters: Harry,Hermione,Neville,Voldemort - Warnings: [!] [V] [?] - Published: 2008-06-25 - Updated: 2008-06-25 - 6001 words

Disclaimer: This fan fiction was based on the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. I do not claim ownership on any character created by J.K. Rowling, and no money is collected from this story. This is one way I show appreciation to J.K. Rowling’s works. Other names or places on this story are fictional. Any similarity to actual name is purely coincidental.

Chapter 35: Needle’s Eye

Chel was a little worried as she went down the main stairs of Potter Manor. Enjay, their house-elf, told her that her parents wanted to talk to her and her brother. She hoped it was nothing serious. Whenever her dad or the Order went on a mission, she couldn’t help feeling something horrible would happen.

She was almost at the door of the family room, when her brother, William, caught up with her. “Hi, Chel… Why do you think mum and dad want to see us?”

“I don’t know,” Chel answered uneasily. When she opened the door, she found her dad comforting her mum. “Mum? Dad?” She saw her dad whispered something to her mum, before he stood up and faced them.

When her father momentarily looked them, his face was unreadable. “Chel, William, please, have a seat.” She sat on a sofa, near her mum’s chair. William sat on her left. For a moment, her father quietly paced the floor, a habit which he exhibited whenever he was deeply disturbed. “There is no easy way to tell this to you, so I’m just going to say it.” Her father sadly sat on an armchair, opposite her mum. He leaned so far forward, that he was almost sitting on the edge of it. “A few days ago…” her father began softly. “Your brother, Harry, was kidnapped by Death Eaters.”

“What?!” Chel and William were both shocked.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Chel asked a little hurt.

“I’m sorry if we didn’t tell you sooner. But, your mother and I thought it best not to worry you and William unnecessarily.” Chel noticed her dad looked more than sorry. There was a grave look on his face. “Anyway, Harry, along with Tonks, Neville, and Madam Bones, managed to escape with the help of a Death Eater.” She was about to ask a question, when her father quickly spoke. “If you’re going to ask about Neville, I’ll tell you that story another time.” From the way her dad looked at her, it was obvious he wanted to be heard first. She nodded understandingly. “They were almost at the castle, when the Death Eater apparated away, taking Harry as his hostage.” Her dad paused, and lowered his head as if the next thing he’s going to say was too much for him.

“What happened next, dad? Did Harry get away again?” her brother asked hopefully. Chel, on the other hand, got a sinking feeling something terrible happened to Harry. She looked at her mum’s somber face. She could tell her mum was trying to control herself. She was restlessly clasping and unclasping her hands together.

When she worriedly turned her attention back to her dad, he was slowly shaking his head. He didn’t look at them. “Your brother was found by Fred and George in their shop. He…he was dead.”

“What?!” William exclaimed disbelievingly.

Chel couldn’t say a word. She was shocked that’s for sure. But, she didn’t know what to feel. She felt numb all of a sudden. After a few moments, she turned to her mum. “May I be excused? I have some packing to do.”

“Me too,” William said softly, before quickly walking out the door. Chel followed at a sedate pace.

Lily worriedly stood up. She didn’t stop her children from leaving. She was very concerned, though. It appeared they took the news well, but she had her doubts. “Do you think they’re alright? Their reactions don’t look normal.”

“They’ll be fine.” James supportively stood beside his wife. His eyes were focused on the door his children just exited. “They’re strong. They just need time to come to grip with Harry’s death.” He caringly pulled his wife toward him, and hugged her, rubbing her back gently.

“James? Lily?” James looked up, and saw his old friend, Remus. “I came as soon as Professor McGonagall told me.” James momentarily let go of Lily, and gave his friend a brotherly hug. “I’m sorry, James. Harry didn’t deserve to die.” Next, Remus went over to Lily and gave her a heartfelt, sisterly hug. “Lily…” He slightly pulled away from her. “How are you?”

“I’ll be alright,” Lily tearfully replied.

“I feel your pain, both of you. I may have known Harry for only a short time, but I believe he’s a good, young man,” Remus said sincerely.

James regarded his friend with gratitude. “Thank you, Remus. I hope you’ll stay till Harry is buried.”

“Of course, I will,” Remus sincerely agreed. “Harry may not be aware of this, but I consider him as a nephew.”

Both James and Lily smiled in thanks. James, then, turned to his wife, and caringly held her hands. “I’ll prepare Harry’s grave in the family cemetery. It won’t take me long.”

