Harry Potter and the ? (Prisoner of Azkaban)

The Patronus

Finally finished with my finals...only to have to turn around and get a full time job. Being an adult sucks. Still going to keep updating minimum twice a week.

Harry noticed with puzzled concern that Remus’ hand were shaking slightly, though it steadied out some when he found his place and looked to start. He also seemed to be getting paler by the hour, and Harry couldn’t help but wonder for the first time in his life when the next full moon was. They must be awful for him, since every time it seemed to come up in the book both his father and Sirius gave him concerned looks. He still felt a little too embarrassed to ask about it, and since no one else was offering up the information he let it go as Remus started.

Harry may have known Hermione’s heart had been in the right place in her actions, but it didn’t stop him being pissed at her.

“And I really don’t blame you” James nodded with a light smirk. “I’d have thrown a fit if one of my friends did something to get my new broom taken away.”

Lily frowned at him, still more defensive of the girl as she shot back “that’s hardly fair James. She was doing what she thought was right, she thought she was trying to protect Harry. I’m positive if she’d come to Harry first, he and Ron would have shot her down.”

“Well don’t get me wrong” James shrugged “I’m happy Harry’s got such a good friend like that, but the fact that I know it’s not a problem means I get to be annoyed.”

Lily let her head thump back against the couch, feeling like she was talking to a brick wall half the time instead of her husband. At least he admitted he was almost overreacting.

He’d only been the owner of the best broom in the world for a few hours before it had been taken, now he didn’t know if he’d ever see it again.

“Trust me, you will” Sirius said in a completely assured tone of voice. “McGonagall wouldn’t dream of actually keeping that from you permanently.”

He feared what state he’d get it back after all of those spells had been done to make sure it was clean.

“Wish someone really had explained that to you though” Remus sighed, thinking that was all Harry needed, one more thing to be worrying about.

Ron blamed Hermione just as much, telling Hermione what she had done should have been illegal.

“As if Ron didn’t have reason enough to be upset with her” Lily frowned, feeling that if someone didn’t step in soon and try to get these two to fix this, it could turn into something irreversible. Would Harry do this? She honestly hoped so, knowing personally how easily a friendship could slip away.

Hermione wouldn’t hear it, she was sure she’d done what she had for the better good, and started avoiding the two and Gryffindor tower all together.

All of them were frowning now, Harry most of all as guilt began welling up in himself. At the time he’d been frustrated with her for having something like this happen, for something of his to be taken away do to someone else yet again in his life, worst of all someone he’d thought of as a friend. Now looking back and having his parents explain better to him what was actually going to happen to his broom, he recognized he’d been acting pretty harsh against someone who was only trying to help, even if she could have gone about it in a better way herself.

The boys didn’t do anything to fix this.

Lily was frowning and fidgeting, fighting down the urge to scold him for acting this way. Surely a broom wasn’t more important to him than one of his friends! Then she glanced over and saw how shamefaced Harry really looked for his actions, as if given the chance he’d get up right now and go apologize to her. Lily couldn’t help but smile and reached over to pat him on the knee, instead offering reassurance and saying “don’t worry love, I’m sure you two will make up. I’ve not seen any evidence that you’ll hold a grudge long.”

Harry mulled that over for a moment, trying to search internally for the emotions that supported his mom’s words before turning hopeful and nodding in agreement.

Break ended soon after, and Wood wasted no time in finding his Seeker, asking how his break had gone, and then continuing without pause,

“Rude” Lily huffed.

that he’d been thinking over break.

“Uh-oh” James scowled, shifting his weight around uneasily as a whole new worry seemed to be cropping up.

“What’s this about” Sirius snapped, not liking the way this was starting.

Remus didn’t look any happier as he continued.

He couldn’t help but remember the last match, and if dementors showed up to the next one, well that couldn’t happen again or they’d lose.

“He’s not!” Sirius cried in outrage.

“Is he actually going to kick you off the team for this” James hissed. “He’s trying to cope with it, at least give him a chance!”

“Relax you two” Remus was frowning down at the pages in annoyance as well, but seeing Harry looking just as devastated as the other two he reminded them all “I did promise to give him lessons, remember? I’m positive once Wood finds out he’ll cut Harry some slack. He’s not stupid enough to really try and get a new Seeker half way through the season.”

Harry looked instantly relaxed at the news, having a very good feeling Remus should be right. Sirius and James still looked outraged that the thought had even crossed Wood’s mind, but acquitted it wasn’t worth shouting about until it actually happened.

Harry promised Lupin was going to give him some help with that, and Wood looked elated, saying he hadn’t wanted to replace Harry.

All of the boys released breaths of relief, that could have gone so much worse if Wood had chosen not to believe him and instead gotten a replacement to be on the safe side.

Then he asked if Harry had ordered his new broom yet.

“Oh boy” Sirius grinned now, picturing Wood’s reaction would be pretty similar to theirs.

Harry instead said he’d gotten a Firebolt for Christmas. Wood was shocked, asking if he was serious, ‘a real one!’

“No, he got a fake one to get your hopes up” Remus rolled his eyes, sarcasm dripping from every syllable which distracted Sirius enough from making his favorite joke and instead caused him to laugh for his friends wit.

Harry told him not to get his hopes up, McGonagall had taken it away, on account of Black might have sent it to him with a curse in place.

“Hopefully Wood explains the idea to you a bit more” James said eagerly, still peeved McGonagall hadn’t gone into more details. “Surely he knows what she meant.”

Wood brushed off that apparently a murderer was after his Seeker,

Lily narrowed her eyes in agitation, not finding it remotely funny like the boys seemed to since they all chuckled in amusement. She’d personally like to see Wood show a bit more concern than he was for his teammates, really wanting to smack him and tell him his players were more important than the game. Merlin even when she hadn’t liked James she’d recognized that quality in him.

and instead pointed out that the man could hardly go into the nearest shop and buy that with his face everywhere!

“Least he tried to be logical about it, though I do think it would be easier then they’re thinking” Sirius shrugged.

Harry agreed, but McGonagall had still taken it away to strip it down, and Wood nearly fainted.

“Clearly he’s not going to be explaining anything” James frowned.

“Maybe the term for it went out of style” Sirius offered “and they call it something else then. So Wood doesn’t know what Harry meant.”

“It’s only been a dozen years or so” Remus disagreed, cocking his head to the side “would it really change that much.”

“Only thing I can think of” Sirius shrugged, and James did as well so the boys just let it go for now.

He promised Harry he’d talk to McGonagall, then nearly went skipping away in excitement that they had a Firebolt on their team!

“Hopefully McGonagall explains it to him, and Wood will turn around and explain it to Harry” Lily tried to pacify the boys who were clearly thinking far too hard on this.

Classes started up again, and they went down to Care of Magical Creatures and actually had quite the enjoyable class as Hagrid set up a fire and fire salamanders were spending their time inside while Hagrid talked about them.

“Now that’s what a Magical Creatures class should always be like” Remus beamed.

“Hopefully this means Hagrid’s getting himself back into the swing of things” Sirius nodded happily.

Lily couldn’t help but notice the book had yet to mention Harry helping anymore about Hagrid’s and Buckbeak’s case, but surely that was just because he hadn’t found anything of note yet.

Going back to Divination wasn’t nearly as fun,

“Here we go again” Lily groaned.

as Trelawny wasted no time in telling Harry that when she looked at his palms, it read out the shortest life expectancy she’d ever seen.

Sirius couldn’t help snickering a bit, he may believe the woman might be a true Seer, but it didn’t stop him from mocking the woman one bit at Harry’s annoyed look for her efforts.

