Disclaimer: This is not mine. It belongs to JKR. I don't get any money from this. (Btw. this disclaimer is for the whole story, every chapter yet to come)
Summary: It is the summer between 5th and 6th year. Harry is mourning Sirius and it seems that the light side has a new plan just for him but is it for his good? Has Dumbledore suddenly decided to betray Harry and what could have driven him to it? Everyone seem to be involved in this plot against him.
World of Lies
Ch 1 Run little puppy, run
It was a cloudy day and quite cool though it was midsummer. Harry Potter was lying on his bed in his room, enjoying the one day he didn't have to spend with his relatives as his aunt and uncle were visiting his cousin Dudley at his summer camp. Apparently Dudley had not felt like staying anywhere near him and because aunt Petunia was forced to offer him a home, she had come up with this boxing camp for Dudley that lasted the whole summer. His cousin had left there the very same day he had come back from Hogwarts.
Harry understood perfectly and was fine with it. He didn't actually enjoy spending time around his cousin. It had taken some time for Dudley to recover physically from the dementor attack and as his cousin was still whining about the pig's tail incident years back, Harry wasn't expecting to him get over this one any time soon. It seemed Dudley wasn't even sure what had attacked him as Harry had been ushered away to the twelve Grimmauld place as soon as possible and aunt Petunia, who knew a little about dementors, wasn't explaining anything. Nevertheless, there was one thing all the Dursleys were sure about and that was that it had been entirely his fault.
This summer had been both full of things to do and at the same time boring. His friends had kept their promise and Harry had gotten several letters inquiring about things and how he was. Every third day to be exact and he wrote them several replies. Every time saying he was fine.
His uncle had ordered him to his room the moment they arrived from the station. Moody had made quite an impression to his relatives and Harry hadn't heard a peep from them for the whole first week. After that, it had been he himself who had started the conversation.
"Uncle Vernon?" Harry finally decided to venture to open his mouth. A week had already passed by and neither his aunt or uncle had not even looked at his way nor said anything, not even about the owls they had to have noticed or his other 'freaky' stuff they stumbled upon from time to time. They just put a plate on the table when it was time to eat and didn't even turn to watch as he stood at the doorway to living room during the evening news.
Harry had been so bored that he had even tried to open his schoolbooks and start his summer homework but he had never been the studious type. There was not much to do outside as he was banned from his walks around the neighbourhood for his own security and now he was down right desperate. Desperate enough to have something to take his mind away from his memories that he was becoming crazy, for nothing less could have driven him to this.
A gruff from his uncle was the only answer but Harry took it that he was listening.
"I was just wondering if you or aunt Petunia have something for me to occupy myself with?" Harry asked lightly. He knew his uncle could react in any way to his offer but in the worst case, he would be loaded with dozens of chores to do. It wouldn't matter as neither his aunt or his uncle could do nothing if he chose not to do all of them. However, when his uncle looked up from the paper and those puny little eyes were staring him down, Harry fleetingly wished he had just continued his non-existence.
"Wouldn't your little friends take offence, as you seemed to have fed them all sort of lies? Who knows how violent those people might be? Attacking us as they did on the station. It's unheard of! Hear me out boy that was the last time we will drive you there or fetch you. Next time it's the buss. Mark my words." Uncle Vernon was waving his fork to make his statement and a whole week's worth of Harry bashing started to unravel.
Harry sighed and continued eating his meal while he listened.
"… and my little Dudders is at the camp and though he is enjoying himself, I am missing him and it is all your fault. Those creatures followed you here. What will be next? We have to look over our shoulders all the time and what will the neighbours say if something happens?" Said aunt Petunia nervously. She obviously had her own rant to give.
Harry looked at the clock. Nearly half an hour had gone by and he had not been given a chance to say anything. He decided to wait five more minutes and then he would just go back up and not offer to do anything again.
Ten minutes later he stood up, interrupted his uncle in order to excuse himself and walked up to his room, both thanking and fearing the silence that waited him there.
Two weeks later the silence was still there. Harry had tried to fill it with loudly ticking clocks but he had only managed to find two to bring up to his room and they helped very little. He had also dragged Dudley's old radio there but the thing refused to work. Otherwise, his room was mostly unchanged. Only the pile of unread Daily Prophets had grown on his desk. Owls delivered them daily but he always left them laying there. He could not pick them up. Not yet. The news was always weighing him down and somehow it seemed easier to await them than to face the fear of knowing. After a while, he forced himself not to think about them and just mechanically took the paper, paid the owl and laid the paper in the pile. Hermione would have been so mad at him but she would also tell him in her letters if the world was going to end.
Another pile on the desk was the letters he had received. Hedwig had been pleased this summer. Lots of exercise for her. There was a letter folded open on the desk. It was from Dumbledore. Harry didn't know what to think of the old man these days.
He was informed at the very beginning of his holiday that he should stay near the house at all times so he would be safe and easily found if necessary. Mrs. Figg had invited him over for tea once but had not referred to the order or anyone else. Harry still found it hard to believe that the old woman had appeared at his hearing last year and that she was actually a squib. When he had left her house, she had looked at him and said that she was hoping he was feeling better. He had simply nodded.
Dumbledore's letter also included some happier news. The Weasley's were expecting him to Burrow early this year or if that would not be possible for some reason, then he would be going to the order headquarters, if he wanted. Harry wasn't sure about that, he would make up his mind when the time would come. Dumbledore had also, in his own subtle way, asked how he feared.
