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Chapter 31
Living in the Now
(Song is, Do You Have A Little Time, by Dido)
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If you're feeling low and lost today
You're probably doing too much again
You spend all your hours just rushing around
Do you have a little time
Do you have a little time for me?
Slow down my love you're confusing me
If you're feeling stressed just try calling
You spend your time waiting for anyone to see
Do you have a little time
Do you have a little time for me?
If you should stop for a while
You will find me standing by
Over here at the side of your life
I'd like to hold you still, remind you of all you've missed
If you have a little time
If you have a little time that is

Why do you still run when you could walk with me
Life will pass you by when you move as quickly
What can you see when you're spinning around
Do you have a little time
Do you have a little time for me

If you should stop for a while
You will find me standing by
Over here at the side of your life
I like to hold you still, remind you of all you've missed
If you have a little time
If you have a little time that is

If you let me listen I'll make you feel clear
You spend your time waiting for anyone to see
If you should stop for a while
You will find me standing by
Over here at the side of your life
I'd like to hold you still, remind you of all you've missed
If you have a little time
If you have a little time that is
If you should stop for a while
You will find me standing by
Over here at the side of your life
I'd like to hold you still, remind you of all you've missed
If you have a little time
If you have a little time that is
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Harry stood outside the Gryffindor common room entrance, waiting to give the password.

His mind was racing in a million different directions all at once, and he was having a hard time controlling the anger he was feeling.

No matter how you placed it, how you said it, how you analyzed it, two people who he would never in a hundred years peg as death eaters, were in fact just that, death eaters; and to rub salt on an already seething wound they had betrayed him.

He told himself over and over again that there was no point running through alternate scenarios in his mind, it had happened, and he didn’t have access to a time turner.

Then there was the other thought that had settled itself in the forefront of his mind, and didn’t show any signs of budging. It was over, Voldemort was gone. Just like that, with one spell…gone. In retrospect he almost felt that the whole process had been easier than it should have been.

He had imagined how the final battle would take place ever since he learned of his destiny back in fifth year, but he had always imagined innumerable deaths, blood, screaming, crying. The actual battle had been much more…subdued, if that was even the right word for it. Yes, he hadn’t been around to witness what had happened after Voldemort fell, but what he had witnessed had seemed eerily calm.

It had just been he and Voldemort, one on one, no order members, no death eaters interfering when it came down to it. Just the two of them, in a final face off to decide the fate of not only each other, but the fate of the entire free world.

They had circled each other, each waiting to strike or be stricken, Harry had been hit with a few bouts of crucio, but besides that, it had all gone down to a beam of gold light, not even green, like the killing curse normally emitted.

Sure Ginny had been involved, but she hadn’t been injured, and he couldn’t hide the fact that he had been very surprised that the death eaters had let her go without so much as a scratch…it had been again, way too easy.

The entire time he had sat in the hospital wing between visits with various well wishers, these thoughts had plagued him. After all, hadn’t everyone told him how awful Voldemort was? Didn’t nobody dare speak his name? And after all the hype, Harry had been less than impressed. Surprised sure, that this was the leader of the dark army. As far as he was concerned Lucius Malfoy had a bigger backbone, and ability to defend himself.

Another odd, if not ironic thought Harry had, was that all the other times that he had faced against Voldemort, he had seemed much tougher to overcome; when he wasn’t at the height of his powers, living off the souls of others. He surmised it to how he had grown in strength to their last meeting in fifth year, but still Voldemort, the most fearsome wizard since Grindenwald, had, had two years to ally his forces and attack. He had at least figured he would be a tougher opponent, since their last meeting; but he had almost appeared weaker.

That led onto another startling realization; it had just been Voldemort and death eaters. No giants, no werewolves, no nothing. Just death eaters. Wasn’t Voldemort supposed to have an army amassed that was composed of hundreds of dark creatures? And if this was true, where had they been?

He wasn’t privy to order information, and either Remus or Mrs. Weasley had squashed every attempt he had made to join, very effectively at that. He figured there were reasons for Voldemort’s lack of dark creatures, and if anybody would know why they hadn’t joined in the battle Remus would. Harry made a mental note to ask him about it later, along with Dumbledore regarding Malfoy’s warning.

Malfoy’s warning.

Brooke’s teasing.

They had both hinted to the power of the dark side, that he was just supposed to have destroyed. And they were what was bringing all these thoughts that he believed he had already settled back to the surface.

You’re not as safe as you think…come find me when it’s time…such a Gryffindor… Malfoy had told him.

I wouldn’t be so sure of that…your glory will be your doom… Brooke had chided him.

These words were haunting him, and the more he thought about them, the more he contemplated what he had observed over the last few weeks, the more real it became that maybe his job wasn’t over yet. But Voldemort was gone, wasn’t he? What job could be left? What part of his destiny needed to still be fulfilled?

He didn’t want to dwell on the sinking feeling in his stomach, wanted to push away the worries that were floating through his head, but he was finding that hard at the moment.

