Harry Potter and the ? (Prisoner of Azkaban)

The Firebolt

Sirius was still staring vacantly down at the book in his hands as if fearing it was going to leap up and rip his face off any second, so taking pity on him Harry got to his feet and offered his hand out for the book. When he still didn’t respond to that, Harry leaned over and gently tugged the book out of his slack grip, but before he could head back to his spot to read James voiced “It’s getting pretty late into the night. How about we take a break for food?”

Lily nodded in agreement and Harry was happy to follow her into the kitchen and help again, leaving the three stunned boys in place.

Finding out James was dead was one of the most heart-wrenching things his friends had ever considered. Of course they weren’t naive, they recognized they would all die eventually, but the manner in which it was to come, and so soon, had terrified them from the very beginning. Now here they were, yet again, to find another of theirs lost too soon for this life, and for what? Because Peter had panicked and tried to confront Sirius, only for the matter to be blown into historical proportions? Where was the justice in that? The bloodlust it ensued in the friends to find out who’d done this to their friend was hardly contained even now as they sat in a stewing silence.

In the kitchen, Harry was having a more pleasant chat with his mother. “I didn’t know Sirius was my Godfather. How come you guys haven’t mentioned it?”

Lily thought back for a moment to realize they hadn’t outright told him this before nodding and saying “guess it just hadn’t crossed our mind to tell you dear. There are plenty of little things like that, just passing comments we hardly realize you wouldn’t get. Sorry love, but now you know.”

Harry chuckled for a moment, passing her something and inspecting this bubbling warmth that this seemed to cause him. He had a Godfather? He obviously knew now why Sirius hadn’t been there for him through the years, but something about realizing this made him smile. Of course his thirteen-year-old self had been devastated at the news, but right now all he could think of was, what if Sirius’ name really did get cleared? His family seemed very sure this was going to happen, and he had no reasons to doubt them. If that did happen, then that could very possibly mean he would leave the Dursleys? He may actually regain memories of a home life he was only getting a glimpse of now?

His gut wanted to argue the point, there was no settling feeling saying his thoughts now had any concrete to them, but the mood of this book had been so low for so long now, he refused to let himself ruin this fantasy and would cling to it for as long as possible.

Dinner was mostly a silent affair, the shock still weighing heavily on all of them as Harry went to pick the book back up. Now that he at least partially knew what had been bothering him about that trip into Hogsmeade Harry’s mind had settled down some, though that lingering prickle that he was still missing something left him with an anxious feeling as he began to read.

Harry had no memory of traveling back to the common room, just that it happend a lot faster then when he came down.

Sirius winced at his remembered light joke of before, hating how this book seemed to continue twisting and mocking his very being.

He was too busy analyzing every word of that conversation, one thing in particular standing out, why hadn’t anybody ever told him?

‘Because the one who should have wasn’t around’ Remus bitterly thought, wanting to curse himself nearly as much as anyone else the more this dragged on.

Fudge, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Mr. Weasley,

“Arthur might not have known,” Lily said fairly “I’m fairly sure he doesn’t even know you two, and as Fudge did say, this didn’t really seem that widely known.”

Harry nodded in understanding, knowing he hadn’t held this against the Weasley’s, though feeling rather certain he had wanted to demand this from someone.

any number of people should have told Harry that his parents were murdered because of their supposed best friend’s knife in the back.

Both James and Remus gave Sirius a very careful look, noticing at once how his hands twisted up in his lap at the implication, but he seemed to have taken Remus’ words to heart at least somewhat. Sirius just had to know he’d never do anything like this, accidentally or not, so Harry didn’t let that horrid question linger.

They got back to the common room to find the twins had let off some dungbombs to let out some steam.

Lily crinkled up her nose in disgust, not really understanding how stinking up the common room would make them feel better, but knowing this behavior all too well from her own boys. If given half the chance, the present Marauders would cause mayhem in the school right now to get rid of some built up tension; but they weren’t in school anymore, and they were having to learn to cope with this in other ways.

Harry didn’t want them to get the chance to ask how his trip had gone,

All three boys gave a horrible jerk at that, disgusted that something like Harry’s first trip into Hogsmeade, and the use of the map at all, would be ruined by this. It just didn’t seem fair they couldn’t stay happy for one whole chapter anymore.

and went up to his room instead and dug out something Hagrid had given him at the end of his first year, a photo album filled with pictures of his parents.

This happy little reminder did spike up the mood at least a bit. Of course none of them had forgotten this treasured gift, and it was warming beyond belief to know Harry clearly valued it so much.

He curled up in his bed and began flipping until he came across their wedding photo.

“Ah” Sirius murmured, nodding in understanding now. Harry had once mentioned he thought he knew him back when Hagrid had given him this book, at the time Harry had simply settled on the idea he must have seen a picture of him. Now they understood it was wrong, but it was still interesting to know which picture Harry had latched onto.

His mother and father were easily picked out and usually Harry’s sole attention, but now he glanced at his father’s right hand side, where the best man stood, whom he’d never thought about before.

Sirius wanted to mock pout at that, but just couldn’t raise up the energy at yet another reminder of how little Harry knew about him, and the manner that he continued learning about him hurt like a scalding knife tearing chunks out of his soul.

If he hadn’t known now, he wouldn’t believe it was the same person. The Black in the photo was young and carefree, clearly laughing along, when compared to the more recent photo he’d seen of the skull like villain.

James and Remus couldn’t even imagine it. Sirius so unrecognizable to his boisterous nature as to not be recognized like this! It was something they refused to linger on any longer then was possible.

He wondered if Black was already on the other side in this captured moment,

Harry wanted to stop and give him a sorry look for ever thinking that, in his defense he hadn’t actually known him at the time, but he knew it was only going to get worse so forced himself to keep going. The words would have jammed up in his throat anyways, because of that terrible spot he couldn’t fix. He was convinced now more then ever Sirius had a reason for being at school, a murderous reason. It couldn’t really be Harry though...right? The fact that he couldn’t answer himself gave him chills as much as anything he’d been hearing.

if he felt anything for the other people in this photo, if he had any idea he was fixing to spend years in Azkaban and come out looking like a different man.

“I sincerely doubt he actually knew that” Lily muttered sarcastically under her breath, grimacing right along with everyone else at these implausible questions.

Then Harry remembered that dementors had no effect on him,

“Maybe not while I’m a dog” Sirius sighed, still vacantly wondering why he had acted so normal around Fudge. Surely it was just because he was starved for attention.

and Black didn’t have to hear Lily screaming and pleading against her son’s death. Harry slammed the book shut and put it away,

Sirius winced anew that his face had at any time caused such a horrible reaction to Harry, but the boy sounded so miserable in that moment he didn’t want to say anything for fear of making it worse.

and rolled over to feign sleep just as Ron came in, but Harry didn’t react.

‘Can’t hardly blame him’ Remus thought sadly, ‘everyone wants to be alone sometimes.’

Ron left, and Harry was left with a building hatred pounding through him.

“I’m sorry Sirius” Harry couldn’t stop himself this time, his wide green eyes looking the opposite of hatred in that moment. He clearly felt guilt ridden about ever thinking something like this when now he instinctively knew just how wrong he was. He was forcefully ignoring that other part of him, Sirius must have a reason for this, no man who looked as guilt stricken upon hearing of all this could really have done these things.

