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Black & Red by CharmHazel

Format: Novel
Chapters: 4
Word Count: 17,633
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Spoilers

Genres: Drama, General, Romance, AU
Characters: Harry, Sirius, Ginny
Pairings:

First Published: 05/02/2020
Last Chapter: 09/15/2020
Last Updated: 09/15/2020

Summary:

Raised by his godfather, following the events of Halloween 1981, Harry spends his childhood, hidden from the Wizarding World, preparing to face his destiny. However, his world is turned upside down when he reunites with the beautiful redhead he rescued down in the Chamber.



Chapter 1: A Different Decision
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October 1981…

 

How could he have done this? Why did he betray them? How had he managed to fool them all for as long he did? Had they ever truly known him?

 

Sirius pushed down the anger he could feel welling up inside of him, knowing that now was not the time to go running off to find Peter. He needed to find out if his best friends and godson had survived their encounter with Voldemort, but just looking the huge gaping hole in the roof, where he knew Harry’s room was, he could tell that it was highly unlikely that any of them had. Even so, he needed to confirm it before he went after that traitorous rat who had fooled them all.

 

“Sirius?”

 

Tearing his gaze from the roof, Sirius’ gaze moved towards the front door to find Rubeus Hagrid, a fellow member of the Order of the Phoenix, moving towards him. It looked like there was something in Hagrid’s arms, but Sirius was unable to tell due to the sheer size of the man walking along the garden path.

 

“Are they…” Sirius started to ask but a lump quickly formed in his throat, forcing the end of the question back down.

 

“Lily and James didn’t make it, but Harry here somehow survived whatever happened in his room.”

 

Sirius immediately shifted his gaze to the bundle the half-giant was carrying, shocked to see a mess of black hair that he knew belonged to his precious godson. He quickly glanced back up to the hole of the roof and wondered how Harry had managed to survive the destruction that had been caused.

 

“Pa, Pa,” a tiny voice came, pulling his attention back to the bundle in Hagrid’s arms.

 

Sirius couldn’t help the small smile that graced his lips as he heard the name Harry had come to call him in past few months. Padfoot was too big and hard a word for a child his age to say, especially when he was still learning to talk, and his vocabulary was extremely limited. However, the smile disappeared the moment he caught sight of a lightning-shaped cut on the forehead of his godson.

 

Moving nearer to Hagrid, he conjured a cloth and carefully cleaned the cut clean of the blood and dust covering it. He carefully looked at the cut, intrigued by its shape. His healing skills were limited at best, but something told him that even the best Healer would not be able to rid his godson of the cut that now resided on his forehead. Shaking the thoughts away, he Banished the cloth and took his godson into his arms, who immediately curled into his godfather’s chest.

 

“What are you doing here, Hagrid?” Sirius asked as he turned his attention back to the half-giant.

 

“I’m here on orders from Professor Dumbledore,” Hagrid explained. “He notified me about an hour ago, saying something had happened at the Potter’s house and he needed me ter come find out what had happened and see if anyone had survived. He told me ter meet him in Surrey at an address he gave me if Harry was alive.”

 

Sirius knew Dumbledore was considering placing Harry with his relatives as he knew Petunia, Lily’s sister lived there. He knew they were Muggles who didn’t like magic, James had told him as much, but they could keep Harry safe while he went and apprehended Peter for his betrayal. He knew it was a risk to go after Peter. There were too many unknowns now when it came to dealing with his so-called friend and if he didn’t play right, it could end with him being taken away from Harry.

 

“Pa, Pa.”

 

Sirius glanced down at the little boy in his arms, who was starting to drift off to sleep, and he knew in that moment he needed to put Harry first. He couldn’t be making reckless decisions anymore and going after Peter would be doing so. He had to keep his promise to James and Lily that, no matter what happened, Harry would always come first. He loved this little boy more than life itself and he knew he would do anything to protect him.

 

“No, Harry won’t be going to his relatives. I’m his godfather and he is my responsibility now.”

 

Sirius paused, waiting for Hagrid to protest, knowing he would want to follow the orders he was given from the headmaster.

 

“Where will you go?” came the unexpected reply.

 

Sirius looked up at the half-giant, surprised to see a glimmer of understanding in his eyes.

 

“James and Lily made me set up an additional safe house that only I and one other person know about. They wanted to make sure Harry would remain protected if they died.”

 

Sirius choked as the reminder of the fact his best friends had been killed slammed into him. He didn’t know how he and Harry were going to survive without them, but he knew he was going to try his hardest to give his godson the best life he could, even if they were in hiding.

 

“What will I tell Dumbledore?” Hagrid asked once he could see the grieving man had regained his composure. “He was insistent that Harry was to go to his relatives.”

 

“Tell him I will be in contact with him in a few days’ time once Harry and I are settled at our new home. I will need to speak to him as he was not aware of everything James and Lily had planned to protect Harry, but make it known that they were insistent that Harry did not go to his relatives, unless it was the only option available.”

 

The conversation with Dumbledore would be unavoidable as most people, including the headmaster, believed himself to be the Secret Keeper for the Potters. He knew, then, that he would have to remain at the safe house with Harry until it was made known who the real traitor was – Peter Pettigrew – and he could safely leave the house without fear of being arrested. That meant he would need to notify his Secret Keeper that he would be at the house and that they would need to reveal the location so Dumbledore could meet with him.

 

“I need you to also pass on a message to Professor McGonagall for me.”

 

Sirius carefully passed a sleeping Harry over to Hagrid to hold and then proceeded to summon a piece of parchment and a quill. He caught them easily and he quickly wrote a note stating where he was going and what he needed the Transfiguration teacher to do for him.

 

“Please make sure you give this to her the moment you see her,” he asked Hagrid as he passed the note to him.

 

Hagrid gave him a nod in agreement as he placed the note securely in his pocket.

 

“Could you hold Harry for a few more minutes?” Sirius asked just as Hagrid went to pass Harry back to him. “I need to Summon a few things of Harry’s before we leave.”

 

Hagrid held onto Harry as requested as Sirius raised his wand and immediately Summoned a bag to place the items he didn’t want to leave behind. Then, in quick succession, he Summoned into the bag several items, including clothing, a toy broom, several stuffed toys and a few framed photos he knew Harry would appreciate when he was older. Satisfied he had everything he wanted from the house, while also knowing the essentials were already stocked at their safe house, he zipped up the bag and put it over his shoulder.

 

“We better be going,” Sirius said as he took Harry into his arms and placed him in the baby carrier he had Summoned. “I don’t want to be here with Harry when the Aurors inevitably get here to investigate what has happened.”

 

Sirius turned away from the half-giant and began to walk towards the gate.

 

“Sirius!”

 

The wizard paused and turned his head to look back, carefully keeping his eyes on Hagrid to avoid looking at the house where his friends had died.

 

“Will yeh be okay?”

 

Sirius nodded as he replied, “We will be eventually.”

 

Even though it looked like Hagrid wanted to say something else, Sirius looked back to where he was heading and moved towards the gate once again before anything else could be said.

 

“Just please pass that note onto Professor McGonagall, Hagrid,” Sirius said as he finally reached the gate and left the property.

 

He quickly moved to his motorbike that was parked across the lane from the house, wanting to be leave the area before anyone could stop them.

 

Before he settled onto the bike, he made sure Harry was secured and cast a number of charms to protect the baby while they travelled. Once he had cast his own charms to protect himself while travelling, he jumped on his bike, turned it on and drove away, not once looking back at the village.

 

HP&GW

 

It was about an hour later when Sirius finally pulled his motorbike onto the lane that led to the safehouse. As he drove through the wards, he felt a bit of tension drain away from his body at the knowledge that he and Harry were now safe and hidden from anyone who could cause them harm.

 

The wards surrounding the cottage were the strongest wards that could be used around a property and the best that money could buy from the warding team at Gringotts. The Fidelius Charm had obviously been used with only himself and Professor McGonagall, their Secret Keeper, being aware where the property was. The goblins had added a number of complicated wards that used magical signatures that would only allow select people, specifically those that did not carry the Dark Mark and those who did not mean them harm, to cross the wards onto the property. The sheer number of wards that had been used meant this was currently the safest place they could be, and Sirius wished James and Lily had used them too as it would have meant them having time to escape once Voldemort had been able to get through the Fidelius.

 

Looking down at the sleeping child, still comfortably strapped to his chest, Sirius could only sigh in defeat at a now unachievable wish. He knew his friends had refused the idea of the additional wards for multiple reasons, one of which they had refused to reveal. They had chosen this option to make sure Harry would have somewhere safe to live, far from prying eyes and from those who wished to harm him further. He could only hope that their decision would be fully revealed to him in some way now that the worst-case scenario had come to pass.

 

Sirius shook the thoughts from his head and focused on what needed to be done now – taking care of his precious godchild. He finally climbed off the motorbike and headed into the small cottage that would now be their home.

 

The house had been chosen specifically for its location, far from any villages or towns, with their nearest neighbour being a good couple of miles away. The property had plenty of land, with James specifically stating, when they had found the house, that he wanted to build a mini Quidditch pitch when Harry was old enough, something Sirius knew he, himself, would make happen. The house had everything that they could need, having been fully furnished and set up so it was ready for use if they needed to use it. He knew James had come out here once a week to check on the house and to add any additional things, like food, that would be needed.

