A/N: I have started this story as close to HBP as I can stomach. Because of that, you will find the first few chapters have Ron and Hermione still "together". It will change, I promise. Thanks to Dementor149 for being my Beta!
It was early morning in the middle of summer at Little Whinging; the birds were just starting to greet the day. At Number four, Privet Drive, a dark haired young man was doing sit-ups, his breath coming in short gasps with his exertion. Harry Potter wasn't sleeping. He couldn't, so he was trying to exhaust his body to the point of dreamlessness. Harry collapsed back on the floor, his muscular chest heaving. He mopped his unruly hair out of his eyes and stared at the ceiling, listening to his heart beating. All too quickly though, the image of Dumbledore came to mind.
Weakened and surrounded by Death Eaters…
Trying to convince Malfoy not to kill him…
The treacherous and traitorous Snape using the Avada Kedevra curse that struck Dumbledore in the chest...
The pain of knowing he wasn't coming back…
Ginny crying on his shoulder….
The times they spent together, her soft lips…
Harry groaned as he felt his chest tighten. The past three weeks had been hard. Every time he thought about anyone he loved, it hurt. It hurt a lot. He rubbed his chest, trying to make the ache go away.
It didn't help.
He rolled over on to his stomach and started to do push-ups.
One…two…three…four… four Horcruxes…
Up, down, up, down….
I need to find them…
Up, down, up, down….
I need to destroy them…
Up, down, up, down….
Everyone was counting on him to end this war…
Up, down, up, down….
He suddenly realized that his arms were shaking from the exertion and he collapsed on the floor. Harry rolled on to his back to let the floor cool him down as his bare chest heaved with his heavy breathing. He lay there for a few minutes before sitting up. He glanced out the window and saw the sky was becoming lighter with the rising sun. Harry sighed and got up off the floor and went and stared out the window. He had found that muggle exercise had helped at times to make some of the pain go away. He missed being able to fly, since that's how he used to forget about his worries. He smiled dourly at that thought.
He would be at the age when he would be considered a man in the Wizarding world. He had thought about how he was going to say goodbye to the Dursleys. He smiled grimly to himself as he envisioned himself flying away with his trunk behind him in broad daylight, his uncle a lovely shade of purple…
Or maybe he should just zap Dudley one last time….
Harry sighed. He reached over and pulled a shirt from the back of his chair and pulled it over his head. He found his pants where he had thrown them the night before and finished dressing. Harry picked up his trainers and very carefully opened his door. It was still early, and he didn't want to wake any of the Dursleys yet. He snuck downstairs to the front door, making sure he missed the creaky steps. Harry put on his shoes before quietly closing the front door behind him. He liked the early mornings. It was always quiet. He began jogging once he hit the end of the driveway. He had only gone a block from the house when he heard the distinct crack of someone apparating behind him. He glanced over his shoulder and saw bright pink spiked hair bobbing towards him.
"Wotcher, Harry," Tonks grinned.
Harry merely nodded and kept running. They jogged for several blocks; Harry didn't seem to have a destination in mind, but he wasn't surprised to find himself at the park. Harry remembered coming to this park a lot during another summer so long ago…
He slowed to a walk and ambled over to the swings to sit down. He leaned against the cold chain and let his hands fall into his lap as he closed his eyes. He heard Tonks go over to the water fountain and get a drink. She came over and sat down in the swing next to him, using her toe to slowly rock the swing. They were quiet for a while, both contemplating their own thoughts.
"Why have you been pushing yourself like this for the past three weeks? Is it Dumbledore?" Tonks finally asked quietly.
Harry was so deep in his own thoughts that he startled at the sound of her voice. He opened his eyes to stare at her.
"You need to let go, Harry. There wasn't anything you could have done differently," she said.
"I…I can't, Tonks," he murmured. He could feel the lump already forming in his throat as his feelings rushed back to his exhausted body.
She sighed and slid off the swing to kneel on the ground in front of him. She placed her hands over his. They felt warm and comforting to Harry.
"You are not alone, Harry," she said quietly as she looked up. "You will never be alone. Talk to me. It may make you feel better."
Harry fought down the lump in his throat, trying to push past the pain. He looked up at the clear blue sky, blinking back the tears that seemed to constantly be threatening to fall. He felt vulnerable, sitting on the swing like that nieve 11 year-old boy so long ago. Tonks sat quietly, waiting, just holding his hands.
"It hurts, Tonks," he said as his voice cracked. "It hurts a lot. I wake up every morning and the pain is there. My chest feels like it's going to burst. I can't think about the future because my past is overwhelming me. Everyone I care about either dies or gets hurt. I don't know if I can do this anymore." Harry bowed his head and whispered, "It just hurts too much." He let the tears coarse freely down his cheeks.
