Harry Potter and the ? (Prisoner of Azkaban)

Professor Trelawney's Prediction

Harry was in such a giddy mood after the last chapter that it took him a little longer than usual to settle down and try to read, putting all of his delays on this one feeling, and refusing to admit that now that school was coming to an end, he knew he should remember something that he’d been ignoring all year.

Harry’s euphoria at finally winning the Quidditch Cup lasted at least a week.

“Can’t believe it didn’t last for months” James beamed, still unable to knock the pride out of his voice, not that he was trying.

The rest of the school was in exactly the same mood, the beautiful weather out every window leaving all the students with fantasies of lounging around.

“But of course that’s the time exams are set” Sirius muttered in disgust.

They couldn’t though, as student exams began, and they were forced to make their brains concentrate,

“You’re starting to give me flashbacks” Remus sighed, rubbing his forehead in that remembered pain.

despite the summer fast approaching. Even the Weasley twins had been caught studying,

James spazzed and then pretended to faint in shock, while Sirius ‘broke down’ crying about how he was so disappointed in them.

Lily and Harry couldn’t help giggling along at the pair of them, while Remus looked about ready to join in except he couldn’t do anything to theatrical with the baby in his lap.

which was fair considering they were about to take their O. W. L. s.

“Alright, I’ll give them a pass for that” James nodded, coming out of it.

“Yes fine, just this once” Sirius nodded in agreement as he wiped his eyes.

Percy was getting ready to take his N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests),

“Really wish that was a joking title” Lily muttered in remembered disdain of how accurate it was.

and was now prone to telling off anyone and everyone who so much as made a peep disturbing him.

“Whelp, there goes that good mood of his, that he had for five seconds” Remus rolled his eyes.

He still wasn’t as bad as Hermione.

“Oh bloody hell” James winced, remembering all over again the amount of tests that girl had to cope with.

Harry and Ron had long since given up asking how she was going to all of her classes,

“Still don’t comprehend how you could give up on that” Sirius asked, knowing he’d pester the girl to no end until he got his answer.

“Don’t I know it” Remus sighed, Sirius having pestered him to no end when he realized he’d been hiding something, and not having let up until he figured it out.

but they couldn’t help but ask when they saw her schedule, which had two exams being taken place at once.

Lily went cross-eyed at the thought of one exam in the morning and one that evening, let alone double it!

Ron began the conversation very carefully, since she was known to explode when anyone spoke to her.

“Well can you blame her” Harry asked with a bit of an edge, remembering those moments a little too well.

He asked if she was sure of these times, and Hermione had a mini freak out as she double checked them and said yes of course they were right.

“Right” Sirius said with a frown, drawing out the word past its normal syllable count. He wasn’t questioning that part any more than before, just how she was bleeding doing it.

Harry asked if there was a point in asking how she was going to pull that off, and she told them no.

“That’s when you ask again” James pointed out.

“And again,” Sirius seconded.

“Until she’s told you after the millionth time you ask” James concluded.

“Trust them on this” Remus said with a suffering sigh “they have way too much experience on that front.”

Then she asked if they’d seen her Arithmancy book, and Ron admitted he’d borrowed it for some fun

“It’s good he’s branching out into subjects he isn’t taking” Lily muttered, thinking he was quite brave to poke fun at her at a time like this.

though quietly enough she couldn’t have heard. Harry got distracted by a note arriving via Hedwig from Hagrid.

They all perked up again, though without much hope. They all knew what was coming, as nothing had changed.

He read out that Buckbeak’s appeal had been set for the last day of their exams.

“Guess that’s kind of a good thing, you might could sneak out and see him” James muttered without any enthusiasm, knowing if they could they would have done it already.

Harry was still reading though, as the note said the Ministry was coming up here to do it,

“Ugh” Lily muttered in disdain, thinking that wasn’t any kind of professional at all.

and they were bringing an executioner.

“Why, would Hagrid know that?” Remus asked, going just that little bit paler from shock at this blatant disregard of Hagrid’s rights for his appeal.

“Maybe he does have a friend at the Ministry that warned him” Sirius said listlessly, the reason didn’t matter, it still made him see red with anger.

“But, but that means” Lily tried to splutter, but she was so angry she couldn’t get the words out. None of them needed her to, they all knew what this meant. The Ministry had set its mind, and that appeal had just turned into a literal execution, making it all the more ghastly that this was being done in Hagrid’s house!

Ron was furious as he snapped they couldn’t do that, just ignore all that reading he done for this appeal!

“You tell them that when they arrive” James nodded seriously, knowing this wouldn’t be the only things he’d like to say to every one of those pompous, arrogant, gah he was so angry he was running out of insults in his own head!

Harry though had the strong feeling that they could, and would, as the Committee had already proven they’d do exactly as Lucius wanted.

“Sounds about right yeah” Sirius hissed his hand starting to twitch like he wanted to curse Malfoy into oblivion right then. If Malfoy could get away with doing these types of things, what else did he have running for him at that Ministry!

The younger Malfoy, who hadn’t been nearly as public since that last game,

“Wish he’d stay that way forever” Remus snarled.

gained back some of his old attitude for this news.

“How, could, he, be, pleased, with, this!” Lily said slowly and carefully to stop herself from screaming at the top of her lungs, not with her infant still in the room anyways. It just blew her mind that he hadn’t learned a damned thing, even after his cruel acts to Harry all year and her son had still won fairly, even after Hermione had taught him right how words could hurt and he’d gone right back to it! What would it take to make this boy see this wasn’t okay?

