Unofficial Portkey Archive

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban by hermy_madness

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban


"For Merlin's Sake!"

April had turned to May before they knew where they were and the warm summer months were such a refreshing change from the chill that had pervaded the grounds all year, augmented by the Dementors who were now mercifully gone, that everyone seemed to spend every spare minute they had outside. It had been several weeks since either Harry or Alice had heard from Sirius, but that morning Archimedes had finally returned with a reply. Contrary as ever, the owl hadn't seen fit to arrive conveniently with the rest of the owl post at breakfast but had barrelled into her Arithmancy class, scaring the life out of Professor Vector and taking up residence on top of the blackboard for the rest of the lesson, glaring balefully at the rest of the class whilst Alice flushed with embarrassment. The minute they had been dismissed for lunch she and Hermione had rushed off to find the boys, who had been in Divination - with Hermione, Alice never would get her head around how her friend managed to conceal it all - and the five of them had rushed outside to read the letter by the lake.

Dear Alice and Harry (She read aloud.)

Please can you stop sending that owl with your letters, it is completely mental and has tried to savage me six times in the process of removing the letter from its leg. I'm bleeding and everything! ("He's such a baby!" Alice muttered with a grin.)

Other than that I hope that you are both still well. Well done on winning the Quidditch Cup again Harry, I knew you could do it! I can't remember if I've ever mentioned it before, but I came to watch you fly once - in my Animagus form - and you were brilliant! Even more like James than ever.

I am in South Australia at the moment, in a place called Coober Pedy. It's the strangest place; there's a large wizarding community here and a lot of the buildings have been hollowed out of the ground by magic so most people live underground. You'd like it. Speaking of houses, I'm thinking of coming home soon, ("Does he say when?" Asked Harry excitedly, trying to crane around and see the letter before Alice shushed him and flapped him away so she could continue reading.) - though I'm not sure where that is going to be yet. I've told you before about the house my parents left me, but I'll be honest, I'm not too keen on going back there. My offer to the two of you still stands, there is a home there (wherever there will be) if you want it. Alice, have you decided yet what you are going to do? If you haven't that is fine, just make the decision in your own time, there is no rush.

I'm not sure if Dumbledore has mentioned it to you or not, but I've written to him about you staying with me and he seemed a bit cagey about the idea, but I'm sure he's just being over-protective as usual. I'll manage to talk him around though, so if he does say anything to either of you don't worry about it.

I should also mention, although you might already have heard by now, that I have another motivation for coming back. It seems that Peter's trial date has finally been set and even if I wasn't going to have to testify, which I will, I want to be there. (Alice paused, and looked up at her brother. "Did you know?" She asked, so shocked that the words had difficulty getting out. He shook his head vehemently. He would have told her if he had. With more difficulty this time, she carried on with the rest of the letter.)

On a more cheerful note (although it depends on your point of view I suppose!) how are you getting along with studying for your exams? If you're anything like James and I were you'll have left it to the last minute, though from experience that's perhaps not the best way. Still Alice I imagine that at least you and Hermione will have started by now. Just a word of advice, don't do what Lily used to and have study plans all set out for the boys weeks in advance - (Alice flicked her gaze up in time to see Hermione look crestfallen and she had to contain a smile) - they probably won't stick to them.

Anyway, I hope to hear from you soon and if not it won't be too long before I'm back and you'll be able to see my ugly mug for yourselves again anyway.

Keep safe and don't do anything I wouldn't (though admittedly that gives you quite a lot of leeway.)


There was a moment's silence.

"Well…" Harry puffed out eventually.

"They had to set a date eventually," Hermione reasoned; "we knew they would, it was just a matter of time."

"Do you think we'd be called on to testify?"

"I don't know," Alice chewed speculatively on her lower lip, "it depends - I mean, Dumbledore didn't tell Fudge we were there did he?" Her statement, directed as Harry, was only partly such; she had been so tired that night she really couldn't remember everything that had been said.

