Take on the World Together

Chapter 6

Harry didn't know who Dumbledore was, and he wasn't sure he wanted to. He could already tell that his parents didn't like him. He made them angry already.

Mr. Remus Lupin left the room quickly and Harry fixed his eyes on the ground, wrapping his arms protectively around his stomach and trying not to draw attention to himself. He tried to think of what he had done. He shouldn't have argued about the magic thing. He should have just agreed.

"Lils," he heard his father whisper, "Lily, what do we do?"

She was quiet for a moment before responding, voice just as quiet, "We fix this."

His stomach rumbled. It had been over a day since he had eaten anything. He'd gone longer, but that didn't mean his stomach would stop its actions to get him to eat.

"Looks like someone is hungry!"

Harry looked up, surprised by the sudden, cheerful voice. His father was grinning at him. Harry knew when adults were masking their emotions. The Dursley's did it all the time around guests. His father definitely wasn't happy, and it was odd that he was pretending to be.

His eyes flickered to the door to see if there were any guests, but there weren't.

"How about we go to the cafeteria and get something to eat while your mum talks to Dumbledore?" his father suggested, glancing at Lily with a bit of worry, but not letting his smile fall.

"That sounds like a wonderful idea," his mother said, "They have wizard food and muggle food, so you can get whatever you want. How does that sound?"

Harry glanced back over to them, surprised, but as his stomach rumbled again at the mention of food, he responded, "That sounds nice."

James beamed. He pushed himself up into a standing position slowly, taking a deep breath as he found his balance and then his smile grew proudly, "These potions are really working, Lils," he glanced down at Harry, "Just yesterday, I could barely move my legs. When you're asleep for seven years, your muscles are pretty shot."

Harry frowned lightly in thought. He wanted to know what happened to them. A coma explained a lot. It meant that they hadn't left him with the Dursley's on purpose.

James kept one hand on the wall for balance and began walking towards the door slowly and carefully. Harry followed, unsure of what to do. Part of him wanted to help, but he worried that that would him mad. Instead, he just fell in step beside the man, matching his slow pace.

The door swung open and a pretty woman in long white robes and brown hair pulled back into a tight bun stood in front of them.

"Mr. Potter," she chastised, "What do you think you're doing?"

Harry stared up at the woman and found himself unconsciously moving behind James' legs, where she couldn't see him. She didn't look happy, and Harry knew what that meant.

"Sorry, Healer Bell," James flashed her a smile, "Harry is hungry, so I figured that I would take him to the cafeteria."

The woman, Healer Bell, peered around James to see Harry. He moved farther back around James' legs nervously, not wanting her to see him. She saw him, though, but instead of yelling, she simply smiled.

"Hello, Harry," she greeted with a warm smile, "I didn't realize that you were coming today."

Harry didn't respond.

"Remus went and picked him up this morning," James said, "Now, what do you say, Healer Bell? Can we go?"

Healer Bell chewed on her lip, "Oh, I suppose. It's good for you to be getting up and moving anyway. Take the elevator, though. Not the stairs. And don't stay long."

James nodded and saluted her, causing Harry to giggle before quickly stifling it in his hands. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon always got mad if he laughed at them.

His father, however, only beamed at the sound.

"Come on, Harry. Let's go eat," James said, moving out of the room at a slow and awkward pace. He was struggling, but his face didn't show it.

Harry could already tell that he liked his father.

He just hoped that his father liked him.

Lily was glad that James had taken Harry to go eat. She was sure that the Dursley's weren't feeding him right, what with how tiny he was, and she didn't want him around when she tore into Dumbledore.

She couldn't believe him. How had he not realized that the Dursley's was the worst place to leave her son? There were dozens of places that he could have gone before them.

Remus peaked his head in a minute later and glanced around in confusion, "Where's James and Harry?"

"James took Harry to the cafeteria to get something to eat," she responded, "He doesn't want Harry hear when Dumbledore arrives."

Remus could read the unspoken words in her voice. He nodded and slipped inside of the room, "I'll let him have some alone time with Harry, then. I need to talk to Dumbledore too."

