Harry Potter and the ? (Prisoner of Azkaban)

Snape's Grudge

James wasn’t giving anyone one second to discuss that bomb of a mess, too scared to hear any kind of answer but the one that had to be true, it just wasn’t possible the world would be cruel enough that his friend truly had gone insane in Azkaban. Sirius must have a logical and sound reason for doing this, but the fact that he couldn’t come up with one made him read on with more anxiety then possibly any chapter before.

No one in Gryffindor Tower slept that night.

“Doubt anyone’s going to get any sleep tonight either” Sirius muttered.

They knew the castle was being searched top to bottom again, and they all stayed alert to see if Black had been found this time.

James had to swallow very hard for a moment, still praying with his every fiber that wouldn’t happen. He knew Sirius must have a reason for the insane act he’d just pulled, he was clearly of sound mind enough to run for cripes sake, surely he must have been able to escape again!

Harry dearly wanted to ask why they’d all been forced to stay in the Great Hall last time for a lesser problem with Sirius only having attacked the portrait, but this time they weren’t leaving. He didn’t though, working out for himself the teachers must think the common rooms really were safer this time.

McGonagall did come back to tell that he hadn’t.

Despite the scared out of their mind mood for the room, they were all in the proper state to release a breath of relief for what they knew would always be good news to them.

The damage had been done though, and for the next several days they saw security being tightened up around the castle all the more, as the doors to the school had been enchanted to recognize Black,

“Despite the doors lack of security, I still doubt that’s how you’re pulling it off” Remus rolled his eyes.

and Filch was given the task of filling in every last crack in the wall that not even a mouse could squeeze through.

‘Would be useful, if Peter were still around’ Sirius mentally sighed, hoping more than anything that if Harry learned anything at the end of the year, it was what really was going on with that story.

Cadogan was fired,

“And good riddance” Harry grumbled, that portrait had done far more harm than good in his opinion by constantly annoying the whole of his house.

and the Fat Lady was put back,

“About time” Lily smiled, which wavered slightly when she remembered why it had been taken down in the first place. She would never really believe Sirius was out to harm anyone at that school, but it still wasn’t adding up right what on earth he was doing! No one had the gall to bring it up though, James was still reading in a rather harassed manner and didn’t look intent on changing that until he got a solid explanation of what was going on.

with added protection.

“How do you protect a portrait?” Harry mumbled.

His mom looked puzzled herself for a moment, but James was already reading.

Now security trolls had been hired to patrol the seventh floor.

Harry couldn’t help a laugh of surprise at what he considered an overkill, considering even after all of this he still didn’t feel any impending danger, but he was the only one who did.

Harry did notice that the statue on the third floor hadn’t been secured,

Sirius felt the smallest of smiles trying to make an appearance on his face, left over smugness from his years in thinking he and his friends ruled the school through those secret corridors, but it just didn’t hold the same pleasure now as it once would have.

and Harry couldn’t help asking Ron if they should say something about it. Ron disagreed, saying that a break in at Honeydukes would have been mentioned.

Lily couldn’t help herself, now she really did want to know how the boys managed to get past those sensory alarms, so she finally forced a change of subject by asking “alright, now I’m curious. How were you getting in and out of Honeydukes?” Then she cocked her head to the side and probed further “and besides that, how were you getting back into the passage without a wand?”

Remus couldn’t help but release a surprised burst of laughter at the thunderstruck look on both her and Harry’s faces, but Sirius was the one to chip his answer “Because the sensory alarms they use only work on humans. So long as I snuck in there as a dog, the thing wouldn’t go off. As for getting back in though” here he did pause and frown before huffing “actually, I’ve got nothing. Suppose I hid out somewhere in the castle until the coast was clear, I still know plenty of nice little hiding holes, and snuck through a window or something from the first floor. Really shouldn’t be too hard when no one would actually be looking for a dog*; or maybe I got Remus to open it after the fact. Either could work.”

James couldn’t stop a light smile of his own making an appearance at such a light topic to him as he commented “it’s really not as hard as you two seem to think it is to get in and out of that place.”

Lily couldn’t keep a triumphant smile off of her face as she watched the boys theorize a few other means for Sirius to do this, and sat back comfortably when James finally managed to keep going in normal tones.

Harry was happy to have this pointed out, as he knew that if his way into Hogsmeade was blocked off as well he’d never get back into the village.

“Which would be the crying shame of the century” Remus declared in a very serious tone of voice.

Ron had become an overnight celebrity,

“I’ll bet he loved that” Sirius snickered lightly, ignoring the horrible wince that wanted to cause. At least someone was getting there kicks out of this.

as people were finally paying more attention to him then Harry,

“I’m sure that was just breaking your heart” James grinned over at Harry, who was smiling pleasantly at how happy he remembered Ron was then. This instant had finally driven Scabbers clear from his mind, it really had been the first time Ron had finally gone a full day without thinking of his pet, then he winced and rubbed at his temple as he so frequently did whenever Scabbers came to mind. Why though? Was he really just trying to remember the rat was still alive? Wouldn’t this be a good thing for Ron, rather than leaving a sick feeling in the pit of his gut the longer he thought on this?

as students demanded to hear his retelling of the event which Ron was all too happy to provide.

“Glad someone in your group knows how to” James snickered.

He told how he’d thought at first he had just been asleep when he heard the tearing noise,

Then James smile dried right up when he saw he was clearly going to read exactly what Ron was telling people, something he’d gladly never discuss again until he heard Sirius’ real account on the matter.

but then he blinked at the heart stopping image of the convict staring down at him.

James was trying his hardest to get through this as fast as possible, still unwilling to hear anyone’s side of the story other than Sirius’ himself, because there wasn’t any other option. There had to be a logical, understandable reason for this madness!

He’d been holding a knife and preparing to stab when Ron started screaming, and Black made a run for it. Only after the awed students walked off did Ron turn to Harry and follow up with the question of why he’d run at all?

‘Probably because he gave me a heart attack, yelling like that’ Sirius mentally grumbled, but failed to say anything out loud since he was the last one who really wanted to linger on this.

Harry couldn’t help but wonder the same thing, why hadn’t Black just stabbed Ron and turned on Harry?

James practically hissed that out through gritted teeth in foul contempt that sentence could exist in any universe, as implausible and stupid as it was.

Harry tried to work it out, saying his cover had already been blown and if he’d delayed any longer then he would have woken up the whole house, then the teachers, he hadn’t enough time.

“Humm, there’s a logic to the madness” Sirius huffed without any traces of humor.

Neville was in the deepest of trouble.

“That poor thing” Lily cooed.

Sirius couldn’t help but wince, now knowing this kid didn’t really need his help to get into trouble but feeling bad it had been his fault.

McGonagall had taken away his privilege to go to Hogsmeade,

“Ouch” James winced, knowing from Harry’s experience how awful that was going to be, and remembering earlier how hopeful he’d been that this would happen.

given him a detention, and he was no longer allowed to know the password.

“Now how would that work” Remus frowned, “actually that’s pretty harsh. It’s not like he did it on purpose.”

“Guess I really scared the crap out of her” Sirius grumbled.

He had to wait every night among the trolls until someone arrived to let him in.

“That’s just-” Lily choked, unable to decide if she was supposed to laugh at the security measures they kept trying to put up against Sirius, or continue grumbling along with the boys how unnecessary it was.

None of this was nearly as bad as the Howler he received.

“Dang” all five of them winced that time, knowing public humiliation like that was the worst form of punishment available.

Harry recognized the scarlet envelope the moment it landed on Neville’s plate.

“Yeah, we remember” James shook his head in pity at that remembered incident.

