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Chapter Three

“Say that again, Mr Weasley.” Minerva did not appear to be pleased by the sudden news that none of the three teenagers stood in her office would be returning to school the next year. Harry would have gone as far as to say that she was furious. He knew that she was likely to try and appeal to the intellectual in Hermione at the very least – after all, her OWL scores had been the highest in the year, even beating all the Ravenclaws!

“Uh… we’re not going back to school in September,” Ron muttered quickly and kept his gaze away from Remus and Minerva. It was probably as well that he did; their expressions were distinctly grim and they were not going to back down on this issue without a fight.

“I think you’ll find that you will be going back to school,” Minerva told them sternly. “You will take your NEWTs.”

“During which time countless people could be killed and Voldemort could take over entirely,” Harry said coolly. He was certainly not in the mood to be dissuaded from two of his decisions by various Order members that day, especially since he had already let the secret about the Horcruxes out and told two extra people. “We’re not going back to school.”

“That’s ridiculous!” Remus cried and Harry turned to look at him. He found it very strange that the man should care; after all, they were only NEWTs. “You aren’t just dropping out of school for this, do you see anyone else doing the same? We’re highly capable of taking care of things whilst you continue your education.” He knew instinctively that he’d said the wrong thing.

Ron glanced at Harry who caught his gaze and didn’t need Ron to speak in order to know that he was feeling smug about his earlier decision to involve Remus. Clearly the man thought that the Order would be taking care of things and Harry already regretted involving him, especially when Dumbledore had been so secretive before.

“That’s just it though, isn’t it?” Hermione said quietly and Harry was very glad that she’d chosen to say something before he had the chance to fly off the handle. “Dumbledore entrusted this to Harry who in turn told the four of us. We are involved and we will be leaving school to do so. The worst that can happen concerning our education is that we have to take our NEWTs at a later date but to be honest I rather think removing Voldemort from power sooner rather than later is top priority here.”

“It is but have you ever considered what would happen once Voldemort’s gone?” Minerva demanded of her. “You’ll defeat him finally and then that’ll be it. You’ll have to go on and lead your lives, get careers except that it will be rather difficult to get a job without any NEWTs…” Hermione was silenced by this and everyone else in the room could see that she was in danger of being swayed by this argument.

“Can’t we take the NEWTs at a later date?” Harry asked her, trying to find some way around the problem. He was hardly leaping to take the exams but he knew that if he somehow managed to survive he would have to get a job and a life at some point.

“You can take the exams at any time you wish at the Ministry, however without extensive studying conducted most effectively in this environment then I believe you will not do nearly as well as you ought,” Minerva said calmly. As much as she could see the reason for them wanting to leave school she was hardly going to let them walk out of the door with her blessings. They would be walking into a dangerous world, one in which they would have no protection as they fought against Voldemort, searching to destroy pieces of his soul. That they should do so without even advanced magical knowledge and without any other members of the Order as they had originally intended was a frightening notion. Then again they were clearly not backing down.

“Then we can do that, can’t we?” Ron said defiantly. Minerva and Remus shot him cool looks which instantly had him squirming under their gaze and he averted his eyes around the room, looking anywhere but at them.

“The idea that you’ll be facing Voldemort and his most skilled followers as you try to destroy him without even the knowledge you would have obtained next year isn’t a comforting thought,” Remus said, putting Minerva’s thoughts into words. He glanced sideways at his old professor thoughtfully.

“You have a plan,” Minerva stated. It was clear that Remus was thinking something through thoroughly which could only mean one thing – that he was beginning to take their side on the matter.

“They won’t be out all the time; they won’t be in constant hunt of the Horcruxes and Voldemort and will be returning to headquarters when they’re not,” Remus said thoughtfully, “so they could easily be tutored at headquarters by various members of the Order. Between everyone we could give them a very rounded education, I’m sure, and of course Ron and Harry will have to obtain their Apparition licences.” Ron’s ears reddened at the allusion to his previously failed test.

“I only lost half an eyebrow!” he snapped and Remus and Minerva smiled slightly.

“So, what do you think?” Remus asked the group in general, although he looked to Minerva.

She sighed in resignation. It was clear that she was doomed from the start, she supposed. “Very well. I shall see which members of the Order will be available to teach who, what and when. The matter of hunting down the Horcruxes will be difficult however, and I will certainly make sure that it takes first priority over your education.”

“Thanks, Professor,” Harry said and she nodded.

“Who else will you be telling about the Horcruxes?” Hermione asked Minerva suddenly, her thoughts wandering towards Snape.

