Large PrintHandheldAudioRating
using
 paypal
Twisting The Hellmouth Crossing Over Awards - Results
Rules for Challenges

The Lesser of Two Evils

StoryReviewsStatisticsRelated StoriesTracking
Story

Summary: AU With moments to spare, the monks decided to send the Key in human form to someone who would protect it: Harry Potter. Now, Harry must protect his younger sister from both new and old foes alike while trying to be a big brother. Detailed summary inside

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Dawn-CenteredfuturesnlwriterFR151063,6684268,10928 Dec 107 Dec 13No

Remind Me

Disclaimer: This chapter contains text directly lifted from Chapter 5 of Prisoner of Azkaban.

Chapter 9: Remind Me



The sounds of the Leaky Cauldron never bothered Harry during the two weeks he was by himself. He hardly even noticed the gentle creaking of the floorboards, the ticking and humming of the fire, and the rapping of the wind against the window. But on this night, with Ron snoring in the room next door to him, he was aware of every noise, no matter how quiet.

The idea that Sirius Black was trying to kill him was disturbing, but that barely registered as a blip on his radar since his sister was so angry with him that she didn't want to even look at him. Every time he closed his eyes, all he could see was Dawn avoiding eye contact with him and whispering messages to Ginny so softly that he couldn't even hear her voice.

It was too much for him to bear.

Harry needed to apologize. Again, technically, but two o'clock in the morning wasn't exactly the time to be concerned with semantics.

He got up quietly enough that the mirror didn't notice him stir and sneaked into the hallway. He tiptoed down the hall to room seven, where Dawn was sleeping with Ginny and Hermione. Expecting everyone to be asleep, he was surprised to see light escaping from the gap underneath the door, and even more surprised to hear whispers.

"Did your aunt and uncle hurt you after he left?" Ginny asked.

"Well, no," Dawn admitted. "They thought Harry did all that magic. Still do, actually."

"Then, I think you should talk to him. Listen to what he has to say," Ginny implored.

"You're only saying that because he saved your life last term," Dawn responded.

"No, I'm saying that because he didn't mean to hurt you."

You tell her, Ginny, Harry thought. He didn't mean to be forcibly separated from her for two weeks. These were elements beyond his control.

"Well he did."

I didn't mean to!

"He says he didn't mean to."

"It's more than that!"

"Than what is it?"

Yes, what is it? Harry pleaded for Dawn to tell Ginny what it was that she wanted him to do, how he could fix this mess that he created. Anything that he could use to formulate a proper apology.

Dawn sighed. "I'm just not ready to forgive him yet."


Anything except wait.

"Maybe we should go to sleep then," Ginny said.

..::..

Harry took a deep breath as he stood outside the door to the hospital wing. He had visited there many times, and been treated as a patient countless more, but he had never had to visit someone he put into the hospital wing. Well, at least someone he put in the hospital wing maliciously.

When he opened the door, he was both relieved and surprised to see Ron sitting up in bed eating. Ron hesitantly waved Harry over. Harry took a seat on the edge of Ron's bed, which was next to a curtain that cordoned off another bed, presumably Dawn's, from the rest of the room.

"So, uh, how you feeling?"

"Fine. Snape said he was surprised at how effective his spell was. Honestly, I think he was a little put off that I don't even have a scratch on me."

They shared a short laugh before an awkward pause set in. "Listen, I'm…"

"I know," Ron cut him off.

"I should have listened to you."

"Just remember that next time and you can consider us even." Ron extended his hand.

"You've got yourself a deal mate," Harry replied as he shook Ron's hand.

"So, did Hermione, uh…" Ron trailed off, gesturing with his head towards the partition.

"Yeah, she did. Snape too, for the record."

"Good to know. How's he going to punish you for all this?"

"One hundred points from Gryffindor, detention every night until he's sick of me, and I have to give him my potions book."

"What's the book got to do with any of this?"

Harry was slightly taken aback by this comment. "He said you told him about it."

"I didn't even know that spell came from the Half-Blood Prince," he shrugged. "Snape probably lifted it from your mind when he was listing your punishment."

