If At First

Rails, Rats, and Memos

Chapter Two: Rails, Rats, and Memos

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or affiliated characters, places, and things. They all belong to J.K. Rowling and affiliated companies. This particular plot is mine however. And to make it seem more cohesive to the original stories I am using some of the lines from them, but they are not my material. They came for the excellent mind of their owner.

A/N: To state: Keep the reviews coming! I have not forgotten the contract. I do enjoy the reviews keep them coming, and if anyone knows where I can get some butter beer that would be good too. This means thought, dreams, or the words of a goddess to someone's mind; means parselmouth; and this means the words of the Grim Reaper. Cheers!

As he regained his senses from his senses from his rebirth, his attention was drawn towards his best friend . Hermione Granger, the girl who had supported him during the whole Heir of Slytherin thing fiasco, stood her ground on Sirius' gift, and was the only friend during the first part of Tournament in his previous life. The red-head who sat across from them was far less a friend than Harry had originally thought, but he had his comedic value. Ronald Weasley could be called many things: childish, foolhardy , piggish, and selfish. What the Boy-who-lived could not call him was a 'best mate'; that distinction fell clearly to Hermione now.

"Harry, are you all right?" the sound of Hermione's voice was comforting, and gave reassurance that he was really back.

"Yes, I just felt a little light headed is all." Harry looked over at Ron, and saw him holding out Scabbers. Taking the rodent man from the red head Harry cast a silent stunning charm.

" H arry, what are you doing to Scabbers?!" Ron screamed. This had the desired effect on the ir sleeping companion.

"Be quiet!" Professor Lupin growled. He looked around the room, and the moment his eyes fell on the rat they seemed to widen. Reacting faster than Ron could think the Marauder snatched his old friend out of Harry's hand. "Where did you get this rat?"

"It's not his rat it's my rat! Now give it here." Ron held out his hand.

"Young man, you've been carrying around an animagus." Harry did his best to appear confused, and looked back and forth between his 'friend' and the professor.

He watched as Professor Lupin pulled out a handkerchief and turned it into a small metal box with small air holes. The man explained that it could be a mistake, but he would not be taking any chances. Ron demanded that 'Scabbers' be given back to him. When Lupin said he could accompany him to Professor Dumbledore's office once they arrived at the school Ron looked to his friends. When neither of the other two teens came to his defense Ronald stormed out of the compartment, and by the sound of things he ran right into one Draco Malfoy.

Just like the last time through this time Draco tried to start some kind of confrontation, but unlike last time the new professor was awake and was very upfront about Draco's foolish behavior. The three occupants carried on their conversation, until Wormtail woke up and started making noises. The professor stunned him once more, before going back to sleep. To an extent Harry felt bad that he could not tell the old Marauder what he knew, and then he remembered that John was supposed to give him a list of people he could inform as to what had happened. He just prayed that Remus and Sirius were on that list.

The train continued as usual with its usual occurr ences: the elderly witch with the cart came by around noon; friends found them to chat; Ron tried to be an annoying prat. The last of these things ended in more arguments most of which revolved around Harry's fame and Hermione's nitpicking of his study habits. About twenty minutes into his tirade Harry had enough.

"Look Ron if you cannot accept that your damn rat is an animagus then that's on you, but if you think that I am doing this because I'm the 'famous Harry Potter' you're barking mad. In addition to this if you think Hermione is like your mum you're an idiot." Harry pushed him towards the door. "Now get out of here you jealous pretentious little prat!" With one final shove Ron 'entered' the hallway.

"Watch it Weasley!"

The cold voice came from Harry's right. Looking at the teen females he recognized them as Tracey Davis and Daphne Greengrass. Ron was about to say something, but was cut off by spunky little voice telling the other two girls to move along. She had to be Daphne's sister. Their hair was the only thing separating their appearance aside from the obvious age difference. "Give us a minute Astoria we have a weasel blocking our path."

"Why you…"

"Ron you were the one to run into her, and besides you are blocking the way." With that Harry shut the door.

"Harry what's gotten into you?" Hermione asked the concern clear in her voice.

He looked over at Remus to make sure the man was a sleep. "Hermione I am going to tell you something, and maybe I shouldn't, but I think it will be safe to…"

"Harry if Dumbledore told you not tell people something then you shouldn't." Hermione cut him off.

"It wasn't Dumbledore Hermione. Please just listen."

When she nodded Harry launched into his tale. He told her everything from his last death to the things they had done throughout school. She of course had many questions once he was done. Not the least of which was how she did in her OWLs. Harry wanted to laugh at that question, but thought better of it. When he told her the scores she was both proud and a bit miffed.

"You are telling me that you got top marks in Defense and I didn't?" She quipped.

