Bellatrix pulled her heavy velvet robe around her slender shoulders. She cursed the cold and cursed even more harshly at the dimwitted woman she was waiting for. The fog at the dock was thick and dewy, the vapor clung to strands of her curled black hair. She glanced at the large clock tower off in the distance. Much to her chagrin, Narcissa was late… again.
"That stuck up snob," Bellatrix snapped. "She's even worse than Black.."
She spat the name out like it was foul tasting manure in her mouth. As if she was looking in a Pensive, she saw her cousin falling through the veil, a look of surprise of his face. Her eyes gleamed with pleasure and sadistic satisfaction. It had been too easy to kill her hated cousin, and she didn't care that her ego had inflated with self given compliments since his death. Her days in Azkaban were filled with the comfort that she was merely waiting for the Dark Lord to return and reward her while her cousin, for most of his adult life, had been made to suffer in place of Wormtail. She threw back her head and let out a low, throaty laugh.
"Something funny?" a lightly lilted voice asked. Bellatrix glanced over her shoulder. She smirked and gave a hollow chuckle.
"Reminiscing about deceased family members," Bellatrix whispered, her cherry red lips stretching over her slight overbite.
"Well, don't do that for too long. I got what Lord Voldemort wanted," Narcissa said. She lifted her elegant handbag and extracted a glass jar. Fluttering around inside, was a black and dark green winged creature. It resembled a fairy with its slim limbs and faint shimmer to the skin. It wore loose, mesh fabric that blended in with its skin tone. Its wings were translucent with thick lines running through it.
"This?" Bellatrix asked in disbelief. She took it and shook the jar, causing the creature to go head over heels. "Incompetent creature."
"Watch what you say," Narcissa snapped. "It originally was an Praeve."
Bellatrix gave a great burst of laughter, "A Praeve? You mean, that fairy that flies around with fairy dust trailing behind it and makes your dreams come true by biting you? That Praeve?"
"Correction," Narcissa snarled, irritated at Bellatrix's disregard for the situation, "the dreams don't come true. You experience them and they seem real. This has the same effect," Narcissa waved at the hissing creature, "except, it's much more evil. It makes you experience your worst fears. Bring them to life, so to speak. And when you are bitten by the Praeve enough, the fears actually come true. But it's slow and cruel, most people we tested it on went crazy before the fears presented themselves in reality."
Bellatrix stared down at the jar. The Praeve was still whizzing around in the jar, hissing and spitting in anger. "And your point?"
"At first, it's illusions, scaring you with something that's not there. Gradually, they become more real and soon enough, they actually surface in reality. It doesn't matter, they drive you to the brink of insanity before that actually happens."
"Cruel and unusual… I like the concept. One minor glitch. Where's the blood?" Bellatrix laughed. She tossed the jar in the air and caught it.
"We don't need blood. We want to instill fear. We want those good for nothings to waste away in the dark corners of their minds. We want them to go insane from fear, not knowing the difference between reality and illusions. We want inferior minds to work against," Narcissa said fervidly.
"Well," Bellatrix said, tossing a smirk over her shoulder as she turned to leave, "we're wasting our time on that. We're all insane."
Bellatrix walked off, her footsteps echoing in the empty silence. Her wispy figure disappeared in the fog before Narcissa whispered, "Yes, we are."
It was a dark damp place and she was running from something. She knew it was large and frightening. She ran but something disgustingly slimy wrapped itself around her legs. She fell and looked into the silted red eyes of a snake.
Ginny shot up and rasped, thrashing wildly. She had kicked the sheets on to the floor. She bent over the edge of the bed to retrieve them. She stayed there, over the edge of the bed, breathing shallowly to still her rampaging heart. After a few long moments, she decided to get up and go down to the kitchen to get something to ease her poached throat. In the kitchen, which her mother had renovated, she poured warm water into a cup. She leaned against the counter, rolling the cup in her palms. After awhile, she yawned and decided to go back to sleep.