She nodded sharply, arms crossed over her chest. Her heart was beating hard in her chest with fury, "What did you see when you got him? Did you talk to Petunia?"

He took a seat beside her on the bed, shoulders falling. He looked defeated, "Yeah, I did. She… acted nice to Harry, but I could tell that something was off. She didn't say goodbye to him, and he kept flinching, and well, you saw the clothes he's wearing. They told him that magic isn't real! He still doesn't believe that it is, and he's in a magical hospital!"

She squeezed her fists tightly and looked away, letting out a harsh breath, "I'm going to kill them."

She had a bad feeling that they barely knew anything that had happened to her baby, too.

The door opened. Lily looked up sharply to see Dumbledore enter. He was calm and collected, but Lily could see the worry in his eyes, "What seems to be the matter, Mrs. Potter."

He closed the door behind him quietly and Lily stood up on shaky legs, "How dare you."

"Lily-"

"No, you don't get to talk right now," Lily hissed, holding onto the bedside table to keep her balance. She glared at the man, "You left my son with the Dursley's."

Dumbledore sighed, "Ah, it's about this," he said, pulling out his wand and waving it, placing a silencing charm around the hospital room.

"Yeah, it's about that," she snapped harshly, "They're mistreating him! You left my son with someone who doesn't like wizards and hates me, as well as my husband! You abandoned him with an abusive family."

Dumbledore held up his hands, "Lily, I assure you that he was perfectly safe."

"Safe?" Lily shrieked. She took a few steps towards him, wishing nothing more than to have her wand on her at that moment. Alas, it had not been returned to her yet, "He came in here today looking five instead of eight, wearing clothes that were way too many sizes too big for him, barely speaking, and flinching at every touch. He refuses to even believe that magic is real because they told him that it wasn't."

She watched his face carefully, looking for any sign that he had known of this, but his face shown none of it. Instead, she seemed to have stumped the man. He didn't respond.

"He was not safe," she said, voice dropping, "You left him in a loveless home where he was hurt, and I don't even know the extant it went. He was left there when there were dozens of other homes that he could have gone to!"

He seemed to have gathered his bearings. His voice sounded regretful as he took a seat on James' bed, but he still said, "Petunia was the only place that he could have gone."

"Why?" she demanded, "Why couldn't he have gone to the Abbotts? Or anyone else?"

Dumbledore was quiet for a moment. Lily's eyes flickered over to Remus, who was watching in silence, and then Dumbledore spoke.

"When you were attacked," he began, "you put yourself between Harry and Voldemort. Correct?"

"Of course," Lily responded, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

"You took the potion, but Harry didn't," he continued.

The reminder felt like a stab to the stomach. She swallowed hard and nodded, "He wouldn't drink it. He got to the room before I could get him to."

The man nodded somberly, "Yes, but you were willing to do anything you could to keep him safe. You knew that the potion might not even work, but you didn't even try to jump out of the way of the curse because Harry was behind you. You sacrificed yourself for him. You were trying to buy time, weren't you?"

She swallowed again and looked away, the memory flooding through her mind. She nodded, "How do you know that?"

"I'm sure you've been wondering how Harry survived," he said. Lily nodded, "When the spell hit you, it enacted an ancient magic. You sacrificed yourself for your son and a mother's love is the strongest type there is. A protection was placed over Harry, and when Voldemort cast the Killing Curse onto him, it caused it rebound and kill him instead."

Lily was quiet. She wasn't sure what she was hearing.

Dumbledore continued, "The magic produced also made it possible for Blood Wards to be put up around Harry's home, but to do this, his caregivers had to share your blood. Petunia was the only one who could do this. There were a lot of people after Harry, and there still are. He needed the Blood Wards to keep away Death Eaters who wanted revenge. Petunia was the only person who could offer him that safety."

She couldn't speak. Her legs felt weak, weaker than normal, and she sat down on the bed hard, shaking her head. She looked back up at him, "He would have been safe in other places."