Harry had tried to written a reply a few times but ended up scrunching the paper in a ball and throwing it away. How could he find words when he didn't know what they were supposed to describe.
He lifted his head when he heard feathers shuffling and a small hoot. A screech owl was sitting on his windowsill, holding out a leg with an envelope. Harry got up and removed it. The owl hopped around, spread its large wings and took off.
Harry turned the envelope around a few times. It looked like something from the ministry but did not resemble those he had gotten from there before. This was a good thing as they mainly were about him doing underage magic or being expelled.
Harry tore the letter open and took out a long parchment.
'Dear Mr. Potter,
The examination board of Magical education evaluation is pleased to inform you that in your Ordinary Wizarding Levels, held during your fifth year at Hogwarts school for witchcraft and wizardry, you have done accordingly:…'
Harry folded the letter back and took a deep breath. It was his OWL results. He hadn't spared any thoughts to them lately and he wasn't prepared to read them. What if he had done poorly and would loose his chances to become an auror. He had not thought much about his future but after his occupation talk with McGonagall, it had seemed clearer. Trepidation filled him as he unravelled the letter again and skimmed down to the results.'Charms
Written part 96
Practical part 90
You received an owl marked as OutstandingTransfiguration
Written part 88
Practical part 90
You received an owl marked as Exceeds expectations
You received an owl marked as Exceeds expectationsDefence against the dark arts
Written part 98
Practical part 100 +10 (H.S)
You received an owl marked as OutstandingPotions
Written part 84
Practical part 96
You received an owl marked as Exceed expectations
Care of Magical creatures 95
You received an owl marked as Outstanding
Written part 85
Practical part 67
You received an owl marked as Acceptabl (Notification 1)
Your result was marked as Dreadful. You did not receive any owls
History of Magic 63
Your result was marked as Poor. You did not receive any owls
(Notification 1: the results were judged comparing them to the top 5 this was due to severe disturbances during the test)
(H.S) Highest score - Congratulations! You achieved the top scores in your year in this subject. The honours have been filed in the Grand Document Library of Records residing in the first floor in the Ministry of Magic.'
Harry read the letter repeatedly. He couldn't believe it. He had gotten seven owls, three of them outstanding, three exceeds expectations, one acceptable and only two had failed. He was glad he had done well in charms and transfiguration. Dada owl wasn't a surprise but he was exceedingly glad that he had gotten an outstanding in the Care of magical creatures. If there were more, that would show to everyone that Hagrid truly was a good teacher.
The fail in History of magic didn't surprise him as he had fallen asleep in the middle of the test. Astronomy's practical had gone badly because he had been watching the happenings at Hagrid's hut like many others, including the examiner but that obviously had been taken into account. It didn't matter as he had very little thoughts of taking Astronomy in the future. What really surprised him was that he had done very well on potion's practical part. Still if he had to get O in order to take part in the newt class and from there to auror training, that hope was gone but maybe he could get those five newts needed from somewhere else. There was always Herbology in which he might be able to do the NEWT. Thank god, he was free from divination from now on.
Harry put his results in his trunk, away from the other letters. A little later, he ventured downstairs to get something to eat. It was always so calm when his aunt and uncle were away. The first time they left to see Dudley they had insisted on leaving him at Mrs. Figg but she had been away, leaving them no other choice but to either leave him there by himself or take him along. As it wouldn't be good for Dudley to be surprised like that, aunt Petunia had finally decided to leave him behind.
When they returned and the house was still exactly as it had been when they left, bothering Mrs. Figg didn't come up again. However, his aunt always left these little notes for him on the kitchen table filled with chores he could do instead of loitering around and learning to be lazy.
If not those things included, this had been the best summer yet. He had had a lot of time of his own, Dudley was not hanging around and neither were his friends. His aunt and uncle left him mostly to himself and even on his own and only spoke to him but with those little notes. He had all his school things in his room and Hedwig was free to come and go as she pleased and he had plenty of food. No diet to follow.
Though it seemed like a normal summer holiday, everything was different and in reality, Harry was not happy. There were letters, among all the others, that he didn't get and he missed them badly. He had had only one vision, short and messy and he hadn't slept that night. His scar burned all the time but there were these intense burning feelings occasionally and he carefully tried not to think what they could mean.
Nightmares were the worst part. They didn't come every night but they always left him empty and terribly sad. Most mornings he found his cheeks dry and salty. His pillow was moist and he was glad he didn't remember all his dreams.
The first week he had stayed mostly in his room, staring at the sealing and listening the damned silence. These past few weeks he had had enough things to do during the days to keep his mind busy but he was forced to think about Sirius from time to time. If his aunt and uncle had noticed anything different in him, they did not mention it or most likely did not care.
The time dwindled on much like before and a week later, in the middle of the holiday, his birthday was approaching. Another year alive while others died.
The passing week had been hard. He had finally read few of the Daily Prophets but as they only made him worried, he soon gave up. Headlines like "You-know-who spotted in Birmingham" or "The dark mark above a destroyed house, full details and auror interviews turn to page 2" were in nearly every single cover. Clearly, Voldemort had come out from hiding and started the war but at least everyone knew and could try to protect themselves.
A banging door from the downstairs woke him from the daze where he had slowly drifted.
"Boy! There's a note on the table. Behave. We don't want to hear anything from the neighbours when we return, understand?" His uncle's voice carried upstairs and then the door banged for the second time. Harry heard the car start and leave. It seemed that most of the time he was alone and that his aunt and uncle had made a permanent residence in the camp where Dudley was.
