Continuing Tales

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 7 of 27

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Harry realized as he climbed the stairs to Gryffindor tower how lucky he had been in the first days after Ron's death. There was a haze of unreality about that time; it was as if he'd been drugged, and he still couldn't recall it with any sort of clarity. He knew only that it had been several weeks later, after the blur of finals and the Leaving Feast, when he was finally home with Sirius for the first time ever, that the reality of Ron's death had begun to settle over him like a disease. He had battled one symptom after another ever since, but it had all come to him in stages – it was merciful, really. He didn't know why Sirius's death was slamming into him with so much greater force. Perhaps it was that it had been so much less clean, so much more painful, and he had been forced to witness the suffering with his own eyes. And perhaps it was that he had been lulled into a false sense of security after Voldemort's demise. He had naively expected some sort of happily-ever-after.

It would never come, Harry realized now. Dumbledore had been right – he was destined for a difficult life and happily-ever-after would never be one of his options. Nor would it be an option for anyone close to him.

His mind was made up by the time he reached the Fat Lady. He offered the password and entered the common-room with his wand already out. In seconds he had packed most of what he owned in his trunk and filled a small knapsack with a change of clothing, his treasured invisibility cloak, what little money he had on hand, and the books on wandless magic that he had borrowed from the library. Madam Pince never once crossed his mind. He went to the table where he and Hermione had been working and reached for a piece of parchment and a quill.


I have to leave now, and I don't know that I'll be seeing you again. Thank you for everything – and I hope you know what I mean by that because there's so much that it would take me way more time than I have to write it all down. Take care of yourself, and please look after Hedwig for me.

I love you,


He rolled it, sealed it, and left it by her books, and then he grabbed his knapsack and his Firebolt and left the common-room without looking back. There was no time for sentimentality. The others would be leaving the infirmary soon if they hadn't already, and he had to leave the castle before they saw him. He considered taking the hidden passageway to Honeydukes, but since it was still dark outside, he decided to risk one last ride on his Firebolt. It would be much faster, anyway.

Harry knew that he had little gift for strategy. That had always been Hermione's contribution to their efforts. He and Ron were the impulsive ones; Hermione was the one who pulled them back, enjoined them with rolled eyes and sighs of exasperation to think before they acted. He had no doubt that his plan – such as it was – would have been far better executed with Hermione's intellect to balance out his passion, but there could be no possibility of asking for her help. His parents, Cedric, Ron, and now Sirius were all dead because of him. He would not endanger Hermione further by calling on her now. So he mounted his broom and streaked across the darkened grounds, slipping through the Hogwarts gate and then making for Sirius's house in Hogsmeade. Once inside, he stared at the fireplace for a moment and then closed his eyes, concentrating. He opened his eyes with a smile when he heard a crackle; sure enough, a fire was burning – small, but sufficient for his purposes. He blessed Hermione, tossed in a pinch of Floo powder, stepped in and said, "The Leaky Cauldron" in a clear voice.


Hermione had never seen the Headmaster look so dreadfully grave. Dawn had not yet broken, but the entire staff was sitting around the table in the staff room, passing Harry's farewell note from one person to the next.

"It appears that I was mistaken in allowing Harry to leave the infirmary alone," Dumbledore said heavily, leaving unspoken the fact that mistakes on his part were rare indeed. "I thought he needed a little space, some time to grieve. I did not anticipate this."

"This," Snape said icily, "is classic Harry Potter behaviour, Headmaster. Taking off on his own without a thought of…"

"That will do, Severus," Dumbledore interrupted sharply, stopping Snape with one level glance. "What matters now is that we find him, and quickly. If what Remus and Sirius found out is true, Harry is in considerable danger."

"I, for one, will do anything I can to help, Headmaster," Minerva McGonagall said, casting an accusatory look at Snape.

"Thank you, Minerva, but I think this is a job that requires Severus's particular skills." He glanced at Snape, who was looking positively murderous. "If you haven't found him by Friday, after the full moon, I'm sure Remus will assist you. Until then, I will contact the Improper Use of Magic office and have a trace put on his wand. It should make your job easier."