Dumbledore sighed, "In the first three years that Harry was there, aurors caught fifteen Death Eaters on his street. Some of them were right outside his home, waiting for him to walk outside the wards. Yet, they couldn't pass the wards. After the War, dozens of our strongest duelists and most outstanding witches and wizards were killed in their own homes. Just because Voldemort died, it didn't mean that there weren't people still trying to avenge him. It wasn't safe."

She shook her head, "There had to be some other way. He didn't deserve this. Did you even check up on him?"

"I admit that I had assumed that Petunia would lose her hatred of wizards if she had to raise one. I had believed that she would raise Harry just like she raised her son," he said quietly, "But it was also the only way. It was the best option for him to keep him safe."

She looked him straight in the eye. Her hands were shaking. Guilt flooded her unwillingly, as if it was her fault that the spell had done that, but she pushed it away. She could not feel guilty. She had to help her son, "He is not going back there."

"My dear girl-"

"No!" she interrupted, "Don't you dare. He will never go back there. I don't care if I must break out of this hospital tonight and take him with me and stay in hiding from you for the rest of my life. He will not go back to that house. He will never go back to that house. You need my blood for the blood wards. You have it."

Remus spoke up, "I can go back to the house and get his things and inform Petunia. If James and Lily can't get discharged tonight, he can stay here. The Healers can provide a bed for him. They do it all the time for children who have parents as patients."

Dumbledore did not look happy with this. He opened his mouth, but Lily beat him to it.

"If you even try to take him back there, I will personally go to the Daily Prophet and tell them all about how you left a child in an abusive home and didn't even check on him."

"Lily," Remus put a hand on her arm, calming her down slightly. He turned to Dumbledore, "You don't have any say in this, Professor. You don't have custody of Harry. He is their son."

Dumbledore was quiet for a moment, but then he sighed and shook his head, "You are right, my boy. I cannot force you to do anything, Lily, but I recommend thinking this through. Harry's safety should be your upmost priority."

"Oh, it is," Lily responded, "But unlike you, I care more than if Harry only lives or dies. I want him to have a childhood and be happy and healthy and loved. He will be staying with me and you cannot change my mind."

The man nodded lightly. He stood up slowly and let out a sigh, "I only wanted what was best for Harry."

He began to walk to the door. Lily took a deep breath and looked away, but she spoke up before he got out, "Dumbledore?"

"Yes, my dear girl?"

"Stay out of my son's life."

James watched Harry in curiosity as the child sat on the chair in the cafeteria, a plate of nachos in front of him. It had taken him a good five minutes just to get Harry to willingly pick something to eat. When Harry finally pointed out the nachos, James hadn't even questioned it, too thankful that Harry had actually picked something.

Now, however, he found himself neglecting his own sandwich in favor of watching the boy pick at the cheese-covered chips. He had eaten only a few bites before he stopped, choosing instead to just lift the chips off the plate and watch the cheese drip down.

"Do you not like it?" he asked the boy, concerned. He was skinny as a rail and had seemed rather hungry not long before.

Harry jumped at the sudden words, "Oh! No, it's good," he said quickly, ducking his head, "I'm just full."

James frowned lightly, eyes flickering over the boy, "Full? You only ate a few bites."

The child bit his lip and looked away, "I don't eat much."

He quirked an eyebrow at the boy, but he didn't ask any questions about that. They were surrounded by witches and wizards, and quite a few of them were staring at them. He had been told by several people that they were kind of famous now, and he hadn't realized how uncomfortable it would make him to have people staring at his son.

"Are you sure you don't want to eat more?" he asked. He took another bite of his sandwich.

Harry hesitated, but then he picked up another one and took another bite.

James smiled. His eyes flickered over to the glass of pumpkin juice by Harry's plate that was already half empty. Though he was barely picking at the food, he seemed to greatly enjoy the juice.

His son liked pumpkin juice.

That little nugget of information danced around in his brain and he found his smile growing even more at the bit of knowledge that he was learning about his son.

"So, do you ever play any sports?" he asked him, wanting to know every bit of information about him.

Harry squirmed lightly in his seat. He ducked his head and blushed, "Sometimes. I play football at school sometimes, but I always get picked last."

"Do you enjoy it?" he asked curiously.