"What do you expect? I had fought Voldemort twice at that point, and was teaching other students what I knew. So yeah I beat you." Harry held up his hands to deflect a crumpled up piece of parchment. "Well there is something I haven't told you Hermione."

"Oh and what is that? You are the fated lover of," Harry decided to end the sentence himself.

"…Daphne Greengrass yes." He said flatly.

"Who told you this?"

"My Grim Reaper and I don't think they can lie about that stuff. What would be the point I was dead."

"True. But the Ice Queen of Slytherin is your soulmate?" The bushy haired brunette quizzed.

"I know. Socked the hell out of me too. At that moment in time I thought I loved Ginny, but…"

Suddenly, the train stopped moving. While Hermione wondered what was going on Harry stood up and faced the door. This time the Dementor would have a surprise waiting for it. He could feel the temperature drop, and like last time ice started to develop on the glass. Harry could feel the dread and fear creeping up inside of him, and knew one of the foul beasts was nearby. As the door slid open Harry did not let it get one centimeter into the compartment before he cast the Patronus charm. This of course woke up Remus, and while Hermione asked about the spell Harry could hear a scream coming from down the car. He stepped into the hallway and could see two more Dementors outside one of the compartments. He once more cast the Patronus charm and followed it down the train.

As he made his way to the compartment Harry could hear the sobs of several females. One of which sounded like a first year. Once he arrived at the compartment he noticed it was Daphne and her sister that the Dementors were attacking. Daphne though seemed to have been their main target as she was lying on the ground unconscious. He kept reassuring Astoria that her sister was okay, and that she should wake up in a few minutes. When Remus showed up Harry had to bite his lip to stop himself from asking for chocolate for the compartment.

After taking the chocolate that was offered Harry broke off a piece and handed it to Astoria who was still in shambles.

"Take this; it will make you feel better." He started eating the chocolate in his hand when a commotion behind him caused him to draw his wand. What he saw was Ron face first on the ground with Remus Lupin standing there wand drawn and glaring at him. "What is wrong Professor?"

"Your friend here tried to pick my pocket." He looked back to Ronald. "Young man I said you could follow me voluntarily, but now I think it will be mandatory. Ah you're awake."

Harry looked back to Daphne, and saw her hand on her head. "What happened?"

"You passed out because of the Dementors. How are you feeling?" He asked helping her to her feet.

"Fine if you stop holding my hand." Harry quickly let go. "Better. Now who are you?" She was pointing at the new Defense teacher.

"My name is Remus Lupin. I am your new Defense against the Dark Arts Professor. Here take this chocolate it will make you feel better." He broke off a piece of the candy bar and gave it to Daphne. "Now if you will excuse me I have to go speak with the conductor about a few things. Eat." And with that the last free Marauder walked away.

"Hey what's he doing here?" the brutish voice of Crabbe rang through the corridor.

"Helping my sister you prat!" screamed a teary eyed Astoria Greengrass.

"He doesn't need to be here." snapped Malfoy.

"Oh, and you do sir wets himself?" Harry quipped as he looked at Malfoy's stained appearance.

"I did nothing of the…" as he felt the front of his trousers Draco's face went paler (if that was possible), and he quickly ran to the loo. "You will pay for this Potter!" He screamed over his shoulder.

"Unlikely." He looked back to Daphne. "Out of curiosity how do you put up with him?"

"I just ignore most of what he says."

At that Pansy face turned ugly. She started screaming at Daphne who in turn yelled back. Apparently the fandom of Draco Malfoy would be short two of its longest running members. After Crabbe and Goyle made a few stupid comments, Harry said they could join him and Hermione. When Ron vehemently refused to stay with them Harry simply reminded him that he was no longer staying in their compartment. He then helped Astoria (or as she asked him to call her Tori ) with her trunk. As they walked back to the compartment the young first year was asking all kinds of questions, mostly about Harry, which seemed to annoy her sister.

Once they got back in the compartment Hermione started reading her Arithmancy book, and so too did the other two third year girls. While Tori continued to ask Harry question. To Harry they seemed innocent enough, but he could tell that Daphne was either bothered or put off by them; maybe both. After a while the conversation ended, and not to long after that Harry had to step out to let the girls change while he went into the loo to do the same. Once he was done Harry walked back to the compartment, and looking away from the windows knocked on the door. After being given the all clear he opened the door. It seemed the girls were now talking to each other about classes. Hermione was still going to be taking every available elective. This time it was Tracey who asked how she was going to do this, and was assuaged by Hermione's answer of "I'll manage."

As Harry was putting his cloths in his trunk Daphne asked "So you're taking Ancient Runes Harry?"

"What?" Looking at the raven haired teen with a raised eyebrow seemed to elicit giggles from her sister.

"Honestly Harry don't you remember?" Shaking his head only caused his friend to let out a sigh. "I convinced you to take it over Divination don't you remember?"

