Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Harry Potter depicted in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.No profit is being made off this story. It is for entertainment purposes only.
The tease of the false dawn had already come and gone. The darkness and silence of the night was at its fullest. No one was awake on Privet Drive, save the lone occupant of the smallest bedroom at Number 4. Harry gazed out his window at the darkness which so accurately reflected his mood. He had been home for only a couple of days, yet in his isolation he had only managed a handful of hours of sleep total. Most of it was during his first night back. A few hours of relief from the nightmares was all that he was allowed. There would have been a time when he would have welcomed sleep as a relief from the feelings he had while awake. Unfortunately, sleep was no longer a refuge as his screams of terror had made so crystal clear.
Harry reflected on this part of the night, for he thought it was one of the most interesting parts of the day. When Harry was younger he would use this time in the evening to revel in a sort of freedom from his life. He would enjoy the silence and peaceful freedom of the Dursleys yelling, snide comments, and enjoyment they had when making his life miserable. There was a freedom here at night. A freedom from his relatives and the painful noise they inflicted on his life.
Things were so peaceful and quiet at this moment in a new day. The air held such promise for the time to come. Harry used to dream that it would be this new day to come. Today would be the day when his life would change. He used to dream that, somewhere out there some missing relative would swoop out of the sky and whisk Harry away from his miserable existence.
Well, Harry mused, they always say you should be careful what you wish for. For young Harry did find a "lost" relative. After years of waiting and dreaming, he had found his godfather. Granted his godfather did not swoop from the sky, it was more of a shove in a dark room, but Harry had found his "lost" relative. He was a man who was part older brother and part family member who cared for Harry. Finally there was someone who cared for him as a person.
Lately, this time of the night exemplified how Harry viewed himself. This part of the night was always the coldest part of the day, for the sun had set so long ago. It was also the darkest part of the day, for it seemed as though it would never be light again. Harry knew this was a good description for his life currently. He truly believed that he would never be happy again. Harry had lost his godfather. That magical lost relative he had always dreamed of was gone. Now he lived, yet again, with his despised aunt and uncle. Harry closed his eyes and allowed his aching heart to dream once again. It was a dream that someone would come and save him, to make him a part of a family. Harry just wanted to belong, to be a part of something more. He wanted to be loved. But, Harry thought, who could ever love me….
When he opened his tear filled eyes he noticed an owl swooping towards his window. As the bird closed in, Harry noticed it was Hedwig. He had sent her to Ron earlier with a short note enquiring about him and his family. Hedwig swung into the open window and settled herself on Harry's bed. She gave Harry him a soft hoot, and held out her leg. Harry removed the single letter, and gave his dear friend a soft rub on the head. "Thanks girl."
As Harry settled himself at his desk he could hear his Uncle's alarm go off. Soon the day would begin in earnest. Petunia would spy on her neighbors, Dudley would cause destruction and beatings amongst those least able to defend themselves, and his wonderful uncle would be off in his company car to live the Muggle rat race. With these dark thoughts Harry flipped on his desk lamp and settled down to read. Instead of his friend Ron's messy penmanship, he saw a gentle cursive and decidedly feminine script. Curious, since Harry did not recognize the handwriting, he opened the letter.
Since I heard from Ron you had inquired to my health, I figured you might as well hear from the source. Confused about who this is yet? Let me see. It is the only female Weasley who has not had seven kids. Well, to be honest, I did not really hear from Ron, actually I stole into his room and pinched his letters for some afternoon reading. You should hear some of the things Hermione has to say! Better yet, you should read some of his scrap parchment of letters he started and never finished to his bushy haired friend. (Evil laugh) I think my dearest brother is going to be in for an interesting year. Oh yeah, before I forget, I am doing well, the ankle seems to be back to normal, which is sort of disappointing actually, since Mum has decided I am well enough to do chores. Yes, yes I know, I am desperately seeking some pity, but you know how Mum can be. In fact, I think I hear Ron stomping back towards the house, so I best sneak back into his room and return his mail. Then I can pop down to the kitchen and send this off with Hedwig. I might have said this before Harry, but I just love your owl, perhaps I can pinch her sometime…what do you think? (The evil youngest Weasley is threatening to be unleashed) So tough guy, tell me how are you? I know you are not the most eloquent writer (since I have been reading your mail to Ron for years), but why don't you give it a try and tell me what's going on? I promised to not laugh…well laugh too hard that is…at your sure to be feeble attempt at writing a letter. But know that I am breathlessly awaiting this attempt. Give it your best and send it over.
