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SIYE Time:21:09 on 5th December 2021


Through Shadows
By hp_fangal

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:All, Harry/Ginny
Genres: Angst
Warnings: Mental Abuse, Mild Language, Violence/Physical Abuse
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 118
Summary: When Harry goes missing from Privet Drive without a single personal possession, the worst is assumed by the Order of the Phoenix and the magical community of Britain at large. Upon his rescue, Ginny and the others find that everything they thought they knew from the moment Harry returned from the maze with Cedric's body in his arms must be called into question. Will Harry be able to heal from a traumatic ordeal that has left scars too deep to see?
Hitcount: Story Total: 12769; Chapter Total: 779
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
I was going to post this chapter a week ago, but a stomach bug ravaged my family, instead. I spent the whole time tending to sick kids only to fall prey to their illness Sunday night. My husband got sick, too, though not as bad as me (then again, I was the one tending to the children, not him). I even missed two days of work recovering — though I really should have taken three days off.

Anyway... no one has asked me about the whereabouts of one Rita Skeeter. Surely if she'd been in the hospital wing after the Third Task, everyone would be more receptive to the idea that Voldemort had returned, right? I address this in this chapter when she and Sirius meet.

Why are they meeting? Well, there's a reason this chapter is called Exclusive. Enjoy!



P.S. The next three chapters will all be from Harry's perspective, wrapping up the two weeks after the Dursleys died (which Harry has not once described and likely never will), as well as his rescue and recovery from his side of things. Also, there's more Ginny in those chapters than you'd think, You'll see what I mean when chapter 14 goes up.




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Chapter Thirteen: Exclusive



Sirius was reading a rather official-looking letter when Remus stepped into the kitchen the next morning. Judging by the way his lips were pursed and his eyes were narrowed, it likely wasn’t a letter with anything particularly nice to say.

“Morning,” he greeted his friend as he settled down at the table, quietly thanking Molly for the plate of food she slipped in front of him. Sirius grunted, then tossed the letter on the table, causing Bill and Arthur to look up from their hushed conversation about goblins at the other end of the table.

“What a pillock,” Sirius muttered, snagging his mug and taking a large gulp.

“Fudge again?” asked Remus curiously.

Sirius nodded as he shoved the letter towards him. Remus carefully picked it up and began to read:

Sirius Black,

I am reaching out to you once more for information regarding your godson’s health and progress. His disappearance and return has been a very high-profile case, and I would like to request more information than “fine” to report to the public because of it. You must know that we all have Harry’s best interests at heart in ensuring his recovery from his time in captivity.

It is of vital importance that I know who has been overseeing the boy’s recovery as well as his current status. Hogwarts term resumes in six days; we at the Ministry have been working with Albus Dumbledore to ensure there is proper security in place so no other imposters can do as Crouch Jr did and steal away another student.

Please send your response posthaste.

Your obedient servant,
Cornelius Fudge
Minister for Magic


“Bit nosy, I suppose,” Remus allowed, lowering the letter to the wooden tabletop. “But then every letter from him has been this way since your innocence was made official.”

“I know,” snorted Sirius, “but the same sort of thing every day, Remus! Does his persistence truly have no end?”

“I suppose it’s better he fawns over Harry than it is he continues his campaign to convince the public he’s unstable,” said Remus reasonably.

“The public is going to believe whatever the Prophet puts out,” said Sirius with a scowl. “They were going full-steam ahead with that campaign until –” He broke off and looked down at his half-eaten plate of food.

He didn’t need to finish that sentence. They all knew what he meant.

Harry’s disappearance had derailed Fudge’s campaign against him. He’d barely had three weeks to get things rolling when word of the Dursleys’ deaths had reached the Ministry. There had been no discrediting of the teenager after that.

Whatever the public believed about Harry, a teenager going missing following the deaths of his only living relatives was horrifying, especially one as high-profile as the Boy Who Lived. Remus wondered what Fudge might do next if Sirius continued to be uncooperative, and hoped his worst fears wouldn’t come to pass.