Later that night when Harry was writing letters for Hedwig to deliver when she would return, an unexpected knock from the front door alerted him. He was sure his relatives had informed everyone they could think of not to come by this weekend. That's why Harry grabbed his wand and cautiously walked downstairs. He went to the living room and peeked through the curtains to see who was at the door before he went to open it. He sighed relieved when he recognised the visitor and pocketed his wand.
He opened the door. "Mrs. Figg. It's nice to see you."
The old woman didn't smile and looked a little more dazed than usually which got Harry worried. "Everything is all right, isn't it?" Dozens of different scenarios ran through his mind of what could've happened for the order to send her.
Finally, she seemed to come to and smiled widely. "Yes, of course Harry. What was I thinking about...? Oh yes, would you come for a cup of tea at my house?"
Harry almost sighed out of relief and then got a bit annoyed with the old woman. He pondered her invitation for a while but then shrugged. At least she wasn't speaking to herself, much and he felt like any company would be better than solely his own.
"Mm… my aunt and uncle are gone for the weekend so could I offer you tea here instead? Would you like to come in?" Harry stepped aside but she didn't move.
"Oh no dear. My cats can get lonely so you just come along. I even have a few visitors you'd be happy to see." Mrs. Figg smiled again, which Harry found weird. She had always been borderline rude but he was anxious to see who was visiting her. They had to be from the order and because nothing major had happened, they had to be his friends. Maybe Remus or one of the Weasleys. Maybe he had been long enough at Privet Drive and could leave.
He stepped outside and locked the door behind him. All his aunt's lectures about not loosing the key made him put it securely on a string that he kept hanging around his neck.
Wisteria Walk wasn't far and soon they were at Mrs. Figg's. Harry stepped in and looked around but was greeted only by two cats. The other with orange shading was licking its paws calmly while the other, more familiar looking but Harry couldn't say if it was Tibbles or Tufty, was mewing loudly. That cat was intelligent so if it was disturbed, Harry decided to stay cautious. Even though Mrs. Figg kept smiling serenely at him.
Harry got to the living room and relaxed. Seeing Snape sitting there and drinking tea didn't make him any happier but it was always good to see Mr. Weasley and apparently, Tonks had gotten out of the hospital.
"Hi!" Said Harry and walked in the room. The three turned to him immediately and for a moment, they looked shocked. Harry was starting to fear that something terrible had actually happened and was about to start insisting they tell him what it was right away but then Mr. Weasley smiled and walked up to him.
"It's so nice to see you again, Harry." Then the man hugged him. Harry was a little baffled because it was the first hug he ever had given him, usually it was Mrs. Weasley that did that. Harry heard a very distinctive snort from the couch where his dark potion professor was sitting.
His anger towards the man had not calmed and while he still regarded himself as the main reason for Sirius' death, Snape came a good second. He spared a cold glance at the man before turning to Tonks who was eagerly sitting on the edge of her chair. She had blue hair streaked with grey that reached her shoulders and she had somewhat normal wizarding clothes on for a change. Harry didn't see any outward signs whether she was still affected by the battle in the ministry.
"We came with Nymphadora to see how you were doing," said Mr. Weasley finally releasing him. "And we have a message for you."
Harry was getting worried again. If Tonks didn't object being called that, the matter had to be serious.
"Lighten up, Harry. It's nothing bad. We came to collect you and will escort you to your next residence for this summer. The order feels that it might not be safe for you to remain here," said Tonks clearly aware of his worried expression.
"Away from here? Now?" Said Harry confused. He didn't know whether to be glad or worried because of it. "Where?" He then asked. The Burrow would be all right but if he had to go to the Grimmauld place and see everything there, he wasn't sure if he wanted to go and Dumbledore had said he was given a choice about it.
"You'll see. We just take you packing," said Tonks rising from the chair.
"It's not to the headquarters, is it?" Harry asked and Tonks seemed to perk up a bit before Mr. Weasley turned to him.
"No Harry, not the order headquarters but you'll see. I'm sure you will find it accommodating enough."
"Yes, now let's go. We have a schedule to keep up with," said Tonks and she was already heading for the door. Harry was herded after her by Mr. Weasley who didn't seem concerned at all.
Mr. Weasley only turned to Snape who was coming behind them and said,"Inform Arabella about everything and then follow us, Severus." After that, Harry was pushed outside and the three of them walked towards his house.
Tonks and Mr. Weasley stopped outside the house number six and when Harry looked at them questioningly, Mr. Weasley nodded for him to go on.
"We'll wait for Snape here and we don't want the neighbours to start asking questions so you just go and pack. You have fifteen minutes and then you need to be back here as the portkey will active. Alright, Harry?" asked Mr. Weasley looking at him.
Harry was a little unsure. He thought the neighbours would talk less if they all went inside but decided not to argue. He didn't want to spend a moment longer there that he had to.
He rushed upstairs to his room and started throwing his things into his trunk. The letters, newspapers, his schoolbooks and clothes. Luckily, he hadn't really unpacked. While he was hunting his inkbottle under his desk and stood up, he saw that Snape had gotten to where the others were waiting.
Harry wanted to pack but couldn't help not to worry. This was really sudden. Not that he had had much more warning last year either but now things weren't kept from him and not one of his letters mentioned this. At least Remus should've said something. Those three outside seemed to be in deep discussion and Harry wanted to know what it was about. Especially when Snape seemed interested.