 

On reaching Harry’s room, Sirius stood in the doorway and took a look at the layout of the room. He had not seen the room since he came with James to take a look at the house, ahead of his friend buying the property. He couldn’t help the small smile that appeared on his face as he realised that James had made sure the room was a complete replica of Harry’s room in Godric’s Hollow. It seemed James had wanted the transition for Harry to be as smooth as possible.

 

Sirius felt Harry begin to stir, causing him to finally move into the room and over to the changing table. He quickly and carefully removed Harry from the carrier onto the table. Luckily, Harry settled back down, making it easier for Sirius to clean the child up and change his clothes and nappy before he transferred him into the cot.

 

He remained standing watching over his godson as he slept. He didn’t know how he was going to manage suddenly becoming the parental figure in Harry’s life, but he knew he would manage somehow, because James and Lily trusted and believed in him to do so. He also knew it meant that he would be responsible for protecting Harry if Voldemort ever returned, something Dumbledore had been adamant would happen if he was defeated too soon. If Dumbledore’s guess was correct, and it most definitely would be, then Voldemort would more than likely come after Harry in retaliation for what had happened tonight. Therefore, Sirius needed to make sure Harry could fight when the time came.

 

Grateful that Harry had settled down without any problems, Sirius finally left his godson’s room and headed to the bathroom to clean himself up.

 

Once clean and changed into fresh clothes, Sirius headed back downstairs and into the living room, where he proceeded to collapse onto the sofa. The silence of the house didn’t ease the heartbreak he felt deep within him and before he could gain control of his emotions, the tears began flowing from eyes. Knowing it was no use to ignore his grief, he allowed himself to fully succumb to it as he wept for the loss of his closest friends.



Chapter 2: An Unexpected Task
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May 1993…

 

“Thank you, Fawkes. I shall call for you when I need you again.”

 

Albus Dumbledore watched as his companion flamed away before beginning his brisk walk down the lane to the house he wished to visit.

 

It had been nearly twelve years since he had last visited, having remained away out of respect for the owner and his godson. Sirius Black and Harry Potter had lived here since the night Harry’s parents, James and Lily, had been killed by Lord Voldemort. It had kept them safe and hidden from the rest of the wizarding world all these years, with only a very small number of people being aware of the location.

 

He had been shocked to learn that his groundskeeper, Rubeus Hagrid, had willingly allowed Sirius to take Harry with him, but Minerva McGonagall had told him that she was well aware of where the pair had gone and knew that they were well hidden. She made clear that, while she had not been given the secret of where the Potters had been hidden, she was well aware of whom the Secret Keeper had been. His Transfiguration professor had then made it clear that he was not to meddle and that he was to do everything within his power to make sure Sirius’ name was cleared and guardianship of Harry was secured for him. Admittedly, Minerva may have also had some choice words for him when he had asked for the secret of the property’s location that had made an impact on him deciding to stay away from the property for all these years.

 

Albus had done as he had been asked. He had come to the house and spoken to Sirius about the events of that night, shocked to discover that Peter Pettigrew had been the spy within their midst. They came to an agreement that he would leave the pair alone, hidden from the world, allowing Sirius to raise Harry without interference. He, in turn, had made sure Sirius’ name had been cleared – Minerva giving a sworn testimony under Veritaserum that Peter was the Secret Keeper for the Potters – and officially declared as Harry’s guardian. After that, they had no contact with one another until Harry was sent his acceptance letter to Hogwarts.

 

Sirius had appeared at the school to speak to the Headmaster, uncertain as to whether he should allow Harry to attend the school. The pair had spoken for several hours, going back and forth on what the best course of action would be. That was until Albus had let slip that he had agreed to look after a precious artefact of Nicolas Flamel that coming school year. Sirius had stood, told him that Harry would not be coming school under any circumstances, and had left his office immediately. He had not heard from the man since.

 

Now, Albus found himself with a situation at the school that he required help with and the only person he knew could help was young Harry himself, something he knew would not go down well with Sirius. He knew Harry was aware of the prophecy, why his parents had been killed and why he was called the Boy Who Lived, but Sirius had made it clear that Harry would remain away from any potential problems until he was in a position where he could face a Death Eater and survive. How was he going to convince the man to allow Harry to help, especially when time was of the essence?

 

He knocked on the door the moment he reached the door and waited. It wasn’t long before the door opened to reveal a young boy that looked like the spitting image of James Potter, but with the eyes of Lily Potter.

 

“Hello, Professor Dumbledore,” the boy said, recognising the man his godfather had told him so much about.

 

“Hello, Harry,” Albus replied in kind. “Would it be possible to speak to your godfather? A matter of urgency has arisen that I require help with.”

 

“Let me just get him for you, Sir.”

 

Albus watched as Harry disappeared into the house.

 

“Dad,” Albus heard Harry say, much to his confusion. He could only wonder when the relationship had shifted to that of father and son. Sirius had not mentioned the change the last time they had spoken.

 

“Professor Dumbledore, what a surprise,” Sirius said as he came to the door. “Please, come on inside.”

 

Albus entered the house, looking around at how much it had changed in the past twelve years. It had changed from a house with only the basic furnishings to one that felt homely and full of love. He smiled as he walked past a wall full of photos of Harry, ranging from just after he was born to more recently.

 

“What can I do for you, Albus?” Sirius asked as he indicated to the headmaster to take a seat.

 

“I have come asking for your help, Sirius,” he replied. “A matter of great urgency has come up at the school and I require assistance that I believe, right now, only your godson can provide.”

 

“Me?” Harry asked, confused at what he could possibly provide that no one else could, even one of the greatest wizards to ever live.

 

Albus looked towards Harry, having not realised the young wizard had followed them into the living room.

 

“Yes, you, Harry,” Albus responded. “I believe your godfather informed you of the events that led you to living here with him.”

 

Harry nodded in confirmation.

 

“Sirius informed me during our last conversation that you were able to communicate with snakes,” Albus continued. “That talent is what we call Parseltongue. It’s rare and generally is a trait that is hereditary.”

 

“My dad said that my parents didn’t have the talent and that he thinks I somehow gained the talent from Voldemort the night he tried to kill me.”

 

Albus looked to Sirius, surprised he had informed Harry of that small piece of information.

 

“As I told you, the last time we spoke, I refuse to keep secrets from Harry,” Sirius said defensively.

 

Albus could only nod in response, not wishing to start an argument when time was of the essence.

 

“I require the talent of a Parseltongue to open an entrance to a secret chamber that has long thought to be just a legend,” Albus continued on. “A young girl has been taken down there and could potentially lose her life if we do not gain entry.”

 

“Then, why are sitting here talking then?” Harry demanded to know as he jumped up from where he had been sitting. “The longer we sit here, the more chance there is she will die.”

 

Sirius looked as though he was going to argue with Harry about heading into something dangerous, but at the last second, he set his eyes upon Albus and demanded he informed them of the situation. Albus quickly gave them an overview of the events of the past year, of how a number of students had been Petrified, the message that had appeared proclaiming how the Chamber of Secrets been reopened, how there were no clues to how they had been or who the culprit was. He explained how he had been forced from the school by the governors before he could discover the truth. He confirmed he had discovered the answer earlier that evening and had been about to head to the school when he had received an urgent message from Minerva McGonagall informing him that a girl had been taken down into the Chamber of Secrets.

 

“How did you figure it out, Sir?” Harry asked.

 

“A ghost, known as Moaning Myrtle, haunts the very same bathroom where the messages have appeared,” Dumbledore told the younger wizard. “It wasn’t until Hagrid was taken away to Azkaban that I thought to speak to her. Even then, I was denied the chance to speak to her as I was forced from my position as headmaster. Professor McGonagall spoke to her on my behalf and passed along that she remembered a hissing noise and two yellow eyes. It wasn’t much, but I finally made the connection earlier today.”

 

“Is it a Basilisk?” Harry innocently asked to Dumbledore’s shock. “Dad gave me a book on snakes after we discovered I could speak to them.”

 

“It is,” he confirmed for the young wizard. “Now, unless you have any more objections, Sirius, I really do insist on us making a move. I do not wish to delay any longer as we are unaware how long the student has been down there.”

 

Sirius could find no argument to stop Harry from going to help, but he knew he needed to lay some ground rules.

 

“Harry, you have to promise me that you will listen and follow anything either myself of Professor Dumbledore ask of you?” Sirius asked as the wizards stood to leave.

 

Harry nodded, “I promise.”

 

Sirius pulled into a rough hug before turning to Dumbledore and stating, “Let’s go, then.”

 

HP&GW

 

Harry couldn’t stop the gasp that escaped his lips as he saw the writing on the wall of the corridor. A feeling of dread filled him as he took in the words, ‘Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber for ever’. He didn’t think they had much time to be standing around if they were going to prevent those words from coming true.

 

“Tell me again, Dumbledore, what you know,” Sirius demanded. The anger that laced his voice told Harry that his godfather suspected that they had only been given the basic facts of what had happened over this past school year.

 

While he knew Sirius would be mad for him wandering off without him, Harry decided to head through the door opposite the message and into the girls’ bathroom in hopes of finding the ghost Professor Dumbledore had mentioned to them.

 

“Ooh, who are you?”

 

Harry turned in the direction of the voice to see the ghost of young Hogwarts student floating just inside one of the stalls of the bathroom.

 

“I’m Harry,” he replied kindly. “You must be Myrtle.”

 

“How do you know my name?” she replied as she floated over to where Harry was stood. “I never seen you around the school. Are you even a student here?”