“S’alright Harry” Sirius sighed, trying to put some feeling into his voice even as he rubbed at his face, trying to force this stiff almost frozen expression of a scowl away. “Not like I can really do anything to fix it, least you’re not thinking it for the rest of your life, that’s all that really matters.”

James couldn’t help but give Sirius a reassuring pat on the shoulder all the same, like he was trying to reward him for the attempt even if it did come out a little hollow anyways.

He was picturing the whole thing in his head like a video, Black from that wedding photo blowing up Peter Pettigrew,

All three of them made a horrible choking noise at that horrible sentence, like it wasn’t bad enough hearing it the first time, but now realizing Harry was going to sit around and think about it nearly as much as thinking about his Mother gave each of them a deep desire to blast their own memories of this particular pain. Maybe if Harry didn’t feel so wretched for what he was currently putting Sirius threw he would have focused a little more on how odd and just plain wrong that sentence was for him to say, his gut giving an absent nudge of pain going unnoticed.

who looked like Neville,

“Not a bad comparison really” James said a little too loudly, looking for anything to take his mind off of this topic. “Wish you could get to know Neville a little better all the same.”

Harry nodded in agreement, having a fairly good feeling his friendship with his fellow Gryffindor only gets stronger through the years.

and Black’s voice, though he had no real idea what it could be,

Sirius had a fairly good idea that type of reminder would never not feel like a stab to the heart.

whispering to his master that he was handing over the Potters. Then he once again remembered the screaming...

Dialogue jumped in by telling Harry how bad he looked.

“Oh thank you, because I’m sure that made him feel so much better” Remus rolled his eyes.

Since Harry hadn’t actually fallen asleep during the night, this made sense.

Lily had to bite at her lip to stop herself from voicing the opinion if this continued he really should go and visit Madam Pomphrey for some sort of dreamless potion to help with this restlessness. The only thing restraining her was the reminder of how rarely Harry actually sought out help, and she doubted this time would really be different.

He’d fallen into a fitful doze sometime around daybreak, woken up to an empty room, and come downstairs to find Ron eating a Peppermint Toad and rubbing at his stomach,

“Probably had one to many of those” James muttered randomly.

while Hermione was doing homework on three separate tables.

Sirius was more than happily distracted by letting out a low whistle and admitting “almost forgot how many classes she was in, Merlin it’s a bloody miracle she even takes the chance to go to Hogsmeade. You’d think she’d have to be doing homework twenty-four seven to keep up.”

Harry asked why the place was deserted, and Ron reminded it was Christmas break, most everyone went home.

“Can’t rightly blame them” Lily said with some forced cheerfulness, more than happy Harry’s friends were at least looking out for him, or trying to, with staying behind.

Harry collapsed in a chair without comment, and Hermione repeated how bad Harry looked.

“I’m sure that made him feel just as swell the second time” Remus snorted in real amusement.

Harry brushed it off, and Hermione threw a quick look at Ron before beginning to tell him that what they’d heard the other day, shouldn’t make him go doing anything stupid.

“Stupid like what?” James demanded in disbelief. “What exactly do they think you’re going to do with this new information, except to rightly sulk a bit.”

Harry just shrugged, he remembered that poisonous hatred hadn’t exactly worn off, but he’d no real idea what or how he was supposed to channel it at that time, so what Hermione actually thought he was going to do he didn’t know.

Harry asked what she was talking about, and Ron snapped that he shouldn’t be going after Black.

“That would be a sight” Remus rolled his eyes at that mental image.

“I still insist Harry might really win that fight” Sirius joked lightly, half wishing Harry would do this anyways. It was high time someone gave Harry some real facts, which he was sure he could deliver, rather than all of this tosh he kept getting.

It was clear from the way they were acting they’d already talked about this before Harry woke up, but he didn’t respond.

“You’re friends never cease to amuse me” Lily chuckled. “Who rehearses this type of conversation?” Privately she was warmed that Harry had such caring friends they were so worried about Harry like this, despite how misguided it was, as Harry really should be allowed to be as angry as he wanted about this mess.

Instead he asked if they knew what he heard whenever he was around a dementor.

‘Guess it’s a good thing he tells someone’ James mentally sighed, bracing himself to hear this living nightmare all over again.

They obviously didn’t, so he told them all the gritty details.

‘I probably will be a real murderer when Harry really does get that name’ Sirius mentally snarled, but kept that one to himself for fear of the retribution his friends would give him.

While shocked at the horrible news, Hermione insisted it still didn’t change that Black should be caught by the proper people, put back in Azkaban, which is what he deserved.

‘Gotta love Hermione’s faith in him’ Remus frowned without any real heat, knowing Hermione was speaking without all the facts, but detesting anyone saying this about his friend.

Harry just scoffed, as Fudge had said that place had no effect on him, it wasn’t even a real punishment. Ron looked scared now as he asked what Harry did want, Black dead?

“Can’t even say that’s harsh, I’m thinking something similar about the person who did do this” James scowled.

Hermione looked very freaked out now as she said of course Harry didn’t want anyone dead!

Harry didn’t offer an opinion now anymore than he did then. At the time he really couldn’t claim he would have batted an eye if that did happen, now the very thought of it caused a horrible twist inside of him. He lacked commenting this though, because he didn’t think Sirius would appreciate the first answer anymore then his memory would appreciate him poking at an echo of pain he didn’t know how to dwell on.

Harry didn’t answer, he was just positive that the fact Black was out was eating away at him.

“I’m honestly curious what you really will do” Sirius couldn’t help but chuckle, knowing Harry was doing it for all the wrong reasons, but willing to encourage anything that would get the two of them in the same room alone.

Then he pointed out that Malfoy knew.

“What’s this?” Remus asked curiously, trying to cast his mind around for the last time Harry had spoken to Malfoy.

That day in Potions, he’d mocked Harry that he should have gone and killed Black already, for revenge.

“Oh” they all muttered, frowning all over again. None of them really wanted to consider Malfoy a credible source for anything, but the fact that a Death Eater would know about this instance really struck a nerve. It even crossed James mind that, what if it had been a Death Eater to orchestrate this whole thing? He found this the most likely scenario yet, but he wanted to think on it a while more before he offered it to the others.

Ron was insulted as he told Harry he was taking Malfoy’s words over them.

“Harry’s hardly ‘taking his advice’, he’s just noting something from before” Remus frowned, rather as annoyed by this as Ron that Malfoy would have any involvement.

Then he continued by telling Harry something he’d heard, that Order of Merlin, First Class, Pettigrew had received was sent to his mother with only a finger in a box, because that was the largest part of him they found.

“Ew” Lily muttered, trying to force that mental image out of her mind rather than bursting into tears that this was a fate of someone she considered a friend. Her reaction was mild compared to Peter’s friends, who had gone a pasty color and looked more likely to vomit the longer this was talked about.

Harry was blinking spastically down at the page, like his Mum trying his very hardest to push something away, in his case a feeling of significance. Something about this, a single finger… then a headache began forming again and he forced himself to keep reading.

Ron was insisting that Black was to unstable to go near, but Harry ignored Ron, saying Malfoys dad would know all about this.

“Half wish you’d actually ignored all of what he’d said” Sirius muttered, thinking he’d have been more than happy if they’d never learned that bit of trivia.

Remembering that Malfoy Senior was in Voldemort’s top ranks, and Ron tried to cut Harry off and told him to say You-Know-Who.