Lily didn’t let go of her husband’s hands, when he turned to leave. “No. We’ll lay him to rest in our dungeon.”

James was a little surprised. “Do you think that’s wise?” he asked with concern. “No Potter has ever been laid to rest inside the manor. The children may find the idea a little bit creepy.”

“Harry didn’t live in this house, when he was alive. I want him here in his death,” Lily insisted firmly.

“Lily…” James sympathetically looked at his wife in the eye. “Harry’s ghost will not haunt Potter Manor if that is your intention. And, you know why, don’t you?”

Lily’s lips quivered as she answered. “Yes, I know. Still, I want him buried in the dungeon.”

James gave his wife a long, searching look. “Alright…” Lily smiled at him gratefully. “Remus, would you mind calling the children. I’ll be in the dungeon to prepare one of the rooms for Harry.” Remus nodded in acknowledgement, and left.

“I want the one on the east side. It’s the only room where natural sunlight filters through the window.” James slowly nodded in understanding.


William was worried, when he didn’t hear an answer. He tried knocking again, but this time a little louder.

“Come in,” invited a voice, sounding a bit annoyed.

William hesitantly entered his sister’s bedroom. He saw his sister sitting on the side of her bed facing the window. He diffidently crossed the room, and quietly sat beside her. For a moment, they just silently watched the gorgeous weather outside.

William briefly glanced at her sister’s stoic face, before returning his gaze outside the window. “How are you doing, Chel?” he asked with concern.

Her brother’s concern penetrated Chel’s numb feelings and blank thoughts. “Okay, I guess.” Slowly, she lowered her head, focusing her eyes on her rigidly clasped hands on her lap. “We never got the chance to know him,” she said sadly. “I guess it was my fault.” She directed her gaze outside, but not actually seeing anything. “I was angry with him.”

She and her brother had met Harry three times at number twelve Grimmauld Place. He was always friendly with them, but not to their parents. As a result, she treated him as coldly as he treated their parents. Now, she regretted her cold attitude. A ghost of a smile graced her lips at the memory of her father proudly telling them of Harry’s duel with the Dark Lord. Her dad probably exaggerated a little bit. Nevertheless, she was also proud of Harry for kicking Voldemort’s arse. Perhaps, if she had been a little approachable, Harry might not feel at odd with his own family.

“Yeah, me too.” Chel heard her brother quietly replied. For a moment, she didn’t understand what her brother meant. “I guess it was my fault too.”

William could understand why his sister was angry with Harry. Their dad was a good person. If Harry was angry with their dad, he didn’t need to magically blast him. As a result of what Harry did, he never talked to him. He kept his distance. Whenever he and his sister visited number twelve Grimmauld Place, Harry would always find the time to talk to them. But, because of their cold reception, after a while, Harry stopped talking to them. Willian was now sorry for that. He really would have liked to know all the pranks Harry planned for the Weasley twins.


The soft knocks brought brother and sister out of their silent reveries. When they turned around, they found Remus somberly watching them. “Chel, William, how are you two doing?”

“We’re okay, Uncle Remus,“ William replied sadly.

Remus nodded understandingly. “Well, come on. Your mum’s waiting for you downstairs. It’s time.” With heavy hearts, Chel and William quietly followed their Uncle Remus.

Harry’s final resting place was a white, marble coffin, lying in a room about four square meters. The coffin, as well as the room, was simple and unadorned. But, the sun’s light, directly shining on the coffin through a small gothic-style window, made it look almost luminescent. The candles on the Victorian-style chandelier were unlit at that moment. The rest of the room needed no light, just where Harry lay.

Lily, with tear-filled eyes, looked one last time at her son. She, then, gently laid her son’s wand on his chest. Earlier, she tried everything she could to seal the horrible wounds on Harry’s body. But, she failed. “I’m sorry, Harry. I’m so sorry. If it wasn’t for me, you would still be alive.”

James, standing in the background, holding his children’s hands, felt his heart tightened with sorrow. He, William, Chel, and Remus already said their final farewell to Harry. He purposely let Lily go last. James walked over to his wife’s side, and placed a comforting arm around her shoulders.

“He’s in a better place now, Lily,” James said softly. His wife merely nodded unable to speak because of her grief. As James was about to close the coffin, Lily stopped him.