Ron told Neville to make a run for it,

“Sound advice really” Sirius nodded.

and while Neville tried, sprinting out the doors to the echoing laughter of Slytherin’s behind him,

“Oh,” Lily scowled “it can’t really be that funny.”

“I was pointing out Malfoy’s group more than anything” Harry shrugged “and they thought it was a riot.”

he didn’t get far. The whole hall heard Neville’s grandmother magically yelling about how he’d disgraced the whole of the family.

“It’s not like he did it on purpose” Lily finally snapped at how outrageous she found that claim. “I highly doubt Neville walked up to him and gave it to him, nor would he consciously leave it lying about!”

“I agree, poor Neville really doesn’t deserve all of this” James sighed.

Harry had been watching after him sadly, so at first didn’t notice Hedwig until she gave him a nip.

“Yeah, that’ll do it” Harry muttered while rubbing at his wrist.

He took her offered letter and opened it as Hedwig began eating some of Neville’s cereal.

That at least gave them a random laugh.

It contained the message that Harry and Ron were invited over at six, and in all capital letters to wait at the entrance hall for him to arrive.

“Really James” Lily sighed “I’m glad that seemed to make you feel better, but it’s a letter, you don’t need to shout.”

James gave her a wayward smile, not really seeming to regret it.

Hagrid signed off the bottom, and Ron got excited all over again as he guessed that Hagrid must want to hear his retelling of Black.

Sirius cocked his head to the side, he didn’t really think so honestly, but he wasn’t sure what it could be about either.

Lily on the other hand was beaming, more than pleased someone like Hagrid was around just to check up on them and make sure they were okay. She couldn’t help but notice how absent Remus had continued to be during this year, surely he could have made an appearance to Harry again about anything, even something as trivial as talking about the next creature in class.

So the time came that they had to sprint past the security trolls,

“Can’t honestly blame you” Remus chuckled.

and head down the stairs where they found Hagrid already waiting.

“I can see his point” James snickered a bit, “probably thought they wouldn’t wait on him and got there an hour early.”

Ron greeted him happily, confirming that Hagrid wanted to hear his account of Black’s entrance. Hagrid said no, he’d heard enough about that, and Ron looked rather disappointed.

James looked the exact opposite, more than relieved he wouldn’t have to read that all over again.

When they got to Hagrid’s place, they found Buckbeak

“Which reminds me” Sirius said, happy for any kind of reason to talk about anything besides himself. “How’s that research going on his case?”

Harry’s mouth opened with a little pop, then he went bright red in the face.

“Oh, Harry you didn’t” Lily moaned as she recognized the shame on his face.

“Err, it was the Firebolt, it err honestly drove Buckbeak right out of my mind, and err-”

“Relax Harry” Remus finally released him from his clearly pent up agitation at himself “it’s not like we blame you for forgetting, honestly I kind of forgot myself until Hagrid wrote you his letter. Fighting with Hermione, Scabbers and that broom, can’t really blame you.”

Harry still couldn’t help but feel insanely guilty, he’d promised Hagrid he would help him and he had let such things drive out a promise to his friend. The others weren’t yet sure what to say though, Harry should feel rightfully guilty for this but his actions were understandable for a child his age as well. So they kept silent and hoped Hagrid would have more to say.

on Hagrid’s bed, eating some dead ferrets.

Lily crinkled up her nose, still wishing Hagrid would at least feed him that outside.

Looking away from that, Harry instead spotted a truly odd looking suite in Hagrid’s size, and asked what the occasion was?

“A really bad and very late costume party I’d hope, but even then it hardly seems fitting” Sirius muttered.

Hagrid explained that it was for his case against the Committee, he’d set up their arrangement with some beds on the Knight Bus,

“I’m sure that’ll be a sight for the other occupants” Remus snickered.

and Harry felt a horrible surge of guilt as he realized he’d forgotten all about this.

Harry continued sinking lower into himself the longer this dragged on, continued guilt indeed dragging him around. He was now convinced that if Buckbeak didn’t win this case it would be all his fault.

One glance at Ron showed he had done the same, but before they could say anything Hagrid instead said he had something serious to discuss with them.

“Not as serious as I could” Sirius said at once, making James sigh and try to ignore his friend again.

“I swear that joke has popped up more in this book then any others” Remus grumbled with distaste.

When Harry asked what about, Hagrid said Hermione.

That startled all of them, Harry most of all as he’d been expecting Hagrid to tell him off for not helping out more.

Lily began smiling all over again though, relief washing through her as she really did hope now Hagrid was going to straighten these boys out and convince them they were being idiots about how they were treating their friend.

Ron wasn’t pleased at the change of topic, but Hagrid told how she’d been down at his place. Ron pointed out that her cat had eaten Scabbers, and Hagrid said back that’s just what cats do.

“Thank you” Remus sighed, in full agreement it was high time someone got it through Ron’s head he may have been holding a bit too much of a grudge there. No one was arguing he had a right to be mad, but it wasn’t something to lose your friendship over.

She’d been crying a bit,

Harry in particular winced horribly at that. He didn’t have that many friends really, and now reflecting back on how he had treated her made him feel even worse. Between that and his residual guilt about Hagrid and Buckbeak, he looked so miserable Lily took pity on him and wrapped her arm around him for comfort. Yes, Harry really should feel guilty and she hoped it would teach him a lesson about this in the future, but since it was so clear how he was feeling now she hoped that was just as strong then and decided he was self-punishing enough.

and told them off for how they’d been treating her, making brooms and rats more important than their friend.

James gave Harry a wane smile, more than happy someone had reminded his son of that. He still looked so guilty none of them dared make fun of him for this.

Ron tried to argue back, saying he’d forgive her if she got rid of Crookshanks, but she was still sticking up for him.

“And he shouldn’t really blame her” Sirius sighed “as he’d be doing the same thing if things were reversed.

Hagrid pointed out that people could get a bit blind when it came to their pets, while Buckbeak spit out some bones onto Hagrid’s pillow.

“Timing” Lily couldn’t help but giggle.

They stayed late at Hagrid’s, both boys trying to get in an apology about not helping out more with Buckbeak, which he waved off as he knew how busy they were. They went back to the castle and spotted when the next Hogsmeade trip was going to be. Ron asked Harry if he was still planning on going in?

“Course he’s going” James scoffed “he still hasn’t got a reason not to!”

Harry was agreeing he would when Hermione made her appearance, already looking upset at the overheard conversation.

“Somehow, I think that apology they owe her isn’t coming” Sirius sighed as he had a very bad feeling that yet another fight was fixing to break out instead.

She threatened that if Harry went again, she’d tell McGonagall about his map.

“What” they all snapped.

“Damn Hermione, that’s taking it too far” James scowled.

Lily sighed, she really wanted to agree that Hermione was being overtly paranoid, but decided enough was enough and put her foot down and truly defended her this time. “Alright you lot” she snapped before anyone else could say anything. “I’m sorry Sirius, but think about this from her position for a second. You’ve just gotten into the common rooms, the most secure part of the castle, you can’t really sit around and blame her for being worried about Harry being so exposed in the open now. If it was anyone but you, you’d all agree Harry should stay in the castle where it’s safe as well.”

The boys hesitated before sighing and admitting that fine. The point was they weren’t afraid of anything bad happening so they were looking at it another way, but decided harping on Hermione wasn’t going to help.

Ron pretended he hadn’t even heard.

“Harsh” Remus muttered with a wince.

Hermione still tried, saying Ron was being an idiot after Black had nearly killed him, and she was going to tattle if they didn’t stop! Ron jumped that she was going to get Harry kicked out of school!

“They sure toss that word around a lot” James sighed, “but if we got expelled every time we’d snuck out of the castle we’d have set some sort of record by the end of first year.”