DADA was highest on his list to get back to, those anti dementor lessons he’d been promised now back in mind,

The mention of their favorite class this year had them all wriggling in pleasure now, absolutely positive Remus was going to nip this matter in the butt.

but Lupin seemed mildly surprised when Harry brought it back up.

‘As if Harry had to remind him’ James mentally scoffed, having no doubt in his mind Remus must be looking forward to this just for the chance of getting to spend some time with Harry.

He told Harry to meet him on Thursday after classes, but then he wondered how they could start practicing this, it’s not like they could get a real dementor to work on.

“Hadn’t thought about that” Lily nodded in agreement.

“I’ve actually been thinking on it” Remus admitted with his head cocked to the side “and I’ve an idea, but I’m not sure if I’ll think of it then.”

“Well that couldn’t have been more vague if you tried” Sirius rolled his eyes. “Just tell us.”

Remus debated for a moment stalling and annoying Sirius further, but it wasn’t worth the headache in the end so he explained “Well Harry’s already told me what he would have seen as his greatest fear was, a dementor, so I’m wondering if I wouldn’t try and hunt down another boggart for him to practice on. Of course that would mean finding one again on such short notice, but I like the idea.”

“Brilliant” James agreed with a nod. “The effects wouldn’t be nearly as awful as the real thing, but worse enough for him to gain experience and be realistic enough to practice.”

“Hope you do think of that then,” Lily nodded in agreement.

Harry couldn’t help but nod and say the same thing as his mother, having a fairly good feeling about this as well.

Ron pointed out though when Harry caught up later that the man still looked off color.

Remus had gone from smiling faintly that he really was on the right track to helping Harry out with this, to frowning just a bit. If anyone could figure it out, Ron was a pretty good candidate. The fact that he, being Harry’s best friend, kept noticing all of this didn’t bode very well for him. Surely though, if he did figure it out and tell Harry, his reaction shouldn’t be any more mild than now...right?

Ron was asking what could really be wrong with him, when from behind they heard a ‘tuh’ noise. It was Hermione,

“Remus” Sirius asked in concern when he saw how hard his friend had flinched at that. Well clearly he’d been pinning this on the wrong friend, Hermione’s reaction made it perfectly obvious that she had figured it out.

“Relax Remus” James offered with a faint smile “you said it yourself, you weren’t surprised when Hermione had done that assigned homework. She really is rather bright, so I’m not too surprised she put the pieces together, but that means she’s known for how many months now and hasn’t said anything? Not even to Harry. Doubt she’s going to now, nor has she shown to be acting any differently in your class.”

To their relief Remus did nod and looked relieved by their words, enough to go on without continuing to freak out.

Ron asked what that noise meant, and Hermione said it was obvious.

“Thankfully not too obvious” Lily muttered with a frown, knowing she’d be just as outraged as anyone if Remus’ secret did get out. The Malfoy type parents and even just some uneducated and afraid people would have an outraged fit, and none of them would be able to do anything about it, which might force Remus to leave and that would make every one of them angry. Most all of them were still banking on the fact that Remus really might be able to get rid of that stupid curse and really keep his job there for as long as he pleased.

Only Harry and Remus didn’t really believe that, though kept it to themselves for personal reasons.

Ron snapped if she didn’t want to tell them, then don’t, and she just stormed off. Then Ron grumbled she didn’t really know, she just wanted a reason to talk to them.

“Now that I’ll disagree with” Sirius shook his head sadly, already wishing these kids would stop arguing over something he’d already forgiven Hermione for.

Thursday came up and Harry went to the designated class to find it vacant,

“Remus, you’re just late to everything lately” James snickered.

Remus rolled his eyes but didn’t acknowledge the jab enough even to look up.

but he didn’t have to wait long before Lupin came in with a crate, telling Harry it was a boggart.

“Good to know some things don’t change” Lily said affectionately at how pleased Remus looked he’d guessed right this time.

He’d been looking for one since they’d last spoken,

“Started slacking a bit though” James snickered, remembering Remus would usually prefer to get his homework done sooner rather than later and finding this a bit odd that he wouldn’t have been doing this since Harry had asked, but perhaps the idea had just occurred to him?

and he’d managed to find one in Mr. Filch’s desk.

Sirius couldn’t help but release several surprised gasping noises that might have been laughter if he wasn’t trying to talk at the same time. James looked just as amused, but seemed more able to talk as he explained “just unable not to laugh at the mention of Remus winding up in there for any reason.”

“Oh Merlin, I would have just left it in there” Sirius gasped, still looking far too giddy then what Lily thought was called for.

“I’m just impressed I referred to him as Mr. Filch” Remus rolled his eyes, knowing he probably wouldn’t have been able to do that with a straight face a few years ago.

He decided they could borrow it for Harry’s lessons, and keep it stored away in his own office in the meantime. Harry tried to look like he enjoyed this idea, but didn’t quite get there.

“I’m sure that was working out for you just fine” James snickered.

Lupin then began to explain that the charm he was going to teach Harry was beyond fifth year, called a Patronus.

Harry leaned forward eagerly, knowing there was something very important he should remember about this spell, almost as if it held some kind of personal attachment to him. He’d been wanting to ask for ages what the exact name of this spell was that got rid of dementors, but had been pretty well distracted by other things so he was more than happy now to get full information about it.

Harry asked how it worked with some nerves,

“No need to be nervous pup” Sirius said bracingly “I’m sure nothing too awful could happen.”

“That was the opposite of reassuring” James grumbled to Sirius, knowing full well Harry may have been picturing the same thing as him was fixing to happen.

and Lupin explained it acted as a guardian to fend away dementors. Harry couldn’t help but picture a Hagrid sized person holding a club standing in front of him.

James chuckled in amusement as he paternally corrected “not quite son. It produces an animal that will defend you, in fact this was the Charm we’d mentioned. If you can produce your patronus, it will actually be a good indication of what your animagus will be.”

“Really” Harry asked with high interest.

“I’ve never heard that” Lily disagreed, and she liked to think she was rather proficient with her charms.

“It’s not proven, or one hundred percent” Sirius shrugged “but I’ve yet to see it otherwise.”

“So if I chose to be an animagus, there’s a good chance I’d be a doe” Lily insisted with an amused smirk.

“That would be our best guess” James nodded in agreement.

Harry couldn’t help but notice Remus was being quiet now, his face rather twisted with a look of annoyance and he did want to ask why, but then Lily had continued by turning to Remus and asking “you know I’ve never thought to ask, but does that mean if you turned into an animagus, you would be a wolf?”

Remus huffed and grumbled something that made Sirius flick him in the ear. He glared hotly at him before answering with a still sullen voice “don’t know, not like I can test the theory.”

“Ignore him Harry, he’s going to be grumpy for the rest of the night and tomorrow too” James rolled his eyes and explained for Harry’s puzzled look.

Remus scowled heavily at the pair, and while Harry wanted to continue asking for specifics he thought he worked it out on his own. Hadn’t they mentioned before that some things don’t work on werewolves? Could this be one of them? Maybe Remus just wasn’t capable of being an animagus, surely that would have fixed his problem since he’d be able to turn into his animagus rather than being a werewolf for that time period, but perhaps not or he would have done it already? Remus didn’t look ready to continue talking about this either way because he continued reading loudly.

Lupin went on to emphasise just how difficult this was though, because to channel this charm you had to create the thing dementors feed on in their presence, most adults couldn’t pull it off.

“In all fairness” Lily corrected “when learning the charm we hardly had a dementor, real or otherwise, to practice on so you can’t really be too harsh on them all.”

