Chapter 24 / Sirius and Severus
Dumbledore made sure that the door was closed, and that Madam Pomfrey's footsteps had died away, before he spoke again.
‘And now,’ he said, ‘it is time for two of our number to recognize each other for what they are. Sirius ... if you could resume your usual form.’
The great black dog looked up at Dumbledore, then, in an instant, turned back into a man. Mrs. Weasley screamed and leapt back from the bed.
‘Sirius Black!’ she shrieked, pointing at him.
‘Mum, shut up!’ Ron yelled. ‘It's okay!’
Snape had not yelled or jumped backward, but the look on his face was one of mingled fury and horror.
‘Him!’ he snarled, staring at Sirius, whose face showed equal dislike. ‘What is he doing here?’
‘He is here at my invitation,’ said Dumbledore, looking between them, ‘as are you, Severus. I trust you both. It is time for you to lay aside your old differences and trust each other.’
I thought Dumbledore was asking for a near miracle. Sirius and Snape were eyeing each other with the utmost loathing, although I didn’t understand where I came from.
‘I will settle, in the short term,’ said Dumbledore, with a bite of impatience in his voice, ‘for a lack of open hostility. You will shake hands. You are on the same side now. Time is short, and unless the few of us who know the truth do not stand united, there is no hope for any us.’
Very slowly - but still glaring at each other as though each wished the other nothing but ill - Sirius and Snape moved toward each other and shook hands. They let go extremely quickly.
‘That will do to be going on with,’ said Dumbledore, stepping between them once more. ‘Now I have work for each of you. Fudge's attitude, though not unexpected, changes everything. Sirius, I need you to set off at once. You are to alert Remus Lupin, Arabella Figg, Mundungus Fletcher - the old crowd. Lie low at Lupin's for a while; I will contact you there.’
‘But -’ said Harry.
I squeezed his shoulder, letting him know that I understood. He wanted Sirius to stay. He needed a family.
‘You'll see me very soon. Harry,’ said Sirius, turning to him. ‘I promise you. But I must do what I can, you understand, don't you?’
‘Yeah,’ said Harry. ‘Yeah . . . of course I do.’
Sirius grasped his hand briefly, nodded to Dumbledore, transformed again into the black dog, and ran the length of the room to the door, whose handle he turned with a paw. Then he was gone.
‘Severus,’ said Dumbledore, turning to Snape, ‘you know what I must ask you to do. If you are ready . . . if you are prepared ...’
‘I am,’ said Snape. He looked slightly paler than usual, and his cold, black eyes glittered strangely and suddenly, I knew, without a doubt, what he was going to do.
‘Then good luck,’ said Dumbledore, and he watched, with a trace of apprehension on his face, as Snape swept wordlessly after Sirius.
It was several minutes before Dumbledore spoke again. ‘I must go downstairs,’ he said finally. ‘I must see the Diggorys. Harry - take the rest of your potion. I will see all of you later. Katherine, I would like to see you in my office. 30 minutes?’
‘Off course, professor.’
Harry slumped back against his pillows as Dumbledore disappeared. Hermione, Ron, and Mrs. Weasley were all looking at him. None of them spoke for a very long time.
‘You've got to take the rest of your potion. Harry,’ Mrs. Weasley said at last. Her hand nudged the sack of gold on his bedside cabinet as she reached for the bottle and the goblet. ‘You have a good long sleep. Try and think about something else for a while . . . think about what you're going to buy with your winnings!’
‘I don't want that gold,’ said Harry in an expressionless voice. ‘You have it. Anyone can have it. I shouldn't have won it. It should've been Cedric's.’
‘It wasn't your fault. Harry,’ I whispered.
‘I told him to take the cup with me,’ said Harry. I nudged Ron, so that he would look away. Mrs. Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. I turned away when I saw the hurt on his face and I realised I’d never get a hug like that again.
There was a loud slamming noise, and Mrs. Weasley and Harry broke apart. Hermione was standing by the window. She was holding something tight in her hand.
‘Sorry,’ she whispered.
‘Your potion, Harry,’ said Mrs. Weasley quickly, wiping her eyes on the back of her hand.
Harry drank it in one gulp. The effect was instantaneous. He fell back onto his pillows and spoke no more