“I still wouldn’t want to get into trouble” Harry reminded “nor would I want to be asked how I’d gotten in and out.”

Hermione wasn’t going to back down, until her cat jumped on her lap. Hermione froze up, before scooping him into her arms and bolting upstairs.

“Almost a good thing” Sirius couldn’t help but sigh “that conversation just couldn’t have ended well.”

Ron kept going like Hermione had never been there, pointing out that Harry hadn’t even gotten to see Zonko’s last time.

“An actual crime against your age” James nodded seriously.

Harry agreed he’d still go, but he was taking the Cloak.

“Glad you learned that lesson” Sirius approved.

The next morning Harry made it as clear as possible he was waving goodbye to Ron and heading back to the tower with a watchful Hermione’s eyes on him.

“You gotten any better at that” Remus snickered “because you still don’t have a very good poker face.”

“I’ve no idea if it fooled her” Harry said with a shrug, dearly hoping it had as he didn’t really want to get caught or told on.

He called out a last farewell to Ron, who winked as he passed.

“Subtle” Sirius snorted.

He made to sneak away and go to the statue, when he ran into Neville.

“Damn” they couldn’t help but curse, finding that some pretty bad timing.

“Don’t suppose you’ll just invite him” Remus sighed without any real hope.

“I doubt it” Harry shook his head.

He spotted Harry and said he’d forgotten Harry couldn’t go to Hogsmeade either.

“I kind of want to know what he was even doing around there” James sighed, it wasn’t a place students normally visited without knowledge of where they were going, especially on off days.

Then he offered to play a game with Harry, who quickly lied and said he had a homework assignment over vampires for Lupin due.

“Jeesh Remus, you know you really could go a lesson without assigning homework” Sirius sighed.

“At least it wasn’t two rolls of parchment” Harry smirked.

Neville eagerly asked to join, saying he hadn’t finished his either.

“I feel so bad for Neville” Lily frowned “he obviously wants someone to hang out with. Would it really kill you to let Ron alone for the day and be with him.”

Harry winced in sympathy. At the time he’d been absolutely focused on getting into Hogsmeade to be with his friend, he’d not even stopped to consider how Neville must be feeling at the time. If he sat around and thought about it now, he probably would go back and just stay with Neville for the day.

Harry had to quickly rethink and say he had in fact finished that essay.

“You’re lying has actually managed to get increasingly worse as time goes on” James snickered.

Neville then asked if Harry could instead help him, unclear on the garlic thing and if they had to eat it or what?

“Tsk tsk Remus, how could you not have covered that in class” Sirius mock scolded.

Remus ignored him and turned to Harry, asking “did you already do your essay?”

“I’d started it” Harry said evasively, most likely meaning he’d written his name on a sheaf of parchment.

Chuckling Remus then said “well in answer, it only has to be around them to affect them, in fact getting a vampire to eat garlic would be a miracle even if it would kill them.”

Harry didn’t get a chance to answer as Snape arrived.

“Oh bloody hell” the boys muttered, automatically annoyed whenever he showed up for any reason.

Neville took a step behind Harry.

Lily scowled all over again, her hatred for that reminder never not making her want to get to her feet and give him more than a telling off.

Snape glared at the two, asking why they’d met there? Then his eyes flickered to the statue.

“You know, he did catch us meeting up there quite a bit” James nodded in remembrance “I can’t really say I’m surprised if he’s suspicious.”

“Still a paranoid arse” Sirius scowled.

Harry tried to say that they weren’t meeting there on purpose, they’d just met there.

“Yes, I’m so sure he believed that clarification” Remus snorted.

Snape clearly didn’t buy it, telling Harry he tended to be in places he wasn’t supposed to.

“As far as he’s concerned” Lily scowled, “when have you ever really been anywhere you aren’t supposed to be?” She didn’t really think he was referring to all of his crazy stunts he’d pulled during last year and the year before, as he probably didn’t know much about those then the barest of facts, so his claim was still pretty biased.

“Like that’s ever stopped him making snide comments” James huffed.

Then he told them both to get back to their common room.

Harry rolled his eyes that time, growing quite tired of constantly being told he was supposed to spend every waking moment in that tower instead of roaming the castle like every other student.

The two boys walked off, Harry glancing back to find Snape running his hand over the statue’s head.

“Like he’ll figure it out” Sirius said with confidence. It had taken them doing a favor for one of the paintings just to get a hint, no way could Snape really know.

Harry finally got rid of Neville as he lied and said he’d left his homework in the Library, giving him the password before running off.

“That’ll work” Remus sighed, still half wishing Harry would have told him and brought him along, having noted for quite some time it never really mentioned Neville hanging out with any of his friends, but knowing by now it wasn’t worth bringing it up to Harry. It seemed all the more harsh since Harry wouldn’t be back for hours, and Neville would just feel dumped.

Harry pulled out his map and found Snape down in his office.

“Wish he wouldn’t come out of there, ever” Sirius huffed.

He quickly made his way through the proper channels and finished his route to the cellar.

“He’s already such a pro” James gave a satisfied sigh, pretending to wipe a proud tear away, though the feeling itself was real.

When he did get there, he had to explain to Ron in a whisper from under the cloak that he’d been held up by Snape. The journey was confusing for Ron as they left the shop, as he constantly whispered where Harry was?

“A fair question” Remus snickered, a few occasions coming to mind of when they’d done something similar, though normally it was for a set up to a prank.

“Though not recommended, otherwise people are going to wonder why you’re talking to yourself” Sirius snorted.

They went inside Zonko’s,

“One of the most important shops in there” James nodded seriously.

where they found uncountable prank items that would make Fred and George turn green with envy,

“Wouldn’t surprise me if they have that store completely memorized” Sirius chuckled.

and each bought a set of items.

“Completely worth it then” Remus agreed.

Then they made their way to the back of the village, towards the Shrieking Shack.

All three boys now had nostalgic smiles creeping across their faces, having spent so many long hours in that place it almost felt as much a home to them as Hogwarts itself.

They got to the top and Ron explained that even the schools ghosts didn’t go in there.

“I’m fairly sure that’s because Dumbledore asked them not to, once I started hanging around in there” Remus shrugged “added to the fear factor.”

Ron had even heard Fred and George had tried to break in, but couldn’t get past any of the windows or doors.

“All the visible ones” Sirius smirked.

“I don’t know why they tried” Lily rolled her eyes “what do they think they’re going to find in there?”

“That’s the fun of it” James explained “finding out.”

Harry was starting to feel a little stuffy under his cloak, and was just considering taking it off for some air when they heard approaching voices.

“Typical” Remus rolled his eyes.

They didn’t have to wait long to find Malfoy,

“Gah” Sirius ground out in frustration “what the bloody hell is with their rotten timing.”

and his two friends coming up, talking loudly about how Malfoy’s dad should be sending him a letter soon telling how the trail went their way, and he’d been there to testify on his son’s behalf for not having his arm for months.

Sirius scowled and grumbled something, still unable to believe anyone could be so intent on getting one guy in so much trouble. What had Hagrid ever done to this kid?

Crabbe and Goyle laughed.

“Trollishly, with absolutely no brains of their own” James continued as if reading that.

“No need for that James, we already knew it” Lily smirked.

Malfoy was lamenting he wished he could have been there in person to watch Hagrid defend him,

“Wish your arse would get expelled for starting this mess” Remus scowled.

when he saw Ron and grinned.

“Well this can’t be good” Lily’s frown deepened as she assessed this situation. Malfoy thought Ron was up there on his own, and if Harry helped him he’d most likely get caught. This could cause a huge mess.

