Harry slept fitfully that night as always, his dreams haunted by innumerable fears, horrible memories and a consuming feeling of guilt. He woke to the pale light of dawn creeping across the ceiling as though it was unsure of whether it would be welcome or not. Harry cared neither one way nor the other. He lay on his back, mummified in sheets from his tossing and turning during the night, refusing to reach for his glasses. It had become a game with him, to see how long he could tolerate the blurriness. Maybe it was just the one small part of his life he could control right now. But he didn't need to see to think the thoughts he was sure to be thinking, anyway.
As always, first thing in the morning, Harry felt quite sure that he should be dead, and would be, if only there were not so many blasted people willing to put their lives on the line for his sake. Furthermore, if it were solely up to him, he would've turned himself over to Voldemort two weeks ago, when he was quite desperate to be reunited with Sirius. Harry grimaced.
Those first weeks back on Privet Drive had been, in all honesty, hell. Though he'd been miserable at school, at least there had been a cushion of distraction and companionship in misery there that had made it somehow bearable. That had been stripped away at Privet Drive.
The Dursleys were terrified of treating him wrongly, but that fear only made them hate him all the more. For his part, he had stayed away from them. In fact, those first few days, he hadn't even stirred from his bed. They had left him alone until it was time to send off his first wellbeing-check note to the Order (every third day), and in the void, Harry's thoughts had descended into a frenzy of guilty self-examination.
He had feverishly thought through his actions over the year, starting with last summer's events and the trial by the Ministry in which he was a pawn and ending with the revelation of the prophecy which again reduced him to a pawn and led to that horrible frenzy of emotion in Dumbledore's office. Most of the recollection was simply fodder for the blaze of self-incrimination and hatred that consumed him. How could he have made so many mistakes? How could he have been so stupid? And now, how could anyone expect him to carry on, to do anything at all, much less do the impossible—kill the most powerful Dark Lord in hundreds of years?
For thirty-six hours, Harry had not eaten; he had not slept. He had only staggered to the loo when his body would not leave him alone. Over and over again, he desperately re-hashed the events, trying to see what he could have changed and how many different ways he could have ensured Sirius' survival, if he had only known . . . .
In the end, it made no difference whether he understood what had happened or not. The fact was that Voldemort knew Harry and had used his love for Sirius against him. It was a simple plan, one any fool could come up with. And despite his vehement self-loathing, Harry found that he could not unwish his love, nor could he undo his mistakes. He would give anything—anything— to have Sirius back, but it was impossible. Whether he wallowed in self-pity, destroyed himself in self-hatred, or simply floated along in numbness, Sirius would not be coming back. Ever.
So it was that after thirty-six hours, as Vernon had banged on Harry's door to threaten him with bodily harm if he didn't come to breakfast, Harry resigned himself to the fact that all he could do now was vow not to let the same mistake happen again. He had chewed his food painfully, trying to get his stomach to accept food again, as the Dursleys stared at him unendingly. For the first time, Harry had been glad he didn't love them, and glad they had never loved him. No one could use them to get to him. Anybody else he cared about was liable to be used that way. After all, Voldemort knew it had worked once . . . .
Harry returned to the present. This train of thought crashed at the same point every morning. He was setting himself an impossible task. If he was "the One", then he had to fight Voldemort and kill him, or be killed and let the world perish. This time, he vowed he'd be ready; and this time, he'd do it alone rather than risk anyone else again. How else could he protect those he cared about? It simply had to be done. Harry sighed and sat up in bed, fighting to disentangle the sheets. I have to do this.
He reached over to the bedside table and grabbed his glasses, placing them onto the bridge of his nose as he shucked the last bit of sheet from his body. His stomach growled, but it would be several hours before breakfast. Lunch yesterday was a long way away. He stood, scrubbing at the stubby hairs on his chin and stretching to full height with his arms over his head. Several joints popped and a wide yawn took him over completely. He stumbled to the bathroom still in his pajamas.