"No," he answered slowly, "but he saw us there so he probably put two and two together. He's not a complete idiot." Hermione snorted disbelievingly.

"I don't know Alice," Neville joined in, in his slow, logical manner, "they probably only want to know about what happened when… you know, when Sirius Black was imprisoned. I doubt they'd need you to testify when you told me Fudge and Dumbledore heard him confess under Veritaserum."

Alice had to concede he had a point.

"Oh, come on, you've all gone all serious again; it's far too nice a day to start thinking about Pettigrew again," piped up Ron. Hermione rolled her eyes, but Alice suspected that he didn't really want to talk about the man that had posed as his pet rat for all these years so she indulged him.

"Well whatever the reason, I'm glad Sirius is coming back in time for summer. It'll be good to see him again, and we'll have time to get to know him properly, not just through letters," she waved the piece of parchment to emphasise her point.

"Have you decided what you're going to do yet?" Harry asked. It was the sixty-four thousand galleon question and Alice still hadn't given them an answer yet, she wanted to be sure she made the right decision, but she knew that Harry was waiting for her before he went and told Dumbledore that he wanted to leave the Dursely's.

Very slowly she nodded. "Yes."

Delight exploded across Harry's face before he managed to rein it in. "Wait a minute," he examined her own expression closely, "yes what? Yes you've made up your mind, or yes you want to move in with Sirius?"

Alice grinned. "The second one."

For a second Alice thought she was about to witness what happened when someone burst with happiness; Harry seemed to bounce on the spot, his grin reached the point where it looked likely to split his face clean in half, and his arms twitched, about to reach for a hug before seeming to think better of it and just flapping, birdlike, once or twice.

"That's - that's great," he finally managed once he had gotten himself under control, from the corner of her eye Alice could see Hermione's head swivelling from one of them to the other as though she was watching a tennis match, a ridiculous grin on her face.

"That'll be weird," Ron pronounced suddenly. They all turned to look at him; Alice raised an eyebrow. "What?" He asked in defensive bewilderment. "I just meant it would be weird you all living together like a family; I'm used to thinking about you separately… If that makes sense."

"Ron," Hermione's tone suggested she was trying hard not to sound condescending, or laugh, "I don't think that you've ever made sense in your life!"

"Well I think it's great." Neville smiled at Alice and Harry and as she caught his eye she couldn't help wondering how he felt about the situation, given that he came from a similarly parentless background. She resolved to talk to him about it at some point. For now she just smiled back.

"Would you all be able to keep it quiet though?" She asked, although she knew they would. "I'm not saying it has to be a secret, I just don't want the whole world knowing - especially the Prophet."

"Our lips are sealed." Ron mimed zipping his mouth up and throwing away the key before settling back on the grass, arms folded languidly behind his head. The other four observed his lanky figure strewn across the grass for several moments before beginning to laugh. She wasn't sure who threw the first handful of grass at him, but before she knew it they were all covered in greenery and she was spitting grass stems out of her mouth and trying to stop laughing simultaneously. Eventually, lying there on the grass with her friends, she felt freer and more relaxed than she had in months.

It wasn't until another fortnight had passed that Alice and Harry found themselves approached by a particularly timid looking first year one lunchtime who, flushing scarlet and staring determinedly at his feet, thrust a slip of parchment towards Harry and then scurried off wordlessly.

Glancing at his friends in bemusement Harry unfolded the note and scanned it rapidly. "Dumbledore wants to see both of us in his office right away," he looked up at Alice.

Her eyebrows rose a fraction before she concealed her surprise. "Now? Does he say why?"

Harry shook his head. "Nope, just requests the pleasure of our presence forthwith."

"Don't you even get time to finish your lunch?" Quipped Ron, his mind, as ever, on the priorities in life causing Hermione to tut loudly.

"Honestly Ron! You had better not keep him waiting," she addressed Harry and his sister, "it might be important."