“And that still hasn’t gotten old” Remus muttered for his own amusement, at this point fairly certain Harry never was going to start doing that and the reactions from others would continue. Which mostly caused pride in him, finding Harry’s resistance against this a very good parallel to his father.

Harry was still talking, saying Malfoy would have known Black as well, then Ron cut in again that those Malfoys would be just as happy if Harry wound up like Pettigrew.

“I want to curse Ron into a million pieces” Lily snarled, somehow managing to find Ron’s crude humor in even more poor a taste then Sirius’ of late.

Then Ron told Harry Malfoy had just said all of that to distract him from the coming Quidditch game.

“Harry can beat him with one arm behind his back” James chirped, causing bursts of still dulled amusement from all of them. The mantra of ‘they could fix this’ was pretty much the only thing sustaining them at this point, as the fate of their friend now seemed as hot a topic as Sirius, and they all wanted to vomit or murder someone for the continuing reminder. It seemed to hurt all the worse because Peter wasn’t here now, they couldn’t just glance over at their friend whenever they needed the reminder. Now they really wished they’d convinced Harry to stick around.

Hermione looked likely to cry any second as she begged Harry to listen, that going after Black wouldn’t do them any good because it’s what Black wants.

“Going to have to agree with Hermione on that one, under a different context anyways” Sirius huffed.

Surely Harry’s parents didn’t want Harry to get hurt, and wouldn’t want him to do that.

Lily said “no” at the same time as James said “yes.”

The parents gave each other the stank eye for a moment before James cracked and smiled over at her, responding “I think we technically answered a different half of her question.”

Lily couldn’t help but return the smile and laughed at the exchange.

Harry shot back he had no idea what they’d ever want, because Black had them killed!

“Merlin, can’t have one decent moment anymore can they” Remus sighed low enough only Sirius heard him as James and Lily turned away from each other, faces dropping and biting at their lips at such a reminder, while Harry’s smile dropped right out as well.

Crookshanks interrupted by jumping on the table, and Ron’s pocket gave a shiver.

“Inquisitive little thing” Sirius grumbled, really not looking forward to another fight breaking out right now and hoping that cat would stay put.

Ron tried for something new, instead saying they should go and visit Hagrid, they hadn’t in awhile.

“Not without good reason” Harry sighed in reminder, since the moment he’d read that he had an inkling of a feeling what Ron’s words were fixing to cause in him then, and it wasn’t good.

Hermione tried to protest Harry still wasn’t allowed out of school,

Maybe it was all the pent up frustration at this particular book, but the room gave a collective groan and grumble of annoyance for Hermione still trying to enforce that rule.

but Harry was all for it, wanting to have a go at Hagrid for never mentioning any of this before.

James sucked in air backwards through his teeth, creating a sound effect that made it obvious he very dearly didn’t want to sit in on this conversation.

That was not what Ron had meant at all,

“Curse irony” Sirius scowled, still not really over the fact that he normally loved the full attention being on him, and the way it kept getting thrown in his face like this. Remus gave him a gentle nudge in pity, having a pretty good idea what Sirius’ little comment meant and both agreeing with him and unable to think of anything to make him feel better.

and tried for something new like a game, but Harry wouldn’t hear of it and marched out of the common room. They had to go past the usual standard of ye old insults.

Lily had to do a double take before reminding herself of the current portrait, then frowned when she realized why hadn’t the Fat Lady come back yet? Exactly how badly had Sirius hurt her painting? The boys looked so miserable over there though, she wondered if they even registered this, and she wasn’t going to be the one to bring it up.

When they reached Hagrid’s though, they knocked without an answer. Hermione wondered if Hagrid had stepped out,

“Wouldn’t put it past him” Remus shrugged “I’m sure the holidays leave him rather busy with both of his jobs.”

but Ron pressed his ear to the door and heard some odd thrumming inside, like someone sobbing.

“Is-is that Fang crying” Sirius frowned, thinking that wasn’t really how a dog would be described to cry, but really unsure as to why it would be Hagrid.

James thumped Sirius on the ear for what he considered a stupid comment.

Harry began knocking on the door even louder, calling out who it was, and Hagrid answered this time with red swollen eyes.

“Oh no” Lily cooed at once, wanting to wrap Hagrid in a hug even if her arms wouldn’t reach all the way around. They’d all felt some pretty mild annoyance at Hagrid’s part in the story in the last chapter, but they could hardly sit there and blame him more than anyone else when it was clear McGonagall and every other person in the world believed Sirius had done all of that as well. So their first reaction to hearing Hagrid was upset was an equal amount of concern as Harry, all of them deciding they really couldn’t hold a grudge against someone who had done so much for Harry.

He took one look at Harry, realized he’d heard, and wrapped Harry up in a hug.

“Heard what?” Remus muttered, getting jittery at once for what other possible bad thing could happen.

Hagrid being so much larger, this wasn’t very easy. Harry felt like his spin was about to snap in half, when Ron and Hermione saved him by taking one of Hagrid’s arms each and leading him back inside.

It was a good thing Hagrid still seemed to have some sense of himself, as they were all sure Ron and Hermione’s combined strength really couldn’t have done this if he hadn’t wanted to.

Hagrid didn’t protest as he stumbled back to a chair, tears still leaking down into his beard.

“The poor dear” Lily began fretting, her first instinct to get to her feet and make him a nice hot cup of tea so that he could tell her what the problem was. She only hoped Hermione or one of the boys would think to do something like this as well.

Hermione asked what was wrong, and Hagrid waved at a letter on the table. With permission, Harry picked it up and began to read, the first sentence stating this was about that hippogriff attack.

“Oh crap” they all muttered, having nearly forgotten the whole instance. It hadn’t happened that long ago, but considering the things they learned since then it may as well have been a life time. The whole thing had pretty much lost its impact, but clearly there had been further repercussions then what they’d been expecting.

It explained that Dumbledore made it clear Hagrid had no part to blame in the student attack,

“Well there’s that” Lily let out a breath of relief.

“So what’s wrong with Hagrid” James frowned, leaning forward in concern.

but the hippogriff in question still needed to be addressed, after the complaint Mr. Lucius Malfoy filled.

Sirius proceeded to call Mr. Malfoy quite a few colorful terms, and Lily felt so upset on Hagrid’s part she couldn’t even find it in her to scold him for it.

A date was set for Hagrid and the hippogriff in question to appear in front of the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures.

“They want him to take a hippogriff into London?” Harry reread his mind scattering around for something that didn’t make him squirm in displeasure. This was very clearly what had Hagrid so upset, and the thought of one of his friends in this state truly did cause him to want to pursue action. The random question was just to give him time to think, though at the time he’d been more shell shocked at the events and knew he hadn’t said anything.

“It’s not impossible” James answered with a heavy sigh. “I’m sure someone will cast a spell on him, disguise him as a regular horse until he gets inside or something.”

“Why do they want Buckbeak to be there at all? They can hardly ask him what happened” Sirius added on his own question.

This wasn’t Lily’s particular department, but she took a swing anyways and offered “most likely they might try and gauge his attitude, try and see for themselves how dangerous he truly is. Test him a bit before they give a proper ruling.”

Harry found the subject rather fascinating, but knew better then to try and linger on the subject when he really wanted his answers from the book on what was going to happen.

Ron offered comfort that once they met Buckbeak, they’d realize nothing was wrong with him, and this problem should go away at last.