“Wasn’t saying you should be” Remus shrugged “just making sure Harry understands this isn’t going to be easy, make sure he’s prepared enough.”

“I got it” Harry nodded in understanding, “but if you have to create a happy memory for it to work, then how does that ward them off? Don’t dementors feed on happy memories?”

Remus was actually getting some of his usual happy manner back as he explained “forcing it on the dementor in such a concentrated, powerful form like this overwhelms it. That’s why it’s so powerful to do” he also couldn’t help but continue cautioning “to pull together the very thing they’re taking from you and shove it back at them with all your might.”

Harry nodded in understanding, not looking remotely concerned at the warning.

Harry asked what it would look like, and Lupin said it was unique to each person who casted it. Then Harry asked what you had to do to make it happen,

James couldn’t help a little frown that came over him, wanting to curse and grumble that he couldn’t be in any one of those memories Harry would use. Merlin he felt lucky Harry even had happy memories at this point, hopefully he’d come up with one good enough that he wouldn’t have to re-experience Lily’s last moments for long.

and Lupin said that while saying the spell, you had to focus all of your attention on a happy memory. Harry had to think hard for a moment, knowing that nothing at the Dursleys would work,

Lily made quite the murderous face herself, all the pent up anger and rage at them making a sudden reappearance she hadn’t been prepared for that time, but refused to let it linger as she really wanted to hear this.

and instead decided on the first time he’d flown.

“That’s not nearly powerful enough” Remus sighed, giving Harry a rather sorry look he had to rebuke him for that. “You’ll need something with much more feeling, all consuming, to produce even a faded patronus.”

Harry frowned, already trying to cast his mind around for something even better for his next attempt, ignoring the buildup of tension that was beginning to happen when he realized his first attempt might not work, and what he would soon hear because of it.

When Harry said he’d picked one, Lupin told Harry the name of the spell was Expecto Patronum. Harry repeated the spell back, then Lupin had to remind him he had to be thinking on his happy memory while saying it. Harry quickly set to both,

“Oh, yeah, multitasking” Sirius smirked over at him, successfully distracting both Harry and James and causing them to give halfhearted glares.

then he accidentally mispronounced the spell as expecto patrono, before correcting it was expecto patronum.

“Can’t expect you to get it perfect on the first try” Remus grinned encouragingly at him.

To his surprise, something silver came out of his wand.

“And that’s about as far as most of our class got in our seventh year” Sirius laughed.

“While some of us had mastered the spell years ago and showed off a bit” James snickered.

Lily sighed with a roll of her eyes, remembering that memorable class as she’d actually been able to produce her patronus near the end of the lesson, and the near constant teasing from her classmates that her’s and James had ended up being a matching pair.

Remus however was scowling all over again, looking ready to snap at his friends to shut up so that he could move past this. Harry couldn’t help but wonder why the subject bothered him so much, but again didn’t get a chance to ask before he kept going.

Harry was ecstatic, and said he wanted to try on the real thing now. Lupin agreed, but as he made to open the box, something else began occurring to Harry,

“Now’s not the time to be distracted” James gently chided with a light smirk in place.

“Wasn’t that a bit early” Lily couldn’t help but worry “he’d only done the barest of it once.”

“How could he practice and know it was good enough without testing it?” Remus said right back. “So he produced a vapor, that’s good in theory, but if it was going to be helpful he had to try it. He could have sat around for hours working on that one memory and never realized it wasn’t useful enough until it was too late.”

Lily backed down with a resigned look.

the realization that he’d hear his mother again.

Lily couldn’t help but make a horrid choking noise, suddenly realizing how Harry might linger on this, and why he would being as this was the first time he’d heard her voice, and oh Merlin if he actually wanted to linger on this…

This of course was a bad thing, he shouldn’t want that, but did he?

“Oh” Lily whimpered, and Harry couldn’t help but lean into himself, feeling rather ashamed this wanting of hearing an old echo was causing his family so much pain.

“It’s alright Harry” Sirius tried his best to smile over at Harry, who had wrapped his arms around his mother and muttered sorry for her benefit, but now the pair turned back to him curiously as he insisted “it’s sort of like looking in that old mirror. Depressing as all get out, sure, but we can hardly sit around and blame you for wanting this.”

James was twitching fiercely, still looking like he was going to be ill but for more reasons than the others suspected. No he did not want to sit around and hear his wife’s final moments over again, but like Sirius he could hardly get mad at Harry for wanting it. No, what he was truly afraid of was that if Harry continued to experience this, continued to want it, well then maybe Harry wouldn’t even be bothered to fight off the dementors. That could lead to some very horrible possibilities that he had no desire to think on long.

Sirius was taking it in stride that it was his turn to comfort his friend now, and delighted in giving him a sharp poke and reminding him “I’ll say the same thing to you. Don’t linger on something you can’t fix, Remus is there, I’m sure everything will be fine.”

“What’s got you in such a good mood” Remus grumbled at him, noting James did look slightly better as he rolled his eyes but at least seemed distracted from whatever he’d been thinking, and Harry and Lily did look marginally better as well.

“Who says I’m in any kind of good mood?” He demanded right back in a hushed whisper, and Remus did note that his hands seemed to be shaking and he did look almost as pale as Remus himself at this prolonged topic, so he decided to press on and hope Harry would get a hold of this spell soon.

Then the dementor rose out, and it was just as horrible as every other time, all the candles in the room going out at its presence.

Harry shuddered in remembered disgust, not at all appreciating this boggart dementor could cause the same effects as a real dementor even on something as little as the lights.

Harry tried, raising his wand and shouting the spell repeatedly,

Remus was frowning and jittering in place, knowing the spell should have worked the first time, his repeated incantations obviously weren’t helping, which meant he’d been right and Harry hadn’t picked a powerful enough memory, which meant he was fixing to have to read something he’d rather gouge out his eyes then do.

but it wasn’t working, and already the echo of a woman was screaming in his ears,

Remus couldn’t help but choke and hesitate for a moment, but if Sirius could force this out he’d be damned if he couldn’t as well so read as swiftly as possible.

the same as before, Lily Potter pleading to spare her son, and a high cruel laughter...

Lily in no way felt any better about hearing this then any of her boys, but upon the second time hearing this, the shock had worn off some and she couldn’t help but wonder, why was she getting the chance to plead at all? Voldemort had never once been known for sparing his victims, and why her the mudblood? Perhaps he’d taken a moment to gloat? She’d recognized back in the first book that her sacrifice had saved her son’s life, but she was still craving for details of exactly how and why. It was all she could come up with on the spot, and she most certainly was not going to bring it up to the others as they all looked likely to cry any moment now.

then someone was saying his name and Harry jerked back to awareness on the floor, glasses nearly slipping off of his face from left over sweat. He apologized at once,

Lily couldn’t help but release a surprised giggle she in no way really felt, but it was better than letting her breath continue to hitch as she forced herself not to cry. Without any prompting she murmured to Harry “no need to apologize love, you’ve done nothing wrong.”

Harry just shrugged, knowing his first instinct was always to apologize if he hadn’t done something right the first time, and also that old shame reappearing of passing out, especially in front of a teacher he respected so much.

but Lupin only asked if he was okay while handing Harry a Chocolate Frog. He reassured Harry he wasn’t surprised he hadn’t done it right off the bat, it would have been nearly impossible for him to.

“You see” James forced the ghost of his old smile “you should learn now you probably won’t ever have a real reason to apologize to Moony. He understands.”

Harry admitted the memory was getting worse, it was louder every time and he could hear Voldemort, he trailed off and looked up to see Lupin going paler then usual.

