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A/N: Hello again, here's chapter 4, not action-packed like the other ones, I'm afraid... It's more of an explanatory chappie, just rush through it while I write the next one... It's very short, too. You'll find that the first chapters in my stories are always short, but grow as I move on into Hogwarts. Not to mention I've just moved to a different country, I'm starting school again and I have no internet of my own... So please spare me.
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Previously on Harry Potter and the Forest of Shadows: Harry flies out from Privet Drives and narrowly escapes from Bellatrix, Apparating to the Burrow. There he's seen to by the Weasleys, and shocked by an angry Lupin.
*Chapter 4*
WHO'S TO BLAME
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Harry mouthed silently, attempting to digest Lupin's words. He'd escaped from Bellatrix alive, managed top save his uncle Vernon and Dudley from a certain death, and he was greeted like this? Harry didn't know what Lupin could possibly be referring to, but it made very angry. No one had come to help him when he needed them, and now he was being reprimanded, for what? Mrs. Weasley broke the silence. "What do you mean, Remus? Why should Harry go to Azkaban?" She sounded incredulous. Ron and Ginny were also dumbstruck, watching Harry with wide eyes. Mr Weasley, however, wore Lupin's ominous expression. "As soon as I called on Remus, he he flooed here. The Order has been worried sick, looking for Harry everywhere." "Yes well, he's safe now," Mrs Weasley said airily, patting Harry on the shoulder and making a brave stab at a smile. It did nothing to improve the tension in the room, because things so obviously weren't alright. "He is, Molly, but I'm afraid Harry has done something that he will have to pay for dearly..." Lupin took a deep breath, and Harry waited for the explanation. "Arabella Figg stumbled upon Vernon Dursley and his son as she was searching for one of her kittens in the park. She recognized his symptoms at once; he was under the Imperius Curse." The room was silent for a moment to assimilate this, and then Ginny laughed nervously. "Why would Harry do that? It must have been a Death Eater, they were roaming the place!" Harry felt as though the air was sucked from his lungs. He recalled the desperate situation he had been in, when Bellatrix was coming for him and Uncle Vernon wouldn't listen. Couldn't they understand? "There was nothing I could do! It was my only choice, we were going to die!" Harry burst out, frustrated at the shocked faces surrounding him. He kept talking, trying to sound calm and collected although it was the exact opposite of how he felt. "Look, there was a Death Eater after me. I told Uncle Vernon to take Dudley and run, but he just stood there and turned very strange... Like he was having a heart attack... I panicked! I had to get him out, and I know that when you're under the Imperius Curse you don't feel any pain... So it was the only thing I could do! And I don't know how I did it, I've never done it before!" At least not that Unforgivable Curse, because he had performed the others. But they didn't know that... It was just like in his second year, when he had spoken Parseltongue at the Duelling club. Everyone had stared at him as though he was a freak, just like now. Ron looked at Harry in a bewildered way, as if he'd never seen him before. Ginny and Mrs. Weasley were somewhat scared, and Mr. Weasley and Lupin exchanged meaningful glances that infuriated Harry even more. "If you have a better idea of what I should have done, I'd like to hear it!" Lupin took a deep breath, and watched him intently with sad eyes. "Did it ever occur to you to use a simple Revitalising Charm?" Harry's mind shot back to a Charms lesson, in which Flitwick had pulled out sick guineapigs for them to restore. His stomach lurched. It would have been so easy... "Or you could have Transfigured his heart into a healthier one... Haven't you been studying human Tranfisguration?" Lupin asked tentatively. It felt like a slap in the face. Ron, Luna and Ginny were also looking sceptical now; as though they'd have known what to do in that situation. "Well, alright, but that still doesn't mean he would have listened to what I said!" Harry protested. Unfortunately, Lupin seemed to have an answer to this too. "A Banishing Charm would have sent Mr. Dursley wherever you wanted him to." Harry's heart sunk. It all sounded so easy, so reasonable now. He didn't understand why he hadn't thought of it before. But then again, who could think properly with the whistling of a Pocket Sneakoscope and the beating of your heart filling your ears? They'd never understand. "I wouldn't have had to do it if the Order had been there to protect me, as you were supposed to," Harry muttered through gritted teeth. He was almost pleased to see Mr. Weasley and Lupin looking shamed. "You're right, it's all our fault..." Mr. Weasley admitted, shaking his head. "There used to be three ways for us to keep track of you. The Ministry installs a Magic detector in all homes with an underage wizard, to ensure there's no illegal activity. That was one way. Another is your guards." Harry raised an eyebrow, remembering Mundungus. "And finally, Dumbledore has his own device to keep check on Privet Drive. But that was malfunctioning tonight, as it requires your Aunt Petunia to work and she disappeared. The Ministry's detector was removed when you turned seventeen. And your guard was murdered." Harry took a deep breath. Voldemort had taken all the necessary precautions, and nearly managed what he had aimed for. "So..." He hardly dared say it. "What happened to my Aunt Petunia?" Lupin's face fell, and Mrs. Weasley gripped Harry's hand tightly in her own. "I'm sorry, Harry. We tried our best to protect your Aunt, but her guard, Hestia Jones, was hit in the back with a killing curse. Your aunt was faced with a Death Eater and no way to protect herself." He spoke very quietly, as though to soften the blow. What was the point? Deep down, Harry had already known. It didn't come as a shock. And as much as he would have liked to show sympathy, he had felt nothing for this woman. When he tried to recall moments of happiness with her, or imagined her skeletal figure and horse-mouth, it stirred no compassion. Nothing at all. "And my Uncle Vernon, and Dudley?" he asked dully. "Kingsley took them to St. Mungo's. They don't really need treatment, it's only for counseling and until we find a place for them. Would you like to see them?" Harry shook his head quickly. He knew that any encounter with his uncle and cousin in the next fifty years at least would get very ugly, seeing as what he had caused. "I'm the last person they want to see. It's my fault she was killed." To his complete astonishment and horror, Luna started crying. "That poor, poor Muggle," she sobbed. It was the only thing that could have made Harry feel worse. He knew that he must be seeming extremely cold, sitting there like an idiot while Luna wailed her head off for someone she didn't know. Harry tried to squeeze a tear from his eyes, but was unsuccessful. "Dumbledore knows about this, doesn't he?" Harry asked, trying to cover up the strangled sounds. Luna flung herself into Ron's arms and he looked down at her, appalled. "Yes, he knew what was happening as soon as your owl reached him. He's meeting with Cornelius Fudge as we speak to sort things out. I'm going to fetch your things and see what's happening, and in the meantime I suggest you get some sleep. I'll be back with more information later," Lupin replied, throwing Harry one last stern look before he Disapparated from the room. Harry fidgeted with his glasses nervously, watching everyone around him. They were obviously avoiding his eyes, but he could see what they were all thinking; is the Harry Potter that we've known for years, a criminal? All except Luna, who looked quite happy now and wouldn't release Ron as much as he struggled. "I'm sure you'll be fine," Mrs Weasley said anxiously. "Won't he, Arthur?" She looked at her husband in a way that implied he would die if he didn't agree. "Well, there's no reason to lose hope... What Harry's done is very serious, but I'm sure that considering the situation... Fudge is undergoing some harsh elections at the moment, it wouldn't look to good if he was too strict with someone so young..." Mr Weasley paused. "Who happens to be the Boy Who Lived."
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