“They really should” Remus agreed, rubbing the back of his neck in thought. “Honestly the whole instance was Malfoy’s fault, so if Lucius didn’t have so much ‘influence’ it might not have even gotten this far.”

“This is actually pretty similar to what happens when a muggles dog bites someone” Lily shrugged “so I might disagree with you on that, but I’ve never dealt with anything like this personally so I don’t know all the details.”

Hagrid didn’t agree, saying that this Committee was known to have it out for interesting creatures.

“I want to call a biased opinion on that” James muttered “but in this case, Hagrid’s right. Buckbeak really wasn’t at full fault.”

“Actually I’m in full agreement with Hagrid” Sirius shrugged “that Committee really is too analytical when it comes to a very broad topic. They think they can make rules to cover every instance, and it’s just not possible when dealing with live animals.”

Harry watched curiously when it looked like Remus was about to jump in, and the boys looked like they were going to start a whole debate on the matter, but then Lily cleared her throat with a warm smile and said “we can pick this up later boys, I’d like to get this chapter done before midnight.”

They all rolled their eyes but backed down all the same.

Then they heard an odd sound, and turned to find said hippogriff in front of the fireplace, eating something bloody.

“Lovely” Remus crinkled up his nose at the thought, but couldn’t really blame Hagrid for this either.

Hagrid explained he couldn’t bring himself to leave Buckbeak out in the snow, not during Christmas.

“Aw” Lily smiled brightly, she thought this was adorable and wouldn’t put it past herself to think the same of her own pet.

The trio hadn’t always seen eye to eye with Hagrid and his pets, but in this case Harry was on Hagrid’s side. By all previous records, Buckbeak was by far the best.

“I’ll give Harry full points for that spot on comparison” James nodded with amusement.

Hermione was still talking about the case, saying they’d just have to build him up a good strong go and he’d have to win. Hagrid wasn’t convinced, saying Malfoy would just pay them all off to see his way.

Sirius scowled and muttered a few things about how the system worked, which no one really argued him on at this point.

Harry asked if Dumbledore would help

“Not really sure Dumbledore could do anything in this instance” Remus frowned thoughtfully “he wasn’t there. Sure he could vouch for Hagrid’s opinion on the matter; maybe his presence would hold as much weight as Malfoy’s.”

“Let’s hope then” Lily nodded in agreement.

but Hagrid said Dumbledore had done as much as he could, and he was so busy dealing with Black running around.

“Well now I just feel awful, taking time away from a very important matter” Sirius said sincerely. James and Remus couldn’t tell how sarcastic he was being, but at least he hadn’t flinched when his name was mentioned this time, so that was progress.

Hermione and Ron gave a wary look at Harry, clearly worried that Hagrid had brought up the reminder Harry wanted to yell at Hagrid for not sharing certain things,

“Oh yeah” they muttered, that having been the original reason for this visit, and really hoping Harry wouldn’t turn this back. While the case of Buckbeak wasn’t a happy topic, it was still loads better then what Harry wanted.

but Harry couldn’t bring himself to do it when he saw the state Hagrid was in.

“You are such a sweet boy” Lily smiled at her son, taking a moment to brush her hand through his hair at this bout of thoughtfulness.

Harry couldn’t help but blush but couldn’t deny that he did appreciate the affection all the same.

Instead he said Hagrid could call them as witnesses, and they’d say what really happened. Hermione agreed that she could read up on previous such cases, and find out how they’d won their trials.

“Why am I not surprised Hermione has read a book on this” Remus chuckled.

“I think her life’s goal is to read every book in the world” Sirius smirked.

Ron floundered, then offered to make some tea.

“Thank you Ron” Lily beamed.

The boys were too busy laughing at such a random input.

Harry just stared at him, and Ron blushed it was what his mum did to comfort people.

“Must be a girl thing” Sirius snickered, ignoring the haughty look from said woman.

After many more reassurances, Hagrid got himself together,

“Turns out to be a rather good thing you came down there” James beamed. “I’d feel wretched if Hagrid had been down there by himself like this all through the holidays.”

“Good things can come from the most unexpected places” Remus smirked.

“Enough fortune cookies from you” Sirius rolled his eyes at him.

saying he’d been wallowing too much about Buckbeak, and Black, and no one liking his classes,

“Can you blame us” Harry sighed, then he added on “course I can’t hardly blame Hagrid, it’s not actually his fault.”

but Hermione was quick to correct and lied they loved them! Ron adding on the same, while crossing his fingers under the table.

The boys couldn’t help but snicker at this, finding Ron’s reaction adorable to the many lies they’d pulled off by this time in their life.

Then he asked how those flobberworms were doing, and Hagrid admitted they’d all died from lettuce overdose. Ron couldn’t keep the happiness out of his voice as he said how sad that was.

“How on earth will the class live with themselves” Sirius smirked, not bothering one bit.

Then Hagrid shivered and admitted being around those dementors wasn’t helping, gave him nightmares of back when he’d had his stint in Azkaban.

Sirius blinked spastically, for the first time coming back to that random connection. While he’d yet to ever go to Azkaban himself, and here’s praying he never would, he was pretty sure it was a big place and the odds he’d been around Hagrid during that time were slim. Mostly it reminded him of Lily’s snippy little threat from back during the beginning of the second book, and how not funny that was anymore.

Hermione couldn’t seem to help herself as she asked how bad it was there.

“Just can’t stay off this topic for more than five minutes lately” James scowled, wanting to block Sirius’ ears from having to continually hear about this. He figured that would only result in a wrestling match that neither of them would win, which would only annoy Lily, so he restrained himself.

Hagrid said he couldn’t even properly describe it, just a swirl of every bad feeling he’d ever had, like the day he was expelled, his dad dying, Norbert being taken away.

“That’s one of his worst memories” Remus couldn’t help but blurt out.

“Wow, think we underestimated how much he liked that dragon” Sirius shuddered in renewed disgust. As if mentioning all of this wasn’t bad enough, now he had that dragon reminder to deal with on top of everything.

He tried to explain it was like losing yourself, your mind being eaten away and only the worst things left in place, and when he’d finally been let out it was like being reborn. Of course the dementors weren’t happy to see him go.

Sirius was leaning so far into the couch he seemed to be trying to merge with it, his vacant hands kept patting his knees or twisting in his lap as he continued trying very forcibly to not think about himself in this situation, plenty of his worst memories already coming to mind, more clearly to come…

James and Remus exchanged heart wrenched looks, but what could they really say? There were only so many times they could help him and try to convince him they weren’t going to let this happen to him, but it was disturbing them far more than anything to see how much this affected him. Sirius wasn’t known for letting things get to him, so the sever reaction he continued to have to this, something he must know they refused to allow, was scaring them more than anything.

Hermione protested that Hagrid had been innocent, and Hagrid just snorted as he told that they didn’t care. They were soulless creatures who just wanted another body to feed off of. He had been considering letting Buckbeak go, just getting the hippogriff fly away and escape,

“That could work” Sirius said loudly, anything to keep the conversation away from that prison. “Just say he got loose and flew away, they really couldn’t say otherwise.”

“I suppose it depends on how loyal Buckbeak is to Hagrid” Remus shrugged, more than happy to play along for as long as possible. “Because if Buckbeak ever decided to come back, and Malfoy noticed, it would cause more harm than good.”

but he was afraid that would get him sent back to Azkaban.