Sighing, Sirius slumped in his seat. “I’d better at least tell him Harry isn’t going back right away,” he said unenthusiastically. “Reckon that’ll make the papers.”

“What if…” Bill spoke up hesitantly. Remus looked over at him.

“What if…?” he prompted.

Bill seemed to be indecisive for a long moment before settling on whatever it was he was going to say.

“The Daily Prophet wants to hear your story, Sirius,” he said. “So… give them the exclusive on yourself and the fact that Harry isn’t going back to Hogwarts right away. Make Fudge find out at the same time as everyone else.”

There was a moment of silence.

“Oh, that is evil,” said Sirius, an all-too-familiar grin spreading over his face. If there was one thing Remus’s friend liked to do, it was to one-up people he disliked.

And Sirius very much disliked Fudge.

“Think they’ll be clamoring to write down anything I say if I just stroll in there?”

“I don’t see why not,” said Arthur. “Just – make sure you’re not sharing anything vital –”

“Not a problem,” said Sirius dismissively. “I reckon they’ll be eating out of my hand in seconds.” He grinned again and leapt to his feet. “Remus, you’re in charge of Harry until I get back.”

Remus nodded, and Sirius was out the door moments later. “I hope this doesn’t backfire on us,” said Molly worriedly.

“It’ll be fine, Mum,” said Bill with a grin. “The kinds of trouble Sirius got up to in school aside, he’s a Black. He was raised by a family of manipulators, so I’m certain he can draw on those lessons to get ahead of the curve.”

Remus had to agree with Bill on this. He finished his breakfast and headed up to Harry’s room to check on him and Ginny. He was pleased to find Ron and Hermione in there with them. Harry and Ron were playing chess on the floor, while Hermione read her most recent Ancient Runes text on the bed, and Ginny tried to help Harry beat Ron.

One look at the chessboard told Remus it wasn’t going very well. He watched as Ginny leant close to the board, an intense look of concentration on her face. Ron appeared amused, and Harry –

For a moment, Remus felt he must have mistakenly used a Time-Turner, because the look on Harry’s face as he watched Ginny was exactly the way James had looked at Lily in unguarded moments; it was the expression Remus had witnessed when he was besotted, yet unwilling to admit to it without putting on the loud, confident teenaged front that had only served to make Lily roll her eyes and walk away.

How had he missed this before? He had carefully observed Ginny and seen that she wasn’t very good at concealing her feelings the moment she thought Harry wasn’t looking, but that Harry was doing the exact same thing…

Of course, Remus wasn’t certain that Harry was aware of his own thoughts, or even emotionally ready to handle more than friendship as it was. The damage done to his confidence and self-esteem had yet to be fully repaired, and it certainly wouldn’t be fair to Ginny to be the sole emotional strength of the relationship. It was probably for the best that he stay out of it and let them eventually figure things out for themselves.

Besides, Ginny was already seeing Michael Corner, and Remus knew him to be a nice young man, certainly more stable in his self-confidence than Harry was at this point. Whether that relationship would last was another matter altogether, but he didn’t think it wise to encourage (or discourage) anything. Ginny deserved to be happy, and it seemed she had already done much for herself to be just that.

Relationships were complicated enough as it was without additional interference.

Just then, Tonks barged into the room. “Wotcher, Harry!” she said loudly, smile just as bright as her bubblegum pink hair. “Who’s winning?”

“Who else?” laughed Ginny. “My brother, as always.”

Ron grinned as Ginny threw an arm around Harry’s shoulders and sighed dramatically. “I suppose we’re doomed to bask in his strategic glory.”

Tonks laughed, throwing her head back, face lit up with her amusement, and Hermione grinned from behind her book. “Everyone has to be rubbish at something,” said Ron consolingly, reaching across the board to pat his sister’s knee.

Remus smiled and glanced at Harry to see he had ducked his head. He was grinning, but Remus could see that his cheeks were very pink and likely had been from the moment Ginny had placed her arm around his shoulders. Oh dear, he’s got it bad, Remus thought to himself. Then Tonks looked around and grinned at him, and he felt a bit hot under the collar all of a sudden.