Grimmauld Place really did suit its name. The house was decorated with very few colors and the colors that were used didn't stray more than a few shades from its primitive color. Although Ginny thought bright, loud colors in a room could be a little distracting, just glancing at the blue-gray walls made her dreary. The stairs creaked as she climbed up and the wood bent a fraction of a centimeter underneath her weight. At the top of the stairs, the gloomy hallway that Mrs. Black's portrait resided in, she tripped (the top step always was a bit uneven) and dropped her mug. Groaning, the curtains flew apart and the old hag began ranting. She didn't bother closing the curtains. Her mother had put silencing spells around all the bedrooms, considering Mrs. Black was now super sensitive to any noise. The first night they got back, about a month into the summer vacation, a mouse had probably scurried across the floor and she near screamed them to death.
"Filth! Scum! Leave my house and no longer befoul the-"
"Oh, hush up," Ginny snapped, picking up her mug. She was the only one who actually had the tolerance and wit to debate with this ancient portrait.
"How dare you! You shall not talk back to me-"
"I'll talk to you how ever I want because in my eyes, you are lower than the dirt on the floor. You talk to everyone in a condescending, prejudice way but you are the abomination, you are the filth," Ginny spat. Her mother had warned her daughter, who was infamous for her back talk, to leave the poor women be. However - looking at her now- Ginny felt that Mrs. Black didn't deserve any pity or consideration.
"Unbelievable! You invade my house, you lap in the luxury that my fathers built and you talk like that to me?"
"I don't want this luxury; not if it was the luxury that bombarded Sirius with pain and resentment."
"Do not speak of my son! Do not speak of that traitor! Leaving this house, this house my forefathers had sweat and bleed to make, to filth and diseased beings like you. Leaving it to people working against the better good, the superior race! He deserved what he got!"
"I don't think you really think that," Ginny said boldly, stepping up to the portrait. She hated this woman, this inept excuse for a mother. " You lost everything! You lost your two sons and it's all your fault. Sirius loves you even though you put him through all that pain and desolation! Have you ever wonder why your family fell and crumbled like it did? Because of you!"
"Do not speak of what you don't know! I was a good mother! I taught them everything they needed to know about life. Only that abomination would throw it all away!" Mrs. Black screamed. However, her eyes now held something new, different - fear.
"I think the reason you are annoying the hell out of us is because you need something to tear you away. Something to take your mind off of the death of your last son, whether or not you admit it. Even though he disappointed your values, after you first son died, you were consumed with regret. Well, now that your dead and stuck on this blasted wall forever, I hope you stay there forever!"
Mrs. Black gave a dry laugh, "If I stay here forever, I'll plague everyone who walks through those doors."
"But you'll think, feel, and breath regret forever. You'll never move on and you'll be trap in this state forever. I pray and I hope that after I die, after my children die, after this house rots to its foundation, you'll stay stuck here. Stuck to your rotten and demoted house, where the name Black is no longer regal. Stuck in your condition, unloved and unwanted. And stuck in the mind frame of consuming guilt and regret. And that, Mrs. Black, is how I want you to spend the rest of your days. In that case, I wish you good health and long, immortal life as a painting. Paintings can be damaged and destroyed but the soul and essence of the portrait's subject lives forever."
Ginny gave the withering woman one last stare before turning around, heading for her room. She closed the door with a soft click. The bleak moments of dawn dotted the horizon as Ginny stayed motionless in her bed. Grimmauld Place had lost its grand and majestic aura. It was run-down and inhabited by the very people the owners had despised. It was thick with the air of pain, loss, regret and blame. In the still hours of the night, one could just hear - barely a whisper - the soft sobbing of a old woman, filled helplessly with failure and regret. And if one tried harder, one could hear the soft laughter of two young brothers; Sirius and Regulus, ages 4 and 2, agreeing on something for the only time in their life . They had played Aurors and chased the bad guys. But that was lost in the past, something that time had worn away.