Lily’s heart broke into tiny little pieces upon hearing that. It was bad enough watching Sirius being forced to listen to this ordeal, now Hagrid was having just as many issues and she couldn’t help either of them. It made her feel helpless, not a feeling Lily Potter ever enjoyed. There must be some way to fix all of this, make it so that such a place as Azkaban couldn’t even be an option. While she’d heard of some gruesome stories of people who she had considered did deserve that place, now that she’d heard of two separate instances of people wrongly being in there, she was beginning to question the place as a whole.

While their trip to Hagrid’s hadn’t exactly been a cheerful one, it far from erased Harry’s feelings on Black, but it gave him something new to focus on.

“There’s the bright side” James rolled his eyes with forced laughter, happy for any brief change in the mood.

They kept their promise and tramped back to the castle to start doing research for Hagrid’s case.

“You three have got to be the only students who use the library so frequently” Remus chuckled. “All three years now, and you lot have had a reason to go in and grab seemingly random books. Most students just use it for homework.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment” Harry chuckled.

They spent hours discussing anything that looked likely, Hermione coming across one case where the hippogriff had been convicted, then voicing how disgusting it was what they’d done to it.

“I do not want to know” Lily frowned, more than happy when Harry continued on without the added comment of what did happen.

Ron found one where a manticore got off, but that was because everyone was to scared to go near it.

“That’s a great idea,” Sirius snorted “let’s make Buckbeak so scary no one wants to go near him, I’m sure he’ll live a long and happy life.”

“The worst part is, I still can’t tell if you’re kidding” Remus frowned at him, which Sirius ignored.

The rest of the castle was enjoying the break much more, putting up the usual holiday cheer even for the few students around.

“They’d put those up if no students stayed” James shrugged “I think the teachers enjoy doing it for themselves honestly.”

The halls were soon filled with the good smells of a holiday feast, even Scabbers could be seen poking his nose out of Ron’s pocket curiously.

“Poor little thing” James snickered.

“Hope Ron slips him something nice” Remus agreed.

Harry was woken up Christmas day by Ron chucking a pillow in his face.

“Well that was pleasant” Lily snickered.

“Sincerely doubt Harry would mind” Sirius pointed out.

Ron was already digging into his own presents, voicing his annoyance that he’d gotten another maroon sweater.

“Please tell me he actually thanks his mother for that, no matter the color” Lily rolled her eyes.

“I’m getting the sense of no” Remus smirked.

Harry had received one as well, Mrs. Weasley had sent him a scarlet colored one with the Gryffindor lion knitted in,

“Now see, why couldn’t she have just done that for Ron, I’m sure he would have found that much cooler” Sirius rolled his eyes.

plus some sweets.

Lily relished this gift while it lasted, trying to brace herself as much as possible for the horrid gift she was now expecting from the Dursleys.

Then Harry noticed a particularly large package, and he opened it to find a broomstick.

“A broomstick?” James repeated so loudly, Sirius started to rub his ear in annoyance before his eyes lit up like Christmas as well. “What kind” Sirius demanded at once nearly as loud as James just had.

“Who sent it” Remus demanded, nearly bouncing in place in excitement.

Lily had started by giggling, she couldn’t help it at their childlike delight of something like this, though even her son looked nearly as deliriously happy at this prospect, but at Remus’ question it gave them all a brief pause to turn that over.

“Must have been me,” Sirius shrugged, “I really can’t think up anyone else.”

“I’ll buy that” James nodded eagerly. “No think about it” he persisted when Lily didn’t look convinced “Remus most likely told Sirius that Harry had lost his broom after Sirius had left, and do you really think Sirius wouldn’t not buy Harry anything less than another broomstick?”

“How would he pay for it though” Lily countered, this being the only thing she was really stuck on. “I doubt he’s carrying around that kind of gold on him.”

“There are ways to access your account without withdrawing in person” Remus reminded. “Personally I agree, I can see Sirius doing this easily.”

Harry was laughing with giddy excitement, feeling very sure indeed they were right on the spot with this one. He decided to risk it and told them as much aloud, causing the brightest smile in hours to appear on all of them, more than making up for the sharp spike of pain Harry received for that memory returning early. He didn’t care though, he’d do it again in a heartbeat his family looked so happy for something like this to have happened to him.

Ron nearly fell off his bed in shock when he saw it was a Firebolt.

James and Sirius nearly passed out from overloaded excitement. Harry had just gotten an international broomstick! The very one they’d been drooling over during his summer holidays! It was too good to be true.

Then Remus burst out laughing watching Sirius, and only continuing when he demanded to know what was so funny. “You-” he finally choked out in between chuckles “-you would catch up on the latest model of brooms. I’m just sitting here imagining you grabbing hold of the nearest paper and checking all the Quidditch League Status’ and-” he trailed off again, causing everyone else to laugh along. Sirius wasn’t even going to try and deny he was obsessed enough with his sport he would have gone out of his way to update himself like this as soon as possible. Merlin, he wouldn’t have put it past himself to go and buy two of those things, one for Harry and one for himself.

It was indeed, a replica of that same broom he’d been thinking on all summer.

James and Sirius were shivering in place, looking like at any second they were going to get to their feet and run to the nearest Quidditch store to get their own. Lily was still giggling from before, doubling up now at how enthusiastic they were being. Remus restrained himself from reminding them this hadn’t actually come out yet.

Ron was barely able to ask who had sent it, but then they realized there was no card attached. Ron still wouldn’t let it go, asking who would spend so much money on Harry.

“The best Godfather in the world” James hooted, clutching Sirius up and hugging him tightly. Sirius made no point of denying it, he was still laughing to hard.

Harry’s first response was to say it certainly wasn’t the Dursleys.

Harry couldn’t help but laugh at his own joke now, pleased to see that even the mention of them hadn’t brought his family’s mood back down.

Ron guessed it was Dumbledore,

“I don’t see that happening,” Lily disagreed “or any of the teachers, like McGonagall; otherwise they would have done it not long after you lost your broom. Sirius would have waited until now, less publicly so there’s not as much scrutiny of it.”

he had sent Harry his Invisibility Cloak without a note.

“That’s not the same thing,” James shook his head “that was yours by birthright.”

Harry disagreed, saying that was originally his dad’s and different. Dumbledore wouldn’t spend all that money on him, it would be unfair to the other students.

“There’s that too,” Remus nodded “can’t be showing favoritism like this.”

Ron said that’s why he didn’t leave a note, so kids like Malfoy couldn’t say it was favoritism.

All four boys lost it again, laughing raucously at the thought of such a prat like Malfoy, and the way he’d acted last year about having a superior broom, and now Harry was going to outstrip him by a mile. He hadn’t even done anything like ask for it!

Then Ron lit up all over again, laughing like a maniac as he pictured Malfoy’s face when he saw Harry’s new broom.

Lily very dearly wanted to make a comment about how Sirius was spoiling Harry just a bit, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. One, she was still giggling too much to sound too intelligibly. The foul mood from before being gone like this now left them all slightly in hysterics. Two, she honestly believed Harry did deserve it, if for no other reason than she thought this may have been Sirius’ way of trying to give back a lot of missed presents on his part.

Then Ron snapped his fingers, and said Lupin might have.

“I wouldn’t put it past you to give me the idea” Sirius reminded him, still snickering away like a fool. “So I think that means it technically came from both of us.”