“Aren’t you going to help out here?” she asked him. “I remember you kicking Sirius’s arse at chess when I was a child.”

Remus huffed a small laugh. “Sirius has the tactical skill of a Flobberworm when it comes to chess,” he said, causing Ron and Ginny to burst into peals of laughter. “I’m simply decent at the game, not the master that Ron is.”

“Please stop stroking his ego!” Ginny said loudly. “Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing all about the great Hogwarts chess game of ‘92, and Merlin knows I’ve heard more than enough of that match!”

Ron scowled at his sister. “Well, he did beat chess pieces transfigured by Professor McGonagall,” pointed out Hermione reasonably as she lowered her book a bit. “I suppose he’s rather earned the right to brag.”

Now Ron was beaming, chest thrown out, and Ginny groaned and mimed vomiting all over the chess board. Harry started laughing, green eyes sparkling with amusement the likes of which Remus had never seen before –

Next thing he knew, Harry was curled up tightly, hands on his forehead. Ginny sent the chessboard flying as she scrambled to crouch in front of him, ignoring the chess pieces which shouted angrily from their scattered places across the floor.

Hermione dropped her book completely as Remus quickly joined Ginny on the floor. “What’s going on?” she asked shakily.

“Is it his scar?” Ron pressed. “Is it bothering him?”

“Worse,” said Tonks softly. “He – You-Know-Who is attempting to invade his mind again.”

Remus stopped listening to them at this point, carefully uncurling Harry’s tense form as Ginny began whispering desperately to him, cupping his face in her hands. “I’ve got you Harry, you’re safe, you just need to shut the door again. C’mon, Harry, you can do it…”

She carried on as Remus rubbed Harry’s back soothingly. There wasn’t much more to be done, unfortunately. This battle was fought entirely inside the boy’s mind, and only he could shut down the link between himself and Voldemort.

Harry was breathing harshly, eyes screwed up and hands still over his scar, and he started rocking slightly as Ginny continued to whisper encouragement. “You can do it, Harry,” Remus whispered. “Shut him out.”

Just as abruptly as the mental attack had started, it ended. Ginny gathered Harry into her arms, and he rested his forehead on her shoulder as he gasped for breath, trembling. Remus continued rubbing his back soothingly while Ginny murmured gentle words to him; slowly, he relaxed, arms clumsily moving to grip Ginny’s shoulders.

“Better now,” he finally rasped. “Th-thanks.”

Ginny smiled at him when he sat up straighter. “One of these days you’ll stop thanking me for doing what any decent person would do,” she told him. “That’s when I’ll know you’re all better.”

Harry smiled weakly. Remus helped him over to the bed, Hermione scrambling to pull back the bedcovers and move her book out of the way. Harry flopped on his back, carelessly pulling off his glasses for Remus to set aside, and he covered his face with his hands. “He’s trying harder,” he whispered. “He’s still so angry.”

“But you still got him out,” said Ginny reassuringly as she pulled up the covers. “You’re so strong, Harry.”

Harry shrugged a bit and rolled onto his side, facing away from them. “Tired,” he whispered.

“Rest, Harry,” said Remus gently. “We’ll be here when you wake.”

Ginny clambered onto the bed and leant against the headboard on Harry’s other side; he reached out for her hand without a word. She took it, and soon he was fast asleep.

“That was much worse than I’d been led to believe,” said Tonks softly. Remus sighed.

“It’s incredibly harrowing, to be frank,” he said. “There is so little we can do for him when it happens.”

“Wait,” said Hermione, “You-Know-Who was in his head?”

They still didn’t know everything, and apart from two instances in the past couple of weeks, Hermione hadn’t pushed the issue, having promised to wait for Harry to explain when he was ready. Ginny met Remus’s eyes questioningly.