Wiping her hands on a napkin Alice rose from the table and without another word she and Harry scurried off in the direction of Dumbledore's office. As she walked as quickly as she could, short of breaking into a run, Alice wracked her brains for anything that might give a clue as to what he wanted to talk to them about. She came up empty. Surely there couldn't be any more revelations; could there? She received a partial answer as soon as she arrived in the imposing office. The Gargoyle that usually stood guard had clearly been alerted to their imminent arrival and stepped aside without either of them having to provide a password; sprinting up the spiral staircase after Harry she could feel butterflies begin to erupt in her stomach. Her exact opinion of the Headmaster may be very confused, but her nervousness in his presence remained unaltered. Once Harry had knocked on the large oak door, she slipped quickly into the room behind him and immediately felt a wide grin suffuse her features.

"Sirius!" Alice felt a rush of delight to see her godfather sitting in the chair across from the headmaster. Actually sitting wasn't really the word, lounging would probably be more appropriate. She had never seen someone look so casual and at ease, in fact the change in him was remarkable, he was almost unrecognisable as the man they had met several months earlier. His hair was still long, but whereas before it had been filthy, matted and almost to his waist in places, now it was neatly trimmed just above his shoulders. The gaunt, waxen face that had been stretched across his skull was now full, tanned and healthy looking; she could almost see the handsome young man that appeared in all the photographs of her parents that she had been looking at. The Azkaban rags which had hung so loosely on his frame before had been cast off in favour of a loose white shirt, black trousers and long black boots covered over with scarlet robes; the overall effect made him look rather like a pirate. The last twelve years hadn't been completely erased however, there was still a haunted look in his grey eyes, but as he caught sight of Alice and Harry coming through the door it quickly vanished to be replaced by a long, slow smile.

"Are you two keeping out of trouble?"

Harry grinned back. "We're not doing anything you wouldn't if that's what you mean."

"Somehow that doesn't reassure me," their godfather bantered back; Alice laughed.

"What are you doing here anyway?"

Sirius shrugged languidly before his curious gaze flickered towards Dumbledore who was sitting quietly behind his desk observing the exchange. "I was summoned," was the cryptic response.

As they all turned to look curiously at him, Dumbledore adjusted his golden spectacles before speaking. "I'll get straight to the point then shall I?" His discerning blue gaze jumped from one listener to the next with a rapidity which Alice suspected belied the level of analysis they were each subjected to. "Sirius has informed me that he has offered, and you both have accepted, a home, outside of Hogwarts. Would that be correct?"

Both children nodded slowly, unsure of where this was going.

"I take it Alice that this means you have made the decision to reveal, as widely as you wish, that you are Harry's sister?"

Her head moved up and down once in affirmation. She knew he knew all this already, why then was he bringing it up again? The answer was not what she had expected.

"That of course, is your prerogative to do with as you wish; however I am afraid that for Harry to leave his family is simply not a possibility at the present time."

There was a beat of silence throughout the room, broken only by the shuffling scrape of Fawkes' claws on his perch as he seemed to manoeuvre himself further away from the anticipated explosion which would result from such a statement. None was immediately forthcoming however as the three of them stared at Dumbledore in bewildered astonishment. Even the portraits of bygone Headmasters were holding their breath.

"But… why can't I stay with Sirius and Alice?" The crushing disappointment and confusion in Harry's voice when he finally spoke was palpable; his face seemed to crumple in upon itself as he frowned questioningly at the Headmaster. Alice was torn between the desire to give him a hug and slap Dumbledore. She was saved from having to make a decision as to which to do first however as Sirius spoke up.

"See here Dumbledore, James and Lily made me their guardian," he gestured at Harry and Alice, "now I maybe haven't done a great job of that up till now, but I intend to live up to that responsibility and unless you can give me an exceptionally good reason why not, they're both coming to live with me."

The Headmaster examined each of the three stubborn faces opposite him carefully before resting the bridge of his nose against his fingers and heaving a long, tired sigh as he rubbed his forehead. "I had hoped," he said slowly, "that it would not come to this. I wish that you could just accept that what I do, I do for the best."