It took Harry several minutes to realize that he was smiling. A smile felt so foreign on his face after last year, that he almost forgot what it was like. He had to hand it to Ginny; she knew how to have fun. In that sense she definitely seemed to take after the twins. Luckily, she was not as destructive as Fred and George.
Harry set the letter aside on his desk, thankful that she did not comment on his first night back at Privet Drive. Harry shuddered at the memory.
Harry had awakened screaming and dripping wet. His screams had unfortunately also woken his Uncle, who had proceeded to stomp down the hall and into the smallest bedroom. Once there, Vernon grabbed his incoherent nephew, or "freak" as he would say, and screamed at Harry in a voice louder then thunder. Harry was not sure which was worse; being shaken from a horrible nightmare to his Uncle screaming in his face, or what happened next. Bill Weasley, who was on watch for the Order that night, had heard his Uncle Vernon yelling at him. When the oldest Weasley brother heard Vernon laying into Harry, he promptly let himself in, hauled Vernon off and told him in no uncertain terms to never touch Harry again, or else. Since Bill had his wand in hand Vernon took the hint, albeit reluctantly, and departed the room. Bill tried to help Harry out that night by talking about this and that, but Harry knew he would hear about this encounter soon from his Uncle. He was not disappointed.
The Durlsey's were not pleased about the meeting at King's Cross at King's Cross, the midnight encounter with Harry's nightmare and with Bill his first night back. When Harry first returned to Privet Drive he was treated as if he was wearing his Invisibility cloak constantly. Harry was used to being ignored and treated like he was invisible. He could have handled that, but unfortunately, after that midnight encounter he had suddenly and terrifying become all too visible. The day after the incident his uncle had screamed until he was purple and Harry thought he would pass out. Harry was able to diffuse the tense situation by asking the Order via owl that day to please stay off the property and never enter the house uninvited again. After observing Harry write and then send the parchment, Vernon proceeded to heap a mound of chores on Harry. This actually suited him just fine. At least when he was busy, his mind could not focus on the massive burden that had settled on his shoulders.
With a shake of his head Harry dragged himself from that particular memory. It had been several days ago, but he had no desire to relive that day again. Instead, he stood and stretched his aching body. He was exhausted. He knew that. All he really had to do was glance in a mirror to see that. He simply did not need to see the gray pallor of his skin, the charcoal black circles beneath his eyes, or the sad listlessness of his hair.
After careful consideration that first night, Harry had realized his only hope was to get his body so physically worn out that his brain would shut down and he could manage some sleep. On the second day back he decided to construct a plan to cut back on his food intake and find an activity that would tire him physically. The food was not an issue since he managed to get even smaller portions than normal, so he was seriously under nourishing himself. Knowing that he also needed to tire himself out he tried to stay awake at night, which was easy because of the alternative. Secondly, to wear his body out, he needed a physical activity. Lately he would gladly accept the meanest, dirtiest chores his Uncle could devise. When he was not involved in this work Harry struggled to find things to occupy himself. He desperately needed something to distract himself from his thoughts. He would walk to the park, then around it. No matter his activity and his exhaustion, he simply could not get his mind off of what happened back in May.
As Harry painfully walked around his room to warm up his aching muscles, he pointedly ignored his Uncle's alarm sounding through its second snooze cycle. He recalled those first several days back with a grimace. Through the long hours of punishing his body and doing a wonderful job of brooding, Harry, unbelievably, was finally able to work his way through some of the lingering problems he had been facing.
To begin with, he was able to finally realize he was not prepared last summer to deal with awesome events that had transpired before he was shipped back to this vile prison. He had just witnessed a death, Cedric's, that he felt he was at least somewhat responsible for and he watched Voldemort return to power making his mother and father's sacrifice for naught.
Because Harry was not prepared to deal with his pain and confusion at the beginning of last summer, he had found himself turning to anger. It was not a healthy reaction, but when Harry was left off in his prison to rot, cut off from his friends and his world, he turned to the only emotion that would get him through. A great deal of the anger he carried through out last year, he had come to understand, was directed at Professor Dumbledore.