Harry laughed that off, saying if their teacher could afford this, he’d go buy himself some new clothes.

“Can’t deny that” Remus muttered, refusing to let the good mood be dampened again by this kind of comment, so saying that with as much good humor as he could muster.

Ron disagreed that he did like Harry, and he must have gotten it while he was out sick.

“I doubt he would have been doing much traveling at the time, but I like what Ron was trying” James shrugged.

Harry asked what he meant, and Ron said that he certainly hadn’t been in the school when he was ill, because Snape had him clean the bedpans in the hospital wing, and Lupin hadn’t been in there.

‘Yet another thing to hate Snape for’ Sirius finally started to frown again, more than annoyed at that pompous git. It seemed to him like he was just trying to set Harry in particular to figure this out, which made him want to punch that greasy git in the face.

Harry still insisted Lupin couldn’t afford this thing.

Remus couldn’t help but smile, glad to see Harry hadn’t read into that too closely, unlike his father. Whenever he’d used the excuse that he really had felt sick, and James had gone and seen he wasn’t in the hospital wing, well that had taken some explaining to do. While Harry had reacted just fine now to him, he still couldn’t help the mounting fear of what Harry may have thought of him at some point.

Hermione came in, Crookshanks tucked under one arm and looking quite grumpy about a bit of tinsel she’d tied around his neck.

“Makes any pet grumpy” Sirius snickered.

Ron reacted at once by scooping Scabbers off of his bed, but Hermione hardly noticed, putting Crookshanks down on Seamus’ bed,

“And what if Seamus doesn’t appreciate that” James randomly commented.

while looking at Harry’s new broom. She asked who’d sent it, and Harry admitted they had been trying to figure that out. To their surprise, she frowned.

“I swear, she is the most pessimistic kid” Remus rolled his eyes. “Who wouldn’t be bouncing around in sheer joy at finding out something like this?”

“Be nice” Lily sighed without any real heat.

Voicing how odd it was for Harry to get such a good broom,

“Quite good indeed” Sirius wiggled in pleasure, finding that the understatement of Hermione’s life.

and how expensive it was, and Ron agreed it cost more then all of the Slytherins’ brooms put together.

“Fair comparison” James nodded in agreement.

Then she asked why someone would do that without saying who.

“If I didn’t know otherwise, I’d rightly be as suspicious as Hermione in this instance” Lily defended her when it looked like one of the boys were going to say something again.

Ron just laughed it off, saying it didn’t matter, and asked Harry for a ride on it.

“Harry will be the worst kind of person in the world if you say no” Sirius told him with a straight face.

Harry pretended like he was deliberating for a moment, but it didn’t last when James snorted and said “please, we’re talking about the same kid who bought a cart load of candy and split it with Ron before he knew him. Have you ever actually seen him be selfish, about anything?”

Sirius hadn’t really meant it anyways, but he was still snickering in amusement all the same.

Hermione sounded outraged as she said nobody should be getting on that.

“Well not in the dorms obviously” Remus rolled his eyes, knowing what Hermione had meant, and beginning to feel a pit forming when he realized this might start going in a bad direction.

Ron told her she was being mental, what else would he do, clean with it?

“I’d have heart failure” James shuddered in disgust at the very thought.

Hermione didn’t get a chance to answer, when Crookshanks sprang up and lunged at Ron’s pocket over his chest.

“Uh-oh” the room muttered as one, knowing this couldn’t be a good thing.

Ron screamed in outrage as the cats claws sank into his pajamas, determinedly going after the rat, who tried to make a run for it.

Sirius continued reading in a rather harassed tone, very concerned indeed this may not play out as well as last time.

Ron tried to kick Crookshanks away while desperately holding onto his pet, but missed and instead kicked Harry’s trunk, now hopping around in all kinds of pain.

James sighed, knowing he probably would have found that rather amusing under any other circumstances.

Crookshanks was all fur on ends as he began glaring at Harry’s Sneakoscope instead, which had fallen out at Ron’s doing and was now spinning around the room.

“Wait, what?” Remus demanded in confusion.

“Why would that be going off now” Sirius pondered, casting his mind around for anything that could answer it.

“How long of a range has it got?” James prodded. “Did it say the twins had stayed over the holidays? Perhaps there up to something in their dorm?”

The others shrugged, they really had no further explanation.

Harry said he’d forgotten he even had that, since he never used those old socks he kept it in.

“Stinks that it goes off so easily,” Lily smiled sadly “Ron’s gift doesn’t seem to be doing much good.”

The other two weren’t paying much attention, Ron still telling Hermione off for bringing her cat in here. Hermione grabbed up her feline and bolted out of the room, Crookshanks glaring over her shoulder.

They all grave a breath of relief, more then pleased no one had gotten further hurt by this, though it still didn’t answer the lingering question of how many more times this could happen before something irreversible did occur.

Harry put his Sneakoscope away, but then he caught sight of Scabbers for the first time in months, and saw he wasn’t looking good. The once plump, gray rat had lost a lot of weight, and now had bald patches all over, giving him a very sickly look.

“Poor little guy” Sirius muttered in sympathy, feeling rather awful that at this rate, Scabbers might not even make it to Easter break.

Harry voiced how bad he looked, and Ron blamed it all on Crookshanks, saying it was stress.

James winced, having a suspicious feeling that it was more likely old age then anything and Ron was just looking for any excuse to put that aside.

Harry remembered though that Scabbers had been feeling off since Ron’s return from Egypt, even before they’d met Crookshanks, and Harry had the feeling it really might just be old age on the rodent.

“Well at least you realize that Harry” Remus sighed, “might make it an easier transition for Ron if his friend tries to make him understand that to.”

Harry nodded, but he wasn’t really listening. Why was it the longer Scabbers was mentioned, the more ill will he had for him? When he’d initially thought this, he’d always wondered wheather Scabbers had bit him at some point and he’d just resented it, but now he wasn’t so sure. There was yet another something he was missing, a piece to a huge missing puzzle that would continue to drive him crazy until he had a full answer. He tried testing his feelings on it, but all he got was a comparable feeling he’d had for Sirius at his age of thirteen. This made no sense what so ever, he must be confusing the two.

Despite how often Ron complained that his pet never did anything, Harry knew how upset his friend would be if Scabbers did die.

“I’m sure you’re right indeed” Lily sighed in trepidation for the moment that was sure to come about.

Christmas for the Gryffindors was a very sore affair the rest of the day. Hermione was furious with Ron for trying to hurt her cat,

“Really Hermione, really?” James ground out. “What on earth made her think it was even a good idea to bring him up there, when she knew full well what that cat would try.”

while Ron resented her just as much for Crookshanks deeds. Harry wasn’t going to try fixing it, as he was too busy looking over his new broom,

“A worthy use of time” Sirius nodded in agreement, looking for any excuse to get the good mood back in swing. One chapter, that’s all he wanted, one chapter where he could actually enjoy the whole thing.

which Hermione took just as much offense with.

“Everything annoys Hermione this year” James scoffed.

“Homework overload” Sirius offered in his wise old voice, causing at least Harry and Remus to chuckle.

She didn’t say it aloud, but she kept shooting nasty looks at it like it had hit her cat as well.

“Now that’d be a nifty trick” Remus smirked.

While Lily agreed Hermione may have been going about her actions the wrong way this year, she still didn’t really appreciate her boys’ attitude towards her any better. Yet she couldn’t come up with a way to tell them off for it that would actually make a difference.