He hadn't replied to Ron's last letter, or to Ginny's first. He'd only written to Hermione to request books on Occlumency and Potions. Neville and Luna's letters lay unopened on his desk. Guilt ate away at Harry every time he picked them up. They had risked their lives for him, only to walk into a trap. He owed them an apology before he cut them loose. All of them.
And today was the day. He'd finished his essay. Now it was time to clear his conscience, at least by a little.
After showering and shaving—he had discovered after three forays into that world that stubble was among his least favorite things—Harry dressed and sat back at his desk. He'd write Ron first. That one would be the easiest. Hermione . . . well, she might misunderstand. He wasn't good at putting stuff like this into words. Hedwig hooted approvingly as soon as his quill started scratching.
I hope you are feeling much better after the attack. At least now you have scars. (You did always want one, you know.) Maybe people will forget to notice mine now—
Harry crossed that line out, then crumpled up the parchment and started over. "Prat," he mumbled at himself.
I hope you are feeling much better after the attack. At least now you have scars. (You did always want one, you know.)
I am writing to say thanks. You've been a great friend and all I've done is get you into trouble over and over again. I'm not quite sure why you've stuck with me. But there you have it. You have, even when it involved prats like Malfoy, giant three-headed dogs, convicts— evil or otherwise, and even Death Eaters.
I am sorry—terribly sorry for dragging you to the Ministry and for all that happened there. Really.
Harry signed it mechanically and rubbed at his stinging eyes. "One down, four to go." There was an uncomfortable lump in his throat that would not go away, and it grew as he contemplated the next letter—Ginny's.
I hope you are feeling completely recovered now. I've had some time to think—actually, I've had a great deal of time to think—and I've remembered what you said about being, well, possessed by Tom. Do you mind me bringing it up? If it is terribly insensitive of me, please skip this and go to the bottom part. But I just had to ask, because—
Harry stopped writing. The words were just begging to be written, but was it safe? Was it wise? His thoughts whirled, but he could not halt the words. He continued:
—because at the end of Tom's duel with Dumbledore, he possessed me completely. I have never felt such pain in my life, far worse than the Cruciatus. I wanted to die. I wanted to be with Sirius, with my parents. And then, somehow, those thoughts made Tom leave, something about how I felt.
I just have to ask: did you ever feel that? Did he hurt you like that, too? It's difficult to ask, but I should have before.
I don't mean to pry.
One other thing, I am sorry for dragging you to the Ministry and putting you in danger. It was foolish of me to go and irresponsible as well. I'm surprised your parents are still speaking to me. I am sorry, terribly sorry.
Harry put down the quill, feeling sick and unable to continue. Why had he dredged all that up? Why had he asked? He'd never be able to send the letter now. It was too personal. He folded it, anyway, but put it away in a drawer. He didn't have the heart to refashion it just now. The bed was beckoning.
Harry walked over and fell on the rumpled covers, slipping his glasses off and laying them on the table. He rubbed at his eyes and the wetness there. Would it never go away—the memories?
That moment suddenly came back to him and swallowed him up. He felt again the searing pain, and the assurance that he'd never been closer to death . . . that if he only reached out, he would feel the other side of the veil and those he loved. The burning desire to join them overwhelmed him and he turned over to bury his face in the mattress in agony. He didn't have the will to move again, and fell asleep with his face in a damp patch.
"BOY! Breakfast is ready!"
Harry started and found himself still lying facedown on his bed. He hadn't dreamed. Had he really been asleep? He stumbled downstairs, feeling his stomach come alive at the smell of bacon. His mouth watered but he forced himself to walk into the kitchen warily, never quite sure what he would find when he got there.
This morning was a "family" breakfast with everyone in attendance. Harry sighed. At these uncomfortable events, Dudley's usual occupations were inching himself as far away from Harry as possible and eating less than enough to support one-fourth of his body weight. Harry took the chair closest to him. Dudley, whose eyes darted about the room as though seeking escape from his body, quivered like a bowstring that had just been plucked by a large, terrible hand. Harry stifled a smile. Vernon had buried himself behind the paper, refusing to be engaged in a war of wills. Petunia seated herself.