It was Dumbledore's pronouncement which sentenced Harry every summer to his childhood prison. It was Dumbledore's decisions that kept Harry in the dark all last year. It was Dumbledore's command which subjected Harry to this nest of vipers again this summer. In these dark thoughts Harry found himself, at times, dangerously close to hating his Headmaster. And then on the rare occasion when Harry briefly allowed himself to think about the prophecy, yet another thing Dumbledore hid from Harry, it only reinforced his negative thoughts to a man he used to greatly respect. Yeah, Harry mused, let's watch me try and call Fawkes to the Chamber of Secrets now.
With the beeping sounding for a third time in his Uncle's room, Harry started to look for clothes to wear that day. While he looked for some clean jeans, He continued on his train of thought. He reflected how, in some respects at least, he had started to embrace his situation. He decided that if he was to be imprisoned here, he might as well get some use out of it. After his walks in the park in the evening, Harry returned to Number Four and started to work on a logbook.
Harry was still not entirely prepared to deal with the Prophecy or his guilt, but he knew that he needed to prepare himself better. Into his logbook he wrote every spell he had learned throughout his first five years at Hogwarts. He also took the time to pull out his school books and review. If he had to take down the greatest evil wizard ever, he needed to learn. Harry knew that as hard as this burden was to bear, he wished he had been given the opportunity to get started earlier. A nice goal to work towards would have done wonders in distracting Harry from the trials of the last year. It was this thought that had lead Harry to write a letter to his former Professor, a request for Remus to bring Harry some books on Occulemency and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Although Harry had yet to hear from Remus, he hoped something would come soon.
Down the hall Harry heard the snooze button on his uncle's alarm clock go off for the fourth and final time. The cutoff of the alarm was soon followed by the banging and grunting of his Uncle getting ready for work. Yes, another day at Privet Drive was under way. With a sandy eyed glance at his chores, Harry was at least relieved to see that he had work in the garden. Working outside was good. It was the type of work where the body was occupied and his tired mind could shut off. Harry was sure he would be able to get some sleep tonight, and hopefully a tired mind meant no dreams.
Later that day Harry's back ached and his skin felt hot and itchy. As he stretched his back he was able to look back down the garden's earth with pride. It was now freshly tilled and free of weeds. It felt good to be able to complete something. A voice startled him out of his musings, "Hello Harry."
Harry yanked his head around, scared for a moment that someone had successfully snuck up on him. When he saw that it was Remus, he relaxed. "Please do not tell Moody that you snuck up on me." Harry asked in a pleading tone.
Remus chuckled as he looked over the remaining link to his best friends. Well, at least the son of some of his best friends. What he saw did little to warm his heart. "Harry you look absolutely awful. What have you been doing to yourself?"
Harry hung his head his head, seeing Professor Lupin caused his thoughts to come crashing back to reality. A reality which no longer consisted of his Godfather and had his two best friends seriously injured during the same battle. A battle he had lead all of them into. It was a battle which could have been avoided. His heart ached both for his loss and the loss that he had inflicted on the man standing before him. "I'm sorry, Professor, about Sirius. I know I should have apologized before this."
The quiet apology shook Remus to his core. Harry had a sad defeated look about him. Not that it was surprising, especially after what Bill and the other guards had reported. Still, it was devastating to see in person. He remembered the strong boy who was eager to defend himself from the dementors at the age of thirteen and who had produced a corporeal Patronus during that time. When Remus recalled the events that lead to that summoning of a corporeal Patronus, he reflected on the events of that night.
This boy was able to show such strength of character and courage that he was able to divert two grown men from committing a horrible crime. Remus knew few adults who would have had the moral fiber to act as strong as Harry had. To see the depth of Harry's despair tore at Remus' heart. Although Remus himself was having a hard time dealing with Sirius' death, he knew he owed it James, Lily, and Sirius to try and help Harry out in any way that he could. Even if it meant opening up and talking about feelings, which was definitely foreign ground for Remus.
With a long deep sigh, he looked down at Harry then over to the bench under a tree. "Harry, let's go over to the shade and sit." With Harry by his side Remus sat on the bench under the tree and looked around the yard with interest. Everything had its place, from the ruler strait rows of neatly planted flowers, to the immaculately trimmed shrubs and exactly one and one half inch cut lawn. Everything spoke of a rigid and fixed mind set. It turned what could have been a comfortable setting into a strange caricature of perfection, which seemed to be the sole pursuit of the residents. Well at least a sense of perfection that did not extend to Dudley.
