Lupin wandered through the Forbidden forest, purposefully getting himself lost and finding his way again. He was not frightened by the creatures that dwell within the dark woods, for he was as bad, if not worse than them when he turned. Also, as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, he might as well get some practice at fending off the various things that may threaten him.
Lupin recognized an oddly shaped tree ahead of him and knew that he had found his way back. He was concerned that after his transformation, he would be in some forsaken part of the forest and would not know how to return. Eventually, he may be found by another teacher but few would be brave enough to venture into the company of a werewolf not long after he had turned. It would be best if he could find his own way.
Deciding that he would quit for the time being, Lupin headed to the edge of the dark and dreary forest. When he had entered, the sun was shining brightly, but now it seemed overcast. He figured that it was the effect of being in the forest. When he passed through the outer ring of trees and into the open space, however, he realized the true cause of the change in weather. Dementors.
He squinted to see what they were doing, there were two of them huddled together. Dumbledore had mentioned that they were here to guard the grounds against Sirius Black this morning, had they found him? Lupin broke into a brisk trot as he neared the pair. There was a small boy lying on the ground. Harry.
"Expecto Patronum!" he shouted, while drawing his wand. A silvery blue shape shot from his wand and headed for the black figures. They scattered, flying high into the clouds.
Lupin rushed over to the boy, propping his head up on his arm. He looked around for help. The only thing he saw moving was a small black animal in the distance. Could it be...? No, Lupin decided. It was more than unlikely. That was probably just Hagrid's hound. Seeing no one, he gathered Harry in his arms and carried him gently up to the castle.
"What happened?" Severus snapped, storming into the hospital wing.
"Dementors," Lupin replied, sitting next to Harry's bed. Harry had woken up just moments before and Madam Pomfrey was fetching him some chocolate.
"Dementors?" Severus asked. "Why are there dementors here?"
"To guard against Sirius Black."
Severus growled. "I am glad that someone informed me of this," he said sarcastically.
Lupin looked uncomfortable. "Dumbledore made the announcement this morning at breakfast. I assume a missive was sent to your office."
Severus ignored him. "Are you okay, Harry?" he asked, sitting next to his son on the bed.
Harry blinked rapidly. "I think so. I was so cold, I thought I would never be happy again. And I heard- I heard-" Harry stopped, eyes watering.
Severus put his arm around Harry. Harry leaned into him. "It is okay now."
Lupin looked away.
"Thank you, Professor Lupin," Harry said, voice still shaky. "And thank you, Sev." Severus did not even reprimand him for the use of that nickname.
Severus looked over at Lupin, jealousy spiking. He had been there for Harry when Severus was not. He rescued Harry. Rescuing Harry was Severus's job, wasn't it? Nevertheless, he was glad that Harry was safe now.
When Madam Pomfrey returned with a slab of chocolate, Severus stepped outside for a chat with Dumbledore. Lupin smiled softly at Harry.
"What do dementors do, exactly?" Harry asked, nibbling on a piece of chocolate.
"They suck the happiness out of people," Lupin replied. "Make you relive your worst memories."
Harry frowned. Worst memories... when had he ever heard that woman? Something like that, he was sure to remember. Harry sat thinking about it until Severus returned. He didn't look happy, but then, he hadn't all day.
"Lupin?" Severus said. "May Harry and I have a moment alone?" Though it was phrased very politely, it came out much less so.
"Of course," Lupin said, graciously leaving the room.
Severus sat down in the recently vacated chair. "Dumbledore has informed me that the dementors were ordered to stay at the very edge of the grounds. Where were you?"
"Uh," Harry hesitated. "At the edge of the grounds."
"Why?" Severus said with a raised brow. "I thought you promised to go to Hagrid's and come straight back."
"I thought I saw something and went to check it out. I was still in plain view of the castle, I didn't realize..." Harry trailed off. For some odd reason, he felt the need to protect the dog. He didn't want to get it in trouble. Perhaps he was still holding out hope of keeping it if it showed up again.
Severus sighed. "Harry, I know you are used to doing your own thing, but please understand how much this worries me. There is a man out there who wants to kill you. I do not want you to be in harm's way."
"I'm used to it though," Harry protested.
"You are not used to people trying to protect you; worrying about you," Severus said. "If I had been present last year, I would have been very concerned about your safety. I am here now."
"Okay," Harry said. It was nice to have someone care. "Sorry."