He made up his mind and rushed to his trunk. After a little searching, he found what he was looking for. The extendable ears Fred and George had given him a year back. He had almost forgotten them and could only hope they would still work and in outside as well as inside.
Harry sneaked to the window and dropped the ear. It slithered away nicely and stopped behind the fence. He kneeled out of sight and concentrated on listening carefully. He still had time before his escorts would worry.
"…easy. Though the order would be fools not to agree," Tonks was explaining something to the others.
"We just need to get Potter away from here securely and the rest will be easy," Snape's voice added. It was strange to hear him without his usual dislike.
"How much time did you give the prat?" Harry then heard Snape ask and decided that the tone of the man's voice didn't matter when he was still the biggest git in the world.
"Fifteen. We just wait here but be ready with the portkey. Use it immediately when he gets here," said Mr. Weasley.
So Harry had been right. Something was wrong. Maybe they were expecting an attack here but didn't want to worry him. He was glad he had listened and now he really should pack so that they could get going but he wanted to know just a little bit more.
"I will handle it. You just be ready with the stunner. The boy is slick though he trusts us." Tonk's words made Harry furrow his brows.
"Dumbledore is one clever coot and this way we might get it all. Have you heard anything from the ministry? How will they take this?" Mr. Weasley asked.
"What do you think? Fudge will be ever so happy to get a chance to shine with his fame though it will be taken care of that Potter is never found after he is handed forward. As long as the boy is still alive, he is a liability and a threat to us. Aurors can try to trail him as much as they want but they won't find a thing. The only ones benefiting from this are we. We get the allies," Snape talked coldly as usual.
"And who knows how much influence we can get over the confused ministry. The death of the boy who lived will hit them hard. Half of the aurors are firmly on the light side but that can changed. I'm sure Dumbledore will be careful though." Mr. Weasley was talking again. Harry was holding his breath and he felt himself pale.
He tried to think of a reason why what he had heard was not to be taken literally but none came to mind. Dumbledore had arranged his removal and Mr. Weasley and Tonks were helping him with this. Snape was no surprise, as the man had always hated him but Ron's dad? The man who had just hugged him was going to capture him and 'deliver' him forward to be given away. To whom and why? And most importantly, why did it sound as if he was meant to be killed?
Harry's mind was racing. Why had no one said anything about this? Though they hardly would inform him if they wanted him dead. Maybe Ron and Hermione didn't know but Dumbledore had just written him a long letter explaining how it was his choice whether to come to Sirius' old house or not and now he had sent order members here to capture him and by the sound of it, with force if necessary.
This was his life! They had no right to do decisions like this without telling him and they certainly had no right to use him as a some sort of thing to do business with or to kill him! Maybe it would be more convenient to them if he didn't know anything and would be 'taken care of' as soon as possible but it surely wasn't so to him. And if it was up to him, they never would.
He didn't like this one bit. If Dumbledore was behind this scheme, and he had lost a lot of his trust on the old headmaster, then the man should for once take the time to explain things to him. However, if Snape and the rest of them, and he couldn't believe Tonks or Mr. Weasley were going to harm him, were sent here on a mission to... to take him... And there was only one, well maybe a few more, people who would want him but only one person who had something to 'do business' with order and that was Voldemort. Had Dumbledore really sunk that low as to use a person, to obviously sacrifice lives, to make a deal?
Harry jumped to action. He threw the earpiece back in his trunk and slammed it shut. He would have five to ten minutes before those three would start to worry and he needed to get as far from here as possible. Away from the order and the Ministry and still stay hidden from Voldemort.
Harry concentrated all his thoughts on escaping the three trained wizards that were waiting outside, without using magic. Though it wouldn't matter if he was kicked out from Hogwarts now. It was a devastating thought but he shook his head to disperse it.
He looked at his trunk. It was too big and too heavy to take along. There were all kinds of spells for situations like this but none came to mind. If Hermione would be there, it wouldn't be a problem but she wasn't. Therefore, Harry opened his trunk and took his school bag. Luckily, Hermione had placed a few charms on it last year when they were having the massive homework for owls.
He threw in all the papers from the top, few clothes, some of his textbooks, his photo album and other mix-matched things. He managed to fit in over half of what was in his trunk before the bag was full. Only things left were his Hogwarts robes, some of his older textbooks, his most horrid clothes and his homework.
Harry grabbed his broom and invisibility cloak and headed downstairs. He went to the kitchen, took something to eat from the fridge, and left a note simply saying that someone had come and picked him up again. He was sure the Dursleys wouldn't be worried but left it just be sure.
He had come across his Gringott's key while packing and had already in mind what his next stop was. Sirius had always hated eating rats while on the run and Harry wasn't sure if he was capable of doing that at all. Maybe if it was the only way to get rid of Wormtail.
He peeked outside from the living room window and saw the three figures still standing in the shadows. He headed outside from the opposite direction, which was through the kitchen window. Once outside, he threw the bag over his shoulder, the cloak over that and took off with his broom.
High up Harry turned to look back for the last time. He didn't know where his father had gotten this cloak but it was damn good to have.
Harry thought of calling the night bus but he remembered the last time he had done that and Fudge had already been there waiting when he arrived and he didn't have the pounds to travel by train or muggle bus. He had to fly to London.
An hour later, he was starting to feel stiff but the good news was that he was there. One block from Leaky Cauldron, hiding in the bushes in the near by park. He hid his bag and broom well and kept only his cloak, vault key and his wand.
