Harry Potter and the ? (Prisoner of Azkaban)

Hermione's Secret

I know you are all thinking yay for an early update, so I’m hoping the happiness will linger through the whole of this chapter...

The four of them felt so emotionally strained they didn’t know what to do anymore. None of them made a move to stop Harry, they just wanted this done with. The only comfort they had left was that this hadn’t happened yet, they still had Sirius right here with them.

Harry’s hands were shaking terribly as he went for the book. He couldn’t seem to get rid of that fear, that lingering something that told him Sirius was going to die. Then why had he felt so confused when Sirius had tried to comfort him about the patronus...was it possible his instinct was finally wrong? He desperately hoped so with everything in him, it was the only thing forcing his words out.

Dialogue begins, talking of the miracle that no one had died,

Lily made a rasping noise, like she agreed but the thought was to terrible it shouldn’t have ever been put into words. She knew whoever was speaking was of course talking about Harry, but it didn’t erase that implanted fear that she was soon going to have to hear about Sirius really...

then continuing by praising Snape for having been there.

James snarled, he’d never heard such a ludicrous thing in his life! He was, probably irrationally some higher reasoning tried to protest but he kicked it away, blaming Snape for this whole mess, for what happened to Sirius! If Snape had never showed up then they would have gotten out of there so much sooner, then Remus wouldn’t have transformed at that time, then the rat wouldn’t have gotten away! This was Snape’s fault! He remembered that promise he’d made to Lily, that he wouldn’t kill him until they heard everything, but as far as James was concerned this was irredeemable and that Death Eater was dying as soon as he took care of the other one. Now if only they could figure out why they couldn’t leave, he really hoped Harry would remember that soon.

Someone, probably Snape, responded with a thank you to the minister.

“The minister” Lily muttered with the smallest pinch of hope, trying to figure out if he would have shown up just to collect a body, maybe Sirius wasn’t dead yet and he had to show up because he escaped again?

The first speaker kept talking, promising Snape would receive an Order of Merlin, First Class.

“I’d roll over in my grave I’m sure” Sirius muttered, then received a very sharp pinch from Remus for that, but he didn’t even bother to snap back for it this time, he was still intent on reminding them as much as possible he could still make jokes, no matter how bad.

Then the minister remarked at the cut Snape had, asking if Black had done it?

“Probably” Remus said with just a tad of smugness, vividly remembering Sirius having scraped his head, repeatedly, against the tunnel ceiling and how he would have laughed at that any other time, he’d just been a little too distracted to really appreciate it at the time.

Snape corrected that it had instead been the three students.

‘Least I did something useful’ Harry couldn’t help but think, still feeling he’d done more harm than good this night. If only he’d been faster and stunned Pettigrew, if he’d stayed out of Sirius’ way and let him take care of the rat, instead he’d stood by and let Sirius be caught. If he’d just let Remus and Sirius kill Pettigrew when they’d had the chance they would have had a body and all the proof they needed. Harry knew better than to say anything like that out loud though, because by now he knew they would all try to defend him. Something that still felt a little foreign.

Fudge was shocked at the news, as Snape explained that Black must have used the Confundus Charm on all of them they were acting so irrational.

“No, no, no” Lily snarled. “Now they’ll never believe a word you say!”

“They wouldn’t have believed me if Snape hadn’t said anything” Harry grumbled.

“There’s still got to be, something-” Remus tried, but he broke himself off and instead just fell back against the couch, feeling utterly defeated. It was three kids and a werewolf’s word against probably Dumbledore himself, what chance did they have? Sirius’ only hope was somehow making a run for it again, and that was assuming he was even still alive!

Snape was scoffing at the story put into them, about Black being innocent and something about a rat. Snape did say though that they should still be punished for their actions, as their doing tonight had probably been started by the delusion they could catch Black by themselves.

Sirius made a ‘pfft’ noise. The ironic thing was Harry hadn’t once wanted to ‘catch’ him. Oh sure he’d wanted to do some other things, but that hadn’t been on the list.

He kept going by telling the minister how much Potter got away with at school, and how much it had inflated his opinion of himself.

Lily wanted to argue the point, but the problem was she couldn’t. From Snape’s point of view Harry had gone the past two years, well even this year, and gotten away with a lot, but that was because Snape couldn’t see past Harry to the things he’d done. If Harry hadn’t stepped in, unspeakable things could have happened. She was as proud of her son for all of those things as any mother could be, and she really wanted to shove it in Snape’s face he needed to get over himself.

Fudge tried to placate him, saying as it was Harry Potter, he should be given some leeway.

Harry had a little scowl on his face as he read that, he didn’t want to be handed a blind spot. Sure he didn’t want to get in trouble either, but the fact that the Minister had just admitted to this rubbed him the wrong way.

Snape argued back that he didn’t agree, he treated Potter the same as any student.

“Ha!” James snapped without any humor, his hand curling up and looking dearly like he was going to deck the wall any second he was so sick of hearing that man talk.

“Where are you anyways?” Remus asked, realizing this conversation had gone on long enough and Harry hadn’t said anything, despite his clear look of agitation now saying he would have butted in ages ago.

“Still half out of it” Harry sighed, he vaguely remembered hearing these things as if from a long ways off, and mentally reasoned he must be in the hospital wing.

Adding on that any other student would be expelled for what he’d tried to do, plus dragging his friends along.

“They didn’t even do this on purpose” Sirius ground out in frustration, still vividly remembering his attack on Ron, and while he now saw his reasons were justified he didn’t think that made it okay. Harry had only come down there out of loyalty to his friend, he’d had no idea what he was walking into. “They haven’t even heard your side of it yet and he just knows everything doesn’t he!”

Harry had to take several deep breaths to continue without shouting in annoyance of these two men, clearly talking about him within hearing range like this about something they had no idea about.

Snape tallied all of it up,

Harry couldn’t quite get that out without sounding like he was being strangled he was so frustrated by that.

and Fudge finally agreed Harry had been rash tonight and perhaps he should be spoken to. Harry was starting to come out of a long, deep sleep, finding himself on a bed and still very tired.

Lily had to fight down the urge to mother her son right now, go and get him some chocolate and watch him eat it, she still couldn’t shake away the terror of her baby being surrounded on all sides by dementors with their hoods down, what they could have done to him!

Fudge was still talking, mentioning how shocked he was that the dementors had retreated, and asking Snape if he knew why? He said he didn’t, that when he’d woken up they’d all been at their normal positions.

“And good riddance” James croaked, leaning into Sirius just that little bit more, still shaking all over at what they may have already done to his brother. The mystery of who had saved his son’s life was still a curious one. He still wanted to ask Harry about it, he’d yet to say anything of who he’d thought he’d seen, but Harry looked just as confused as them.

For a different reason though, because Harry’s first thought had been he’d seen his dad. That was ridiculous though, right? But that’s who the person had resembled...but his dad was dead. If he wasn’t, surely he would have made some miraculous reappearance tonight along with his other friends. Then who had Harry seen? He voiced none of this, not wanting any of them to feel any worse than they already were, and bringing up who he’d thought he’d seen would do just that.

Also telling that when he did find the three of them on the lake, he first secured Black,

Sirius had never heard a better thing in his life! He made the most relieved sound of all, as surely Snape wouldn’t have done that if he’d been Kissed already! They were going to send him back to Azkaban, and he could escape before they did it!

They all just got a small moment of jubilation, Sirius was still alive! That’s all they’d needed to hear and suddenly they were so sure everything was going to be okay again, things were going to work out! Then they all saw how uneasy Harry still looked, and his reaction to the news still haunted them...and had Sirius really still died tonight?

and then brought them all up here. At the mention of Black’s name, Harry snapped upright to find himself in the hospital wing. He could spot Ron still unconscious, but Hermione was wide awake on the bed next to his. She looked petrified,

“Guess Harry would know what that looked like” Remus grumbled to himself, still shifting around and unable to sit still for five full seconds he was so worried about his friend.

at what she was hearing. Harry then spotted the source of the talking, the hospital wing door was cracked open. Madam Pomfrey noticed he was awake, and began towards him with the largest bit of chocolate he’d ever seen, the size of a large rock.

Sirius couldn’t help but crack up laughing, wondering if the house-elves had specially made that upon her request, or if she had that on hand for emergencies. She’d probably been saving it up all year just for Harry.

She began chipping away at it as Harry and Hermione asked in unison how Ron was. She told them that he would live and began trying to sooth them, when she cut herself off and demanded to know what Harry was doing?

“Something I couldn’t be prouder of” James told him fondly, having no doubts Harry would kick up all the fuss in the world to get Sirius out of this mess. Maybe his son being the Boy Who Lived may finally come in handy, if he spread his own side of the story around enough, surely someone would believe him. Maybe the right person would and look into this and find the truth.

Harry was getting out of bed, and grabbing his wand, telling that he needed to see Dumbledore. Pomfrey tried to tell him everything was okay, they had apprehended Black,

“That’s the part that is not alright!” Lily hissed, recognizing Pomfrey didn’t know better, but still wanting to curse anyone who said otherwise.

and they would be using the Kiss on him any time now.