"Well I for one am fed up of being kept in the dark." Harry's sudden, angry, interruption seemed to surprise everyone, including himself because as they turned to him with startled eyes he flushed red and snapped his mouth shut quickly.

"Yes…" Dumbledore was looking in Harry's direction, but his gaze seemed as distant as his voice, he appeared to be talking to himself now more than anyone else in the room. "Yes, perhaps you are right, after all… it had to happen sometime… I had hoped, but… very well." His gaze suddenly sharpened as he seemed to come to a decision. There was a pause as they all waited for them to elaborate; when he didn't Sirius broke in with a hint of frustration in his voice.

"Dumbledore, for Merlin's sake, will you please just tell us: what is going on? We -"

"After Lily and James died," the Headmaster began as though he hadn't even heard Sirius speak, as though he had intended all along to begin the story then and there. Alice could tell by the tightness around his eyes however that the tale was causing him some strain to tell. "After they died I had Hagrid take you, Harry, to safety whilst I took care of your sister," he glanced at Alice before refocusing his intent gaze on the object of discussion, her brother. "That done I went to Privet Drive and while waiting for you to arrive I began to put in place the enchantments required to keep you safe. But -" He raised a hand as Harry shifted forward in his chair to interrupt; he was left hanging like a hooked fish as he paused to allow the Headmaster to continue. "But the most powerful and ancient magic had already been put in place, or begun at any rate, by your mother, it only fell to me to complete the task."

"My Mother?" Harry sounded perplexed, his face flushing red with emotion as he spoke. "I don't understand; what did she do?"

"She died to save you my dear boy, and that kind of act does not go unrecognised in the magical world. In voluntarily giving up her life to protect your own, Lily, unwittingly I would imagine, invoked an ancient power to protect you. I don't suppose it was something which Voldemort ever intended to happen either, I doubt if he realises even yet exactly all that happened on that night."

Alice and Harry gazed almost spellbound at the old man. Not only was he speaking of powers so far beyond their comprehension that it would be fruitless for them to comment, but he was also addressing matters which, although deeply personal, neither of them could remember to any significant degree and so were reluctant to interrupt lest he stop. Sirius, on the other hand, had no such compunctions. "Oh for goodness sake Dumbledore, will you stop dithering around the issue and get to the point!"

Alice couldn't help but smile - though it was quickly suppressed - at his impatience.

"As I was saying," Dumbledore inclined his head regally in her godfather's direction to acknowledge his sentiment, "the magic which Lily unleashed by her sacrifice could only be completed, could only be made unbreakable, if you were to live with those who shared her blood. As her only living relative besides Alice I then sent you to live with her sister. So long as you are there Voldemort cannot touch you."

"But…" Harry seemed confused and upset though it didn't take her long to work out why. "But what about Alice, wouldn't she be in danger? Why couldn't she have lived with us too; or why couldn't she have been the relative that kept me safe? Wouldn't that have worked?"

"He has a point." Sirius glared at the old man, the relaxation he had affected on their arrival all but gone; when he saw her looking however he gave her a crooked grin and reassuring wink. She couldn't help but smile back.

"Alas, no," the Headmaster answered Harry's question. "Much as I may have wanted to keep you together, Alice was the loophole that could have allowed Voldemort to find you and to circumvent the enchantments. I had to weigh up the risks and do what I thought was safest. I doubt this will make you feel any better Harry, but if I had to make the choice again today I think I would still do the same thing."

"Hmph." Harry folded his arms and hunched backwards in his chair looking far from placated.

There then fell a temporary silence as the three of them mulled over Dumbledore's revelations. Some things still didn't quite add up however and eventually Alice felt the need to say something, though she wasn't sure until the question was out of her mouth exactly what it would be. "From what you've said - well it's obvious really - Harry was the one in most danger, the one Voldemort was after… and I was just wondering professor, why that is?"

