This fanfic, although it is set after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, only contains slight spoilers for the first two Harry Potter books. Pretty much, I assume that you have some knowledge of the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and all characters contained within this story are the property of J.K. Rowling and her publishing company. I am making no money off of this story, and wrote it purely for entertainment purposes. Do not repost anywhere without the permission of the author!
The author is eternally grateful to Lissy, without whom this story would not have been finished. Thank you for all the advice, encouragement, and editing.
Episode 3: The Decision
Kelly M. Grosskreutz
Harry took a deep, steadying breath and pushed aside the curtain surrounding Professor Dumbledore's bed just enough to let himself pass. Madam Pomfrey, standing by the curtain, asked hesitantly, "Is he ...?"
Harry nodded once. Pomfrey bowed her head as tears started streaming down her face. "I figured as much, I told him as much when he asked, there wasn't really anything I could do for him, but I just kept hoping...oh, whyyy? She broke down then, turning her back on Harry.
Professor Trelawney walked over, put an arm around Pomfrey's shoulders, and led her away from the curtained bed. "It's ok, Poppy. Knowing ahead of time is always worse, isn't it?"
Harry tried to ignore the sight of all his teachers in various states of grief, and cast his eyes around the infirmary for Professor McGonagall. He walked over to where she was standing by the door, looking much the same as always, if not for the tear that escaped from her eyes every so often. "He's gone, Professor," he said quietly, not knowing what else to say.
"I know, Harry. But we must carry on. He would've wanted us to." She looked as if though she were trying to take comfort from her own words.
"So now what happens, Professor?"
She sighed. "We carry on, best we can. I've been left in charge of the school, you know. As for you, the first thing you need to do is to go up to Professor Dumbledore's office."
Harry was confused. "Why?"
She managed to give him a little smile. "There's someone there who's been waiting to talk to you."
Harry smiled as well.
Harry opened the door to Professor Dumbledore's study to find the one person he was hoping to see. "Sirius!" he cried, running over to him and flinging his arms around Sirius's neck. "Oh, Sirius, I thought I'd never see you again!"
Sirius put his arms around Harry and held onto him tightly. "It's okay, Harry," he said soothingly, "I'm here, I'm all right. It's all right now, Harry."
"No, it's not!" Harry exclaimed, pushing back from Sirius. Tears were streaming down his face as he finally allowed himself to cry. "It's not all right, nothing's all right! Professor Dumbledore's dead!" He began to cry harder.
Sirius reached out and drew Harry back into his arms. Harry rested his head on Sirius's shoulder and cried harder than he had ever cried before in his life.
Awhile later, when he had cried everything inside of him out and was feeling a little better, Harry pulled away from Sirius and looked him straight in the eyes. "Sirius, I have to know. What happened to Professor Dumbledore? How could this have happened?"
Sirius, looking like he'd aged twenty years in just a few days, sighed deeply. "Where do I start?" He stopped for a moment, eyes staring off into the distance. Harry sat down in the chair next to Sirius. "Tell me what you already know. That'd probably be the easiest."
Harry thought. "Well, I know that a few weeks ago Professor Dumbledore, you, Moody, and Lupin went to a Muggle village. From what I heard, every person in the village had been tortured and murdered by the Death Eaters, and the four of you went to investigate it."
Sirius nodded. "Basically, yes. But there's a lot more to the story than that. But I'm sure you figured out that much." Harry nodded.
"For example, I bet you didn't know the name of the village in question." Harry shook his head. "It was Godric's Hollow."
"Godric's Hollow?" Harry asked, astonished. "But isn't that the place where my parents lived, where they were ..." His voice trailed off as the mention of his parents made him think of Dumbledore, who has also lost his life at Godric's Hollow.
"Yes, it was, Harry," Sirius confirmed.
"But, why did-"
"Because it's the one place they could attack that they knew Dumbledore would have to go check out," Sirius said heavily.
"But what was there?" persisted Harry, not understanding. "This didn't have something to do with my parents, did it?" Or me?
"No, Harry, it had nothing to do with your parents," Sirius replied, shaking his head. "I wondered the same thing, when Dumbledore told us we were going there. And now that I know the reason, I still can't believe it."