Harry let out a strangled gasp, so Sirius wasn’t out of the clear yet...and yet he still didn’t feel as powerful about that as he had before when he was so sure Sirius was going to die. He was having such conflictions crashing around inside of him, he hardly acknowledged the others plights of worry as well, just kept reading on, wanting to get his answer already.

Harry shouted in surprise, drawing the attention of those from the outside. Fudge came in asking what the noise was, asking if Harry had any chocolate yet?

Considering how agitated all of them were already at the minister, his concern for Harry didn’t hold nearly the amount of weight it should have, the only thing they wanted comforted on now was hearing Sirius was going to be okay.

Harry brushed that off and began trying to tell what had really happened, but Fudge just smiled at him.

“That, is, not, funny” James ground out, fighting every impulse he had not to rip this stupid Ministers face off.

He began to tell Harry that he was terribly confused, and that they were handling everything,

“Let’s hope shouting in his face will actually work” Remus snarled, not having any real hope it would, just hoping Harry would get past them and try something else soon.

Harry shouted back that they had it all wrong! Hermione tried to add in as well, but Snape cut them off by pointing out to the minister this must be the story Black had Confunded them with.

“They’re not going to listen to a word” Lily moaned. Even if she had seen it coming it didn’t make it any happier to hear.

Harry screamed back he knew exactly what he was talking about, but Pomfrey jumped in then by telling them they both needed to leave, Harry was distressed enough.

“I think he has every reason to be distressed,” Sirius grumbled, still fighting down the urge to be sick as the scene kept replaying over and over again in his head of that skull like face coming towards his own.

Harry still tried to fight back, but Pomfrey cut him off by shoving a bit of chocolate in his mouth.

Sirius couldn’t help it, that mental image was exactly what he needed to shove his own vision to the side and he cracked up laughing. The other four gave him a touch concerned look, Sirius really had been under so much pressure for so long that they were starting to wonder just how soon he’d start to go crazy. He ignored the looks though, still smirking and shrugging “what? What adult force feeds you chocolate, it was funny!”

Harry gave a weak little laugh while the others just rolled their eyes at him, far more concerned hearing Sirius made it out of this night alive then his stupid comments for now. Not that any of them would admit his stupid comments was what was keeping them sane, as a constant reminder Sirius was still around to make them.

Then taking advantage as he gagged on it, she shoved him back onto the bed.

“Now she’s just being pushy” Remus couldn’t help but agree with Sirius, having been threatened a number of times by the matron for trying to sneak out and knowing how she could get if her orders weren’t followed. If Harry kept resisting her to her face, things might turn out even worse for him.

Then Dumbledore came in. Harry forced down his treatment and began trying to talk again at once, but was cut off by a now hysterical matron.

“You’re the one driving me crazy right now” James scowled, still not able to find the same mood as the other two, he wanted Harry to keep trying to get his point across no matter how futile and she was just getting in the way.

She tried to tell the headmaster to leave, but Dumbledore said that he needed to have a word with Harry and Hermione. He’d just been talking to Black,

“That’s, encouraging” Sirius said, not really sure if he meant it. After all, if Dumbledore didn’t believe him now, why would telling him all of these things without proof mean anything to him then? What could he possibly say to gain the headmasters trust? Was he wanting to talk to Harry and Hermione to try and lift some stupid curse off of them? When that didn’t work, would it be too late for him to realize the kids weren’t Confounded?

The others didn’t quite know what to think of that either, so no one protested further when Harry kept going.

Snape tried to tell Dumbledore that was ridiculous, and demanded to know if his own evidence counted for nothing?

“Not one little bit” Remus growled.

How Pettigrew hadn’t been there at any point he’d seen, but Hermione cut in that was because he hadn’t shown up in time to hear that part.

“Actually, you kind of knocked him out before he could hear” Sirius corrected “which I still thank you for.”

Snape turned and roared at her to be silent.

Lily scowled in outrage. How could he still be yelling at her like that! Was he so insistent on seeing Sirius die he’d continuously take it out on these kids, that no other side but his could be right!

“I’m going to rip his tongue out of his head” James snapped, sick and tired of this guy popping up and ruining his loved ones lives every chance he got.

Fudge tried to cut Snape off in shock,

“Snape just did that in front of Dumbledore” James realized, perking up slightly at that. “What are the odds that’ll get him fired?”

The others gave a hopeful agreement, except Remus who flinched all over again. Snape had been trying all year apparently to get him fired, he should probably consider himself lucky he hadn’t been mentioned along with Sirius about to receive a Kiss. Most likely he was still running around the forest, and now he had the image of a pack of Aurors chasing him down, waiting for him to change back so they could arrest him or worse. He kept his mouth firmly shut though, he’d worry about that later when he heard Sirius was safe.

pointing out Hermione wasn’t speaking clearly and she shouldn’t be spoken to like that.

“I would honestly laugh at that if I didn’t want to smash both of your heads together” Sirius grumbled.

Dumbledore cut in that he wanted to talk to the two alone, now. Pomfrey tried to protest they needed their rest, but Dumbledore was being insistent.

The five of them all exchanged concerned looks, Dumbledore’s attitude was kind of scaring them, though the fact that he wasn’t outright saying he disbelieved Harry and Hermione was the slightest bit of comfort. They all knew that if Dumbledore believed them, Sirius would have the best defense in the world. Surely he must be able to do something to get Sirius out of this.

She wasn’t happy, but Pomfrey did storm back to her office and slammed the door.

“Well she’s in a bad mood” Remus muttered to himself.

Fudge agreed he’d wait outside for the dementors to show.

Harry couldn’t read that without getting a hitch in his throat, he wasn’t going to let that happen to Sirius! For the first time he gained back a tiny bit of confidence, that one little reassuring thought convincing him his first reaction finally had been wrong, he must save Sirius! Terrified of being wrong though, he’d already caused so much pain and confusion by speaking out of these things, he dared not speak anything else.

Snape still didn’t move though, demanding if the headmaster really believed Black?

“Someone please let me out so I can strangle him already” Sirius growled.

Dumbledore just repeated he wanted to talk to Harry and Hermione alone, but Snape instead took another step towards Dumbledore.

“No, really, why hasn’t he been fired yet” James grumbled to himself, wishing more than anything he wasn’t joking and Snape would get tossed already for the things he’d done to Harry alone, now he’d turned on his two best friends!

Reminding him that Black had tried to murder him at sixteen.

Sirius flinched like he’d been kicked, oh he really didn’t want to remember that right now.

James and Remus just looked all the more murderous, something Harry hadn’t really thought possible. Both boys were just so sick of Snivellus bringing that up! He’d been sixteen, he’d made a mistake, and he was still holding a grudge for that!* Sirius had even tried to apologize to him! They weren’t sure how sincere it had been, since he’d done it after the big row between the four of them and he might have just done it to prove to them he was sorry, but even then Snape had dismissed him and Sirius hadn’t tried again.

When Dumbledore agreed he remembered, Snape finally left as well, and Harry and Hermione began at once telling what had really happened. Dumbledore cut them off though,

“Well you did about sum it all up” Lily muttered, hoping Sirius had been more coherent when he’d told Dumbledore all that.

telling them that they didn’t have one bit of proof to support that story.

James said something very crude, he didn’t want to hear this, he wanted someone to say Sirius was going to be okay, which is why he was so confused when Remus let out a sigh of relief.

He couldn’t quite get rid of the look as he eagerly told the others “don’t you see, if he’s saying that then this must mean Dumbledore believes him! Why would he say that if he didn’t?”

Lily still hesitated, eyeing the book as she pointed out “why would he believe him now if he hadn’t then? Surely Sirius told him all of this back when he was first taken in.”

Remus hesitated, his smile slipping away as he honestly didn’t have a good answer to that, but he tried anyways “Sirius didn’t realize until after he saw the picture the rat” he still couldn’t help but break off with a stutter, he couldn’t even refer to him without feeling white hot rage all over again, “was even still alive, he could have put everything he’d said down to a tale until Sirius had seen him that night, Dumbledore knows Legilimency so maybe he pried into his mind tonight and saw the truth then what could have been falsified before.” It was only as he finished how loose that sounded, how Remus realized all over again the lengths he wanted to go to defend Dumbledore, and how much it bothered him Dumbledore hadn’t believed Sirius then. Shouldn’t Dumbledore have simply used Legilimency then, and realized Sirius hadn’t been the Secret Keeper, so the rat was the only option? It wasn’t adding up, and they all knew it.

The others didn’t look any more convinced either, but no one said anything else, so Harry decided to keep going.

The three students wouldn’t be able to convince anyone of these things, as a street full of people had put Sirius at his original crime, and Dumbledore himself had told the ministry Sirius had been the Secret-Keeper.

James hissed something under his breath, detesting that there was the proof right there, Dumbledore had not tried one bit to stick up for Sirius, but the opposite!