“Can’t imagine why” Sirius shuddered, wishing he could be in the room as well to comfort these two then as he was trying to now.

He tried to tell Harry they didn’t have to go on, but Harry insisted he had to do this, eating the Frog in one big bite and then saying what if the dementors showed up again at his next match?

“I’ll have Dumbledore fired” James scowled heavily at the thought of this happening again. “Someone should take some bleeding precautions to make sure this doesn’t bloody happen again.”

Harry couldn’t tell if his Dad was kidding about getting the headmaster fired for this, but he looked so furious in that moment he decided against asking.

It would be his fault his team didn’t win the Cup!

“Whatever motive helps you to get past this” Lily sighed in relief, thinking she’d never knock another Quidditch game again if that’s what took Harry to get past this awful memory.

Harry told that he just needed a better memory to focus on, and decided on last year when his house team had won the House Championship.

“I can’t believe his happy memories are even depressing me at this point” James muttered for Sirius alone. Sirius nodded in understanding, knowing full well why James would be so upset about this. Not to say these shouldn’t be happy memories, but the boy really didn’t have anything outside of school things to be happy for? Nothing involving Ron and Hermione even? The ache of not having been present in his life to make any kind of appearance now hadn’t been there for a while, which made it all the sharper the longer they thought on this.

Lupin agreed he’d give Harry another go, and Harry tried again, trying his hardest to stay on that happy memory while shouting the incantation again and again,

Remus was already wincing, having already guessed Harry’s new memory was hardly better than the old one, and none too pleased about being proven wrong.

but this time something new was happening, more shouting in his head as a man screamed at Lily to run, take Harry and run for it, he’d stop him.

Then Remus shuddered so hard the book knocked against his knee a few times, not that he really noticed. Of course, he should have realized at this rate of progression, if Harry had heard Lily of course he’d hear James to, and it was just his luck he’d get to read about both of them back to back, and no he wasn’t fixing to vomit or cry… he had to shake his head around a few times to clear his vision and focused back to find James gritting his teeth so hard he was likely to break his jaw.

Sirius leaned his weight into him again, muttering “you did all you could, I’ve no doubt you gave Voldemort the fight of his life, you can’t blame yourself for this anymore than us.”

James sucked in a soulless breath, but Remus decided it was high time he keep going before he allowed anyone to continue dwelling on this.

Lily continued her own internal monologue at this point, forcefully shaking off that terrible mental image in favor of thinking on why that wouldn’t have worked? James had clearly just died trying to spare her and their son, why hadn’t his sacrificed counted for both her and Harry’s? What was the real difference there? She despised not knowing the answer, as she’d do anything to make it so that her family would never be harmed by this.

This time Harry came out of it to find Lupin tapping him on the face.

“And thank Merlin for that” Harry groaned, rubbing at his temple and trying very hard to comfort his mother even half as well as she’d been trying to do for him. It wasn’t any more pleasant for her to hear James last moments then it was for her to hear her own.

Harry came out of it slowly this time, muttering that this time he’d heard his father’s last moments, and it took him a moment to realize that wasn’t just sweat running down his eyes.

Remus couldn’t help muttering under his breath he’d be lucky if he didn’t mimic Harry in this future, and only hoped Harry actually admitting this to him would finally prompt himself to tell Harry why this would bother him so much.

He turned his head away and pretended to fix his shoe so Lupin wouldn’t see.

“Credit for trying anyway” Lily offered for him, knowing it was pointless and Remus would have seen. Now all she was wondering was if he was going to ignore the instance, or jump on the opportunity to really comfort him.

He was surprised to hear his teacher’s voice come out strange as he repeated Harry had heard James?

“Strange indeed” Sirius nodded, still concentrating more on bothering James by occasionally reaching over and poking him when it looked like he was about to join Harry very soon in his own tears, though it seemed more out of frustration than anything now; he seemed to be feeling like he’d failed his family and let them down. Sirius was trying all he could, but there was only so much he could convince his best mate of how stupid that was.

Face now at least semi dry, Harry agreed he had, then asked if Lupin had known him?

“Oh, I’m sure he’s heard my name in passing or something” James grumbled, avoiding everybody’s eyes and returning Sirius newest prod with a sharp elbow snap of his own to get him to stop.

Lupin said he had, they’d been in school together. Then he told Harry it may be a time to stop for the night.

“That’s all you’ve got” Lily snapped, green eyes flashing furiously. “Merlin what’s gotten into you Remus? Would you two quit it” she finished sharply, causing James and Sirius to freeze in the process of out smacking each other.

“He started it” James said at once.

“What are you, five?” Sirius demanded with a roll of his eyes. They were both trying their very hardest not to throw accusing looks at Remus all over again, still unable to process one bit how he could simply gloss over this as if they really had just been passing kids.

James thought of all three of his friends like brothers, he’d always known they’d felt the same, but now he was beginning to wonder if that feeling hadn’t faded out of Remus with time? Remus was rather busy with the Order, nearly constantly going on missions for Voldemort to keep an eye on the opposing side’s werewolves as well as a few other lone missions. Was it possible his time dead had made him forget? Did he really no longer care for Harry the way he did now? He knew people changed, but he never would have seen this coming… unless there was something else going on? His mind floundered though, trying to come up with anything that would satisfactorily explain this mess.

If Harry had spoken right then, maybe they could have worked it out, but he didn’t. Harry kept his feeling bottled up like usual, trying his very hardest to both understand and ignore all at once why he felt like he might know what was keeping Remus so hesitant right then. Something personal he was sure, something about the memory of James that really stung…

Remus was looking dejected and angrier in himself in that moment than he had in almost all his life, and when no one spoke up again to even offer a word this time he read on with a lot more venom than intended.

Lupin was scolding himself now for even having offered this, it was clearly to hard on Harry,

“Well I’m glad someone did” Lily sniffed, noting no one else like McGonagall or Dumbledore seemed to be going out of their way to make sure Harry was alright after that first instance.

but Harry protested he had to keep trying, he just needed the best memory possible. He decided on when he’d been told he was leaving the Dursleys to come to school. If that wasn’t a happy memory then nothing was.

“I’ll actually back you up on that one” Sirius nodded with forced cheerfulness, remembering quite well how smug he’d been upon the realization he finally had an excuse to get out of his parents’ house, a house he was already growing to question even before he’d started school and learned what a real family could be like.

Concentrating with all his might on how he’d felt when he’d realized he’d be leaving Privet Drive,

Lily still couldn’t help the little miserable sigh that came out of her upon the reminder that leaving his home was considered a happy memory at all, but the fact that her and James were so clearly not in the picture, that anyone decent before Hagrid wasn’t there for him, made that combination of anger and depression come back again full force.

Lupin agreed Harry could have one more chance, but he also looked like he was regretting it.

‘Well I’m beginning to question my own better judgment’ Remus snarled against himself, more than sick of his future actions, or lack thereof in this case.

He released the boggart again, and Harry began shouting the charm at the top of his lungs, and to his surprise the dementor wasn’t coming forward, instead the screaming from his mind was going in and out like a messed up radio.

“Brilliant” James suddenly beamed, blinking in surprise at what he found an exceptionally powerful bit of magic being shown right then.

“Harry’s doing it” Sirius now yelped, egging Remus on to see how long his little pup could pull this off, whether he could somehow possibly increase the power behind that and actually create a corporal patronus.

He stood his ground, but the longer he held onto the charm and memory, which was nothing more then a huge silver shadow, the weaker he felt, like the life was being drained right out of him, and he feared he couldn’t stay on his feet much longer,

“It didn’t say what the silver shadow was” Lily noted, trying to brush past the fact that this was draining so much out of her son and Remus really should step in soon.

