Harry Potter and the ? (Prisoner of Azkaban)

Cat, Rat, and Dog

Now the real fun begins...

The last thing Remus actually wanted to do at this point was pick up that book and read. Harry’s school year was practically over and all they knew about Sirius’ circumstances in this future was that his best friend was apparently out of his mind. His actions really were getting hard to describe as anything else, and now because of that prediction, Sirius seemed to have lost all faith in himself. James was still occasionally leaning forward and whispering reassurances whenever Sirius’ eyes flickered to the door one to many times. Of course Remus agreed that Sirius would never do anything that had been implied of him, willingly. But whereas James was convinced it had to be another person entirely to blame for all of this, Remus still couldn’t help the little niggle saying that maybe Sirius had been involved in this mess, it would at least explain why in his own future he seemed to care so little for the situation. Had Sirius perhaps been tortured, or somehow forced to do those things, and Remus blamed him then?

It was not a comforting thought, but as the cruel silence continued to drag on, he realized that speculation would drive him mad himself, so with a heavy heart and shaking hands he went and found his place to read.

The three friends remained frozen under the cloak as they heard a howling noise from behind them. Harry’s first instinct was to think it was Hagrid crying, and made to turn back at once,

James gave his son a pride filled look, knowing he’d do the same in a second for his friend in pain, well he was technically doing it now as he kept Sirius as comforted as possible until it was shown who’d really done this.

but Ron and Hermione stopped him, reminding him he shouldn’t even be out here. Hermione was still in shock as she barely got the words out of how could they have done this.

“I’ve honestly not the faintest idea” Lily muttered scathingly. Even if the Ministry didn’t know the full story, even if they had simply acted on orders, the fact that those orders had been carried out in the first place through the rottenest of means would never be okay.

They tried to go back to the castle, but Ron was now having issues as his rat refused to stay put, and Ron had to stop in place to make sure he didn’t get out.

While most of their shock was still on the previous chapter, the random reappearance of Scabbers being alive and acting this way hadn’t really dulled any. Why was he acting out of his mind like that? The oddity of this simple animal was much kinder to think on than anything else, so they all paid just a little bit extra attention in hopes one of the kids would find an answer.

Harry spotted what the problem could be, something was creeping towards them, Crookshanks.

“Has he been hanging around this whole time, even back around Hagrid’s” James yelped in shock.

“Forget that” Remus scoffed, his eyes still narrowed in a very odd way “why on earth is that cat still hunting that rat. In the Gryffindor common room, fine, easy access, but out there on the grounds? Where he’s got his fill of rodents, why’s his heart still set on this one?” Even then, his mind reasoned, back in the Magical Menagerie when they’d first ever seen Crookshanks, he hadn’t gone for the rats on the counter, and most likely never had if they were put up so easily. No, even then, he’d always had an eye for Scabbers...

No one answered him. Maybe they all thought he was being overtly paranoid at this point, maybe they thought he was just looking for an easier mystery to solve about animals rather than the other harsh things happening in Harry’s life, but when Remus came to a halt in his head and realized the silence he kept going.

Ron lost the struggle and his pet broke free of his hold, and Ron took chase at once while the cat did as well.

“Here I thought something good might keep us going for two sentences” Lily moaned, hating that Ron hadn’t got his beloved pet back for five minutes before the rat and cat game began again.

Harry and Hermione tried to chase after, but they were going much to slow under the cloak, so they let it go and it flew behind them as they ran after their friend who was running down his pet, commanding Scabbers to come back to him.

“Really wish he had taught that rat to come” James muttered, still more uneasy then anything that Sirius had yet to really talk again. “Would have made him at least a little more interesting, and helpful right then.”

When they did catch up Ron was on his stomach, holding tight to the squirming rodent and forcing Crookshanks to stay away. Hermione was trying to convince him to get back under the cloak before they were seen,

“Are they technically not allowed out on the grounds” Lily asked “I thought it was just Harry. It said earlier all the other students were going out.”

“Maybe curfew got set back earlier as well” James offered, now realizing that both of his friends were getting suspiciously silent. He knew why Sirius was, but why was it the longer Remus read the more clipped his words were coming out.

He was used to Harry usually not speaking out much unless he had a question, but one glance over and he saw his son wasn’t looking much better, he was slowly growing paler and rubbing at his temple all over again. All bad signs another powerful memory was about to return, so soon after the last one. It did bring up the question all over again which he’d never had a chance to voice earlier, why Scabbers return was even such a big deal to his son. He clearly wasn’t going to get to ask now though.

but they never got the chance as something new caught Harry’s eye, a black dog.

That gave everyone a start. What was Sirius doing there now? Had he been hanging around the cat again and finally decided to meet Harry? Why now though, what on earth had changed? Harry looked as confused as anyone, but clearly wasn’t giving anyone a second to pause. In fact, if they didn’t know any better, the longer this dragged on and Harry got closer to his memory being revealed, did he looked rather angry at something...

Harry went for his wand, but never got the chance as the brute landed on Harry’s chest,

“Ouch” they all muttered, going pretty wide eyed at that rather aggressive display. Sirius looked dearly like he was fixing to interrupt just to apologize, while Lily looked like she wanted to snap at Sirius for the same thing, but Remus was still reading in what could definitely be described as a harassed tone now.

and he fell back in great pain, but the dog was already rolling off of him and going back for a new attack.

“The hell-” James began, thinking there was Sirius playing and goofing off attacking him like he’d done in the past, but that was clearly not what was going on now. Something was very wrong here. Had they been wrong, and this wasn’t Sirius at all? What were the odds of that though, that this black dog would be around at the same time as Sirius magically making his reappearance as well?

Ron had already got to his feet and dived to help Harry, when the dog’s jaw latched onto Ron’s own arm and began dragging him deep into shadows.

Sirius had been so paralyzed for so long now that his sudden lung to his feet actually managed to dislodge both of his friends as Sirius made a beeline for the door.

James was still just that little bit faster, fastening his arm around him and holding him back even as an elbow caught his jaw and he felt his teeth click down hard on his tongue, but his hold only tightened as Sirius started swearing at the top of his lungs. Intermittent were the words “-let-me-go!”

“Not going to happen” James ground out, trying to get something else in, but Sirius truly seemed to have finally cracked and lost his mind here as he fought like a madman to be released.

He wasn’t crying this time, even the cursing was fading out as he continued to coldly struggle, still hissing out such nonsense like “really did lose my mind in that place, attacking him!” They had no idea what he thought he was going to accomplish by making a run for it now, but they clearly weren’t going to find out as someone else shouted something, and a flash of light had both boys knocked off their feet and collapsing to the ground.

Remus stood over them, wand clutched tightly in his hand as he glowered down at the pair. Keeping it pointed at Sirius he turned on James first and snapped “would you knock it off, clearly restraining him is only freaking him out more.”