He made it plenty obvious from his comments that he felt personally responsible for what was going to happen to the hippogriff, and couldn’t be more pleased about it.

“I cannot begin to say just how wrong that is” James scowled, hoping against hope something could still be done, anything that would get this animal out of this putrid situation he didn’t belong in. All this for a couple of scratches on his arm, when Malfoy had deserved that in the first place!

It was all Harry could do to stop himself imitating Hermione and hitting Malfoy in the face on these occasions.

“You have much more restraint then any of us” Remus nodded seriously.

“It vaguely helped he would most often do this with Snape around” Harry said morosely, his face making it clear that probably might not stop him again the next time he saw him.

The worst part of all was that because of the strict security still around, they had no chance to go see Hagrid, and couldn’t sneak out because his cloak was still in the secret passage.

“You just going to leave that down there forever then” James sighed, randomly wondering if the twins had come across it and perhaps taken it or anyone really, they couldn’t be the only kids to know about it.

Harry did look like he was regretting this decision as well, he’d just been so upset and paranoid about being caught around that statue so many times that if anyone, Snape or at the time Lupin, caught him there again, he might lose something far more valuable to him then that Map, he couldn’t have stood it if someone took his cloak away next. He still might have risked it though just to see Hagrid, but there was also the matter that he had no way of getting out of the castle with all of those securities, so it was a moot point in the end. Once he explained this to the others, they looked like they understood more, though as unhappy about it as Harry, Remus especially though Harry had left his name out, Remus guessed it all the same.

Exams began and Harry’s first was Transfiguration,

James couldn’t help but perk up just a bit, wanting to know how his son had done in his old favorite class.

which didn’t seem to go that well as the students came shuffling out comparing progress, asking if points were taken away for this or that.

“It didn’t say what you did” James said swiftly.

Harry grimaced as he muttered “mine had been the one to blow steam.”

“Well that’s not so bad” Sirius said bracingly “if it had just waited another few seconds, no one would have even known and you’d have gotten full marks.”

Harry gave him a friendly smile for the attempt, but his thoughts had been much like his fathers, and he’d been hoping that by now with his magic he may have gotten some sort of hint at what he might be best in. It certainly wasn’t his father’s old branch, which wasn’t improving his mood.

Then there was Charms, where Harry put a bit too much oomph into his magic and accidentally used his Cheering Charm to strong on Ron, who had to be escorted out while he laughed himself silly and had to be calmed down to try his own.

Lily couldn’t help a giggle herself, saying “honestly I can’t see you getting to bad off for that, at least you’ve shown you can do it.”

Harry gave the expected laugh back, though still right on being annoyed that it clearly wasn’t his mother’s either. Despite how often they kept saying how much he was like them, he was still looking for some sort of connection to them back then even through these feeble means rather than possessions they’d once owned or even people. He had vividly remembered Ollivanders words about their strengths in magic, and the longer he didn’t excel in one of these two the more it annoyed him.

Then it was off to study for Care of Magical Creatures,

“Well that one should be easy enough” Remus said lightly, noting like the others Harry’s bad mood, but unclear why it was there. Since he wasn’t saying it they assumed it had something to do with his memories, so he was still trying to keep things light as he finished “all you did was study flobberworms all year, plus that one class where the Fire Salamanders came.”

Harry nodded in agreement, forcing himself to shake away his problem which was probably just a stupid want, and focus on the here and now, where he could make plenty of connections to his parents.

which Hagrid made an ease of during the exam, since he was clearly preoccupied.

“Guess you can’t rightly blame him” Sirius said in honest sympathy.

Their goal was to make sure their flobberworm was alive after an hour.

“Easiest exam ever!” Remus said with just a touch of envy, they’d never gotten off so easy in that class with Kettleburn, though upon reflection that may have been a good thing.

Since this creature survived fine when left alone,

“See, you did learn something in that class” James pointed out with chipper.

they had no problems with this and instead tried to comfort Hagrid. He was barely keeping himself together as he admitted that Buckbeak was starting to get restless from being tied down too long.

“That’ll happen with any animal” Remus nodded sadly.

They didn’t get long to think on it though as they had Potions next, which was a disaster.

“Can’t even rightly blame you” Lily sighed. Harry couldn’t help feeling disappointed in himself all over again, knowing that was his Mum’s favorite subject now and wishing he could be better in it, not much he could do though with the teacher he had.

Harry’s Confusing Concoction was far too runny,

“Does Snape make all of his exams an unintended joke” Sirius couldn’t help but demand, slightly amused as he remembered Harry’s first year and his Forgetfulness Potion qualification.

and when Snape inspected it he wrote down what looked to be a zero.

“It’s a bleeding miracle Harry hasn’t failed every year with that kind of biased” James growled.

Then they had History of Magic, where Harry wrote as much as he could on all the information Florean Fortescue had given him on those witch-hunts

“Always a good strategy” Lily nodded “do the most with what you can, bullshit your way through what you don’t.”

Harry couldn’t help a startled laugh, finding it more amusing as time went on his Mum was clearly relaxing and not being so uptight.

all the while wishing he could have some ice cream now in the boiling room.

“I wish they’d serve ice-cream with every exam” Sirius sighed “it would certainly make me more willing to show up.”

Their second to last exam, was DADA.

That caused mixed emotions in all of them. They all still couldn’t help but perk up whenever Remus was mentioned, he was clearly doing such a good job with the class and he had gone out of his way to take an interest in Harry’s dementor problem. Then of course that lead to his more odd behaviors, and it left them confused all over again on what on earth had happened to him this whole time. Had growing up alone and away from his friends really changed him that much? Twelve years was a long time, and none of them really felt like they had a right to judge if he had.