"Yeah, you're probably right," Harry agreed.

He began to reach for the curtain partition but Ron grabbed his hand. "What are you doing?"

"I was going to apologize to Dawn."

"And tell her the truth?"

"And tell her that I thought she was someone else using the Polyjuice Potion."

"Funny, she thought the same thing about you. Said something about Zacharias Smith selling hairs."

"So she'll believe me."

"You shouldn't have to be worried about her believing you."

"I know, but…"

Ron raised an eyebrow, and his message was perfectly clear: But you should tell her the truth.

"I can't."

"You're right, you can't. Because she's asleep," Ron smirked. "But you should after she wakes up."

"It's not that simple. It's my job to protect her, and I've already failed."

Ron threw his arm around Harry. "Yeah, I know. Bur you don't have to protect her alone."

Harry nodded absently, as he couldn't shake a sensation of déjà vu. "I should leave before Madame Pomfrey realizes I'm here. Get well soon, yeah?"

"You know it mate." He then watched silently as Harry slipped on his invisibility cloak and waited until he heard the click of the door that signalled his departure. "So how much of that did you hear?"

"What?" Dawn squeaked from the other side of the curtain.

"All of it then?" He could hear Dawn sigh, but she was silent. "I can't hear you nodding."

"How'd you know?"

"You've never exactly been subtle." He paused to allow for a biting comment that never surfaced. "So, what did you think?"

"What did I think?"

"Of Harry. I thought he was sincere. And, you heard, he had a valid reason for attacking us." Dawn couldn't stifle a sarcastic laugh. "As I recall, it was the same theory you were operating under."

Once again, Ron was met with silence.

"You don't understand," she said suddenly.

"Understand what?"

"You've never been maliciously attacked by your brother."

It was Ron's turn to scoff. "Yeah, because I've lived in a fantastical world where my brothers never attacked me with giant spiders, puking pastilles, acid pops…"

"Never mind," Dawn muttered.

"Not finished. Or forced me into Unbreakable Vows, jinxed my broom, or put explosives in robes before they would hand them down to me. You're right, I don't have a fucking clue what it's like."

"Jesus Ron…"

"And the bloody punching telescope! Almost forgot that one."

"There's no need to be hostile."

"You're right, because you're so bloody pleasant to be around when you're pissed off at Harry."

"Fine, I get your point."

"No, I don't think you do. All the times my brothers were complete arses, they only apologized because my mother beat them into it. If they managed to prank me at school, I wouldn't get one. Harry has always been there for you, and every time he does something that hurts you, he instantly feels remorse. Genuine remorse."

Again, Ron was met with silence.

"You don't have to say anything," he admitted. "Just think about it."

Ron had no way of hearing Dawn's tears hit the pillows.

..::..

The next morning, Harry was horrified to discover that the Hogwarts rumour mill had once again worked its magic. As he entered the Great Hall, all eyes were on him, and he could hear every hushed whispers.

"He attacked his best mate…"

"…his sister still…"

"…went on a rampage…"

"…spells flying everywhere…"

"…blood just gushing…"

Harry groaned as he finally reached the Gryffindor table and collapsed into his seat next to Hermione, who gave him a sympathetic pat on the back.

"So is it true?" someone asked.

Harry looked up to see Seamus sitting across the table. Although he hadn't asked cruelly, the question stung nonetheless. "I…"

"It was me," a new voice interrupted. Neville stood up and repeated himself, but louder so the whole hall could hear. "It was me! Harry, Ron, and Dawn were helping me with my nonverbal spell-casting, and I tried to block one of Harry's spells with a silent Shield Charm. I bungled the spell, and instead of blocking the spell, I augmented and deflected it. The spell ricocheted into Ron and Dawn. It's all my fault!" The hall sat in silence, staring at Neville. "That's all. You can, uh, resume eating."

"Squib!" someone yelled from the Slytherin table. Half the hall was laughing before Neville could sit down.

"Thanks Neville," Harry said, shaking his hand and pulling him close. "You didn't have to do that," Harry muttered into his ear.