“You won’t be telling the whole Order, will you?” Harry asked her. “I think that the less people know about it, the better, although more than just the three of us knowing was probably a good idea.”

She nodded and thought for a moment. Who else could she safely entrust this information to in the Order.

“I think that informing Alastor would be a good idea,” Minerva said, thinking through the various members of the Order. “Kingsley working in the Ministry would be in an excellent position to attempt to discover records of previous Horcruxes and their destruction…”

“Previous Horcruxes?”

“Yes Mr Weasley because, believe it or not, Voldemort has not been the first to have done this. Though he may have been the first to create so many of them,” Minerva told him coolly. She glanced at Remus for a moment and then added, “I’m sure Tonks would be willing to be involved in some of the more practical aspects of hunting for the Horcruxes, although I’m sure that she’d be very useful in the Ministry also…”

Remus visibly cringed at the idea of being trapped with a woman he had let down greatly very recently. The action was not missed by any of the group and Minerva raised an eyebrow.

“I really don’t want to talk about it yet,” Remus muttered before anyone said anything.

“So you would prefer Miss Tonks not to be involved in the situation at present, Remus?” she asked him calmly, wondering what on earth had gone on between them in the month since she, and many others, had observed them together at Dumbledore’s funeral.

“Well if she would be of some assistance then clearly I would rather she were involved, no matter what my personal issues with her might be,” Remus grudgingly told her.

“Your feelings for her at the moment may make any cooperation between the two of you difficult. If this is the case then Tonks will be excluded from this knowledge, at least for the present. Lastly I believe Bill Weasley may also be of use to us in this matter,” Minerva finished thoughtfully to strange stares from Ron.

“What does Bill have to do with anything?” he asked her quite disrespectfully. She scowled at him, as did Hermione but he kept his gaze fixed on his professor, avoiding that of anyone else.

“Bill is high up in Gringotts now, although I do not know how aware of your brothers’ status you are. He is, as humans go, doing very well for himself there and can easily monitor the types of things going into the vaults in there.” Minerva had evidently thought the matter through very quickly and very effectively.

“How? The things that go into the vaults are private, surely?” Hermione asked her.

“Naturally but magical frequency is always checked of anything which enters the cells and remains in there after the owner has left. If Voldemort was to have one of the Horcruxes already in one of the cells or relocated there then Bill would soon learn of it as a Horcrux, and especially one of Voldemort would have an extremely high magical frequency,” Minerva said as the rest of the group stared at her in amazement.

“How do you know all that?” Remus asked her in surprise.

“I have not always been a teacher,” she smiled slightly and glanced at Harry who appeared quite confused.

“Magical frequency?” he asked her and the rest of the group stared at him for a moment, wondering how he didn’t know of such a thing.

“Sorry mate, sometimes I forget how little you really know…” Ron said to him.

“Thanks Ron,” Harry deadpanned. “Is anyone going to explain this to me then?”

“I’ll tell you later,” Remus said. “It may take quite some explaining.”

“Well if that is all then you are all free to go now,” Minerva addressed the group. “I will arrange for some tutoring lessons to take place shortly in all subjects I deem necessary from various teachers. I would like to hold a meeting here with yourselves, Alastor, Kingsley and Bill tomorrow evening at eight o’clock. Do attempt to be punctual.”

Four bursts of green flames in the fireplace later and Minerva was left on her own once more. She leant her head into her hands and wondered how on earth they were ever going to manage to accomplish the task at hand without Dumbledore.

“There, there dear,” said Dilys comfortingly from the side of her as she shoved into Phineas’s portrait in order to get closer to the current headmistress. “I’m sure everything will be fine. You don’t need Albus here to destroy Voldemort.”

“I really think we do,” Minerva sighed as she glanced up at Albus and the other headmasters and mistresses. “How did you ever find the location of the fake Horcrux?”

“It is as you said, Minerva. Magical frequency,” Albus said simply. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is a party going on at my other portrait near the Wizengamot.” He slipped out of sight leaving Minerva’s mind working on overdrive and not even the snide comments from Phineas Nigellus were going to pull her out of her thoughts.

Back at Grimmauld Place, the four who had just left the office of the headmistress were in a similar state of thought, although not all on the same subject.

“Do you want to go and unpack in our room then, Harry?” Ron asked as he started towards the stairs but Remus stopped Harry from walking after him.

“Actually Harry, Molly was thinking that this summer since you now own the house and will be living here then perhaps you ought to take the master bedroom,” Remus said to him. “It would afford you more space and some privacy from the rest of the house and you really don’t need to be sharing when the house is this large.”