"Say yes Harry." Harry nearly jumped at hearing John's voice.

"Yes, but what did Ron decide to take?" Harry focused as hard as he could on the new memories he gained.

"He was trying to get you to choose Divinations saying: 'It is an easy course mate'. I just simply reminded you that if you wanted to be an Auror Ancient Runes would make your job easier."

He could barley recall the conversation he had with his 'two' best friends. Harry could remember both events, and this made his memory a chaotic mess. Sure listening to Ron 'paid off' with an easy course, but it also ended in nightmarish scenario at the end of second term. 'Listening' to Hermione changed things, and with that came uncertainty. It still might happen if Fudge did not move to drop the charges. Although knowing who had Fudge in his pocket Harry doubted that this would end well.

Once they arrived at Hogsmeade station Harry and the others bid farewell to Tori, and headed towards the carriages. He resisted the urge to walk and pet the thestrals. He was shocked when Tracey did exactly that, and he didn't really bother asking figuring it was a touchy subject. She looked over at him, and smiled. Deciding to take a chance Harry walked up and petted the nearly skeletal equine. When Hermione asked him what he was doing Harry explained about the misunderstood breed that pulled the students' transportation to the castle. When asked how he knew this he told them it was in the Care of Magical Creatures book, and he told them how to open it. After they moaned about it being dangerous he simply told them it will pay off in the end, and said they might want to read about hippogriffs. The others just looked at him as if he were speaking Mermish.

After arriving at the castle the group split up heading for their respective tables. Ron, Lupin, and Dumbledore did not show up until five minutes after the last senior classman sat down. Things progressed normally till the sorting. Harry heard Professor McGonagall call out Tori's name, and he was expecting like last time for the hat to cry out Slytherin. For the first time in the four years he witnessed the sorting he heard the old hat laugh before it shouted GRYFFINDOR! Harry along with Hermione stood as they applauded their newest housemate, and looking over at Daphne caused Harry to worry. The Ice Queen who was usually unreadable had a look of shock on her face.

"Looks like the Ice Queen is stunned eh Harry?" he heard Neville ask.

"Looks that way," Harry looked back to Daphne. "…but you know she isn't that bad of a person."

"No one cares traitor." Ron spat from down the table.

"Who asked you Ronald?" Harry was doing his best to impersonate Hermione, but the glare the bushy haired girl was giving him meant he was failing miserably.

Nev leaned in and whispered "What is going on between you and Ron?"

"He thinks I cost him his rat, and that he has some kind of God given right to chose who I associate with, and who my friends are." He looked directly at Hermione. "As far as I am concerned Hermione you are my best mate, and Ronald can stick it." Ron turned to him and started talking with his food still in his mouth. Harry was feeling his appetite deplete, and he was sure he wasn't the only one. "I have no desire to see your choice of food, you human waste bin."

The sharp intake of air from those around him signaled shock, but the red on Ron's face meant volcano Ronald Bilius Weasley was about to blow.

"You think you're better than me POTTER! Well here some news for you: You Not! I am better than you, and you know it."

Ron continued to rant about his greatness, and this drew the attention of the entire Great Hall. With a scolding from McGonagall, and the deduction of points (fifty) for his outburst Ron quieted down, but he continued to glare at Harry. Harry looked down the table and saw the twins snickering, and came up with an idea. Channeling his inner Marauder he decided to prod Ron once more.

"Ronald I know some of the ladies find me attractive, but even they do not stare that long." He kept his voice low so as to stay out of the cross hairs of the head lioness.

"What are you talking about Potter?" He snapped back.

"Wow, are we on a last name basis now Weasel?" Harry started an internal countdown and he didn't even make it from five to four when Ron blew up again.

"How are you! You are just an attention seeking prick!" Even though he covered his mouth it was too late.

"Mr. Weasley, another fifty points for your continued misbehavior, and a week's worth of detention. The school year has barely started and you are costing the house points." Professor McGonagall was giving the youngest Weasley male the best death stare she could muster. She had moved from the professor's table to 'discuss' with Ron his misbehavior. "Now follow me Mr. Weasley."

"It was not my fault Harry started it!" He pointed an accusing finger at Harry.

"Enough! Now follow me Mr. Weasley."

Harry watched as the professor and a grumbling redhead left the Great Hall. The rest of the dinner went on without a hitch. Well mostly. Hermione was giving Harry a thorough tongue lashing of his own for what he did to Ron. Tori came down and sat in Ron's old spot for a few minutes wanting to know more about what happened, and to Harry she seemed like social butterfly. Not that it was a bad thing, but given the looks on two Slytherin girls' faces it mean something. What depended on who Harry guessed: Tracey had a mischievous grin on her face, and Daphne while stoic seemed worried. When Tori was done asking her questions she went back to the front of the table, and was soon replaced by Gred or Forge; it was up in the air as to which one. When they got the full details as to what happened on the train, he seemed a bit miffed. Harry was told not to worry about 'Ikle Ronnie' as he rejoined his brother in plotting. Harry almost felt sorry for Ronald; but then he thought of his last death and quickly banished thoughts .