“It said ‘huge’ must be something big” James offered curiously.

“Maybe he’d turn into an elephant, or a bear, or a hippo? That would be interesting,” Sirius offered with a smirk.

“You just listed three of the most random animals you could” Harry noted with amusement, still brushing past the annoyance he couldn’t remember himself.

then Lupin jumped in, calling out Riddikulus.

“Thank you” Lily sighed in relief.

The boggart switched back to a silver orb as Lupin forced it back into the box with his own silver fog.

“How come you were doing that with just the fog instead of the full patronus?” Harry asked curiously, now wondering if Remus’ patronus wasn’t the cause for his surly attitude for this particular bit. Hadn’t his mum said it would be a wolf? Was this what was bothering him so much, that an animal meant to represent your spirit was one he hated so much?

“I didn’t want to chase it off like a Patronus would have done” Remus said absently “just wanted to ward it off long enough to put it back.” Then he kept reading quickly before Harry got a chance to ask further.

Lupin turned to Harry and praised him, that was as good a way to start off as anything.

“It really was dear, don’t be so hard on yourself” Lily agreed when she saw how frustrated he still looked.

“Look at it this way” James offered, casting his mind around for Harry to see this the proper way “at least if you’re able to produce this already, you’ll be able to keep them off you long enough to hit the ground and call time out, and that’s just after the third try! I’m positive by the next match it won’t even be draining you as much.”

Harry considered this for a moment before nodding in acceptance. He still somehow knew he could do better than this, somehow felt he was capable of producing the full Patronus, but for now he’d accept the shorter option for the sake of his game.

Harry wasn’t as pleased, asking for another try, but Remus refused and gave Harry a whole bar of chocolate, telling him to eat the entire thing or Pomfrey would go after his skin.

Despite how annoyed Sirius still felt by Remus, it didn’t stifle his giggling one bit at that mental sentence. Nor did it really dull just how grateful he was that Remus was doing this at all, he’d take Harry getting defense against dementors with a touch of annoyance at Remus any day.

Telling Harry he could try again next week. Harry agreed to that, while something new occurred to him,

Remus was already frowning, mentally preparing himself for how this could go but didn’t give anyone a chance to ask Harry before reading.

and asked if Lupin had known James Potter, then he must have known Sirius Black.

Sirius went “eh” and waved his hand in a vague gesture with a roll of his eyes while Remus grumbled “Wish I didn’t some days.”

“Well this ought to be fun” James snapped with a touch more sarcasm than normal, guessing this wouldn’t go any better than when his name had come up.

Lupin spun on the spot, demanding to know why Harry would think that.

“Dumb luck and an inherited sneakiness” Lily grinned indulgently.

Harry played it off, he’d just heard that they had been friends at school, and Remus relaxed again.

“Thought you were going to be found out about hiding my arse huh?” Sirius snickered.

“I wouldn’t have any idea what Harry really knew about it” Remus shrugged “so I can imagine I was being a bit cautious.”

“At least you were vaguely more subtle then dropping something this time” James agreed with an idiotic grin in place.

Then he admitted he had, or thought he had.

“Ouch” Sirius winced as if Remus had smacked him again “make sure you don’t try and drop a hint of what you really think or anything.”

Remus had his head cocked to the side curiously, still more blasted than anything why he and Sirius weren’t trying to talk to Harry and tell him what surely must really be going on. Aside from Harry, why else would Sirius be hanging around here? It had been more than enough time that he really was beginning to wonder if something else wasn’t floating around that the pair of them were trying to figure out, and clearly wanting to leave Harry out of.

Then he told Harry to get back to his common room, and Harry did leave but didn’t get far before sitting down to finish his food,

“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to share with Ron either” James muttered, like the others still distracted by that small little exchange.

and regretting having asked about Black as Lupin clearly didn’t like talking about it.

“Probably doesn’t like being asked about it because he’s such a terrible actor” Sirius snickered.

“Now that’s not fair” James disagreed at once, mischief sparkling in his eyes as he appraised him “Remus always came up with the best lies on the spot.”

“He just couldn’t say it without acting like a shifty little nit” Lily agreed fondly.

Remus made sure all of them could see how unamused he was by their light picking before reading on loudly.

Then his mind wandered back to his parents.

“Oh come on, go back to talking about me now” Sirius scowled, deciding he’d spend a whole book about his life in Azkaban rather than consistently hear about this!

James didn’t really agree with him, but he hardly looked any happier about Harry’s current train of thought.

It was the worst thing imaginable to be hearing their last moments of life, and yet, these were the only moments Harry had of them. If he did manage a Patronus, would he ever hear them again?

Lily made a horrible choking noise somewhere between wanting to vomit and a sob, hardly able to comprehend what that must feel like, knowing she didn’t want that for her son but unable to even begin to say it was wrong for him to want it.

Harry tried to give them as much comfort as he could by offering “that’s not true anymore. Please guys, I’m sure I don’t dwell on this for long, and now I’ve got all the time in the world to hear you guys talk.”

This was hardly the cure for the situation at hand, but it was a brief reminder that this future just had to be changed, they wouldn’t allow anything else to be possible.

Then he spoke aloud to himself that they were dead, and hearing that stuff wasn’t going to bring them back.

“And there’s that” James frowned, but didn’t say it loud enough for anyone to have heard him.

He had to stay focused if he wanted to win the Cup.

“There you go, focus on your goals” Sirius encouraged, anything to keep away from that vat of depression.

And that he did. The next game played out that Slytherin won against Ravenclaw,

“Dang” the boys muttered, knowing they would have been much happier playing Ravenclaw than Slytherin for the simple fact it would have been more sporting. There was already so much bad blood between Gryffindor and Slytherin they didn’t really need the Championship to fall between them.

but Wood saw this as a good thing and made their practices go up to five a week.

“Five” Lily scowled “Merlin, he’s a seventh year, doesn’t he have his own homework!”

“I feel like, so long as he wins the Cup, he doesn’t really care about his NEWT’s” James shrugged “my best bet for this kid, he’s probably looking for a career in the World’s.”

Lily still couldn’t help but frown, thinking he should have some other career to fall back on rather than banking on a sport, but as she wasn’t his mother she really couldn’t say anything else.

Between that and his one a weeks with Lupin, which took his energy more then any of his sports practice,

Remus couldn’t help but wince a bit, wondering if he was taking too much out of Harry, but upon reflection he admitted he really couldn’t do much else. Harry needed those lessons no matter how much they took out of him, and it’s not as if he could lower them any.

Harry was left with one day a week to pull off his homework. Even he wasn’t showing the strain as much as Hermione though, who’s abundance of classes finally seemed to be getting to her.

Sirius nodded in agreement, though he looked more in pity than smugness as he commented “surprised it took her this long to crack honestly.”

These days she was seen doing nothing but extensive essays, and would grow fiery whenever someone even spoke to her.

“And I thought she was a bit of a workaholic before” James frowned in sympathy, wondering how much this girl could really be sleeping with all of that.

Ron was still stunned by the feet, asking how she was pulling it off one day while doing homework for Potions they were studying Undetectable Poisons and he had an essay due.

“So many jokes to make about that, I don’t know where to start” Sirius smirked, picturing all sorts of pleasant poisons he wouldn’t have a problem getting his hands on.

It just didn’t seem possible she could attend all of her Arithmancy classes, which were all scheduled at the same time as Care of Magical Creatures, but her classmates could put her in both.

“Wait, what?” Lily demanded, her eyes going wide in disbelief. “He can’t mean that, it’s not possible.”