Harry was growing more and more confused by the moment. "You can't believe what?"
Sirius lost control of himself and started to rant and rave. "I can't believe that that no-good backstabbing git did that to Dumbledore. How could he? After all Dumbledore did for him, took him in, saved his mother, gave him a chance that no one else would ever have given him? Especially after what they had just done to his mother, how in the name of all that's good could he have done that?!" By this time, Sirius had risen from his seat and was pacing the room, his fists clenched. "If I ever see him again, I will personally tear his head off with my own two hands!"
He looked like he wanted to say more, but instead, Sirius unclenched his fists, took a deep breath, let it out slowly, then came back over to his chair and sat back down. "I'm sorry, Harry. Didn't mean to lose control of my temper there. It's just ... if you had been there, had seen ..."
Harry couldn't stand this anymore. "What did happen, Sirius?" he demanded.
Sirius's lips twisted themselves into a very brief smile. "I've been rambling. I know. It's just ... oh, you're right. I'd better just spit this story out.
"Okay, you know that Professor Dumbledore, Professor Moody, Remus, and I went to Godric's Hollow, and that the people there were tortured and murdered." Harry nodded a little impatiently, but Sirius continued on, not noticing. "What you don't know is that Snape's mother lived there."
Harry gasped. That's the last thing he was expecting to hear. I guess I never even thought about him having a mother before, let alone that she lived there, he thought.
"Yes, she was living there, hidden there by Dumbledore himself. It's a long story but, years ago, Snape found out her life was endangered by Voldemort and begged Dumbledore to protect her. They faked her death, and Dumbledore, with the help of your father, hid her away. No one, not even Snape, knew where she was, but Voldemort must've finally figured out the truth. He knew that a threat to her was one of the few things that could draw Dumbledore out of Hogwarts, and he took full advantage of it."
Sirius paused again briefly, then picked up his story. "We walked through the village until we came to the center. There, a horrible sight met our eyes. We found one person tied to a pole in the center of the village. It was an older woman, and I won't even describe what had been done to her. The only part of her that had been untouched was her face. The rest of her ..." Sirius trailed off, shuddering.
"Anyway, even though I'd never met her, I knew that this had to have been Snape's mother. She looked enough like him, you see. I kept staring at her face, thinking over and over, 'So this is what happens when you betray Voldemort.' For the first time in my life, I actually felt sorry for Snape." A look of anger came back into Sirius's eyes, and he spat, "And that'll be the last time!"
Harry wanted to ask why, but stopped himself. He didn't want to interrupt Sirius again. So he forced himself to wait patiently as Sirius resumed telling his story. "I don't think any of us could stop staring at her. To tell you the truth, I don't even know why we were staring at her in the first place. We'd all seen death before, after all, death as bad, if not worse, than this. But for some reason, something about this one just hit us in a way most of those others never had."
Sirius shook his head mournfully. "That was our big mistake. All of us were staring at her when the Death Eaters jumped us. If it weren't for Mad-Eye Moody and his roving eye, I wouldn't be sitting here now. We all would've been slaughtered without even getting off a spell. But he saw them as they moved out of their hiding places and was able to warn us."
Sirius's voice dropped, and his eyes stared back in time to the terrible battle. He seemed to forget that Harry was even there, but was instead reliving the battle. "They're coming at us from all directions. Death Eaters everywhere. Where should I turn first? I start blasting them, trying to keep them back from me and Remus. It seems like we do this for hours, but we finally get them to back away from us for a minute, and we can catch our breaths.
"I look around the village. The other three are alive. I breathe a sigh of relief. Then Moony shouts, 'Wormtail! You will pay, "old friend!"' I turn and, sure enough, it's Peter. A murderous rage overcomes me, and I chase after him. I hear Moony behind me yelling, 'Padfoot, wait for me!'
"Peter's running fast, but not fast enough to escape me. I catch him and thrust him into Remus's arms, shouting, 'Hold onto him and don't let go!' Remus is holding him so tightly that Peter's arms must be close to breaking. Peter is begging and pleading with us, but I ignore him. A red haze fills my vision, and the next thing I know, Peter is lying at our feet, dead. I look upon Wormtail and feel better than I have since before James was killed.
