Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns everything Harry Potter-related. I’m just borrowing from the toybox for a little entertainment. I promise I’ll put them back mostly unharmed.
Author’s Note: This was written for sazzlette's Thunderstorm challenge. Took a while to figure out what I wanted to do with it, and then this just came to me. This was written in about an hour and a half. I certainly never expected it to be this long. Was certainly interesting to write from Hagrid's POV. Never expected I'd be doing that. And hopefully the angst factor worked out nicely. Just seemed like something that would happen…
Beta: Not yet, but if there's something glaringly inaccurate/in need of fixing, please let me know…
"Distant Rumblings" by A. Magiluna Stormwriter
At first, I thought it was the wind. It wasn't as if I could see anything nearby to be making that sort of noise, especially at nearly midnight. Wasn't my fault I couldn't sleep. Was Fang's fault, it was. Daft idiot of a dog got himself in a fright over thunder in the distance. Always was a big baby, if you ask me. But he's my dog, my responsibility. And usually he's decent for protection and warnings and such.
Well, and I suppose I couldn't really blame Fang solely for waking me up. Things had been very strange after all the goings on at the Ministry of Magic, what with that Umbridge woman and the whole thing with Sirius Black.
And so it was an odd sense of longing to be outdoors that ended up sending me to the window. That was when I noticed him. Young Harry was skulking about at the edges of the Forbidden Forest. For a moment, I thought he might be trying to go do something he oughtn't. But he skirted the woods and headed off toward the Whomping Willow.
Curious, I threw on clothes and headed out the door, Fang in tow. We quietly followed the boy's path. Fang kept the trail when Harry used his invisibility cloak. I had no need of such things, since I was free to roam the grounds once again, thanks to that Umbridge woman being gone and all. I kept my distance when Harry finally stopped to rest on a boulder just out of the willow's range.
I could see he was talking, but couldn't hear the words from where I stood. From the way he gestured and occasionally paced about, I could guess he was talking about -- or maybe to -- Sirius. The man had gone from reviled to revered in the boy's eyes in a relatively short period of time, one of the few remaining links to his parents. And then to have his godfather ripped out of his life, right before his eyes. I knew it hurt him, but never expected the extent of their closeness.
A closer, more ominous rumble of thunder surrounded us, and Fang let out a plaintive whine. Stupid frightful dog. I saw Harry's head swivel around, trying to locate the sound, his hand on the cloak. I certainly didn't bother hiding myself from him. No reason to make the boy even more skittish. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named took care of that himself, very well indeed, if you ask me.
"I can see you, Hagrid." His voice carried across the clearing. I could hear the pain in his voice, and the attempt to cover it. "You don't have to hide."
At the sound of his voice, Fang took off to rest his huge muzzle in the boy's lap with a pitiful whine for attention. Rolling my eyes, I made my way to sit next to him. The closer I got, the more obvious his distress. But I wasn't going to do anything to make it worse if I didn't have to.
"Gonna rain tonight," I finally said, glancing up at the sky. "You can taste it, you know. Fang'll need something to block out the thunder and lightning or he'll be useless for anything else."
Glancing down, I noticed the wry grin tugging at his lips as he scratched at Fang's ears. "I still can't believe how frightened he really can get. I never would have expected it. He looks so strong, so powerful." He paused for a moment, chewed at his lower lip. "Hagrid, do you think it was painful? When Sirius… When it happened?"
"I'd like to think it was quick and painless," I replied instantly, honestly believing the words I spoke. I wanted to soothe his fears, his anguish, but I didn't want to lie to Harry. He deserved more than that. "But even if it wasn't, Harry, it's over. He's beyond the pain, beyond the jeering of those who still think he was guilty. I know you wanted to have him around, but maybe this is best right now."
"How can you say that? Hagrid, he's dead. I barely had him in my life for a year and now he's gone. There's only one friend left of my parents', and he's off doing things that could get him killed if he's not careful. If he dies, I'm alone again."
"Remus knew the risks, Harry," I consoled, one hand on his shoulder. "And he's hurting as much as you are, if not more. And he's got you as a reminder of the friends he's lost. I highly doubt he'll do anything to risk that. He loves you, Harry, and he won't willingly leave you alone in the world unless he absolutely has to."
I certainly wasn't lying when I said it. I believed it with everything in me. And I had to make sure Harry believed it. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named had wreaked enough havoc in the lad's life. Losing Sirius was just the latest heavy blow. It was almost more than an adult could handle. And yet, here this boy was, taking it all like a trooper. He was growing up far too quickly. What he needed was something stable, reassuring in his life. Dumbledore helped, but that wasn't enough. Remus was off doing Order business, and hopefully keeping himself from getting killed. And that left Ron, Hermione, and me. And I'd be damned if I let Harry feel like he had to bear the weight of all these issues himself. But how to let him know that he could trust me enough to take some of his burden like that?
Another, closer rumble of thunder sounded, accompanied by a bright jagged line of lightning. Fang pressed his head further into Harry's lap, trembling in fear. Before I could even laugh at the dog's frightened antics, I felt the first fat drops of rain splattering around us. Looking up, I smiled. The storm clouds had rolled in, but there was a patch of clear sky above and just to the left of us. And in the center of that patch was a very familiar star.
"Harry, look up there," I said, pointing toward the star. "You recognize that star, right?"
He stared for a moment, then blinked several times. "It's Sirius."
"That's right. And I take that as a sign that your godfather's watching over you and Remus, among others. He's not gonna let anything happen to you if he can help it."
Harry graced me with a watery, but confident smile. "I hope you're right, Hagrid. And even if you're not, I think I'd like to believe it anyway." He paused a moment to wipe the moisture from his glasses. "I suppose I should head back up to the castle before I get completely soaked. It wouldn't look good for me to get sick before the first big Quidditch match, would it?"
I chuckled at his reasoning, despite knowing the defense mechanism it was. "That's true. Wouldn't want Draco and the Slytherin team to beat out Gryffindor over something as simple as a cold."
As one, we stood and looked up at the sky again as the rain began to come down harder. Before I realized it, he wrapped his arms around my waist in a tight hug. "Thank you, Hagrid," came his muffled reply.
"You're quite welcome, Harry," I replied, returning the hug. "Family watches out for each other, you know. You're not alone, not anymore."