Remus was the only one who didn’t agree with that last assessment, thinking that all the time in the world shouldn’t have changed how he felt about Harry, wouldn’t have done anything for his conviction of protecting and helping Sirius, but as they still had no new information on it, no one really said anything.

Lupin set up an interesting test for them, an obstacle course outside,

“You always did come up with the best ways to make that class fun” Harry told him fondly, his conviction that Professor Lupin was his favorite DADA teacher he ever had still holding true no matter what he learned of his personality on the side.

Remus offered him a wane smile for the compliment, before morosely turning back to the baby and half hoping he’d fade back out again soon, while still somehow trying to hold onto the flicker of hope that his future actions would properly be explained.

which Harry breezed through as he properly remembered every way to deal with every creature they’d learned about.

“Least I aced that one” Harry beamed, remembering his annoyance at his Potions, Charms, and Transfiguration grades again. So he hadn’t blossomed in his parents best subjects, but he had in another. Their obvious praise at him now, as he’d clearly done that without Remus having given him any extra help, made them as proud as anything.

Ron had a little less luck, getting sidetracked by the hinkypunk,

“He got out alright though” he said unnecessarily, since Remus had still been around and had to get him out before he finished “and he fought off the boggart just fine, so he still got really good marks.”

and Hermione nearly got a perfect score as well, if it wasn’t for her boggart.

Lily remembered back to when the boggart had first come up, and the girl’s ire that she hadn’t had a go. She’d laughed then because this student didn’t seem to need such practice.

She ran out screaming,

Then she blanched in shock along with everyone else at that reaction.

as she sobbed that McGonagall had been in there telling her that she’d failed every class.

They couldn’t help it, all of the boys cracked up laughing. Lily tried to scowl at them, but then she remembered Ron’s joke that this would actually be her boggart, and she couldn’t help a light giggle of her own at how right he’d been. It still wasn’t right to tease her, since she was stressed beyond all reason this year, but the fact that she really thought this still was laughable. Even with the extra workload, they’d still been under the impression she was top of her class in now literally every class.

Ron clearly wanted to laugh,

“Don’t blame him” Sirius couldn’t help but snicker one last time.

but he never got the chance as they left and went back around to the front of the school to find Cornelius Fudge.

“What’s he doing there” James grumbled, his despise of the Ministry nearly having reached the same level as Sirius’. First what had been done to his best mate, his brother, and now everything with Hagrid had put the justice system he’d been hoping to join at an all-time low.

He caught sight of Harry and greeted him, who responded back in kind while Hermione and Ron stayed hovering back, never having been on speaking terms with the Minister of Magic.

“Guess I can’t blame them” Remus said with a wince, his own fear at the Minister being on the school grounds giving him his own spike of fear. He remembered back chapters ago that his fear of what he was getting let out, and possible retribution for his being around children. Would it reach all the way to the Minister of Magic, and Harry just hadn’t heard about it because it had been handled quietly? He tried to keep himself calm by making a face at the baby, which worked effectively in making them both laugh, the others wondering why Remus’ sounded so strained all of a sudden.

Fudge then explained to Harry that he was here as a witness for the Committee since apparently they were set to kill some hippogriff,

They may have already worked this out, but it didn’t lessen their hatred of the situation any.

Sirius looked disgusted as he leaned back into the seat, grumbling “I’m not even surprised at this point, bet they were all paid off to just skip that appeal.”

Harry didn’t want to believe it, but couldn’t think of anything to argue the point either.

and since he’d had to come to Hogwarts anyways to check in on the Black situation, he offered.

And that didn’t make anyone feel any better either.

Ron jumped in to ask if the appeal had happened, and Fudge looked confused as he told Ron it wasn’t until later.

“Confused as to why anyone would question him” James said through clenched teeth, “or confused at how his own system is working!”

Ron pointed out that the hippogriff might not need a witness for an execution then, he could go free.

“I honestly want to cry at how sincere he’s being” Lily ground out, looking the opposite of tears she was so frustrated by this wrongdoing.

Fudge didn’t have a chance to respond as he was joined on the steps by an old wizard and a man fingering an axe.

“Merlin could they be any crueler about this!” Lily howled in outrage. Showing up to Hagrid’s front door with that! At this point she wouldn’t even be surprised if they didn’t do this the humane way, and just simply lopped off the creature’s head while Hagrid was watching and then walk away like that was okay!

“Can’t believe the Minister himself is there, they’re so blatantly-” James had to click his jaw shut to stop his own voice from rising in pure frustration of this continued mess.

Ron tried to say something, but Hermione cut him off by giving him a subtle kick.

“Please tell me Hermione isn’t really going to stick up for this” Sirius asked with something remarkably close to hatred.

“No” Harry snapped back at once “she’ll tell in a second, but she’d never after all she did to try and stop it.”

Sirius backed down at once, he’d still been unable to stop himself from drawing a lot of parallels to that hippogriffs situation and what he was envisioning as his own, but now when he replayed that it had been crueler then he meant.

What really bothered him was that Harry kept watching him with a frown in place, and Sirius wasn’t really sure why. Harry had been looking at him a lot like that through the whole book, it was that same plagued face that meant he really wanted to remember something. The fact that Sirius still feared for his own futures sanity and Harry couldn’t answer that wasn’t helping anything.

When the three had left Ron demanded to know why she’d stopped him, and Hermione explained that as his Dad worked for Fudge, it wasn’t a good idea for him to go yelling at his boss.