His parents were back after he believed them dead, and no matter how surreal it still felt, he was supposed to be celebrating. He was in love, he was supposed to be joyful. All his friends hadn’t betrayed him, he still had support, he was supposed to be happy.

These thoughts, as nice as they were, were practically impossible if your name was Harry Potter.

And that happened to be his name, and his birthday did happen to be at the end of the seventh month; he had checked his birth certificate, just to be absolutely positive, in sixth year, when he had snooped in Madam Pomfrey’s files after catching a particularly nasty case of the flu.

Now here he was. Once again savior of the wizarding world, at the end of his seventh year, and no longer an orphan. He had just woken up in the hospital wing, been handed a stack of job offers, and been told that everything was alright, why didn’t he go play some quidditch. But everything didn’t seem alright, fine, and good.

A resounding thud a few floors below, jolted Harry out of his reverie. He felt his cheeks flush as he realized that he had been zoning off into his thoughts again, something he had done about five times already since he had made his way down from where he had spoken to Neville, Brooke, and Malfoy.

He remembered that he had come down to the common room to see his real friends, the friends he could trust, and Ginny. So pushing his previous musings into the back of his mind he mumbled the password (gillyweed) and entered the common room.

The reaction upon his entrance was instantaneous. Everyone dropped what they were doing (literally if you were Colin Creevey, who did in fact drop the large pile of books he had been holding) and a somewhat awed silence filled the room, as all eyes became glued to Harry. It seemed as if everyone wanted to speak, but no one knew what to say.

“HARRY!” Came a cry from the other end of the room, and he soon found himself knocked back slightly, and brought into an embrace by nobody other than Ginny Weasley, judging by the mass of red hair clouding his vision. “You didn’t tell me you were getting out today.” She scolded lightly, pulling away from the hug and smiling brightly up at him.

“I didn’t know for sure until this morning.” Replied Harry truthfully, shifting uncomfortably under the intense gazes he was still fixed under.

“Come over here.” Said Ginny, grabbing onto Harry’s hand and leading him over to where she had been sitting with Ron and Hermione.

“Harry, how you feeling?” Asked Hermione nervously.

“Perfect.” Replied half-heartedly. Yes, he felt find physically, but mentally…

“I’m glad.” Said Hermione, although she didn’t look fully convinced at his answer. The girl was sometimes too perceptive for her own good, Harry observed.

“Alright there Harry.” Ron greeted.

“Hey Ron, fine, you?” Harry answered.

“Well, after having to put up with two females alone for the past week, one emotionally drained after all her worrying about being expelled for being in cohorts with yours truly, the other heart broken, a school full of curious students, and questioning by every teacher in existence after my little stunt, about the same as you.” Said Ron smiling.

“How about a game of chess, these two just aren’t any good.” Ron offered, pointing to Hermione and Ginny.

“Excuse me, I can play chess perfectly fine.” Interrupted Ginny indignantly.

“Well you’re worse than Harry at any rate.” Said Ron, ignoring his sister’s huffs of protest.

“Um, sure.” Agreed Harry, glad to have something to concentrate on besides the still hushed silence that emanated throughout the common room. Ginny, however, seem to sense his unease and spoke up.

“Why don’t we go up to the boys dorms?” She suggested.

“That sounds good, more privacy.” Agreed Hermione, picking up on why Ginny wanted to leave the common room.

“I don’t mind.” Said Harry, as Ron gathered up his chessboard and started up the stairs, followed by the rest of the group.

Once they were safely inside the seventh year boys dorm, Harry let out a sigh of relief, and gave Ginny a thankful smile. She smiled back, and moved to sit down next to him on his bed.

“Hey Gin?” Said Ron in an odd tone.

“Yes.” She replied.

“How many times have you been up here with Harry?” He asked suspiciously.

“That Ronald, is absolutely none of your business.” She said sweetly, moving over closer to Harry, who laughed at the alarmed look on his best mates face.

“Don’t worry Ron, we haven’t done anything that you and Hermione haven’t done.” Harry tried to assure, but these words seemed to upset Ron even more, and cause Hermione to grow oddly flustered.

“Well, let’s see, do you think we’ll still be required to hand that essay in to Stallworth since everything that’s happened, I mean I sincerely hope so, I’ve already finished mine, and would like to discuss some of my theories with him.” Said Hermione, in a hope to change the subject.

“Hermione?” Ginny asked.

“Yes.” Said Hermione, although she didn’t meet Ginny’s gaze.

“What exactly have you and my brother done?”

“Well…” Hermione began to sputter, before Ron saved her.

“HARRY, How about that chess game now?” Said Ron enthusiastically, pushing past Hermione, pulling out a bedside table and setting it between Harry’s bed and his. Harry raised an eyebrow at his friend’s behavior, it was no secret that Ron liked chess, but he seemed a little too excited. He thought he heard a mumble over in Ginny’s direction from Ron that sounded oddly like, ‘you and I are having a long talk later.’ He figured he had heard right, when Ginny giggled and buried her head into Harry’s arm.