Hermione, looking at Snape, thought that Harry might well be better off in the hands of the mysterious kidnappers. She took a deep breath, "Sir?"

"Yes, Miss Granger."

"Over the last few weeks, Harry and I have been reading up on wandless magic. He's been practicing some and has been improving. We were doing simple spells – nothing terribly difficult – but I noticed he took the books with him, and I just wonder if maybe putting a trace on his wand won't be enough. Can wandless magic be traced?"

Dumbledore shook his head and looked, if possible, even more worried. "No, Miss Granger, it cannot. There simply aren't enough wizards and witches consistently capable of it to make it worthwhile for the Ministry to spend time finding ways to track it. It's one reason Sirius, James, and Peter were able to become unregistered Animagi without being caught. It is also why potions are often used for Dark Magic. The Ministry can't trace the brewer. If Harry avoids using his wand, he could indeed prove more difficult to find."

"I want to help."

Dumbledore was shaking his head before the words had even left her mouth. "No, my dear. This is not a job for students. I would like for you to return to your parents for the remainder of the summer break. I promise I will owl you the minute we find him."

Hermione was glad that he hadn't said 'if we find him.' Over the years, she had grown accustomed to believing that Dumbledore was infallible, and some childish part of her brain clung to that belief, despite the fact that the events of recent months had taught her otherwise. Bad things could and did happen, even with Albus Dumbledore in the world, but she preferred not to think about that right now. "Yes, sir," she said obediently.

"Minerva, will you escort Miss Granger up to my office? She can make use of my private Floo."

"Certainly, Headmaster." Professor McGonagall pushed back her chair, and Hermione followed suit, nodding politely to the other staff members and pausing a moment to hug Hagrid, who had been wiping tears away with his massive hands.

"We'll find him, 'Mione," Hagrid said in a gruff voice. "You c'n count on Dumbledore. Great man, Dumbledore."

"I know," she whispered.


Professor McGonagall waited patiently while she packed her things and then led her silently to the Headmaster's office, where Fawkes watched regally from his perch. She looked like she wanted to say something just before Hermione stepped into the fire, but instead she just pulled her favourite student and Head Girl into her arms, and Hermione was surprised to feel her Head of House shudder with silent weeping.

"He'll be all right, Professor," she said in a small voice, uncertain of their sudden reversal of roles. "Harry just always manages somehow, doesn't he?"

Minerva McGonagall pulled away then and nodded, brushing the tears from her face, and Hermione stepped into the flames, announcing her own home fireplace. In the rushing of the Floo, she didn't hear McGonagall's whispered response: "I thought the same of his father."

Hermione landed in her parents' living room just as the first hint of dawn began creeping through the windows. The house was still silent, her parents sleeping peacefully upstairs, unaware that she was coming home. Crookshanks jumped from his nest on the sofa and wound happily in and out of her legs, and she reached down to give him an affectionate scratching around the ears. She put down her bag – she had elected to leave Hedwig in the familiar Hogwarts Owlery rather than bringing her home for such a short period of time – and considered whether to awaken her parents or simply to crawl into her own bed and try to sleep off the effects of the dreadful night. She took one step farther into the living room, and as she turned back to close the fireplace her eyes fell on the small canister of Floo powder her parents kept on hand. It was rare that Hermione Granger did anything on impulse, but before even she was quite aware of what she was doing, she had reached for the Floo powder and tossed some into the fire.

"The Leaky Cauldron."


The Leaky Cauldron wouldn't have been his first choice of places to go, but as far as he knew, it was the only public place he could enter by Floo in the middle of the night and not be suspected of burglary. He was pleased to see that the bar was empty – luck was officially with him. He quickly pulled the invisibility cloak out of his bag and over his head and crept through the dingy candlelit bar and into the equally dim antechamber where a young wizard was doing the night duty, flipping through a Quidditch magazine with his chin tucked into one hand. He glanced around when Harry entered the room, and Harry froze, feeling a panicked surge of adrenaline. One disadvantage to having the place deserted was that there was no background noise to cover his footsteps and the sound of his breathing. He held his breath, sure that his heart was pounding loud enough to awaken the guests sleeping upstairs, and finally the wizard went back to his magazine.