"Diddyums, what were you planning on doing today?" Her voice was as starched as the apron she'd just deposited on the counter. Dudley looked at her with terror-filled eyes and shook his head violently. She ignored the look and continued on about doing some summer cleaning, for which she would need his help. It occurred to Harry that Dudley should be protesting and insisting Harry do it instead, if things were normal. He risked a glance over to see Dudley's eyes grow even wider, as though the mutual thought had made him guilty.
"I'll do it," he squeaked. "I'll do it. Don't bother Harry."
Harry dropped his gaze to the table. His cousin looked pitiful. The change in him had been gradual, starting with the attack from the Dementors last year from which he had never recovered. He'd lost weight at school, enough to be classified simply as "fat" instead of "absurdly obese." Actually, Harry hadn't once seen him eat a normal meal since he'd been at home. Dudley picked at his food, much as Harry always had. Perhaps he bolted it after Harry had gone; it was possible. But now he felt ashamed for even momentarily enjoying Dudley's discomfort. Dementors were no childish nightmare. Dudley had every right to be afraid.
As for himself, half of Harry's appetite had just diminished. But he still managed to eat four rashers of bacon, three poached eggs and several pieces of still-warm toast. After all, he reminded himself, punishment by starvation was still a viable option for Petunia, so he had to take every opportunity to stave it off. As he left the table, he thanked Aunt Petunia quietly and took his plate to the sink. He almost felt grateful enough for the food to do dishes, but decided that leaving the Dursleys alone would be a better reward for them.
He was halfway up the stairs before he heard a shriek from Petunia and a bawling yell from Vernon. He turned and vaulted over the railing—landing with a thump and propelling himself into the kitchen, wand out and pointed at—
"Fawkes?" The beautiful bird flew to him at once with a distressed cry: Uncle Vernon's last swing at the creature missed by inches. Harry found himself with his wand accidentally pointed at Aunt Petunia. He turned it to Uncle Vernon with a jerk, who was moving toward him now, fist raised.
"PUT THAT THING AWAY!" Vernon pointed at Harry's wand as if it were a loaded gun. Fawkes landed on Harry's shoulder and squeezed with his claws. Harry slowly lowered his wand.
"It's just Professor Dumbledore's bird. He's a phoenix and he's harmless."
"GET THAT BLOODY BIRD OUT OF HERE! IF ANYONE SAW HIM FLY THROUGH SOLID GLASS LIKE THAT, WE'RE THROUGH! WE'LL BE THE TALK OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD!'"
"I'm sorry, Uncle Vernon. I'll take him upstairs." Harry backed out of the room and turned to exit, feeling relief sweep over him as Fawkes trilled out a happy greeting. Harry scratched under the bird's chin and felt the soft feathers slide under his touch. He smiled for the first time in a week and took the stairs slowly so as not to ruffle Fawkes unnecessarily. When he reached his room, he took the parchment from Fawkes' leg and moved him over to Hedwig's cage.
"Sorry for the accommodations," he spoke to the fiery bird, "but we're a bit more humble here." Hedwig hooted at him rather indignantly. "Sorry, girl, I didn't mean to insult you. I just meant that Fawkes isn't used to a cage, since he's a phoenix and all." She tilted her head at him and hooted softly. Fawkes' plumage swept through the bottom bars of the cage as he bent to drink out of Hedwig's bowl. Harry considered giving him an owl treat, but thought it might be beneath him. Then, reconsidering, he got out four, placing two in front of Hedwig and two nearer to Fawkes, letting him decide if it was something he wanted or not. Fawkes just stared at them and trilled.
"Well, it's your prerogative," Harry answered. He turned away to open the letter. It was written in Dumbledore's thin, airy hand.
I trust that you are well, even if you are struggling to maintain balance. This latest death has been hard on everyone, but I fear even more difficult for you. We must not forget that this is a war and that each of us has pledged to give our all in this. Sirius could do no less. Nor indeed, no more. I fear this may be of no comfort to you right now. But in time, perhaps.