He laughed when he saw what Ron was looking at, declaring that the old shack looked like a palace compared to the box his family must live in.

Harry ground his teeth together in frustration, dearly hoping he used the opportunity he had in hand to get some well-deserved revenge on Malfoy.

Ron looked like he was going to go at Malfoy, but Harry grabbed him,

“Do you ever let your friend have any fun?” Sirius demanded with a pout.

“I’m with Sirius on this one” Remus scoffed in agitation “he deserves anything Ron would do for that comment.”

Harry looked at his mother, expecting her to say something, but she simply shrugged and said “I’d rather you not get in trouble for what I know you’re about to do, but so long as you’re not expelled, I agree. It’ll be worth it.”

James laughed boisterously, nearly bouncing in place at what this could mean.

and whispered to him that he’d deal with it.

“Yes!” All of the boys cheered, more than pleased at the opportunity’s this could have.

Harry began sneaking around behind them, eyes on a puddle of mud.

Sirius was practically vibrating in place he was stifling his laughter so much. Harry wasn’t even using a spell, which gave him all the more deniability.

As Malfoy continued to mock Ron, Harry scooped up a bit, and chucked with perfect aim as the brown goop landed in Malfoy’s hair.

James had to stop reading for several minutes, he was too busy catching his breath back with laughter. This little brat had deserved some retribution for so long now, that this visual image was one he knew he’d treasure for as long as possible. He only kept going because he recognized there was still potential mayhem to come.

Malfoy spun around, demanding to know who’d done that,

“Karma” Lily smirked.

while Ron tried to keep himself upright while voicing how haunted he’d heard this place was.

Remus almost fell off the couch laughing at Ron’s very appropriate comment.

Crabbe and Goyle were looking very unsure now, knowing their muscles wouldn’t do any good against ghosts.

“Not much use at all really” Sirius said brightly, since neither moron would find their target with Harry keeping the cloak on.

Harry was still busy though, instead walking around towards a puddle of green sludge, and throwing that towards the bullies.

Lily had to keep her hand firmly in lock around her mouth to try and muffle her giggling at the mental image of all of this, while the boys weren’t even trying so it was getting kind of hard to hear the rest, which only made James read louder.

The other two got some in the face that time as Malfoy snapped he’d seen it coming from half a dozen feet away from where Harry really was.

Remus tried to make a comment, but he was still laughing to hard and couldn’t suck in the air to do so.

Crabbe tried to blunder forward, arms outstretched, but Harry whacked him with a stick forcing him to do a pirouette.

“You’re killing me” Sirius wheezed, not looking any kind of upset if this was how he was to go.

Goyle instead tried to turn at Ron

Lily couldn’t help but wince now, she hadn’t seen that coming, but didn’t even bother to linger on it as she knew Harry wouldn’t let his friend get hurt by that thug.

and Harry cut him off by sticking out his leg, which the brute managed to catch the hem of his cloak as he fell.

“Bollocks” the four boys suddenly hissed, most traces of amusement starting to disappear at once. They really couldn’t go just one chapter with pure amusement could they?

The cloak almost fell free, revealing Harry’s head. Malfoy just stood there for a second, staring,

“Well it was fun while it lasted” James groaned, sinking back into his seat and closing his eyes for a moment, imagining all the horrible outcomes this could cause, before reading on in a grave tone now as he, naively he was sure, hoped nothing to bad would happen because of this.

before screaming,

Remus still couldn’t help a lingering snicker at that. Of all the reactions he could have had, screaming in fright like that had to be his favorite.

and running for it with his friends on his heels.

“Well that was fun” Sirius still had a small smile in place. “Don’t suppose you can do it again some time.”

“I hope so” Harry laughed, his joy at getting his payback to those bullies making up for any punishment he may get. He couldn’t really put a finger on it, but he got the feeling whatever punishment it was, wasn’t even too bad.

Ron was telling Harry he’d better get back before Malfoy tells what he’d seen.

“Not like anyone would believe him” Lily said without any real hope. One teacher in particular came to mind who would believe anything Malfoy says, and would love to get Harry into trouble. “As far as they know, Harry has no way to get there. They would think Malfoy was making something up to get Harry into trouble.”

“Any other teacher would believe that” James grumbled, knowing the anxious tones in Lily’s voice meant she was thinking of Snape being the only exception to that, just like they were.

Harry agreed and called he’d meet up with him later,

“Not even a compliment on how brilliant that was” Sirius sighed, though he personally understood the need for urgency now. Ron could give congratulations later in private.

and ran back to Honeydukes, worrying if Malfoy would believe what he’d just seen.

“Most likely. I’ll doubt he’s known for his imagination” Remus grumbled.

If he’d tell anyone?

“I can think of one” Harry huffed.

No one knew he had the cloak, except Dumbledore.

“Uhoh” all five of them muttered, having honestly forgotten about that. It was true though, if Snape took this to Dumbledore like he surely would, would the headmaster do something against Harry? Would he take away his cloak even?

Harry was racing along, trying to get back to the castle, wondering how long it would take Malfoy to come across a teacher?

“Not long” Sirius scowled “since the little brat’s probably got the way memorized, all the time he’s snitched on other kids.”

He reached the end of the tunnel and tucked his cloak away into a corner still inside, deciding if he did get caught he didn’t want that to be on him.

“Very good thinking” James praised. If Harry didn’t have that on him, even Dumbledore couldn’t really prove what Harry had done. Maybe he really would get away with this!

Then he scrambled out and tried to put on an innocent face as he heard someone heading his way.

“Bloody hell” Remus groaned, “couldn’t even make it back to the dormitory.”

It was Snape.

“Oh for the love of Merlin!” Sirius cried in exasperation. “Him! Why would he even go there first, that’s not even on the way to Gryffindor tower!”

“Suspicious, nosy, paranoid, git-” James kept grumbling under his breath, and probably would have kept going if Sirius didn’t nudge him and say “and many more mate, but keep going.”

Sighing in resignation, James accepted.

Harry did his best to look casual, which may not have been working to well with his red face, which could have been why Snape greeted him with a ‘so.’

“So what” Remus snipped quietly.

He looked quite pleased as he glared down at Harry, who shoved his mud covered hands inside his pocket.

Lily face palmed, not even needing to point out how ineffective that really was.

He told Harry to follow him, while Harry was trying to wipe his hands clean inside his pockets.

“Good luck with that” James sighed without any confidence. He was still trying to console himself that this would have to be taken up with McGonagall before something too bad could be done, and she wouldn’t do anything that couldn’t be proven. James was confident that she actually couldn’t prove he’d snuck into Hogsmeade, so aside from maybe some house points being taken away by Snape for, well being Snape, nothing too bad should happen.

They went to Snape’s office,

Lily ground her teeth together in frustration, more than sick of him trying to dole out punishment for Harry when he didn’t have anything to do with him.

which Harry had only been in once before when he’d been in serious trouble.

“Well I am always in trouble, but why would you bring it up now” Sirius quipped, smirking wildly and at least making Harry laugh, who hadn’t heard the never ending array that joke could be used. Not yet. Give it till the end of his seventh year, maybe by then.

He noticed Snape had gotten his hands on a few more jars filled with things.

“One’s probably his own heart” Remus hissed into Sirius’ ear.

“He’d have to have one first” Sirius muttered right back, trying to suppress a snicker.

Snape closed the door and told Harry to sit, which he did.

Sirius scowled with the height of distaste, a horrible dog joke coming to mind that made him want to strangle Snivellus all over again.

Snape began by saying that Malfoy had come to him with an odd tale, how he’d been minding his own business out in Hogsmeade when he’d come across Ron, seemingly on his own. Harry said nothing.