"I needed to," he replied loudly enough for everyone to hear. "It was all a simple misunderstanding. You didn't do anything wrong."

Someone from the end of the table, a first- or second-year Harry didn't recognize, threw a scone at Neville's head and yelled, "You just cost us the Quidditch Cup, you twat!"

Hermione rose to apprehend the delinquent, but was beaten to the punch by Colin. "Excuse you. If you want to defend my girlfriend's honour, you might want to do it more politely. I'll see you in detention every day this week, after you're done meeting with Professor McGonagall about using the Queen's English." Colin then grabbed him by his collar and began walking him towards the staff table and their waiting Head of House.

"The Queen's English?" Hermione questioned as they passed, which Colin just shrugged off.

"Seemed like an official thing to say."

"I should probably go," Neville said hesitantly as he gathered his belongings.

"You don't have to go," Seamus insisted. "That one prick doesn't speak for the rest of us."

Neville eyed the table, and a quick scan did not confirm Seamus' sentiment. "No, it's fine. I want to revise my essay before Defence."

Hermione nudged Harry. "We should go too. Check on Ron and Dawn."

Harry nodded absentmindedly as Hermione led him out of the hall. They turned as though they were headed towards the Hospital Wing, but as soon as they rounded the corner she pulled him into an empty classroom.

"When did you tell him?" Hermione asked.

"Huh?"

"Neville. When did you tell him about Dawn?"

"I didn't. What are you talking about?"

"I don't understand. What did he mean by 'you didn't do anything wrong?'"

Harry shrugged. "He was trying to make me seem innocent."

"It just seemed like he knew something…"

Harry shrugged again. "I don't know about that. I owe him though."

..::..

Despite her relationships with some of Madam Pomfrey's most frequent patients, Dawn had never actually been admitted to the Hospital Wing before. As a first time patient, she had to admit that it was horrendously boring. Ron was poor company, and though both of them were feeling healthy, Madam Pomfrey was insisting on keeping them for at least one more night, as she was unsure how they had managed to heal so quickly.

There was a slight rapping on her curtain. "How are you feeling Dawn?" Ginny asked.

"I'm fine!" Dawn yelled, more for Madam Pomfrey than for Ginny, as she opened the curtain. Truthfully, she had only put it up to muffle the sound of Ron's chewing and snoring.

"That's good," Ginny nodded.

They sat on the bed in silence for a minute. Well, as silent as one could get with Ron's loud chewing. "Is it always this awkward being on this side of the bed?" Dawn asked.

"Yeah, it is. But I'm also not as good at this whole comforting thing as you are." Ginny then mumbled something indecipherable.

"What was that?"

"I said, 'I'm not as good at comforting others as you are.'"

"Then the other thing."

"What other thing?"

"The thing you mumbled after that."

Ginny blanched. "I did no such thing."

Dawn raised an eyebrow suspiciously.

"I said 'Not that you ever want to be comforted,'" Ginny sighed.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Ginny scratched the back of her neck. "Well, you know. You just never really want to be comforted."

"Thanks for clarifying."

"Dawn, what do you want me to say? Whenever you get angry with Harry, you try to draw it out for as long as you possibly can."

"I…what?"

"You draw it out. You like to lord it over him, remind him of how he hurt you, until you decide that he's suffered enough and only then do you forgive him."

Dawn was seething mad. Maybe it took her six months to forgive him for not coming home for his first Christmas as a wizard. And four months to forgive him for running away from home before her first year. And two months after he left her at Hogwarts when he confronted Voldemort at the Ministry of Magic. And…Ginny was right.

"I really do that?"

"Every time Harry makes you mad, ever since he first went to Hogwarts. Listen, I didn't mean to upset you or anything. Really, I wanted to help you."

"I think you did."

..::..

Thankfully, Harry made it through the rest of the day without incident, though Neville was not as lucky. Unfortunately, if it wasn't Slytherins mocking him for his incompetence with magic, it was his fellow Gryffindors lamenting their seemingly forlorn Quidditch season. Harry was reminded of their Quidditch troubles that afternoon, when the remainder of the Gryffindor team took the pitch.