 

“No, I don’t go to school here, but Professor Dumbledore told me about you after he asked me to come and help him with something. Can I ask how you came to be a ghost here at this school, in this bathroom?”

 

“Ooh, no one ever asks me about how I died!” the ghost exclaimed in excitement. “It happened right here in this very bathroom.”

 

Harry listened patiently as she explained how she had been hiding from Olive Hornby when she heard a hissing noise. She had left the stall she had been sat in to find out what the noise was only to see two big yellow eyes and die.

 

“Do you know whereabouts you saw those eyes?” Harry asked, knowing the entrance had to be in the bathroom somewhere.

 

“Over here,” Myrtle said as she floated over to the sinks.

 

Even though he was not certain about what exactly he was looking for, he knew they had to be some sort of clue as to where the entrance was. That’s when he spotted the small snake on one of the sinks and the reason Dumbledore had requested him became clear.

They would need Parseltongue to gain entry.

 

Harry took a step back and spoke, “Open!

 

There was a low rumbling noise as the sink shifted and moved to reveal a pipe large enough for him to climb into. However, before he went to jump in, he turned back round to the ghost.

 

“Myrtle, did you see a young girl come into this bathroom and enter this pipe?” Harry asked as Dumbledore and Sirius finally entered the room.

 

“Yes, she has been here and gone in there several times over the last several months,” Myrtle confirmed. “It’s funny, though, as it always seemed like she struggled to open entrance. It was never like the way you just did it.”

 

Harry nodded, recognising the useful piece information Myrtle had just given him, before he turned back to the entrance.

 

“Harry?” Sirius said, but before he could ask his godson what they had spoken about or how he had found the entrance, Harry jumped

inside the pipe and disappeared from view.

 

HP&GW

 

Harry arrived at the bottom of the pipe with a thud, landing on the damp stone floor. He quickly stood and dusted himself off before grabbing his wand and lighting it to see more clearly in the dark tunnels.

 

Moving his wand around to help take in his surroundings, he quickly spotted what looked like a body lying on the ground. It appeared to be too big for it to be the girl they had come down to rescue. He quickly moved over to the body and turned it over to discover it was a man, perhaps a teacher.

 

“HARRY!”

 

“I’m over here,” Harry called out, not taking his eyes off the man lying unconscious on the floor.

 

The footsteps of the other two wizards became louder as they neared the younger wizard. Within seconds, Harry had pulled into a rough hug by his godfather.

 

“Why did you just jump into that pipe without telling us what was going on?” Sirius demanded as he pulled back to check Harry over for any injuries.

 

“Because I am not going to hang around talking while someone’s life is on the line,” Harry replied stubbornly. “Plus, I discovered someone unconscious on the ground behind me.”

 

Dumbledore quickly moved forward and knelt down next to the body.

 

“This is Gilderoy Lockhart, our Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” he noted. “I was not aware he had gone missing before coming to your house. Perhaps he will be able to give us some more information about what had happened here, this evening.”

 

Sirius and Harry watched as Dumbledore revived his teacher.

 

“Gilderoy?” Dumbledore asked the man finally opened his eyes and looked round, seemingly unable to focus on any one thing.

 

“Gilderoy? I need you to focus on me, I need to know how you came to be here.”

 

“Here?” the wizard finally responded. “Where is here? Who are you? Who am I?”

 

Dumbledore didn’t respond as he appeared to be keeping eye contact with the confused wizard.

 

“Oh dear, it appears that he has completely lost his memories.”

 

Sirius chuckled, “Well, to be brought down by the one spell he loves to use regularly, isn’t that just ironic?”

 

“Sirius, if you can take Gilderoy to the hospital wing, while I continue on with Harry.”

 

“Of course,” Sirius replied as he looked round to speak to Harry, only discover he was no longer there. “Damn it, Harry snuck off while

we were distracted.”

 

HP&GW

 

Harry barely took in his surroundings as he rushed through the gap where the wall had parted and into the chamber. The only thing he truly noticed was the greenish gloom that seemed to fill the area. He only came to a sudden pause when he reached a huge statue of a wizard, who he assumed to be Salazar Slytherin.

 

There, at the bottom of the statue, lay the body of the student he had come to help rescue. The girl was lying face down of the floor of the chamber, her long red hair scattered as it covered any sign of her face.

 

Harry ran over, skidding to a stop next to the girl. He fell to his knees, dropping his wand to the floor as he did so, and carefully rolled the missing student over. She was so pale and barely breathing. He didn’t even know this girl, but the very thought that she could die because he was too late immediately weighed on his heart.

 

“Come on, please, I need you to wake up,” Harry begged as he gently tapped her cheek with his hand. “Please!”

 

“She won’t wake,” a voice said from behind, one he knew did not belong to either Sirius or Professor Dumbledore.

 

Harry twisted himself slightly as he turned his head to see who it was that was talking to him. There, behind him, was another boy – tall with black hair – who didn’t look quite right and gave Harry an uneasy feeling.

 

“Who are you?” Harry questioned the unknown boy. “I wasn’t aware of any other student being brought down here into the chamber.”

 

“I wasn’t brought down here against my will,” the boy replied as he moved slight closer to where Harry was knelt. “I came down here with little Ginny Weasley, who is helping me with a special project.”

 

The comment immediately raised Harry’s suspicions that this boy was somehow behind whatever had been happening at the school this past year and was responsible for the state Ginny Weasley was currently in. As the boy continued moving nearer, Harry realised he didn’t seem complete as a weird, misty light shone around him.

 

“Again, who are you and what have you done to Ginny?” Harry demanded to know as he went to pick up his wand which no longer appeared to be where he dropped it.

 

“Looking for this?” the boy asked as he held up the wand for Harry to see.

 

“Yes, thank you,” Harry replied quickly, holding out his hand for the boy to return it.

 

“Oh, I won’t be giving it back to you. I shall be needing it very shortly once Ginny has completed her task.”

 

Harry stood up, ready to do whatever he needed to get his wand back and Ginny out of this chamber.

 

“You see, Ginny here has been helping me regain my body,” the boy spoke, not paying attention to Harry’s movements. “I attended this school many years ago and I learnt many things, including how to preserve my memory in a diary. A diary that Ginny received and began writing in. She spilled her secrets, her wishes, her desires to me. She revealed her loneliness, her sadness at being ignored by her brothers. The more she told poured her heart out to me, the more powerful I became until I was able to bring her down here and create this form, one that is nearly complete.”

 

As the boy spoke, Harry’s eyes were roaming the floor around him and Ginny, looking for the diary that had been mentioned. Somehow, he knew it needed to be destroyed, but he needed to find it first.

 

“Once I have regained this form, I can finish off what I know needs to be done for me to truly take my place in our world. Little Ginny Weasley was very helpful in filling in what had happened in the past fifty years, especially about the defeat of Lord Voldemort. It seemed Ginny was fascinated by the child who had managed to defeat the greatest wizard to ever live by sheer luck.”

 

“He is NOT the greatest wizard to ever live,” Harry retaliated. “Albus Dumbledore is considered the greatest wizard in the world. The whole wizarding world believes and knows this to be true!”

 

“Except he is not here, now, is he?” the boy hissed in response. “No, he has been driven from the castle and nothing he can do can prevent me from returning. And now, I intend to end the life of Harry Potter once I am in a position to leave this wretched place for good.”

 

Harry’s jaw dropped in shock. He knew Voldemort had not been destroyed that night in Godric’s Hollow, that he would one day return. However, it seemed that day had come and he needed to find a way to delay the wizard’s return.

 

“You’re Lord Voldemort,” Harry spoke confidently.

 

“Yes, I am,” came the response from the boy. “Though, Ginny here knows me by my former name – Tom Riddle.”

 

“It seems your chance to destroy Harry Potter has come a little sooner than expected, Tom,” Harry replied, determined to call this boy by his original given name. “Nice to meet you, Tom. I’m Harry Potter.”

 

Before Tom could respond, music suddenly filled the chamber. The sound spread through Harry, giving hope and courage that he could do what needed to be done.

 

A giant bird flew through into the chamber, a bird Harry recognised to be a Phoenix, and circled around Harry a few seconds before it dropped a ragged-looking hat at his feet.

 

Harry bent down and picked up the hat, unsure why he had been given it. He did, however, recognise it as the school’s Sorting Hat, something Sirius had told him about whenever he had told stories about his and his parent’s time at Hogwarts.

 

“The Sorting Hat?” Tom Riddle questioned. “I am not quite sure how that will help you survive, Harry Potter. Shall we see if you survive against my little pet?”

 

Riddle turned towards the large statue and hissed, “Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts.

 

Harry understood the words Tom Riddle spoke perfectly and knew instantly that he had called forth the Basilisk. He wasn’t quite sure how he was meant to defeat the giant snake, stop Tom Riddle and save Ginny Weasley, but he knew he needed to try. The only thing he could think of to do at that moment was to put some distance between himself and the Basilisk to give himself time to figure out what he was going to do.

 

HP&GW

 

Harry picked up the diary and studied it with fascination, wondering how one book could cause so much damage. It was certainly something that would interest the headmaster, especially considering it had belonged a teenaged Voldemort.

 

A groan caused Harry to pocket the diary and look over to where Ginny Weasley was starting to come round. He picked up the Sorting Hat and the sword before quickly making his way over to the young girl, intent on making sure she was okay. Once he reached her, he dropped to his knees just as she sat up and looked around, confused to where she was.

 

“Oh,” the young witch gasped when Harry came into her view, causing her to shuffle away in fear.