“Best recommendation at this point” Lily agreed, rubbing her brows in preparation for what could come.

Then Mr. Malfoy had been having a pleasant chat with Weasley,

Remus couldn’t help but grind his teeth in frustration at this continued and obvious favoritism, even in the way he addressed the students.

“A chat” Sirius scoffed in disgust, but James didn’t even bother since they were all aware of what a load of bull that was.

when he’d seen something odd. Harry tried to look surprised,

“I get the feeling you could be a prize winning actor and you couldn’t convince him of that look” James sighed.

and Snape began glaring at Harry meeting his eyes. Harry tried not to blink, remembering his hippogriff lesson.

“Not a bad comparison, though I still favor the hippogriff” Sirius nodded in agreement.

Then Snape continued that Malfoy had seen Harry’s head. Harry tried to put some concern in his voice that maybe he should go up to the hospital wing if Malfoy was seeing things-

The three boys on the couch lost it, cracking up with unrestrained laughter at Harry’s attempts to play that off. Lily couldn’t help a twitching smile as well, snickers coming through as she really did picture this from some other teachers point of view and how that would sound.

James was quick to get his breath back though, knowing that if Harry could keep this up in front of Snape, he should get out from McGonagall in no time, and just be more careful the next time he went out. Also he realized he owed Harry an apology, that was a beautiful on the spot fib.

Snape cut him off by saying that Harry’s head wasn’t allowed out there, no part of his body was.

“I didn’t know the form was body part specific” Remus was still chuckling in between bits of speech “maybe someone should specify that.”

Harry agreed he was aware, and again voiced Malfoy should be checked if he was having hallucinations. Snape cut him off again, telling him that Malfoy was not the one with the problem as he leaned down into Harry’s face.

That dried up most of their humor, each of them scowling at the threat that he needed to back up now on the tip of all of their tongues. He had no right to be getting in Harry’s face like that! His bully like behavior was getting progressively worse as the years wore on, and it was ripping at every one of their nerves.

Telling Harry that if his head had been in there, so was the rest of him.

“Now that’s just a tad presumptuous” Sirius defended halfheartedly, trying for a smile he no longer felt.

Harry deflected he’d been up in his common room, and Snape demanded if anyone could back that up.

James quickly snapped his mouth shut with worry, his mind quickly flickering to Neville and wondering if he could possibly be convinced to lie for Harry for this very important matter... there was a chink he hadn’t thought of. Glancing up at his son, he comforted himself that he still didn’t think any of this was bad enough for expulsion. After all they’d been caught out all the time, so there really was no way it would go that far bad. With that slightly comforting thought he kept going.

Harry didn’t answer, causing Snape to smile.

“Didn’t even know he could form that” Sirius hissed.

He was almost pleased now as he taunted Harry that despite the whole world out there trying to protect famous Harry Potter from Sirius Black, the boy was going to do what he wanted and be damned what came of it.

Lily opened and closed her mouth several times in outrage, so many insults welling up she didn’t know where to start! The very first of which was ‘stop treating him like James!’ While an outsider may be able to see the point Snape was making, his opinion he’d just foisted was completely biased! The other boys were muttering their own fouling’s, but James was far too used to this kind of thing, no matter how enraged it made him to hear it being thrown at his son, so he forced himself to keep going, wanting to find out the punishment already.

Harry still said nothing, knowing Snape couldn’t prove anything.

“There’s the bright side” Remus sighed.

Snape was still goading Harry, telling him how much like his father he was.

James gave a wane smile, looking over to his spitting image and stating “to be perfectly honest, I actually find more of your mother’s spirit in you then me, looks aside obviously.”

Lily giggled a bit, not at all disagreeing with that statement. Sirius and Remus exchanged a look before shrugging, agreeing out loud with that. Harry clearly did have his father’s knack for causing trouble, though not nearly in the same way. In fact if they did pile it up, Harry was a lot like Lily in her school days. Maybe that was what was pissing Snape off more than anything.

How exceedingly arrogant a man James Potter had been,

“Exceedingly is a bit much-” James began, but one snort of disbelief from his wife and James slunk back to the book with only a semichasted look.

how just a bit of prows at the game of Quidditch,

“Now that was just rude” Sirius grumbled, completely ignoring Lily’s now rolling eyes.

had made him think he was better than anyone as well. He could always be seen strutting about the castle to his many fans, and just how much Harry truly acted like this.

Remus was torn between wanting to laugh in remembrance of the many times he could count James acting like a loon in front of his peers, what he thought Snape meant, and wanting to defend his friend, so he was left with an odd expression which the others ignored.

Harry snapped back that his dad never strutted!

“Oh yes he did” Lily rolled her eyes with far more affection then her husband ever would have believed coloring her tone in speaking of this. Harry looked mildly startled, but she was still going “but to his credit, his arrogance started to wain out, something I don’t think Snape ever noticed.”

“At least you did” James smiled over at her, earning a bright curl of the lips right back.

And neither did he!

“Now that I absolutely believe” Sirius agreed.

Snape was getting more pleased now at clearly having pushed Harry’s buttons, telling how James Potter had never given anyone who wasn’t a Quidditch winner so much as a glance, his head was so big- Harry lost his temper and told him to shut up!

While James had looked mildly annoyed while reading this, it was hardly the most insulting thing he’d ever heard come from this guy’s mouth. No, the worst part was him saying this to his son! Harry didn’t know a thing about him, this definitely wasn’t some of the things he’d like being boasted around. He kept it bottled up though, pride and glee cracking through when Harry finally cracked and said what needed saying.

Harry was on his feet now, just as angry then as he’d been back on Marge’s incident on Private Drive.

“People are taking a lot of shots at you this year aren’t they” Sirius grimaced in disgust.

“Least Harry keeps them in their place” Remus pacified.

Harry was honestly surprised, they didn’t seem nearly as upset about this as they had that previous chapter, but then he realized that they probably heard this type of thing so often from Snape that it just rolled off of them. Coming from someone like Marge had hurt far worse because of the terrible way she’d slammed it into Harry without ever having even met him.

Snape’s hand twitched towards his pocket.

Lily made a ‘tch’ noise of disbelief, knowing he wouldn’t dare raise a wand to her son, or he’d lose that whole arm. Besides, he definitely deserved that one.

Harry didn’t back down though, repeating that Snape needed to shut up about his dad! Dumbledore had told him the truth, about how his dad had saved Snape’s life.

All three boys twitched with discomfort at that unfriendly reminder, and Harry frowned in confusion. Of course he remembered that coming up during the first book, and how they’d managed to hedge around the question, never having gotten the full story. What about it could be so bad that the three of them looked almost as bad as when he’d thrown that in Snape’s face?

James looked the opposite of eager about explaining this, and hoping to forestall Harry asking, kept reading in hopes something else would distract him.

Snape scowled, demanding to know if Dumbledore had told him the whole story? Harry hesitated, and it was enough of an answer for Snape to continue.

James face twisted with even more unease, this was the opposite of what he’d been hoping for. What could he do though? Either he turn and tell Harry now about the worst fight the Marauders ever had, or he let Snape come up with some half-truth that he would have seen which would paint a far more horrible light.

He was still debating, dearly wanting to put this off, when Sirius released a horrible suffering sigh and groaned “alright, alright. This is something I never wanted you to hear, but I guess I’d rather it come from me then him.”

Harry was frowning in genuine concern at Sirius as he started to explain what exactly had happened that night. Starting with how he’d taunted Snape by telling him Remus’ secret location under the Whomping Willow and how everything had spiraled out of control from there. He left out the part where his friends had blamed him as much as Snape for the cruel prank, how they hadn’t spoken to him for months afterwards. He didn’t bother with the defenses he’d used back then, how he’d never have believed Snape would take him at his word and really go check it out, no he wouldn’t try and save face so many years later in front of Harry.