“Well, damn” Lily finally got out after chewing on that for a moment “guess she’s got a point.”

“Guess it wouldn’t have been worth it” James agreed with a suffering sigh.

Hermione tried to say that so long as Hagrid kept his cool, there wouldn’t be a need for an execution.

Harry’s tone as he read that made it clear that Hermione hadn’t meant that any more than they did.

She didn’t sound any more sure of it then they felt.

“Why does this crap keep happening to you at the worst of times” Remus grumbled to no one.

Harry’s and Ron’s last exam was Divination,

“Least this should be another cakewalk” Sirius offered, anything to keep Harry from shooting him looks. Was it just him, or were those going up in frequency every time Buckbeak was mentioned?

and they made their way unhappily to her tower to find the other students trying to do some last minute reviewing.

“What are they even studying” Lily asked in wonder. “All we’ve heard in that class is make it up as you go along.”

Harry just shrugged, he’d tried his hardest not to take that class seriously after his first lesson, it hadn’t always worked, but he didn’t think that was going to change.

They found Neville looking down in confusion at his own book at the section for crystal balls and asked them if they’d ever seen anything in that class?

“Think I found a fly trapped in there once” Harry muttered without any enthusiasm, his skin starting to itch all over. Something, it was definitely that feeling rising up in him again. Something was about to happen...

Ron said no while constantly glancing at his watch, counting down the time to Buckbeak’s appeal.

“If she’s going in alphabetic order, the boys might not even make it down there in time even if they were going to sneak” James moaned, thinking Trelawney was probably going to take forever.

She was calling the students up one by one, and when Neville came back down from his turn and Harry asked what had happened, Neville refused to tell as Trelawney had told him if he did he’d have an accident.

“Oh for the love of” Lily huffed, more than at her wits end between the fate of Buckbeak and now this teacher on top of it was putting her in quite the foul mood right now. Now she was still picking on Neville on top of everything!

Ron scoffed that was convenient, and admitted that he was starting to think Hermione was probably right about their teacher,

“Starting to” Remus rolled his eyes, even with the proof that he did know she was a Seer, she still annoyed him to no end, and didn’t really think she should be indulged.

she was a fake. Harry agreed without any real care, still watching his own watch, now set at two.

“Least it’s going faster than I thought” James muttered, Harry and Ron’s actions clearly meant that this time they may really go for it and be with Hagrid right then, which was surely needed.

Parvati came down next, telling the boys that her’s had gone wonderfully as Trelawney had told her she could be a real Seer,

“Don’t” Sirius told Lily, taking great pleasure in cutting her off for once. “Leave the kid be.”

She huffed but held her tongue, to his surprise.

then waltzed off to join her friend. Ron was called next,

They noticed that obviously this wasn’t in any order, so they kind of wondered how she was picking, but it didn’t really matter, she could have just been doing it randomly to keep them on their toes.

and Ron made a face as he left, leaving Harry alone.

“Why do I get a bad feeling about leaving him for last” Lily sighed, thinking Harry may well spend an entire hour now trying to be convinced there was some death dog after him.

When he did come back down, Ron finally told Harry that all he’d had to do was look in a crystal ball, but he hadn’t seen thing so he’d just made something up on the spot, though he didn’t know if she’d believed it.

“Well clearly you need some help from Lavender” Sirius smirked, now he clearly wasn’t the only one watching Harry, whom the longer he read the more strained his voice was getting.

Harry couldn’t help it though, he just knew something was about to happen, and it was making his headache like no other.

Harry said he’d meet him back in their dorm as he went up for his turn, going upstairs to find Ron’s described setup.

“Well Ron had the right idea” James sighed “I’m pretty sure all you’ve got to do is make something up on the spot and you might get away with it.”

“Still can’t believe you didn’t drop when you had the chance” Lily muttered.

She greeted Harry and had him take a seat, telling him to take his time for something to come to him. Harry watched the white swirls within the glass, but nothing was happening.

“I think I’d be a little more worried if it did” Remus said honestly with a twitch of his lips, then frowned when Harry hardly reacted. He hadn’t been this stressed in a while now, so for him to be acting like this meant something really big was about to happen...in Trelawney’s room...

When the silence continued, she prompted him,

“Thought she said he could take his time” Lily rolled her eyes.

and Harry began describing the first thing that came to mind, Buckbeak. Trelawney was very interested, asking if this hippogriff still had its head?

Sirius couldn’t help a little gag, what a horrid thing to ask him! They’d all said all they could on this matter though, so it really wouldn’t do any good to keep at it now.

Harry said yes at once, and Trelawney tried to coax a different answer out of him, asking if perhaps an axe was hovering above him?

“Bloody hell I think she’s enjoying herself” James groaned, starting to look a little green from that description.

Harry snapped no, and instead wistfully said it was flying away.

Harry dearly wished this had been what was bothering him, it certainly gave him a seconds moment of relief which could possibly mean that he was right, but he got about as long to think on it before his headache returned with such a force he could hardly read the words, meaning he hadn’t yet gotten to the part that needed saying to make this go away.

Trelawney was disappointed as she told him that would have to be all and excused him. Harry got up and turned to leave, when he heard from behind him a deep rasping voice say ‘it will happen tonight.’ Harry spun back on the spot to find his teacher sagged over in her chair, her eyes open but gazing on nothing, her mouth half hinged open.

“Is, she having a fit or something” Lily couldn’t help but ask with genuine worry, but Harry paid her no mind as the moment had come, and he read in a hurried breath.