Then he turned on Sirius, his heated glare in contrast to the gentle tone he was trying for “if you ever try to pull a stunt like that again I will bind your arse to the ceiling. Not one of us is going to blame you for something you bleeding haven’t done yet. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life you have to have a reason for doing this.”

“LOOK AT HIM!” Sirius bellowed, getting to his feet in a towering temper as he jabbed his finger at Harry, still shouting “YOU THINK HE’D BE ACTING LIKE THAT IF-”

He was once again cut off by someone tackling him, but instead of by James, someone who looked remarkably like him. Harry had knocked into him in the ribs, resembling what he’d been told he just did to his own godson, but Harry’s arms encircled him in a hug and held on tight enough to break his ribs in a different way. Sirius didn’t know what to think as he instinctively began returning the hug, his mind yelling at him all the more for indulging in such things when he ought to be disemboweled on the spot. This didn’t add up to the murderous look Harry had possessed moments ago when hearing out their first exchange in Harry’s life and Sirius just didn’t understand what to think anymore. Was Harry just projecting what everyone else was and trying to give him comfort that he didn’t deserve? Why would his memories at thirteen be attacking him with such violence if it wasn’t directed at Sirius, the only person there who was hurting Harry and his friends?

Harry slowly released him from the hug, looking sheepish as he took a step back and met his eyes. There was hardly an inch worth of heights difference in him and James, but his green eyes were more earnest then anyone had ever seen them as Harry began “I, err, sorry about that, I just couldn’t stand to see you like that.” He hesitated, then sucked in a deep breath and began very slowly “I, know there’s a reason you-” then he cut himself off with a horrible wince and pressed his palm back to his temple looking more frustrated then he ever had in his life. He looked truly miserable that he couldn’t tell him something, but the price would be the same as before, and by now they seemed to have gotten through to Harry that wasn’t worth it. Harry still looked like he was going to bolster himself and say something anyways, his own pain be damned, but then James cut in with a grumpy look still in place, aimed at Remus for hexing them though.

“If Harry says there’s a reason for this, then there is. You Padfoot” James directed at his best friend, grabbing hold of his shoulder and steering him back to the couch “are going to sit there and listen to it” it didn’t take but a gentle shove and Sirius fell back into his spot “or so help me I’ll Stupefy you until all of these books are done.”

Sirius looked akin to a kicked puppy, more confused then he’d ever been in his life, but really what could he say? Harry still believed in him, they all did! So unless he literally heard the words ‘Sirius you’re not the one doing all of this to Harry it’s insert name’ he wasn’t ever going to feel like he deserved to be in this house again, but he took his friends threats seriously. It might even have made him laugh on any other day that his reaction now had been very similar to Remus when they’d first told him they knew he was a werewolf. He’d flipped out, tried to make a run for it, looked quite terrified that the lot of them were going to curse him into oblivion just for existing, but then they’d gotten it through his head that he was being an idiot for thinking it. That didn’t make what he was hearing any better, since the situations weren’t the same and Remus wasn’t the one who’d apparently killed all of those people and was trying to do the same to Harry, Merlin by this rate Remus actually had a cleaner record then him now. That memory was however keeping him in place while Remus fetched up the book and went back to read what was really going on here.

Harry tried to follow, but then something smacked into him forcing him back.

Lily frowned and tensed up, wondering what new worry could be happening all over again. She already felt useless not having any way to reassure Sirius like his friends were doing, this new thing now attacking Harry most likely wasn’t going to make her feel any better. She was starting to regret having slipped off in the hubbub and putting the baby back away, but all of that screaming wasn’t good for him to be around, and with Sirius acting like this she really didn’t see it stopping. Maybe she should have just compensated and forced him to hold the baby, but it was too late now.

He could just make out the same thing happening to Hermione, and it took Harry lighting his wand to realize this was all happening right near the Whomping Willow.

James really wanted to laugh at that, of all the places for this to happen it did not seem like a coincidence they’d wound up there, but held it back for the sake of not interrupting and finding out what Sirius was doing. He wasn’t that concerned for Harry’s safety as far as the tree either, Sirius knew how to paralyze it and probably would do it long enough for Harry to get out of danger.

Apparently Remus didn’t agree, as the longer he read the more angsty his voice became. He looked almost as bad as Harry, though James couldn’t fathom why any more then why he could guess what was bothering either of them. He dearly wanted to ask Remus, knowing better then to ask Harry, but why wouldn’t Remus say it himself? It wasn’t possible it had anything to do with Sirius, he’d just got done defending him, it wasn’t possible Remus would have suspicions about him. Then why wouldn’t he say whatever was on his mind, try to relive some of the tension that was eating Sirius alive? At this point that friend was making him damn near as nervous as the other.

The tree was still swinging its powerful branches around and trying to get at the two of them, even as the dog could be seen pulling Ron into its roots. Harry tried to follow, but was once again knocked back by the wood.

While the others frowned in shock as Sirius continued to attack Ron like that, not even bothering to stop the tree long enough for Harry to join which should have been the point of it; Remus didn’t.

If anything his mind was racing all the faster, trying to put it all together, and not liking one little bit what he was coming up with. He’d been trying for so long now to come up with any other remote possibility of who could have been behind this? Well, who else had been at the scene with Sirius? Who was Sirius dragging around in Ron’s pocket... he never in his life would have considered this before, it must just be paranoia, then his eyes would once again flicker towards Harry, and he couldn’t help remembering all over again Harry’s nearly cursed reaction to a rat with a missing finger reappearing.

Harry kept watching his friend though, and so he saw that a leg was just left poking out, Ron’s which had managed to snag itself to try and prevent himself from being dragged further, but then there was a snap of bones breaking, and the foot vanished as well.

Sirius had flinched so hard he looked like a gun had been shot at his own head, but then James hand twitched towards his pocket, and Sirius knew that threat had been very real, he’d pay dearly if he did try that stunt again, so he instead began twisting his hands around in his lap trying to find some way to relieve the stress.

Hermione was trying to tell Harry they had to go for help, but Harry said there wasn’t time, they had to hurry before that dog ate Ron!

Sirius dearly wanted to laugh that was what Harry thought was going on then, but it did make the question occur to him for the first time; getting past the act of what he was doing and truly wondering why he was doing it? Why Ron? In fact, once could have been labelled as an accident in a dark dormitory, but this was actually twice now he’d seemed to single Ron out when Harry was right there. He honestly had no idea, but didn’t want to linger on it any longer than anything else as he still couldn’t get the image out of his mind of his future mad self-going into a deranged panic and attacking Harry, then an innocent bystander.

He was watching the tree and declared that if the dog had managed to get through so could he.

“Even if you had the map, it doesn’t work like that” James forced out, still trying desperately to keep the mood as calm as possible. “You’d have to have someone who knows their Herbology to tell you.” It had taken them all becoming animagus’ for Remus to admit how to do it for them, and he’d only learned it because Madam Pomfrey had been doing it for him for all those years.