The cause of my letter also may not be the herald of joy for you, but it is necessary. Occlumency, though a sore topic with you for obvious reasons, is still a necessity. However, your previous instructor is not able to risk being seen at your address for even more obvious reasons. Hence, your instruction will be picked up by someone who is, perhaps, more comfortable with you and who is, himself, in need of a project.
Remus Lupin has agreed to supervise your future lessons. I hope this is agreeable to you. At the very least, his methods should be less difficult. Please return Fawkes to me with your agreement, as he is the most reliable communication by post that I know of. Phoenixes are deucedly hard to catch and have the most irritating ability to recreate themselves even if they are killed. Plus they have ways of popping in and out of structures that defy reason.
All of this is why I feel safe enough to warn you of the following, Harry. It has come to our attention that Tom is planning to step up his attacks on your mind in an attempt to dislodge you from Privet Drive. Perhaps the wards that are in place will be enough to aid you, but I think with your connection to Tom, perhaps they will not be as effective as we hoped. Be wary. Do not trust the visions. Send Hedwig if you need help discerning them, but trust only Fawkes to send important information.
Be brave. Be cunning. Try to love, for it is the greatest asset in your fight and you must not let it be quenched. Above all, try to rest. This may be your last period of inactivity for a while. Perhaps you will look back and see it as an oasis. Perhaps we all will.
With the greatest thoughts for happiness and well-being,
Albus Percival Dumbledore
Harry's thoughts were completely jumbled by the end of the letter. As usual, Dumbledore was unfailingly honest, yet there seemed to be things he was holding back. Harry gritted his teeth in frustration. He hated to continue being in a position of trusting Dumbledore's judgment. But during his many hours of reflection, he had not come to a solid decision about his mentor. At once, he seemed a shining example of what is good and what is right, as well as a warning of what terrible consequences can come from human frailty.
Harry sighed. Dumbledore was adding something on to an already-impossible list. But maybe he was right. At the end of his hours of contemplation, the rules he had come up with in order to keep himself from future mistakes were simple:
1) Listen to Hermione.
2) Learn Occlumency.
3) Train to fight better (shields, speed).
4) Become an unregistered animagus (if possible).
5) Learn to fight without a wand.
The last one was necessary to defeat Tom. If their wands would always link and cause Priori Incantatem, then there would be no way to destroy him through that. Wormtail's wand had brought his master back to life. Unless someone could Priori Incantatem Wormtail's wand, then it would be . . . impossible.
Harry sat up ramrod straight. Priori Incantatem. Wormtail's wand. It was so simple. Could it undo the spell? It couldn't bring someone back to life, but could it bring someone back to death?
Harry grabbed a parchment and his quill.
Harry suddenly remembered that he had promised to apologize to her. He stopped and forced himself to regain the right frame of mind.
I hope that you have recovered fully from the wound you received at the Ministry. I will never forget the moment that you were injured on my account, after doing your best to keep me from going and I was—
Harry sat back and laid down his quill, pressing his hands against his eyes. He had to get through with this.
—and I was a complete prat about it. I'm sorry. You have been a great friend always. You've never failed me.
Now that I've buttered you up, would you please do some research for me? I promise that it's not for something stupid, and you are surely closer to a library than I am. I need to know anything about Priori Incantatem that you can find. Remember, that's what happened when Tom and I locked wands in fourth year?
I would appreciate any information you could find out.
Thank you again.
Harry signed his name and skimmed it again, stopping when he came to the last few sentences. He wasn't sure when he had stopped calling Voldemort by his presumptive title, but somehow it seemed more right to call him by his given name, by his hated Muggle name. Actually, it appealed to Harry to call him something more derisive that played off his even more hated Muggle surname, something like "the Riddler." How Tom would hate that!
He folded the letter and called Hedwig over. She nudged past Fawkes and landed on Harry's shoulder possessively, her claws digging into the sore spot Fawkes had made earlier. Harry winced and petted her.