Corpus Reservo.” Lily cast a Preservation Charm on Harry’s body. James just quizzically looked at his wife. Almost apologetically, she explained what she did. “There’s still a residual magic on Harry’s body. The charm will feed on his magic to protect his body from the elements. Once his magic is drained, his body will start to decay naturally. I…I just want to preserve…”

“You don’t have to explain, Lily. I understand,” James said soothingly. Giving his son again a silent farewell, he sealed Harry’s coffin.

Like the Potters, Bill’s funeral was mostly attended by family members with few close friends. There was no elaborate wizarding funeral ceremony. It was just a solemn gathering of family and friends, saying their final farewell to a well-loved brother, son, cousin, and lover.

Fleur didn’t stay long. She went home after she expressed her deep sorrow to her almost future mother-in-law. Luna, Susan, and Seamus also went home after the funeral. Neville, Cho, Hermione, Ginny, and Dean all followed Ron to his room. For a long while, they just quietly sat around Ron’s room. Each of them lost in their own thoughts. No one found the need to break the silence.

Suddenly, Ron angrily stood up, and looked out his window. “We can’t let this go on. We can’t let those animals just kill anyone they please. We have to stop them. We have to find them, and put a stop to their senseless killings. Kill them ourselves if we must.” For a moment, no one dared to contradict his angry rhetoric.

“I won’t pretend to know how you feel, Ron. But, you do know that what you’re suggesting is suicide?” Dean asked uneasily.

Ron hotly rounded on his Gryffindor roommate. “You don’t have to come with us if you’re scared, Dean,” he said derisively. “You’ll probably just run away, anyway.”

“Ron!” Hermione exclaimed, shocked.

“Why you…” Ginny quickly stood up, and blocked Dean’s path. “Who are you calling a coward, Ron? You’re probably more of a coward than me, if Neville there isn’t always saving your arse.” Dean tried to move Ginny out of the way. But, the red-headed witch wouldn’t budge.

Ron was quick to react. He would have trampled his sister, if Neville didn’t hold him in time. “Let me go, Nev! I’m going to knock his block off!”

“Stop it, Ron! Don’t be an idiot!” Hermione crossly stood up, and tightly gripped his right arm. “Don’t insult anyone, if you can’t take it yourself.”

Ron irately glared at Hermione. “You’re on his side now?”

Hermione met his glare for glare. “I’m on nobody’s side. Have you forgotten you two are friends?” She intensely looked at Ron, and then, at Dean, and then, back at Ron again. “Instead of insulting each other, talk like two reasonable adults. Now, both of you… Sit down!” The force of her command was enough to make the two young wizards quietly obey her. Ron sat beside Cho on the extra bed. Dean sat beside Ginny on Ron’s bed. For a brief moment, there was an uneasy silence. “Ron, I’m sorry for shouting at you,” Hermione began apologetically. “I know you’re hurt and angry right now. Just promise me you won’t do something stupid, like look for Death Eaters.”

“Why? Do you think I can’t handle them?” Ron asked contemptuously. “We beat them at The Department of Mysteries, remember?”

“Yes, I remember,” Hermione replied honestly. “But, we were just lucky. If Dumbledore and the Order didn’t show up, we wouldn’t be here arguing.” She was a little hurt when Ron looked at her, as if she betrayed him. “You have to understand. You’ll only get yourself killed. Then what? Have your mother mourn for her two sons?” Ron sternly glared at her. “I’m sorry if I sound heartless, Ron. But, you’re not ready. We’re not ready.” She entreatingly looked at Ron. “We have only two more years to complete our studies. Why not wait? We’ll be more prepared to face You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters, then.”

“You-Know-Who will not wait two years,” Ron replied forebodingly. “He will crush any resistance, now.”

“Do you think I don’t know that?” Hermione asked miserably. “Every day I asked myself who will be next? Who will be next?” Hermione unhappily looked at the faces of everyone in the room. “I fear for the lives of my friends and classmates, especially my parents. But, what can I do? I’m not even old enough to perform magic out of school. We need to complete our studies, if we hope to survive this war.” Everyone was silent. There was no denying the truth in Hermione’s words.

“Or, we can concentrate most of our free time to training, when we get back to Hogwarts,” Neville suggested determinedly. “I’m confident, a little less than two years, we’ll be ready.”

Everyone felt a ray of hope at Neville’s words. They completely believed in him. For who could defeat the most evil dark wizard in the wizarding world, it was none other than The-Boy-Who-Lived.