He tried again to dart through the swinging boughs but was once again forced back. Hermione was looking around pleadingly, begging someone for help, when her cat provided. Crookshanks came darting forward and made it right up to the trunk, then used his paw to press on a knot right in the center.

Lily made an odd noise, finding that quite intelligent for a cat to know. How, why would it even know to do that? Was it possible Sirius had taught him, they had been seen hanging around, had Sirius taught the cat to do that from the many times he’d most likely been slipping in and out of the tree all that year? It still wasn’t the oddest thing going on this year, so Lily couldn’t bring herself to say anything.

The tree froze instantly, and Harry and Hermione made quick work of running into the roots just as the cat did, they went sliding down a tunnel and found themselves in much the same path that Harry used to get into Honeydukes. Hermione asked where this lead, and Harry said he didn’t know, the map had never shown, but it must be like the other and lead into Hogsmeade.

“Definitely not wrong on that one” James said a little too loudly. He was growing sick of being the only one speaking into the void like silence, but at this rate if the silence dragged on it felt even more awkward so he wasn’t planning on stopping.

They were running through the tunnel as fast as they could after the dog,

“Least he doesn’t think you’re a Grim anymore” Lily said in sympathy for James looking more annoyed the longer Sirius kept up his clamped shut mouth, and for Sirius in hopes to make at least one little worry line disappear. It was such a random thing to point out at this time, that it worked on both counts, each glancing at her and giving her the barest of a smile for the effort.

both of them running at a crouch,

“Bet that’s easier on four legs” Harry offered half-heartedly, trying very hard to keep aside the mental image he’d had at the time of Ron struggling along that same dirt, the random flecks of blood he’d seen along the way, how much force Sirius had to have used to get him to come along despite a broken leg and now twisted arm. He now knew without a shadow of a doubt Sirius hadn’t really meant to hurt his friend... he was just at a loss why it was happening.

“Maybe for some” James scoffed, his heart set on keeping the strain out of his voice as he explained his stag had always been big enough he’d always had to do what Harry was.

and when they finally reached the end Harry smacked his head on the roof again. He pushed it aside and found himself in a very old room, where all of the furniture was torn or broken.

While still reading with more intensity then he ever had before, Remus couldn’t help a small little wince for a whole other reason as he never enjoyed hearing about his handiwork.

The windows were all blocked up, and Hermione whispered they might be in the Shrieking Shack.

“Least she’s as brilliant as ever” Sirius muttered without any enthusiasm, but the bright eyed look that lit up the other four for his pitiful attempt was worth it.

Harry looked around again, and saw the leg of a chair across the room with great chunks missing,

Harry couldn’t help a new level of surprise as that room came back into full relapse, all the destruction he’d seen and now realizing what really had happened.

and realized that a ghost couldn’t do that.

“And Harry’s keeping himself sharp as a horn” James happily added on.

Then they heard a noise above which made Hermione give a squeak of fright and cling hard to Harry’s arm.

Lily couldn’t help but find this almost mildly amusing when she reflected that as far as Harry and Hermione were concerned, they were getting this worked up over a dog. Yes their friend was hurt and in trouble, but they had no idea what they were really walking into, as far as they knew it was just some deranged animal. She neglected saying that though, since she found the joke in very poor taste.

She let go though just as quickly as they went for the stairs, finding dust nearly everywhere but for the straight line leading up to one door that was half cracked open. Inside they found Crookshanks had already slipped in, and Ron on the floor beside him holding onto his damaged leg.

Sirius still winced horribly at the reminder of what he’d done to the kid, intentionally or not, but there was no use in apologizing to someone who wasn’t here, and Harry clearly wasn’t holding a grudge, so... so maybe all was forgiven in the end? What on earth could he have done to gain Harry’s trust after everything that had happened this year? It was all that was keeping him listening at this point.

His friends went over to his side, but he tried to tell them to run, it was a trap, he was an animagus! Harry had no idea what Ron was talking about and was still looking around for the dog, when he saw him. He used the spell to make Harry’s and Hermione’s wands fly from their grip

Lily couldn’t help but be genuinely surprised and impressed at that feat. Sirius had just pulled that off after twelve years of no magic, Merlin after dementors had just spent said years draining his magic, with Ron’s wand. While powerful though, she didn’t want to interrupt just for the sake of possibly inflating his ego when he came back to himself later and realized Lily had given him a compliment.

and Harry laid eyes on skin which seemed to hold no blood he was so pale, the tangles of matted black hair hung down in uneven lengths, and the cold eyes were the only thing to hold life in the face of Sirius Black.

Remus could not get through that without making a few retching noises of disgust, going pale and shaking all over again as he was visibly reminded what his friend had been living in those twelve long years. Only his eyes flickering up to the real Sirius, hunched and looking fairly sick himself but still his friend, kept him minimally at ease.

He was watching Harry steadily, and told him that he’d had a feeling he’d come after his friend.

“Guess that’s not the worst first thing you could have said to him” James said absently, now more keyed up possibly then he’d been in his life. His crappy choice of circumstances aside, he’d hug Sirius all over again if they finally got some bleeding answers from the man himself explaining what had been going on this year!

His voice sounded like it had been lost from disuse.

“Now that’s a spooky thought” Lily tried to poke fun, never having gone longer than a few days without hearing it since her first year at school how many years ago now?

He kept talking though, saying Harry’s father would have done the same for him.

“But that probably was” Harry couldn’t help but mutter with a wince, his dad the worse thing Sirius could have said right then considering his thirteen year old thoughts.

Harry felt that hatred return all over again at this man mentioning his father.

Sirius couldn’t help the self-inflicted disgust, knowing Harry had a right to hate him for that, though his desperate need to know the real reason why instead of Fudge’s tale kept his mouth shut instead of trying to get out an apology. Harry caught his eye then and gave him a brief smile, which pretty much said he hadn’t needed one anyways.

He suddenly wanted his wand back, but for the first time in his life not to defend himself, but to kill.

All five of them shuddered terribly at that declaration, though the four from this time because they’d never wanted to hear such a thing coming from their little baby, directed at someone in this room no less.

Harry because he just couldn’t fathom such a want in his life, and Sirius the least of all. If only he could remember why already and help to put him at ease once and for all.

He made to move forward, but then two sets of hands grabbed hold of him.

“Don’t honestly want to know what you were thinking right then” Remus grumbled distractedly, still not looking up.

Harry couldn’t help a wince, getting a little feeling they may find out anyways.

Hermione whispered in his ear to stay back, while Ron shouted at Black that if he wanted to kill Harry he’d have to kill all of them.

Harry gave a start for a whole new reason as he eyed the book, suddenly looking more bright-eyed than normal. Harry of course felt the same way, Ron and Hermione had been his first real friends, the start of his own family he’d always craved. He’d had no idea though that they’d felt the same for him, the flash of warmth though only reminded him that he had no idea where they were now. It nearly scared him as much as what was happening to Sirius that he could only hope with all his might they were safe where ever they were.