Katie was the first to arrive, and she was quick to offer her assistance to Harry. "Listen, Harry, I know you've been through a lot, so if you want me to lead the team through some drills while you take a day or two off, I'd be happy to help."

Harry brushed it off though. "Don't worry, I'm fine. And Ron swears he'll be ready to go when we face Gryffindor."

Katie nodded. "And Dawn?"

Truthfully, Harry doubted that she would return to the team, mostly out of spite. "I haven't talked to her about it yet." Katie didn't need to know the truth.

She just nodded again and waved Ginny over. "Say Ginny, have you talked to Dawn about whether she'll be ready to play against Slytherin?"

Ginny shrugged. "It didn't come up."

Harry smiled and nodded. Thankfully, Ritchie and Demelza ran onto the pitch to save them any further small talk.

"Sorry we're late," Demelza spat out between gasps. "We weren't sure whether we'd practice today."

"It's alright. I was thinking we'd take it easy today. It's been a long day, for everyone. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been fielding questions about the team all day," he smirked.

Everyone nodded, but then their expressions turned dour as they began to stare over his head. Harry turned around to see a figure mounted on a broom, approaching them from the goal posts.

"I'm sorry but we have the pitch reserved," Harry said as soon as the player was within earshot.

"I'm quite aware," the muscular figure said stately. "I'm here to fill the vacant Keeper position."

"The position's not vacant. Ron's our Keeper."

"Yes, but I'm sure you remember my impressive resume," the figure responded as he landed. "Cormac McLaggen. Big M, Little C, Big L…"

"I know who you are, but there's no position to fill. Ron will be back in time for the match."

"Yes, but will a recovered Ron be as effective of a keeper as a fully rested and fit me? Doubtful."

"I understand that you're trying to help, but…"

"I'm not trying to help. I'm going to win you the match."

Harry tried to keep his anger in check. "Thank you, but I don't think…"

"Listen 'arry," Ritchie said from behind him (truthfully, Harry thought this might be the first time he'd ever heard him speak up during practice). "Why dun't we let 'im play today?"

Harry gave him a perplexed look, but Cormac took that for all it was worth. "Thank your subordinate when we take home the victory," he announced as he took off.

"Seriously?" Ginny scoffed.

"What are you doing?" Harry asked Ritchie.

"Horntail formation," Ritchie said with a smirk. "I'll take Dawn's place, 'arry you take mine."

It was Harry's turn to smirk. One of his innovations as Quidditch Captain had been to introduce coded plays to his players, following in the tradition of football matches he had watched when Dudley had control of the television. The Horntail formation had been something he drew up to cater to Dawn's unique strengths, but he wasn't sure Ritchie could pull it off. "Are you sure you're up to it?"

"Just watch," he smirked again, pushing off on his broom.

"You think he can do this?" Ginny asked.

"We'll find out," Harry said hopefully.

As soon as Cormac got into position, he let them know. "Alright, now let's begin with some passing drills! Ginny, you and Demelza…"

"Excuse me, but I'll run the drills today. Let's start with the Horntail formation."

"Harry, I've never heard of the Horntail formation. Our time would be better spent…"

Cormac's voice turned into white noise as the Gryffindor team flew into formation. Ginny swiftly grabbed the Quaffle, with Katie and Demelza following behind her in a straight line as she approached the goal post. As opposed to a normal formation where the Beaters flanked the Chasers to keep Bludgers out of their path, Ritchie balanced a Bludger on his bat and flew directly below Demelza while Harry flew above Demelza and mimed beating a Bludger away.

When Ginny was about 10 feet away from Cormac, Ritchie yelled, "NOW!" At his word, every member in formation pulled up on their broom and flew up at a nearly impossible ninety-degree angle. Ritchie flew within five feet of Cormac as he ascended and pulled the trigger on the Bludger, which knocked Cormac off balance while Ginny effortlessly threw the Quaffle into the far post.

If Dawn would've thrown the Bludger, Cormac would have been knocked back at least a few feet. Ritchie threw it hard, but it deflected up off of Cromac's broom, allowing Ritchie to take a second swing at the Bludger on the rebound. Cormac wasn't expecting the second blow and lost his balance on his broom, causing him to dangle off it in the air.