Once he was done he braced himself, eyeing Harry with more fear then any of them could ever imagine could cross his face. Sirius couldn’t help it though, he honestly was expecting for Harry to have a sudden revelation. Now that he realized he was capable of murder, whether unintentionally or not, could this possibly jog Harry’s memories? Make him remember something that would connect what the Ministry was saying about him in his own time? He’d seemed adamant so far, but...

“So, it was an accident” Harry confirmed, watching him critically. At the stunned look on his Godfather’s face, Harry’s relaxed into his more natural easy going look and continued “err, at least, well I understand you’d never do anything like that on purpose. Sure it was dumb, but I can hardly judge and say I’ve never done something that bad before.”

“You’ve hardly sent Ron into the den of one of your best friends the night he was to turn into a werewolf” Sirius rebutted, still looking like he was sitting on a hot seat. James elbowed him, hard, making Sirius slink away from him and rub at his side absently.

Remus was quick to say “knock it off Sirius, this is something long over. Harry’s decided the same thing we did, err, in the end” he finished lamely, not really meeting anyone’s eyes.

Lily was watching all of them with general mixed feelings. She vividly remembered the time in school where four Marauders became three for quite a few months. This had happened a few days after she’d officially stopped talking to Snape, so she hadn’t really known anyone who even had the slightest idea why this could be. All she knew was that after that terrible Quidditch game where Sirius had been knocked out of the air, things seemed to have patched up between the lot. She found it fascinating to finally get the full story on this, but kept her opinion of it to herself since it was basically the same as Harry’s.

Sirius still looked miserable at the reminder, James and Remus very uncomfortable with the whole topic, though both of them still clearly defending him made it clear they didn’t really hold a grudge anymore. Still, when Harry didn’t say anything else, James decided to turn to the book and managed to read out whatever tosh Snape had strung together from that.

Telling how James Potter had not been a saint in saving Snape’s life, but was out there for his own skin. How he and his friends had tried to pull a joke on him, and he would have died if James hadn’t chickened out before they could go through with it. Of course they had backed out because they hadn’t wanted to get expelled.

“Is that what he thought” Sirius muttered, still slumped into the couch and looking as surely as any other time his name had been mentioned so far, this possibly being the least pleasant reminder to date! James absently kicked him to get him to shut it, still wanting to get past this as fast as possible.

Then Snape switched tactics and told Harry to empty his pockets.

“Still doesn’t prove a thing” Remus muttered.

Harry hesitated, and Snape said that if he didn’t they’d go up to Dumbledore.

“Honestly I think we’d all prefer that” Lily groused.

Harry did, revealing his bag of Zonko’s treats and the blank map. Snape picked up the Zonko’s bag, and Harry quickly said Ron had given that to him from the last time he’d been there.

“You’ve gotten so much better at those on the spot type lies” James praised with warmth, ignoring Lily’s rolling eyes at thinking the same thing.

Snape sneered that Harry had kept them on him this whole time?

“Okay, getting caught with them is still kind of bad” Remus agreed with a wince as they could possibly implicate Harry in some other bad things, “but it’s still not proof he’d been to Hogsmeade.”

Then he picked up the map, and Harry quickly said that was just some spare parchment. Snape wasn’t impressed, saying it looked so old they may as well throw it out.

“Why would he?” Sirius demanded, finally distracted enough to look grumpy at this particular subject now. “Is he baiting Harry, it’s not like he could know what that was.”

“That’s all I can think of” James agreed.

He went to toss it into the fire, and Harry shouted at him to stop. Snape was obviously pleased now, asking if this was yet another gift from his friend?

“Yes” Remus said, his eyes lighting up with glee all of a sudden. “If Harry goes with that, or if Snape doesn’t believe him and tries for himself” he trailed off with a surprising burst of laughter that left Harry and Lily stumped. James looked quite pleased though, and seemed to be hoping something along the same lines. He didn’t give the two out of the know the chance to ask though.

Then he speculated what else it could be, like some secret way to get into Hogsmeade that didn’t involve traveling past dementors.

“Actually, he’s not too far off” Lily muttered.

When Harry didn’t answer, Snape pulled out his wand and tapped the parchment, telling it to reveal its secrets.

James lost it for a moment, forced to stop reading so that he could let out his own bursting laughter in anticipation for what was about to happen. Sirius and Remus weren’t fairing much better, their faces bright red with anticipation for this. James wrangled himself back under control and continued almost normally,

Nothing happend, and Harry had to remind himself to keep breathing.

Lily’s curiosity was beginning to wane out as she said “are you lot really laughing like idiots because he can’t get it to work? That’s hardly so funny.”

“Wait for it” James insisted, his eyes shining with so much held in laughter it was a wonder he could still see straight.

Then Snape instead said his full name and false title as ruler of this school for this object to tell what it knew while hitting it with his wand again.

“Yes!” Sirius cheered, that had been exactly what they’d been waiting for! Harry didn’t bother to ask this time, but instead bounced eagerly so he could hear the punchline of this built up joke as well.

Finally something did happen, and the map activated, but not in the usual way. Instead words were appearing like someone was writing it down, and it said ‘Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.’

All of the boys lost it, Sirius even falling off the couch laughing and still unable to stop himself. Lily was watching them with a combination of annoyance and repressed humor. She dearly wanted to ask if they’d somehow specialized this just for Snape, but somehow expected otherwise. She remembered one memorable occasion where a Ravenclaw had come across some old scrap of parchment Peter had been holding, and the then Head Boy had demanded to know what it was. When Peter had said nothing, the boy had rightfully not believed that having prior experience with all of the Marauders, and took it away and performed a similar command on the paper. Lily had never seen what had become of all this, but the boy had looked highly offended, and Peter was cracking up laughing while telling that it was a joke bit of parchment where if you said your name, it was charmed to insult you. With this memory floating back to the surface, she could no longer repress it and was laughing downy near as hard as the others, even as James sucked air back into his lungs and read out the next bit,

Both Harry and Snape froze up, but more words continued appearing: ‘Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git.’

Sirius hadn’t recovered from the first comment, and was remarkably able to double up his amusement, though how that was possible none of them had been sure. Maybe it was an overreaction, it really wasn’t even that funny or creative an insult, but they all had the sneaking suspicion that Sirius had been under so much stress for literally all day now, he was letting loose a lot of pent up feelings in releasing as much laughter as possible in these opportune moments now, so still snickering along himself, James kept reading.

Harry may have laughed if this wasn’t such a serious situation.

Sirius couldn’t have made the joke right now even if he wanted to, he was too invested in continuing to listen to his most prized possession insult someone in the most poetic of justice ways possible.

The map was still going, the next one saying: ‘Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor.’

“My sentiments exactly” Remus agreed fondly, still watching Sirius come back to earth just slightly as his exploding laughter began backing down in cackling, still rubbing at his ribs and brushing tears out of his eyes as he listened to the final one.

The map finished its final words with: ‘Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball.’

“That,” Harry told them, slightly red in the face himself from laughing so hard “was bloody brilliant. How on earth did you get it to do that?”

“Charm wasn’t that hard” Remus waved away “all you have to do is command it to obey you while stating your name and those kinds of things will pop up.”

“The reason Padfoot here lost his arse during it” James continued while looking down at his friend with all the amusement he had “is that he tried to convince us for ages to pull this on him during school. Just leave it about one day and Snape was sure to do it, the pompous git would never not if he knew it belonged to us. He’s now getting to witness a prank we’d never done.”