“Okay then… thanks,” Harry replied quietly, knowing that sleeping in Sirius’s room was going to be very difficult for him. He still couldn’t do magic until his birthday which wasn’t for another six days yet and he didn’t want to leave the room as it was for so long. He was beginning to wonder if Remus was using Legilimency on him after his next response.

“You can do magic in the house, Harry,” he smiled slightly at the startled look on Harry’s face and realised he must have been thinking something along those lines himself. “As magical activity is monitored by the Ministry that puts you in no danger whilst you’re in this house – it’s under so many charms they can’t even pick up a magical signal from it, no matter how many spells you use.”

“Oh, that’s good then,” Harry said, more to himself than to anyone else in actuality and set off upstairs to unpack.

It didn’t matter that he felt like he was over the initial pain of Sirius’s death and that it had been over a year ago since he had fallen in the Department of Mysteries; the moment he set foot into his godfather’s old room he felt instantly overwhelmed. Staring around him he took in the deep blue room, most things in shades of sapphire and silver. It was nice, Harry had to admit but the fact that it was Sirius’s changed that and he felt that he had to change things. He had to change everything to personalise the room entirely to him. He had to practically erase Sirius from the room so he could enter his space without wanting to murder Bellatrix or hit things.

There was a slight knock at the door and it was only at this point he realised the door was shut behind him and Ron and Hermione had not followed him in. He wondered who would have followed him up to his room and who was actually in the house, come to think of it. Harry walked over to the door and pulled it open, only to find Remus standing on the other side. Harry took a step back and opened the door for Remus to come in but he shook his head.

“I can’t go in there…” Remus said quietly staring over Harry’s shoulder into the room on the other side. “I really can’t. Anyway, I just came to see if you were okay with the room and everything, or if you’d rather choose anywhere else to stay in the house. Seeing as it’s yours you can go removing and relocating people as you want really…”

Harry smiled at the idea of moving everyone who stayed in the house round and round until they had no idea where they were sleeping anymore but decided against it; Mad Eye was staying in the house on the next floor up and although the idea of him being moved round and round against his will was highly amusing, he would kill Harry if such a thing happened.

“No, this room’s fine,” Harry told him, “although I think I’ll be moving a lot round and changing things entirely really…” He trailed off and glanced into the room on the other side. Somehow the whole thing reminded him of Sirius, he didn’t know whether it was because he consciously knew Sirius had been staying in there before he died or if he had somehow left an imprint of himself in the room somehow but it was all tugging at Harry’s emotions.

“Are you sure?” Remus asked and Harry wondered again whether he was having his mind read.

“For the last time, yes!” Harry said, his voice raising a little but he had to smile at Remus’s concern. “There’s no point in the room not being used just because Sirius used to stay there. I noticed a lot of his things are still lying about though…”

“Oh yes, no one’s really been in there since he died,” Remus said realising that it didn’t feel half as strange as he would have thought to be talking about his old friend. Still, he hadn’t been talking about him much over the past year anyway. The Order had been very busy and no one had anything to say except that they were sorry. “Everything he had will still be in there. I suppose we could clean it all out and put all his things in the attic, if you want.”

“We? As in…?” Harry began and trailed off.

“As in I’ll help you?” Remus asked with a slight smile. “Of course.”

And so that was how Harry and Remus found themselves spending the afternoon, uninterrupted by Ron or Hermione, both of whom returned downstairs into the lounge where they played Exploding Snap with Ginny and various other Wizarding games for much of the time. Harry found himself very glad that Remus had come by and offered his help though and he wondered whether Remus had known what he would want to; that he would wish to change the room so entirely from the way Sirius had him and practically purge him from his own room. He didn’t ask though.

“What is it?” Remus asked as he saw Harry lingering by Sirius’s bedside. He held something in his hands and, as Remus moved closer to him and away from the pile of boxes on the floor, he saw what it was: a photograph. He didn’t know what was on it but then he had never spent any time in Sirius’s room himself except once. Remus had been sitting on the small sofa by the window, watching as Sirius paced to and fro. Sirius had been excessively worried about Harry after hearing the prophecy and, truth be told, so had Remus. That was how he had come to be sitting and trying to calmly assert some sense into his friend before he did something stupid – like tell Harry what it said himself.

It hadn’t mattered anyway… it had been Sirius who had ended up killed, not Harry who had found out the prophecy in the end from Dumbledore. Remus briefly wondered whether Harry was aware that the entire Order knew the contents of the prophecy and considered asking him as he stared over Harry’s shoulder at the picture in his hand.