Sirius looked like he’d rather be kicked this time then hear that. He’d followed Dumbledore’s orders without question, been nothing but a good soldier through the worst of missions, and that was his reward! How had Dumbledore looked him in the face and accused him of doing that!

“I don’t understand” Harry groaned, watching all of them grow more confused and murderous the longer Dumbledore kept going. “Couldn’t Sirius have taken ah, a potion or something to prove he wasn’t lying?” He felt like he should know something that did that, but he couldn’t place it.

Lily’s face was going the same color as her fiery red hair, but she tried to force her tone to remain normal as she explained “there is something, called Veritaserum, but its use will only work on the unexpecting. If Sirius knew he was taking it, his words still wouldn’t hold. It’s never used in court, because anybody on trial would be hoping it would be used on them.”

“What about his wand” James persisted. “They would have taken it from him, proven that wasn’t the last spell he’d used.”

“Not indefinitely” Sirius sighed “I could have used anything in between the time it happened and the time they arrived, since I left myself in the street, I may have been ‘pretending I was innocent’ by doing it.” He did not look the least bit happy at explaining away what the Ministry had done to him, but last night in between the nightmares of his sleep and his future, he’d turned over every last inch of how his case could have gone, and that had been one thing he’d stuck on. He’d stayed around in the street, not knowing why then, but clearly having an idea now. He’d lost several bits of sanity he’d been so pleased with himself for murdering that rat, he hadn’t cared what happened next.

“Well, what about those Pensive things” Harry still tried, feeling this argument was as useless as it could get, knowing it wouldn’t make a difference, but still forcing himself to try. “They show memories, right? Couldn’t Sirius have shown the memory he hadn’t been the Secret Keeper? Even if what Remus said is true and Sirius hadn’t known for sure the rat had survived, it still would have shown he’d been the one to blow those people up, that Sirius hadn’t been the one to do this.”

They, had no answer for him. It was true memories could be tampered with, but even when that happens a gray fog would swirl around to prove such a thing, and Sirius’ wouldn’t have done that. They honestly had no idea how this could have settled in a court of law proving without a doubt Sirius had done this! They still didn’t really have their answers, but now knowing Dumbledore had a hand in it wasn’t helping much, his testimony alone would be enough to put anyone away as a Death Eater. Which meant that Sirius winding up in Azkaban was damn near as much Dumbledore’s fault as anyone’s, for not trying to help a man he’d inducted into the Order, for not doing everything to find all the facts.**

Harry tried desperately one last time “well my memories then! Pettigrew confessed to me what happened, and they’ve no reason not to believe me, except...” Harry was already trailing off pitifully as he came to his own conclusion amongst all the heartbroken faces “except they think I’m Confunded, so no matter what my or my friends memories say-” he broke himself off, unable to finish his throat was closing to tight.

Harry tried to say Lupin could do something, but Dumbledore cut him off that as he was currently running around the forest he wouldn’t be helping anyone.

Remus made a gut wrenching noise, still hating himself above anyone else for this mess he’d put his friend in, and still neither James nor Sirius would let him dwell on it, they both gave him a look that plainly said they didn’t think it for a second, and it left Remus confused. If they still wouldn’t, even after everything he’d done to Sirius, were they really so blind?

He also added on that werewolves were so mistrusted by wizarding kind Lupin’s words wouldn’t hold credence anyways.

“Which still doesn’t make sense to me” Harry grumbled “why’s he so different than anyone else?”

The others really didn’t know how to explain this concept to Harry. Either his thirteen year old mind still couldn’t grasp the concept, or he was refusing to acknowledge it, but either way they didn’t want to be the ones to change it. Harry clearly trusted Remus just fine now, he’d yet to show any ill will towards him no matter what was being shown, so they liked to think this never would change and it had remain the later.

Harry tried again, but Dumbledore insisted that Harry could do nothing, that what Snape had said just made more sense.

“I hate this” Lily howled, looking close to tears she was so frustrated. “I hate this so much, I can’t stand it. Why is Snape’s the only word that matters? If Dumbledore’s word was enough to put Sirius in there, then surely it should be enough to at least hold off on that, that sentence!” It was beyond frustrating, it hurt and confused them almost as much as what that rat had done to them. Sirius was a good man who’d done everything in his power to show he wanted nothing to do with his last name, why couldn’t Dumbledore with all his titles and power at least say something to what was happening. Had he really just come there to convince Harry it was pointless to even try?

Reminding Harry that Sirius had not been seemingly innocent at all, what with both of his attempts of getting into Gryffindor Tower.

Sirius face palmed so hard he looked like he was going to leave a bruise on his own forehead. He reflected back to how he’d felt when he first learned of what the rat had done, that all-consuming need, and how it may well have driven him to do those same things now if he could get out of this house, and he still would have kept trying no matter what until Harry calmed him down. It didn’t excuse what he’d done, but then again when had he ever thought things through?

Without proof, they had nothing. Harry asked if at least Dumbledore believed them, and he agreed he did,

They all sighed, wishing they could find out why, what had changed to make Dumbledore see now what he hadn’t then? If Merlin help them and this all bloody happened to them again, they would have liked some assurances they could keep Dumbledore on Sirius’ side no matter what.

but he could do nothing to convince others, nor did he have any real say of what the Minister of Magic did.

Lily and James looked likely to back down, at least a bit. They admitted they may have been too harsh on Dumbledore, been expecting too much of him. To them he seemed the most powerful warlock to exist, Dumbledore could do anything, even go toe to toe with Voldemort himself. But what he’d said was true, Dumbledore himself wasn’t magic, sometimes even he couldn’t be expected to do everything. The only problem was they’d been so focused on going after their old headmaster, that now the realization had hit he couldn’t do anything, they were sinking right back into the fear sucking depression. They just couldn’t sit here and listen to this happening to Sirius! They let Harry keep going though, unable to find the air to do anything else.

Harry felt something fall inside of him. He’d been so sure that Dumbledore could do anything,

Remus winced, wriggling in place as he realized he still felt the same way, still wanted to believe the man he looked up to more than anyone could do no wrong...but the plague was still swirling in the back of his mind, trying to understand what had pulled him away from Sirius when he had needed him most, and only one name able to make him do so.

but now even that was gone. Dumbledore then turned his attention on Hermione, and told her what they needed was more time. It took a moment for her to catch on.

“Oh?” Lily snapped. “Oh what? What did he say that made her-”

“You know it’s really bloody annoying when a little thirteen year old knows more about what’s going on then you” Sirius nodded in agreement, cutting off Lily and perhaps receiving a glare for it but allowing Harry to continue.

Dumbledore then instructed them that Sirius was on the seventh floor,

“Why, would he tell you that?” James asked slowly, some life beginning to return to his face. If Dumbledore was suggesting what he thought...

Harry paid him no mind, his eyes lighting up again with hope finally kindling, he finally felt like he was getting on the right track of what was supposed to happen tonight, something good he hoped.

the thirteenth window from the right of the West Tower.

“Why would he tell you that” Lily blurted. The room was one thing, but the window was just arbitrary.

Adding on that if they did this right, they could save more than one life tonight.

Remus felt like this brain was dragging five sentences behind, who on earth, what was Dumbledore, and by the time he formed a question Harry just kept going.

Finishing with a reminder that they must not be seen by anyone.

“By who” all four of them blurted out as one. True it would be best if they weren’t caught helping Sirius, but Dumbledore’s instructions were getting weirder as this went on, with no explanation in sight.

Harry didn’t have a clue what was going on,

“Glad we’re not the only ones” Sirius grumbled, knowing Harry couldn’t actually answer them until it had happened, knowing none of them had any good idea so theorizing was stupid, but he never liked to be ignored, which is exactly what his pup was doing.

but Dumbledore ignored him as he walked back to the door, told them he was going to lock them in and what time it was now, and that three turns should do it.

“Why was he directing all of that at Hermione” Lily said slowly, for the first time in ages thinking of something other than Sirius and his betrayer, her mind circling all the way back to the now childish desire to find out what Hermione had been up to all year. Inconsequential now, as she had much bigger things to worry about, but...did it have something to do with what Dumbledore had told them?

“Three turns of what” Remus groaned, clearly the others were just as confounded as she was.

The moment he closed the door, Harry asked what all that had been about, but Hermione wasn’t listening as she pulled at a gold chain from inside of her robes.

James mind flipped back, remembering back to when Hermione had supposedly dropped a necklace, but what did that have to do with anything?

She told Harry to come closer, and then she put the necklace around both of them and Harry finally saw the end of it, which looked like a tiny hourglass encased in the face of a clock. Hermione began giving it three turns, and then Harry was moving without touching the ground, his feet floating as the room around him dissolved into blurs of color and sound, then his feet smashed back onto the ground with bright sunlight on his back.