It was up to him to decide how much to tell Ron and Hermione; Voldemort’s latest attack had robbed them the ability to remain silent. He heaved a louder sigh and settled down at the foot of the bed to explain.

There were few things as awful as their current reality, and having to share that with them in its fullness was quite painful. Hermione’s face paled with every word such that Remus feared she would pass out, and Ron’s eyes were as large as saucers by the time he finished.

“After he served detention in the Forbidden Forest our first year, his scar was constantly bothering him,” said Ron quietly. “There was nothing we could do then, either.”

“I hate that so many awful things have happened to Harry,” said Hermione sadly. “It isn’t fair.”

“That it is not,” agreed Remus, watching Harry’s chest slowly rise and fall. “That it is not, indeed.”



If there was one thing Sirius hoped for, it was to never have to talk about Azkaban ever again.

But for Harry, he would do anything.

Including sitting with one Rita Skeeter for his exclusive interview.

“So, Mr. Black,” she began, “tell me what it’s like to be a free man after years of wrongful imprisonment.”

“It’s nice to go where I want,” said Sirius with a shrug.

“The public hasn’t seen much of you since you were officially declared innocent, though,” said Skeeter, raising one of her heavily penciled brows. “Why is that, exactly?”

“My priorities haven’t been strolling along Diagon Alley or showing off,” said Sirius tightly.

“So why have an interview now, then?” Skeeter pressed. “Clearly something has changed to bring you to me of all people.” She grinned slyly. “You’re well-aware of the articles I’ve already written about your godson, I’m sure.”

Sirius smiled blandly. “Exclusives you managed due to your illegal Animagus form, yes, I’m well-aware.”

The grin slipped a bit. “I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about,” said Skeeter in a would-be casual voice.

“Let’s not play coy, shall we?” said Sirius with a sly grin of his own. “You mistook Hermione Granger for an idiot. Anyone who does that can easily find themselves at a major disadvantage. It must have rankled you not to be able to get into the hospital wing after the imposter returned from the maze, for example. It’s probably a good thing Crouch Jr was as protective of his lord as he was. You could just as easily have become a squashed bug on the floor that night.”

Skeeter glared behind her jeweled spectacles. “So you maintain the drivel Dumbledore insists upon?”

“When did you discover your Animagus form was a beetle?” Sirius returned lightly. Skeeter tensed. “It was far too easy for Hermione to piece together. I wonder what the public would think if they knew how you obtain your most intimate and shocking exclusives?”

“How has the public handled your illegal Animagus form, Mr. Black?”

Sirius’s grin widened. “My livelihood doesn’t depend upon such a deception, so rather well, I should think.”

“What do you want, Black?” Skeeter at last dropped the pretense and eyed him carefully.

“A truthful exclusive,” said Sirius, resettling himself comfortably in his cushioned chair. “You write exactly what I say, no embellishments or lies with that blasted quill of yours, and I don’t share your illegal form with the country. And to add to your exclusive,” he added as Skeeter opened her mouth, “you get to be the one to share some important information about my godson.”

Skeeter froze, eyes wide for a moment. Then a hungry expression overtook her heavy features. “You would let me be the one to tell the world about Harry’s current status?”

“In return for your complete cooperation,” said Sirius evenly. “This includes no prior warning given to the Minster. Fudge finds this out when the paper gets dropped on his desk and not a moment before.”

Skeeter grinned, showing off her golden tooth. “Mr. Black,” she all but purred as she held out a large hand, “I believe you have yourself a willing accomplice and a deal.”

Deal with the bleeding devil, Sirius thought grimly, but he shook on it and settled in, sharing his experiences in Azkaban, his motivation for escape, the origin of his Animagus form (the Wizarding populace already knew Remus was a werewolf thanks to Snape), the details of choosing Wormtail as the Potters’ Secret Keeper, and the night Lily and James died.

Sirius knew better than to specifically mention Voldemort’s return since he wanted Fudge to have no reason to try and declare him an unfit guardian; Skeeter didn’t seem to really believe the Dark Lord was back, as it was. He did describe the modified version of events which had him, Dumbledore, and Kingsley Shacklebolt find and rescue Harry, though he hated that Remus wouldn’t get the credit he was due.