"Harry, we need talk about some things. First, let me give you these." Remus reached into his pockets and enlarged several books. "Here are some books on Occulemency and a couple of good Advanced Defense books as well. I won't bother repeating the warning about under age magic, but remember I've no interest in hearing about any owls from the Use of Underage Magic Office, ok?" Harry gave the Professor a soft smile. "Harry, you know Occulemency isn't something that can be learned out of a book. I spoke to Albus about additional training. He's a busy man, but after the issues with Professor Snape last year, he is be willing to work with you over the summer. I'll help set up a schedule with you later if you wish."
With a squint up through the leaves of the tree to the hot summer sun, Harry tried to figure out how to put into words what he had decided. Harry knew this conversation was about to take a bad turn, however, he saw no way around it. "Professor, I don't think that I can learn under Professor Dumbledore."
It was Remus' turn to look up at the sun. He was surprised at the revelation, but the calm confident manner in which Harry spoke showed that he had put some thought into it. "Why, Harry?" he asked softly.
"I'm not sure how much Professor Dumbledore told you about the events of last year. Well after Siri…the Department of Mysteries, Dumbledore told me some things that I wish I'd known. I believe that he failed both Sirius and I greatly last year. Basically, I'm not sure I trust him anymore, certainly not well enough to have him poking around in my mind. I definitely had enough of that last year with Snape."
"Professor Snape, Harry." Remus corrected absent-mindedly, somewhat at a loss on how to handle this exactly. In fact, Remus was not sure he wanted to get into this particular discussion at the moment. Sirius had his own issues with Dumbledore, especially at the end. Curiously, he wondered if Sirius' and Harry's problems were somehow related. He would speak with Albus and see if he could determine why Harry felt so strongly about this issue. Remus could certainly tell by the tense set of Harry's shoulders and the tightening around his eyes that it was something he felt strongly about. "Ok Harry, I can't say that I agree with you, but we'll discuss it later. I do have some other things to cover first. The most important is that although you have exchanged some letters via owl already, we still feel owl post is not reliable. We don't want to deny you the opportunity to write your friends, so we're going to try to hand deliver letters for awhile. In fact I have some mail for you now. Feel free to look it over after we talk. I plan on spending a few hours in the neighborhood with Bill looking at the wards. I'll be happy to stop by and collect any replies you might have finished before I go. I know the situation is not perfect but we're trying, even mail every two to three days is better then none right?"
Harry smiled and nodded at this, at least he could tell the Order was making an attempt; it helped make him a little happy to see this and any happiness at the moment was bright indeed. "Thanks Professor Lupin. I wish I'd known that from the beginning, since I've already sent Hedwig on a mail run, but I understand the need to be safe." Harry hitched his shoulders up and addressed a topic which would probably not go over well. "Professor Lupin, as I mentioned in my letter to the Order, my Uncle doesn't want anyone to come to his door or onto his property anymore."
"I know Harry, before Bill and I do our walk through I was going to have a quick chat with your Aunt. We understand he wants some boundaries so we'll try and respect that. By the way Harry, I think I need to remind that I'm not your professor anymore, you know you can call me Remus, right?" Remus could see Harry flinch slightly and start to shake his head. "Ok, if not Remus, can we try Moony?"
Harry smiled and replied, "Sure, Moony."
Remus smiled and gazed at Harry for awhile. Again, he wished that he was not about to have this conversation. With a long shallow breath Remus started off, "Harry, I want to talk to you about Sirius' death."
Harry visibly flinched and shot a look of horror at Moony. "No. I don't want to talk about how I killed him." After saying that, Harry turned to study his feet, in their dirty tattered trainers.
"Look Harry, you don't honestly believe that you killed him, do you?" Remus was now talking to Harry's back. With long powerful strides Harry was rushing to the door of Number Four. "Harry, please listen to me for a moment."
Harry stopped and glanced back. He did not speak, but he did not continue fleeing either. "Look Harry," Remus continued his voice laced with pain, "I miss Sirius too, and I could never thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to embrace my friend again. The night your parents died, well a huge part of me died too because I lost all of my best friends. Your father and mother dead, Peter dead apparently by Sirius' hand, and Sirius locked away in Azkaban. I had lost virtually everything overnight. That night in the Shrieking Shack you showed the moral fiber to stop Sirius and me from killing Peter. By doing that you gave me back my best friend. Without your effort and stubbornness, I never would have found Sirius and learned the truth. Just ask yourself what you would give to have Sirius back. You gave me that. I'm sorry Sirius is gone, as are you. We both should be. I miss him so much and I'll always miss him, just like I miss your parents. Let's stop the unwarranted guilt; it'll keep you from becoming the person you can be." Remus finished his talk with a firm grip on Harry's shoulder.