 

“No, please, don’t be scared of me,” Harry quickly said, desperate to ease her fears. “The Basilisk is dead; the diary has been destroyed and Tom has gone. He can’t hurt you anymore.”

 

Ginny looked around the chamber again, making sure to really take in what was around her. The Basilisk lay there, dead, just as the boy said. There was no sign of Tom, who she had seen start to come out of the diary just before she collapsed and lost consciousness. However, she couldn’t see the diary.

 

“The diary?” she questioned, turning back to the stranger.

 

“Here,” Harry said as he pulled the book from his pocket and held it out for the girl to see. “I used a Basilisk fang to destroy it. Tom disappeared the moment I drove the fang into it.”

 

Ginny stared at the diary, not responding to the boy’s words, before she burst into the tears. What she didn’t expect was the feel of arms wrapping round her and pulling her into a warm, and much needed, hug.

 

“Everything that has happened this past school year,” Harry gently said after a few minutes, “it isn’t your fault. I don’t know everything, just what I was told by Professor Dumbledore and what I was able to gleam from Tom’s ramblings. I know enough to know that the very fact you have survived an encounter with one the darkest wizards to walk this earth means you are one strong witch!”

 

“He was a Dark Wizard?” Ginny asked, pulling away to allow herself to see her rescuer’s face.

 

“Tom Riddle, the boy who befriended you through the diary, was the wizard we know today as Lord Voldemort. He killed my parents as baby, he destroyed so many lives before that, and you met a memory of him from when he was still in school. It seems he was just evil then as he was at the height of the war.”

 

“He killed your parents?” Ginny repeated as she studied the face of the boy sat next to her. There was something about his face that she recognised, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. “Who are you?”

 

“I’m Harry,” Harry told her. “I was told your name is Ginny Weasley.”

 

“Yes, it is,” she responded absently as she continued studying Harry’s face. Then, she spotted the biggest sign as to who Harry was – his famed lightning bolt scar. “Oh, Merlin!”

 

Ginny shuffled away from Harry again, mortified at who he was and the fact he had rescued her for near-certain death. Her brothers would tease her mercilessly if they found out her childhood crush had been the one to risk his life for her.

 

“Please,” Harry begged as he realised she knew who he was. “Don’t be embarrassed; I hate the title everyone calls me. I am just a normal boy – just Harry! The only difference between me and other boys my age, bar my stupid title, is that I am home-schooled and don’t actually have any friends my own age.”

 

Harry looked away in shame at having admitted the one thing Sirius had never been able to provide for him. He didn’t resent his godfather for keeping him away from the public eye or the lack of people in their lives as he knew it was for his own protection. He couldn’t resent his godfather for any of that when he now called him Dad, something they had both agreed his actual father would be happy for the relationship they had developed.

 

“I’ll be your friend,” a small voice said, breaking through Harry’s thoughts.

 

Harry turned back to see that Ginny had crawled closer to him. “I’d like that. Perhaps, maybe, I could write to you.”

 

Ginny smiled, “I’d like that, too. It would be nice to be able to write to someone who knows what happened down here. I don’t know if my family are going to be happy with me when they find out what I had done. Tom said they would hate me for all the horrible things I did on his behalf this year.”

 

Harry wrapped Ginny in his arms again as he firmly told her, “It isn’t your fault! Your family won’t hate you, especially once they know the truth. They will still love you! I suspect your parents, at least, will be waiting for you when we get out of here! I know there was a lot of people worried about you when I arrived at the school.”

 

Ginny pulled away from Harry, tears still swimming in her eyes, and stood up, ready to leave the chamber and face the teachers and her family.

 

“Remember,” Harry said as he stood up and took her hand in his, “you are going to be fine and, no matter what happens, I will back you up and support you, because you’re my friend.”

 

Ginny simply nodded as her eyes watched the Phoenix that was flying around the ceiling of the chamber.

 

“Hold my hand tightly,” Harry said to her as his grip tightened. “I think the phoenix is going to help us get out of the chamber.”

 

Just as Harry finished what he was saying, the phoenix swooped down, grasped Harry’s shoulder and flamed the pair away from the chamber.

 



Chapter 3: A Long Awaited Reunion
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July 1995…

 

The Weasley Family, minus Percy, Charlie and Bill, shuffled through the front door and into the dark hallway of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. It was clear to them, from the run-down state of this one room, that the house had not been lived in for a very long time. Even though, they knew they were in the right house, having been divulged the secret of its location, they could feel the darkness seeping through the entire building.

 

The family were startled when the door shut behind them and a voice addressed them from the staircase.

 

“My apologies.”

 

The family turned to see Sirius Black halfway down the stairs.

 

“It’s been a long time anyone has lived here. The house-elf has not continued to keep this place anywhere near habitable. However, given the darkness of it, I doubt anyone would think to look for any of us here.”

 

Sirius finished walking down the stairs and approached Arthur and Molly, greeting them warmly, much to Fred’s, George’s and Ron’s confusion. None of them were even aware that their parents knew this man or even when they could have possibly met him. So, it was an even bigger shock when the man turned to greet their sister.

 

“Hello, Ginny,” he said kindly to the youngest Weasley as he gave her a quick hug. “It’s good to see you, again.”

 

“Is Harry here?” she asked, looking behind Sirius in hopes that her friend would be there waiting to greet her.

 

While they had not seen each other in two years, after Harry had rescued her from the Chamber of Secrets, they had written to each other on a near-daily basis. They had spoken of everything and anything, from the most mundane things to the deeply personal things they knew they would never tell anyone but each other. They had wanted to visit each other during the summer when Ginny was home from Hogwarts, but for two years, something had come up that had made it impossible for their parents to make it happen.

 

“He’s in his bedroom, hopefully sleeping,” Sirius answered, concern lacing his words. “He has not been sleeping all that well for the last couple of weeks. Don’t worry, though, he is very much eager to see his best friend.”

 

Ginny beamed at the older man’s words as it sent a shiver through her spine at being called Harry’s best friend. They had never said in their letters that they consider themselves as best friends, but for Ginny, at least, she knew deep down that they were.

 

“Right, let’s get out of this gloomy hallway,” Sirius said, now addressing the entire group. “Not that the rest of the house is much better. Molly, I hope it’s not too much trouble if I ask if you could help me with the task of cleaning this house, perhaps even providing some suggestions for how we could decorate.”

 

“I would be honoured,” the Weasley Matriarch replied. “I doubt we will get it all done before the kids go back to school, but we can do a clear out and a thorough clean in that time.”

 

“Sounds good to me. Now, let me show you to your rooms and then, I will give you all a tour of the house.”

 

Sirius led the group up the stairs, grateful the mounted heads of their former house-elves no longer lined the walls. With each floor

they climbed, he showed another Weasley to the bedroom they would be using throughout their stay at Grimmauld Place. He had placed Ron in one of the bedrooms on the second floor and the twins and Molly and Arthur on the third floor, the same floor his bedroom was located.

 

“As you can see,” Sirius said as he showed Molly and Arthur their room, “the bedrooms have all been cleaned out, but are in dire need of decorating.”

 

“Well, it is certainly better than I had expected after seeing just the hallway,” Arthur said with a slight chuckle as he walked into the bedroom.

 

“Molly, would you like to see where Ginny is sleeping?” Sirius asked before she could follow her husband. While he was very much aware of the fact the Weasleys rejected the old ways that many Purebloods followed, he knew that Molly was protective of her children, especially her only daughter.

 

“That would be very welcome,” she replied. “I am assuming that is up on the next floor?”

 

Sirius simply nodded before leading the two female Weasleys up the last flight of stairs to the fourth floor where only two doors were located.

 

“This is your room, Ginny,” Sirius said as he pointed to one of the doors. “It used to be my brother’s room and actually the best kept room in the entire house. I have removed all the décor he personally added, but please let me know if there is anything else you would like to have removed.”

 

“Thank you,” Ginny politely replied.

 

Just as Sirius went to open the door to the bedroom, the noise of another door opening caused him, Ginny and Molly turn round. There, peeking through a small gap, was a pair of startling green eyes; eyes Ginny knew she could never forget.

 

“Ginny?” a quiet voice inquired in surprise.

 

“Harry!” Ginny responded; her excitement obvious to the two adults.

 

The two teenagers stared at one another for a few seconds before Harry opened the door fully and exited his bedroom. He walked over to Ginny and wrapped her tightly in a hug, not acknowledging the fact that Sirius and his friend’s mum were in the hallway as well.

 

Harry and Ginny held onto each other for several seconds, both comfortable with the closeness, even though neither had seen one another in two years. When they finally let go, Harry grabbed Ginny’s hand, gently pulled her down the hallway and into his bedroom with the door closing behind them.

 

Sirius and Molly glanced at each other, neither surprised by what was happening.

 

“If it helps,” Sirius said, breaking the silence, “I figured they would want to turn to one another if one of them had a nightmare and having this floor to themselves means they are less likely to disturb everyone. So, I placed a number of different wards and charms on this entire floor, among them some charms that will stop anything inappropriate.”

 

Molly appeared to be surprised by Sirius’ actions as she asked him, “When did you realise those two liked each other?”

 

Sirius chuckled in response; glad he had not been the only notice how the two teenagers were beginning to fall for another.

 

“Honestly? It probably wasn’t until a few days ago, when I told Harry that Ginny and your family would be coming to stay with us for the summer. He was so excited at the prospect of seeing your daughter. It was the only thing to make him smile after what he went through a few weeks ago. If it had been anyone else, I doubt he would have cared.”