"Don't worry. You're still my best girl. What would I do without you?" She hooted, mollified and jumped onto his desk so that he could attach the letter. "Take this to Hermione, please. Don't wait too long for a reply. I've got letters for Ron and Ginny, too."
She tilted her head to the side, as if to say, "Well, send them on with me, now!"
"I can't. I've got to revise the one for Ginny. It's too—well, it's not what I meant to write. I'll do it again later. Just come back as quick as you can, okay?" Hedwig hooted. Harry walked over and threw the window open, moving out of the way just in time to miss being buzzed by her on the way out. She dipped down and then flapped hard to gain altitude, clearing the trees easily. Harry turned back around to Fawkes.
"I guess it's your turn. I'm not quite sure what to write." Fawkes stepped out of the cage and swooped over to the desk. Harry's hand was tired now, but he sat and prepared himself to write.
Thank you for your concern. Things are going well here. Or rather, as well as can be expected. Moody's "talk" at the end of term with the Dursleys has had a pronounced effect on them (here, pronounced meaning ‘instilling great fear to the point of ludicrousness'). Tell the Order things are fine, no need to check up on me.
I miss Sirius but I don't blame you for his death.
I am determined to learn Occlumency, and am delighted to hear that Remus will be the one to teach me. At least he won't use hate as an excuse to violate my mind.
What?! What possessed him to write that? Harry cursed whatever Veritaserum effect had been in those bacon and eggs and wondered if he should start the letter over. But he was tired of writing and as the last comment was at least true, he left it alone.
So far the wards are holding. I've not had the slightest twitch of pain from my scar or any kind of vision—yet. I had thought Tom was lying low after his encounter with you. Perhaps my luck will run out soon. I will keep in touch.
I am sorry for my behavior in your office. It was unfair to you.
Harry signed his name and shuddered through the sudden tears on his cheeks. He needed to stop writing before he bared his complete soul to the next person who passed by the window. Ridiculous. He folded the letter into a small parcel and tied it to Fawkes' delicate leg carefully.
"There you are. Now . . . poof off, or however it is that you get there."
But instead of disappearing, the bird gave a thrilling trill that made Harry's heart surge almost painfully. Strength flowed through him and sudden tears washed into his eyes. Fawkes stood at the edge of the desk and jumped off, soaring out of the window with a flash of brilliant tail feathers following. Harry watched him disappear over the trees and felt his heartbeat slowly return to normal.
He was suddenly exhausted, though it was only ten in the morning. He grabbed the thinner book on Occlumency off of his desk and fell back into bed. It was only moments before he was asleep . . . again.
Harry spent the rest of the day studying, writing a shorter essay for Professor Binns, his ghostly History Professor, on The First Rise of You-Know-Who, ending with a section that was difficult to write: on his own parents' death and his mother's sacrifice. He had a feeling his essay would be a bit different from most of the other students, because he actually included quotes. Whether it was from the stress of remembering or the suggestion from Dumbledore, or actual activity out in the world, Harry's scar twinged throughout the day.
He woke twice during the night with surges of pain, but was able to fall back asleep again after they faded. However, the pain brought on nightmares that were worse than usual.
Once he woke up to find Aunt Petunia standing over him, shaking him. "If you don't settle down," she hissed, "I will wake your Uncle to deal with you, and he does not like to be awoken in the middle of the night."
Harry swallowed, vividly remembering learning that lesson as a child, pattering up the stairs desperately into his Uncle and Aunt's room for the second night in a row after bad dreams, only to be thrashed into a sobbing pile in the corner. He'd never sought them out again.
It was only after she'd left the room and locked his door that he remembered he was almost sixteen and couldn't be thrashed that way again. He wished that he could put a Silencing Charm on his bedroom. But then again, if he had to deal with all the things life threw at him, then yes—he was going to have nightmares and people were just going to have to put up with it! That was the price they paid for him to the Boy-Who-Lived and maybe the Boy-Who-Defeated-You-Know-Who.
Eventually, he was able to fall back to sleep, though it was in the middle of another damp patch of the mattress again.