“You have got to be kidding me” Sirius finally broke first, and Harry glanced up to see all of them were a wall of shocked faces. He’d been so excited to finally come across what had been bothering him about Hermione all year, he hadn’t even stopped to let anyone say a thing, now he almost cracked a smile at how truly gob smacked they all looked. Sirius wasn’t done yet though. “She’s actually been time traveling, all year! That was her big secret, that’s how she was getting to her classes! Merlin, she was using time magic to go to classes!” He went from confusion to disbelief in seconds, clearly outraged now “She could have gotten away with how much trouble, and she was using it for homework-ouch!”

Remus had smacked him, but Sirius’ exclamation of surprise had seemed to be mostly that, surprise. Remus was too busy laughing to have put any real force into the action. James wasn’t any better, the three looked to have finally cracked and were now laughing like pure idiots.

Lily was slightly frowning at them, honestly happy to see them laughing at all, but failing to find the humor. Though if she was honest she wasn’t surprised the first thing their minds had flickered to was how to cause trouble with a thing like this, but she was still far more concerned on how this was supposed to save Sirius’ life rather than thinking up ways to prank random people with it. She was still stuck on the fact that Hermione had it at all. Clearly McGonagall had given it to her, but was it really for the sole purpose of attending all those classes? She knew for a fact this wasn’t a treatment all Hogwarts students received, though perhaps the invention may not have even been invented yet, she’d certainly never heard of a thing like this. Maybe Hermione was like a test run, to see if all the students could handle a responsibility like this? Finally though she did but in “well if you lot are done still trying to cause mayhem where it isn’t needed, I’d still like to see your arse live through the night.”

Sirius sobered up, giving her a little pout which was ruined by the glow in his eyes, since she’d just admitted she actually did care about him. James and Remus stopped more abruptly, minds at once going back to such a bleak future, and Harry really did want to tell his mom off for that, they’d just looked so happy again and she’d reminded them of something he’d been so sure it would take a lifetime to forget. Now they were right back at it, clearly the ideas of whatever had been running through their mind were tainted by the rat they used to include in every little thing. Lily bit at her lip, hard, as she realized the same thing, and regretted her own actions now. She was just so worried about hearing the worst was going to happen, she wanted to hear Harry say the opposite so badly she hadn’t really thought her comment through. The silence was back though, and Harry decided to quickly keep reading now.

He looked about his surroundings and found he was now in the entrance Hall, and Hermione grabbed hold of his arm and dragged him into the nearest door. He tried to ask what was going on, and Hermione explained that they’d just traveled three hours back in time. Harry found his leg and pinched it.

James still couldn’t help a wobbly snicker, swallowing hard to force back any remainder of pain, his son had lived with magic in his life for three years now but this was hard to believe?

It hurt like it should, which meant he wasn’t still dreaming.

“We’ve seen some weird dreams from you Harry” Remus smiled lightly “but not even you could make this up.”

“Gee, thanks” Harry smirked back.

He tried to say something, but Hermione wasn’t listening as she had her ear to the door, saying she thought she could hear them heading out to Hagrid’s. Harry tried to ask how they could be outside going to Hagrid’s, and in this room at the same time.

“I hate time magic,” Sirius said at once, going cross eyed at the thought. His mind finally flipping from the act of doing this, to the act itself. Did that mean that Hermione had been in two places at once all year? When did she catch up with herself, or did she just merge back into one person when her hour was up, or was she living two parallel lives now where the her that had gone back an hour to one class was living a different life then the her living this life now, or “ouch” he moaned out loud, rubbing at his temple.

“My sentiments exactly,” James grumbled, his brow ruffling up in confusion as he tried to work that out.

“Let’s just ah, hope Hermione explains it a little better” Lily muttered, shaking her head vigorously to get rid of her own train of thought.

Hermione agreed that’s exactly what was happening as she heard the set of footsteps fade away. Harry asked what that hourglass thing had done to them, and Hermione explained it was called a Time-Turner, McGonagall had given it to her at the beginning of the year so she could attend all of her classes, but the teacher had made her swear not to tell anyone.

“The fact that she actually didn’t tell Ron and Harry is almost insulting” Remus rolled his eyes. They told her everything, usually whether they wanted to or not. Even if she flat out refused to use it for them for any reason, they still should have known she had something like that.

She’d had to work a lot of people at the ministry to convince them Hermione could have it, and she’d only ever turned it back an hour before now so she could get to all of her classes, but this didn’t explain what Dumbledore wanted them to do now.

“No, no, no” Sirius yelped, bouncing with each word and still looking cross eyed. “You definitely need to explain this mess better, how on earth does the in two places at once thing work?”

Lily was running her fingers through her hair in frustration as she tried “well, if she spun it back an hour to attend lessons, then continued on her normal schedule lining up with the boys, then it will be like she never left. Time would be on a permanent loop where she never really caught up with herself, because she’d always be an hour, behind herself” she finished, looking just as confused as when she’d started, not at all sure if she’d explained that in any kind of logical way. The idea of time travel gave her all kinds of confusion, not just because one of the end results was her adult son sitting beside her while the exact same boy at a few months old was upstairs.

The boys still looked like they had a headache from thinking about it, but they weren’t arguing the point either.

How was this going to help Sirius? Harry tried to reason out why this exact time, what they were doing three hours ago down at Hagrid’s, but Hermione corrected this was three hours ago and they were going down to Hagrid’s.

“Don’t correct him now” James scowled, rubbing at his eyes and nearly knocking his glasses off his face “I’m barely keeping up with one of you, don’t ask me to make it two.”

Harry frowned at her, feeling like he was using every inch of his brain to keep up.

“Glad I’m not the only one” Remus grumbled, his eyes unfocused as he tried to tie it all together and coming up with more questions about how this thing worked, what on earth kind of magic went into making this thing, and many more he knew he’d never get an answer to.

Harry tried to reason out what Dumbledore had said about more than one innocent life, then he realized it meant Buckbeak.

“Wait, what?” It’s not like they’d forgotten about Buckbeak exactly, but between everything else that had happened, he’d sort of just slipped to the back of their mind. Now the idea that Harry could go back and fix the injustice done to that animal was a great omen indeed of how this night could possibly go, and the hope was almost back. Harry sounded so excited, so assured this made perfect sense, he really hoped they were on the right track with this.

It made sense, they could save Buckbeak and use him to fly up to the correct room and rescue Sirius, then they could leave together.

Sirius gave a very happy giggle, going back to when Harry had first rode Buckbeak and how much he’d said he wanted to as well, now that was his ticket out of there, this was clearly as close to perfect as he was going to get and he’d take it.

Hermione looked terrified at the thought, pointing out how could they do all of that without being seen?

“Why can’t they see themselves again?” James demanded. “Hermione would know what was going on at once and explain it, then get, err, themselves to help.”

“James, think about that for a second, what was your first reaction to someone popping up and telling you your future” she said indicating her head slightly to Harry, who was blushing as he realized the same.

James deflated a bit and nodded his agreement, accepting that it would probably be more confusing and more harm than good by the time they tried to do any help.

Harry insisted it was the only way, then let himself out and they made their way down to Hagrid’s via the forest, trying to stay out of sight of Hagrid’s as Hermione reminded that their other selves would nearly be at Hagrid’s by now. Harry was still working on that sentence,

“Yeah” Sirius nodded in agreement, still looking a little spun around at this turn of events. He was grateful at the fortune Hermione had this to help him, but it was still blowing his mind such a thing even existed. He was a pureblood that had grown up with magic and time travel was still giving him pause to consider, he was actually starting to pity Harry.

as they reached the forest and Hermione warned Harry to keep out of sight.

“So she keeps saying” Remus grumbled, wondering how she’d stayed out of her own sight all year, did the rule apply to her, because clearly Lily’s theory wasn’t totally on track because Hermione hadn’t set her time back yet, so she was watching herself who hadn’t done it yet...wait what?

They made it to the back of Hagrid’s property and heard an invisible knock on the door, watching Hagrid open it and tell them they shouldn’t have come, but stepping aside to let them in.

“I’ll weep the day he does close the door in your face,” Sirius said quickly, a smug smile on his face.

“Padfoot” James moaned “I tolerate your stupid jokes the first time, don’t make me relive those as well.”

Sirius didn’t look very repentant, compared to how he’d felt the first time he’d heard this, well he wasn’t exactly better now but he was certainly more himself, and driving his friends crazy was one of the things to keep him going, keep his mind off of other things.

Harry then said that this was the weirdest thing they’d ever done in their life.

“Yeah, I’m with Harry on that one” Remus nodded.

Hermione didn’t seem very bothered by it as she said they should get closer to Buckbeak. Harry suggested they should just take him now, but Hermione reminded that the Committee had to see him first.

Lily balked at the time frame that was being set up, but Harry read before she could make the comment.

Harry protested that would give them less than a minute to sneak Buckbeak away.

“I can’t help but agree” Sirius frowned. “It’s too bad you couldn’t have brought your cloak back, ah Remus had it last right? So you left it out on the grounds when you went chasing after me, which means that probably Snape confiscated it or something.”