Harry squinted as a blinding white light shone through his eyelids. As he opened his bleary eyes and adjusted to the world of the conscious, he heard the soft hoot of Hedwig as she slumbered under her wing. As usual, he heard Number 2 slowly mow his lawn with his sputtering lawn mower and Number 7's ancient station wagon backfire with a loud bang. And, inevitably, he heard the hurried footsteps of Aunt Petunia. Her heels were clicking on the hard wood floor which had been polished with a finish two weeks ago by - no need to guess - himself.
"Up! I say wake up!" her piercing shriek ranted. "Your Uncle has several important guests coming over. I want you up and out!"
Harry rolled off the bed, landing on his Potions textbook. Wincing at both his stupidity and laziness for not wanting to use his legs to get up, he pried the wretched book out from underneath him.
"Do you hear me? I said get up!" she said, accenting her demand with pounding on his door.
"I'm up," he called, straightening up. He pulled a shirt and pants on before heading towards the door. Along the way, he spotted himself in the mirror. As usual, the clothes didn't fit quite right and fell in folds at odd places. It gave him a disproportioned look, though he didn‘t bother with it. It was all part of his routine at Privet Drive. His aunt's threats to rip the door off its hinges sped up his efforts. He opened the door with irritation and gave his aunt a bored stare.
Petunia had on a horrible floral print dress; pink with splotchy white roses. Her hair was curled and the expensive pearl earrings Uncle Vernon had got for her were hanging on her ears. She was obviously trying to impress their guests because she had on two rings, each glistening in the light , a strand of pearls and a gold bracelet.
"I want you to wash up, you look filthy, " she denounced, her lips pursued in disgust. "And your hair! I'm grateful you aren't staying. Now hurry up and leave."
Harry walked past her, ruffling his hair and yawning, "Might as well be. Meeting Tonks outside. You know, the lady with the pink hair… I got the feeling she told me to do something… oh right, alert her of any mistreatments. Have I been mistreated?" he said offhandedly. He watched with satisfaction as Aunt Petunia paled.
The hollows of her bony cheeks were made more prominent as she pursed her lips to a greater degree, "I - I suppose there's no need to hurry. You're welcome to stay if you wish," she stammered. After a moment's thought, she wedged in one more demand. "Just make sure you look presentable."
"And what? Suffer under your and Uncle Vernon's stare. I think not," he said, entering the bathroom. He heard Petunia curse rapidly at him through the door.
"Ungrateful, stupid brat. Just cause he has the wits and the mouth… talking back at me like that," she hissed, her voice fading as she descended the stairs.
Harry stuck one hand through the shower curtains and turned on the faucet. He brushed his teeth while he waited for the water to warm, since the pipes in the house were on the fritz. After a while, the water began steaming and fogging up the room. Spiting out the toothpaste, he striped off his clothes and stepped in the water. The water burned, scalded and beat down on his skin, turning it numb. Harry stood directly underneath the showerhead, closing his eyes as the steaming water rolled down his back, arms and neck. His muscles contracted and loosened. Sighing, he leaned forward and braced himself with one hand. He stood there for the whole shower and his silent tears intermingled with the water.
There weren't a lot of tears but they were significant enough to portray the burden and loss of Sirius's death. He should be used to losses by now. His parents, his childhood, and now Sirius. He should just treat it as another loss and not dwell on it. Of all the people Harry had considered dieing so early in the war, Sirius did not fit in there. It hurt as much as it would have ten years ago (if he had known Sirius then, of course) or ten years from now. Harry pounded his fist against the tile and let out a frustrated grunt. He could have prevented it. Dumbledore could have prevented it. Why didn't any of them do that then? Why leave Sirius to die? Why make him nameless and hated by the people he worked to save?
"Boy, steam is coming out from underneath the door. Get out of the shower now! You're wasting money!" Uncle Vernon screamed, his pudgy fist banging on the door. Harry turned and looked at the blurry image of the door through the curtains. He turned the water off and shook droplets out of his hair. After wrapping a towel around his waist, he sat on the toilet, running tense fingers through his hair.