After breakfast (which Harry was quite relieved to get after the night's events), he tried several times to write Ginny another letter. He ended up with five crumpled pieces of parchments. There was no way he could apologize and ask her the questions he needed to without being honest. And it turned out that if he was going to be honest with her, he actually could get more stupid from there. His only other option was to send a pratty, pretend letter that she would see right through. He still remembered with a slight flush the way she'd dissected him last year at Easter when he was trying to hide how bad he was feeling, desperately wanting to talk to Sirius. She'd pinched part of his chocolate egg and drawn him out despite himself. She hadn't been satisfied until she'd gotten the truth out of him.
So, without looking at the letter again, he mailed it along with Ron's, sending out the disgruntled Hedwig who had just returned from Hermione's.
Five minutes later, he was kicking himself. He stalked over to the bed and threw himself down. It all came from him being so overwrought, from feeling so guilty all the time. He cursed under his breath. If he ever had to leave to go on another suicide mission, he'd definitely go alone. Sure, without them, he'd probably die this time, but at least the Death Eaters would take him to Tom and he'd have his shot at the Dark Lord. Right now, that's all I want, he thought darkly as he sat up and stared out the window.
"Just a shot . . ."
If he could just get a little more information, or a little more confidence in his dueling abilities, something to give him an edge, he'd go off on his own and set a little trap for Tom. That had to be the only safe way to—
A silent cry opened Harry's mouth. Terrible pain punctured his thoughts. He curled up until he fell to the floor, fighting the blinding, splintering pain as best he could, gripping at his scar as though he could squeeze the pain out. It didn't fade. It didn't move. It just cut into him, going on and on. A breathless moan left him. If it didn't stop, he might go mad. He writhed on the floor, silently begging for reprieve. Was this what the Longbottoms had felt? How long . . . how long would it take before he couldn't even remember who he was? It was so all-consuming . . . .
Then it stopped, leaving a ringing silence in his head. Harry collapsed weakly against the floor, his limbs trembling as though he'd just had the Cruciatus thrown at him, thoughts scattered like leaves on the wind. When he next looked at the clock he'd lost almost an hour of time.
Harry rolled over stiffly and managed somehow to crawl back up onto the bed. He was cold and trembling, and thankful when sleep came to claim him quickly. He slept on and off the rest of the day, glad to have Hedwig return again at nightfall, even if he did get yelled at by Vernon for it. Dumbledore's letter had frightened him that perhaps Death Eaters might be after Hedwig. But then, it wouldn't surprise him if the Order had put some kind of protection on his owl. In fact, he wondered if guards had been added at the Burrow and at Neville's, Luna's and Hermione's houses. Surely Dumbledore had thought of that. Harry opened Ron's letter first with that in the back of his mind.
You big, bloomin' twit, stop blaming yourself! If I'd been having visions of my dad or someone being tortured, I'd have done the same bloody thing. Only difference is, I would've never gotten us out of that room filled with Death Eaters. You were brilliant, Harry, brilliant! So stop ruddy beating yourself up and start figuring out how to teach that stuff you did in the D.A.!
As far as scars go, yeah, I reckon I now trounce you good! Mum and Ginny said it's worst on my back where I can't see it. It doesn't bother me, although I've been having wicked dreams about giant squids attacking. Hermione says it's recall or something like that.
Scars and nightmares. I'm starting to sound like you, eh? Maybe they can call me "The-Boy-Who-Always-Sat-Next-to-The-Boy-Who-Lived-At-Dinnertime."
Hey, wonder who's angling for Griffindor's Quidditch Captain? Think McGonagall's going to consider me? You'd better rest up now, then, ‘cause if it's me, we're going to work our bums off next year and that's a promise!
Stop blaming yourself and I mean it.
Harry smiled wryly: he was in the very act of blaming himself. Ron was scarred for life, having nightmares . . . Self-revulsion filled Harry. He'd made them targets. He closed his eyes and lay back on the bed again. He had to distance himself. No more letters. No more friends, unless it was Draco Malfoy. Then if he got hurt, it wouldn't be so bad.