“That still wouldn’t help them much” James disagreed “there’s too much else involved. They’d need a distraction or something in between them seeing Buckbeak and them sneaking him away.”

“Well this should get interesting” Remus muttered.

There was a noise inside the cabin of something breaking, and Hermione reminded it was the dropped milk and how she was about to find Scabbers.

That left them all tensed and disgusted, unable to grasp any feelings they’d had at that name before except pure hatred. Harry refused to linger on it though, he wanted to find out Sirius was okay too badly.

Harry suggested they just run in now and grab Pettigrew,

“That wouldn’t work” Remus interrupted “you’d interfere with your own timeline, and you wouldn’t find out what you did. You need to let those things play out at least, or who knows what will happen to you.”

Harry sighed, thinking he still should have come up with some other solution then just letting that rat get away all over again, but he also knew deep down keeping Sirius alive was more important and he hoped he never lost sight of that.

Hermione shot back that she kept telling Harry they couldn’t be seen! Harry said it would only be themselves and Hagrid.

“Which still wouldn’t go over that well” Lily shook her head seriously, but she had a feeling Hermione was going to explain so she kept her mouth shut and listened curiously.

Hermione pointed out though that Harry needed to think about it, what would he think when he saw himself? Harry admitted he’d probably think he’d gone crazy, or something very Dark was going on.

“Both perfectly reasonable” Sirius said with a light smirk, both things having flashed across his mind days ago when he’d found Harry in the kitchen.

Hermione agreed that’s exactly why people shouldn’t mess with time, McGonagall had told her all sorts of horror stories about other wizards that did it and wound up accidentally killing themselves.

“Yeah, I can see that being a problem” Remus said with a slight frown, this didn’t make him any happier because he was still waiting to hear how Harry and Hermione did work out how to fix everything, including catching that rat after they were sure Sirius would be okay.

Harry though was thinking of something totally different, for the first time realizing that he was technically doing this now. He was messing with time magic by showing his family all of these things. Could he somehow possibly make his own future worse, was he going to somehow erase himself? It was giving him a splitting headache to work all of that out, and since he didn’t even have the answer of how he’d wound up here, he decided to save that for later.

Harry backed down and didn’t say anything else until they came out of the cabin, Harry and Hermione watching Ron, Harry, and Hermione exit the back of Hagrid’s place.

“I am, actually jealous of this” Sirius huffed, his earlier joke still standing. He couldn’t believe Hermione had just been using this for school work all year, the number of things you could be doing with something like this! He really wanted to know how new this invention was, clearly there was a prototype going on as this must be what his drunken memory couldn’t remember. How many time magic projects could the Department of Mysteries be working on?

“You would be” Lily scoffed, rather on Hermione’s side with all of this, people could do a lot more harm than good with this kind of thing, but since she could also see some practical applications, in the right hands that weren’t Sirius’ or any of the Marauders honestly, she didn’t want to encourage them.

The scene replayed of Hagrid comforting Buckbeak, then demanding the children leave despite their protests.

They all flashed back to remembering how they’d felt so low the first time hearing all of this, their fear of the wrongdoing to Buckbeak and how it still wasn’t right, but at least now they had the absolute knowledge Harry and Hermione did have something to do about it, they were going to save that hippogriff.

Harry watched the Hermione in the pumpkin patch throw the Invisibility Cloak over him and Ron.

“Because, you know, that’s a thing now” James said, shaking his head loosely to force himself to keep up, this time travel was still giving him a bit of a turn around.

Then the three left, and Harry and Hermione watched as the other people arrived. Fudge told Hagrid they had to step inside for a moment to read some official documents, and when they were all out of sight again Harry said he’d go and get Buckbeak.

“Why” Lily grumbled, not knocking anyone doing it so long as it was done, but still pointing out “Hermione at least would have been in less trouble if she’d been caught, you weren’t supposed to be on the grounds at all.”

Harry just shrugged, saying “Thought I could do it faster, he already knew me better, was kind of hoping he’d remember me.”

Harry darted over to Buckbeak and repeated the bowing to him, and only when it was returned did he go to fumbling at the rope tying him in place.

“It’s moments like that when magic really comes in handy” Sirius whispered to himself, having realized several times over Harry’s first instinct was to Muggle his way out of things, but a quick little charm to snip away the rope would have done that a lot faster.

Harry could still hear what was going on inside, Fudge reading out the official proclamation of Buckbeak’s death, just as he began trying to drag Buckbeak away, who clearly didn’t want to go anywhere.

“Oh not now” Remus moaned “of all the times for this animal to get stubborn!”

“Isn’t that how working with animals usually goes” James huffed, going fidgety with unease all over again, not even able to stand the idea of Harry getting caught and Sirius still falling to his fate, having to put every last drop he had left into the belief Harry would come through and fix this via Buckbeak. He was still forcing his voice to come out as normal as usual though, not wanting to freak anyone out as much as he was “they do exactly the opposite of what you want when you need them most.”

The others didn’t need him to spell it out, they were all grasping just as much that Sirius’ fate now laid in the hands of Buckbeak cooperating, so they didn’t say anything further.

Inside the Committee man’s voice asked if Hagrid would like to stay inside while they did this, but Hagrid protested he didn’t want his hippogriff to be alone.

Lily still couldn’t help a little “ooh” of sadness, even though she was twisting every last one of her fingers in hopes that wouldn’t happen, what Hagrid was doing for his pet was the kindest thing.

Harry pulled even harder on the rope, and Buckbeak began grudgingly walking, but not fast enough as footsteps began heading back outside. Dumbledore’s voice stopped them though, calling back for Macnair,

Sirius gave a slight sigh of relief, at least Dumbledore was still good for something.

and reminding him he needed to sign the document. Hermione darted out of the trees and began mouthing at Harry they had to hurry.

“It’s not Harry who’s not hurrying” James huffed.

Together the two kept pulling and Buckbeak finally went into a trot and they made the trees just as the doors began opening behind them.

“That was still pretty dangerous” Remus couldn’t help but mutter, shifting around uneasily “she could have gotten into his personal space without bowing, could have caused a lot more harm than good.

“Well thankfully Harry was good enough” Sirius grumbled back.

Harry looked back and saw they were now out of sight.

They all released a loud sigh of relief, never in their life having pictured the getaway of a hippogriff would mean so much to them.

They could still hear though, the jumble of voices both confused and outraged where the hippogriff could have gone, he’d just been here!

“Ha!” Sirius couldn’t help a petty little triumphant shout of joy, thinking that Buckbeak getting away was just one of the things they would be worrying about tonight.

They could hear Hagrid to, but now could tell he was crying with joy that his little Beaky had gotten away as the dull swish of the axe could be heard, the executioner had loped it into the fence in anger.

“Oh” Lily brightened “well thank goodness for that.” She wished Harry had spotted this earlier, she would have felt just that little bit better knowing Buckbeak had never really died in any timeline, but she supposed it wouldn’t have made her feel any better in the long run after what she had soon found out after the fact, so let it go.

Buckbeak tried to struggle and pull away from the two to get back to Hagrid,

“Naww” Lily cooed all over again, finding Hagrid’s pet’s loyalty to him speaking volumes for how the man really treated them, though his actions during this whole ordeal had said more than enough.

and the two kids had to struggle and put all their weight into restraining him.

“Yeah, might just be better to try and tie him off to another tree” James frowned, thinking that both kids put together wouldn’t even weigh as much as Buckbeak, let alone really restrain him.

Macnair was still in a temper, shouting about how someone had untied the beast,

“Why is that the first thing he thought of” Remus scoffed. “Him untying himself makes much more sense, he’s plenty intelligent enough to get out of his bindings I’m sure, normal horses certainly can. Plus, why would someone even steal him?”

“You are asking the wrong people” Sirius pointed out.

insisting that someone needed to search the grounds. Dumbledore pointed out though that if someone had taken Buckbeak, they wouldn’t be on foot, they’d have flown away.

“Glad someone thought of that” Sirius and James grumbled.

Dumbledore then asked Hagrid to come back inside so they could share a drink, which Hagrid was all too happy to do, and the others left as well. Harry asked what they were supposed to do now, and Hermione pointed out all they could do was hide and wait, still looking very shaken up.

“Delayed shock or fear of getting caught I guess” Harry muttered, thinking he probably hadn’t looked much better.

Harry suggested they head back so they could see what was going on at the Whomping Willow.

“Don’t actually want to watch that again” all three boys muttered, though thinking of three completely different things.

Hermione agreed, though cautioned Harry yet again to stay out of sight.

“Go ahead and mention that a couple more times Hermione, I don’t think he’s quite gotten the message” Lily rolled her eyes.

They moved to watch the whole scene play out again, Ron catching Scabbers after he’d run off, Ron yelling at Crookshanks to get off of him,

Sirius felt deeply torn, wanting to growl murderous threats for the next twelve years about that rat, yet lingering guilt still eating at him for having attacked Ron. His actions made perfect sense to him now of course, he’d clearly been desperate after the little rodent had escaped him all year, but he didn’t think taking Ron with him had really been the best move either.

then Sirius attacking first Harry, then grabbing Ron.