Harry struggled to take in a deep shuddering breath. He did not want to break down and he knew he was close to doing it. "I hear you Moony. Please, I'm sorry I upset you." Harry took another deep breath to try and settle his rattled nerves. "Thanks for the talk, I'm trying to come to grips, honestly. I think eventually I will; it'll just take some time. If you don't mind, I'd like to talk when we have chances like this."
With a sad smile Remus agreed. He felt as if he had taken a huge step towards lifting the weight of Sirius' death for both Harry and him. It might not have been much, but hopefully they could build on this, for both of them. Shortly afterwards Remus went with Harry to Number Four. Harry went to his room to reply to Ginny's letter and Remus went to talk with Harry's Aunt.
For the first time in several days Harry was able to finish his chores at a reasonable time. He decided to have a quick walk around the park to clear his head before dinner. It had been a long week for Harry since his talk with Professor Lupin, who had popped in every two to three days to drop off mail and pickup Harry's replies. To date, they had not readdressed Harry's continuing refusal to work on Occulemency with Dumbledore, but they had spared a few minutes at a time to talk and try to form the basis for a closer relationship. Harry truly looked up to Professor Lupin, or Moony, as he was now insisting Harry call him. Harry was determined not to let the last living link to his parents fade away without a closer relationship. He was able to get close to Sirius, but in hindsight, not as close as he would have liked. It just made it easier with Moony, since Harry already knew and was close to him.
Harry's extra study, even if he could not practice the magic, was making his life easier. Harry had actually found one of the books on Occulemency quite good in organizing his brain. It gave a few techniques on reading and thought processes that Harry found incredibly easy. Harry found that if he imagined his brain as a great library with information stored in books, he had an easier time recalling information, he just had to imagine pulling a book off the shelf, and there was the information. He started to expand on this idea to create a calming place by imagining himself on a tropical beach at sunset. He realized that he did not have to empty his brain per say for Occulemency to work; he just had to be able to keep it locked on a certain image.
Harry definitely knew he needed to work on his temper, and with his Uncle's increasing waspish nature, Harry was finding it harder and harder to maintain. Much to his amusement Harry was developing almost a sixth sense of danger from his Uncle and was working hard to make himself scarce when he could tell his Uncle was mad. Harry was not exactly sure when this happened, but he could almost sense the waves of anger radiating off of his Uncle. It was times like this where Harry turned to his calming place by focusing on the smell of the ocean in the soothing salt breeze, the gentle roar of the waves crashing onto the beach, and the lingering warm of the setting sun on his cheeks. It was not that Harry had ever been to a tropical beach, but he realized he had developed a very good imagination. Harry knew in times past he would have been inclined to pick a fight with his Uncle, but now he just had more important things to deal with.
When he settled down on the swing at the park he knew that dealing with his issues was a much harder thing then he bargained on. In the past Harry only had comfort from himself when he was feeling down. Since the Dursleys had made it clear that they had no interest in Harry's problems, he had learned to close up and deal with things all by himself. Last year had proved to Harry that internalizing problems only made himself and those closest to him miserable. He doubted he could ever be an open person who wore their emotions on their sleeves like the Weasley twins, but that also did not mean that he had to be a bitter lonely person. After all, look at Snape! Harry had two best friends he would never trade in, and he knew he could talk to them. He had learned they were wonderful friends that were quick to cover his back and help him out of his problems, but together they were not easy to talk to about problems. Hermione was always quick to pry deeper into everything. Harry just assumed she had some deep seated issues in wanting to know everything. Just look at her school work. Ron, well, Ron was a loyal and strong mate, a bloke you could count on, but he was definitely a little on the thick side. How else would you describe a guy who has been in love with his best friend for over two years and still have not managed to tell her yet? A great friend, but he would just as soon talk Quidditch than have a heart to heart. Not that he would'nt listen, you just could not expect much from it.
Having a talk with Moony helped, but he was a hard guy to talk about emotions with too. After all, if Harry was a hard rock to crack emotionally, then he knew Moony was a boulder. Moony had more years of keeping to himself then Harry had been alive. Still he was trying and Harry was struggling to meet him half way.