“And what of Harry’s recovery?” Skeeter finally asked him. “Hogwarts term resumes in six days, after all.”

“Harry has come a long way from the state in which I found him,” Sirius admitted, “but he is not physically or emotionally prepared to return to Hogwarts yet.”

Skeeter’s eyes widened. “This is your true exclusive,” she said shrewdly. “The Minister has wanted to know your intentions regarding Harry’s schooling, has he not?”

Sirius nodded. “Harry’s regained most of his strength, but the emotional damage…” He swallowed, unable to finish the sentence. “Harry requires at least one more month before he will be prepared to return to school,” he continued. “I will of course provide him with private tutoring since this is his O.W.L. year, but the intense seclusion he suffered paired with the damage done…” Sirius trailed off once more and looked down at his hands.

“You’re trying not to overwhelm the boy,” surmised Skeeter with surprising insight. “Crouch Jr has claimed that Harry’s mind was not his own during his time in captivity.”

Sirius couldn’t bring himself to meet Skeeter’s eyes, wondering what lengths she had gone to in order to discover that little tidbit Fudge was trying to squash. “It is in my godson’s best interests to have more time to recover,” he stated. “He will do so under the care of myself and any resource I deem fit to meet his needs. Harry has suffered more than any child ever ought to, and it is my job as his godfather and legal guardian to ensure he never wants for anything ever again.”

“You wish to spoil your godson?”

Sirius smiled sadly. “He deserves the world,” he answered in a soft voice, meeting Skeeter’s intense gaze once more. “Anyone who would deny him that has no place in our lives.”

Skeeter didn’t have anything to say to that, so she instead focused on how Sirius planned to spoil his godson. He was happy to discuss the private tutoring, how he had already arranged for Harry’s teachers at Hogwarts to send over their plans for September so the tutor would know what to cover for each of his classes, even his plans to get Harry fitted with new clothes.

“Yes, I noticed his Muggle clothing seemed exceptionally baggy for his size,” mused Skeeter. “Were the Dursleys impoverished?”

Sirius knew how he wanted to answer this particular question; he also realized the additional fallout his answer would have on Harry’s life. “I believe so, yes,” he forced himself to say. “Harry’s cousin was the larger of the two, so clothing was purchased for his size as a result.”

“Yet Harry does have full access to the Potter vault, does he not?”

This made Sirius more uncomfortable. “I believe it was James and Lily’s wish that the money only be used once Harry was ready to attend Hogwarts,” he said carefully. “Lily didn’t have the best relationship with her sister after she was accepted to Hogwarts, either.”

Skeeter eyed Sirius for a moment. “Muggles are capable of caring more for their social standing than those in their care,” she said shrewdly.

“I wouldn’t know,” Sirius shrugged. “I didn’t know Petunia Dursley personally, nor her husband.” He carefully steered the conversation to the importance of education and his plans to ensure his heir had everything he could ever desire. Skeeter ate it up and didn’t bring up the Dursleys again until the end of the interview.

“Has Harry discussed the deaths of his relatives with you?”

“Of course,” said Sirius. “They were the only family he knew growing up. It was horrible for him to know they’d been murdered in an effort to further isolate and harm him. I’ve been working with him to help him understand that their deaths weren’t his fault.”

“You truly sound the perfect godfather and guardian to the Boy Who Lived,” remarked Skeeter. “I’m certain Britain will have its eyes on you more than ever in the coming months with the publication of this interview.”

Sirius grinned. “So long as it’s factual and without embellishments, I reckon I can handle the public scrutiny.”

He left shortly after with a spring in his step. He couldn’t wait for Fudge’s reaction to tomorrow’s headline.



The stony expression on Harry’s face after Remus let him know that Ron and Hermione knew everything now pulled at something inside Ginny. She knew he’d wanted the truth shared on his own terms, but Voldemort’s attack on his mind had taken away his choice in when that information would be shared.