"Then something happens that chills me to the bone. I hear Snape's voice, cold, hate-filled, yet strangely dead as well, echo clearly over the din, "Headmaster! You're a dead man!" I'm turning, trying to get to Snape, but everything's moving in slow motion. Snape slowly points his wand at Dumbledore and says, in that same voice, 'Crucio!'
"Dumbledore collapses to the ground, twitching and writhing. My God, his screams! They go right through me, and I know they will be haunting my dreams for as long as I live. I run at Snape, shouting words, I have no idea what, and tackle him before he can react.
"He's fighting me. I never knew he was this strong! It's all I can do to hold my own. But those horrible screams stop, and I know that at least I was able to make him lose his hold on the spell.
"I'm finally able to knock him out, but before I can deliver a killing blow, Moony's pulling me off of him. 'Not now, Padfoot!' he exclaims. 'We've got to help Dumbledore!'
"I look over and see that he's right. Dumbledore is slowly rising to his feet, and Moody's all alone holding off the Death Eaters. We start heading over to them, but are jumped by about five more Death Eaters. In the midst of fighting them, a sight catches my eye that freezes my blood.
"Another Death Eater steps out from behind a building and points his wand straight at Dumbledore. I try to break free, but I can't. There're too many! I'm never going to get there in time! Professor Dumbledore! Turn around!
"He's turning, but too slowly. Macnair opens his mouth and says those fateful words, "Avada Kedarva!" As he speaks, Moody, moving faster than I would have thought possible, knocks Dumbledore out of the way. A green light shoots out of the wand, and Moody is gone.
"Lupin and I finish off the Death Eaters in our way and join Dumbledore. I raise my wand and blast Macnair before he can get off another spell. Spells are zinging by so fast I lose track of what's going on. Then I spot Lucius Malfoy taking a shot at Moony. I yell a warning to Moony, and he jumps back as a bolt of lightning shoots out of Malfoy's wand.
"I see Dumbledore climbing back to his feet. Wait a minute! No, oh, my God, NO! He's standing up right where Moony just was, right into the path of Malfoy's lightning bolt! The bolt burns through his chest, slamming him to the ground.
"I run over and kneel down beside him. Moony is standing over us, holding the attackers back. 'Is he alive, Sirius?' he gasps.
"'Yeah, but he's badly hurt,' I reply, frantically ripping my shirt apart to try to cover the wound.
"'You've got to get him back to Hogwarts.'
"I start to pick up Dumbledore, being as careful as I can so as not to hurt him further, when what Remus is saying gets through to me. 'What about you?' I ask, even though I think I already know the answer.
"'Don't worry about me, Padfoot. What's important now is that Dumbledore gets the medical attention he needs. I'll buy you the time you need to get him back.'
"I set Dumbledore gently back on the ground again and blast yet another Death Eater. Crabbe, I think it is this time. 'You take him back, Remus. I'll buy you two the time.'
"Moony turns to me, an intent and determined look on his face. 'No, Sirius, I have to be the one to stay behind.' I open to my mouth to argue with him, but he won't let me get a word in. 'You're Harry's godfather. You need to go back and keep an eye on him. Besides, I can do more damage in my wolf form. I'll take care of these guys and meet you back at Hogwarts.'
"Damn him! Why did he have to mention Harry? He knew that that'd be the one thing that could make me leave. I grip his shoulder tightly. He smiles sadly at me for a moment, then turns back towards the Death Eaters, who are moving in on us, and yells, 'Go on, Sirius!'
"I gently pick up Dumbledore again and move back from Moony. My last glimpse of him before I apparate back to the Hogwarts grounds is his transformation into wolf form, snarling at the Death Eaters, who are pointing their wands at him ..."
At this, Sirius's voice trailed off, and he began to cry. Harry, his face white, could only sit for a moment, stunned, his mind still going over all that Sirius had told him, then he stood up and put an arm around Sirius's shoulders.
A minute or so later, Sirius wiped away his tears and patted Harry on the shoulder. "Thanks," Sirius murmured.
They were both silent for a time, lost in their own thoughts. Then Sirius turned to Harry and said rather abruptly, "So, Harry, did you have anything else you wanted to tell me or ask me about?"