Harry felt himself choke up as he reflected on what amounted to a fairly lonely emotional life. He knew he had many people that cared for him, but where was his father figure, or big brother? Sirius had started to take on both roles, but now Harry, through his own stupidity, had lost him. The Weasleys were fantastic, as always. Mrs. Weasley had given Harry one of the few hugs he had ever received in his life and certainly the closest to a motherly hug he could remember. Harry kicked hard at the ground and started to swing. He was starting to get depressed again, and he knew he needed to fight it. He could turn to his calming place, but frankly he wanted to see if he could learn to work through it. Turning to the calming place he knew just postponed the hurting; it did not help Harry deal with it.
Harry looked up to see Tonks dressed liked a Muggle with short, spiky, vivid red hair, faded jeans, a periwinkle blue jumper, and black trainers. "Going for the Weasley look today Tonks?" Harry responded with a grin. It was hard to be depressed around Tonks; she was just a fun person. "Pull up a swing, it's nice to see you."
Tonks pulled a face at Harry, but she still settled into the swing next to him. She pulled a few letters out of a pocket and handed them over to Harry. "Yeah I thought I would fit in over at the Burrow when I stopped by to pick up your mail."
Harry quickly flipped through the letters, seeing one from Mrs. Weasley who would be writing telling him to eat and take care of himself, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. When his eyes settled on the letter from Ginny, Harry subconsciously let a small smile crease his tired face. Harry had to admit somewhat grudgingly that Ginny's letters had been entertaining, filled with the everyday life at the Burrow. She wrote about the twins, who seemed bent on causing as much havoc as possible. Ron and Hermione who were both alternating between sulking after their usual fights, or floating hesitantly closer to a relationship that everyone saw coming, but they seemed to be blind to. Bill apparently was still helping Fluer practice her 'English' and Charlie was going to try and come visit at some point. He would laugh when she described her Dad's latest failed experiment with some Muggle item or other.
Harry inhaled softly, there seemed to be an almost heavenly scent coming from the letter. He even grabbed the letter and pulled it closer to his face to inhale the scent. It smelled of a warm summer evening, of jasmine, flowers and warm grass. Unbidden an image of Ginny popped into his brain, he realized in hindsight this was the fragrance he had connected to Ginny. He figured he must have been imagining things. Could he imagine smells just because Ginny made him feel good? Must be, he imagined, he was not sure how else a letter could smell, after all he never had one that smelled before.
When Tonks saw the smile on Harry's face, which looked so unusual for him, she glanced down at the letters to see what could have caused it. She recognized the hand writing from where she was sitting; after all she was talking with Ginny in her room while Ginny finished the letter up. Tonks gave into her own smirking smile when she saw Harry pull the letter to his face and take a strong inhale. Yeah she thought, the perfume on the letter always works. She was surprised that Ginny had not learned that trick yet, so she was only to happy to drop that little secret. With the brilliant flash of a smile from Ginny, Tonks knew she had guessed right about how the youngest Weasley felt.
Personally, Tonks felt that she never knew a guy more in need of a good solid snog than Harry. In fact Tonks had toyed with the idea if going ahead and giving him a good long snog on one of his lonely walks. She knew it was not horribly professional, but he was quite cute with that messy hair and, wow, his eyes could melt even the most frigid of hearts. Tonks was available at the moment and as much as she might toy with the idea of having some fun with Harry, she knew she would never act on it. Even if you ignored all the other emotional baggage he had, he was just too young. Tonks realized that as fun as a good snog would be, and she even could admit she needed one herself after the Department of Mysteries, she knew that Harry was hurting and he needed someone around him to help him heal. Who knew the youngest Weasley could be the one? Maybe if Ginny helped Harry out and he became slightly more grounded and he finished Hogwarts…He was, after all, looking rather yummy with his tan and sweaty hair. Oops, bad Tonks, come on now! She knew she had to stay focused. Just so long as he did not make eye contact she knew her imagination would not be too tempted. Why did he have to be so young? "How are you doing Harry. I heard you had a long talk with Remus."
Harry glanced at her from the corner of his eyes. Just because he wanted to open up did not mean he was prepared to try and reach out to just anyone. "How'd you hear about that?" He asked with a slight chill in his voice.
Tonks laughed, "Who'd you think was the guard that day under the Invisibility Cloak?"
"I guess that would make sense. First Bill, now you. Do you all eavesdrop on me?" Harry's depression was turning into his usual anger.