Nope, there it was, guilt won for now. He’d half wished Harry and Hermione wouldn’t get there in time to see this, because this was exactly what he’d been hoping Harry wouldn’t resee.

Harry winced in sympathy for themselves as he muttered how weird this looked to watch the tree attack them again.

“Yeah, I’m still with you on that one son” James muttered, going slightly cross eyed at the idea of literally watching yourself do something you’d just done that night.

Then Hermione pointed out Crookshanks froze up the tree for them as the tree went still,

“Thank you for the running commentary Hermione” Remus rolled his eyes, thinking they could have worked that out for themselves.

and Harry muttered that they went inside.

“Well Harry’s not being much better” Sirius gave a forced laugh.

Not moments later, the group from Hagrid’s, minus Hagrid, could be seen making their way back up to the castle.

“Jeez, that timing” James shook his head, very grateful it had happened exactly like that, if Harry and Hermione hadn’t followed Ron down in time things really could have turned out worse than they did, if that were possible.

Hermione muttered that she wished Dumbledore had gone down there with them,

“Ah, no” they all muttered with pure hatred at the idea, having no doubts he would have cursed Sirius as soon as anyone, he’d made that quite clear.

but Harry disagreed that this meant Fudge and Macnair would have as well, and they would have killed Sirius on sight.

“Yeah, and that” Remus shuddered, feeling guilty at once he’d thought that of Dumbledore, but unable to come up with a way to take it back, so for now wanting to blame it more on the minister.

They kept watching the spot, seeing Lupin come bursting out the doors, and Harry couldn’t help but glance up at the sky where the clouds blocked out the moon.

“The moon wouldn’t have peaked by then, he transforms at the set time, not necessarily because of the moon light” James corrected, since this was very clearly the last thing Remus wanted to talk about.

“Besides, Snape would never have brought him that potion so late, he’d bring it to him as early as he could” Lily reminded.

They watched Lupin vanish as well, and Harry voiced that he wished the man had grabbed his cloak,

“Guess I didn’t notice it” Remus muttered, thinking he’d had a million other things on his mind then noticing something like that in the shadows.

then voicing that he was going to dart out and grab it now before Snape got it. Hermione stopped him, reminding him he couldn’t be seen by anyone.

“He wouldn’t be seen, he’s going out there to get the cloak to be unseen” Sirius pointed out without any real hope.

Lily shook her head though, pointing out “it wouldn’t really change anything. He still would have barged in there, except instead of waiting until after hearing Remus’ story he just would have readjusted things slightly, I’m sure everything still would have happened exactly the same.”

“Still would save me the nightmares of him using my cloak” James shuddered.

Harry demanded how Hermione could do this, just watch it all happen again! He then did get up and made to go for his cloak, but Hermione stopped him again just in time,

“I still want to see Snape’s timing cursed into oblivion” Remus growled.

as Hagrid came into sight singing,

“Oh, well” Sirius struggled before still saying “if they hadn’t argued about it, Harry still would have made it in time to get under the cloak and Hagrid never would have seen him.”

“There really is no point to this” Lily sighed, waving Harry on.

heading towards the gates, an empty bottle in hand. Hermione pulled an ‘I told you so’ as she went back to restraining Buckbeak who was trying to get to Hagrid again.

This time they all gave a little aww, this time of sadness though. For the first time realizing, Buckbeak couldn’t go back to Hagrid. His life may have been saved, but he’d been taken away from his owner in the process, which was pretty sad as well. They realized Sirius would be taking him to get away, but what would he do with him then, set him free? Would he go back to Hagrid then? They really were thinking too hard about this, when each of them were far more concerned with hearing Sirius get out of this mess first, so no one really brought it up.

When Hagrid vanished, Buckbeak’s head dropped back to the ground.

Lily still couldn’t help one last coo, wanting to go pet the poor thing.

Then Snape did appear, pausing long enough to spot Harry’s cloak and snatching it up, much to Harry’s muttered disgust.

“My sentiments exactly” James scoffed with a crinkled nose.

He put it on then went into the roots as well, while Hermione sighed and sat down, saying they couldn’t do anything but wait now.

“Least we didn’t have to relive that bloody conversation” James sighed, rubbing absently at his still aching chest, thinking he could never think about the Shack again without the worst conversation of his life coming to the forefront.

She tied Buckbeak off and then asked Harry why hadn’t the dementors gotten Sirius when they had the chance?

“That’s still a very good question” Sirius said bracingly, looking for anything to get James mind off of that even for just a second.

James only pretended to look interested, still feeling lost, confused, betrayed and a thousand other things no matter how many times he accepted the fate of the rat.

She recounted what she remembered until she passed out, and Harry explained what he’d seen, right up until it had nearly Kissed him,

All five of them still gave a terrible shudder like they were trying to burst right out of their own skins, that was never going to get any easier hearing either.

when something bright had made all of those dementors leave. Hermione was impressed that a real and powerful Patronus must have done that, then asked who could have done it. Harry didn’t want to admit who he’d thought he’d seen, how could it be?

“Well come on” Remus prompted, wanting a real answer this time to keep his own mind on the here and now. “Who did you think it was?”

“Err” Harry muttered, his eyes flickering to his dad and away again he didn’t think anyone had noticed, but couldn’t come up with anything to say. He was being stupid of course, it couldn’t have really been his dad...right? Was it so crazy to believe though, when another dead man had come back to life this night? Was it so absurd to think his father could have as well? Was it right that Peter Pettigrew was the only one to have done so? Deep down though, in the recesses of his gut he felt nothing, no confirmation, no reassurances he was right...but then again he was still having mixed feelings about the last gut feeling he’d had about Sirius so should he even really still trust that? He’d hesitated too long, and still hadn’t answered, so with nothing to really say he still read much to everyone else’s disappointment. How bad could it be?

Hermione was persistent though, still asking who Harry thought he’d seen, and he finally admitted his dad.

Harry had said all of this in such a rush no one had a chance to interrupt, but once he finally blurted out that part he nearly spat out the end and then cringed like he expected to be yelled at for it, better that then the false hope trying to rear up in his heart, and the hollow echoes of everything else in him trying to warn him that wasn’t true.

James was actually the first to speak up though, having to get the words past a harsh lump in his throat he still managed “I’m, sorry Harry, I just don’t see how that’s possible. There’s no reason in the world I wouldn’t have been there for you long before this night.”

Harry winced, he’d known that to be true, but still he tried “we never found out why Remus stayed away, maybe-”

But James cut him off with a steely glint in his eyes “after what you heard from the dementors” he still gave a terrible flinch at the reminder “and even then, it’s not possible, there’s not a thing that would have stopped me coming to get you well before that night. I’m sorry son, you must have just been projecting.”

Harry sighed, he knew his dad was right, it just didn’t make him any happier to hear.

The others were all avoiding each other’s eyes or they were likely to burst into tears, and when Harry recognized he was only making things worse and he probably wasn’t going to be having any more a pleasant conversation with Hermione about this, he forced himself to keep going in despondent tones.

Hermione was watching him carefully as she reminded him his dad was dead.

“Thank you Hermione” Lily tried for a biting tone, but she came out more watery than she meant to, leaning in close to her son and keeping her eyes on her husband to make absolutely sure that wasn’t true right now.

Harry agreed at once, and when Hermione tried to ask if it’s possible he’d seen something else, Harry insisted the man had looked like the old photos Harry had.

That gave them a little bit of a pause, maybe the person had resembled James enough Harry’s eyes weren’t just seeing what they wanted, but some resemblance, but it still didn’t in any way answer the question who on earth it could be.

Hermione was still looking at him as though worried about his sanity.

Sirius let out a noise like he wanted to snort, but it came out too runny. He still managed a half hearted “gee thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Harry admitted he was well aware how it sounded, but he still trailed off into silence. His mind locked on his dad’s old three friends, Moony, Wormtail,

Lily and Harry at least tried to suppress their combined loathing and disgust at the mention of that name, but the boys couldn’t even be bothered to do that, thinking the little rat had never deserved the title of a Wormtail more than in these last few hours, and yet regretting every second they’d ever even known him, to give him such a nickname that meant so much to them... and if they didn’t keep listening to Harry they were going to go into a frenzy all over again.

and Padfoot, was it so unlikely Prongs had been here tonight as well?

Despite James words, it didn’t make him feel any better. He knew he was right, there wasn’t a force on earth that should have been able to stop him getting to his son those long thirteen years, and yet what he wouldn’t give for that to be him, for some reasonable explanation to crop up like he’d been sharing a cell with Sirius or something...anything really then this constant bleak reminder he really wasn’t there for his son.


Harry hated having to say that, feeling it came out as foul as the word Mudblood, and he was the one struggling to say it. He didn’t want to think how anybody was going to have to react later if that name ever came up again.

had come back after everyone thought he was dead, was it so impossible for James to have done the same?