"I've been in this house too long," he concluded. Hermione had sent a letter early in the summer (it was scary how well she knew him) telling him to get out more.
I'm in Canada right now. Dumbledore told my parents what has happened the past two years - for my own safety - and my parents are completely unnerved. Thankfully, they aren't preventing me from going back for our 6th year. Thank god! To think I got all those O.W.L.S and not go onto my N.E.W.T.S!
As you might already suspected, this isn't just an update owl… I'm worried about you Harry. To be more precise, everybody is. Ron is badgering me about what to do. Three letters today already! My uncle (who is quite taken by the fact that I'm a witch. He says I should teach him how to clean magically. My cousin, Bethany, is turning 9 and she's showing a few signs of magic… or is it our imagination?) is quite annoyed about the owls constantly flocking into his study. On the other hand, he's the one that's annoying me. He read one letter and he's teasing me endlessly. About what, I have no clue. Back to the point, Ron is afraid of treading on forbidden ground. The Weasleys are begging Dumbledore to let you stay at Grimmauld's Place soon so we can actually celebrate your birthday with you for once. A nice change of scenery will do you good.
Get out more and read a few books. All right, if the books don't work, walk outside - with your wand and make sure someone from the Advance Guard is there - and enjoy life. My mom has a therapist friend and Dr. Kendal (his name) says relaxation helps loosen the mind for optimum performance. Don't stress yourself out too much. And I know what you'll be feeling. I won't mention it because all you'll do is deny it. What happened, happened. If you have any problems, whatever they may be, just owl me and I'll be glad to help. Or Ron… no…not Ron. He'll go tell you to play Quidditch. Honestly, is that all he ever thinks about? Oh… wait, what about food?
You've also got Remus, Harry. I can tell that sometimes he's depressed that Sirius has the highest status in your heart. He understands why but he's also one of your father's best friends. He's suffering too. He and Sirius were like brothers. Remus has suffered plenty in his life and now, he lost another one of his best friends. Don't' make him feel alone. Talk to him. I'm sure that he was your father's second choice for a godfather. Just Sirius was closer.
If all else fails, you still have Ginny. You can talk to her. She's worried about everyone and Mrs. Weasley told me she nearly fainted from exhaustion. She hasn't been sleeping well. And she's really worried about you.
I hope you have a good as a vacation as it can get. Hope to see you soon! Better yet, I hope to see you on July 31!
Dressed in an oversized shirt and extremely baggy jeans, he descended down the stairs. The first thing he noticed that it smelled pungently of lemon. Realizing it was the cleaning solution his aunt had used, he hurried out the door.
He trudged around the block, just walking in circles. Finally, at the corner down to the left of the Dursleys, he spotted Mrs. Figg walking up the steps to her house. Running up, he called a greeting. Harry had spoken to the squib on several occasions. She was one of the strongest links to the wizarding world he had. Also, she had become much better company ever since he discovered her identity.
"Ah, Harry. A fine day, isn't it? Come on in. I bought some biscuits from the grocer. Why not join me for tea? My dear, the bag is getting heavy. Here, take it," Arabella hurried. She passed him the bag and opened the screen door. He nodded and went in, the grocery bag in his arms. "Put them on the table dear."
Harry set the bag on the coffee table and settled in the plastic wrapped couches that lined her sitting room. She hadn't changed the look of the house much. It still had that old woman charm to it and she still had a few cats walking around. Her newest adoption, a 6 month old kitten named Marshmallow, climbed with great difficultly on Harry's foot. He grinned and picked up the white and silvery cat. Cradling it against his chest, he rubbed a finger on its soft head. Marshmallow purred and rolled adorably in his arms.
"Now what brings you here?" Arabella asked as she set a service tray on the table.
" Tired of the Dursleys," Harry supplied.
"As always. I would be too. Your uncle is a great blob of butter," Mrs. Figg tutted, " no offense meant."
"None taken," Harry said. He continued petting Marshmallow when Mrs. Figg set a stack of letters in front of him.