Tonks gave him a long stare unabashedly; he might be cute, but darn if he was not moody sometimes. "Listen Harry, first off it does tend to get boring watching your little behind sometimes, even if it is cute. I know you don't want the attention, but guess what, you're getting it anyway. Thirdly, the people who stand guard over you sincerely care about you and your well being. It's not easy to stand guard. The hours are long and it gets boring. I'd actually planned on throwing water on you both, but when I heard the topic of conversation I backed off. Look Harry, this is a difficult situation for everyone, but that doesn't change the fact that we are all trying to do what's best." She stopped for a moment and continued in a small voice. "It's been hard for me too you know." Tonks did not mean for the last part to slip out, but he was gazing at her with those intense soulful green eyes. They were so clear one could see the pain and sorrow etched on his soul. They only served to reminder her of the loss of her favorite cousin. The only cousin in her family that even acknowledged she existed.
Harry knew he had gone too far before the angry words had even left his mouth. He quickly sought out his beach to seek a moment of serenity. He heard everything Tonks said and he knew it was all accurate. He was sorry before she finished and he was mortified by the time she was done. He had caused pain to Moony too in their talk. Why did he have to continually hurt the people who were close to him? He really needed to get control of his temper. Harry could sense the hurt washing over him from Tonks direction. She had lost someone important to her too. He hung his head and said softly to the sad witch beside him. "I'm sorry Tonks; honestly I was sorry as soon as I said it. I'm trying to work on my emotions, but it's hard. Please forgive me, I always seem to get selfish and sometimes I forget that I'm not the only person Sirius touched in life. He was a great man and a great cousin to you. Being the only cousin who would even spend time with you, even if you're younger, I'm sure that meant quite a lot."
Tonks, who had started to swing gently, heard Harry's words in shock. By the time he had finished, Tonks had fallen off the swing into the sand at Harry's feet. She glanced up into a sad but amused face in wonder. She did not even know where to begin; firstly, Harry had actually opened up to her. It may not have been earth shattering, but coming from him, he might as well have opened the vaults to the crown jewels. Secondly, she was rapidly forced to come to the conclusion that he seemed more mature then she allowed for. Well at least he was working on it. Then to top it all off, he seemed to know what she was thinking about Sirius. Trying to shake her shock off, she finally noticed that Harry was having a good laugh at her predicament. Figuring that the tension was broken, she might as well give some teasing back. After all there would be time to consider what he said later on tonight when she went on watch. "So Harry, I noticed the look on your face earlier with Ginny's letter. Do I have to look like this to get your attention?" With an odd look she grew her dark red hair out and lightened it until it was a brilliant golden red.
Her hair now looked like the last rays of sunshine cast gloriously into the night by a setting sun, a warm good bye to another day. Harry was not sure why he had suddenly compared Ginny's hair to a poetic sunset, but the description still fit after all. With a soft tinge of red teasing up his neck line and into his cheeks, Harry mumbled that he needed to get home soon. He promptly scowled at Tonks when she started to howl with laughter, he shoved his hands in his pockets and asked if she wanted to walk back with him.
Tonks figured she could only tease Harry so far, so she left it alone. After they had walked for a few moments in a friendly silence, she finally voiced something that was on her mind. "Look Harry, I'm not sure what's going on, if anything, with you and Ginny, but I want you to know if you ever need any advice, I'll be happy to help. That is all I wanted to say and now I'm going to drop the subject. You know where to find me if you need me."
Harry thought about that for a second. Talk about one beautiful girl with a beautiful woman? Yeah that was going to be really easy, but she did offer, so Harry had to respect that. "Thanks Tonks, I'll think about it, but trust me right now I've more important things to worry about than girls. Your offer means a lot, so thanks again."
Tonks stopped at Number Four with Harry and gave him a smile, "No problem, Harry, and you're welcome. By the way I have your night watch, so if you want to pass on replies to those letters, find me in the morning right after your Uncle leaves for work. I'm expected at the Burrow for breakfast, so don't be too late. I do not want to miss out on Molly's cooking."
They said goodbye and went their separate ways. Tonks turned towards Mrs. Figg's for a guard meeting, and Harry went into Privet Drive for another evening with the Dursleys.
Just a few short notes about this story, it is a multi-chapter "novel" length story. I would like to thank my wonderful beta Myth & Legend. She has a great Harry story going called Eternity Lost, so head on over there and read it. Reviews and comments are welcome. Enjoy!