Ron was only on his feet because he was holding onto Harry, pain clearly crippling him from standing on that broken leg, but he also clearly wasn’t moving an inch.

For the first time since his Quidditch chapter, Sirius finally got out a genuine smile as he saw in Harry’s friend what he still held true to his dying breath for his own.

James gave a smug look when he saw that, now wanting to press in more than ever that of course that was true for Harry’s friends, they’d long since proven that back during their first year, and Sirius who had clearly just seen himself in the boy he’d just attacked. Then his eyes caught Remus, who’d given an indulgent smile at the pair of them as he’d obviously just felt the same thing, then his eyes shadowed over with something malevolent and he went back to reading in a forced neutral voice. That was beginning to scare James nearly as much as Sirius was, and he finally called him out on it. “Would you spit it out already?”

Nobody else looked confused, clearly they’d all been seeing him act the same way, only Remus tried to brush it off with a muttered “it’s nothing-”

“Bollocks” Sirius huffed, rubbing his palms hard across his knees to keep away some of the sweat that just kept building up there. “You’ve been acting cross for ages now, and if it’s not about me which you’ve made quite clear, what is it?”

Remus had never been very good at keeping secrets from his friends, despite his abundance of practice, then again they’d found that out in more time than he would have given them credit for so he supposed that really was as true as it got. He just couldn’t bring himself to say it though, still could hardly properly form the thought in his head, because it just wasn’t true. It must all be circumstantial, or more fraudulence against another of his friends. He had to swallow very hard around a great lump in his throat as he said “it is nothing, really, you’ll laugh, we all will when this is said and done, so let’s be done with it.”

He didn’t let them have time to argue, and they really were so tired with this year they didn’t want to honestly hear anything but the truth anymore, and enough with anyone’s speculation.

Something moved in Black’s face as he watched Ron, and told him to sit down, he might hurt his leg more.

“Least you clearly regret what you did” Lily said approvingly, almost giddy to see him looking almost back to himself again.

Ron ignored that and told Black that he meant it, if Black wanted to hurt Harry he’d go threw him.

“Pretty sure I picked up on that yeah” Sirius muttered, his nose wrinkling with distaste that Ron had to say it, let alone the thought actually coming to mind.

Black responded by saying there would only be one death tonight.

Lily felt her mouth go cotton dry at that declaration, that old fear rearing its ugly head again. Had Sirius lost his bleeding mind in Azkaban? Why on earth would he say that!

Sirius went so rigid he was likely to break in half at the slightest touch, as he couldn’t help but do a headcount of the room, and oh sweet Merlin he couldn’t really mean...

“No one died that night” Harry frowned, startling his parents out of their heart stopping confusion at that declaration. Harry’s expression though was just as confusing to consider, since he looked mildly annoyed at the fact.

James had to clear his throat, hard, before stating “well, I’m more then glad to hear it, but I don’t suppose you know why he’d say that then?” James regretted asking at once, Harry’s face twisted back up with pain as he forced a memory to remain suppressed, but it really had slipped out in his desperate need to know what on earth Sirius had been thinking in saying that!

“No one died tonight” Harry repeated with the utmost conviction, he hadn’t sounded so sure since he’d told Lily it hadn’t been Snape trying to steal the Stone first year. It didn’t ease any of his sickly features at not being able to remember the hows or whys of it, but at least Sirius blinked again like he had come back from a long way off.

Remus was the only one who hadn’t been able to gather himself to say anything, and that’s because his mind had been spinning on something else. He’d done a head count as well, but unlike Sirius he’d included every alive thing in that room, and, and how Padfoot would recognize a certain rat better than anyone... he nearly bit his tongue off trying to convince himself to remain silent, fairly certain James would curse him into oblivion for suggesting it while Sirius would probably help for the reminder that his friend was dead because of him at this time, but it didn’t change the fact that it was all adding up in a very dark and twisted way the more he read.

Harry snapped back why he would bother holding back, he’d murdered all of those other people, had he gone soft in Azkaban?

Sirius hadn’t forgotten one little bit the pain at hearing Harry really thought him capable of that, and it coming from the boys own mouth nearly sent him into a screaming fit again, but when Harry quivered like he was fighting the impulse to rush over to Sirius and hug him again in apology Sirius kept himself cooled and gave him a smile that plainly said it was as forgiven as unnecessary.

Hermione’s grip tried to tighten on him, begging him to shut up, but Harry wouldn’t hear it as he shouted as loud as he could that Black had murdered his parents!

Sirius gave such a horrid fidget James really was getting concerned he was going into some sort of seizure, and his own heartbreak at hearing those words was only comparable to his want to do everything in his power for Sirius to know there wasn’t a way that could possibly be true!

Sirius kept it in and didn’t react like he wanted, running and screaming for the hills in shame, but at least this time he had a vague distraction from his own impending life in spotting the look on James face and correctly guessing it was for that blasted reminder the father wasn’t there for his child, and instead pressed his shoulder into his this time and offered him a brave smile, that look letting him know they would find a way to change that!

Remus could not actually scream those words like Harry had, in fact the words barely came out as a whisper, but since that was the last thing he’d ever believe any more than anyone else in this room, he tried to brush it by. His mind quickly supplied, or anyone else in the Order, because that just had to be true and he was being paranoid and trying to find anyone to blame but Sirius... he snapped away that train of thought because none of this was answers, just Harry reacting like anyone would expect him to do in that circumstance, so he read with pure pity.

He tore himself free from his friends and rushed at the older man, not caring in that moment what happend for it.

While Sirius really couldn’t blame the kid one little bit for these actions, he’d been feeling the exact same way towards the nameless faceless person who had done all of these things, he saw the shame building in Harry as he realized how wrong his actions were and so Sirius offered “I’m at least happy you took it out on me.”

Remus made to tell him off for that, clearly going back to repeating that Sirius didn’t deserve a second of this, but Sirius quickly insisted “at least he’s doing it to me, who won’t retaliate, rather than the soon to be corpse who possibly would curse Harry for whatever he’s about to do or say.”

This wasn’t as comforting as he’d meant it, but at least they admitted this was the vaguest bit better than the scenario Sirius had described.

Perhaps it was the shock of Harry doing something so stupid,

“And there’s that” Sirius added on with an unamused twist of his lips, certain beyond doubt that seeing Harry again at all would stun him stupid, let alone this horrid reaction.

but Black did not react in time as Harry tackled him to the ground, holding onto the wrist that held all of their wands and twisting it away as he began punching every bit of him he could reach with the other.

James gave a horrible shiver, never before in his life had the idea that Harry would one day be attacking his brother like this and mean it, and how misguided Harry was in doing it didn’t change the vivid mental image. What could he say though? Harry was as justified as anyone in doing this to the man he thought had taken his parents away, and Sirius was right in saying it was better the one person who wouldn’t hurt Harry back then someone who would have reacted by just blasting him away like what had been done to Peter. None of that was making him feel any better and left him a twitching mess as he fought back the compulsion to go for his own wand and teach someone a lesson for attacking his best friend. The horrid war of Harry going after Sirius like that was likely to leave as bad a scar as everything that had happened to Sirius this year.