Harry, his deliberations interrupted, gave a start. "Yeah, actually, I do," he replied, having remembered only now that he did, indeed, have something else to ask Sirius. "When I spoke with Professor Dumbledore before he- I came to see you, he said that there was another Potter. Do you have any idea what he meant by that?"
Sirius sighed gently, then murmured, "The other Dumbledore spoke of was your twin sister."
Harry didn't think he could be any more confused and surprised than he already was, but he found that he was both. "But, Sirius, I don't have a sister."
Sirius nodded his head. "Yes, Harry, you do." At Harry's credulous look, Sirius continued, "It's a long story, Harry. When Voldemort was almost at the height of his power, Professor Trelawney gave a prediction that rocked the wizarding world. 'The Heir of Slytherin will only meet his match in a Child of the Heir.'"
"A Child of the Heir?" Harry repeated.
"That's what she said," affirmed Sirius. "It was about this time that your mother discovered that she was pregnant. Your father, fearing that Voldemort would think that his unborn child was the one spoken of in the prophecy, sent Lily into hiding with myself and ... Remus." Sirius could not say Remus's name without a catch in his throat.
"Well, soon enough, she found out that she was pregnant with not one, but two, children. We sent an owl to James, who wrote back that he'd talk with Dumbledore and see if he had any advice about what to do next."
Sirius's eyes brightened as he recalled a better time in his life. "Your mum was still with us when it was time to give birth. We sent word to James, and your dad was able to make it in time to see the two of you born. Moony and I left while Lily was giving birth, but I still remember the look in your dad's eyes when he showed us the two of you. I remember holding onto your sister, Carrie, and thinking how precious and yet how fragile the two of you were."
"Carrie? My sister's name is Carrie?" Harry interrupted.
Sirius nodded, smiling. "Yes. Lily said she was born about five minutes before you were. I'd never seen James and Lily so happy in my life as they were holding the two of you. It about broke my heart when I found out what James was going to do."
"And what was that?" Harry asked breathlessly, totally engrossed in the story.
"To protect you from Lord Voldemort, he had decided to have one of you hidden away. He knew, you see, that he and any of his offspring would be potential targets, since any of them could be the one of which the prophecy spoke. He chose to hide your sister away in the hopes that, even if Voldemort did manage to kill you three, she would still be alive and able to bring about his downfall someday."
Harry paused in his retelling. Ron exclaimed, "Well, come on, Harry, don't keep us in suspense. Who is she?"
Hermione chimed in, "Yeah, Harry, who is she?"
Harry sighed. "That's what I asked. Sirius didn't know."
Ron's mouth dropped open. "How could he not know? Wasn't he your father's best friend and your godfather?"
"He said that both he and Lupin had offered to hide her, but that my dad had declined the offer, saying that he had the perfect person in mind already to do it. Both he and Lupin left them for one night, and when they came back the next morning, she was gone. Sirius never did find out who had been entrusted with her," Harry finished quietly.
Ron and Hermione were silent for a moment, waiting to see if Harry would speak again. When he didn't, Hermione asked, "Did he say anything else?"
Harry shook his head. "I didn't really stay much longer. He'd obviously told me everything he knew, and I could tell that he wanted to be alone."
The three of them were silent again, staring into the fire. Ron kept stealing worried glances at Harry, who didn't take his eyes off of the fire. Ron then murmured, almost to himself, "I wonder where she could be?"
Hermione added, "Or even who she is."
Ron looked at her, confused. "What do you mean, who she is? Her name's Carrie Potter.
Hermione sighed, exasperated. "Think, Ron. They hid her away so no one would be able to find her. You think they're still calling her Carrie Potter? Obviously, they changed her name."
"Sometimes I feel so stupid," Ron muttered irritably. "Just how are we supposed to find this girl? Just ask every girl our age if they were adopted as a baby?"
"There has to be an easier way than that," mused Hermione. "First of all, if she's Harry's twin sister, she must be going to a wizarding school. We can do some investigating here at Hogwarts first, but there's no guarantee she's even going here. Once we can conclude she's not here, we can contact Viktor and Fleur to see if they'll help us look at their schools."