Harry wondered if she was having a fit, she was twitching all over and growing color in her cheeks, but before he could think to do anything she said again in the same heavy voice she’d never used before:

“THE DARK LORD LIES ALONE AND FRIENDLESS, ABANDONED BY HIS FOLLOWERS. HIS SERVANT HAS BEEN CHAINED THESE TWELVE YEARS. TONIGHT, BEFORE MIDNIGHT... THE SERVANT WILL BREAK FREE AND SET OUT TO REJOIN HIS MASTER. THE DARK LORD WILL RISE AGAIN WITH HIS SERVANT’S AID, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN EVER HE WAS. TONIGHT... BEFORE MIDNIGHT... THE SERVANT... WILL SET OUT... TO REJOIN... HIS MASTER...”

The instant relief of pressure Harry finally got as he sighed at that memory being restored to him was ruined the second he heard the noise.

Sirius felt himself blackout for the span of a few seconds before he lunged off of the couch and looked like he was going to sprint out the door. James wasn’t giving him a chance, lashing hold of his arm so tight Sirius yelped in pain, but it clearly didn’t register as he sobbed “oh god, oh bloody hell, oh Merlin, what did I do-”

Remus smacked him then, hard. It didn’t seem to do anything though, Sirius was shaking so hard he was likely to bite his tongue off, and it wasn’t too hard to picture what his eyes might look like in twelve years, they were just slightly tinged with madness now as he stuttered out “twelve years! Who, who else could that mean, oh please just kill me now, I don’t want to know what I did!”

He made such a horrid noise like an animal slowly dying as he tried to wrench his arm free and cover his ears, starting to curl in on himself. The one thing he’d ever cared about most in his life, and he had done something to get his family killed! He’d gotten James and Lily killed, he’d caused Peter to die, he’d been the cause of Harry’s whole life turning into a raging shit storm every other month, all because he’d done something that he didn’t think he could bear finding out about anymore. Whatever it was would never justify what that Seer had just called him. A servant, someone who had clearly made all of this possible!

How long he stayed out of it as his life literally felt like it was crashing in around him he didn’t know. So many things he’d been trying to repress since he’d heard his bleeding name in that paper were drowning him all over again, and he didn’t even care about how he’d been framed for murdering those people because he clearly deserved that sentence in Azkaban, it didn’t matter why he left because he shouldn’t have, he deserved every last second of it.

He’d thought it had been himself crying at first, but then something inside of him twitched as a new noise entered. Harry was wailing at the top of his lungs, and that same instinct that had driven him to comfort James and Remus threw all of these horrid things they kept hearing about reawake, drowning out whatever he was feeling and helping him to bottle it up and shove it far away as he looked around in confusion to the howling child who was being uneasily held in the arms of his future self.

That thought would give anyone’s head a whirl, but that’s what was happening. Harry stood tall and proud as his father, cradling his own infant self with clear unease, but that may have been because he kept throwing fearful looks over in his direction. Harry kept walking towards the stairs and back, like he wanted to leave and get the baby out of the room, but couldn’t bring himself to do it because he kept circling back and watching Sirius with wide and fear filled eyes.

It took several thick swallows before the rest of the room came back into focus. James nearly had him smothered into his chest he was hugging him so hard, muttering over and over again that he could never blame him, while clearly trying to talk Remus and Lily out of putting some sort of spell on him that would force him to relax.

Both were shaking so hard it was a miracle they were on their feet, but they were watching him with such wide eyed concern it nearly shamed him as much as the aching hatred for himself had. Here he was, making this all about him, when clearly there were more important things to worry about.

He tried to pull away, but James arms only tightened all the more, so Sirius tried to muffle out “I can’t breathe” whereas in reality he was only really sucking in air because of the reassurance that through all of this, James still couldn’t find it in himself to hate him. James had gotten everything he wanted out of life through the girl of his dreams and his baby, and still when it was shoved in his face that Sirius had been the cause of taking it all away his brother had refused to show him anything but insistence that he’d never believe it for a second.

It nearly reduced him to tears all over again, but he was being persistent now as he tried to wiggle free, now more determined than ever to save these lives no matter the cost to him. He’d find out what he’d done and take his punishment happily if it meant saving their lives. He finally got himself free only to meet the darkest of hazel eyes, making it clear Sirius had nearly scared the living daylights out of him literally, but the moment he was out of those arms Lily had marched over and sat down beside him.

She grabbed his face and made sure he was looking into those ever green eyes as she told him with the utmost conviction “it’s going to be alright. We’ll never let that happen to you.” Personally she was still a little stunned herself, as she’d never seen him break down before. Sirius had always held himself as a proud man who only let the world see just how good he knew he was. While in the years that she’d fallen for James and gotten to know Sirius more properly as the brother he’d become, she still couldn’t ever have believed he was capable of this sever a reaction to something he must know just wasn’t possible.

He gave a sullen nod as she released him, gave him a quick kiss on the brow, then scampered over to her son/ sons and did her best to sooth both of them who were equally freaking out, one just more vocally then the other.

Remus flopped down in her empty seat and looked torn between wanting to kill Sirius for giving him a heart attack or hugging him and never letting him go like James had been trying. He settled on all of their fallback, making a joke. “Please give us a warning next time before you go into shock.”