Some sparks managed to shoot out of the wand, which missed Harry’s face,

Sirius gave a little start of shock, but Lily gave him a wane smile as she pointed out “reflexes dear, any wizard would have reacted by trying to shoot a stunning spell no matter the situation.”

Sirius did feel a little better, it would have been the same if he’d had a bat in his hand and a Bludger had been heading his way, but the idea of anyone trying to use a spell on Harry set that murderous feeling back up tenfold, yes even at himself.

so when that didn’t work Black’s other hand shot out and caught Harry’s throat.

Remus made a terrible choking noise like someone was doing that to him, and while Harry was rubbing absently at his throat he shrugged and said “it surprised me more than hurt.” He tried to sound like this should be shrugged off like his mum had done, but the effect was ruined by the frown still in place. No matter his assurance that Harry seemed almost careless of how Sirius was being with him in those moments, it didn’t erase how uneasy he felt about his night in this Shack. Sirius was there for a very particular reason, and it wasn’t Harry, in fact Harry almost had the feeling he was being a nuisance to what was really going on, but of course he still couldn’t remember what that was.

He growled that he wouldn’t let this happen, he’d waited too long as he tightened his hold and tried to get Harry off of him.

Remus had to really fight the impulse to reach over and strangle Sirius, the person on hand who’d dare lay a hand on Harry, but he resisted the urge in favor of finding out what Sirius had meant. Waited too long seemed pretty ominous, waited for what? The chance to see Harry, that seemed like the last thing on his mind at this point, in fact when coming face to face with Harry every step of the way he’d gone for Ron instead. This wasn’t helping to kick out that stupid little poisonous bubble that kept floating around in his mind.

Then a foot came flying into view, Hermione swinging and hitting Black in the ribs. Ron launched himself forward onto all of the wands which sent them all scattering around.

“Can’t ever say enough how much I adore your friends” Sirius managed to get out, no matter who it was being directed at those two had just put themselves in a very real risk coming to Harry’s aid, which is exactly what they’d been doing the past two years as well, and he never got tired of hearing it.

Harry went after his, but was stopped by Crookshanks landing on his arm, claws first.

Harry’s arm gave a little spaz at that remembered pain, his face more shocked then anything though as he’d never heard of a cat being so loyal, and not even to Hermione.

James clearly felt the same way, saying “jeez Padfoot, you sure know how to pick the best of them.”

“I picked you three didn’t I” Sirius shrugged, looking just as surprised as anyone.

Harry had to shake him off before turning back around and telling his friends to move out of the way, which they both did with some difficulty, Hermione now sporting a bloody lip,

Sirius still looked like he’d rather be pummeled by a bunch of thirteen year olds right now then continue to hear about this. He’d clearly been struggling to get away from Ron and Hermione enough to hurt them back, which was not encouraging him one bit towards this whole he was fighting back on instinct thing, nor did any of this explain why he was attacking them at all! If he was really so far gone he’d hurt Ron like that, what else was he capable of doing?

and Ron having to crawl and collapse back near the bed, his face going green as he held tightly onto his damaged leg.

Lily really wished something would happen like within the next few seconds to turn this bloody conversation into something else, fear for every last one of these people leaving her in a mess as she reflected that things had gone bad enough and still they’d had no answers.

Harry advanced on Black then, his wand pointed right at his heart. Black didn’t seem very bothered as he asked Harry if he was going to kill him?

‘The thought crossed my mind’ Harry couldn’t help but think, though the very thought of it now made him rather break every last one of his fingers.

Harry looked into those sunken eyes and whispered that he’d killed Harry’s parents.

Sirius really couldn’t help it, he covered his face with his hands in absolute shame for how sure he was this to be true, and for Harry to know it…the last thing in the world that he wanted was exactly what James did, throw a protective arm over his brother and mutter over and over again that wasn’t what had happened.

Black met Harry’s eyes and whispered that he didn’t deny it,


James had used his grip to squeeze as tight as he could, eliciting the shock of pain from Sirius before he could do or say anything.

“You’ve been saying that since this whole thing started, so you’re the last person I want to hear an explanation from.” James growled loud enough no one dared speak contrary. “Clearly you’re as delusional then as you’re being now.” He was going a very ugly white/ green color from shock at that declaration, but he’d never believe this for a second until Sirius himself bestowed that curse to him in person. Right now he was banking on perhaps his friend had been cursed to do all of those horrible things, and Sirius hadn’t been able to fight it off. The Imperious curse could make people do unspeakable things and leave the person behind feeling as guilt ridden as if it had been their decision. So maybe Sirius had done those things and that’s what he meant, but it wasn’t Sirius who had done them!

Lily and Harry would have never disagreed to the contrary, while Remus felt like a fool. Sirius had said it himself that he’d done these things, and Remus was over here trying to inflict it on someone else. Maybe Sirius had done what this future foretold, but he still couldn’t come to grips with believing that until he found the whole thing out.

It was really starting to bother James how quite Remus had been of late, and if he really was starting to get suspicious Remus would be the first to see how stupid he was being.

but Harry didn’t know the whole story.

Lily still couldn’t help a little internal sigh of relief when Remus read that. Of course she was adamant as her husband at Sirius’ true innocence, but his words just kept scaring her more and more as this continued. Now that Sirius had said that though, there must be something to all of those stories left out, and Sirius would be the one to say it!

Harry screamed back that he did, Black had sold out Harry’s parents to Voldemort! Black tried to get in that Harry didn’t understand, he’d regret it if Harry didn’t let him explain.

“Instead of stuttering around, I really wish you’d say it” James hissed in his ear, and Sirius nodded in absolute agreement to that, more than sick of his future actions already, he didn’t need this delay.

Harry snapped back he understood perfectly, he’d grown up without his parents, he had to hear his mother die in his head

Sirius felt a prick of tears at that blunt reminder, while Harry leaned into his mother again at his own choice of words.

and it was all Black’s fault! Before Harry could do anything though, the cat ran over and jumped onto Black’s chest, right over his heart.

James really couldn’t help himself that time as he released a snort of mirth. Of all the things to be standing up for his friend in that moment, it was a cat! Remus was up in the castle with no clue of what was going on, he and Peter were long since gone and couldn’t do anything, and the last thing to stick up for their brother was a cat! A cat they’d been mocking all year for its go at Scabbers, the cat they’d been picking on because of how odd it was. He nearly wanted to laugh again at the absurdity of it all, but he couldn’t really bring himself to do it at just how depressing that was.

Black looked just as surprised as anyone as he tried to push him off,

“Sounds about right” Lily muttered without any amusement, that was his usual response whenever Hickory was in the room and tried to get his attention.

but Crookshanks nails held tight and tangled into his shirt. Harry decided he didn’t really care, he’d kill the cat and then move on.