When lunch came around, they went down to find the Great Hall had changed up a bit, and there were now only twelve chairs around one table.

James let out a low, throaty whistle in surprise as he said “not even that many people left Hogwarts last year.”

“Castle used to be this deserted some years for us” Remus shrugged in remembrance “we personally found it entertaining.” He finished with a gesture at Sirius who nodded enthusiastically.

All of the teachers were there dressed to their best, with the exception of Lupin, even Filch having donned an old coat that looked like it was growing mold.

“Urgh” Sirius muttered, “rather he just go casual then.”

The only other students in attendance were two first years and a Slytherin fifth year.

Remus randomly noted that it couldn’t have been the twins who had made the Sneakoscope go off then, if the twins weren’t there and apparently Harry, Ron and Hermione were the only ones there, but then what on earth would cause the thing to go off now? It couldn’t be set off by an animal could it, and had been set off by Crookshanks’ attempts untrustworthy attempts to eat Scabbers? No one else really seemed to notice this, and he wasn’t even sure if this was what really was going on, so he decided against saying anything and might have really put it down to a faulty one.

Dumbledore greeted them, saying how silly it would be to use the house tables with so few in attendance,

“I think it would have been more of a sight” Remus shrugged “get to stretch out a bit more.”

as they took seats and Dumbledore offered Snape some crackers, who pulled without enthusiasm.

“Oh boy” James whispered, brows shooting up in excitement as all kinds of possibilities for that scenario played out in his mind.

There was a bang, and when the smoke cleared away, a stuffed vulture hat was left in place.

The five of them lost it all over again, the abrupt reminder causing quite the laughing fit for a moment before Harry gained his breath back and kept reading with a wide stupid grin still in place.

Harry had to avoid Ron’s eye to stop himself from outright laughing at the reminder,

“You lot have much more control than us” Sirius gasped, still massaging at his now abused ribs.

but Snape wasn’t pleased when Dumbledore took up the hat and put it on himself.

Sirius refused to let his sour mood be ruined then, but he couldn’t help but grumble when he realized he once would have loved Dumbledore’s random reaction to this, but couldn’t shake the reminder that Dumbledore hadn’t trusted him! He doubted that smarting would go away any time soon.

Food had appeared on the table then, and they began helping themselves to the feast, when the doors opened again.

Sirius and James perked up, having noticed one teacher in particular being absent, and more then pleased if it said Remus would take a seat near Harry.

It was Trelawney,

“Rats” James sat back with a pout, this not having been the teacher he’d had in mind.

who looked more flamboyant then usual in a patterned green dress, giving her the abnormal appearance of a dragonfly.

Sirius didn’t bother to smother his amused chuckling at the description one bit.

Dumbledore greeted her warmly, and she returned the gesture by explaining that she’d been crystal gazing and had seen herself coming down for this meal.

“She saw herself, doing something she would decide to do?” Remus demanded, rather puzzled by the whole thing.

“I don’t question her to deeply” Lily rolled her eyes.

Dumbledore didn’t mind one bit, literally drawing her a chair in midair,

“Wow” Harry blinked in mild surprise at such an advanced level of magic to him.

which landed between McGonagall and Snape.

James released a surprised snort of laughter at all of the hilarity this could cause. Then again, it was a wonder those two were sitting beside each other in the first place.

Trelawny didn’t move though, she’d been eyeing the table, and suddenly let out a soft scream.

“How do you softly scream?” Lily snickered.

“I’m sure it’s just as dramatic as it sounds” James smirked right back.

She claimed that she couldn’t eat with them, because if she did that would make thirteen people eating together, and the first to rise from that kind of meal dies!

“I’ve never heard that” Remus said with mild interest.

“I have” Sirius said with amusement “it’s a superstition I heard years ago, don’t know how real to take it.”

“About as real as her whole subject” James rolled his eyes.

McGonagall took no notice, saying they’d take the risk if they could eat. Trelawny didn’t argue the point further, but she sank down into her chair as if at any moment they’d all burst into flames.

Lily’s shoulders started shaking with suppressed laughter, as James spoke out loud with just as much amusement “don’t know what she’s so worried about. If she’s that freaked, her solution is just to not rise first. I’m sure she can manage that.”

Then McGonagall offered Trelawny some tripe.

Lily couldn’t help but wrinkle her nose up at the thought of that particular food item, but couldn’t deny she was intrigued by who at the table was eating it.

Trelawney ignored her,

“Rude” Remus sniffed lightly.

and instead asked where dear Lupin was?

“Aw Remus, are you her dear now?” Sirius demanded at once with unsuppressed glee at this new opportunity.

“Oh please” he scoffed with a roll of his eyes “she called Neville that to, don’t be thick.”

“Hush you two, I want to hear this” James snapped at the pair.

Dumbledore explained he’d been feeling under the weather again,

All five of their faces fell, pity welling up in them for Remus for this to happen to him on the holidays, while Remus was simply wishing no one had mentioned it at all.

and what a pity to happen on Christmas.

“I’ll say” Sirius frowned, though personally thinking that at least he was probably around him for company now.

McGonagall cut in that surely Trelawny had known that before she’d asked.

“Oh wow” James spluttered, going wide eyed at this prospect. He’d recognized McGonagall’s opinion of Trelawny back during that first class of this year, and now watching them beside each other should only get better.

Trelawny went cold then, losing a bit of her mystic tone as she told that while she had known, she commonly acted like she didn’t to not make others feel so bad.

“I’m so sure that’s it” Lily muttered, brushing her hand across her mouth to try and hide her twitching lips.

McGonagall agreed that explained a lot.

Sirius didn’t bother one bit and even released another snort of amusement for his old teachers wit.

Then Trelawny cut in by saying she had a very personal knowledge on the subject that Lupin wouldn’t be here long anyways, he’d all but run from her when she’d offered to do some crystal gazing for him, which she sounded rather tart about.

“Looks like we know how to push her buttons” James chirped.

“Looks like Remus cares about it as much then as he does now” Sirius countered as Remus rolled his eyes at the very thought.

McGonagall said she couldn’t imagine that, her tone implying the opposite.

Lily couldn’t hide it anymore and outright laughed with the others at this continued verbal exchange.

Dumbledore cut in then, saying Lupin was just fine, then asked if Snape had made that potion again?

“Oh here we go again” James immediately switched from joyed amusement, to a scowl at this still unexplained phenomenon.

“Relax James” Remus said, leaning forward eagerly “since Dumbledore’s the one who brought it up, maybe they’ll explain more properly this time.”

Snape agreed he had,

“Still thank my lucky stars he’s not poisoning it in the meantime” Sirius grumbled.

and Dumbledore said that made the matter closed, before turning to one of the first years and offering chipolatas.

“And that explained, nothing” Remus scowled, leaning right back into his seat in agitation again.

James and Sirius however couldn’t help but exchange a hopeful look all over again. What on earth were the odds that this mysterious potion was being given to Remus two times in a row when it was obvious to them these were the times of his full moon. Maybe they’d been a little too quick to dismiss there original theory, maybe it did have something to do with his lycanthropy? Still neither of them spoke this to anyone, far too anxious they really might get there friends hopes up for nothing.

The spooked first year, not used to being addressed directly by the headmaster, took the sausages with shaking hands.

“Poor kid” Lily nodded in sympathy, knowing that could be quite intimidating.