“And enjoying every last second of it” Sirius murmured, face flushed with excitement as he sat upright and looked at the book with the first real affection. This was still the worst possible day of his life hands down, but that little moment right there had almost made it all worth it.

In between girlish giggles, Lily managed to get out “well I hope that convinces Snape enough that you haven’t been up to anything. You could have just as easily gotten that from Zonko’s along with the other stuff Ron got you.”

James really hoped that were the case, as he didn’t have any more to go at Harry with.

Snape huffed and stalked over to his fire, tossing some green powder into it.

“What on earth” Sirius began in surprise, having not seen this coming one bit, but James wasn’t giving him the chance to question it too much as he read.

Then he spoke into the flames, calling for Lupin to come to his office.

“Why!?” Lily spluttered in shock. Of all the teachers for him to have summoned and consult, why him?

“Do you think he knew?” Remus asked curiously. “That it used to be mine? I really didn’t think he’d recognize it.”

“Well he did stalk us enough,” James said with a perturbed look “but even if he did put that together, and bloody hell that’s a leap since he’d have no way of knowing how Harry got that, that it was the exact same one even, what’s he expect you to do? Admit to it all? You don’t even know Harry has it.”

They were all stumped beyond reason of Snape’s logic with this, but hoped that reading would help them out.

Said Professor appeared, stepping out of the fire and dusting off the soot and looking around in confusion.

“Bet I was every bit as confused by that summons” Remus told, still finding it odd now with the proper backstory.

Lupin asked why he was here in a mild tone.

“Be happy that was mild rather than blistering” Lily muttered into Harry’s ear, who nodded despite not having needed that, he now understood better than ever the animosity between his family and Snape.

Snape agreed he had while going back to his desk, looking more furious than ever.

‘Pretty sure that’s not all for Harry’s circumstances’ James mentally grumbled, imagining Snape might have summoned Remus just to have a little more time to berate him in front of Harry.

He explained Harry’s circumstances and pointed out the map, and Lupin’s face closed off.

“I can only imagine” Remus laughed for now, fairly sure how mind boggling he’d be at Harry coming across that on his own.

Snape had to prompt him to speak, and Harry got the feeling Lupin was having to think fast.

“You choose now to freeze up eh?” Sirius demanded with a crooked smirk, since he was normally the one to come up with the best excuses of the lot of them.

“I’d like to see you do one better with this” Remus shot right back, even now scrambling for a reason Harry would have this, while pressing past the shock of him having it, and probably having to skip over several bumpy memories in the process of shock.

Snape spoke up again, saying how this bit of paper clearly held Dark Magic.

Lily gave a derisive snort of mirth as she mocked “oh please, it insulted him, it didn’t curse him. When did he become so dramatic?”

None of the boy’s fancied adding on to that, torn between wanting to laugh and fearing anything they did say Lily still wouldn’t be pleased with no matter what she said now.

Lupin looked to Harry then, warning him to keep silent.

“I would have without the look” Harry shrugged “I was as wound up as you trying to come up with some way out of this.”

Then he began that Dark Magic was a bit much, it was obviously just a bit of parchment that insulted you.

“I’d take his word on this” James said with a straight face “call me crazy, but for some odd reason I think he knows what he’s talking about.”

Sirius began snickering again, and Remus didn’t look much better.

He admitted it was childish,

“Oi” Sirius hooted in protest “this was my idea!”

“And I called it childish then to” Remus reminded with a smirk in place.

but most likely just a mild prank. Snape looked even more angry now.

“What did he expect?” Lily rolled her eyes in contempt. “Did he honestly think you were going to side with him, try and get Harry into trouble for this?”

“Still have no idea” Harry sighed.

Snape insisted that he thought Harry had gotten it from the manufacturers.

That stopped James cold, sharing a stunned look with his friends as they realized they may have been wrong, and Snape really had made that leap. Harry understood far better now than he would have then, asking “why on earth would he think one of you had given it to me?”

“I’ve no idea” Sirius admitted, head cocked to the side as he eyed the book “guess he does know it was ours, maybe the nicknames or something gave it away, but what is he thinking? I gave it to you? There’s no way you’d have accepted it considering what you think of me then-” he covered the horrible wince poorly, but kept going anyways. “That means he either thinks you inherited it from James, or Remus gave it to you just this year.”

“While I can kind of see him thinking I’d do it” Remus shrugged “why would he call me in to ask? Even if I had, what’s it to him if I did, it’s not illegal.”

“Trying to trip you up maybe” James offered “showing special treatment to Harry. As for him getting it from me, that could also be true, he hasn’t caught Harry with it the previous two years so for all he knows...” he trailed off, but no one had any real idea what Snape was really thinking.

Even Lily felt stumped trying to understand his logic in this, though this stung far more then she was expecting it to. There was a time where she had perfectly understood her best friends every motion and idea before he said it, now she couldn’t begin to fathom this one. It was more than disconcerting to realize how far apart they’d come, no matter how many times she realized it.

With no answers, James was hoping Remus might have some better insight while talking to Snape so read.

Harry had no idea what that could mean, and Lupin didn’t seem to either.

“Well if there’s one thing he can do, it’s play dumb” Sirius agreed with a smirk, taking the smack Remus gave him for the tone without remorse.

He tried to laugh it off, referring to the Mr. Wormtail.

Remus’ face gave an odd twitch, guessing that having to say any of those names in this time period would have been pretty wrenching for him.

Then he asked Harry if he knew any of those people. Harry said he didn’t, and Lupin looked like the matter was settled as he decided it was probably just a Zonko gift. Ron came sprinting in then.

“Timing!” Sirius cried with glee, Harry’s best friend getting major brownie points with him if he stormed in and backed all of this up like he hoped.

He was red faced and doubled over from panting,

“Well that’s not an encouraging start” Lily groaned, eying the book with fear as she realized what Snape would have, why would he be so out of breath and freaking out if Harry wasn’t supposed to be in trouble?

but quickly said that he’d given Harry all of that stuff.

“I’m so proud” James fake sniffled, using the corner of the page to pretend to wipe away a tear, while real pride was welling up in him for Ron cottoning on and being the perfect alibi right when Harry needed him.

Lupin looked all too happy now as he brushed his hands together,

“I’m positive it was taking everything in me not to burst out laughing at that display” Remus snickered now.

and decided that was that. He picked the map back up and put it inside his own coat.

“Thank Merlin” Sirius breathed, having feared Snape might still try to confiscate that and keep it away from Harry, but then his eyes lit up all over again as he crowd “oh sweet! Do you lot know what this could mean?”

“Harry and Ron get to go rub it in the twins face they got away with this” James answered.

“Well that to” Sirius agreed, before turning on Remus and nearly bouncing in pleasure as he said “but, this could be your window! You’ve been stalling all this time probably because of how weird it would be for you to get started explaining this to him, but this could be perfect for you! Pulling him aside and explaining the manufacturing comment to Harry.”

His eyes were shining with so much bright hope and happiness, Remus didn’t have the heart to tell him that he doubted this as much as Sirius thought it to be true. He’d made it perfectly obvious in this future he wanted as little to do with Harry as possible, which made him feel like he was being skinned alive now, but it had been so long since he’d seen Sirius back to full jubilant life he only nodded and added his agreement he hoped this to be true, while bracing himself by leaning away in preparation for the opposite.

The other three noticed what Sirius refused to take note of, and were all equally torn at both possibilities. James couldn’t think of anything to say though, deciding not to address it until after whatever happened.

He called Harry and Ron after him, saying he wanted to ask something about the homework he’d assigned them.

“Subtle” Lily muttered under her breath, though not loud enough to interrupt as she was just as eager as anyone for Remus blatantly pulling Harry aside, a good start.