Sirius desperately tried for a smile he just didn’t feel, because on the inside he was still a shriveled up mess. He may have gotten his emotions under control enough to save face, but he now knew without a shadow of a doubt that dead little part of him wouldn’t come back. This was more proof then any he’d ever had before, and still he couldn’t do anything about it. Feeling like a lost child, he unfurled himself but couldn’t bring himself to lean away from James who still had his shoulder pressed into his. Remus copied that a moment later by leaning into him as well, and though feeling squished, it was pretty much all that was keeping him in place.

Lily and Harry walked properly back in then, Lily cradling her now much more complacent charge. She looked for a moment like she was going to hand him over to his Godfather, but Sirius couldn’t help but turn his face away, feeling like he should never have the right to hold that baby again.

Lily would have vehemently disagreed and told him in alphabetical order how stupid that was, but while being squashed like he was he couldn’t have carried on the act if he wanted to, so she relented, for now.

Harry looked the most sheepish of all, like he wanted to apologize for this whole mess and go give Sirius a hug himself to reassure him all would be okay, but the words failed him even before he could put them together. The more this carried on, the more he knew this day was the most important of his young life. Something happened on the day of Buckbeak’s supposed execution, it involved Trelawney’s prediction, and it involved Sirius Black. Whatever it was though would not sit in his mind for any length of time for him to understand how it all fit together, so he was sure if he began to start and try to do anything about it he’d pay dearly and the last thing his family needed was another episode.

Still he hesitated before picking up the book, like he was waiting for permission from someone to say it really was all going to be okay which came from Sirius himself, without any of his usual warmth. “Go on, get it over with.”

Harry couldn’t help a frown, he still sounded so desolate like at any moment an executioner was going to show up for him, but his friends on either side of him looked so fierce like they’d murder Voldemort himself before they let that happen, Harry didn’t argue the point.

Before Harry could even think on that, Trelawney came back to herself with a start, muttering about how she must have dozed off for a moment.

Harry really didn’t think at this point he could be any more surprised, the harsh reaction from his Godfather because of that mess left him with only an inkling of shock that she clearly had no idea what she’d just done, unless she was faking it, which Harry really doubted.

When Harry remained frozen in shock, and Trelawney asked what was wrong, Harry tried to tell her what she’d just told him about the servant of the Dark Lord.

Lily grimaced, to be perfectly honest when Harry had read out the return of the Dark Lord bit, that had been what she’d been caught on, until her brother began having a panic attack. Now no one even dared to venture what that could mean for their Harry. None of them knew how Seers actually worked, was it possible this was all wrong, or could somehow be stopped?

With Sirius’ eyes closed and his head flopped back against the couch like he was still wishing he could start his gravestone, no one was going to linger on it.

Trelawney told Harry he was being ridiculous, she would never begin to try and predict such a thing.

Remus felt something twitch in his mouth, like he wanted to make a joke at her expense that she held that kind of restraint, but considering he was far more worried on making sure Sirius kept breathing it just wasn’t coming out.

Harry stumbled away, his mind winding like the staircase, trying to figure out if his teacher had just made a real prediction.

‘Oh, of that we’ve no doubts’ James sighed, his mind still flying in every direction possible, and he wasn’t going to stop until he landed on the proper meaning for that prediction which did not involve his best friend.

He tried to think of something else, like she’d been faking it for an end of year trick.

‘Could explain why the other students were so freaked out and wouldn’t talk’ Harry couldn’t help but think, trying desperately to put his mind on any more pleasant topic, but the horrible silence that still lingered wasn’t leaving a lot of room, and Harry couldn’t bring himself to be the one to break it. Plus he knew deep down that wasn’t true, or he was sure he wouldn’t have reacted so strongly to it.

When he did get back to the main castle he hardly noticed the people walking past him for the outside, laughing and joking about school finally being over.

‘Once, just once, can’t Harry have some peace in that place’ was Sirius’ first real coherent thought as he zoned in and out of the story lifelessly, still considering it a viable option to slink out of the house when no one was watching, which didn’t seem to be happening any time soon.

He found his two friends in their normal place in Gryffindor tower, but before he could tell them what Trelawney had said, the words died at the look on their faces.

‘How can something else have happened in the fifteen minutes since the last bomb?’ Lily wanted to snap, feeling like her nerves were about to be frayed right out of her body as she cradled her son all the closer.

Ron explained that Buckbeak had lost.

“Oh” was softly echoed through the room with one glaring left out. It’s not like they’d forgotten per say, but Sirius’ plight had sort of made it fade back into their mind. Now that it was back in the foreground, they just didn’t know what to say. What could they say? What had been done was wrong, and the government doing this wasn’t encouraging. It started with the unfair trial of the hippogriff, but the corruption could possibly keep going up until someday someone else got an unfair trial and a beheading because the right bribe was paid off to get rid of a person. Harry hadn’t thought it was possible to feel worse, and realized he was wrong as he forced himself to keep going.

Hagrid had sent another letter, explaining that the execution would take place at sunset, but he didn’t want them coming down to see it happen.

“I don’t want Hagrid to see it” Lily grumbled softly under her breath, the first real time someone had spoken up making them all give a little start, but the baby seemed to enjoy the noise again as he made a gurgling noise watching his mother’s face.

Harry said he still wanted to go, he wouldn’t just let his friend sit around on his own waiting for this to happen.

James made sure Harry could see his pride filled smile, knowing he’d do and say the same thing in a heartbeat. Screw the rules, his friend needed support. Since his own friend was acting vaguely comatose, James leaned into his shoulder with a little more pressure.

Ron pointed out they had no way to get there, and Hermione asked where he’d hidden away his cloak. Harry told her, then said he didn’t dare go and get it because if Snape caught him there he’d be in serious trouble.