“Well now you’re just being cruel” Sirius huffed under his breath, receiving a pop on the back of his head from James for that.

If it was in league with Black,

James really couldn’t help a vague snicker at that, a cat being in league with anyone was normally a sentence he’d laugh at just for the sake of mocking.

then that was its problem. If Black moved to protect the cat and Harry killed Black first, then that only proved he cared more for that animal then he had Harry’s parents.

Sirius made to say ‘maybe when they’re yelling at me for taking you out on my bike’ but he knew he could never make a joke at that blasphemous sentence again without keeling over.

His wand was still pointed, and he was now convinced he was going to avenge his parent’s deaths.

“To be perfectly honest, even if Merlin stop it you do meet the man who did that to us, I still wouldn’t want you to do that” Lily told him sharply. His emotions were understandable of course, if it had only been Harry who’d been killed not a force could have stopped her from murdering who’d done it, but that didn’t mean she wanted her baby doing the same thing!

Harry had a very calculating look on his face as he considered her, finding something of importance in her words, then he glanced at his father who had a very ugly look on his face.

He noticed Harry’s watching though and quickly tried to get rid of it, saying quickly “nope, I’m with your mother on that one all the way kid, absolutely no murder before you even know the spell.”

He’d tried to make it a joke there at the end, he’d be a hypocrite if he pretended he’d never killed anyone in this war, but it didn’t erase what he really meant right then which came through just fine to Harry. He really didn’t want his son going after the man who’d done this to him, instead he leaned into Sirius’ ear and whispered for him alone “that’s what you and Remus are for.”

That finally gave Sirius something new to focus on as he registered those words. James was right of course, Harry shouldn’t be the one to do that, he was still just a kid who they’d never want to go through the life altering process of killing anyone. Sirius on the other hand would feel it was his sole duty to do just that in vengeance from what had been taken from him, if only he could figure out where to start.

He was going to kill Black.

“Do you even know a spell to do it” Remus finally cracked and spoke up again, sounding so distant he didn’t even seem to realize he’d spoken.

“No” Harry admitted, still looking shamefaced at his actions, mostly because they were towards Sirius. He was so distracted by this constant feeling that something his mother had said really spoke to him, but as always he’d no idea why. In that moment he’d been planning on using a fire spell Dean had taught him ages ago and pointed right at the man’s chest it would have worked just fine, but of course now thinking of that made him retch.*

Time ticked on, and still Harry did nothing. The room remained frozen as it was, not even Black moved to stop him, and no spell came. Harry was still telling himself he’d do it any second, when he heard movement downstairs.

This caused mixed reactions for everyone in the room. On the one hand, Sirius was a criminal in this future and anyone who came up those stairs would think that first when they saw him so Sirius needed to get out of there, now! On the other side, Sirius hadn’t said a damned thing! He’d brought Ron in there and had then spent the time being abused by Harry and hadn’t said anything in defense of himself like they all would have thought, and no one wanted this conversation to end until they got something out of it!

That didn’t even begin to cover their shock of who on earth that could be, as only one other person at school even knew how to get in there, and Remus had no reason to go down there now... unless it was a full moon.

It seemed to strike all of them at the same time that the longer they thought on this the more rotten the outcomes, so Remus just kept reading in hopes someone would explain something already.

Hermione reacted first by screaming for help, and the clatter of footsteps announced someone was hurrying towards the room, and Professor Lupin came charging in.

“Well that’s, good” Lily said slowly. They’d already realized the only reason Remus would have gone in there at that time would be because it was a full moon that night, but hey this was just more explaining that needed to happen. Maybe now that Remus and Sirius were finally shown in the same room someone would give up something.

He took in the room and shouted Expelliarmus, knocking Harry’s wand away again.

“Really though, I still don’t know what exactly I was going to do with it anyways” Harry grumbled. He remembered feeling angry at himself for not acting when he had the chance, but Remus’ arrival now put him in a far better mood now than it had then so he didn’t care so long as he finally got his answers.

Lupin caught his, plus Ron’s and Hermione’s, leaving Harry feeling cold. He hadn’t done it, he’d lost his nerve.

“And I couldn’t be happier” Lily told him simply, the image of her baby actually having the intent to kill on anyone, let alone Sirius, going to haunt her for some time.

Black was going back to the dementors.

That gave them all a right fright, even if Remus would never do such a thing it was never a sentence they could ever hear.

Lupin spoke to Black first though he called him by his first name as he asked where he was?

“Err, where’s who?” James asked, blinking curiously. That had been the last thing he’d been expecting his friend to say upon his entrance.

Remus did not look happy at his own question, his voice growing so dark the longer this carried on the others were starting to wonder if Remus knew exactly what he meant and just wasn’t sharing. Had Remus now figured out who had done all of this? It didn’t answer why he wouldn’t say this to them, but when Lily tried to interrupt to ask Remus blatantly ignored her and kept reading loudly.

Harry frowned in confusion and looked back at the man still on the floor, who gave Lupin a calculating look before gesturing at Ron on the bed.

That finally seemed to confirm whatever was bothering him, because he looked so confused and hurt at reading that, that the book nearly shook right out of his hands.

“Remus” Sirius said pleadingly, ducking to try and catch his eye since he still wasn’t looking at them. “You are honestly scaring me right now mate, and I thought I was scaring myself enough.”

Remus tried with all of his might to put some expression on his face rather than the cold fear Sirius’ movement in the book had given him but it just wasn’t working. He still ignored the lot of them, no longer able to convince himself in any way that he had been imagining it all, but still trying to come up with how he’d been so right.

Harry then looked at Ron, who looked just as confused as anyone. Lupin seemed to understand though, as he whispered that this only made sense if they’d switched without telling him.

“Switched what!?” Lily snarled in outrage, more than sick of these constant riddles! Just once couldn’t her son get a straight answer, now even her friends were driving her crazy! Remus was still ignoring her, and at this point Lily was fixing to march over and snatch that book away to make at least him explain himself, when something he’d read gave her pause. Switched? What was the only thing they could be talking about, that had made Sirius so convinced he’d screwed up and gotten them killed? The Secret Keeper position of course, but switched with who? And why wouldn’t they tell Remus? Since Lily was only beginning to catch up with what Remus may very well be looking so murderous about, she was left more floundering and confused when she realized she’d missed her chance and Remus was still reading.

Harry tried to say something, but the words got lost as Lupin came over and helped Black to his feet, making the cat fall to the floor again as the two adults embraced like brothers.

Remus’ tone only switched for the briefest second, cooling down to indulgent happiness before he realized how far he’d normally extend that description, and he switched right back to fury despite now having to ignore Sirius and James who were insistently trying to get him to stop for a second.

Harry felt his mouth flop open in shock, and he wasn’t the only one. Hermione started screaming that she’d trusted Lupin, she’d covered for him!

“Oh yeah, almost forgot she knew about that” James said randomly, now growing impatient at being ignored. If Remus knew something he needed to share it dammit.