The team landed and began cheering at the successful use of the formation, especially Ritchie's improvisation.

"What is the meaning of this?" Cormac pouted once he was able to land. "You're resorting to using trick plays and relying on lucky bounces?"

"Listen, Cormac, if you would like to continue as our practice…" Harry began.

"Get off the pitch!" Ritchie yelled.

"Excuse me, but…"

"You 'eard me! Get the fuck off the pitch!" Ritchie continued yelling, his Derby accent thickening by the second.

"Why you little prat!" Cormac yelled. "You ought to be kicked off this team, immediately."

"It's a shame you're not in charge then," Harry asserted, stepping between them. "You heard Ritchie. Get off the pitch. This is an official team practice."

"Well I never…" Cormac muttered as he prodded off the pitch, trying to drown out the noise of the team's celebrations.

..::..

Harry sighed as he approached the door to the Hospital Wing. He had come to the realization that Ron was right: keeping secrets wasn't the answer. He hadn't appreciated it when Dumbledore kept secrets from him, and he certainly couldn't do the same to Dawn.

What was he supposed to say though?

Hey Dawn, you never existed until a few months ago when a bunch of monks created you and all of your memories out of a giant ball of magical energy.

No—too personal.

Hey Dawn, I just wanted you to know that The Prophet is right about me being the Chosen One. One of us is going to kill the other.

No—not personal enough.

Hey Dawn, I have a crush on your best friend, and I'm insanely jealous of her current boyfriend.

No—too weird.

Harry sighed again. Was it too late to run away?

He went into the Hospital Wing and walked past Ron to Dawn's bed. "Hey Dawn, there's something I need to tell you."

As he got closer, he saw that Dawn was deeply in conversation with Colin. They both looked up at him and waved, though Colin's was far more enthusiastic than hers. Ron was sitting up in bed, and apparently was bored enough to read his Potions text. Ron nodded approvingly at him, though he wasn't sure if it was because he was listening to Ron's advice or because he momentarily silenced the two lovebirds.

"Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt."

"You aren't interrupting anything," Dawn said, refusing to make eye contact with him. Not a good sign.

"I was just going to give Dawn her birthday gift early to cheer her up," Colin admitted.

"Oh, well that's fine. Listen, Dawn, I'll come back another time."

He turned to leave, but he felt something pull at his robes. "No," Dawn said. "Stay. I want to talk to you too."

Harry tried to cover his confusion, as Dawn was never one to talk in these sorts of situations, but he smiled and sat on the empty bed next to hers.

"Well, as I was saying," Colin began as he placed a brightly wrapped box in Dawn's hands. "I've been working on this for months. I hope you like it."

Dawn quickly tore the paper off the box to reveal a book. "What is it?"

"Open it," he implored. Dawn did and looking at the first page made her jaw drop. "What? How?"

Out of curiosity, Ron got out of bed and looked at the book over Dawn's shoulder. "Wicked."

"I did a little research, then I used Anyanka to send out a few letters. I was overwhelmed by the response. I wasn't expecting anything like this."

"Harry, you have to see this."

He got off the bed and walked over to stand behind Dawn opposite Ron. Staring down at the book, he was shocked by what he saw.

A red-haired woman was lying in bed, smiling at a baby swaddled in pink. The baby was small, and every once in a while made a face. Standing next to the woman was a man, her husband, who looked extremely unkempt. His black hair stood on end, but he was cooing over the baby. On his shoulders was a toddler, who was by far the most active person in the picture. The toddler was squirming and craning his neck to see the baby. He had green eyes, just like the woman.

Above the picture was stencilled in the words, "Dawn Potter, A Life in Photos."

"That's us," Harry marvelled. "Our family. I've never seen this before. How did you get this picture?"

Colin smiled. "After talking with Dawn, I realized that you didn't have any pictures of her growing up. So, once I found out that Professor Lupin was her godfather and that Ron's mum was her godmother, I sent them letters asking for photos. Professor Lupin gave me all of the pictures of your parent's pregnancy and of your birth."