“You start.” Said Ron looking up at Harry expectantly, looking as casual as he could.

“Right.” Said Harry, trying to think of anything to stop the laughter that he knew was going to come, anything…not that. Harry was vaguely aware that he had paled as his mind drifted back onto his earlier thoughts involving his various conversations about the dark side earlier in the day.

“You okay mate?” Ron asked at his friend’s sudden change in demeanor.

Harry didn’t answer Ron’s questions, as he continued to push the unwelcome thoughts back into the recesses of his mind. Although, the attempts were taking a lot more time and effort than preferred.

“Harry?” Ginny asked with concern, as she pushed his chin over to face her, as he continued fighting to push the thoughts back into his mind.

“I’m fine Gin.” Harry heard himself mutter, even though he didn’t feel very fine.

“Harry, is something wrong?” She asked.

“No.” He said distractedly, as the thoughts he had been trying so hard to fight back, began to consume him…What had they meant? What could be left? Wasn’t it over now?

“Harry, is something wrong?” Ginny repeated the question, not fooled by his weak denial.

“No.” He said again.

Why would Malfoy offer to help you of all people? That’s easy, he needs a ticket out of Azkaban, and he’s not dumb enough to discount the fact that you of all people can give him that after everything that’s happened. A voice in the back of his head told him.

But Brooke said she picked the winning side, maybe Malfoy just wants you to think that he can help you, while he feeds you false information, you’ve been fooled before. But then why would he not just tell me right away, why would he risk going to Azkaban even for a little while, he’s waiting for something to happen. What if he’s just trying to use reverse psychology, make you think there’s something to wait for, while they come up with another plan. But why wouldn’t he just feed me information that had no real meaning so he wouldn’t go to Azkaban, he’s a Malfoy, and even though he’s loyal to the dark side, he’s still a Malfoy and a slytherin he’d do anything and everything to save his own neck…

“I’m crazy.” He heard himself say out loud, as he realized that he had been mentally arguing with himself, sane people just didn’t do that. Did they?

“Come again.” Said Ron.

“It’s n-nothing.” Harry stammered.

“And my names Gilderoy Lockhart, what’s up Harry?” Ron continued to probe.

“I just talked to some people today, and I’m thinking about what they said.” Harry tried to explain, hoping it would be enough.

“Who?” Asked Hermione, clearly not satisfied with his lackluster explanation.

“Just people.” He continued to try to brush away the topic, although he knew it was really no use, his friends knew him too well. Ginny wasn’t helping any better the way she just sat there looking at him, contemplating his expressions and words, putting pieces together slowly in her mind. She was too observant as well, just like Hermione, why couldn’t he have dumb friends, Malfoy probably didn’t have to put up with this type of stuff with people like Crabbe and Goyle always following him around…crap, Malfoy. He mentally cursed himself, as his thought track brought him back once again to the people he was trying to pretend didn’t exist at the moment.

“Harry, I know you too well to just believe that you talked with ‘just people’ as you call them, whomever you talked to said some things that upset you, just tell us maybe we can help.” Hermione continued on.

“Really, it’s nothing.” Harry said, hoping his tone was light.

“It’s not nothing Harry.” Said Ginny, finally speaking up.

“Yes it is.” He argued.

“Fine.” Ginny agreed, catching Harry by surprise, but then he caught that look in her eyes that clearly said she would be bringing the topic up again later when they were alone.

“Huh?” Asked Ron, not aware at what had happened.

“Nothing.” Said Harry, “Now how about that chess game?”

“Okay.” Said Ron, seemingly satisfied, as he settled himself back down into a comfortable position, watching with rapt attention as Harry moved one of his pawns forward.

“You know that you are the worst liar that I have ever seen.” Ginny whispered into Harry’s ear, as Ron’s full attention was focused on the chess game, and Hermione had busied herself with a very thick novel.

“That could be very true.” Harry agreed quietly, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, as she leaned back into his chest.

“I like you that way.” She whispered, as she watched Ron finally settle on which pawn to send out first.

“Why would that be?” Harry murmured under his breath, sending out another pawn, taking far less time than Ron, who as soon as Harry’s pawn was out had ducked his head back down swiftly to study the board once more.

“I don’t really know…I guess I just like being able to tell what you’re really thinking, it’s all in your eyes you know.” She said slowly.

“My eyes?” Harry repeated.

“Yeah, I hate to break it to you, but you’ll never be good at poker.”

“Well then remind me to never play poker.” He said, as he sent out another pawn, not paying attention to which one it was. Unfortunately, for Harry, Ron’s pawn quickly sent his own off the board.

“Come on Harry, give me a challenge.” He said looking up.

“You know you get kind of manic when you’re playing chess.” Commented Harry, sending forward a different pawn.

“Everyone has their vices.” Mumbled Ron, as he once again became consumed in the game.

“According to Ginny mine will never be poker.”

“Huh?” Said Ron looking up.