“Wasn’t exactly doing a stellar job of that covering though” Harry grumbled, since they had again asked Hermione if she’d know what was up with Lupin when they’d become friends again, but she’d still said nothing about it. She hadn’t exactly lied and made up an excuse, which had left them still wondering. Harry was sure if she’d been doing that to other students to, it wouldn’t have exactly eased suspicions any more.

Lupin tried to say he could explain himself, but Hermione wasn’t listening as she shouted that he’d been Black’s friend!

“Guess that would be a shock for them to find out, how many years late” Sirius huffed more than irked at this rate that Remus wasn’t giving them a single second to ask what he was on about, and were just to curious to get the answers from the future to demand them from him.

Lupin tried to correct, saying he hadn’t been a friend to Sirius,

That finally made Remus pause, his whole body going so numb the book nearly fell from his grip. In his shock and anger at realizing what really could have been going on the past twelve years, who had been responsible, it hadn’t come back full circle to explain Remus’ actions to himself, he’d been caught up in the other parts. Now that he’d said that though, his breath caught tight, his vision narrowed, and he suddenly realized in that second that he’d meant it before. That day in his office when they’d spoken so lightly of Sirius being Kissed, he’d meant every little bit of that careless nature he’d shown for Sirius, because he’d, he had really thought he’d done it. “Ouch!” The sharp tug that came from his ear nearly being ripped off forced him to come back and realize that Sirius was glaring at him with such a twisted face he should be thankful that ear really was still attached.

“Great” Sirius said so loudly he was nearly screaming it, his face a fascinating combination of flushed rage and pale fear “now that I have your attention, explain yourself before I pull your tongue out next.”

Remus couldn’t look at him though, could not meet his eyes in that moment nor did he think he could again. He just sat there like a statue, his lip trembling and looking sicker than his friends had ever seen him, which was really saying something considering how close to a full moon it was in this time. Before Sirius could carry out on his very real threat right then, James hit his wits end.

He grabbed hold of Sirius and shoved him so that he was at the other end of the sofa, then sat down in between the two like a stern father separating his children, a rather odd thing when he considered it was usually Remus who broke up their squabbles, or encouraged them depending on the actual spat. This though had nothing usual about it, as James would much rather knock their heads together they were both driving him crazy. Sirius was acting insane in even thinking of what his future actions implied, and Remus was literally driving him crazy acting so distant and blood lusting at the same time. It wasn’t so uncommon for Remus to get moody around a full moon, his emotions tended to just be easier to flare and they’d all figured that out years ago, but this was something far different and it was scaring both of his friends senseless.

Now that he’d stopped the violence between the two though, he was fixing to demand his own answers, when Lily had enough. She got up and snatched the book away before anyone could protest, silencing them all with a look as she said “if you don’t mind, I’m going to see what the bloody hell is going on” she waved the book around for emphasis, then jabbed a finger at them stating “if you three want to keep acting like idiots take it in another room and Harry and I will explain it to you when you’ve all calmed down.”

Since they very obviously weren’t leaving, Lily still ignored them as she went back and continued reading loudly. James and Sirius still looked frustrated they hadn’t got their answer, but Remus looked relieved he hadn’t had to speak yet, he was positive he couldn’t have gotten the words out.

but he was now- Hermione cut him off again by turning to Harry and telling him that Lupin had been helping Black get into the castle, he was going to help to kill Harry, and that he was a werewolf.

“I am genuinely offended that’s what she caught on” James grumbled, knowing if anyone else had said that he’d be sure to blast them away for the implications that Remus was a bad person just because of this, but since Hermione had already proven she didn’t care of this fact except when she’d revealed it in cadence with being with Sirius he let it slide.

Lupin looked as calm as ever as he corrected Hermione she only got a one out of three.

“Really Remus” Sirius demanded, looking very much like he wanted to laugh. “You’re grading her, now!”

“You know he can’t help himself, he did always grade our pranks on a scale” James reminded in forced calm, both boys getting more and more concerned the longer Remus stayed locked up. James nearly wanted to pull his hair out in frustration at this point, thinking if it wasn’t one of his friends it was the other lately who were going to make him go bald from stress.

He had not been helping Sirius, he most certainly did not want Harry dead, but he did not deny the werewolf claim. Ron looked like he was going to try and get up again, but only managed to sink back to the floor in pain, and Lupin began walking towards him with clear concern but Ron snapped at him not to get anywhere near him werewolf!

Remus flinched so hard in shock and shame that Sirius couldn’t help, saying “Okay, I don’t regret biting Ron anymore, he deserved it just for that,” through gritted teeth. He did kind of mean it, as he would never stand by and let anyone talk to his friend that way, but it didn’t ease anything going on in the room. None of this was new information to them after all, it was just depressing at the kid’s reaction.

Harry heard that and gave Sirius an unhappy look, he didn’t think Sirius meant it at all, and that was his friend! They’d admitted themselves one of their own friends had a bad reaction to finding out, so Ron shouldn’t be judged for his initial shock.

Lupin stopped, clearly upset but turned back to Hermione and asked how long she’d known. Hermione said since Snape had set them that essay.

“Still owe him a one for that to” James added, looking just as fearsome as Sirius and having to fight the impulse to do the same and tell off Ron for his actions.

Lupin said that Snape would be pleased, he’d done that just so someone would figure out that he was always sick near a full moon, and that his boggart was a full moon as well. Then he praised Hermione for being so smart, and she shot back that if she was any kind of smart she’d have told the staff. Lupin said that they already knew, and Ron gasped that Dumbledore was mad for hiring a werewolf.

Even Lily couldn’t read that part without some own bite in her words, she’d have smacked Ron a good one if he’d been here now and said that.

Lupin said some of the staff agreed with Ron,

“Probably just one actually” James growled, since all of the teachers there knew Remus from when he was in school and the only one who would have actually protested was that slimy little git ball of hatred and unforgiving childhood problems!

and Dumbledore had to convince them he could be trusted, but Harry butted back in by shouting again that Dumbledore had been wrong, he shouldn’t be trusted because he’d been helping Black!

‘Clearly not,’ Sirius couldn’t help but think with a frown in place, his own shock at that revelation still not quite wearing off. The one person he’d been absolutely sure of as an ally, and he’d been wrong. Even Remus had been convinced of those things he’d done, apparently even himself believed it because of his own passing comment. It stung, a lot, but he couldn’t bring himself to hate Remus for it either. He didn’t really have a right when he so clearly was thinking the same thing, and hating his friend for agreeing with him made no sense. What the bloody hell had he done though, that would change things so rapidly? Was it all because of that Secret Keeper nonsense, and, and they had changed without telling Remus. That’s what he’d read, which meant that Remus had thought Sirius had betrayed his brother with intent. Why wouldn’t they have told Remus they were switching though? What the bloody hell could change in this year that would lead to altering their whole lives. Who had they even switched it to if not him? If it actually wasn’t him, then why did he blame himself? He was bogging himself down with all of the questions he’d had for so long now and still wasn’t getting a stinking answer to!