He could hear the noises inside the pub and haltered for a second. Then he determinately pushed the door open and slid in. No one seemed to have noticed the door as the place was packed full. Green flames flashed from time to time somewhere in the room as people were flooing in and out. Harry suddenly realised that he had never been there during evening, not in the middle of summer anyway.
Wizards and witches were sitting at the tables. Some were laughing and drinking, probably fire whiskey or something similar. The bar was crowded as well and Harry had to duck under a table or next to the wall several times. It wasn't easy to be invisible in a place like this.
The laughter quieted down when he finally got to the back door. He had no idea if the shops were still open but he hoped so. He looked around carefully and was just about to tap the bricks when the doorway started to form. Someone was coming from the other side and Harry ducked behind a barrel.
A witch came with two children who were sucking icicles that sparkled. Harry slipped to Diagon alley after they were gone. The place was much less crowded than usually and he noticed that though some places were closed like the ice cream parlour and Daily Prophet, others were still open.
He ran to Gringott's and didn't pay any attention whether someone heard his steps or not. Lucky for him, the bank seemed to be open. Harry entered and took the cloak off when he was safely inside. He didn't know it for sure but the goblins seemed to care very little about matters outside their bank and that guaranteed him some safety.
He walked up to the nearest goblin and took out his key. The creature acted as if nothing had happened and kept counting the money that was in front of him. Harry waited for a while but didn't want to risk that some wizard would walk in and recognise him so he finally said, "Excuse me."
The goblin looked up but didn't say anything, just stared.
"I would like to make a withdrawal from my vault." Harry gave the key to goblin who eyed it for a while. After what seemed like minutes, the short creature moved and signed him to follow.
The cart ride was uneventful. Harry was feeling too anxious to enjoy it. The familiar pile of galleons greeted him in his vault and he filled the pouch that had been hanging on the wall. He decided to take as much as he could because he couldn't be sure when he would have the next chance. No matter if he was really in trouble or not.
The pouch seemed to be charmed because after a certain amount, it stopped bulging and finally Harry thought he had enough. At least the pouch was full.
He had taken several times more than in any year before or even together all that time. The pile of galleons his parents had left him now had a small hole but it still wasn't big enough to be worried about.
On the way back, he remembered Hermione mentioning that her parents usually changed their pounds into galleons in the bank and he wondered if it was possible to do it the other way too. It had to. Therefore, Harry followed the goblin back to his place and laid the key on the table again.
"I would also like to have some money converted into pounds, please."
The goblin looked at him for a long time again and Harry wondered if he had the slowest individual around serving him. After an agonizing fifteen minutes, Harry walked out from the bank with a pouch full of galleons and another one full of muggle money. Hermione had been right, the trading fee was horrible.
He didn't know how much time he had left. It was nearly two hours now since he had left and surely the Order would be checking this place first as the last time he had ran away, he had headed straight here as well.
Harry looked around if there was something he could get before he headed off that would help him and because Madam Malkin's was next door and conveniently open, he headed there. When he got in it was eerily quiet. He tried to lower his bangs more over his scar but feared it was all for nothing.
There were several robes hanging around or piled up and he looked at one that had a huge hood to under which he could hide and took it. It seemed to have many pockets, which was more than good. He also noticed there were all sort of bags in one corner and took one that he could use in the future, as his first one was all filled up.
Just when he had taken a few galleons out, the curtains leading to the back room opened and a witch walked in. Harry walked in the cashier while looking at the floor. He knew he was acting weird but hoped she wouldn't notice or then think of something else than what he was actually doing.
Luck seemed to be on his side that night. The witch was looking tired and didn't comment on his purchases or tried to make any small talk. She simply wished him to have a nice evening.
Harry put the new cloak on, finding the hood excellent and put his other cloak into one of the pockets, as well as his money. The pockets seemed to stretch and shrink when needed to a certain amount. His bag of galleons was a bit difficult to fit in and the pocket bulged. But overall it was a nice surprise and it had been no wonder it had cost so much.
He walked towards Leaky Cauldron, keeping on the side of the road. He fleetingly thought of visiting Fred and George but didn't want to drag them into this. Besides the numbers on the houses announced thirty-two so he would need to go back a lot to get the WWW that was probably closed by now.
He passed the apothecary and suddenly realised that he might need some healing potions, as right now the hospital wasn't a place where he could go. He went in and the store was just as empty as Madam Malkin's had been but there was a shopkeeper behind the counter. Harry perused the shelves and chose few bottles from what looked like the medical section of the store. He recognized the pepper-up potion but decided he could live through flu. He had some experience of this section as he visited the Hogwarts infirmary way too often.
Eventually he took some ointment for small cuts and bruises he had seen Mrs. Weasley use; some blue vials what he hoped to be fever-reducing potion, a small bottle of skele-gro that was surprisingly expensive, an assortment of headache cures and dreamless sleep potion. The last thing that caught his eye was some tiny pink bottles that were labelled simply 'strong healing, for all injuries' and had a long list of ingredients that they held.
The shopkeeper was looking him with interest when he approached the counter. Perhaps customers had been lacking lately. Harry put the bottles on the table, trying to keep his face out of view. Looking down he noticed a potion kit behind the counter. He was out of most ingredients and though his chances of getting into Snape's class were slim to none, he could always give the ingredients to Hermione. That was of course if he ever got back to Hogwarts again.