After half an hour, the self-pity got old. Weakening, Harry reached for Ginny's letter. He rolled over on his stomach and started reading.
Stop blaming yourself, you prat! If you remember correctly, you tried to leave me behind when you went to the Ministry about forty million times, but I wouldn't let you do it. In fact, the only person you didn't try to dodge was Ron, which makes no sense to me seeing as how he has the common sense of a garden gnome. I suppose since he's about a foot-and-a-half taller than I am, it seems like he can take care of himself easier than me. Even Bellatrix picked on me! "The little one . . . ."
Fudge that! (did you know that's an official swear word now?) I knew exactly what I was getting into when I climbed on that Thestral. I know better than anyone else what Tom is like and that it was very probable he was trying to trap you. After all, he'd used me to do the same thing to you before, when he wanted you down in the Chamber of Secrets. Remember?
Yeah, I know about guilt. The only reason Tom ever tried to trap and kill you was because I told him about you and how you were the Boy-Who-Lived. Lots of people were endangered and hurt because of me, you most of all.
You have to focus on what really happened and what your intentions were. It was simple. You thought Sirius was being hurt and you went to help him. It was brave and noble of you, whatever the outcome. We insisted on coming with you, but when we were trapped, you saved us by thinking on your feet and fighting until help got there. If it hadn't been for you, there would have been so many more deaths.
And, no, (grrrrrr) we wouldn't have been there if it hadn't been for you in the first place. (Stop furrowing your brow like that…) But you didn't want to go to the Department, you had to go. And you tried to stop us from coming. You aren't responsible for the injuries. Tom and his followers are. So there!
Now, as for the possession, you're right. It's not something I like to talk about. I feel worse when I dredge it all up. But it was very different from what you experienced, if that makes you feel any better. It wasn't painful as I remember it. It was just sort of like what Ron said the Imperius feels like. I sort of wanted to do those things, even though I didn't, if that makes any sense at all.
Tom's possession of you must have been different because he forced it on you. It sounds horrible! Please don't let him do that again. (Don't smirk, you're stronger than you think you are!) It's amazing to me that your thoughts drove him out, though, of course, since those thoughts were of love, it makes sense. You know what that means, don't you? Whenever Tom is haunting you, think of love. It must guard your mind in some way, don't you think? My Mum told me to think about my love for my family whenever I have nightmares about Tom. It does work.
I miss Sirius, too. Not like you do, of course, but in a breathless, pained sort of way that surprises me sometimes. He was sort of an ideal to me, and in some ways he reminded me of you. Everyone feels badly about his death and we all miss him.
Well, almost a month of the summer down. (Yes, I know it's only been fifteen days, but I was trying to make you feel better, twit!) It's been quieter without the twins and Percy (don't ask), but that's been nice. Every now and then, I catch a glimpse of our bodyguards roaming around the yard, and I know exactly how you feel—shut in and presumed helpless! Irritating, isn't it?
Just remember that all of us are counting on you to survive the summer, and with Death Eaters lurking, you're safer inside! Does that help at all? Oh well, just spend the time imagining Snape covered in boils, it gets me by on the down times.
Harry laughed out loud for the first time in weeks. Ginny was such a strange mix of all the Weasleys. Somehow, she'd managed to make him feel better about things. And that part about love . . . .
Harry lay back on the bed with his hands behind his head. Dumbledore had said something about love as well—focusing on love. Not an easy thing to do. Harry could barely say the word out loud and of course he had never told anyone that he . . . loved them. But then, who would he tell? The Dursleys were out, his parents gone. Eventually, he might have said it to Sirius, but he'd never get the chance now. His friends were very important to him; they were actually part of him, but did he love them? It wasn't a comfortable train of thought, and Harry turned away from it quickly. He didn't know how he felt.
He spent the rest of the evening on homework, after the others went to sleep. Since, unfortunately for him, he'd finished his History essay as well as his Potions essay, now he only had a Transfiguration assignment and a book to read for Charms, and the whole summer to do them in.