James couldn’t help but sigh, beating furiously against a little spark of hope wanting to bloom in his chest. Hating himself if he was alive, wishing with everything he had he was, it was going to crack his heart in two soon. Sirius recognized this and leaned his weight against James, giving him a smile that plainly said ‘I know exactly the feeling,’ at least making James feel just the smallest bit better.

Had he really just been seeing things across the water, the person had been too far away to see properly.

Lily wasn’t the only one hoping now that somehow Harry would get himself into a position at the lake, properly see who all this fuss was about, bury the answer whatever it may be already, because this dragging out was going to drive her mad soon.

Yet for just one second he’d been so sure it was him.

Remus made an odd noise, like he was trying to blow his nose quietly, which everyone politely ignored.

Hours later and Hermione was the first to speak again, whispering that they were coming out. Harry looked over and saw them all coming out again,

“That’s not the same order as last time” James pointed out, actually pleased to think of something else again.

“I was just listing the lot of them that time, not saying what order they were in” Harry shrugged.

heading back to the castle, and then the clouds began to shift, making the moon appear.

Remus still let out a hate filled noise, like he wanted to chuck himself in the fire place all over again as this had been exactly what he hadn’t wanted to relive so soon, he knew he would be for the rest of his life anyways, but Sirius gave him a hard nudge and a stern look stating quite clearly he wasn’t going to listen to that this time anymore then the first, so Remus still had no choice but to let it go for now.

Hermione was watching Harry tense up, still cautioning him he couldn’t do anything, and Harry snapped back he couldn’t just let Pettigrew get away again!

James was grinding his teeth together so hard he was likely to be toothless here in a few minutes, but he couldn’t help it. He’d have that image burned into his brain for his lifetime, the little rat scampering away into the dark without a glance back over and over again, and this was exactly what he hadn’t wanted Harry to see all over again.

Hermione demanded how Harry was supposed to find him anyways?

“I can think of several options actually” Lily snarled, then winced and tried for a more normal tone, and though she failed she still kept going. “You could have gone up to Remus’ office and snatched the map, you’ve snuck around the castle enough it wouldn’t have been impossible, then grabbed him while waiting for Sirius to get put up.”

Harry just sat there gaping at his mother, as this hadn’t crossed his mind at all. He’d spent the hour to busy going over that moment in his mind, trying to place those pictures he had of his dad to his memory and convince himself it was real. Now he realized not only how wrong the idea was but he’d let up a perfect opportunity to catch the rat and put him away instead of Sirius going on the run!

“Sorry Lily, but I don’t honestly think Hermione would have let him get away with that” James said quickly, anything to get rid of that look now on Harry’s face. “She’d be too afraid of them getting caught, and without the cloak there really was a big risk of it. They were stuck where they were.”

Harry at least looked a bit relieved and not nearly as guilt ridden.

Lily clearly hadn’t meant to do it, she was just as frustrated as the rest of them and wanting to think of something to do rather than sit around and think about Sirius being Kissed all because of that traitor, but she’d wanted to take the words back as soon as they were out because of how Harry had instantly blamed himself for not thinking of that. Her son clearly had some issues with blaming himself for everything, something she really hoped he didn’t carry all his life, or at least someone talked him out of like they were trying to.

Reminding him they were here to help Sirius, nothing more. Harry was forced to watch as the moon covered them, and Lupin began to change.

Remus made a guttural noise, hating how casual Harry actually managed to make that sound, still blaming himself no matter what anyone else said that this was all his stupid fault, but keeping it to himself enough all he received were looks for it this time rather than another speech from one of his friends.

It was as Harry watched this that he yelped they had to move, now! Hermione tried to protest, but Harry reminded that the werewolf was going to dart off right towards them!

“It’s going to be fine” Harry quickly added on the second he’d finished that, watching Remus look likely to pass out again. “We’re both fine, I promise-” he winced and went to shaking nearly as badly as Remus, but both quickly forced themselves to settle down. Both coming to the realization getting past this was much more important then continued dwelling on it.

Hermione began helping Harry untie Buckbeak, whispering frantically where they could hide, and Harry suggested Hagrid’s place.

They all released heavy sighs, it wasn’t the best solution because Hagrid could be back at any time, unless he went down to Hogsmeade to continue getting drunk rather than the castle so they’d have a bit more time, but they’d still much rather Harry tried to get to the lake and see this mystery person rather than continue delaying.

They sprinted back there without a problem, slamming the door shut behind them.

Remus gave one last terrible flash of what could have been before forcing it away, thankful he’d never even come in sight, or hopefully if the worst had happened and he had come after Harry, Buckbeak would have been a better target. He’d hate to be the cause of Buckbeak’s death, even more so when he realized that it would make it all the more difficult for Sirius to escape, but then he realized he just kept creating what if scenarios and tried to shut his brain off.

Buckbeak at least seemed happy to be back, he walked right over to the fireplace and curled up at home.

“Least someone’s in a good mood” Sirius muttered.

Harry waited a few moments before voicing he was going to go out again, keep an eye on things under Hermione’s suspicious glare.

“Can’t rightly blame her at some point” James said happily, perking up as he wondered if Harry was thinking what he was.

He promised he wasn’t going to do anything, but he had to keep watch for when Sirius was put up. Hermione agreed, but cautioned him that now there was a werewolf and dementors roaming around, and begged him to be careful.

“Thanks for the reminder” Lily muttered, still wanting to clutch up her son and never let him go for all the trouble he seemed to get himself into.

Harry agreed and went back out, taking the long way around back to the lake, promising himself he didn’t want to do anything, just watch who had saved him.

“Yes!” They all yelped, more than happy to hear this. James was right of course, there was no way it was him...but at least they got to hear whoever it was.

He began running full force, his mind only on his dad, he had to know it was him he’d seen.

James still looked like he wanted to burst into tears any given second, what he would give to actually be there for both his son and brother in that moment of need, but unable to explain away just what couldn’t be possible.

He found a bush on the edge of the water and hid inside of it, with the perfect vantage point.

Funnily enough this wasn’t making them feel better, as they now knew exactly where on the lake all of this was happening. There weren’t to many bushes so near the water’s edge, which meant the next time they went up to visit the school they could never look at this spot again and would instead feel yet another flood of memories that would drown them all.

Harry watched as the dementors began encircling him, Sirius, and Hermione, muttering under his breath for his dad to hurry up and get here.

James couldn’t repress a high pitched, keening noise, throat tight as he desperately wanted to go for his wand, to do just once what Harry needed of him. Sirius wriggled as close as he could and put an arm around him, silently promising him it would be okay, Harry was safe now. It didn’t erase the want, but it did make it bearable.

Nothing was happening, the dementors broke past Harry’s attempts and began lowering its hood, and no one had arrived, no one would.

They all went terribly stiff, wondering if possibly Harry and Hermione had accidentally somehow changed something, what would happen if that happened in Harry’s past? Would he cease to exist in the Time Turner’s present? Time travel was making this a whomping headache, and Harry reading now was the only thing keeping them in their skin.

Then Harry realized he hadn’t seen his father, but himself.

“Wha-” someone tried to interrupt, but Harry went from confused and, though he wouldn’t admit it, disappointed to bright eyed understanding as he kept going. Now that he fully understood what had happened, he just knew something spectacular was fixing to happen, something that meant the world to him.

Harry jumped free of the leaves, and shouted the spell Expecto Patronum with everything he had, and a bright silver animal burst forth.

‘He did it’ they realized, feeling the combination of shock at such a powerful shot of magic at his age couple with the still lingering smack in the face that he’d been the one to chase all of those dementors away, plus it wasn’t James at all but a very near look alike! All of that left them with failed voices while Harry quickly read.

He watched it gallop across the water and encircle the other three until the dementors had vanished, then it came back to him, its hooves leaving no imprints on the sand. It only paused for a moment, but Harry was able to look upon a stag.

Something finally stirred James out of his shock, as he struggled to get out “you, did see me?”

“I saw the next best thing” Harry breathed, watching his dad closely like he feared at any second he was going to disappear in a mist of silver as well, for the first time really putting that goofy nickname with the proud animal, comparing the ghost of his father’s animal to the man he saw now and knowing he could finally treasure the image in a way he never thought possible. He’d been so desperate to find some part of himself in James, and now he had the best thing of all.

James still looked likely to pass out or burst into tears any moment, he’d never felt such a combination of things in his life. Pride, his son had actually produced such a powerful spell to drive away so many dementors, shock and glee it was his own animal he treasured so much. It was like he truly had been there for his son right when he really needed him.

He finally managed to whisper ‘Prongs.’

Sirius cracked. He had to stuff his fist in his mouth to stop himself ruining the moment the two were clearly having, but he couldn’t help it. He caught Lily’s eye and managed to get out “you know this means you can’t call him Hare Bear anymore. He’s not a rabbit, or a bear, or whatever the bloody hell that was supposed to mean. He really would turn into Prongs Junior.”