"I am just glad you are safe.""Me too," Harry said with a small smile.
Harry was waiting at the station for the Hogwarts express to pull in so that he could greet his friends. Severus had only allowed this step because Hagrid had promised to accompany them. He craned over the first years in attempt to catch sight of any of his friends but they caught sight of him first.
"Harry!" Hermione said excitedly, though her words were laced with worry. She came over to his left side. Ron and Draco joined him on his right and together they proceeded to the castle.
"Draco, are you okay?" Harry asked. His friend looked even paler than usual.
Draco looked at Harry and shrugged. Harry turned to Hermione for explanation.
"A dementor searched the train for Sirius Black," she said. "Draco fainted when it came in our cabin."
"Me too, mate," Harry said encouragingly.
"I just ran into one a few hours ago and I fainted," Harry said. He dug around in his pocket. "Here, eat this, it helps."
"Thanks," Draco said gratefully, no longer looking quite so embarrassed. "Why did we faint and no one else?"
"I don't know," Harry said honestly. "I'll ask Snape. Oh and Lupin is pretty cool."
"Really?" Ron asked.
The talk of the new professor carried them all the way to the school where they joined the other students in preparing for the feast. They took their customary seats and waited for the sorting.
Gryffindor got a few new faces but once it was over quickly. Then, Dumbledore stepped up for a few words.
"Welcome, everyone," he began, "I hope you all make this another exciting year for Hogwarts. Now, I generally save these remarks for after we eat, but I feel they will be best served here. I would like everyone to give a warm welcome to Professor Lupin, our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher." Clapping spread around the room. "And since Professor Kettleburn's retirement, Professor Hagrid has been appointed as the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher." Slightly less enthusiastic applause accompanied this announcement. Harry and his friends clapped loudly. "And lastly, I am sure that you all know about the fugitive Sirius Black. In order to aid the search and protect the school, dementors have been stationed at the edges of the grounds. Be warned, they will not distinguish between the person they are looking for and the one they find. I advise you to stay well away from the boundaries of the grounds. And with that, enjoy your meal!"
Harry turned back to his friends and found everyone looking at him.
"What?" he asked.
"Dumbledore said that they're at the edge of the grounds," Hermione said. "What were you doing at the edge of the grounds?"
"Um, I saw a dog and went to go pet it," Harry said, aware of how stupid that sounded.
Ron just rolled his eyes. "Besides, why would Siuris Black come to Hogwarts?"
Harry hesitated. "Uh, he may or may not be after me," he said so that only they could hear.
"What?" Ron exclaimed.
"Why are we friends with you?" Hermione said, not meaning it. "You're nothing but trouble.
Draco, still trying to recover from the episode on the trains, simply looked at him.
"Sorry, I guess I can control who wants to kill me," Harry said sarcastically.
"We didn't mean it, Harry," Hermione said earnestly. "It's just that you can't have one normal year, can you?"
Harry shrugged. "Normal is boring. Who would want that?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Shut up and eat," she said, acting like a mother.
Harry grinned and began shoveling food into his mouth. Suddenly, jeers rose up from the Slytherin table as Draco buried his head in his hands. Harry turned to look. Pansy Parkinson was letting out a girlish scream, then pretending to faint. Then, she repeated the process until it grew tiresome.
"Ignore them, Draco," Harry said. "They might as well be making fun of me too."
"Nobody makes fun of the great Harry Potter," he grumbled.
Harry grinned and said cockily, "No one dares."
Draco laughed a bit and continued eating, blocking out the Slytherin's antics.
When at last, the feast had come to a close, they proceeded to the Gryffindor common room. At the portrait, there was a hold up. The prefects pushed their way through.
"Password?" the Fat Lady said.
"Abyssinian Shrivelfig," the prefect said, then stepped inside. The students filed in through the relatively small hole.
Once inside, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco claimed their customary seats by the fire.
"I've missed this," Hermione said with a smile.
"Me too," Draco agreed.
Ron was too busy trying to figure out where the stain on his collar came from to reply.
"Draco, how was your summer?" Harry asked.
"Better," he said with a small smile. "Much better."
"That's good to hear."
"Now let's hope this year is better than the last one," Hermione said.
"Definitely," Harry agreed.
AN: Sorry for the short chapter, but I wanted to resolve that cliffhanger as soon as possible! I hope you all aren't too mad at me :)