"I'll take these and how much is that kit there?" Harry pointed what he wanted to the man.
"That'll be thirty-two galleons. It has some rare ingredients in it. And there are charms on the cauldron included so you'll be hard pressed to melt it," said the man and bent to lift the kit on the counter. "Mahogany box for all your ingredients and the box is expandable, also guaranteed to keep the ingredients unaffected if the lid is closed. The cauldron is the standard size one, more manageable and it comes with replisant so the effect it has on the potions is very small if any I'd like to say. Very nice old Scottish work. Not many around these days because the students mostly prefer the cheaper kits and more advanced usually have their own lab or something."
Harry waved the man to stop.
"I'll give you twenty-five galleons for it," he said firmly, knowing very well that the man expected him to bargain and might get curious if he didn't. In addition, he knew that the kit was overprized just as well as most of the stuff there was.
The man tried looked affronted. "Now look here, dear man. This is craftsmanship at its best and no foreign thing either but a good old solid English work. It even has a guarantee. But for you I can lower the prize to thirty as you are buying this many potions," said the man, looking like he had just made a huge favour.
Harry hoped he looked like he was considering it, though he would surely take it. There was just one last problem.
"All right, thirty galleons. Would you pack it to go in a more manageable way? I wasn't exactly planning to get something that big tonight and I have other places where I have to visit." And just as he had hoped, the man was more excited about the sale than being curious about why he didn't charm the thing himself.
"Yeah, I'll be doing that. There are some ingredients that don't take spelling them well but the box is a really clever piece of magic," said the man while the box was diminishing in size in front of him. The man talked all the while he was packing the purchases and Harry was glad to be out of there. He had lost nearly fifty galleons and was happy he had taken as much as he had. He had to be insane to spend this much on potions but he wasn't really thinking that well right now and he was in a hurry.
It was time to head off from there and away from London and any other magical places until this mess could be cleared one way or another. Harry kept in the shadows and rushed forward. He would need to go north from London and stay out of sight. There had to be places where he would be safe and suddenly he realised that he was rushing off like a headless chicken, not really knowing where. If there was one thing he had learned from Hermione, it was that you were better off with a little bit of knowledge.
The answer to his problem was suddenly right in front of him as he noticed that Flourish Blott's was also still open. There were few people inside but he didn't plan to stay there for long. He needed a book about geography, magical places in England and around and he took a travelling guide from the shelves. He also found a small book called 'Magical world and maps of what it looks like' and took it too.
He determinately passed all the quidditch books resisting the urge to look through them. He grabbed the familiar looking 'Guide to advanced transfiguration' and his next year schoolbook by Miranda Goshawk. There was also an interesting looking book next to it and Harry only saw it was another guide and decided to take it too and inspect it later.
He snatched several books on his way to the counter. Things he might need to know and he just knew Hermione would be proud of him if she were there to witness this. On the other hand, maybe not for being in this situation in the begin with.
Harry made sure to take a book about healing as well, just in case. Even though he was in a hurry, there was no point taking something that wouldn't be useful. Surprisingly he realised that he did pay attention what Hermione told him and Ron as he chose 'The Common Magical Ailments and Afflictions' from the shelf. A book she had referred to more than few times.
Harry wasn't sure what he would be doing with the 'Moste Potente Potions' but as he noticed it in there, he took it though he was surprised to see it was for sale but it would be nice to have a book for himself that was in the restricted section in Hogwarts. The last familiar looking book Harry took was 'The Self-Defensive Spellwork'. He knew the book was a good one but he never got to read it through as it only appeared in the room of requirement.
In the end, he had at least fifteen books gathered in his arms in as many minutes. The young witch served him and packed his purchases without asking anything. Harry felt the packages weight on him as he headed towards the leaky cauldron. He wished he had his broom here but it would have gathered too much attention and been difficult to move with.
The pub was even fuller than it had been an hour ago. Harry didn't have his invisibility cloak on, it would have been impossible to move with it. He froze halfway to the door when three familiar people entered. Mr. Weasley came first, followed by Remus Lupin and finally by Kingsley Shaklebolt.
They looked around carefully and Harry backed away to the other side of the counter. He was lucky that they didn't have Moody with them as his eye would have spotted him behind anything but he still had to be wary around Remus. The man had once mentioned that he had sharper senses than normal people did and there was no telling who was going to do what to him.
"Evening Tom." Harry heard Shaklebolt say and then lean over the counter to ask something quietly.
Tom just shook his head as an answer. Harry was sure Kingsley had inquired about him and realised he really needed to get the hell out of here. So, he ducked and went through the door that led to the kitchen. There he saw flying dishes and several frying pans that were hovering over flames, cooking some meat.
Harry took his father's cloak and wrapped it around himself. He had noticed a small walkway under the counter on the other side of the room. Just next to the front door and where Kingsley had talked to Tom. If he could slip pass the barkeeper, he would be almost outside.
The bar was divided from the kitchen by only a pair of swinging doors and carefully Harry peeked through them. He noticed Mr. Weasley immediately and soon found Remus and Kingsley as well. The first one was walking around the room saying hello to people while keeping an eye out. Kingsley stayed at the corner table and Remus was heading towards the backdoor and Diagon Alley.
Harry crawled through the doors, trying to be as small as possible. There wasn't a lot of space and Tom was whirling around without a pause. Then he thought he saw an opening and went for it. Unfortunately, his legs were a little too slow, on top of that, there were two cloaks around them, and soon there was a loud crash. Tom had tripped on him and fell sprawled on the floor.