After two days, Professor McGonagall called a meeting. A select number of witches and wizards of the Order of the Phoenix were gathered in the kitchen of number twelve Grimmauld Place. She also invited Neville and Hermione. She felt now was the time to bring the young wizard and witch into their confidence. None of the Wealeys showed up. Noticeable at the gathering was the lack of optimism or determination. Instead, the kitchen was filled with doom and gloom.

Professor McGonagall tried several times to properly start the meeting. But, the air of depression put a damper on her spirit too. “Who has a bit of good news to report?” she asked without preamble. For a moment, those who were present uncertainly looked at one another.

“Snape is dead,” Mad Eye abruptly revealed. There was a moment of silence, after his revelation. But, Mad Eye could see no one gave a damn.

“Okay…anymore bit of good news?” Professor McGonagall asked expectantly. She anxiously looked around the table, and was confused at all the smiles directed at her. For a moment, she asked herself if she said anything funny. Then, it suddenly dawned on her. “Oh my! I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.” A buoyant laughter filled the kitchen.

“We understand Professor. It is hard to feel sorry for the greasy git, and a traitor to boot,” Tonks said light-heartedly.

“Nevertheless, we must never think like that. Professor Snape was a valued member of Hogwarts’ staff. And, no matter what he did. He didn’t deserve to die.” Even as she sternly rebuked the pink-haired Auror, Professor McGonagall was still embarrassed for letting everyone know of her true feeling.

Lily let the laughter die down a little, before she spoke. “I’m afraid I have bad news,” she stated with trepidation. The collective moods of doom and gloom returned slowly. “This report is about Professor Dumbledore’s condition.” She momentarily looked at the curious faces around the table. “For a few days now, Madam Pomfrey and I have been analyzing and researching the curse on Professor Dumbledore. At first, we thought it was a new curse, developed by Voldemort based on the Draught of the Living Death.” Most flinched at the name of the Dark Lord. “However, during my research, I found out it was an old curse.” Again, she glanced at the faces of the people around the long table. “Who among here is familiar with the story of Sleeping Beauty?”

“Isn’t that a muggle children story?” Hermione asked with a hint of curiosity.

Lily somberly looked at her. “It is.” Then, she looked at all the Order members attentively listening to her. “As some of you may know, muggles and wizards co-existed in the distant past. For those of you who are not familiar with the story of Sleeping Beauty, it is basically about a princess who was cursed to sleep forever, if not awaken by true love’s first kiss.”

“Pardon me, Lily…” interrupted Professor McGonagall, who was a little perplexed. “Are you saying that in order to lift the curse from Professor Dumbledore, he must be kissed by his true love?”

“Not exactly,” Lily replied evasively.

“How is this story related to Dumbledore then, beside both of them being asleep?” asked Mad Eye grouchily.

“I’m getting to that,” Lily assured him tensely. “Some of you may not be aware of this, but the story of Sleeping Beauty is told to both muggle and magical children. The story itself can be found in a book entitled Fable’s Tales of Love and Lies.”

“But, what is this story got to do with Dumbledore’s situation?” asked Mad Eye irately.

Lily looked at everyone around the table, and noticed some of them were as impatient as Mad Eye. They only showed more decorum than the bad-tempered Auror. She inwardly sighed. She hated skipping over some of her explanations. It made her report more confusing.

“People consider Sleeping Beauty as a fairytale story. It isn’t. It was a real life story, romanticised by wandering troubadours.” She began in tangent. “During the early 17th century, an enterprising young wizard found a way to extort gold from rich muggles without risk, or fear of repercussion. This wizard put a curse on his unsuspecting victim. A curse like the one Lord Voldemort used on Professor Dumbledore. Once the gold ransom had been paid, this cunning wizard released his victim from his curse with a kiss. Since he could easily disguise himself with a Glamour Charm, no one suspected that the extortionist and the kind stranger were one and the same.”

Hermione’s sharp mind quickly grasped the implication. “Mrs. Potter, are you saying…”

“Yes,” Lily answered bleakly. “Professor Dumbledore must be kissed by the one, who puts the curse on him.” Her pronouncement was met with disbelieving looks. A few gasped in shock.

“That slimy bastard,” Neville exclaimed vehemently.

“Mr. Longbottom,” Professor McGonagall lightly censured. The headmistress noticed Neville wasn’t sorry at all.