Sharp blue eyes swung in her direction and regarded her critically for a few moments before he wet his lips slightly and took a deep breath. It was almost as though he had to summon his courage to deliver the answer, but that couldn't be possible could it? Why would Dumbledore be afraid of that? Was it really so terrible? Surely he wasn't afraid of anything?

"There is no easy way of… I had hoped to avoid telling you this, to spare you Harry, until you were old enough to deal with it, but perhaps…" The old man's hesitancy was really beginning to worry her now. The portraits hung on the walls of the office were silent, not even the rustle of painted robes disturbed the room; Alice could almost imagine them all with their faces pressed up against the `front' of the canvas straining to catch ever last syllable. She didn't look away from the Headmaster to check. Sirius fidgeted irritably in his seat.

"Well, what is it?"

With a sigh Dumbledore placed his palms on the desk between them and rose from the seat. In several strides he had crossed the room to an ornate looking black cabinet set into one of the walls. She watched as he produced from within this a large, shallow stone bowl. The edges seemed to be crisscrossed with a myriad of tiny cracks, but as Dumbledore came back and she got a closer look, Alice could see that these were in fact countless runes running in circles around the bowl. Within it there seemed to be a peculiar silvery liquid, or mist swirling slowly around; it fleeting crossed her mind that this was how moonlight would look if someone managed to capture and confine it, but she quickly brushed aside such fanciful thoughts and concentrated on what was about to happen.

Setting the bowl on the table the Headmaster flicked a glance towards Sirius. "I assume that you know what this is?"

Her godfather nodded. "A Pensieve. They're used to store memories," he added for the benefit of Harry and Alice. She watched as the ethereal silver mists swirled peaceably within the stone bowl apparently confined by its edges. From the few runes she could translate she could tell there were certainly containment enchantments placed upon it, as well as ones to create an almost infinite space within to store the memories, most of them however were beyond her comprehension.

"Before you were born Harry, a prophecy was made, a prophecy which few know of -"

Alice interrupted; she couldn't help herself. Clearly she was spending too much time around Hermione. "Don't the Ministry of Magic keep a record of all prophecies that are made?"

"They do, however as the person the prophecy was made to is present we are able to hear it now in it's entirety without troubling the Unspeakables in the Department of Mysteries." She wasn't sure if she imagined the ghost of a smile that flitted across the old, lined face with this comment. "You see," he answered the question he had presented, "it was I who heard the prophecy fourteen years ago, and have kept it safe ever since, Voldemort knew of it of course, he even heard a part of it's content, but if he were ever to hear it in its entirety - well let us not worry ourselves with further guesses at the future."

"And what is it?" Harry was now sitting so far forward in his seat that Alice worried that he was in danger of falling off.

In answer to his question Dumbledore took his wand and touched the tip of it to the swirling substance in the Pensieve. For a second Alice didn't think that anything was going to happen, but gradually she became aware that the swirling mists had become more purposeful. She watched in no slight surprise as the substance at the centre of the vortex began to rise up out of the mass and coalesced into what was recognisably a human form.

"That's Professor Trelawney!" Harry exclaimed before Alice shushed him quickly. Her gaze was riveted on the wraithlike figure emerging from the depths of the Pensieve. Although it undoubtedly was the Divination teacher, when it spoke, it was not with the airy, mystical voice to which they were accustomed, the tone was harsh and deep. Her pronouncement sent a chill across Alice's skin that belied the warm summer's day which seemed to be continuing impossibly outside of the office. "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches." The words seemed to reverberate unnaturally around the room. "Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…"

She felt as though the air had all been sucked out of her. Even if she had wanted to breathe, her mouth felt so dry that she doubted she would be able to inhale properly. It would have been less shocking to find out Professor Snape was a secret lover of daisy chains and pink. Her brain seemed to alternate between a complete shutdown of all higher functions and a manic overload, her thoughts flying too rapidly to process properly. Had she honestly just heard what she thought she had? Judging by the green tinge to Harry's cheeks and the tight white line that Sirius' mouth had become she suspected it might be the case. She wanted badly to be sick. From the corner of her eye she saw Sirius' fingers flex and for one crazy moment she thought he was about to draw his wand. Instead he spoke in a taut whisper, full of pent up rage and bewilderment.