Many customers were already leaning over the counter to see what had happened and Harry knew he had preciously little time. Frantically he started crawling forward and made it under the counter and to the other side just in time before people came to stand there and would have blocked his way. No one noticed the door opening and Harry thought he just heard Kingsley asking about Tom's condition before it closed behind him.
He was starting to feel burning in his scar when he approached the park. That was just what would make this evening perfect and he managed to stumble in the bushes before he kneeled down and pressed his palms against his scar. The pain was agonizing these days. He wasn't sure if Voldemort knew about this other connection besides the dreams and visions. Probably not because then this would probably be happening more frequently. The pain resided but his scar still throbbed nastily. Someone had seriously pissed Voldemort off tonight.
When he got to his broom, he was relieved to get in the air again. As he had to keep the invisibility cloak on, he was forced to fly slowly but that also gave him time to think. He had decided to head north because it was where he least likely would be going. He was expected to stay hidden in some place familiar or seek one of his friends, maybe even head south and over the sea if possible but no one would suspect him going north or that was what he hoped.
He really didn't know what was going on; only that he was in danger. He found it extremely difficult to believe, especially after the prophecy, that the order and Dumbledore would give him to Voldemort for any reason. Give him to anyone at all but then why would Snape, Tonks and Mr. Weasley be talking like that? If it was Dumbledore's plot, the old man could go to hell. This just showed why he shouldn't even think of trusting the man. If he had understood wrong, he only had to run from Voldemort and try to sort it out. If this was a plot of Voldemort's, which was rather hard to believe as well, he still had to run. So he would run until he would get some answers.
He couldn't go to any of his friends, not if the order was after him and if it wasn't, he didn't want to drag Voldemort's attention to them. He remembered Sirius' advice to always keep moving when someone was after you. If you stayed put, eventually they would pinpoint you down and then you'd be in trouble.
Sometime during the night, Harry wasn't sure of the time, he had to land. He hadn't eaten anything and was dead tired. Eventually he found a small clearing in the middle of a forest somewhere. The ground was dry and mossy so he spread his old cloak on it and gathered everything he had close. Finally, he drew the invisibility cloak over it all. He fell asleep immediately and didn't dream of anything.
Two things awoke him the next morning. The sun that tried to draw his eyes open and a consistent hooting near by. Harry groaned and felt stiff all over. Slowly yesterday came back to him and he felt around with his hand. He still had the invisibility cloak on him. He peeked from under it and saw two pairs of scaly legs jumping around, nothing else.
He put on his glasses, threw the cloak off and had his lap full of white feathers. Hedwig made it perfectly clear that he should never do what ever it was he had done last night again. The other owl was equal in size but much calmer and Harry thought he recognised it as one of the Hogwarts owls.
He looked around startled that someone might know where he was but realized he was safe as he didn't see anyone. Just the owls. Hedwig didn't carry any messages as Hermione and Ron didn't usually reply with her. They had some sort of ring with Fred, George, Remus, and Dumbledore in such a manner that he always got a letter from one of them in three days.
Harry stretched and was quite surprised to notice how restful sleep he was able to get on a place such as this. Or after flying himself half dead. Finally, he concentrated his attention to the other owl in front of him. It was taking care of its feathers and minding its own business. The letter that was tied on its leg was addressed to him in big letters. Harry hesitated taking it.
Flitwick had told them about all sorts of tracking charms and spells that could be used in a letter or even placed on an owl. Portkeys also varied in form and though it was highly difficult, they could be set to activate on different keys. Like someone touching them.
Harry turned to his bulging school bag and dug up some breakfast. He had taken few sandwiches and juice from the fridge last night but they had never before tasted so good. He shared some with Hedwig and the unknown owl. Then he got up to walk and think.
Yesterday he had followed his legs and they had done all right but now he had to decide more carefully what to do. He was still confused by yesterday but knew that first he had to make sure he was safe. It was nice not to have anyone else with him to worry about. Then he had to figure out a way to learn the truth about the mess he currently was in. Mistake? Dumbledore? Or Voldemort? He couldn't think of more choices that were likely.
If it was mistake, he owed some people an apology. Probably no harm done. If it was Voldemort, it was just the usual. He had slipped through the old worm tongues fingers once again. And if it was Dumbledore... well, then he was in serious trouble because he had no going back. However, how to make sure, no matter how much he trusted the light side that they were on his side? How could he out manoeuvre someone like that? And did he really have, really, really, really have grounds for his suspicions?
He couldn't say he knew Tonks that well but he knew Mr. Weasley or though he knew. Moreover, he could say all sort of things about Snape but one thing was sure, that man was hard to put under imperius curse. Snape had to have strong mind because of his spying years and Harry was sure Mr. Weasley would fight it too. However, he wouldn't put it past Snape to turn to Voldemort again. When in doubt, choose the worse and play it safe.
Nevertheless, it felt a bit far-fetched that Snape would survive Voldemort's wrath of returning in the fold this late, then lure Mr. Weasley and an auror at Mrs. Figg's. Then place an imperius on both of them and try to kidnap him. They would've done that at Figg's and not let him take his things especially if he was only going to be stunned. Maybe it was polyjuice but he couldn't figure out how the Death Eaters could get a hair from the three of them.
If he wanted to confirm the facts, he would need to be extremely careful. The Ministry was still fumbling with Voldemort coming back and who would believe him there? Fudge disliked him strongly and if Mr. Weasley was in this, who could he count not to be? And how could he believe anyone if they said he had understood everything wrong? And in what way could he ask these questions without being captured?