Harry paused expectantly, never having been more grateful for his choice of words, but there was no comeback. They were all growing more worried the longer this carried on, Remus even reaching over and pressing his hand into Sirius’ nose just to make sure air was still coming out.

Sirius did respond by pushing the hand away, but he still wouldn’t meet anyone’s eyes.

Hermione asked for the spell that would activate the witch hump, and Harry told her but then tried to protest, which she ignored by walking out.

“What were you even going to say” Lily asked, starting to feel a little jittery. She’d grown so used to the boys interrupting near constantly that the prolonged silence was starting to give her the creeps.

“But you shouldn’t be caught there either” Harry responded, his own worry at the situation still at hand. Of course they both knew Remus and James were just at a loss for words, in no mood to be playful, teasing, or anything when their friend was acting the way he was, so until Sirius snapped out of it this could last for a bit.

Ron asked if she’d really gone to get it?

‘Be a little worried if she went to the kitchens’ James wanted to mock, though kept his mouth shut and still half hoping Sirius would say that instead.

Indeed she had, returning some time later with the cloak tucked down her front. Ron was in awe, saying first with Malfoy now Trelawney, what had gotten into her?

‘She’s making sure no one messes with her friends without her doing something about it’ Sirius realized, wanting to smile and praise the girl aloud, but the words got lost somewhere on the way out. He was torn between wanting to get the attention off of him, a foreign concept itself, and the beginnings of bubbling warmth that his family really was standing by him even through this foulest of revelations. If the way he could return the favor was getting the mood back to where it should be, then so be it. He now determined he’d have to work this out of himself at the next chance. He tried to sit up more properly but still being sandwiched all he really accomplished was giving the two half cautious looks as they eyed him hopefully for finally giving a real sign of life, but Harry may not have noticed as he’d kept going.

Hermione looked pleased at the praise as they went downstairs, hid themselves away in a room and waited for the last set of footsteps to scurry away and a door slammed before they were all clear.

Harry couldn’t help a startled little blink, the smallest of feelings inside his gut telling him to pay attention to that, but he was far more focused on ignoring another mounting feeling. It wasn’t fair it was happening so soon after the last one, but he never did get to decide when this happened, and as the sun continued sinking down, he was absolutely positive this night was an important one in his life.

They all tucked up under the cloak and made their way unseen down to Hagrid’s, who let them in despite saying they shouldn’t have come.

“I’ll weep the day he does close the door in your face.”

Maybe Sirius said that a little too loudly, maybe his voice cracked and he still looked more wretched then he had in his life, but the attempt finally gave all of them the release they’d so sorely needed that the vile escaping the room was nearly visible.

Hagrid was somehow acting even worse than before, though this time he wasn’t crying, he looked so lost the tears had been easier.

Lily couldn’t help her lip trembling a bit like she was fixing to cry for him. It just wasn’t right, no matter how many times she said it or thought it she could never say it enough that what was happening to him shouldn’t be. Between Hagrid and Sirius her maternal instincts were going haywire in wanting to comfort her friends, but unable to do anything she instead settled on smoothing out her sons hair and never growing tired of the way it stuck right back up.

He tried to offer to make them some tea while explaining that Buckbeak was getting in his last sunlight out in his pumpkin patch, then he dropped the milk jug which broke on the floor.

The others all thought that the strain coloring Harry’s voice was because of his stress for Hagrid, which was a part, but they didn’t know Harry was forcefully fighting back another memory blast already. How was this possible, happening twice in the span of a few minutes, but he had no control as a tempo began at his temple from the pain of a sharp memory fixing to be returned.

Hermione instead began to clean it up and replace it, while Harry asked if Dumbledore could do anything to fix this? Hagrid explained that Malfoy had set it up despite the headmasters try, and as Macnair was an old friend of Malfoy’s no one could do anything.

‘Macnair was a Death Eater,’ that thought trickled through all of the Order members, as they tried their best to keep a roster and suspicions had been going on for ages about him implicated in several deaths. Well that didn’t improve anyone’s mood, as it only confirmed yet another Death Eater was still out and about in those times, working for the Ministry.

Dumbledore was coming down to be with Hagrid though when it happened.

“Aww” Lily coed, she was willing to put her suspicions and annoyances at the headmaster’s actions aside momentarily when it came to her son and Sirius just for that moment that Dumbledore truly was trying to be there for his friend like Harry.

Harry promised they’d stay to, but Hagrid wouldn’t allow it, saying Harry didn’t need to be in anymore trouble.

Sirius was so sick of hearing that he was yet another cause of problem in his Godson’s life, he considered trying to get up and leave again, but since he was basically a sandwich between his two friends who didn’t look like they were moving any time soon, he just tallied that up to another thing he could use as his excuse later when he really did leave for good. He was already planning it out in his mind, the moment he got the chance he’d make a break for the door and he’d disappear before he caused this blight of events for his family. They may try to stop him, why he wasn’t sure at this point, but he could throw these types of things at them and make a break for it while he was sure they’d be hesitating.

Hermione was crying over in the kitchen as she found another jug of milk, but then she screeched in shock and nearly dropped that one to as she exclaimed she’d found Scabbers.

“What?”

That was the most random thing that could have been said right then, that it actually distracted everyone in that moment from anything else. Harry forced himself to keep reading, to confirm Hermione was right, though everything in him told him she was.

They all stopped to stare at her, and she came over to the table and had to fight for a moment before the rodent came sliding out.