“That’s it, then,” Remus declared glumly. “Dumbledore will remain asleep forever.”

“You can bet your cute bum on that.” Tonks winked candidly at Remus. The werewolf marauder harrumphed uncomfortably. “Professor Dumbledore will surely choose to remain asleep, rather than be kissed by You-Know-Who. I mean, who knows the kinds of nasty critters crawling around You-Know-Who’s lips?” The pink-haired Auror visibly shuddered.

Remus nearly choked. “That’s not what I meant.” He incredulously looked at Tonks.

“Oh?” Tonks asked with feigned innocence. “What do you mean, then?”

“I mean, there’s no possible way we can make You-Know-Who voluntarily lift the curse from Professor Dumbledore,” explained Remus earnestly.

Tonks confusedly looked at him. “Isn’t that what I just said?”

“No,” Remus contradicted her at once. “You said…”

“I think, Tonks already understood what you said. Isn’t that right?” Professor McGonagall amusedly looked at the Metamorphmagus.

“Yes, ma’am,” Tonks agreed petulantly. Her fun prematurely nipped in the bud.

“I hate to say this, but I agree with Lupin,” Mad Eye said morosely. “Voldemort has the upper hand on this one.” He knew it. And, he could see the others knew it as well. No matter how Tonks made light joke of the situation.

“There must be something we can do!” Hestia exclaimed in frustration, turning to Lily at the same time.

Lily just shook her head helplessly. “The only known cure is a kiss from the one, who cursed him. Any attempt to wake Professor Dumbledore another way, may result in his death.”

“As I see it,” Professor McGonagall began musingly. “The only possible way we can convince You-Know-Who, is if we offer him something of value in exchange.”

“Offer him something of value?” Mad Eye asked heatedly. “Offer him what? Longbottom?” Neville shifted uncomfortably on his seat. “Hogwarts? The Ministry? Agree to be his slaves? I doubt we have anything that mad fool considers valuable.”

Everyone quietly agreed. They felt more helpless. They knew anyone of the options Mad Eye mentioned, were unacceptable.

“There is one possible way.” James grim voice broke the uneasy silence. He didn’t feel like participating in the discussion earlier, preferring to just listen. But, Mad Eye’s last comment gave him an idea. With his eyes glittering with anger, he slowly looked at everyone around the table. “We offer him his life.”



“His life?”

“What do you mean?”

James patiently waited for the Order members’ questions to die down. When he was sure he got everyone’s attention again, he determinedly continued with his explanation. “We all know Voldemort fears death. So much so, that he created seven Horcruxes.”

Remus picked up James’ train of thought excitedly. “And, if we gather all the Horcruxes, and threaten to destroy them…”

“Not threaten,” James interrupted coolly. “We will destroy all of them.”

“But James…” Professor McGonagall started to protest. She didn’t mind at all if You-Know-Who was destroyed. But, at the moment, Professor Dumbledore’s survival depended on that evil wizard they were trying to destroy.

“We will not kill Voldemort himself,” James quickly cut in. “With his Horcruxes gone, Voldemort must realize he has nothing to fall back on. Either he cooperates with our demand, or he dies.”

“You make it sound so simple, James,” Remus smilingly commented. “But, hey… I’m in.”

For the first time, since the meeting began, everyone felt a ray of hope. They got a plan to act upon. What was more, it was doable.

“Pardon me,” Hermione spoke quietly, almost shyly. “I’m sorry if this is going to sound silly, but… These Horcruxes? What are they? Do you all know what these Horcruxes look like? And, do you all know where to find them?” Everyone looked blankly at her. Hermione was a little disconcerted when her questions were met with silence. She couldn’t decide whether she asked very confidential questions, or nobody knew the answers.

Professor McGonagall was at a loss for words, when everyone turned to her for enlightenment. She could tell Longbottom and Granger what they were used for. But, she doubted she could explain what they really were. She never even heard of Horcruxes, until the headmaster mentioned them. She didn’t know what they looked like, or where to begin searching for them. The only one, who did have an idea, was currently sleeping in the hospital wing of Hogwarts.

“Crap!” Tonks exclaimed in dismay.

“You can say that again,” Hestia said dejectedly.

“Crap!” Tonks exclaimed again.