“Never mind.” Said Harry, as Ron quickly ducked his head back down. He felt Ginny laughing against him, and give her shoulders a light squeeze.

***

“You see Harry, your mistake was when you moved your rook forward, that left a clear path for my knight to check your king. At that point you could have just moved that last pawn of yours in front of my knight, and you would have been able to move your king out of the way, leaving you enough time to move your bishop into a line of attack against my rook…” Ron explained to Harry, who was pretending to listen to Ron, an hour later. Despite his abysmal display at the beginning of the match, he had been able to evade his king being captured for quite some time.

“Uh huh, yeah Ron that sounds really good. Yeah, should have totally done that.” Harry nodded his head in agreement, as Ron began describing how he could have saved one of his castles in the middle of the game. Hermione and Ginny who had gone off in a corner after watching the boys play chess for a while to talk were giggling on the floor madly, at Harry’s obvious indifference, and Ron’s conviction.

“Then your queen was a whole other story, that was a pretty sly move on my part if I do say so myself, you need to start studying the board more closely before you make your move, that’s how you always end up getting yourself into trouble.” Ron continued, but was interrupted from going any further by a tapping on the window. “It’s Pig, I’ll get it.” Said Ron lazily, rolling himself off of the bed and padding over to the window.

But Harry wasn’t paying attention to Ron’s absence, he was thinking about what his friend had just said, you need to start studying the board more closely before you make your move, that’s how you always end up getting yourself into trouble.

Ron had been talking about chess, but Harry felt the sinking dread descend into him that he had managed to forget while they had played, he didn’t just do it when he played chess; he did it with everything in life.

He had done it with Brooke, trusted her too easily, allowed his hormones to get the better of him as soon as someone with a pretty face and a decent personality came floating along.

He had done it with Neville. He had been too busy concentrating on his own problems and self-pity to notice that anything might be amiss amongst others.

He had done it when he went to the department of mysteries.

He had done it at the end of the third task when he asked Cedric to take the cup with him, and then wasn’t able to defend him at the moment of truth, not noticing that ‘Moody’ was an imposter.

He had done it when he stopped Remus and Sirius from killing Pettigrew.

He had done it when Ginny had started acting odd and trying to get their attention in second year, casually dismissing it, not telling anyone when he heard the voices in the walls.

He had done it when he had suspected Quirell as the victim.

It was a pattern he was beginning to see with himself; accuse the innocent, believe the guilty.

They say only fools rush in, if that was the case, Harry definitely considered himself a fool, no matter what the rest of the world thought of him.

“You okay Harry?” Asked Ginny who had moved over from her position in the corner when she noticed the now familiar look on his face.

“Can we just talk about this later?” Asked Harry, not wanting to draw Hermione and Ron back to their previous suspicions just as soon as he had gotten them to let it go.

“Sure.” Said Ginny, giving him a comforting smile, “You sure you’re okay though?” She asked again, her eyes filled with concern.

“I’ll be fine, no need to worry Gin.” He assured her.

“Okay.” She said, satisfied, giving Harry another hug. Harry wrapped his arms around her as well, holding her protectively. He promised to himself that he wouldn’t let anyone hurt her again; he was going to watch the board from now on.

“It’s from mum, she says that she wants us to go to the room of requirements…Oi, how’d they find out about that?…something about wanting to have a dinner with family and friends.” Said Ron, summarizing the letter out loud as he read it himself. “Sounds good to me, if mums cooking I’m in.” He finished happily.

“When are we supposed to go up?” Asked Hermione, moving behind Ron peering at the letter over his shoulder.

“As soon as we get the letter, which is now.” Answered Ron.

“Suppose we better get going then.” Said Ginny.

“Let me change my shirt first, this one’s all dirty.” Said Harry pulling go his very dirty, thin cotton t-shirt.

“If you must.” Said Ron dramatically, acting as if the idea put him out immensely.

“Drama king.” Said Harry as he moved over to his trunk, going in and out quickly coming out with a long black sleeve shirt, and a sweatshirt.

“Excuse me Harry, may I remind you that you were the one who…” Whatever it was Harry was, Ron never finished as everyone gaped at Harry who had just pulled off his forest green t-shirt, and was preparing to put on the black one.

“Listen I know I’m sexy, but no need to stare.” Said Harry joking, but then with slamming reality did he remember his frail form, and one other small detail, he was trying to keep it hidden. Quickly he looked down at his pale and sickly looking chest, then at the other inhabitants of the room. Ron had his mouth gaping open and seemed to be in a state of shock. Hermione had covered her mouth with her hand, a look of disbelief on her face. Ginny was the worst, her chocolate eyes welling up with tears, as she took in the appearance that he had promised he would change, where in actuality it had just worsened.

Hastily, he pulled on the slightly baggy t-shirt, which had fit snugly when he purchased it, followed by the white sweatshirt.

“Harry.” Said Hermione timidly.

“We’ll meet you up there, you go.” Said Ginny turning to face Ron and Hermione.