“I trust you’re keeping that one,” Remus said quietly and Harry nodded. The photo showed Harry, Sirius, Ron, Hermione, Remus and Tonks all sat at the table on Christmas day during Harry’s fifth year. Molly had taken quite a lot of pictures that year and most of the Order believed that it was ‘just in case’. Just in case Voldemort massacred them all and there would still be a small part of them trapped on a moving picture for Molly to sob over.

Harry set the picture back down on the bedside table and glanced around the room. They had removed most of the things that had belonged to Sirius and had filled two small cardboard boxes, which Remus had conjured, with his robes and other clothes. Three boxes had been filled with books and Remus explained that Sirius had been very bored during the year. He had clearly taken a shine to reading during that one year and had come into possession of many books. Harry had contemplated leaving them down there so that perhaps he might read them, although he knew he never would and it had been Remus who persuaded him just to put them in the attic.

“That’s probably about it, really,” Remus said, thinking aloud. “He didn’t have much but then he didn’t have the chance to go out and buy much. There’s just the matter of his desk and then we’ll be done and you can do what you want with the room.”

After such a statement both Remus and Harry thought they would find themselves walking towards Sirius’s desk which sat in the corner of the room, just behind the door in an out-of-the-way location. They didn’t and for about ten seconds they both stood there staring at it, each waiting for the other to make the first move. When nothing happened, Harry laughed slightly and Remus couldn’t help but smile sadly. Neither of them needed to state what they feared finding in that desk, and it was worse than any dark creature they could have discovered.

It was letters.

The fear of finding a small store of the letters they’d sent to him was great. It was overwhelming just thinking about it and they both knew it was improbable that he would have destroyed or thrown away all that they had sent to him. It would be even more overwhelming and heartbreaking to actually see them and remove them, perhaps just destroy them if they were there that is.

Harry took a deep breath and walked over to the desk boldly, Remus following him feeling glad that Harry had been the first to move. The desk was only small but it was adequate for writing on and that was clearly what it had been used for. On the desk itself lay two small piles – one of envelopes and the other of parchment. The Black family seal lay unused on his desk with three quills and two pots of ink which had been gradually drying out throughout the year they had lain in disuse. There was only one drawer and Remus reached out to it.

It was as they had suspected and dreaded. Filled with letters, each of them recognising the writing of themself and the other that stood with them. There were also letters from Dumbledore and one or two that looked like they were from Tonks. The abundance of them had been from Harry and Remus though. They both put their hands into the drawer and took them out, a small pile of them on the table once they had done and it was clear that the drawer had an expansion charm or two upon it.

“What do we do with them?” Harry asked Remus quietly, not knowing whether it was worth saving them because Sirius had done or destroying them because they had been sent from themselves and they had no use for them. Remus considered the possibilities as he stared down at them, his eyes wandering over sections of letters from himself and from Harry that Sirius had carefully saved. Part of him thought the action of saving such mundane letters odd, but then he had done the same and he was sure Harry would have done also…

“We’ll box them up and put them in the attic,” Remus decided. “That way in a few years, should we still be here to read them again, I can laugh at the drivel we wrote to each other during that year and you can as well, I’m sure.”

Harry nodded and some time later the letters had all been carefully placed in another box which was set atop the others. Remus banished them up to the attic with a wave of his wand but, a moment after the door flew open and the boxes went through it, there was a loud thud on the landing. Remus and Harry stared at each other for a moment before running to the door. Mad Eye lay knocked out on the floor, apparently hit by one of the boxes containing books which had carried on up to the attic.

“Well that was emotionally draining,” Remus smiled sadly as he walked out of the room and glanced back inside it from the doorway. Harry shut the door and swallowed; it felt like he was shutting the door on Sirius’s life. It was final closure that the man was finally dead and gone and, after never having a funeral for him, it felt sort of appropriate that the two people who had shut the door on his life had been the two he had been closest to.

“I agree,” Harry sighed as he watched Mad Eye’s limp form lying on the floor a few metres away. “What do we do about him?”

“Well I don’t fancy our chances of survival if we’re the ones who wake him so we’ll go downstairs, have some dinner and hope he doesn’t connect us to his sudden removal of consciousness,” Remus smiled, a little wider this time. Harry grinned in return and the two of them set off quickly down towards the stairs, not wanting to be caught at the scene of the crime.

A/N: I wasn't pleased with the way that JKR wrote Harry as just entirely over Sirius as if he was just like a little pet that died. I know they didn't know each other well but I think a little more emotion there would have been nicer. So, Sirius can have a goodbye one year later... why not? :o)

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