“What did you think her schedule was implying for her to do?” Harry demanded in exasperation, rubbing at his own temple in frustration as the answer yet again slipped through.

“That, I don’t know, that she was somehow keeping up with all of those classes through notes and special permission, but this is unfounded. There’s no way she could actually be attending those classes, at the same time.”

“Time” Sirius muttered under his breath “what on earth was it, time watch, time-”

“What are the odds Hermione will just decide to tell them when you ask” James groaned, more than sick of all of these mysteries surrounding his son’s life. One peaceful, uneventful, quiet year; was that too much to ask for?

“Since they’ve yet to make up for that fight about the broom, slim to none” Remus muttered, turning back to the book without hope. None of them seemed to notice Sirius was quietly muttering to himself, trying to sift through a half drunken memory.

Lily sat there for a few moments more, running her hand through her hair in frustration she couldn’t figure this out before turning back into the story.

Ernie was in her Muggle Studies, and he’d seen her in every one which were at the exact same time as their Divinations, and she’d never missed that either.

“Pity that, since they’re so dang useless” Harry grumbled.

Harry was really too busy to wonder at Hermione,

“Harry clearly didn’t inherit my nosiness then” James grinned “I’d have never let this slide without getting an answer.”

“Don’t I know it” Remus grumbled.

but he still didn’t have a chance to focus on his homework when Wood showed up.

“What, five practices a week isn’t enough, he’s got to come to you to strategy talk while you’re doing your homework” Lily muttered.

The conversation didn’t start well, as Wood told he’d just been to see their transfiguration teacher, and she’d lost her temper with him. Wood had been demanding Harry’s broom back, for some odd reason McGonagall seemed to think he had his priorities mixed up since he was saying he didn’t care if the broom chucked Harry to the ground so long as he got the Snitch on the way.

“Ge, wonder where she got that opinion of” Sirius scowled, hoping with everything he had Wood was just joking when he’d made that comment.

Wood then rolled his eyes, clearly not realizing why McGonagall had been yelling at him like he’d said something bad.

Lily couldn’t tell from Remus’ tone whether Wood really had been kidding, she sure hoped that was sarcasm because otherwise she’d have as much to say to Wood as she’d like to Malfoy.

Wood had tried to get a time frame, but McGonagall had said they were still working on it, so Wood told Harry it was time to settle on buying another.

“Oh, I’m sure she won’t keep it that long” James frowned “McGonagall really does care about the game and Harry’s chances of winning.”

“She just happens to care about Harry that little bit more to make sure he’s going to be safe” Lily added on with a touch of venom that made all of them edge away from her in fear.

He offered Harry to go and buy a Nimbus Two Thousand and One like Malfoy, but Harry refused to buy anything Malfoy liked.

“Don’t bias your opinion about the broom Harry” Sirius chided lightly “just because that brat has one doesn’t make the model crappy.”

“If you really had to” James added without really meaning it “you could always just order another Nimbus Two Thousand if it bothers you that much, but since it won’t be necessary it’s a moot point.”

Harry wasn’t getting much of an option though, as the game kept cropping closer and he still didn’t have a broom of his own.

James and Sirius were both frowning and getting jittery again as they realized the next game would be coming up, and what exactly that game would mean to them. They had yet to go one single match without having near heart failure, and it would be an unjust world if the same happened in the next. Surely one of them would get a good sound Quidditch game.

Harry was now pestering his head of house constantly after every one of her classes about his Firebolt,

“Oh I’m sure she just loved that” Lily scowled, giving her son a very obvious look about how rude she felt that was. Harry looked properly abashed for this, but didn’t look any less eager to hear the news.

but McGonagall told him off as well, saying they weren’t done.

“Ooh, getting snippy I see” Sirius couldn’t help but smile, remembering how they’d used to place bets on how hard it was to really test her nerves.

They’d gone over the basic things, but they still couldn’t be sure, and stop bothering her about it.

“Well Harry’s clearly learned how to push at least one of her buttons” James grinned.

“I’m sure you know the rest of them and have them all perfectly labeled” Lily huffed, not at all pleased how amused her husband was by this.

It didn’t help his patronus charm wasn’t getting any better.

“What, why!” Their vague amusement had switched right back to concern, not at all pleased if it turns out Harry’s strength behind that spell was only weakening with time.

Weeks later, and he still hadn’t managed any more then that same silver shadow the first night,

Which caused them all to release a breath of relief, Remus quickly turning to assure Harry “that’s as much progress as you really can hope for in such a time Harry. You are dealing with a seventh-year spell after all. Plus, if you’re trying to use that same memory over and over again, you won’t be getting a different result.”

Harry nodded in understanding, still frustrated but accepting he may be asking too much of himself in this case. Perhaps this feeling was wrong, and he didn’t master this spell like he’d first thought.

and he was now blaming himself for his secret want of just hearing his parents voices.

“You cannot hope to control that” James sighed, trying to keep as much misery out of his voice as possible as he consoled “all you can do is try to focus on something else.”

Harry nodded in understanding, still wishing more than anything else he’d never had this experience to begin with, that his father giving him advice now wasn’t so treasured because it should have been commonplace.

Lupin tried to coach him, Harry was doing as well as he could,

“At least Remus will set him right” Sirius nodded sternly.

that at his age what he was doing was amazing! He wasn’t even passing out anymore.

“And there’s the silver lining I was looking for” Lily beamed, smoothing Harry’s hair flat for a second.

Harry sighed that he’d thought the Patronus would make the dementor go away for good, and Lupin agreed that’s what a full patronus would do, but what Harry was pulling off would be enough to make his way to the ground in the event of the next game.

“And that’s all you we’re asking for walking in” James reminded.

Harry bit at his lip, still wanting to argue and say he could do more than this, but still agreed all the same he’d take would he could get.

He told Harry to take a break, then offered him a drink from the Three Broomsticks, something he wouldn’t have had before.

“Uh-oh” Sirius said at once in a sing-song voice.

“Let’s see if Harry’s any better at playing this off then Remus himself would be” James agreed brightly. Since the only thing Remus would bring Harry would be this one nonalcoholic drink that he had tried, there really was no doubt in their mind. In fact they felt a warmth sweeping through themselves as if they’d just had their own mug of Butterbeer at the obvious thought Remus had tried to put into this simple action. Even sharing a drink with Harry like this was putting more effort into spending time with him then he’d really yet shown outside of these lessons where he seemed to still be going out of his way to avoid personal talk.

Harry realized it was Butterbeer, and said he knew he liked that.

“Obviously not” Lily giggled at Harry’s slip up.

Lupin looked surprised, and Harry quickly fudged that Ron and Hermione had brought him some once.

“Not impossible” Sirius snickered.

“But if it’s anything like the face you’ve made before while lying” James smirked “I’m betting Remus would have seen through that.”

Lupin didn’t look convinced, but seemed to let it go.

“So what?” James grin only got wider “S’not like he’s going to do anything about it.”

“He’d be a right hypocrite if he did” Sirius agreed, patting Remus’ shoulder to make sure he completely understood what he meant.

Remus rolled his eyes at the pair of them, but couldn’t help but muster up a grin as he was very sure they were right and he’d probably laugh if he really found out how Harry had gotten a hold of this drink.

Then he offered to toast a Gryffindor win, though quickly corrected himself he wasn’t picking sides as a teacher.

“Oh no, not at all” Sirius cackled.

They took a drink before Harry asked what was under a dementor’s hood.

“Merlin Harry, you’ve got some rotten timing” James sighed since that had managed to dry up Sirius humor at once.