When faced with the choice of either resuming normal respiration or passing out in an invisible heap, Harry cautiously chose the former, and when that didn't seem to give him away, he began slowly backing up, one silent step at a time, until he felt his legs press against a chair. He sat carefully, trapped in the Leaky Cauldron unless the clerk abandoned his post or someone came and opened the door long enough to afford him the opportunity of slipping through. He knew that it would probably be morning before that happened, and he settled in for a long and uncomfortable wait. He looked longingly at the Quidditch magazine and wished he had something more pleasant than his own thoughts to help him pass the time.

The desk clerk tossed down his magazine and reached for his wand. "Accio magazine!" he commanded, with the self-important air of a showman. He pointed to a table about six feet away.


The man's brow furrowed with concentration as he tried again. "Accio magazine."

Harry felt the laughter start to rise and forced it down. When the clerk raised his wand a third time, Harry just couldn't resist. This was one of the charms he and Hermione had practiced the most. He concentrated on the pile of magazines, and as the incantation left the clerk's mouth for the third time, Harry sent six magazines flying across the room.

It was a mistake. The astonished look on the clerk's face as he was pelted with magazines was so incredibly funny that Harry nearly gave himself away. He shook with silent laughter for several minutes, got control of himself, and then lost it again. He was on the verge of becoming hysterical; the events of the night had left him in a fragile state and since tears had been denied him, he needed the release of laughter. Unfortunately, he couldn't afford either at the moment. He forced a calming breath as he watched the guy scramble around picking up magazines and relaxed as he saw the desk clerk settle in again for some more reading, pinching a bump on his chin with one hand and tracing along under the words with the other.

There was nothing exciting enough to hold his attention, so he forced himself to think about what he was going to do. His "plan" when he had left Hogwarts had been to avenge Sirius's death and then find some way of disappearing from the wizarding world. Simple enough, right? He was the most powerful wizard in the world, right? Now he was being held hostage in a small lobby by a pimple-pinching squib, and he felt his grand ideas deflate as he realized how great his limitations were. He simply couldn't accomplish what he needed to while he remained shrouded under an invisibility cloak, but if he took it off, any witch or wizard in England would instantly recognize him.

Except…his scar was gone! His scar was gone, and that had been the thing that most identified him as Harry Potter. He had graced the pages of the Daily Prophet enough times that his other features had become familiar as well, but with his scar gone he might, perhaps, be able to alter his appearance enough that people who didn't know him well might not recognize him immediately. He wished he'd thought of it while he was still at Hogwarts and could use his wand without being traced; he didn't dare perform any appearance altering charms on himself without it – not when cutting off his nose to spite his face was a very literal possibility. No, he'd have to resort to Muggle methods, and that brought him to another problem.

He needed money. Muggle money and wizard money, and in sufficient quantities to last him for some time. He had to get into his vault at Gringotts without being seen. He knew beyond a doubt that Dumbledore would send someone after him, and he was determined not to be caught. At the moment, he feared Dumbledore more than the supposed kidnappers – he wanted the kidnappers to find him. It would save him the trouble of tracking them down. As to what he would do then – well, he'd either kill or be killed, he supposed, and neither possibility disturbed him overmuch. He hadn't exactly developed a taste for killing, the one time he'd done it, but he hadn't experienced any guilt over it either. He had been telling Dumbledore the absolute truth that day in the infirmary. Voldemort had deserved far worse than the fate that had actually befallen him, and whoever had killed Sirius fell into the same category. Harry knew that he would not hesitate to cast Avada Kedavra if the opportunity presented itself, and that knowledge changed him somehow. He wasn't sure if he was stronger or weaker because of it, but he knew he was changed. If he didn't get the chance to cast the first curse, he would go to his own death willingly, having already decided that there was little place for him in the world anyway. He could see two possibilities for himself – he could remain in the wizarding world, but secluded and friendless, or he could renounce his powers and live as an anonymous Muggle. Neither of these options was terribly appealing, but of the two he preferred the second one, fraught with difficulties as it would certainly be. At least he might not always have to be alone.