The boy paused for a moment, eyebrows furrowed in thought, "Yeah, when Dudley isn't there."

"Dudley's your cousin, right?" James asked. He remembered Lily mentioning that Petunia had a son named Dudley.

Harry nodded slowly, "Yeah. He's good, though. When he is there, he always punishes me."

James froze, the sandwich lifted halfway to her mouth. Slowly, he sat it back down, feeling sick, "What do you mean?"

The child looked up sharply and clamped his mouth shut, shaking his head, "Never mind. It's nothing. I'm sorry, sir."

"Don't be sorry, Harry. You didn't do anything bad," James assured him, "And it's not nothing. What did he do?"

"Nothing," he shook his head again harshly, "I'm good. He doesn't have to punish me."

James frowned. He wanted to push it but as he looked around him, he noticed that several people seemed to be eavesdropping into the conversation, ecstatic to get to hear about the Boy-Who-Lived's life. So, instead, he sighed, resolving himself to ask Harry more about it when they had privacy.

He wondered if he could get Healer Bell to give Harry a checkup without an appointment.

Sirius Black still wasn't sure what was going on.

The holding cell that he had been put in was small and cold, but it felt like heaven to him. He had spent the first day that he was there laying on the cot and staring at the wall, marveling at the warmth inside of him that proved that there were no dementors around. A few Aurors had entered and tried asking him some questions, but he hadn't responded. They brought him food, though, and Sirius ate it all.

In Azkaban, he was given three meals a day, but the food was stale and gross, and the portion size was tiny. This food was warm and filled him up by the time he had finished half of it.

The more he ate, the more strength he felt leaking back into him.

It wasn't until, on the second day, he felt strong enough to speak.

"What happened?" he croaked out, voice straining from lack of use.

Amethyst Ainsworth, the woman who claimed to be representing him at his trial, was sitting on the other side of the cell. She was regarding him silently, having been waiting for him to speak up for roughly an hour. She had been a constant companion in the cell, but she didn't speak much if she didn't need to.

"Mr. and Mrs. Potter woke up," Ainsworth explained. Her voice was clear and determined, "they were quick to proclaim your innocence. With this new evidence, Dumbledore approached Madame Bones and they set up a trial."

Sirius blinked at her slowly. Then, he slowly pushed himself into a sitting position, staring at the cot, "James and Lily are dead."

Ainsworth was quiet for a long moment. Sirius looked up after a minute, finding Ainsworth frowning heavily and looking at Sirius with pity. She pushed her blonde hair out of her face and sighed.

"They're not dead, Mr. Black. They have been in a coma for the past seven years," she said softly.

Sirius shook his head, "I saw their bodies."

"Yes, but they took a potion that made them appear dead for a limited amount of time, similar to the Draught of the Living Death, after being hit by the Killing Curse. It was a potion that had never been tested before and it ended up putting them into a coma. No one thought they would wake up, but they did," she explained slowly, watching him carefully.

He stared at her but shook his head, "No. No, that's impossible."

"I assure you that it is not. They are alive. Now, your trial is in eight days. We need to discuss your case."

Sirius shook his head, "You're lying."

There was no way they were alive. He had spent the past seven years mourning them, revisiting their death every time a dementor came near. They were dead. There was no way they had survived.

"Mr. Black, I assure you that I am not lying," Ainsworth said firmly. She pulled a newspaper out of her robes and held it up to him, showing the front page.

"James and Lily Potter Wake Up"

He found himself staring at the page. A picture of Dumbledore talking to reporters caught his eye. His eyes flickered up to the date, confirming that it was accurate, and then back to the woman.

"You're not lying," he said slowly, "They're alive."

She nodded firmly, "Yes, they are alive. Now, I need you to tell me everything that happened that night."

AN: Hey, guys! I hoped you enjoyed this chapter!

Now, I have started back at school, so I am not going to be able to update as often as I have been. I have decided to put myself on a schedule. From now on, I will be updating every Sunday, starting this Sunday. So, I will post another update on Sunday, but then the next update will not be until next Sunday.

Next chapter: Harry has his first checkup and Remus visits the Dursley's again, and more about Harry's home life is revealed.