 

“Did he get excited every time a letter arrived from Ginny?”

 

“Now I think about it, yes, he did,” he responded, wondering how he hadn’t realised that Harry was falling for Ginny before now. “He was always so excited to get a letter, always eager to read it as soon as possible. He hated the days when he didn’t get a letter or when he couldn’t write back promptly.”

 

“Ginny was the same,” Molly explained. “I would think, however, it would have been easy for you to overlook Harry beginning to have feelings for her, because their letters were the only contact he had with someone of his own age. That’s not me criticising you, though. You did what you needed to do and that was to protect him.”

 

“I know,” Sirius sighed, desperately wishing he could have made Harry’s childhood a little better through friends of his own age.

 

“There’s no point dwelling on what could have been,” Molly told him gently as she looked to the door the two teenagers went through.

“Let’s leave them to it. I doubt they are ready to be anything more than friends yet.”

 

Sirius stood there, frozen to the spot in shock, as he watched the Weasley matriarch enter the bedroom her daughter was to use.

 

“Don’t dawdle, Sirius,” Molly said with a slight chuckle as she came back out into the hallway without Ginny’s bag. “You still need to give me and my family a tour of this house.”

 

HP&GW

 

Harry dragged Ginny into his bedroom, closing the door on Molly and Sirius, and immediately wrapped his arms around her. His heart was beating rapidly in excitement at having his best friend with him for the summer.

 

“I’m so happy to see you again, Gin,” Harry whispered, not wanting to let her out of his arms.

 

“I’m happy to see you as well,” Ginny responded, enjoying being held by her best friend.

 

The pair eventually pulled apart, allowing Ginny to get a proper look at Harry. She couldn’t help but notice the dark circles under his eyes, a clear indicator he was not sleeping well and more than likely suffering from nightmares.

 

“You’ve not been sleeping,” she quietly said as she ran a hand gently through his hair.

 

Harry looked away as though he was ashamed to admit what was happening to him.

 

Ginny sighed, figuring he might be reluctant to someone helping him. He had helped through her nightmares throughout the summer after he had rescued her from the Chamber, so she was determined to help him. At least, this time, she could do it in person, rather than via letters.

 

“It’s ok to admit you’re not sleeping,” she continued gently as she took Harry’s hand and led him over to his bed.

 

Harry’s eyes widened in shock as he watched Ginny climb onto his bed and made herself comfortable, using his pillows to cushion her back as she sat back against the headboard, her legs stretched out in front of her.

 

“Come and lay your head on my lap, Harry.”

 

Harry couldn’t believe what Ginny was asking him to do. They had not seen each other in two years and here she was asking him to lay his head on her lap. While he knew in his heart that she was his best friend, this, to him, was a big step to be taking, especially when her family were somewhere in the house.

 

“Harry, please, come and lay down,” she pleaded. “You helped me after what happened to me in the Chamber, so now it is time for me to return the favour. Please, let me help you the way you helped me.”

 

The sincerity in her eyes made it so Harry couldn’t refuse her. He knew if anyone understood what he was feeling and the weight of nightmares, it would be her.

 

“You know you are the best friend anyone could possibly ask for,” he told her as he climbed onto the bed, lay down and settled his head on her lap.

 

“We can discuss just why I am the best another time, Harry,” she said with a slight chuckle as an ecstatic feeling shot through her at being called his best friend. She began to gently run one of her hands through his messy locks in similar manner her mum had always done for her and her brothers. “For now, you need to rest and relax.”

 

“Are you going to stay here even once I am asleep?” Harry asked, hating how vulnerable he sounded, but not wanting to be left alone while sleeping.

 

“I am not going anywhere, Harry.”

 

A couple of hours later, Harry slowly woke to the feeling of a small hand running through his hair. He couldn’t help the smile that appeared across his face at the thought that Ginny had continued the soothing gesture even as he slept. While he didn’t want the redhead to stop, he twisted his body round so he could look up at her face.

 

“How did you get that book?” he asked sleepily as he noticed Ginny was now reading a book she not had with her when he pulled her into his room.

 

Ginny immediately dropped the book in shock, having not felt Harry move his body due to being so wrapped up in what she was reading.

 

“Harry, you’re awake,” she said, quickly calming herself from the unexpected question.

 

“I feel better for the nap,” he said before she could ask how he was feeling. “You want to tell where you got the book when there is no way you could have moved without waking me?”

 

“I asked my mum to bring it to me when she came and checked on us.”

 

Harry immediately panicked at the thought of Mrs Weasley having seen him curled up asleep with his head on the lap of her daughter.

 

“Oh, Harry,” Ginny said as she chuckled at her friend’s reaction to knowing her mum had seen sat on a bed together, “my mum trusts us in a room with the door shut. Plus, you were asleep and she told me Sirius would be happy to know you were getting some sleep.

Anyway, my mum was pleased to see me helping you.”

 

“Why would she be pleased?” Harry asked, slightly calmer now that he knew he was going to be hexed by his best friend’s mum.

 

“Well, she told me, before we came to your house, that it was my job, while we were here, to help you after everything you had been through,” Ginny carefully told him.

 

Harry didn’t say anything as he sat up, swung his legs over the edge of the bed and hunched over as he placed his head in his hands. He knew Ginny meant well, but he didn’t want to be reminded of what had happened to him. Even then, he was not entirely sure how much the Weasleys had been told before coming to Grimmauld Place.

 

“How much do you know about what happened to me?”

 

“Only the basics,” Ginny calmly informed him, having not yet moved from where she had spent the last couple of hours sitting. “I was told that you had been kidnapped and used in some ritual that helped Voldemort regain his body.”

 

Ginny finally shifted from her spot on the bed and moved across so she knelt behind Harry. She tentatively wrapped her arms around his waist from behind, relaxing when she felt him grasp her hands, and rested her chin on his shoulder.

 

“You don’t have to tell me anything, not if you don’t want to,” she whispered into Harry’s ear. “I just want you know that I am here and willing to listen if you ever need someone to talk to.”

 

For a moment, Ginny didn’t think Harry was going to say anything, and she would have been fine with that as she knew they had time to talk in the coming weeks. If he all needed at the moment was her physical presence, that was fine with her.

 

“I am not even sure how it happened,” Harry suddenly spoke, finding strength from the warmth of his best friend’s body wrapped around his. “It all happened so suddenly. One moment I was flying on my broom, the next I was tied tightly to this statue in a graveyard. It’s all a blur. Dad said it looks like I accidentally flew through the wards surrounding our home, but even he is uncertain because he taught me where all the ward boundaries are.”

 

“Do you think, perhaps, someone manage to lure you out?”

 

“Maybe,” Harry replied uncertainly.

 

Neither one of them spoke for the moment as Harry allowed the guilt that had been wallowing inside him consume him. No one seemed to be able to figure out how Harry had managed to cross the boundary.

 

“There was this cauldron in a space between all the graves with flames burning underneath,” Harry continued, pushing his guilt aside for the moment. “Then, Wormtail appeared, holding some sort of bundle in his arms.”

 

“Who’s Wormtail?” Ginny asked. She didn’t want to interrupt him, but Harry had always pushed her for more details when he felt it had been necessary and she had found it had helped to confront every detail.

 

“He was my parents’ friend,” Harry automatically replied, which made Ginny believed that he had become so wrapped in his thoughts that he didn’t seem to remember she was there at that moment. “He was their Secret Keeper and he was the one who revealed to Voldemort where me and my parents were living. He is part of the reason I have no parents.”

 

Ginny could only tighten her grip on Harry’s hands, uncertain how to bring any more comfort. She felt like she should stop him as it seemed to becoming all too much for him, but, at the same time, she knew he needed to talk about what had happened to him.

 

“I have Sirius now, though,” Harry continued talking, slightly more positive than Ginny had expected. “He’s my dad now. He was frantic when he discovered I was missing. He already felt like he had let my parents down because he had been the one to suggest Wormtail be their Secret Keeper. He didn’t want to let me down.”

 

Ginny didn’t respond, knowing that Harry had now hit the point he would keep talking until he told her the whole story. Her knees were hurting from her remaining knelt behind her best friend, but she didn’t want to risk stopping Harry from telling his story so she could get more comfortable. All she could do, therefore, was ignore the pain as Harry hauntingly told her about the ritual used to bring Voldemort back, how he had fought against the man who had killed his parents and how their wands had somehow connected.

 

“I still don’t quite understand how it happened,” Harry told Ginny quietly, “but my parents were right there or some shadow of them. Seeing them gave me the strength to hold on until Sirius and Remus arrived with help to rescue me. I didn’t really see what happened after I let go of the connection, but I think they, along with the other shadows that appeared, somehow protected me as I ran to Sirius so he could get us out of there.”

 

“Where did you go from there?”

 

“We came straight here. I think we came by Portkey. I was so out of it that I was barely aware we were here until the next morning,”

Harry told her as he seemed to relax physically. “Dad told me it would be best for us to stay here until the wards at our home could be checked and strengthened. Not quite sure how they could be improved any further, considering Dad said they were the best money could buy.”

 

Ginny finally shifted positions, her knees aching far more than she realised, and she sat on the edge of the bed next to Harry, her arms still wrapped tightly around him. She felt a shiver shoot through her as she felt Harry adjust his arms around her and pull her into a proper hug.