Sirius lost his knees again and went over to sink onto the bed, covering his face. Lupin watched him with a frown as he said he had not been helping Sirius,

James wasn’t taking that as lightly as Sirius though. He now wanted to take a leaf out of Sirius’ book and give his friend a good kick for actually meaning that, but that would literally be kicking him while he was down. Remus looked so lost right now, his eyes unfocused on anything and still likely to cry at any second. Had this been what was bothering him the whole time, he’d been coming around to thinking he hadn’t trusted Sirius? That didn’t add up though, he’d been acting funny since they’d been in Hagrid’s hut what felt like a lifetime ago already. They hadn’t found out this mess between the two of them until just minutes ago, so whatever was tormenting Remus had to be something else, or at least combined with his feelings for Sirius.

he just needed a moment to explain. Then he divided the kids wands back out to them and tucked his own away, saying now they were armed and he wasn’t, now would they please give them a chance?

“Least someone’s being calm about all of this” Lily muttered, now wishing Remus had been there from the start if this is what it would take for the explaining to get going.

Harry still hesitated, wondering if this was still somehow a trick as he asked Lupin how he’d known to come here? Lupin said the map,

“Oh” they all muttered, that hadn’t actually occurred to them, but it was a far kinder explanation then what they’d been fearing upon his entrance. At least now they didn’t feel like they were on a time table before those kids had to get out of there.

Harry interrupted to ask he knew how to work it?

“Well I should hope so,” Sirius couldn’t help but mutter, while also thinking on the timing of that.

Lupin said he had, as he’d wrote the thing, he was Moony. Harry tried to interrupt again, but Lupin said that wasn’t the important part,

“No, no, no” Harry mock scolded “I let you get away with that once, but you shouldn’t have just sprung that on me and brushed if off.” He was growing as concerned as anyone at Remus’ actions, but the man hardly flinched at Harry talking to him.

and said he’d been watching it to see if Harry and his friends were going to sneak out and visit Hagrid tonight for Buckbeak’s execution, which he was right about.

Sirius at least felt pleased at that explanation, thinking it would have been quite the convenience for him to have been watching it for old times’ sake and just happening upon what he’d seen.

Harry had been seen on the map even with the cloak on, and Harry interrupted again to ask how Lupin knew about the Invisibility Cloak? Lupin brushed that off to, saying the many times he’d seen James vanish under it.

‘Usually with you with me’ James added on with a frown still in place, but he didn’t see the point in saying that now as everyone here knew it.

He’d watched it all as they’d left Hagrid’s place, now with someone new along.

“Um, no they weren’t” Lily said, frowning first at the book then at Remus, wondering if he’d gone and lost his mind right along with Sirius now.

James looked just as confused, but Sirius suddenly went as stiff as Remus on his other side. Sirius was now blinking hard, his mind jumping back to when Remus had started acting weird, and putting it together with that...and how they had left with another, a rat...

Harry protested no they hadn’t, but Lupin ignored him and seemed to be talking to himself now as he spoke about how he’d been sure the map had made a mistake, how could ‘he’ be with them?

Lily felt like her mind was beginning to short circuit, what Remus was implying wasn’t physically possible, because the only person he could be implying had died, twelve years ago...

Then he’d watched Black’s dot appear and drag two of them under the tree,

Sirius’ breaths were coming out in sharp little pants now, he’d caught up to Remus and Lily very quickly, though unlike them he was still half floored on the denial where they’d moved pace to the sickening realization that all the pieces were fitting together just a little too well...

but Ron snapped it had only been him, while Lupin corrected it was in fact two. Then Lupin asked if he could see Scabbers.

James made a noise like he’d never before made in his life. He had no idea what any of them were on about, because of course they were being ridiculous. It just wasn’t possible, not of one of his friends. He turned to Harry, the one he was sure was fixing to laugh them all off for focusing so much on a silly pet rat. Surely like the other times they’d been wrong, his son would just look confused or indulgent or even frustrated. Instead he found his son pressing the heel of his hand into his temple, a set look on his features that made it all to clear his memory was returning to him, and the book was exactly on the right track.

Ron scowled at the both of them, asking what his rat had to do with this? Lupin said he had everything to do with it, and kindly asked if he could just see him. Ron hesitated before complying, pulling out his aged and distraught pet who was now writhing worse than ever to get free, causing Crookshanks to hiss at him again.

Lily could feel something very bad crawling up inside of her, like a monster wanting to lung from her chest and trying to strangle out her words, but she kept reading the print like it was a lifeline, now more determined than ever before to understand, to get a name she could never want to hear come out of her boys mouth, not like this.

Lupin took a step forward like he wanted to take him, but Ron held him fast to his chest and demanded to know what this was about. Black was watching the rat with a hungry look on his face as he said that wasn’t a rat, he was a wizard animagus by the name of Peter Pettigrew.

“Sirius, wait, don’t!” Harry called, but it was too late. Sirius wasn’t listening, and he instinctively ducked as someone made to grab at him to stop him. He had made it to the perimeter of the house’s boundaries before Harry’s words had even fully left his mouth, and he disapparated.

“Dad” Harry called desperately, but James gave Harry a tortured look as he said “Sorry son-” then he to vanished with a loud crack. Harry was groaning, almost doubled over as he looked on at them in panic, his eyes flashing to Remus and Lily in undisguised fear as he whispered “They’re in danger! I don’t know what’s happening, but they can’t leave! I, I have to-” he broke himself off, swallowed hard, then straightened back to his full height he declared “I’m going after them. Tell me where Pettigrew is living now, and I’ll bring them back before they can do anything. But you two can’t leave, I-” he broke off in frustration, casting skyward looks in desperation to come up with something to say to convince them.

Remus and Lily exchanged heartbroken looks, very unwilling to allow Harry to go out by himself, but more worried still by Harry’s veracity about their staying put. So Remus spoke “Okay Harry, we promise. We’ll stay here, and we’ll give you five minutes alright. If you’re not back by then though, I am coming after you.” He then went on to tell Harry where exactly he should apparate to.

Harry took a brief second to consider whether he could even pull this off, as he had no real memory of even how to apparate, but decided to rely on muscle memory and not force the knowledge, hoping that would work. He nodded gratefully, stopping for just a brief moment to hug them both, then he disappeared with a resounding crack.

…Kind of sorry for the cliffhanger chapter break…

I struggled a lot with this chapter trying to balance out Sirius’ fears finally being realized, Harry trying to reassure him without giving anything away, and juggling in the others, sorry if it comes across half as mixed up as I feel it is.

Also random note I’m kind of sorry Lily hasn’t much to do, nor will she mostly for a while because this really is a Marauder meltdown and while she’ll feel as betrayed as anyone it really just isn’t quite as personal.

*I really have no idea how Harry had planned on killing him, since he obviously didn’t know the killing curse yet, nor do I really think he knew Confringo or very many other ways to kill in only his third year of school.

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