Dawn turned the page.

There was Lily, pregnant.

Then Toddler Harry in her lap, with his head against her stomach, listening to his sister.

The next page was Dawn, newly born, screaming her head off.

Then James holding her.

There was a separate picture of Lily holding her, and every once in a while she would lean over and kiss her on the top of her head.

The next page had pictures of both her Godparents, Lupin and Mrs. Weasley, each holding their goddaughter. Mrs. Weasley had gloves and a mask on.

"I didn't know my mum was your mum's midwife," Ron noted.

"I guess she had to be, since my mum was in hiding," Harry explained.

"Check out the next page," Colin chuckled.

Dawn curiously flipped the page and gasped.

The entire page was one image: Toddler Harry holding his baby sister. He had apparently taken off the pink knit cap Dawn had been wearing in all of the previous pictures, and it was lying on the floor next to them. Harry would alternate between looking at the camera and brushing his sister's hair out of her eyes. Then, baby Dawn started crying, so Harry looked at someone off camera and then kissed her on top of her head the way Lily had in the previous picture.

"I don't know what to say," Dawn muttered weakly.

"Keep going," Colin encouraged with a huge smile.

The next page was from some time later, as Dawn appeared to have grown by several inches. There were pictures of her being held by several red-headed children, including Bill, Charlie, Percy, and Ron.

"Was this while my mum and dad were still alive?" Dawn asked Ron.

Ron shook his head.

Dawn turned the page to see a picture of the twins holding her and Ginny. Every once in a while, the twins would point off screen and switch babies. Everyone chuckled at that.

There were also numerous pictures of Ginny and Dawn together: in bed, in matching jammies, in a stroller, in highchairs eating, and in various other places. Every page showed both girls growing slightly older. Every once in a while, Ron would pop up in a picture.

Dawn's expression dropped. "Ron, what's going on in these pictures?"

He sighed. "Don't be mad, but you were raised by my mum for the first eighteen months of your life."

"Why?"

"Well, Professor Dumbledore wanted Harry and you to grow up with your muggle relatives, but he knew that they would balk at raising two magical children. So he had my mum raise you until Harry was old enough to start making memories."

"But why?"

"He said that he wanted Harry to be safe, away from the wizarding world, but he also wanted him to have his sister with him."

Dawn silently turned the page. It was another full-page spread, this one of Ginny and Dawn as toddlers, no older than Harry in the first picture of the album. They were in bed together, but Ginny's face was covered by Dawn's outstretched hand. Every once in a while, Ginny knocked Dawn's hand away, but Dawn would unconsciously move it back.

"When Harry turned three, Professor Dumbledore came to the house and took you away. Mum only gave you up because Dumbledore promised to tell your muggle aunt and uncle that you were a squib. She also made him promise that she could take you out for ice cream on your birthday."

Dawn turned the page and there were two pictures, from a year apart, of Dawn and Ginny eating ice cream together. "I remember that."

Ron nodded. "She charmed you so you wouldn't be able to tell Harry anything other than basic details so he wouldn't feel bad that he couldn't go." Dawn turned around and saw him wipe at his eyes. "Sorry, just a little dust or something."

"Yeah, me too," Dawn nodded. She turned around and gave him a hug.

She turned her attention back to the book and turned the page again. There was another picture of her and Ginny eating ice cream, but there was also a small picture of Harry.

"That's my first school picture. How did you get it?"

"Amanda went to your school and cut them out of the yearbooks. No one will notice."

"I remember that day," Dawn said.

Harry smirked. "Yeah, me too."

..::..

Harry ran off the bus as soon as it stopped moving. It had nothing to do with Dudley and his mean friends, who were given chocolate by his Aunt Petunia if he came home from school with a bruise. It had nothing to do with the bus driver, who was told to watch out for his troublemaking ways. It had nothing to do with wanting to go home at all.

For his entire life, Harry couldn't wait to go to school. Yet he never realized that going to school meant leaving Dawn alone. And neither of them had realized this sad fact until the morning of Harry's first day.