“I’m sorry, Harry,” said Remus softly.

Harry nodded. “It – it’s okay,” he finally sighed. “Couldn’t keep it from them forever.”

“Still, you’d have preferred to tell them on your own terms,” stated Ginny. Harry glanced at her and nodded.

“Voldemort ruined it,” he murmured.

Ginny sighed and pulled Harry close the way her mother always did after one of her nightmares of the diary and Tom. “He certainly loves to ruin everything,” she grumbled. Harry snorted, and Ginny knew he agreed with her.

It came as no surprise that Hermione didn’t sleep well that night. Ginny was vaguely aware of the older girl’s tossing and turning in the other bed, but as she didn’t know if Hermione would welcome an offer to talk about what was obviously bothering her, she stayed silent and slept as well as she could.

The next morning, Harry curled up on his bed with Ginny and Sirius as they read the exclusive interview he’d granted the Daily Prophet.

AN INNOCENT MAN: SIRIUS BLACK SPEAKS OUT AT LAST


Ginny was amazed by the accuracy of the article. “Skeeter actually kept up her end of the bargain,” she remarked as she carefully read through Sirius’s story of betrayal and imprisonment. “I’m impressed after the awful rubbish she published last year.”

Harry nodded. “How did you convince her?” he asked Sirius.

Sirius grinned. “Hermione figured out a vital piece of information which allowed me to blackmail her,” he said. “Turns out Skeeter is an unregistered Animagus.”

Ginny felt her jaw drop as Harry stared at Sirius. “Some kind of bug?” he asked. “Hermione ran off to the library the day of the Third Task after talking about Muggle bugging.”

“A beetle,” said Sirius smugly. “She has to play by my rules lest I share how she manages to get her most scandalous exclusives.”

“Like Viktor asking Hermione to visit him over the summer,” said Ginny, thinking quickly.

“Or the dream in Divination,” added Harry quietly.

“Exactly,” said Sirius. “Her interviews with the Slytherin students were managed with her Animagus form, as well. A beetle isn’t what you’re going to be looking for if you’ve banned the woman from the school.”

“And she willingly traded her secret for a straightforward interview,” said Ginny, slightly disbelieving.

Sirius laughed. “I gave her extra incentive by allowing her the exclusive on Harry’s current status. Arthur says the Ministry’s been hounded by the public for any update on Harry’s condition, which means I’ve been inundated by letters from Fudge demanding answers.”

“Sounds annoying,” said Ginny, and Sirius nodded.

“Incredibly so,” he agreed. “Bill suggested that Fudge find out at the same time as everyone else, and well…” He flicked the newspaper lightly. “Here’s the result.”

It came as no surprise that Fudge sent Sirius a Howler which shook the whole house and woke the portrait of Walburga Black. The next day (four days left), the house was flooded with letters from well-wishers for Harry’s speedy recovery, and offers to tutor him or provide his home care.

Sirius grimaced at one such letter and wouldn’t let any of them read it. “The contents are incredibly inappropriate,” was all he grumbled after setting it afire.

All these letters served to remind Ginny of the fact that time was fast running out before she returned to Hogwarts.

Without Harry.

He’ll be fine, she told herself again and again. He’s got Sirius and Remus, he doesn’t need me here.

It would be nice if that last part didn’t feel like a knife to the heart. Even though she still didn’t fully grasp Harry’s logic for why she was real, Ginny did cherish it and prayed she would never do anything to break his trust in her.

The hardest part was pledging to herself at night that she was seeing Michael and liked him, only to see Harry’s smile each morning when she brought him breakfast and feel herself falling just a little bit more than she had the day before.

Harry doesn’t like you like that, she reminded herself sternly. He never has and he never will.

When would her heart understand this so she could move on? She thought she had, but now…

It doesn’t matter.

And it really didn’t. Harry did not need her. She had already done all she could for him, and that was that. Having his friendship was enough.

She just wished she believed herself whenever she had to lie yet again to her own heart.
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