 

“Thank you,” he whispered, “for listening to me.”

 

“Anytime,” she replied, grateful he couldn’t see her face at that moment as she was certain she could feel herself blushing at their close proximity. “I am proud of you for being strong enough to go up against him and survive again.”

 

“I didn’t feel very strong.”

 

“You may not have, but you were,” Ginny replied stubbornly. “You said the same thing to me after what happened to me.”

Harry chuckled unexpectedly at her response. She had used his own words against him. He should have known she wouldn’t let him get away with trying to think he hadn’t been strong enough against Voldemort.

 

“I remember asking Dad if there was any chance I could see you this summer,” Harry said, changing the direction of the conversation, “but I don’t know why I saw your Mum when I dragged you in here.”

 

Ginny gently moved back, so she could look up at Harry’s face, and she instantly missed warmth and safety she had felt being wrapped in his arms.

 

“Did your Dad tell you about the Order of the Phoenix?”

 

Harry nodded, remembering the photo his Dad had shown him of the original Order when he had told Harry about the group and how it would be reforming now that Voldemort had regained his body.

 

“Well, obviously, it is going to be based here and Mum and Dad were asked to join,” Ginny explained. “So, my parents and your dad thought it might be good for us to be based here for the summer so you could have company your own age for once. Plus, Professor Dumbledore felt because of my involvement with the diary that it would be better to keep me safe as he was not sure if Voldemort would be interested in me or not.”

 

“Honestly, I want you to be safe as well,” Harry said as he pulled back into a tight hug. “However, right now, I don’t care what the reason is for you all staying, I am just happy to have my best friend here with me for the summer.”

 

HP&GW

 

“Ok, I have to ask, but what is with the house-elf heads?” Ginny asked as the two friends made their way down the staircase to the ground floor.

 

The teens had finally left Harry’s bedroom, once the young wizard had showered and dressed. As they walked down from the fourth floor, Harry had given her a brief tour of the house.

 

“I honestly do not know,” Harry admitted. “I think Kreacher wants his head mounted up there, though.”

 

“That is just creepy,” Ginny said with a tone of disgust in her voice. “I can’t believe your dad grew up here and turned out relatively sane.”

 

“Relatively sane might actually be pushing it when it comes to describing him, Gin.”

 

As they came to the bottom of the staircase, Harry pressed a finger to his lips to indicate to Ginny to be quiet. He was not in the mood to have Sirius’ mother scream at them.

 

“I will explain in the kitchen,” Harry whispered when Ginny raised an eyebrow at him in question of his action.

 

Harry grabbed her hand and tugged along the hallway as quickly and as quietly as he could until they reached the door to the kitchen. However, the moment he pushed the door open, he froze. There, gathered round the table, was his dad, Remus, Ginny’s parents and brothers.

 

“Don’t be shy, Harry,” Ginny said as she felt him to begin to shuffle backwards. “They don’t bite.”

 

Harry wanted to tell her that it wasn’t her family that was the problem, but the fact he wasn’t used to being around so many people. He was feeling overwhelmed, even if it was only seven other people besides himself and Ginny in the room. He was used to it just being his dad, Remus and himself.

 

“Harry! How wonderful to see you again!”

 

Any chance to escape was taken away from Harry as he was swept up into a bone-crushing hug from Mrs Weasley.

 

“Come and meet my boys,” Molly told him as she pulled away and tugged him further into the kitchen. “You remember Arthur?”

 

“Hello, sir,” Harry greeted Ginny’s dad as they shook hands.

 

“This is Fred, George and Ron,” Molly continued as she pointed to each of her boys in turn.

 

Harry gave them an awkward wave, not sure what to say for the moment. He could see his dad, sat at the end of the table, desperately trying to hold in his laughter at Harry’s awkwardness. He was grateful when he felt Ginny take his hand and lead him over to two seats at the table.

 

“So, umm, do you like Quidditch?” Ron asked Harry, cutting through the tension that settled over the table.

 

“I love it,” Harry answered, “but I have never actually had the chance to play a proper game.”

 

Harry’s eyes flickered over to his dad once the words had left his mouth. He hoped that the words hadn’t made his dad feel guilty for denying the experiences of a typical child in exchange for keeping Harry safe.

 

“Well, it isn’t easy to play a proper game when we don’t know enough people to play one,” Sirius commented jokingly.

 

“Maybe, once it is safe enough for us to do so, Harry could come to The Burrow to play a game,” Ron suggested.

 

“Can I?” Harry asked, excitement shining in his eyes for everyone to see.

 

“It probably won’t happen until next summer, but as long as Arthur and Molly are happy to have you, then I cannot see why not,” Sirius replied, knowing the wards around The Burrow were being strengthened for the Weasleys’ safety.

 

The tension eased as the teens began discussing Quidditch and their favourite teams. The adults were pleased to see them all getting along, all knowing Harry had not had any friends his own age up until this moment.

 

As lunch continued, a thought crossed Harry’s mind about what Ginny had told him about why the Weasleys were staying with them at Grimmauld Place for the summer. If Professor Dumbledore deemed Ginny as potentially being at risk for her involvement with the diary, then she needed to be able to protect herself. Even more so, if Voldemort ever discovered their friendship.

 

“Dad? Uncle Moony?”

 

Two large gasps distracted Harry from asking what he was about to as he turned to see the twins looking at him in shock.

 

“Do you think it is the same Moony?” one of the twins asked as they turned to look at each other.

 

“Has to be. I doubt it is just a coincidence,” the other twin responded before they turned back to look at Harry.

 

“Remus is Moony,” Harry told him before they could even ask. “How do you know that name?”

 

No answer was forthcoming as one of the twins, Harry suspected it was George, jumped up from his seat and disappeared up the stairs. He returned a few minutes later and held out a blank piece of parchment to Harry.

 

“Is this what I think it is?” Harry asked, hoping it was the Marauders Map. His dad had taken the time, every day, to tell Harry a little bit about his parents and their friends. He hadn’t held back on what he had told Harry, owning up to being a bully in their younger years and the horrendous incident involving sending a student to the Shrieking Shack on a full moon. Even with all that, Harry lived for those stories and had hoped that one day they would recover the items that belonged to his dad and his friends.

 

“I can’t believe it!” Sirius exclaimed, pulling Harry from his thoughts. “I thought we would never see it again after Filch confiscated it from us.”

 

“If it hadn’t been so close to our N.E.W.T. exams, we would have tried to steal it back,” Remus continued. “We didn’t think it was worth the risk of getting expelled.”

 

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” Sirius said as he pointed his wand at the blank piece of parchment.

 

Harry and Ginny watched in awe as the content of the parchment revealed itself to them. The detailing was extraordinary and a reminder to Harry how incredibly talented his birth father, dad and uncle were.

 

“So who is who?” one of the twins asked.

 

“My dad, James, was Prongs,” Harry told them without looking up from the map. “He was named for his Animagus form, which was a stag.”

 

Harry tuned out the conversation as Sirius and Remus explained their own names, who Wormtail was to them, and some of the work that went into making the map. He knew the stories behind the map and their names, he didn’t need to hear them again at that moment.

 

“Are you okay?” Ginny whispered, causing Harry to shiver slightly at the feel of her breath on his skin.

 

“Yeah, I am good,” he replied. “Just happy to have something that had belonged to my dad.”

 

“This is truly a piece of art, Harry. Though, I am wondering why the twins never thought to pass it on to either me or Ron.”

 

Harry noticed, out of the corner of his eye, that Ginny’s hand appeared to be creeping to her side. He suspected that was where she stored her wand.

 

“Hey,” he said, distracting her from her movements. “How about you ask them before hexing them?”

 

Ginny pouted for a second. “Fine, spoil my fun, why don’t you?”

 

Harry laughed at her response, happy to have someone who could pull him from the mood he was in at having been given something of his dad’s.

 

“Maybe later you can do it, especially if they don’t have a good excuse as to why they never gave it to you. I wouldn’t mind see this Bat-Bogey Hex of yours.”

 

Ginny smiled brightly at him and Harry felt his heart swell with joy at having been the one to cause it.

 

The two teens turned back to the map, exploring it in detail and laughing at some of the named parts of the castle that neither had been aware of. As they laughed together, neither were aware of the looks on the faces of Ginny’s parents, Sirius and Remus. All were pleased to see how close they had become after only writing to one another for the previous couple of years.

 

“Harry?” Remus asked, hating that he interrupting the two teens. “What was it you wanted to ask before?”

 

Harry looked up, quickly noticing how everyone seemed to be staring at him and Ginny. He quickly fought the blush he could feel forming on his face before answering.

 

“Oh, erm, Ginny mentioned that Professor Dumbledore was not certain if Voldemort may be potentially interested in her,” Harry explained, “you know, because of what happened with the diary.”

 

Harry felt Ginny stiffen slightly at the mention of diary. While they had worked through the worst of it together, he knew Ginny would never be fully over what had happened to her. Harry didn’t think anyone could ever come to terms with their trust being betrayed and violated in the way Ginny’s had been.

 

“I was hoping, because of that, Ginny could begin training with me, while she is here this summer,” Harry asked as he slipped a hand into Ginny’s and gently squeezed it.

 

“Yes, she can,” Sirius answered immediately, much to the two teens’ surprise.

 

Ginny looked to her parents, expecting them to protest such an idea. She knew her mum wanted her and her siblings to remain away from the war that was heading their way. Her mum had sat with her when she hadn’t been able to sleep in the summer after her first year. So, Ginny knew that her mum didn’t want any of them to go through the nightmares that she had.