Dawn had cried when it was time for him to go. Until Aunt Petunia smacked her, that is. Then she sobbed quietly in her room and stared out the window glaring.

But that wasn't why Harry was running. He was running because all day, all he could think about were Dawn's final words to him.

"I hate you."

He banged on the front door until Aunt Petunia angrily opened it. He didn't wait for her unpleasant remark about being more patient like Dudley before he ran up the steps to Dawn's room.

"Dawn!"

"Harry!"

They hugged as though they had been separated for years, rather than mere hours.

It didn't last for long though, as Aunt Petunia stormed into the room and pulled Harry out by his ear.

"I'm so sorry," he called to both people in the room, unsure as to who needed to hear it more.

"I'm sorry too!" Dawn shouted.

"You brats don't know the meaning of the word sorry yet!" Aunt Petunia hollered.

..::..

"Things were so different back then," Harry said.

Dawn nodded and turned a few more pages. School portraits of Dawn joined Harry's for a while. Their smiles were both bright, though Harry's baggy clothing and broken glasses contrasted greatly with Dawn's bright dresses.

"I hated those stupid dresses," Dawn admitted, as if she was reading his mind. "But Aunt Petunia made me wear them for those pictures. It was either take the dresses or wear your handed-down-hand-me-downs."

Harry nodded absently. Thanks to Dumbledore's lie, Dawn had been treated slightly better than Harry. Or, at least she had fonder memories than he did.

Looking at the smile on his face in the pictures, Harry couldn't help but wonder: what kind of childhood did he actually have? If he took Dawn out of all of his memories of his childhood, there was no love at all, just bitter hatred and jealousy.

Dawn skipped over pictures of her and Ginny living at the Burrow during his first year of Hogwarts, since she had seen them all already. But the next page caused her to gasp.

Another full-page image showed Dawn, staring up at the train and smiling brightly as she waved goodbye. "Who gave you this picture?"

Colin blushed. "I took that one."

"You did?"

He nodded. "I was taking pictures of everything that day; I was amazed. But I bumped into you on the platform and dropped my camera. You picked it up and smiled at me. I didn't know what to say."

"I don't remember that," Dawn said.

"I didn't expect you to," Colin said. "You didn't even tell me your name that day. But I've fancied you ever since that day."

After a few pictures of Dawn at the Burrow by herself, there were a ton of candid pictures of Dawn from her first day of school. One featured Dawn's back turned towards the camera, but every once in a while she would turn a flash a smile to someone. He had a picture of her on the train, and waiting in line to be sorted.

"That was when I first learned your name. I didn't know you were Harry's sister until months later," Colin chimed in.

"That's because I had a little feud with him for the first few months of the term."

Dawn turned the page and smiled at a picture of her wearing the Sorting Hat. After a few seconds of sitting with the hat and her eyes clenched shut, she looked towards the camera and the rest of the Gryffindor table with a beaming smile.

"I missed that ceremony," Harry noted.

..::..

"Are you sure you feel all right, Potter?" Professor McGonagall said sharply.

"Yes," said Harry. "Now please, I can't miss my sister's sorting."

"Very well. Kindly wait outside while I have a quick word with Miss Granger about her course schedule, then we can go down to the feast together."

Harry went back into the corridor with Madam Pomfrey, who left for the Hospital Wing, muttering to herself. He had to wait only a few minutes; then Hermione emerged looking very happy about something, followed by Professor McGonagall, and the three of them made their way back down the marble staircase to the Great Hall.

When they entered the Great Hall, Harry saw that the Sorting Hat had already been put away. He excitedly scanned the Gryffindor table, and couldn't stifle an excited whoop when he saw Dawn sitting there next to Ginny.

Dawn looked up and caught Harry's eye. Despite her best efforts to remain sullen with him, she couldn't help but flash him a huge smile before suppressing it and frowning in his direction.

"Mr. Potter, do lead by example and show proper decorum," Professor McGonagall lightly chastised.

..::..

"Wow Colin," Dawn finally said as she closed the book. "Thank you. This is the greatest, most thoughtful thing anyone has ever given me. I don't know what else to say."