"How are we going to investigate, though?" Ron asked, sounded more and more frustrated by the minute. "Ask every girl if they were adopted? Ask them their birthday? And I don't know if we should let Viktor and Fleur in on this. After all, she's supposed to be hidden. I don't know if we should be broadcasting this information to the entire wizarding world."
Hermione opened her mouth to reply, but at that moment, a gray spotted owl flew in through the window and dropped a letter into Harry's lap. None of them had seen this owl, which seemed to be wearing a white ribbon with a small, golden key on it, before. The owl, after depositing its letter, flew over to perch on the windowsill.
Harry opened up the letter and read it to himself. Ron and Hermione grouped around him anxiously. "Who's it from, Harry?" Ron asked.
Hermione chimed in, "And what do they want?"
Harry stared off for a moment, deep in thought. Then he said quietly, "It's from Snape. He wants to meet with me."
Both Ron's and Hermione's mouths dropped open. Ron said increduously, "Snape? What does that dirty, rotten traitor want with you?"
"He doesn't say," Harry replied in that same quiet voice. "All he says is that I must meet with him within the hour, that he needs to talk, and that the key around this owl's neck will take me to him."
Hermione finally found her voice. "Don't tell me you're seriously considering going?"
"Harry, you can't go," Ron said. "He's a traitor, you heard what he did to Dumbledore, all he wants you for is so that he can turn you over to You Know Who!"
Harry raised his voice slightly. "Yes, I heard what he did. But I also heard what Dumbledore said to me before he died. He told me that, despite anything that anyone says, I can trust Snape, that our only hope may lie in trusting him."
Ron snarled furiously, "But there's no way you can trust that lying snake!"
"He may have been on our side once, but he's one of them now. It has to be a trap!" added Hermione.
"I don't know what to believe anymore!" Harry snapped angrily. "All I know is that, one way or the other, I want this to end. I'm sick of having to deal with Voldemort at least once a year. I'm sick of him killing off my friends and wondering every day which one's going to be next. I'm just sick of it."
Harry took a deep breath, then said more calmly, "If Snape's on our side, then maybe he can help me take down Voldemort. If he's truly a Death Eater, and he turns me over to Voldemort, then I'll probably be killed. Either way, it'll be over."
"No, it won't," Hermione shouted. "You Know Who will still be around, still in power, and we'll still have to deal with him. Don't you see, you're the Child spoken of in the prophecy. You're the only one who can defeat the Dark Lord. But if you go too soon, then we're all doomed!"
"If I'm killed, then my sister will have to bring him down," Harry said shortly. "Maybe she's the one in the prophecy. There's only one way to find out."
"Harry, don't go," Hermione pleaded. She was crying now, clinging to his arm. "Run away. Run away so far that You Know Who can never find you."
Harry patted her on the arm gently, then said sadly, "I'm sorry, Hermione, but that won't work. It might take him some time, but he'd find me anyway. No, I have to face him. There's no other way."
Ron, who had been silent throughout this exchange, suddenly stepped forward and pulled Hermione gently away from Harry.
"What are you doing?" she exclaimed, trying to pull away from Ron and not succeeding. She turned to him, shocked and angry at the same time. "Ron, let go of me! You've got to help me stop him!"
Ron shook his head. He looked like he was about to cry, too, but there was also a strength about him that had never been there before. Hermione looked like she wanted to fight him again, but stood still after looking up at his face.
"No, Hermione," he murmured. "Harry's right. This has to end someday. He can't go on like this forever."
Ron then looked over at Harry. An expression of deepest gratitude crossed Harry's face as Ron's eyes bade him goodbye. "Thank you, my friend," Harry said simply.
Ron gave a slight nod. "Come back to us, Harry."
Harry gave them both one last, long look, then turned and walked out the door.
Ron and Hermione went over to the window, arms around each other. Within a few minutes, they could see Harry striding purposefully across the grounds. The owl lifted off from the windowsill and followed him. When Harry reached the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest, they saw the owl fly down low enough for him to reach it. Then Harry, without looking back at the castle, lifted his hand, touched the key, and disappeared.
Disclaimer: All content is made up, and no profit or lucre is expected, solicited, advocated or paid. This is all just for fun. Any comments, please e-mail the author or Wookiee Hut directly. Flames will be ignored. This story may not be posted anywhere without the author's knowledge, consent, and permission.