“I don’t think that’s such a great idea.” Said Ron, regaining some feeling for his surroundings, and where he would be leaving his best friend and baby sister.

“I think it is.” Ginny argued.

“Ron, come on, they need to talk.” Said Hermione, who had to literally drag Ron from the room, the latter grumbling the whole way.

Finally Hermione accomplished removing the stubborn red head from the room, leaving Harry and Ginny alone.

“You promised.” Said Ginny, her voice cold, her eyes still full of unshed tears.

No answer.

“Look at me Harry.” Ginny ordered. Very slowly Harry raised his eyes from the floor and brought them to Ginny’s face, still not able to look her in the eye, she focused on her nose. “You promised .” She repeated.

“I did.” He agreed.

“You lied to me!” She said, her voice rising a few octaves.

“No I didn’t.”

“Then why do you look…skeletal!” She demanded.

“I didn’t lie, I told you I’d do my best to get better and I have been.” He said, raising his eyes to hers.

“How then Harry? Explain to me why you look worse than you did a month or so ago. I’ve seen you eat, how is it you look worse?”

“I can’t hold it down okay.” He admitted, feeling his face redden, and his senses feel with shame.

“What?” Asked Ginny.

“I can’t hold it down, no matter if I eat an orange or fifty sausages, I can’t hold it down.” He repeated in more detail.

“I don’t get it.”

“Have you ever been so hungry you feel sick?” He asked.

“Yes.”

“Have you ever been so hungry it’s hard to eat a lot?”

“Yes.”

“Well that’s what it’s like for me, I can’t eat without feeling sick, and my I can’t take it, and it all just ends up coming out the way it entered, I feel better when I don’t eat, it’s easier for me.” He continued, his resolve at keeping it all to himself crumbling under Ginny’s hurt gaze.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She asked quietly.

“I was ashamed, I am ashamed. I hate the idea that I let myself get like this. I hate the idea that I can’t do anything about it. I feel like I’m letting everybody down, that I should be stronger than this.”

“Do you know how much this is hurting you? Does anyone else know?”

“Madam Pomfrey found out when I came into the hospital wing, she gave me something to help my body better absorb the nutrients, and now she’s got me on another medication that I’m hoping will help.”

“What type of medication?” She asked. Harry inwardly winced, he was hoping she wouldn’t ask him that, but of course the fact that he didn’t want it to be asked just increased its chances of actually being asked.

“Muggles use it, I didn’t know that wizards used it until they gave it to me.”

“What type of medication was it Harry?” Asked Ginny, knowing that he was trying to evade her direct question. She heard him let out an incoherent mumble. “What type of Medication?” She repeated.

“Anti depressants.” He answered again quietly, sitting back down on the bed, putting his forehead in his hands.

“Oh Merlin.” Ginny muttered, moving closer to where Harry had sat down. “Did you not feel like I would understand?” She asked, desperately wanting to know where he was coming from.

“No, it’s not that. Just, I feel like I have to be something, that I can’t make a mistake, but I did. I drank, I stopped eating, and I let myself go, now I’m paying the price. Then when you found out, I promised you I’d get better, I wanted to get better, I’ve tried to get better, but it got to the point where I couldn’t control it. I thought it would be better with time, that eventually it would all be better, but before I could make it better, I was in the hospital wing being diagnosed with malnourishment. I just feel like I’ve failed.” He said into his hands, not looking up once. “Failed you, my parents, my friends, my mentors, myself, but especially you, because I promised you.”

“Harry,” Said Ginny softly. “Harry look at me.”

When he didn’t look up, Ginny moved directly in front of him, grasping his face lightly, lifting it up to face her, and was startled to see what looked like one tear drop on his face, brushing it away, she pulled him into a comforting hug.

“You didn’t fail.” She assured him.

“Yes I did.” He said leaving his arms limp at his sides.

“No you didn’t, and I don’t ever want you to think so. The important thing right now is that you got help, and you want to get better.” She told him.

“It’s scary you know, I killed Voldemort, so now I have nothing else to concentrate on. I feel like it’s all boiled down to nothing, and I’m talking myself into worrying about other things, that probably don’t have that much meaning. Even this stupid Acer Motar thing, I don’t want that power. I want to be normal for once, I want it to all be over, I don’t need wandless magic, I just want to use a wand, and have parents, and not have to worry about a dark lord dogging my footsteps.”

“I know Harry. I know, but as far as Acer Motar is concerned, the media found out and they reported it.” Ginny tried to explain gently, she could feel Harry give a labored sigh as she told him.

“I should have figured, the more private something in my life is, the sooner it becomes the front page of the Prophet. But in all honesty, it’s served it’s purpose, now I just want to be normal, use a wand, no wandless magic unless I need it.”

“If that’s what you want to do, then you just go and do it, screw the press.”

“Language Ms. Weasley.” Harry joked.

“I’m serious Harry.”

“I know, it’s just I’m having bad feelings, and I’m starting to wonder about things, I feel like something else is going on, that there’s something more I need to be doing, like I shouldn’t just be sitting back and waiting.”