Harry made a funny rasping noise of disgust as James lit up with equal amounts of confusion and laughter as he praised “oh that’s great. Can’t imagine what on earth happened-”

“Don’t” Harry moaned, cutting him off and shocking them as he clutched at his head, tears nearly streaming down his eyes as he pleaded “don’t say that, it’s not right.”

Lily turned concerned at once, wrapping an arm around him protectively as she asked “Harry what’s the matter?”

Remus couldn’t help giving him an odd look mixed with the beginnings of fear for Harry, worried he was dealing with to much having such another painful memory returning so soon, as he asked “yeah, you should be happy Ron’s rat-” but then his own voice failed him, and he started blinking when something clicked. Since the very first time Scabbers had been mentioned, Harry got this odd little act around him about his best friends pet, frowning or something similar though he’d never been properly able to explain why. The description of that particular rat, bloody hell it did match the same one he looked at more than any other rat in his life, and Scabbers had a missing finger, just like...

“Oi, Moony” James was waving his hand in front of his friends face, saying “yoo-hoo, blanked out on us mate. You figured out Harry’s problem. Quite the show that Crookshanks never did, eh?”

Remus had to clear his throat hard for a moment before forcing a goofy smile onto his face, he was being ridiculous of course, it was a coincidence. Which, which he didn’t believe in... shaking his head hard he said “err, right, no sorry, ah, let’s keep going.”

Lily looked utterly annoyed at that, as she felt they were brushing this pain off a little too lightly, but then she took a good look at Remus’ lined features, and how the momentary news had already worn off and Sirius was right back to being lackluster, and she also knew better that Harry couldn’t have explained what was really bothering him anyways without suffering for it, so she didn’t argue the matter, only increased her hold on her son as he flickered through a few pages as he’d lost his place. He seemed less eager then anyone to go on though, because while that had been the memory return his brain had been warning him about, the pressure still hadn’t fully left! What about this day could be causing him more pain from this one afternoon then he’d felt any times previously? Now he knew it had something to do with Scabbers...and Buckbeak, and Trelawney’s prediction, and Sirius, but the puzzle pieces refused to fit together, and he had no more of an idea for the ending then anyone.

Ron was just as shocked as anyone as he asked his rat what he was doing here?

“That’s a very good question” Lily grumbled, finding this more unbelievable the longer she heard about it. Scabbers was alive this whole time! That fight between Ron and Hermione should never have even happened! It was odd though, that the little pet had pulled something like this off, since he was sick and usually was never mentioned anywhere but in Ron’s pockets. How had he wound up in Hagrid’s of all places?

He snatched up the squirming rodent, who looked terrible. He was as thin as could go, with very large bald spots,

Remus couldn’t help but wince, having heard a few tales about animals looking for somewhere to borrow up to die, had Scabbers just been doing that? His physical description clearly meant he was living towards the end of his life, obviously he was just being paranoid, it was just fate being all the cruller to him that he had tried to see his absent friend in a common garden rat.

and still he was trying to fight away from Ron, who held tight trying to convince his pet there were no cats around.

They all frowned at that, finding Scabbers bound of energy kind of sad, like maybe he was trying to put up one last fight before his old body gave out. It was rather odd he seemed so insistent in being away from Ron of all people, shouldn’t he recognize his owner’s voice?

They didn’t get any time to think on it when Hagrid glanced out the window and saw the others approaching, and he told them they had to leave now. He opened up the back door and led them out to where Buckbeak was clearly on edge as he watched them all and flapped his wings in agitation.

That caused a shiver in all corners of the room, it wasn’t too hard to imagine that the poor beast did get a feeling for what was coming for him, as intelligent as he was.

The three tried to give one last protest, saying they’d tell what had really happened, but Hagrid wouldn’t have it and told them to go.

The combination of Hagrid doing his damndest to keep them out of trouble even while his beloved pet was about to be murdered in front of his eyes gave all of them a ball sitting tight in their throat, wanting to argue on the side of the kids and say this couldn’t be true, more grateful then ever Harry at least had someone like Hagrid who wouldn’t let them stick around to see it.

There was nothing more they could do, and despite it being the last thing they wanted, they all tucked back under the cloak and began to leave, Ron slowing them down slightly. Hermione begged him to hurry, she couldn’t stand to watch this.

“You and me both” Lily nodded, bringing her son up to lay up on her shoulder like she was going to burp him, but really just keeping him as close to her as possible. He soon began amusing himself by grabbing hold of her thick red hair instead, and Lily almost enjoyed the momentary distraction of untangling his good grip while forcing herself to keep listening.

Ron though was having some issues, they were only halfway back to the castle but his rat was still forcing its way with all of its might out of his pocket, now trying to bite the hand Ron was using to keep him in place.

This was so random that no one could really think what could be going on anymore. The emotional turmoil of the group felt like they’d been going chapter after chapter about Harry nearly dying all day again, when really they were all just exhausted mentally from hearing about all of these bad things happening around Harry.

Below them they heard the sound of men talking, and despite Scabbers loud squeaking protest, they heard quite clearly the thud of an axe.

Harry didn’t really get that out without nearly stuttering himself into silence, closing his eyes hard for a moment and trying to process what he’d just read, while something else in him told him to keep going. Sucking in a deep breath, he looked around to find the others looked just as shocked as he did, the build up to that unfair act having finally been carried through not making it any easier to hear. Unwilling to let himself freeze up now though, Harry finished.

Hermione’s knees began shaking as she whispered she just couldn’t believe they’d done it.

Then he closed the book and put it aside, indicating the chapter was done, but needing a moment before he could keep hearing anything. He wasn’t the only one.

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