"Tonks gave them to me. They're from Remus. He's off on a mission."
"Why didn't he give them to me? Or owl them?"
"Draws too much attention. Tonks takes the letters over here. She can't go to your house unless it's absolutely necessary. So I promised to give them to you," Mrs. Figg informed. "That poor man. Tonks told me he's run down."
Harry nodded and set Marshmallow on the floor to pick up the letters. He stared at the neatly stacked pile and recognized the handwriting on the top. The letters were straight and narrow much like Remus‘ need for order and smartness, "He must be hurting more than me."
"Most likely my dear," Mrs. Figg sighed. "And it hurts all of us. Mr. Black was a kind man and did everything he could to protect our world. We can't even give him a proper memorial. Besides from the fact we aren't suppose to know him, no one will remember a murderer… even if he was framed."
"That's what's completely unreasonable. He saved lives and did them anonymously. Whereas Lucius Malfoy is having people petition to set him free," Harry spat.
"Harry," Mrs. Figg started, "my mother and my father were a prominent Healer and esteemed Auror, respectively. They excelled in their fields, so why am I squib? Some things are just that way."
Harry leaned back and nodded although he did not accept this theory. Mrs. Figg continued telling him a few tales from her past. Two hours later, he stepped back outside. There were several expensive foreign cars parked outside the Dursley's house. Fearing the worst and breathing in deeply, he walked up the front steps and rang the door bell. Uncle Vernon was not happy to see him.
"What are you doing here?" he hissed.
"I thought I lived here," Harry answered, his voice masked with confusion.
"Don't mock me," Vernon snarled. "Get in! Act normal!"
Harry walked in, feeling highly uncomfortable as everyone in the living room stared at him. Suddenly, a lady with heavy, thick pall of perfume around her put an arm around his shoulders.
"My, Vernon, " she gushed. "You didn't tell me you had another son. He's quite handsome! Takes after you."
"I'm not his son," Harry said meekly. Vernon looked as if he had swallowed a purple strobe light, he was practically glowing purple.
"Oh… I'm terribly sorry," the woman apologized, removing her arm.
"He's my nephew," Vernon said tightly as if each word was controlled by knobs that turned at his neck.
"He is, is he?" the woman nodded. "Where does he go?"
"St. Bru-" Vernon began.
"A boarding school in the Continent," Harry finished hurriedly. He did not want the room full of strangers acting as if he was going to pounce and mince them any moment.
"Ah, the Continent. Where?"
"Um… hard to pronounce the name. It's in… um… Finland ," Harry forced awkwardly.
"Ah! Finland! I was born there! How is it?"
Harry didn't even have to answer because right when the last word left her mouth, there was a pop and the room let out a loud shriek. Tonks had Apparated and ended up on the coffee table, right on top of Aunt Petunia's beautifully frosted vanilla cake.
"Oh my lord," Aunt Petunia gasped, her hands over her face in horror.
The lady from Finland gave a dramatic swoon with her head on her forehead before collapsing on the floor. The other occupants backed away from Tonks.
"Harry, there's been a Death Eater attack on the Burrow!" Tonks said hurriedly with her wand in her hand. "Hurry and pack your things. I'll take you to Grimmauld's place. Bloody hell. Look at all this s-" she cursed and Petunia gave an appalled shriek, "on my boots! They're new dragon hide boots too."
Harry just stood there, gaping at Tonks. Her appearance was more subdued than her regular appearance but it was still a quite horrendous look. Her long, curly red hair was tied back in a ponytail. She had a blue eye and a green eye and ruby red lipstick on. On her left ear she had five earrings and on the right, a total of eight. She had on a loose, short skirt with fishnet stockings and an off the shoulder magenta shirt that said, "Get Your Groove On!"
"Oh…sorry," she said timidly. "Dear lord… Harry, I'm going to have to do the Memory Charm. Hell, I'm not too good at it. Last time I use it, I blasted the fellow's head in half."