“Harry you’ve done everything for everyone for as long as I can remember, it’s one of the reasons I love you, but now it’s time to concentrate on Harry. You’re suffering because you’re too worried about everyone else, you need to just let it go by, don’t let the rest of your time at Hogwarts pass you by, seize the opportunity, and do with it what you want to do.”

“Yeah, I suppose.” Harry agreed weakly.

“So what do you want to do. Things are gonna change, you’re gonna start doing what’s right for you. So what do you want to do, right now, what do you want?” Ginny asked, pulling back slightly and looking at Harry.

“I think…” Said Harry thoughtfully, “That I want to go see my parents, Sirius, Remus, your family, everyone and just be with people I care about, forget about everything else.”

“Then let’s do it.” Said Ginny standing up, and pulling Harry up with her. After a moment’s hesitation, he allowed himself to be steadied.

“Yeah, let’s do it, let’s do what we want to do.”

“Not dwell on the past.”

“Not dwell on the past.” Harry agreed.

“Not worry about the future.” Stated Ginny.

“Not worry about the future.” Harry repeated.

“From now on, we’re living in the now.”

“Living in the now.” Said Harry with conviction.

“And fattening you up while we’re at it.” Said Ginny with a playful smile.

“And fattening me up while we’re at it.” Laughed Harry.

“So let’s go.”

“Yeah, let’s.” Said Harry, jumping up, and walking with Ginny down to the common room

***

“Where everyone else is.”

“Where everyone else is.”

“Where everyone else is.”

Ginny and Harry paced outside the room of requirements three times before the door opened, revealing a large comfortable dining room, fireplaces lining the walls, and a large oak table laden with food in the middle.

A quick survey of the room revealed all of the Weasley’s (minus Percy), Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Hermione, Stallworth, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Harry’s parents, Remus, Sirius, and Hagrid.

“Harry!” Said Sirius, the first to notice he and Ginny’s arrival, waved them over to where he was sitting with the rest of the marauders.

“Hey.” Said Harry coming up, while Ginny went over to say a quick hello to her brothers. “How’d it go?” Asked Harry.

“As good as can be expected.” Answered Remus, echoing Harry’s words when he had finished talking to Brooke and Neville.

“Got some questions answered.” Said Sirius pensively, “It’s good though, in the end we’re better off.”

“I’m glad it went okay.” Said Harry.

“Yeah, sweetie could you come over here for a second.” Said Lily, leading Harry off to the corner of the room.

“What is it mum?” Asked Harry, once they were away from everyone else.

“I just wanted to give you this, before you eat.” Said Lily, holding up a small pill. “You’re dad told me that he talked to you about it, and that you understood our reasons, and that you had agreed.”

“When do I take them?” Asked Harry, looking at the pill sadly.

“Twice a day, I was thinking breakfast and dinner.” Answered Lily.

“Alright then.” Said Harry with a resigned sign, taking the pill from Lily.

“Now stick that somewhere safe and take it once you’ve eaten a bit, otherwise it’s hard on your stomach.”

“Okay.” Said Harry, sticking the pill in his jeans pocket.

“Are you still planning on telling people that you’re taking the pill from an injury sustained from the accident, your father told me that was the plan.” Asked Lily gently.

“Yeah, but Ginny knows, I told her before we came down here.”

“I’m glad you told her, you should let her help you, I know she cares about you and wants to help you as much as she can.”

“I know, and I will.”

“Good, well then I know Molly was just waiting on you and Ginny to get here so we should probably go to the table.” Said Lily, as she motioned over to Remus, Sirius, and James to come over as well. Mrs. Weasley seemed to have noticed that people were beginning to stir so she called the rest of the room over to their seats as well.

Harry took a seat in between Ginny and Fred, across from his dad and Sirius, while Lily sat at the other end with Remus, they both seemed to be in deep discussion with each other.

“Hey Harry.” Said Fred, as Harry lowered himself into his seat.

“Hey Fred.” Said Harry, giving the twin a smile.

“Could you pass the rolls?” Asked Fred.

“Sure.” Said Harry, pushing the roles over, as he poured himself a glass of pumpkin juice and took the pill out of his pocket. He felt, more than saw, Ginny’s eyes on him as he stared at the pill and quickly downed it along with a swig of juice. He gave her an appreciative smile when he felt her reach out for his hand and give it a reassuring squeeze.

“What was that?” Asked Fred.

“Oh you know, help along the recovery process, magical exhaustion and all.” Harry explained casually.

“Right.” Said Fred nodding his head knowingly, before turning back to his twin, who was sitting on his other side, “So for the improved extendable ears I think we should…”

Harry stopped paying attention to Fred and onto his father and Sirius, who were looking uncharacteristically grim, not surprising considering what they had done earlier in the day.

“Harry.” Ginny whispered at him.

“Hmmm,” He answered, turning his attention to her.