Watching the twins plot and glancing over to Moony brought an idea to mind, one that caused him to smile. He would have to write to Flourish and Blotts about getting some books, and then convincing his best mate to 'partake in the fun'; and that would be a challenge in of itself. He looked one last time at Moony and figured the one and only person who could help him was at the moment on the run. He knew of only one safe way to get him the message, but was worried about Mr. Nosey getting involved. He decided to chance it, and send the message as soon as he got 'the list'.

As the dinner was called to an end a message was delivered to Harry by Percy telling him to meet with the headmaster before heading to the dorms. On his way to the old man's office he thought about the myriad of things this could be about. One was the more recent arguments he started with Ron, two was the Patronus charm that he used on the train, three the capture of Peter Pettigrew, and four would be all of the above. As he made his way he decided to use his inner Slytherin to deal with Professor Dumbledore. Arriving at the statue he gave the password: Starburst. Harry shook his head at the ingenious method for keeping people from knowing them unless they were muggle-born, and/or spent a lot of time in the muggle world. Walking into the office after 'knocking' Harry noticed Madam Bones was standing there with Kingsley Shacklebolt and one neon haired Auror.

After the introduction Dumbledore asked him the obvious question.

"Harry, how did you know about Peter?"

"I have a Sneakoscope that was going off only near the rat. Was he really an animagus?" Harry was trying to pull of the whole innocent look, but was afraid he was failing.

"Who got you the Sneakoscope?" Madam Bones asked.

"One of the Weasleys, I forget who, but like I said Madam Bones I thought something was wrong." He looked over to the old man. "Who was it?"

"Peter Pettigrew and I swear professor, if you don't turn him in I will." Moony said as he entered the room.

"It is beyond him now thanks to young Mr. Potter here." Tonks said.

"You're just saying that because it frees your cousin." The dark skinned Auror said.

Harry answered a few more question from the head of the Auror before Dumbledore asked the one question Harry was silently praying he would not ask. "Now before you go Harry I have heard you cast the Patronus charm. Is that true?"

"Yes sir. After my last two years I thought it wise to do a little advance studying in the Defense against the Dark Arts." He tried to give the best poker face he could. He could feel a warm pulse on his chest, and looking down he saw the pin's throne portion glowing. Looking back at the professor he saw a befuddled look on Dumbledore's face. "Is something wrong professor?"

"No nothing is wrong Harry, and I swear to you I will do everything I can to get the charges against your godfather dropped."

Harry knew he was being baited, but bit anyway. "I have a godfather sir?"

"Yes Harry, it is Sirius Black."

"Oh." He smiled internally at the headmaster's expression. "Can I go now sir?"

"Yes Harry, you may go." The look on Dumbledore's face was a mixture of shock and confused .

As Harry made his way back to the dorms he decided to stop by the loo. As he was taking care of nature's call he felt the room get colder, and as he washed his hands he looked in the mirror he jumped. There standing behind him was a 'man' draped in a dark cloak, and instead of a face he had a bare skull. He was also carrying a scythe. Spinning around he saw his Grim Reaper, and turned around to look in the mirror again to see the man standing where the cloaked figure once was. He turned around and glared at the man.

"Sorry I couldn't resist." He held up his hands defensively.

"No problem, just don't scare me to death."

"I just showed up to give you the list, and to tell you not to change everything as it will make Dumbles a little too clingy." He pulled out a piece of parchment and handed it to Harry.

Before he read the list he asked "What was going on with the pin?"

"Lady Aset wanted it to prevent mind reading from Dumbles and Snapie boy. Tom is not on that block to make him annoyed that you have 'cheated death'."

"That will make him hate me more." Harry seethed.

"Easy Harry that is kind of the point, because you are to OWN ALL of the Deathly Hollows. To answer your next question these are ancient artifacts that have passed many hands. Your family has owned one for generations."

"My cloak?" asked Harry.

"Yes, now here is the list of people you can tell." John hand him a piece of parchment.

Harry just nodded, and looked down at the list.

List of People Granted Permission to Know

Sirius Orion Black (Padfoot)

Hermione Jean Granger

Daphne Susan Greengrass

Luna Lovegood (Year four no sooner)

Remus John Lupin (Moony)

Neville Longbottom

Fred Weasley

George Weasley

Harry looked up, but John was gone. He just smiled, and went to the third year boy's dorm. Opening the window, he used patronus charm to send a message. He smiled and closed the window. What he read the following morning in a special edition of the Daily Prophet made him smile.

Sirius Black freed! Dumbledore blows lid off twelve year cover up!

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