 

“Sirius and Professor Dumbledore both spoke to us before we made the move to Grimmauld Place,” Arthur explained, knowing his daughter was expecting them to refuse her the chance to train. “We all felt, your mother included, it would be best for you, Ginny, to have some additional training. We don’t know what You-Know-Who is aware of currently, so better to be safe than sorry.”

 

“Thank you, Dad.”

 

“The training is going to have to wait for a few more days, though,” Sirius told the teens. “I need to finish off arranging the rooms I want to use for training. I haven’t had the time to sort it with everything else that has been going on and the fact that I hadn’t expected us to be here throughout the entire summer. Until then, Harry, I want you to spend time with the Weasleys, get to know them, and, most importantly, relax.”

 

Harry nodded, easily accepting what he was being asked to do until they restarted his training. He didn’t think it would be such a hardship to spend time with the Weasley children, especially if meant spending time with Ginny. Somehow, even being stuck in such dark house and knowing Voldemort was back, he knew this was going to a good summer.

 



Chapter 4: An Unexpected Find
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Over the next few days, Harry started to slowly come out of his shell and made the effort to get to know the Weasleys. With Sirius busy setting up a room in the house for training and working to discover how Harry had managed to be lured outside of the wards on their home, the family of his best friend were his main company.

 

Mr Weasley, or Arthur as he had asked Harry to call him, was only there in the evenings as he worked at the Ministry in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office. Arthur had been delighted to discover Harry had spent time in the Muggle world as a child and had promptly questioned him over a number of things.

 

“Harry, what exactly is the function of those small plastic boats?” Arthur had asked one evening as the occupants of Grimmauld Place sat down for dinner.

 

Harry had been taken aback by the question, especially as it was the last thing he had been expected to be asked about.

 

“Oh, erm, they don’t really have much of an important function,” Harry had explained to the older wizard. “They are nothing more than a bath toy for children.”

 

“A bath toy? How fascinating!” Arthur replied, seemingly pleased by the answer Harry had given him.

 

Molly had immediately begun fussing over Harry, much to amusement of her children and his own dad. Harry had taken the teasing about it from everyone rather well, having quickly silenced them all by saying that he didn’t mind the fussing. Molly had beamed in response and had asked what his favourite dessert was, which led to them all enjoying treacle tart that evening.

 

However, most of his time was spent with the four Weasley children, who had taken over the library as a place for them to do their summer homework from Hogwarts. Harry was happy to join, especially after Remus had set him some essays to write, knowing that the events at the end of June had delayed them finishing off the last of his schoolwork for the year.

 

“So, what it is like at Hogwarts?” Harry asked one afternoon, longing for an understanding of the school that was not influenced by his father and uncle. Ginny had told him a fair amount about Hogwarts as well, but even she admitted to him that her view of the school had been tainted by the events of her first year.

 

“Don’t tell my mum,” Ron said quietly in fear that Molly would overhear what he was about to say, “but I sometimes think the food is better than what she cooks.”

 

Harry laughed as he replied, “That might be because it is the house-elves who cook the food. Based on my own experiences with them, they will always go above and beyond when any request is made of them.”

 

“Could you please explain that to our friend, Hermione?” Ginny asked with a slight desperation in her voice. “She has been obsessed with this need to help them, free them, ever since she saw the awful treatment of one while we were at the Quidditch World Cup last year.”

 

“Is she a Muggleborn?” Harry asked curiously.

 

“Yeah, how did you know?” Ron asked.

 

“Dad told me my mum reacted similar to your friend when she discovered that house-elves help keep the castle running,” Harry explained. “My dad, James, took her down to the kitchens to meet them and she took the time to learn about them, their magic, their history and so on. It helped her to accept that they like to work, but still deserve to be treated with respect. I would advise your friend speaks to them before jumping to conclusions about what she thinks they need. They are incredibly powerful magical beings.”

 

Harry quickly learned more about Hermione Granger, Ron’s best friend at Hogwarts. He was surprised to hear she was a Gryffindor after being told she was extremely bright and loved to learn everything she could about their subjects and the magical world.

 

“I will be shocked if she isn’t named as a prefect, this year,” Ron said, a proud tone seeping through his words. “She will make it harder for the twins to get away with their pranks, especially if they take more of their own creations with them to school.”

 

“Did we hear our baby brother talking about us?” one of the twins said as they came into the library.

 

“Don’t call me that!”

 

“Ron was just saying that his friend, Hermione, should be prefect, this coming school year, and would make life more difficult for you,” Harry told them.

 

“Percy couldn’t even control us, even when he was Head Boy!” the other twin said. “So, trust us, Hermione will not be a problem!”

 

Harry enjoyed learning more Hogwarts and what it was like to go to school there. He was amused by how much Ron talked about his friend, Hermione, making him suspect the youngest male Weasley had a crush on the girl. He laughed at all the pranks the twins had pulled, including one they had pulled on the Potions professor that had left him covered, head to toe, in various shades of pink. The very fact it had been done on Severus Snape, the man he knew had once been a friend of his mum, was even more hilarious. In return, he told them more stories of the pranks the Marauders pulled at school, which only served to give the twins some more ideas. However, it was the evenings, after dinner, that Harry loved the most.

 

Every night, since Ginny had arrived at Grimmauld Place with her family, Harry and Ginny had spent a few hours talking, just the two of them. They would talk about anything and everything from their childhoods to the nightmares they both had. Harry had never felt so comfortable talking to anyone as he did Ginny, even more so than his dad, someone who he had always been open with. With Ginny, however, he knew she would understand his fears and the nightmares in a way no one else possibly could. Even then, Harry felt drawn to her in a way he couldn’t explain.

 

“Harry?”

 

Harry’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of his name being called. He turned his head towards where the voice had come from to find a blurry outline of his best friend.

 

“Ginny?” he said as he reached over for his glasses, bringing her and the room into focus.

 

Looking at her, he could tell she had been woken from a nightmare. With a house as Dark this one was, he would have been surprised if it hadn’t caused her or anyone nightmares. He had told her, that first evening, that if she had a nightmare that she was welcome to wake him if needs be, which she had quickly responded to by telling him he could come to her as well. Somehow, just knowing she was across the hall from him was enough to keep the nightmares away for now.

 

“Sorry to wake you,” she said as she slid under the covers when he raised them in invitation to join him. “It’s just that you said…”

 

Harry just wrapped his arms around his best friend and pulled her closer until she was resting her head on his chest.

 

“What did you dream about?” he quietly asked as he slowly began to run a hand through her long, red hair.

 

“I was back in the Chamber,” Ginny whispered as Harry felt her tears hit his chest. “There are so many snakes on display in this house. I have managed to ignore them for the most part, but tonight… they were all I could think about when I went to sleep.”

 

“Were you dreaming specifically about the Basilisk?”

 

“Yes, which is weird, because the only time I remember seeing it was when I woke up after you stabbed the diary. I don’t remember any of the times he possessed me and then forced me to use the Basilisk to hurt people. I mean, I did begin to suspect I was the one behind the attacks, but I wasn’t certain because I didn’t remember anything. All I knew was that the blank spots in my memory seemed to line up with them.”

 

Harry sat up, bringing Ginny with him so he could look directly into her eyes as he said, “You know you’re not to blame for anything that happened? Tom used you to get what he wanted, but you fought him every step of the way.”

 

“I do know that, Harry,” Ginny replied with a small smile on her face. “I know it in my heart, but sometimes, my brain seems to forget.”

 

“Is it just the snake décor that is bothering you? Because I wouldn’t blame you if it were as this house is just so Dark. Dad always told me it was, but I didn’t grasp just how much until we arrived here after what happened the other week.”

 

“Maybe,” Ginny answered, though Harry could sense her uncertainty. He knew, however, that she would talk when she was ready. He wasn’t willing to push her in the same way he knew that she would never push him to say more than he was ready for.

 

“Do you want to stay here and sleep?” Harry asked nervously, acutely aware that he was asking his best friend, who just so happened to be an extremely beautiful girl, to sleep in the same bed as him.

 

Ginny’s response was to push Harry back down onto bed before curling up next to him and pulling the covers over them. Harry was certainly not going to complain about it, especially when Ginny seemingly settled down and fell asleep within minutes.

 

In amongst all of the excitement of having Ginny and her family staying with him and his dad for the summer, Harry felt this big ball of confusion inside of him. They had only met once in person before this summer and yet, when he saw her that first morning, it had not felt weird to hug her and then drag her into his bedroom. It didn’t seem to matter that she had essentially been his pen pal for the past two years; she had quickly become his best friend and the one person he knew he could confide in about anything. However, he would be a fool to deny how much Ginny had changed physically in those two years and how she was growing to become a beautiful young woman. Now, here she was curled up against him in his bed and calling her best friend didn’t seem quite right. She was so much more than that, but he wasn’t quite sure what that was. He knew, though, that he would figure it out at some point.

 

HP&GW

 

“I am hoping you have all completed or have at least done the bulk of your summer homework,” Molly Weasley said as she served up breakfast the next morning. “I will be needing your help on getting this place cleaned up. If you all help, then we can get a good portion

of the house done before you return to school in September.”

 

Her children nodded in confirmation, though Harry suspected that the twins and Ron had not done anywhere near as much as Molly had hoped for. He knew Ginny was close to completing her work as he had helped her with a couple of subjects. She had told him that the sooner she had the work completed, the more time they could dedicate to training alongside Harry. He just hoped helping with cleaning the house didn’t cut too much into the time they would need for training.