Trelawny acted normal again until the end of the meal, when Harry and Ron took to their feet, and she screeched like a bird.

“Oh boy” Sirius grinned lightly.

“As if she wasn’t convinced enough you were going to die” James rolled his eyes in disdain that Harry had so happened to be the one to make this come up again.

She demanded to know which of them had risen first, and Ron said he wasn’t sure while eyeing Harry warily.

“A double murder it is then, unless them doing this undermines the terms of her prediction” Sirius rolled his eyes good naturedly.

McGonagall wasn’t impressed, saying unless there was a mad axe-men waiting at the doors for them, they should be fine.

“Never thought I’d see the day, but I miss her” James cackled at her continued commentary of this.

Even Ron laughed at that, while Trelawney looked offended.

“Can’t rightly blame her, that was a little rude” Lily shrugged, still smiling along.

When Hermione didn’t get up with them, Harry asked her about it, and she said she wanted to stay behind and talk to McGonagall for a moment.

“Now what’s she up to” Remus asked curiously.

“Probably looking for a way to keep Crookshanks somewhere else, or I should hope” Lily rolled her eyes, hoping someone would step up and put better measures in place so that scene before wouldn’t keep happening.

Ron laughed she was probably looking to take more classes,

Which gave them all a little snicker of amusement all over again, only hoping Ron was just joking.

as they went into the entrance hall, which was all clear of mad axe-men.

“Well thank Merlin for that” Lily nodded seriously “that really was giving me a fright.”

They made their way back up to their tower, and gave the password Scurvy cur,

“Well at least no one’s going to be guessing that” Remus grinned.

before going inside. Harry dragged his Firebolt down into the common room along with the Servicing Kit Hermione had gotten him for his birthday, but he couldn’t find anything to fix. The broom still looked brand new, without a twig out of shape,

“Well I should hope so, you haven’t even ridden it yet” Sirius beamed.

“Why not take it straight down to the pitch and try it out” James demanded as if he found it ludicrous Harry hadn’t already thought of this.

“We’d just eaten a full meal,” Harry reminded “we were going to head down there after the food had settled a bit.” He trailed off with a bit of a frown in place, wondering why on earth he was getting a bad feeling about this, like he hadn’t gotten the chance to do it?

the polish in his hand feeling useless the broom was already so shiny.

“Someone needs to give that advice to Percy” Remus muttered in Sirius’ ear, causing him to snort with laughter all over again.

Ron and him just sat there and stared at it,

“I’m going to turn green here soon, I’m so jealous” James sighed, already trying to count down the minutes when he could get his own hands on such a beautiful object.

when the door opened and Hermione came through, with McGonagall.

“Wait what?” Remus yelped in shock.

“Why” Sirius agreed with a frown already in place.

Harry was getting a very bad feeling about this, so he didn’t let them theorize much before reading loudly.

This set the boys on edge at once, since their head of house had only come in once before, and that hadn’t been good news.

“That’s usually the only time she comes up there” James said with a sudden spike of concern. She couldn’t possibly be up there to tell him that Sirius had been caught, had she? That would be newsworthy enough, but it would probably make him faint from terror.

This thought clearly hadn’t crossed anyone else’s mind, Harry was still reading on more in curiosity and a touch of confusion then outright fear.

Hermione scurried past them without looking at her friends, going over to the nearest book, and pretended to read it.

“Oh no” Lily frowned in confusion.

“What did she do” Sirius suddenly growled, narrowing his eyes in fury.

Remus licked his lips and looked ready to say something, but Harry forced himself to keep reading loudly over them to get a real answer.

McGonagall told that Hermione explained to her that Harry had been sent a new broom.

“She did” Remus groaned, placing his face in his hands.

“Don’t” Lily cut in when it looked like James and Sirius were going to get truly upset at what this could imply. “Don’t you lot sit around badgering on about this. Hermione did what she thought was right, s’not her fault she doesn’t know any better. She did what anybody afraid for their friends life would do, and I’m sure McGonagall won’t chuck it in the fireplace.”

Sirius still muttered something under his breath, but James did marginally relax. Compared to what he’d thought was fixing to happen, this almost seemed mild in comparison.

The boys looked at her, who didn’t look up from the book she was holding upside down.

“Must be a very interesting read I’m sure” Remus rolled his eyes.

McGonagall asked to see it, before snatching it up anyways.

“Under any other circumstances, I would have laughed at that” Sirius sighed, knowing how much of a Quidditch nut their old teacher could be, but knowing what this could imply, he’d rather hide that out of her sight for the rest of his life.

She looked hard at it as she confirmed there had been no message at all attached.

“If there had, you’d only freak out all the more” James rolled his eyes.

“Not sure what kind of note that would have been anyway” Sirius huffed in annoyance. “Merry Christmas from your long lost Godfather, here’s a kind of apology for missing every other one of your holidays.”

“You know I hate it when you do that” Remus snapped at him for the horrible joke, causing Sirius to at least sort of back down.

Harry agreed there hadn’t, which made McGonagall decided she’d have to confiscate this.

All five of them sighed in horrible disappointment, not at all pleased they’d been right. Yet with any hope, McGonagall wouldn’t really do anything but test the broom to make sure Sirius hadn’t done anything, surely she wasn’t going to actually destroy the broom...right?

Harry jumped to his feet in fear, demanding to know why, and McGonagall said she wanted to test it to make sure it wasn’t jinxed.

“Thank Merlin” Sirius sighed in relief.

“You’ll have that thing back to you by the end of break,” Remus smiled “and they’ll be all sorts of humiliated.”

James laughed eagerly at that conversation, still more annoyed then anything Harry hadn’t gotten to enjoy his gift long enough to even ride it, but so long as he got it back he’d forgive in the end.

Hooch and Flitwick would want to have a look at it as well while they stripped it down, and Ron repeated the term back at her like she’d lost her marbles.

“Oh it’s not that bad” James reassured when Harry seemed to be getting a growing look of horror at what that could mean. “They don’t do anything to the broom physically, they simply put it through a series of rigorous tests to make sure nothing more was done to it then the manufacturer’s intended. They do it all the time to professionals to make sure they didn’t try and enhance their brooms.”

Harry let out a long sigh of relief, having been picturing something far more medieval and irreparable being done to his new treasured gift.

McGonagall said it would only take a few weeks, just to make sure it wasn’t cursed. Harry tried to protest he was sure it wasn’t,

“Wish she would actually believe that” Sirius rolled his eyes.

but McGonagall said there was no way to be sure until they checked, then she left with it. Ron turned on Hermione as soon as she was gone,

“Uh-oh” Lily muttered, thinking that these two already had more then enough to fight about, this wasn’t going to make it any better.

demanding to know why she’d started this. Hermione put her book to the side and stood up as well, rather flushed but matching Ron’s eyes.

“Well I can say this for her” Remus grinned “she stands by what she does.”

Telling them that she’d feared, as did McGonagall, that the broom had been sent by Sirius Black.

“Oh the horror” James rolled his eyes.

“Never bleeding crossed our minds” Lily smirked.

“Chapter’s over by the way” Harry shrugged, tossing the book back over to Remus, who fumbled a bit and accidentally had it crash into Sirius’ head.

“Ouch” Sirius grumbled jerking the book away “jeez, you klutz, can you even see straight to read.”

“Yes” Remus snapped right back, snatching the book back and flipping to his chapter.

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