“Why don’t you try the roast it’s excellent.” She said with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh yeah.” Said Harry, realizing for the first time that everyone else around him had their plates loaded, and had already started eating. Quickly Harry reached out for the plate that held the roast, and took a small piece for himself. He saw Ginny give him a look that said ‘you really should take more,’ and leaned over to whisper into her ear, “Baby steps.” She smiled at him, and nodded her head.

Harry ate slowly, careful not to rush himself, listening to the conversations around him, not joining in any himself. At first he found it odd that no one was asking him about the battle, but then realized that Mrs. Weasley must have threatened them all against it.

He turned his attention once more to his father and Sirius, who were looking just as grim as they had earlier in the meal.

“Hey prongs past the potatoes?” Asked Sirius.

“Sure thing padfoot.” Answered James, moving the potatoes in front of his friend. The following reaction was not the one they had been expecting.

Fred had spit out his pumpkin juice as George exclaimed “WHAT”

“What’s with you two?” Asked James, apparently while Harry had been sleeping his parents had been re-introduced, or introduced for the first time to the various members of the room.

“What did you just say?” Asked Fred, by now the commotion they had initially caused had attracted the attention of the entire room.

“I asked James to pass the potatoes, why did you want them?” Asked Sirius his eyebrows raised in confusion.

“No, what did you call him?” Asked George.

“Prongs.” Said Sirius.

“Why?” Asked Fred, wiping the pumpkin juice off his chin as he spoke.

“Because that’s his nickname.” Stated Sirius simply, “Why are you staring at me like I’ve grown two heads?” Demanded Sirius of George, whose mouth had dropped open.

“And what did you call him?” Asked Fred, looking at James now.

“Padfoot.” Said James, looking between Sirius and the twins.

“Why?” Asked Fred, repeating his earlier question to Sirius.

“Same, it’s his nickname.” Answered James, as both the twins eyes lit up.

“You don’t think…” Said Fred turning to George.

“I do dear brother…”Said George to Fred.

“Same timeline…”Said Fred.

“I can’t…” Said George.

“Believe…” finished Fred.

“But they’re only two…”

“So who are the others…”

“EXCUSE ME!” Screeched Sirius, waving his hands in front of the twins, who were consumed in their own side conversation.

“Yes,” Said Fred politely, turning to face Sirius.

“If I was to say to you, I solemnly swear I am up to no good, what would you say.” Asked George. Harry watched, as his father and Sirius exchanged bright smiles, before turning back to the twins.

“Mischief Managed.” They said in unison.

“Are you the marauders?!” Demanded George.

“Ah, so you’ve heard of us then?” Said James, not looking so grim anymore.

“Heard of you?” Said Fred in disbelief.

“You’re legends…” Said George.

“…our idols…”

“…our inspiration…”

“…our heroes.” Finished Fred.

“Who’s Moony?” Asked George.

“Why, your dear Professor Lupin of course.” Answered Sirius, as Remus and Lily started laughing at the other end of the table.

“I don’t believe it, our professor was a marauder…I would have never thought in a million years.” Said Fred in awe.

“Believe it boys.” Called Remus, “I can dish out a good prank just as well as I can dish out any homework assignment.”

“And Wormtail?” Asked Fred.

“Well let’s just say Wormtail was…excommunicated from the marauders.” Said James, the twins didn’t push it, they were smart enough to realize who Wormtail must be.

“And you.” Said George pointing at Sirius, “You lived in the same house with us for a whole summer, and never had the decency to tell us you were a marauder.”

“You didn’t ask.” Said Sirius holding up his hands in innocence.

“What were you thinking when you filled the Great Hall with…” Started Fred.

***

Two hours later everyone had been watered and fed, the twins, Remus, Sirius and James had retreated to a corner of the room to compare and discuss various pranks pulled over their years in Hogwarts.

The room had transformed itself into a large sitting area, and Harry was enjoying watching the life around him.

Ginny and Hermione were sitting on a couch together giggling about something, Ron was talking to Bill and Charlie about Quidditch, while Harry just watched, much like he had all throughout dinner and dessert.

He was so consumed with his surroundings that he didn’t notice Remus stand up and move next to him.

“They really love you, you know?” Said Remus, alerting Harry of his presence.

“Who?” Asked Harry, looking at Remus as he sat down into a comfortable armchair, and Remus sat on the edge of the couch next to it.

“Your parents, Sirius, me.” Answered Remus.

“Yeah,” Said Harry thoughtfully looking over at his mum who was engaged in an intense conversation with Mrs. Weasley.

“You know when you were a kid Sirius dubbed you ‘Prongs Junior’ because you looked so much like James.” Harry had never known that, but he didn’t interrupt he was enjoying hearing about the parts of his childhood he could no longer remember.

“It was funny really how much Sirius and James competed to have your attention. The first thing Sirius would do whenever he came to your house was go and get you, it didn’t matter who had you, or what you were doing, he’d pick you up and carry you around with him everywhere.”