He led them up to the main entrance, but before Harry could say anything Lupin cut in that he didn’t want to hear it, he knew for a fact that the map had been taken by Filch years ago.

“What a way to start” Sirius cackled, ignoring the growing ache when he realized that they hadn’t exactly gone somewhere more private like this chat deserved.

He said he knew quite well it was a map at Harry and Ron’s shocked faces.

“You really threw us off right then” Harry shrugged with a happy smile “I later made the joke you were better at predictions then Trelawney.”

“Nah” James laughed “just more insight.”

He wasn’t going to ask how he’d found it,

“Really though, I think I would have been more then impressed at the turn of events” Remus gave a wane smile, all the while shriveling up on the inside as it was more than obvious his tone was scolding and not nearly as approachable as he’d been hoping for.

Sirius was the only one who was holding out hope how this could turn around.

but he was shocked that Harry hadn’t handed it in after the last bit of paper that allowed someone to get into the castle.

“Ouch” Lily winced, finding that particularly harsh while Sirius lost any enthusiasm and slumped back into the couch with a new weight added on top of his chest, this continued attitude making him feel like pulling out his hair.

Then he said he wasn’t going to give it back.

“Really Remus” Harry groaned, looking like a kicked puppy. While at the time he had given up without argument for the sake of some answers, right now his tone equally matched the shock and disappointment of the others.

“That’s it, you’re officially disowned,” Sirius huffed, his voice just not up to its normal teasing tone as he watched Remus curiously. “You’ve turned into an old killjoy, and I’m going to need your Marauders card back.”

He held out his hand expectantly, but Remus didn’t play along. He was busy twisting away at the hem of his robes, counting every instance of how he’d acted in this future and how the longer this dragged on the more he was convinced Sirius was right. He had changed, and he didn’t like it one little bit. It truly scared the crap out of him what had become of him.

James gave a pitiful sigh, he wanted to join in with Sirius, maybe make a crack Remus had just taken it for nostalgic reasons or some nonsense, but he was so emotionally drained by this point he just couldn’t bring himself to do it, so he pressed on loudly, just hoping that this would all somehow look better in tomorrow’s morning light.

Harry didn’t argue, he wanted to ask a question.

Harry rolled his eyes, clearly not feeling that way now, but Remus was doing a good enough job of looking contrite about doing this he didn’t see the point in adding on.

Instead he asked about the manufacturing comment. Lupin didn’t seem keen on answering, but did say that the mapmakers would have found it hilarious to sneak Harry out of the castle.

“Some of us would” Sirius grumbled with an eye roll, and Remus flinched like Sirius had really just tried to hurt him. Sirius felt guilty at once, realizing his friend had spent all day giving him any and all comfort and convincing him he hadn’t turned into this horrible thing everyone else said, and here he was doing the opposite for his friend. So he instead leaned over and whispered into his ear “of course you’d insist on coming no matter what we said, no matter how stupid you found it.”

Remus just grunted, not finding Sirius’ picking on him as comforting as Sirius had hoped, so Sirius decided he’d have to try something else.

Harry asked if Lupin had known them, and he agreed they’d met.

“We’ve met” James repeated with an eye roll “oh yeah, a few years back maybe, not sure what happened in the meantime, think some kid got slimed at one point, it’s all a blur.” James had been trying to get a rise out of Remus as well, but it was clear Remus had all but shut down for the night and was only listening with the vaguest of attention.

He was looking at Harry more seriously than ever before.

“You’re right Moony” Sirius nodded in agreement “that has come up the most in this book, I think it’s doing it on purpose just for me.”

“Yet another reason I’ve hated this year” James grumbled when the other didn’t respond.

He told Harry that he couldn’t force him to take Black seriously,

“Oh Merlin” Remus groaned at the smile that blossomed on said man’s face, that shook him out of his shock to look even more disgusted with himself if that were possible. “Now even I’m doing it! Now I know something’s happened to me, I must have had head trauma at some point.”

Sirius was too busy being pleased Remus had just responded to anything to back up the joke.

but he would have thought that the effect the dementors had on him would make him act better. It would be some payback to his parents if he lost his life over some magic toys.

“Ouch” Lily winced for Harry, while James looked oddly torn between wanting to agree with Lily that this had been way too harsh, and wanting to laugh that James had risked his life for less sometimes just for the sake of a joke. He’d been pretty careless in his youth, he’d admit that about some of the stunts he’d pulled around school, and Remus doing this now felt as low as Snape calling him on it earlier. Maybe they were right, maybe Remus really had changed, and it wasn’t making anyone feel any better. Could they really say anything though, Remus was his own person and if he really had moved on or somehow changed in this time they didn’t really think they had a right to criticize him for it. It didn’t make Lily feel any better about what he’d just said, wanting more than anything to snap at him he didn’t really have a right to say anything for them, but then she really looked at Remus and saw that he was fixing to have his own break down right along with Sirius if something didn’t change soon and she held it in.

Remus refused to say what he was really thinking though, that this scary new person carrying his name was acting so new, had he changed so much towards Sirius as well? He’d been so positive this whole time he must be helping Sirius, but now...he remembered back to the news that Sirius would be given a Dementor’s Kiss if he was caught, and the bland way he’d reacted in the future to the news. He’d had a mini coronary over the realization then that he hadn’t seemed to care one way or the other, was that really true? Was he such a completely different person, he actually wasn’t even helping out Sirius? All of these things kept smashing around in his mind like gongs, and between that and his exhausted body physically, it was all he could do to keep listening to James read and keep his surroundings in focus without slipping further into a mental breakdown.

Then he left with Harry feeling worse than he had yet when confronted with Snape. He and Ron began heading back to Gryffindor tower, not bothering to stop by and grab the cloak.

“Maybe for the best for now” James nodded absently.

They didn’t quite make it there when Hermione found them, and the look on her face made Harry question if she somehow knew what they’d done as well, and had gone to their head of house.

“I’ll bleeding lose my mind if she did” Sirius sighed without any real heat, still far too concerned with the way Remus was slowly starting to look just as bad as him whenever he came up in the story and not liking it one little bit.

It would be a cruel twist if Harry had gotten out of that mess just to get put right back in it by McGonagall, but right now getting a detention in school would be a minor comedy compared to their other issues.

Ron demanded to know if she’d been doing just that, and she barely got the words out that she’d gotten word that Hagrid had lost his case, and Buckbeak was going to die.

Harry made a terrible noise of protest, finally stopping looking at both of his uncles like he was making sure they were still breathing from their combined stress, and abruptly shoved back into other matters.

“Alright you lot” Lily sighed miserably, “we really do need to get to bed.”

“But Mum-” Harry began protesting at once, looking at the book as if it were Buckbeak himself, and if he just kept reading he’d know for sure everything was going to be okay.

“No” Lily said with finality. Trying, and failing, to keep her eyes from flickering over to Remus she began getting to her feet, walking over to Sirius and taking the book away from him. One glance at his friend and the protest died on his lips. With a heavy sigh they all got to their feet and headed for the stairs, except Remus who simply slumped over and crashed right there on the couch.

Sirius came down a few moments later to drape a blanket over him and make sure all the lights were off before the house went silent.

*So we know why the second wouldn’t work, as we all know that Remus isn’t helping him though they still don’t, but I’m actually kind of stumped on how Sirius was still getting out of the castle once he got in. The way I suggested has some holes in that if they used the Homenum Revelio spell, wouldn’t it still show a dog? I thought the spell would just show if anyone else at all was in the room, plus it would be a real chore for Padfoot to actually make it from the seventh to the first floor to get out of a window or something without being spotted by anyone! Not the paintings, or the ghosts or, anyone! Suggestions would be lovely and appreciated.

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