He had been raised as a Muggle, so he knew something of their ways, but his Muggle education had ended at the age of ten, and little that he had learned since then had prepared him to support himself at any sort of Muggle employment. He couldn't just present his Hogwarts transcript and go to University, like other Muggles his own age. He could get menial jobs, he supposed, but he knew that he'd quickly be driven mad with boredom. Still, he might eventually be able to work his way up, and in the meantime it would be something. He had enough money left from his parents – assuming he could get his hands on it – to get him started somewhere – he didn't know where, exactly, but somewhere other than England. Perhaps America. The few Muggle movies he'd seen made America seem like an interesting place, and one where someone like him could blend in. He'd never met a wizard from America; surely there were some, and probably they'd heard of him, but they wouldn't be looking for him there, so…

He shook his head sharply, realizing that he'd become lost in his thoughts and had been on the verge of dozing off. The clerk seemed to be suffering from a similar problem, and Harry saw him rub his eyes tiredly and glance toward the door as if waiting for someone to come and relieve him. Gradually, he became aware of soft sounds that indicated the Leaky Cauldron was coming to life. He could hear occasional footsteps above and the distant clinking from the kitchen as the house-elves began to prepare for the breakfast crowd. He risked a stretch and hoped his bones wouldn't creak and give him away. He was heartily sick of the chair, the squib, and the invisibility cloak and was ready to be on his way, despite the fact that he didn't know where he was going or what he was going to do, exactly.

He heard footsteps coming from the rabbit warren of small rooms that made up the bar, and turned, hoping that whoever had just arrived by Floo would be leaving and that he could sneak out behind.

It was Hermione.

It was Hermione, and he was certain that his heart stopped beating for a full half a minute when he caught sight of her. He had expected Dumbledore to send someone after him, but he had never expected it to be Hermione. No. He revised that thought. There was no way Dumbledore had sent her; she had simply taken it upon herself to come. Go away Hermione, he thought. Go home, go to Hogwarts, go anywhere I'm not, but stay away from me.

Hermione was carrying a bag much like his own, and there was another heart stopping moment when she lowered it into the chair next to him. One chair to the left and he would have been discovered. He stiffened and held his breath, but she didn't look his way; instead, she turned her attention to the clerk. "Hi, I was hoping you could help me. I'm looking for a friend of mine and thought he might have come through here sometime in the night."

"Nobody's been in here since last call, miss."

"Oh dear, are you sure? I was so hoping you'd have seen him."

"What's he look like, this friend?"

As Hermione began to describe him in terms of height and weight and some fairly unflattering remarks about his hair, Harry's hand snaked out from under the invisibility cloak and reached into the flap of her knapsack.

Forgive me, Hermione, he thought as he felt his fingers close around her wallet. He pulled it quickly from the bag and had it underneath the invisibility cloak by the time Hermione finished her description. "…round glasses, and he's…we'll, you might have seen his picture in the paper. His name is Harry Potter."

"Blimy! Not the Harry Potter – the boy who lived?"

Hermione winced slightly at this last. "He, er, doesn't really like to be called that, but yes, that's who I'm talking about. I take it he hasn't come through here?"

"No, miss, I'd remember Harry Potter coming through for sure."

"All right, then. Thanks." Hermione reached for her bag and walked out the door that led to the entrance to Diagon Alley. Harry made no move to follow her. He would let her get ahead of him and then leave via the other door – the one that led to the streets of London - as quickly as possible. He didn't dare examine her wallet just then, but he was desperately hoping it contained some Muggle money.

He had waited for perhaps thirty more minutes when a family came clattering down the stairs of the Leaky Cauldron. Two young boys were fighting, and their harried mother was trying to walk between them to keep them separated. Their father settled the bill with the clerk and muttered something about getting an early start home before herding his family out the door.

"Linus pushed me!"

"Did not! I was nowhere near you!"

"Did too!"

"Boys, please!"

And Harry was free of the lobby and the desk clerk, free to stretch his legs, free to get away from the Leaky Cauldron as fast as his legs would carry him.

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 7 of 27

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