Harry begun to feel a headache coming and he sat down and just tried to remember what he had heard last night but the result was always the same. They had come because the order and Dumbledore had told them to. Even Mr. Weasley. Harry felt so lost again, betrayed.
He had avoided thinking about Dumbledore who was the source of everything. 'Great man' he remembered Hagrid once calling him. 'Knows what to do,' Hermione had said and Ron had called him a bit weird. He himself didn't know what to think anymore. He was double guessing everything in the past.
Last year had been a catastrophe with Dumbledore leading things and he knew so little about the man overall. Sure he had always been the all knowing, benevolent headmaster who discreetly was lenient with him but had Dumbledore ever thought about his well-being without selfish reasons? He had figured it out last year with the letter to his aunt that Dumbledore had had his wrinkled fingers in placing him with the Dursleys.
'I knew you would face hard times growing up there,' the man had said. 'But you'd still be alive!' That one decision had cost him his childhood.
'Do you think it's possible Dumbledore let you face You-Know-Who?' Ron had asked in their first year and as they had all been eleven, he had not then realised how serious the situation had been but the answer had been yes.
In his second year, it had supposedly been his blind trust in the man that had called Fawkes to him when he was dying but that was Dumbledore's word. In addition, the man had known about the prophecy and couldn't let him die.
Then there was a long list about things he was almost sure Dumbledore could've affected but those were of the kind that he could never come out straight and ask. Such as had the headmaster really not known about Sirius' animagus form? Was the goblet of fire truly so binging that there was NO way out? Or why the man had immediately after he had gotten his hands on Sirius, caged the man in that thrice damned house? There were many of these kinds of questions in his mind. Doubts that could not be asked because in the end also Dumbledore was simply a man. Well, couldn't be asked without a healthy dose of veritaserum anyway.
And this was the leader of the light that everyone blindly listened to. And if not blindly then Dumbledore was surely able to use his vast gifts in mind reading and manipulations to get what he wanted. People had to make many decisions during their lives, most were complicated and some wrong. Harry had to wonder how much difference between right and wrong a man as old as Dumbledore saw. What wrongs would be made right at the end?
If he asked himself whether Dumbledore would strike a bargain with Voldemort using him as leverage, risking his life, the answer was no. Well, almost no. He really didn't know the man anymore and wasn't even sure if he had ever done so. But if he asked would Dumbledore make Voldemort believe in this supposed bargain in order to get his weapon, him, in a position to destroy the opponent... the answer would be yes, he would think it was a possibility. Dumbledore had been awfully tight-lipped about the power he was supposed to have and if an example of that power was held in the department of mysteries, then the old man surely had examined it. So why not tell him?
However, all this was guessing. Life was not fair and people were not simple things to read. Even he had to admit that he couldn't see what could the headmaster get out from this situation and Dumbledore had done a lot of good as well. Besides, the headmaster was not his guardian.
Actually, he had no one to look things out just for him. Before he had been too young to take charge of his own life and if Dumbledore had used that against him... then it was all in the past right now. From now on, he would be the one that made the decisions and lived with the consequences. It wasn't a big change but this time he wouldn't blindly follow orders and then suffer with the result.
He still missed a friendly face though. And he missed Sirius so much. His godfather would have known what to do and how to do it. Sirius would know where to go from here and would stand by him no matter what. Harry imagined Sirius being there and waking him up. Probably with a well made breakfast while he would be telling Snape off. Sirius would know whom to trust or he would turn people who needed to be on their side. Like Moony.
Harry smiled a bit. His godfather would have taken this as a big adventure. A chance to go and see the world when here was nothing left. At least for a while and then come back more rested and thoughts more clear. He would say a holiday for them was well overdue. That thought gave Harry the sparkle back.
He had not lost everything and he was not an escaped convict. Maybe he was in top three of Voldemort's 'off with their heads' -list and apparently high on the light side's 'to worry or to capture about' -list but he was still free. People had taught him many things during the years and now that he had done as he had learnt to, he had enough money to move unnoticed and he was prepared for many things.
The first thing he needed to do was to vanish better. This owl had found him and it was a wonder if others wouldn't follow. He had to loose his… magical trail. Sirius had once explained something about it.
Harry searched his last year charms book and saw that he had remembered correctly. And what ever he would do, he couldn't use his wand. If he did, he had to be ready to run and fast. Ministry would pinpoint him the moment he used it if it was searched after as a 'hot wand' and people would probably apparate to the spot even before the owl carrying the note of improper use of under age magic could arrive.
Harry sent the unknown owl away and though it pecked him a few times, he didn't take the letter. It wasn't even in familiar writing. Then he opened his schoolbooks, a thing he never anticipated to do, especially in the middle of a sunny forest during his summer holiday. He faintly remembered the book telling something about his dilemma. Of course, it didn't tell how underage wizards who were on the run could cover their tracks but it explained about the effects his inner magic had to the outer world. He didn't come up with another way to follow him besides using the owls so he just needed to repel them. Not counting Hedwig of course.
Harry found a suitable charm but now the problem was that he would need to use his wand to do it. He walked restlessly around the book that was lying on the ground. Finally, he sighed, closed it and packed everything up. He couldn't do anything about that right now. Instead, he took his maps out and decided to continue east until he found the shoreline. There were only few places on the way that had anything to do with magic.