Harry woke up in darkness. Everywhere he looked, all he could see was darkness. Curiously, he looked at his hands. He could even tell he was moving them. Still, he couldn’t see them. He brought them close to his eyes. He even touched his face. Still, he couldn’t see them. He felt the first stab of fear in his heart.

“Don’t panic.” He breathed in. “Don’t panic.” He breathed out. “Keep calm.” He breathed in. “Keep calm.” He breathed out.

Somehow his mantra did the trick. He didn’t panic. He put his fear at bay. He nervously assumed he was just blind. However, he noticed something else. He couldn’t hear anything. He snapped his fingers, experimentally. No sound. He clapped his hands next to make a louder noise. Still, no sound. He couldn’t believe it. He was deaf too.

A little panicky, Harry tried calling out loud. “HELLOOO! CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?” He slowly turned around, hoping someone would hear him. “IF SOMEONE’S OUT THERE, PLEASE HELP ME!”

He stopped shouting for a moment. He felt weird hearing his own voice inside his mind. He wondered, then, if he was just moving his lips. Even though he couldn’t actually hear the sound of his voice, he didn’t feel like he was mute. Another stab of fear pierced his heart. This time, the effect was stronger. Not knowing what was actually happening to him, he let his fear get the better of him.

“HELPPP! HELPPP!” he shouted with all his might. “I CAN’T SEE! I CAN’T HEAR! CAN ANYONE HEAR ME? PLEASE, HELP ME!”

“Please, Harry, stop shouting. You’re loud enough to wake up the dead.” The unexpected, cheery, male voice silenced Harry, his senses at once on full alert. “You’re not blind. You’re not deaf. But, I’m not sure if I can honestly say you’re not dumb.” At first, he tried to locate the source of the unknown, amused voice. Then, he realized he was hearing it directly in his mind.

“Who’s there? Identify yourself?” Harry knew he was at a disadvantage, so he let his instinct guide him once more.

“Relax, Harry. It’s me.” Harry easily noted the teasing tone of the voice, which by now, sounded very familiar. “Oh, come on. Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten the sound of my voice?”

“Uncle Max? Is that you?” Harry asked uncertainly. But, his heart was slowly filling up with hope.

“In the flesh…err, spirit I mean,” the voice confirmed merrily.

Harry smiled broadly, his doubts quickly melting away. He was eager to see his uncle again. But, he was still in the dark, literally. “Uncle Max, I can’t see you.”

“Oh, sorry Harry,” his uncle said apologetically. “Here, let me fix that.” There was a moment of silence, and then… “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”

Harry automatically closed his eyes at the sudden brightness. And then, he raised his left forearm to further shield his eyes as he slightly opened them. Through the glare, Harry saw a figure in a brown cloak. After a few more seconds, his eyes grew accustom to the light again. Now, he could truly see his deceased uncle.

Harry slowly lowered his arm. “A bit melodramatic, don’t you think?” he commented jokingly.

With a friendly smile on his face, Max just nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders. “I guess.”

Harry curiously looked around him. The light only surrounded the area they occupied, and no further. He couldn’t even tell where the light was coming from. Bewildered, he turned to his uncle for an answer. “How are you doing this, Uncle Max?”

“Well..” His uncle briefly scratched the back of his head. “I’m not sure exactly.” There was a baffled look on his face. “I think it’s magic.”

Harry grinned with amusement. “Good enough for me,” he softly agreed. He quickly closed the gap separating them, and tightly hugged his uncle. “I miss you, Uncle Max.”

“I miss you too, lad,” his uncle whispered, while returning his tight hug. For a moment, nephew and uncle savored their unexpected, but welcomed reunion.

Harry reluctantly let go of his uncle. He, then, noticed how healthy his uncle was. “You look great, Uncle Max. Death suits you.”

Max smiled gratefully at his young ward. Then, he momentarily looked at himself, taking note of his well ironed cloak. “You think so?” he asked in a pleased voice.

“I know so,” Harry assured firmly. There was a moment of companionable silence, as each took in the other’s appearance. “Are you with your family now, uncle?”

Max’s smile was full of happiness. “Yes, I am. I couldn’t be more happier.”

Harry felt happy for his uncle. He really was. However, he was a little apprehensive about the reaction of his Uncle Max’s family to him. “Do…do you think they’ll like me?”

Understanding Harry’s insecurities, Max reached out, and gently laid his hands on the youth’s broad shoulders. He looked at his young ward mischievously. “Like you? Are you joking? Harry, they already love you.” Max saw relief washed over Harry’s face. “I told them everything about you, including that time you swam naked in the river.”