Tonks stood up and put her arms around him. It had been a while since anyone had held him like this. He was expected to be the strong one, the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived. He leaned against her and let the pain go. His arms went around her waist and he pulled her closer, crying uncontrollably. Tonks murmured words of sympathy, and stroked his hair. Harry took it all in, grateful that she cared about him. They stayed like that until Harry was able to compose himself, and then he sat up. He wiped his face and gave her a weak smile.
"You must think I'm pretty weak," said Harry, his cheeks burning. He certainly didn't feel like a grown man in control of his feelings.
"No," said Tonks. "I think you have turned into an incredible young man who has the weight of the world on his shoulders. And," she said as she looked at him slyly with an impish grin, " you are fairly handsome to boot!"
Harry blushed. She grinned at him and held out her hand. He took the hand she offered and she pulled him off the swing. They began to walk through the park, hand in hand; reminiscing about some of the things they had been a part of, and talking about Lupin. By the time they got near the Dursleys, Harry was feeling a bit better. Tonks stopped as they got to the end of the alley.
"Harry," she started, " What I said before is true. You are not alone. We all care for you a lot. Dumbledore…" she stumbled a bit at the mention of his name and took a deep breath. " Dumbledore loved you like a son. He would have done anything for you," she said quietly.
"Yeah, like leave me alone to face Voldemort," Harry said angrily.
"Harry," Tonks chided gently, "No one could have predicted what was going to happen on the tower that night."
"I tried to warn him," Harry said. "He didn't listen to me."
Tonks smiled. "Dumbledore saw the good in everyone, including Malfoy. I'm not trying to make excuses for what he did, but without all the information that Dumbledore had, how can we really and truly judge what happened?"
"So you think I should find Malfoy and tell him `no hard feelings'," Harry said stubbornly. He wanted to hold on to the anger. It kept the pain away.
Tonks shook her head in frustration. "I'm not asking you to forgive just yet, but this `poor me' attitude is beginning to wear a little thin. There are others who are grieving just as much or even more than you are, and yet, they are worrying about you. Have you even thought about how his closest friends and family are feeling? Many of them are still preparing to fight."
Harry stood dumbstruck. He hadn't thought…He was angry with Dumbledore for dying when he needed him. He didn't even know Dumbledore had any family…
"I… I never thought about it. I…this is crazy!" Harry threw his hands up in frustration.
He didn't want to feel sympathy for anyone else. Didn't they understand the position he was in? There was nothing to stop Voldemort now from trying to kill him and take over the Wizarding World. He wasn't strong enough to stop him on his own. He needed Dumbledore…
He could feel his anger building again.
"He was the only wizard that Voldemort was scared of! He doesn't fear me! There is no one to stop him now! NO ONE! He could take over the Wizarding world and there isn't anyone to get in his way!"
"He may not fear you yet, Harry," said Tonks quietly, "But Dumbledore knew. He knew that it would be up to you to get rid of Voldemort, not him. You will stop him, Harry, because you have to. Dumbledore was tired, Harry. He wasn't able to heal himself as well anymore. You saw that. He wasn't a spring chicken you know." Tonks smiled wistfully. "Harry," Tonks sighed and put her hand on Harry's chest. "He is here. He will always be here to guide you. Just like Sirius, and just like your parents, and if you lose your way, we, all your friends and I, will be there to guide you back to the right path. Harry…" she hesitated. "I want to show you something."
Harry looked at her and she smiled.
"You have grown so much there past two years. So tall and handsome."
Harry blushed. She stood up on her tiptoes and looked him in the eye.
"I want you to feel something," she said. "Look inside yourself." She took his face in her hands and kissed him gently on the lips.
Harry's eyes went wide and he inhaled sharply. Suddenly, he felt a tingle. It started in his chest and seemed to spread. He closed his eyes and sensed the warmth that was now spreading through his body. Tonks pulled away and Harry felt the tingle linger for a moment and then slowly disappear.
"Wh…what…" he stammered, "What was that?"
"That, Harry, is love, my love for you. As a friend of course, since my heart belongs to another, but that's your power, Harry. If you can find the way to unleash that power, you will be the most powerful wizard alive," she smiled at him.
"How do you know all this? How do you know its true?" he asked.
"Everyone has the power in them," she shrugged. "For you, it has a profound purpose. It's just the way I see it. Now go on home, Harry. Try to rest. We can talk some more at another time. There's a wedding in two weeks, you know. I'll probably see you before then. And, Harry," she said as she yawned, "Try not to do too many more early morning jogs on my shift. It wears me out," she blew him a kiss and was gone.