“Sorry” Harry said instantly, looking beseechingly at his godfather as he obviously realized he’d just asked a question no one was going to like the answer to.

“Don’t apologize” Sirius said at once, rubbing his hands against his knees and more than happy for the distraction of talking to Harry rather than think about the answer he knew Remus was about to give “unless you’re really telling me that at thirteen you somehow knew this was going to happen.” He finished waving his arm around vacantly.

Harry laughed lightly for a moment at how absurd it sounded, relieving a bit of tension.

Lupin lowered his drink in thought.

“Thoughtfully eh?” Lily grumbled, shivering in disgust and almost hoping Remus would skive on the details of this answer.

He began to say that no one who would know was coherent enough to say,

“Understatement” James mumbled, keeping a protective eye on Sirius as he continued losing color at this topic. He was clearly picturing himself surrounded on all sides again by these monsters.

because a dementor only lowered it’s hood to give what was called a Dementor’s Kiss, giving a rueful smile at the end.

“You sure seem to be taking this lightly” Lily scowled at him.

“I’m positive I find it just as funny then as I do now” Remus rebuked, using the same deadpan tone to make sure she understood how awful he really felt about this.

He explained that they latched onto a person with its resemblance of a mouth, and sucked the soul right out of you.

Harry couldn’t help but startle a bit, leaning back into his seat and turning slightly green at this.

Harry spat a bit of drink in shock as he began to ask that they killed! Lupin explained though that a human body could survive without its soul, but it wasn’t really a life. It wasn’t something they could ever get back, they’d just be a husk of a human.

“Please Remus, butter that up a bit more, I don’t think you quite hit impending doom just right” Sirius scowled outright now.

Remus couldn’t help but chuckle at his friend showing such a sense of humor now when he was very clearly disturbed the most by this whole thing.

Then he told that it was set to happen to Sirius,

Remus hadn’t been able to choke out his whole name before he jolted like he’d just been electrocuted and the book flew across the room.

“They what!” Lily screeched, getting to her feet and going as red as her hair. “They, why! That sentence hasn’t been used on the worst of the Death Eaters, what in Merlin’s beard made anyone think it was okay for this to happen!”

James looked on lockdown, blinking spastically as if he was hearing the news about Sirius’ crime all over again and finding it just as disturbing now as he did then. Sirius was the last person on earth who deserved that fate, what on earth was going on that someone had approved of this.

Sirius was actually wavering a bit, for a moment he truly looked like he was about to pass out right there. Remus wanted to, he really did, to reach over and grasp his shoulder, make sure he understood that they would die before letting that happen to him...but he was a little lost in his own mind this time; because what was disturbing him more than anything was the absolute careless way he seemed to mention that to Harry!

Of course he wasn’t there right now, Harry may not be seeing it for how he was feeling now, like a five-ton weight was crashing his innards at the mere mention of this let alone the thought happening. Still, Harry should have noted how hard that should have been for him to say, to go pale and lose color, even shift around slightly or possibly drop his butterbeer, anything to indicate what he’d just said should show some bloody discomfort to himself! What in the name of Merlin could have happened that of all the reactions in the world, he’d define that one as almost careless in regards to one of his closest friend, someone he’d regard as a brother. Surely...surely he may have just been acting. He’d have to play it off like this to make sure no one suspected him of helping Sirius. There just wasn’t any other explanation, not a one that didn’t end in him really believing Sirius deserved this, but that would mean Sirius had really done all of this…

“James, I think he’s really gone into shock or something.”

“Merlin, you know it’s bad when he freaked out more than I did-”

“Sirius don’t do that-”

To late Remus had phased back into the conversation and Sirius was already giving him a very hard poke in between his ribs which did have the desired effect of having him jerk and rub at the spot and have reality slam back into his brain with a harsh slap in the face.

“What’s gotten into you” James demanded, pushing Sirius out of the way and giving them both stern looks, and making them both unsure who he was demanding that of until he turned to face Remus with his arms crossed to continue “Remus I am positive it doesn’t happen, just like I was telling Sirius. Harry would have reacted much worse than the pair of you.”

Harry was nodding eagerly over his father’s shoulder, bouncing on his heels and watching him just as carefully, looking like he was personally blaming himself for whatever reaction this had caused.

“I-” he stuttered, giving his head one more shake to clear away any and all poisonous thoughts “yeah, you’re right, of course. Just, just caught off guard is all.” He tried to prove he meant it by taking to his feet and going to fetch the book, but couldn’t deny he did a rather crappy job of it as he couldn’t quite meet anyone’s eyes. The words kept echoing in his head over and over again, ‘the fate that awaits Sirius...’ but no James and Harry were both right, nothing was going to happen, and Harry was surely just not watching him well enough, still distracted by the information he’d been given. That must be it!

The others had settled down enough again and were returning to their seats, and Remus made quick work of finding his place again and reading on very loudly to distract himself more than anything.

Black. He’d heard it in the newspaper that the ministry had approved of it when the dementors got hold of him.

Lily still mumbled a few foul things under her breath about what she thought of this but Remus clearly wasn’t going to stop for that.

Harry felt shocked for a moment, before blurting out that he deserved it.

“I’m sorry” Harry said instantly, looking close to tears because those words had ever passed his lips. “I’m so sorry Sirius, I-”

Sirius waved him off, effectively pretending he hadn’t just thrown up a little in his mouth and he wasn’t blinking back tears of his own that Harry had ever thought this of him in any way, shape or form.

Remus did take a small moment to look pitifully at the pair of them before trying to read on without a wobble in his voice.

Lupin looked curiously at Harry as he asked if he really meant that?

‘I’d like to think I was more offended, or heartbroken, or anything!’ His mind screamed at him, begging Harry to pick up some detail that Remus had been any kind of distressed at this conversation, but Harry was still busy watching Sirius and he could never explain himself if he asked for that kind of thing now.

Harry said Black deserved it for, for some things, and he trailed off from there.

“Subtle Harry, nice and subtle” Lily murmured, wrapping her arm around his shoulders for a moment to comfort them both since Harry was still twitching in agitation that he was the cause for so many of the depressing feelings circling through the room.

Harry wanted to tell Lupin about that story he’d overheard in the Three Broomsticks, but that would involve his going there which still wasn’t allowed, and he didn’t think Luin would be impressed with that.

“I’d take that bet” James offered with forced amusement, still trying to watch both Sirius and Remus at the same time since both of them still looked so out of it and at any given time might faint or bolt from all of this pent up stress.

Harry finished his drink and left, half wishing he hadn’t asked now at the thought of that happening to a soul and wondering what that would feel like.

“Oh joy, a whole new wondrous thing to broad on!” Sirius hissed, shifting his weight around and dearly wishing he had the baby in his lap, or anything to help take his attention off this hell storm.

He was so distracted that he walked right into McGonagall.

“Well she must not have been paying attention to where she was going either, otherwise she wouldn’t have run into you” Lily pointed out in a vain attempt to find some humor again.

Harry began to apologize, but McGonagall explained that she’d been looking for Harry, that their testing was done, and how he must have some friend out there.

Remus blinked spastically for a few seconds, rereading that bit again for good measure and then joining his friends in a whoop of joy. It may have seemed petty and a bit shallow, but after the horrid news they’d just experienced any type of good thing to look on would be celebrated for as long as possible. So all five of them spent a rousing time laughing and commending Harry on getting his broom back, more than amused and waiting for the moment where McGonagall exclaimed she’d been wrong and of course nothing was wrong with a broom like that! By the time Remus was ready to move on their spirits had lifted so much they were almost genuinely smiling for what felt like the first time in ages.

Harry took back his Firebolt with numb hands, the model still looking brand new.