 

“Sorry for sneaking out your room without waking you, this morning,” Ginny whispered, pulling Harry from his thoughts.

 

“That’s ok,” Harry whispered back as he felt his cheeks begin to heat up at the thought of them having slept in the same bed together.

 

“I dread to think what would have happened had your mum caught us. I know my dad would have had too much fun teasing us about it.”

 

“Thank you for last night. I haven’t slept that well in quite a long time.”

 

Harry couldn’t help but notice as Ginny began to blush. He wondered if it was just because they had shared a bed for a few hours or if there was something more to it. Whatever it was, he knew he didn’t feel embarrassed by what had happened, not that he planned to tell anyone, as it had felt natural to him to have her curled up next to him. He hoped Ginny felt the same way about as he did, not that he was ready to have that conversation until he understood why things seemed different when it came to her.

 

“I was wondering, though,” Ginny continued, leaning into Harry more to make sure no one overheard them, “if you had forgotten you could come to me if you had any nightmares? It’s just… well, you seemed to be sleeping peacefully when I came in last night, but…”

 

“I haven’t had any nightmares since you arrived,” Harry told her honestly. “Well, at least nothing that has stopped me from going back to sleep. Talking to you that first morning really helped me. I think if someone had been killed that night then the nightmares would have been far worse than they already are.”

 

Ginny smiled in response, causing Harry to feel a fluttering in his stomach.

 

“I promise, though, that if I have one bad enough to stop me from sleeping, I will come and get you.”

 

“Good. I would hate to introduce my Bat Bogey Hex I have told you about,” Ginny replied, making Harry laugh loud enough to capture the other occupants’ attention.

 

“What’s funny, Harry?” Sirius asked his son as he entered the kitchen.

 

“Ginny was just threatening me with her Bat Bogey Hex,” Harry explained, trying to ignore the looks on both his father’s and Molly’s faces. They both appeared to seem happy, but Harry couldn’t figure out why. He just hoped neither of them knew that he had slept in the same bed as Ginny for a few hours during the night.

 

“Oh, no, you definitely don’t want to be introduced to that, Harry,” Ron said with a shiver. “The feeling of bats coming out of your nose…”

 

Harry laughed at the look of horror on Ron’s face. He was impressed that Ginny had her brothers wrapped round her fingers with a threat of a simple Hex.

 

“You’ll have to tell me more about this hex, Ginny,” Sirius said with genuine interest, “but for now, I need to get going as I have a couple of meetings to attend today. When I get home, Harry, I should be able to update you about what is going on and set up a schedule for your and Ginny’s training.”

 

“Ok, Dad,” Harry replied, relief flowing through him at hopefully getting some answers as to what had happened to allow Voldemort to successfully kidnap him.

 

“Be good and have fun cleaning the drawing room, kids,” Sirius said with a laugh as he exited the kitchen.

 

HP&GW

 

Harry was not convinced that Molly’s idea of having the house cleaned by the end of the summer would happen. They had already spent the morning working on removing the Doxy infestation from the curtains. If they continued at this pace, they would be lucky to get started on the bedrooms. They have been fit for use, but that didn’t mean the bedrooms could be neglected from being scrubbed from top to bottom. Even then, a fair few things in the house had been stuck to the walls with a Permanent Sticking Charm, which left Harry thinking that, perhaps, the house was better left in the state it was in. However, his dad had made it clear he wanted it cleaned up and fit for use for the Order and as a safe house, therefore, it had to be cleaned.

 

“The tapestry will have to be left for now,” Molly said as she, Harry, and the four Weasley children re-entered the drawing room after lunch. “I will have to speak to Sirius about the best way to clean and repair it. So, in the meantime, we are going to clear out the cabinets. I have no idea if any of the items in there are safe, so I need you all to concentrate as you remove the items in case just the act of touching or moving them makes them do something nasty.”

 

Molly glared at the five teens, making Harry very glad that she was not his mother. He suspected Molly was not a woman to be crossed.

 

“Right, Harry, Ginny and Ron, you can work on that cabinet,” Molly said as she pointed to the cabinet to the left of the mantlepiece, “and you, Fred and George, can help me with the other one.”

 

Harry held in the chuckle at the expressions on the twins’ faces, knowing that they were being punished for trying to sneak some of the Doxies away to experiment with, earlier that morning.

 

“They deserved that,” Ginny whispered before turning to the cabinet they had been assigned to.

 

“Like that will stop them,” Ron commented. “Those two are too sneaky. I do wonder how they were never sorted into Slytherin.”

 

The three teens quickly began working on removing items from the cabinet as they noticed Molly glance suspiciously at them. It didn’t take long for them all to realise it was best not to examine any of the items once a silver snuffbox tried to bite Harry as he removed it and after Ron had opened musical box that played a tune that caused the occupants of the drawing room to become sleepy. Luckily, Ginny had the sense to snap the lid shut before it caused further problems.

 

“No examining anything, unless it is deemed necessary,” Molly had declared after those two incidences. “Straight into the bag, no questions asked.”

 

They all did as she asked, until Harry picked up a large, heavy locket. Harry knew he was not meant to examine it, but something was drawing him to do so. It was gold and decorated with glittering, green stones shaped into a serpentine S. Turning it, he could see the seam, but yet there appeared to be no logical place to open it. As Harry went to examine it a little closer, something hard slammed into his legs, causing him to stumble into Ron, who fortunately stopped them both from tumbling over.

 

“That is my master’s locket,” Kreacher cried as the house elf grabbed Harry’s wrist. “You must give Kreacher back the locket.”

 

Harry and Ron exchanged a look of confusion as Kreacher’s words drew the other Weasleys over to the two teens.

 

“My dad has not lived here in a long time, Kreacher,” Harry calmly told him as Kreacher continued to wrestle with Harry’s wrist. “I am certain this is not his locket.”

 

“No, no, not him, never him,” Kreacher mumbled as he moved onto attempting to uncurl Harry’s fingers from around the locket. “My master, Regulus. Poor Master Regulus.”

 

Harry wrenched his hand free from the house-elf, wondering why this was such an important possession to Kreacher.

 

“Kreacher, can you tell me why you must keep it?” Ginny softly asked Kreacher as she knelt down next to the house-elf.

 

Kreacher looked at the youngest Weasley, shock evident in his eyes at being spoken to in a kind manner. Harry could tell, however, that he was not going to speak as Ginny was not a member of the House of Black.

 

“Kreacher, you need to tell us why this locket is important,” Harry demanded, despite knowing that they would be going round in circles until his dad came home and intervened. While he knew he was heir to the House of Black, Harry was certain Kreacher would not respond to his requests or demands until Harry was officially the head of the family.

 

“No, no, no,” Kreacher mumbled as he began to pull his ears in frustration. “Kreacher has said too much. No, Kreacher cannot tell you.

Master Regulus forbade Kreacher from telling anyone.”

 

Harry turned his head to look at Molly, but that was all Kreacher needed for him to grab hold of Harry’s hand and pry the locket from it. To everyone’s surprise, instead of Apparating, the house-elf turned and shot out of the drawing room.

 

“We need to stop him,” Harry said as he took off after Kreacher.

 

The Weasleys followed Harry through the house and down into the basement to where Kreacher’s cupboard was.

 

“Kreacher, we need to know what is so important about that locket,” Harry demanded once again as he ripped opened the door to the cupboard.

 

Kreacher looked up, wide-eyed, at Harry as he kept the locket hidden in hands behind his back.

 

“What’s going on here?” a voice from behind them said.

 

Harry turned, relieved to see his dad having arrived him. He knew Kreacher would answer to him if his dad demanded it.

 

“We were clearing out those cabinets in the drawing room and I found this locket. I was just taking a look at it when Kreacher attacked me, demanding he be given the locket. He mentioned your brother, Regulus, Dad,” Harry explained quickly, fearful that Kreacher would take the chance to disappear.

 

Sirius turned to Molly, who nodded her confirmation that Harry had told the truth.

 

“Kreacher,” Sirius said in a firm voice, “please give me the locket that Harry speaks of and remain where you are.”

 

The house-elf obeyed the command of his master, even though the occupants of the house could see him trying to fight against them.

 

“Explain what this is and what is has to do with my brother?” Sirius asked as he took hold of the locket, quickly looking at it before turning his eyes back to the house-elf.

 

“Master Regulus forbade Kreacher to tell anyone.”

 

“Then, perhaps, I can just add this item to the bag of junk I intend on throwing out.”

 

It seemed every person in the room was holding their breath as they waited for Kreacher’s reaction to his master’s threat. Harry knew his dad had no intention of throwing the locket away as it had invoked a reaction that did not involve any sort of insult from the house-elf.

 

“The locket, Master, was stolen by Master Regulus,” Kreacher finally responded. “He ordered Kreacher to destroy it, but nothing Kreacher did worked. I failed Master Regulus.”

 

“Kreacher, who did Regulus steal the locket from?” Harry asked with a sense of foreboding. The small pieces of information he had seemed to be coming together quickly. He knew from what his dad had told him that Regulus had been a Death Eater and had died at a young age. No one knew what had happened to him, but it was assumed that Regulus had died personally at the hands of Voldemort himself. If the locket was given by Regulus to Kreacher to be destroyed, then the locket had to belong to…

 

“The Dark Lord, Master Harry.”

 



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