"How could you have kept this from him? Did Lily and James know?"

Never averting his gaze from Sirius' face, Dumbledore inclined his head sadly. "It was the reason they went into hiding in the first place. To keep Harry safe from him."

"So…" The object of their discussion struggled to fit a sentence together. "So that means that… that I…" Alice reached out and gave his hand a reassuring squeeze, he glanced up at her and she saw the hurt fleetingly disappear from his eyes in acknowledgment of her gesture. She fancied that when it returned it was less than it had been, even if only marginally, but then she might be imagining it. He took a deep breath and without looking up from the tips of his shoes said very quickly: "Does that mean me then? Does it mean that - if he ever comes back properly - I have to kill him?"

"Not initially, when the prophecy was made there were two boys who would go on to fit the description given, but the night that he attacked you, the night Voldemort gave you that scar, he unintentionally fulfilled a part of the prophecy."

"The Dark Lord will mark him as his equal," Harry intoned in a hollow voice, "but why me?"

"Who can ever guess at his real motives? I suspect he saw you as the greater threat. I've already told you that he never heard the full extent of the prophecy, and so in giving you that scar he ensured that you would be the only one to which it could apply. So yes, in a manner of speaking, the prophecy does mean you Harry." He sighed and rubbed his eyes with long fingers stretched beneath the frames of his spectacles. It occurred to Alice that a simple `yes' would have done, but then when had Dumbledore ever done things by halves? "I'm sorry that I did not tell you earlier, but having watched you grow up these last three years, seeing the trials which you have already had to suffer, I had hoped to spare you further pain. I told myself you were still too young."

"Give him some credit Dumbledore," their godfather interjected rising briskly from his seat and striding across the floor to stand behind Harry, a protective hand laid on his shoulder. "He can handle it." Looking at Harry, Alice wasn't sure that was strictly true; he looked worse than she had ever seen him. The usual brilliant green of his downcast eyes was almost completely obscured by the shock-widened pupils within them. White-knuckled hands clenched his robes into angry fists and there was a distinct pallor to his cheeks that was reminiscent of an encounter with a Dementor. He seemed lost for words and she didn't blame him. To be suddenly told, at the age of thirteen, that he may one day be called upon to save the wizarding world… well she wasn't sure that she could cope with such a responsibility.

"Professor," her voice was a whisper, but in the still silence of the room she was easily heard, "do you think Voldemort… do you think that he will come back some day? That Harry would have to…?" She found herself unable to speak the words.

"I -" Dumbledore paused and glanced upwards as Sirius gave a warning cough. Alice watched as, standing behind him where her brother couldn't see, he gave a tiny shake of his head. It seemed to have little effect on the Headmaster however who ploughed on. "I fear that it may come to that some day; though I sincerely hope that I am wrong."

There was silence for a full minute as Harry thought things over, chewing on his lip until a thin trickle of blood was evident. Alice didn't know what to say, didn't know what she could do to make him feel any better; this was his burden to bear in the end. Eventually he looked up and licked the scarlet liquid from his lip. "I need to think." With a final squeeze he slipped his hand from Alice's and stood up slowly.

"Alright, but remember we're here if you need us," Sirius patted his shoulder reassuringly for which he was rewarded with a fleeting smile. In stony silence, Harry walked from the room. None of them stopped him.