“What?!” Harry exclaimed in disbelief. “You didn’t have to tell them that.”

Max let go of Harry, as he laughed heartily. “I can’t help it. You looked so funny chasing that lorry with just a twig covering your willie.”

Harry couldn’t help laughing as well. It must have been a pretty sight. There was another companionable silence. “Uncle Max, since I’m here, does this mean I’m going with you?”

Max sadly looked at him. “No, Harry.”

“What?!” Harry exclaimed, confuse. “But…”

Max reassuringly smiled at him. “Don’t get me wrong, Harry. I like you to join me, my wife, and daughter. We’ll be one big, happy family.” Max unhappily shook his head, while looking Harry straight in the eye. “But sadly, it’s not your time, yet.”

Harry couldn’t help feeling disappointed. “Can’t I just stay here? I don’t have anyone to get back to, anyway.”

Max regarded his young ward compassionately. “Don’t say that. You have a father and a mother hoping to be forgiven. They love you, Harry. Give them a chance.” Harry didn’t respond as he lowered his eyes to the floor. “And, those Death Eaters…let the authorities handle them.” Harry disbelievingly looked at his uncle. “Let go of your anger, Harry. Don’t let it poison you. If you didn’t enter my life, I might have ended up a bitter man, hating everything and everyone. Love and live, Harry. Love and live.”

Harry couldn’t believe what he just heard. Was his uncle telling him to let bygone be bygone? “You want me to let those murderers get away with what they did to you, to your family, and to those other people?”

“Is this about seeking justice?” Harry nodded quickly. “If what you call justice will only satisfy your thirst for vengeance, then, I don’t want it. I love you like a son, Harry. I don’t want you wasting your life in some petty vengeance. You have your whole life ahead of you. You deserve a happy and fruitful life. Don’t let those murderers dictate how you live. Love and live, Harry.”

For a moment, Harry mulled over what his uncle said to him. It was a lot to take in. He didn’t completely agree with some of the things he said. But, he knew his uncle meant well. Giving his uncle a mischievous look, he, then, asked, “What if I find out I love to kill those Death Eaters, and want to live the rest of my life hunting them, what will you say then?”

Max sighed loudly. And for a moment, he pretended to be deep in thought. “Well, Harry, I guess I will have to haunt you for the rest of your mortal life or till you come to your senses.”

“That’s harsh,” Harry said in protest, with a feigned hurt look on his face.

Max just shrugged his shoulders. “Who said life is easy?”

Harry momentarily regarded his uncle dubiously. After a few heartbeats, he relented with a smile. Knowing his uncle, he would probably do what he said. Even in death, Max was still looking out for him. “Love and live it is, then.”

“That’s my boy.” Max tousled his already messy hair. After a few minutes of silent camaraderie, his uncle spoke with a slight hint of sadness. “Time for you to live, Harry.”

“What?!” exclaimed Harry in surprise. “Can’t I stay here a little longer? I’m sure it won’t make much difference.” There was a note of desperation in his voice as he protested strongly.

Max just shook his head sadly. “Life and Death wait for no man, Harry. Here, let me give you a boost.” His uncle turned him around. And then, he planted a shoe on his bottom, and gave him a powerful boot.

Harry was plunged into the void. This time, he felt like he was falling. “I’ll get you for that, Uncle Max!” he shouted back, flailing his arms in fright as he fell.

He heard his uncle’s hearty laugh. “Goodbye, Harry! Remember, love and live! Oh… And, Rosemarie said to pick yourself a good wife!”

Harry felt like he’s being shoved inside a funnel as he fell. He was slowly being squeezed and suffocated. After a few moments, he was struggling just to breathe. Every gasp for air was like a struggle for life. His fear grew as his desperation. He flailed his arms wildly, hoping to grab something to stop his fall. As his fall continued, he began to feel dizzy. It was getting harder for him to focus. His flailing became less and less wild. As he was about to pass out, he felt his right hand break through. Break through what? He didn’t care. He just desperately clawed his way out. He was overjoyed, when he breathed fresh air. He felt alive. Soon, he was weakly, but determinedly pulling himself out of the soft, wet Earth. He lay down on his back, catching his breath. When he sluggishly opened his eyes, he saw the welcoming light of Sirius, The Dog Star.

To be continued…
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