Colin leaned over and kissed her. "It's my pleasure. Happy Birthday Dawn!" As he attempted to stand up, Dawn grabbed his neck and whispered something into his ear that made him blush.

"I'll, uh, leave you two to talk then," he stammered as he left.

Ron looked at Harry and gave him an encouraging nod. "I've got to use the toilet."

Once they were by themselves, Harry sat down on Dawn's bed. "So Dawn, I have something to tell you."

"So do I," Dawn said.

"Let me start though. I'm sorry that I attacked you. I didn't mean to hurt you. I thought that you were Draco using a Polyjuice Potion."

"I know. And I forgive you."

"Really?" Harry asked, somewhat surprised by her lack of resistance.

"Yeah, I'm done with being a moody teenager. I want things to be simpler," she gestured towards the photo album, "like they used to be back then."

Harry nodded. "I still owe you an explanation though. You see…"

What was he doing?

"Let me start over. Um…"

Ron was wrong.

"You uh…"

That book proved it.

"Harry, are you alright?" Dawn asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I've been keeping a secret from you, and I know that I shouldn't have. So I'm going to be honest with you.

"The Prophet was right to call me The Chosen One. There's a prophecy, and it says that Voldemort and I will fight each other to the death because he marked me as his equal."

"That sounds like a load of rubbish."

"I think so too," Harry chuckled. "But that's why we were lured into the Department of Mysteries last year. They have—well, had—a collection of prophecies, and Voldemort wanted to hear the whole thing. We stopped him from doing that at least.

"But part of this Chosen nonsense is that I have to protect this thing, for lack of a better term. It's called The Key, and it's a huge secret. You're one of six people in the school that know about it. I was afraid that Draco was impersonating you to try and gain information about it."

"What does this key do?"

"It alters reality. I can't tell you more, and I'm sorry that I can't. The less you know, the safer you are."

Dawn nodded. "I understand."

"So, we're…"

"We're good."

"I love you Dawn."

"Yeah, I love you too Harry."

They hugged briefly before Harry got up. "Get some rest, otherwise Madam Pomfrey won't let you leave tomorrow."

"You're the expert," Dawn chuckled.

As Harry approached the exit, he saw something disappear under the door. When he opened the door, he saw Ron struggling to hide an extendable ear. Harry shut the door and sat down next to him on the floor. "How'd I do?"

"Very well," Ron said.

"I know you wanted me to tell the truth, but…"

"But you couldn't take away all of her memories."

"Yeah," Harry admitted. "Colin's book reminded me of how real she it. I can't just tell her that she never existed, until recently. No matter what, she's still my sister."

"I know. You did the right thing."

"Thanks mate."

..::..

"Professor Snape," Harry greeted.

"Potter," Snape replied. "Your potions book."

"How did you know the spell came from this book?" Harry asked warily as he turned it over.

"You think this is the first time I've confiscated this textbook?" Snape sneered in reply.

Harry sighed. "What is it that you want me to do for the next hour?" he asked without the slightest glance to the clock. He knew what time it was and how many ticks of the clock would pass before he was free to go.

"I suppose that is up to you. There are a number of chores that need to be done and you'll have plenty of time to do them. By hand, of course."

Harry glanced around the room. There was a pile of filthy cauldrons that needed to be cleaned, a mop in the corner for the floor, and boxes of owl post that would need to be opened and properly put away.

"So it's my choice?"

"Did I stammer?"

"No. It's just that, since Dawn is…well, you know."

"Yes."

Harry gulped. "I choose to resume my Occlumency lessons."

Snape raised an eyebrow suspiciously. "Go on."

"Before, I didn't take it seriously, mostly because I didn't need to keep Voldemort out of my mind. It seemed like an advantage..."

Snape held up his hand. "I only need to hear you say one thing."

"I'm ready to learn."

"Then prepare yourself. Remember what I taught you last year. Keep your mind blank."

Before Harry could respond, Snape raised his wand. "Legilimens!"
Next Chapter
StoryReviewsStatisticsRelated StoriesTracking