The minute he had gone however, Sirius exploded. "How could you do that to him?! Honestly Dumbledore the amount that you've put that boy through, it's a wonder he hasn't had some sort of break-down already! When were you intending telling him about this prophecy? When he became an adult? Happy seventeenth birthday Harry, oh and by the way, contrary to popular belief I don't think Voldemort is gone and I think you're the only one who can ever defeat him." He continued to rant, working himself up into a manic frenzy, again reminding Alice of his Azkaban days, and punctuating each verbal attack on Dumbledore with curses which she pretended not to hear. Dumbledore simply sat there quietly and calmly as her godfather continued to seethe, reproaching the Headmaster for everything from his actions when Lily and James died, what he had done to Alice and his "mishandling" of the current situation. She continued to sit quietly in her seat, shrinking backwards so as not to attract attention. Eventually he drew to a halt, his breathing ragged and a layer of sweat glistening on his forehead; he turned to Alice. "I'm sorry, you shouldn't have to hear this, perhaps you should go and find Harry; I'll come and see you both before I go."

Alice was about to protest, but Dumbledore finally added his own contribution. "He's right Alice; I'll let your teachers know that you are both excused from lessons for the afternoon too."

Silently she nodded and scurried from the room in search of her brother. It didn't take her long to find him, he was standing in the Owlery whispering quietly to Hedwig and stroking her feathers with gentle fingers. Warm afternoon light streamed in through the enormous windows illuminating flashes of colour as it refracted off of the varied plumage of the many owls dozing peacefully in the rafters. Outside she could see the immense majesty of the surrounding mountains in an unending series of blue as the heather changed colour with distance. The giant squid caused gentle ripples to disturb the surface of the lake which lapped against the rich green shores. Beyond, the bulk of the forest seemed a solid, reliable presence in the light of day, rather than threatening as it sometimes did after dark. If ever there was a place to soothe shattered nerves, she considered, it was here.

As she took a step forward the noise alerted Harry to her presence and he turned towards her. His eyes were red and swollen, he had obviously been crying, but at her approach he tried to brush angrily at any tears which might be lingering on his face. Wordlessly she went over to him and gave him a hug. After a moment's hesitation she felt his arms wrap around her back and his face lean against her shoulder; they stood like that for several minutes, neither saying a word, neither of them had to, until she felt his hold begin to loosen and she dropped her own arms slowly.

"Better?" She asked quietly, looking into his face with concern. He nodded slowly. "You're not alone in this Harry," she whispered, fiercely protective of her brother now. "I know the prophecy says that it has to be you in the end, but prophecies are only what we make them to be, and whatever happens in the future, Hermione, Ron and I, and Neville too I suspect, we'll be behind you all the way. Besides it might be years before he comes back anyway; if he ever finds a way." She surprised herself at her own calm and eloquence.

"Thanks," his voice was croaky, but whether it was his earlier tears or the emotion of the moment which caused it she couldn't tell; she suspected both. "That means a lot Alice… and I'm glad…" He stopped.

When it was apparent he wasn't going to continue she prodded him. "What is it?"

"It doesn't matter, it sounds stupid." Harry shook his head.

"You always sound stupid," she joked, glad to see her teasing produced the ghost of a smile, "so fire away."

"I'm glad that you're my sister," he finished hesitantly.

Strangely touched by his words, despite the fact that they had both voiced similar sentiments before, she felt tears spring to her eyes and blinked them back quickly. "Yes - well," she cleared her throat, "someone has to put up with your nonsense don't they?"

"Can you not just be serious for once?" He tried to frown at her, but he was beginning to laugh - which had after all been her intention.

"Alas," she tried to look tragic, "I think I have spent far too much time with Fred and George for that ever to be a possibility now." She glanced at her watch and slung an arm around his shoulders, giving him another small hug as she did so. "Come on, we should go and find the others. They should just have finished Herbology, if we hurry we can catch them before they go into Transfiguration. Did I mention Dumbledore had given us the afternoon off by the way? We can go flying later if you want."

The first proper smile she had seen since they had walked into Dumbledore's office stretched across his face. "Now that I can do."

A/N: It's just one thing after another with poor Harry isn't it? He's going to need his summer holidays just to recover from all these revelations! Anyway, hope you liked it and please R&R as always!