“Of course your father didn’t like that one bit and he would try and grab you from Sirius every chance he got, made Lily incredibly angry. She was always afraid that they would drop you or stunt your mental development.”

“But then you and your father always had a bond. A strong bond. You hardly ever cried when you were a baby, I can count on one hand how many times you cried, but when you cried there was usually something really wrong. When you did start to cry, however, the only one who could make you stop was James.”

“No one else. Then one night James was sent to Mungos after he was hit by a severing charm during auror duties, I was babysitting with Sirius while Lily was off with one of her old friends from Hogwarts. All of the sudden you started crying, we couldn’t get you to stop, we tried everything. Sirius changed into Padfoot, we made funny faces, I did some sort of silly dance, but nothing worked. Then we got an owl half an hour later saying James was in the hospital. You didn’t stop wailing until we put you in James arms four hours later in the hospital, it was pretty incredible.”

“I caught him once watching you while you slept, just watching, and I’ll never forget what he said, he told me ‘Moony, as far as I’m concerned I am the luckiest man alive.’ And when I asked him why he told me it was because he had Lily, and he was your father. He told me that as far as he was concerned no matter what you did it would always be special, because you did it best, no matter what it was.” He paused for a moment, as if recalling the memory.

“He and Sirius tried to put you on a broom when you were only six months old. Sirius brought over this baby Quidditch set, with toy brooms, and foam quaffles. Lily put her foot down, said she would not see you on a broom, even a toy broom, until you were at least eight years old. Your mum, dad, and Sirius argued about it all night, until they settled on five years old. Your mum never liked James playing Quidditch, she was always so afraid he’d get hurt, ironic huh?” Said Remus, laughing.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed, smiling at the stories Remus was telling him.

“Your first word was stag. You should have seen James face when you said it, he looked like he might die from excitement. We had been talking about the full moon, Sirius had you on your lap, and all of the sudden you just gurgled a bunch and said stag.”

“I was there when you took your first steps as well, you walked from Lily over to James. They were both so proud. Your dad went out the very next morning and bought you about ten pairs of sneakers, it was actually rather funny.” He said with a sigh.

“I just thought that you should know a little of how much they really care about you. I understand, trust me I understand, how much of a shock it must have been to have your parents and Sirius back into your life so suddenly, but they really do care about you, and they love you so very much, as do I. Just know that, and if you ever need to talk to someone, and you can’t go to any of them, my door is always open.”

“Thanks Remus, I’ll remember.” Said Harry sincerely.

“My pleasure, I think I’m going to turn in though, full moon soon, get tired earlier and all those other fun side effects.”

“Alright.”

“Good night Harry.”

“Night Remus.” Said Harry, as Remus gave him one last wave as he exited the room of requirements.

Remus left Harry feeling better and more optimistic than he had in a long time; Ginny was right, from now on he would be living in the now.

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Hey there!!! Sorry once again about the update time, but I’ve been out of school all week with an incredibly nasty case of the flu, so writing time has been few and far between. Good news is, I’m better, and don’t have any Crew practice next week, so I’m hoping to be fully caught up and getting out a few updates before the weekend, no promises though. I’ve been pretty busy so right now I can’t guarantee anymore than once a week updates until I can get things back under control.

So I hope this chapter was okay, I don’t know how well I liked it, (I feel like I’m in another rut, so many apologies for any crappiness), but I needed it to set the stage for later chapters.

Now for a little shameless self-promotion, I also have a Lily and James story on this site, which is only a few chapters in the making, but is being updated weekly as well. So, if you like L/J, and are so inclined, drop in and tell me how you like it, with the response I’ve gotten so far, I’m not sure if I want to continue it, even though I’m still in beginning chapters.

Anyways, I’m going to answer some questions I’ve been getting a lot of lately, so until next week (hopefully sooner) ADIOS!

What are Malfoy and Brooke hinting at?
Now if I didn’t drag that out, what type of writer would I be? You’ll get some clues in the next chapters (I’ve decided how much farther I want to go) and all will eventually be revealed.

Do you hate Neville?
No, to answer this very popular question, I don not hate Neville, he always just reminded me of Peter Pettigrew so I had him follow a similar path as Pettigrew, nothing personal to poor Neville.

When will this story end/will there be a sequel?
I have finally planned out the remainder of the story, and I hate to give estimates on how much longer it’s going to be, but I’d say we’re ¾ there. If I continue to keep getting such a strong response, there may very well be a sequel (inspiration to review!). I have two endings planned out. One would leave the story nicely, the other could set a future plot, it’s the exact same leading up to it, just different endings.

Why would Malfoy help Harry?
I tried to answer this one in this chapter, but in case it was missed I’ll explain again. Yes Malfoy prides his allegiance to the dark side, but he is also a slytherin, and slytherins will do anything to save their own necks. Malfoy’s offer wasn’t so much to help Harry, as to protect his own skin.





”You don’t throw a whole life away just ‘cause it’s banged up a little.”
--Tom (Chris Cooper),
Seabiscuit
(2003)

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