“But of course” James scoffed “she’d never do a thing to harm that broom.”

Harry could hardly believe it, asking ‘seriously?’

“As Sirius as I am” Sirius beamed, bouncing around in sheer pleasure.

They were in such a good mood that James and Remus didn’t even physically scold him for that but instead just groaned miserably at what they felt was an overused joke.

McGonagall agreed seriously.

“She means it I’m sure, McGonagall wouldn’t joke about that” Lily said quickly before Sirius could make the same joke in a row.

She then encouraged Harry to be training hard for the coming game, or they’d have lost for the eighth year in a row, something Snape had been oh so kind of mentioning last night.

“I’m sure that had absolutely nothing to do with you getting this back the next day, nothing at all” Sirius released a bark like laugh at the end at the thought of that exchange.

Harry could hardly believe it he was so happy as he ran towards his common room, only to be met by Ron grinning just as widely.

“Suppose he’s been running around the castle like a crazy person looking for you” Remus snickered.

He saw the broom in Harry’s hands and exalted that he really did have it back, then asked if he’d still be allowed his ride?

“Merlin, Harry hasn’t even gotten his first go on it, give him a chance” James chuckled.

Harry agreed he’d keep his word, then voiced that they should go apologize to Hermione now, she had just been trying to help.

“Harry” Lily snapped, some of her amusement beginning to ebb away. “You should have apologized to her ages ago, not the moment you get the broom back. If you knew all along she was just trying to help, why were you being so rude to her for so long?”

Harry opened then closed his mouth, turning away sheepishly and only murmuring a few halfhearted replies. Truthfully this fight felt as shallow as his mother made it out to be in hindsight, even before he’d gotten his broom back he’d felt guilty for his actions and really had been wanting to apologize and just hadn’t been able to think of a way to phrase it, not as used to it as Ron about making up in fights or even having them really. He’d chosen to say this now because here he had a ready made reason to go and talk to her again.

He said as much, and some of Lily’s anger washed back out of her when she realized how repentant Harry clearly was.

Ron agreed, saying she was up in the dorm as well, studying for once.

“Forever love his sense of humor” Sirius snickered.

They got to the portrait hole to see Cadogan refusing Neville entrance. Neville explained he’d gotten Cadogan to give him the list of passwords,

“And how did he work that out” Sirius yelped in surprise.

“Can’t have conned it out of him, Neville doesn’t seem the type” Remus said thoughtfully.

“Possibly did a favor for him, some of the portraits will go for that” James offered.

but now he’d lost them.

“The poor thing” Lily sighed in sympathy, wishing Neville would catch a break every now and then.

Harry told the actual password, oddsbodikins,

“It’s no wonder he wrote these things down” Remus rolled his eyes “I’d forget half of these.”

and they went into the whole of the house waiting for their arrival, each eager to get a glance at the Firebolt.

“Not surprised one bit” James couldn’t help but beam, puffing his chest out slightly with undiluted pride his son was getting this well-deserved attention for a change.

One person asked Harry how he’d gotten it,

“From the best Godfather ever” Sirius said just a tad pompously, which only increased when no one bothered to correct him, though Lily made sure he could see her eye roll for the comment.

and a barrage of other questions like if he’d been on it yet,

“Sadly not” James was quaking at the thought “but you won’t be able to get him off of it soon.”

while one person asked if they could just touch it.

“Well they’re an enthusiastic lot” Lily giggled at all of the admirers her son seemed to suddenly have.

Harry allowed it to be passed around a bit, when he spotted Hermione alone at the table. He walked over to her, and said he’d gotten it back.

“Are you sure” Remus quirked a brow in amusement “are you absolutely positive? Because I’m not convinced that’s what that crowd was going on about.”

Harry gave him a cheeky little smirk right back, more than pleased that whatever funk Remus had been in during this chapter he was clearly trying very hard to stay out of it.

Ron was rubbing it in just a bit that they’d been right all along.

“Now was that really necessary” Lily chided.

“Had to make sure he got his point across” Sirius rolled his eyes indulgently at what he was sure was a common exchange between those two at this point.

Hermione agreed, but insisted it was safer now that it had been checked.

“I’ll take the trade any day” James nodded in fervent agreement.

Harry agreed, then voiced he wanted to go put it up but he’d be right back. Ron said he’d do it for him, he had to give Scabbers his medicine, and he took Harry’s broom and went up the stairs with it like it was made of glass.

Lily was torn for a moment between sighing in exasperation and giggling her head off as all four boys nodded in complete understanding of these actions. Eventually she ended on chuckling and shaking her head at the lot of them.

Harry took a seat and glanced around Hermione’s space, where one Arithmancy assignment could be seen ink still wet from its completion,

“I get the feeling she’s not trying to outdo herself and do double the length that’s required anymore” Remus noted lightly.

while he spotted another in progress entitled Explain Why Muggles Need Electricity.

Lily blinked in surprise for a moment at what she considered such an odd and obvious topic but then she looked over at Sirius who was nodding and explaining “I’ll tell you more about it later, but it really is one of the main ways they’ve survived without magic in their life.”

James was nodding with a very curious look in place but didn’t pester more of an answer out of him.

Harry asked how she had survived all of this, and Hermione tried to just say it was all hard work, but Harry saw her eyes looked as dark as Lupins.

James let out a low and throaty whistle, Hermione really must look bad for that kind of comparison to be taking place.

Harry asked why she didn’t drop a few subjects, and Hermione looked panicked at the thought.

“Oh no, the thought of having a life again is too much for her” Sirius mocked lightly with a rather concerned frown still in place.

Harry insisted Arithmancy would be a good place to start, looking at the complicated numbers.

“It’s not so bad” Lily disagreed at the same time James was nodding vigorously and saying “yeah, she should drop that one.” The couple took a small moment to exchange amused looks for disagreeing over something else again.

Hermione began to protest that was her favorite subject, but Harry never heard the end of it,

“That was, ominous” Sirius frowned in concern, already trying to lean over Remus and find out why.

Remus budged him out of the way at once, fighting back the temptation to chuck the book back across the room again. They were in such a good mood now, surely nothing too awful was about to happen.

because he was cut off by a horrified scream coming from the stairs. Ron came trampling down them seconds later, a bedsheet in hand.

“A-a bed-” James began stuttering more in shock and confusion, but Remus was still reading in a fevered haste to find out what could possibly cause that kind of reaction.

He froze in front of Hermione, waving the bedding under her nose and screaming about Scabbers!

“Oh bollocks” Sirius muttered, now leaning as far away from the book as possible, his face twisting into quite the look of fear at what this could mean.

“Oh, oh now, he, he didn’t” Lily whimpered, shaking her head furiously at what this could imply.

Remus was looking down at the book, dumbstruck for a moment longer before reading out what felt like a harsh blow to his gut.

His rat was gone, and there was blood all over his sheets!

“Why do I have a really, really bad idea” James hissed, drumming his hands furiously on his knees to help alleviate what he could already sense was coming.

Then he threw something onto Hermione’s lap, ginger cat hairs.

“Crap” the room muttered as one.

“Oh, poor Ron” Lily whispered, shaking her head miserably.

“I really can’t believe no one ever tried to do more to stop this from happening” Remus sighed, placing the book gingerly down in front of him in agitation.

Harry was frowning right along with the rest of them, but for a completely different reason. Something about this felt, wrong. Almost off he supposed, because that wasn’t right. He tried for a few moments to understand why he would think this, it seemed perfectly obvious this is what had happened, but then he received a sharp spike for his trouble and made no protest as his Mum made to go and pick up the book.

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