“Why do we keep you around again” Remus demanded, watching all three of them give him annoyed looks, but Sirius either didn’t notice, or didn’t care, he was still too busy laughing.

“I’ll call my son whatever I want to” Lily shot back “now shut it Sirius or I’m going to wish they’d left you in the stinking cell.”

Sirius didn’t look very repentant, if anything he just kept smiling wider he was just so pleased at finally getting some form of good mood into him, and keeping it.

He reached out as if to touch it, but then the image faded away, and Harry heard more hooves behind him,

That gave them all a quick start, what else could happen tonight!

it was Hermione dragging Buckbeak along, demanding to know what Harry was doing! Harry quickly began to explain,

“Okay wait, back up,” Remus demanded, making a remind motion with his hand. “Are you telling me that everything you just did, you already did?”

“And am going to do” Harry added on, going cross-eyed at the thought.

“I guess that kind of makes sense,” James muttered, scrunching up his brows. “It goes along with what Lily said about time being on a permanent loop, kind of.”

“It’s still giving me a headache to think about,” Sirius grumbled still trying to work out in his head how Hermione had been pulling this off all year.

and when he was done he watched Hermione’s mouth fall open. Her first question was if anyone had seen him,

“She’s not been nearly as quick on the draw as usual tonight” Remus pointed out, still rubbing at his temple as he tried to work out this mess in his head.

“Leave her alone” Lily sighed, just wanting this night to be done with.

and Harry pointed out yes, he’d seen himself, that’s what he’d just told her! Hermione was still shocked, pointing out how advanced that was.

“I haven’t even gotten over my shock of that happening” Sirius agreed, nodding along vigorously.

“No wonder you were so adamant about your ability to pull it off” Remus laughed.

Harry agreed he knew he could do it, because he’d already done it, didn’t that make sense?

“Nope” all five of them muttered together. Sure it made sense in context, but the actual act of doing it, being able to pull off the feet, because he’d already done it, was still giving them mind spins.

Hermione got distracted by Snape.

“What did he do now” James groaned.

Harry looked back around and saw the potions teacher arriving with a stretcher supported by his wand, and he quickly conjured three more for them.

“When did he get his wand back?” Sirius asked. “I must have still had it on me, otherwise he wouldn’t have stayed suspended when I transformed.”

“You must have dropped it” James shrugged “and it took a few moments for the spell to wear off.”

They watched all of them vanish, and then waited a few moments longer wondering how long it would take for Sirius to wind up in his designated room.

“I doubt they gave me a tour of the castle in the meantime” Sirius muttered, as anxious as anyone to hear himself go, well not free, but at least free of that place.

Then Harry saw a glint of something silver, and recognized it as Macnair’s axe on his belt as he ran for the dementor guards.

“Does he carry that thing around with him everywhere?” Lily asked in disgust.

They knew Sirius must be up there now, so Harry and Hermione mounted Buckbeak.

“Least you’ve had practice with this once already” James sighed.

Harry kicked the hippogriff into flying mode, and they took off with Hermione squeaking in displeasure that she did not like this.

“Why did Hermione have to come at all now” Remus couldn’t help but worry, not exactly wanting to leave her alone near the forest either, but worrying about how many people Buckbeak could hold. “Normal horses are only expected to carry two maximum, there couldn’t be that much room up there.”

“It was better than losing time backtracking for her later, we were on a deadline” Harry shrugged.

Harry was still gaining air, going up to the proper tower and counting windows, before coming to a hovering stop in midair.

“I am really curious who trained Buckbeak” Sirius couldn’t help but say with admiration. “I guess I can see Hagrid doing this in his spare time, but still, I can’t imagine Hagrid could ride him very well, it would have had to be all ground training.”

“Perhaps some of the seventh years might have done it as a pet project” Remus offered with a shrug, Kettleburn had always been big on encouraging his students to do hands on work with their favorite beasts.

Harry peeked inside and saw Black, and gave a quick smack on the window to get his attention. It worked, and his jaw dropped.

Harry couldn’t help a quiet giggle, letting it form into full blown laughter after a moment. He hadn’t been able to indulge in it then, but the utter relief he felt, the assured feeling that Sirius was going to survive this night was finally being lifted, and the shock crossing his features then had been comical, he couldn’t even remember if he’d ever told Sirius the whole story of how he’d pulled this off.

He leapt from his chair,

“Genuinely surprised he wasn’t restrained” Lily admitted. Even without his wand, she found it surprising he’d been free to walk the room. Had Dumbledore possibly done this for him, after he’d been convinced?

and tried to open the window, but it was locked shut. Hermione quickly fixed that, and the first thing he tried to do was ask what was going on.

“Boy that’s going to be a fun retelling” Sirius laughed right along with Harry’s good mood now.

They weren’t going to spend the time explaining, telling him to get on and to hurry, which he quickly did.

“You always did know it was better to ask questions later and roll with it for now” James nodded.

They went up to the nearest tower, and Harry and Hermione quickly dismounted, telling Sirius to get a move on before he was found gone. Buckbeak was twisting around, ready to take flight again.

“Think I should just consider myself lucky he’s not trying to throw me off and attack me” Sirius muttered, thinking it must be the same thing as it was for Hermione, Harry’s presence was enough of an assurance for the hippogriff.

Sirius asked what had happened to Ron?

“I knew you cared” Harry chuckled, watching the shame reappear on his face now at that reminder, but having already been reassured it wasn’t permanent he tried to let that one go, hopefully Ron wouldn’t hold a grudge.

Harry promised he was going to be fine, now Sirius had to get out of here. Black still wasn’t moving though, watching Harry.

“Though he never was good at following orders” Remus muttered, shifting his weight around, as anxious as anyone to hear Sirius gone, and staunchly ignoring himself being left behind, and what could happen because of that. He deserved whatever became of it, he’d happily take the fall for Sirius, it was his fault that Sirius’ name hadn’t been cleared this night.

He began to say he could never thank them enough, but both kids cut him off with a yelled go!

“For once Sirius, listen to someone else’s advice” Lily groaned, receiving an eye roll for her troubles. She couldn’t help it though, she almost felt like a fool as she remembered back before all this mayhem had really kicked into gear, back in the Shrieking Shack when Harry had reassured that no one died tonight. She should have remembered that of course that would extend to Sirius, Harry must have just been overreacting to the situation of hearing Sirius about to die, it couldn’t possibly be a memory trying to return. Surely her son was just being as emotional as all of them at the thought.

He did turn Buckbeak towards the open sky, but his final words to Harry were that he was truly his father’s son.

Harry blinked a few times before blushing deeply, now realizing that Sirius saying this could be given no higher praise. Sirius was still smiling at him, thinking he’d never said truer words as he eyed the man now who so resembled his brother in every way that mattered.

Then he kicked Buckbeak, who took flight again, and as they watched, he was gone.

Harry finally released a heavy sigh of relief, closing the book and announcing “chapter was over, think there should only be one left.”

Sirius looked so worn he didn’t look like he wanted to hear anymore. He still hadn’t absorbed everything that had happened since that stupid prediction. It now made sense, he’d finally gotten his answers, and he hated every single one of them. He’d never wished so much in his life for something to not be true, to learn that even now he’d had to rely on Harry to get out of trouble rather than the other way around. He felt so useless and like he’d failed the lot of them for still having suggested the ruse in the first place that had set them all on this path.

He was given a jolting distraction though, by Lily taking to her feet, marching over to Sirius, and pulling him into a bone crushing hug as she murmured “thank Merlin you’re safe.”

He returned the hug indulgently, giving her a comforting squeeze as he promised “I’m going to remember this the next time you’re yelling at me.”

She predictably leaned back and smacked him for that, but there was absolutely no force to the blow.

Sirius really did want to change the subject now though before anyone else could start trying to hug him, and was saved by Harry.

“Can I see it” he demanded eagerly. Harry couldn’t help the tone though, he was still blasted from shock. He’d been searching for something other than physical possessions that would concrete his proof that the man across from him was his father, looking for any kind of real connection, and he found it in his Patronus! Of all the animals in the world, he had the fortune to get the same one as his own dad!

James didn’t even need to ask what he meant, as he got up and backed several paces away, and before Harry’s eyes he began to change. It wasn’t like watching Remus change, which had seemed horrifying and painful. James made it look smooth, as natural as breathing as his face elongated, his clothes began to vanish, and with a small pop he was down on all fours and still managing to meet Harry’s eyes.

The stag was majestic, there really weren’t too many other ways to say it. Even standing there in the middle of a dull living room, his dark black melanistic fur gleamed, though didn’t quite cover everything as he also had some white tracing from the tip of his nose and circling back in a mockery of the glasses covering his face. Even the dark gleaming black eyes held familiar hints of hazel. The three tips sprouting out prominently from each prong had little bits of fuzz on them, giving him an almost cute look despite the danger Harry was well aware that they could possibly run him through.

Harry took a hesitant step forward, like he wanted to reach out and pet the fur much like he’d done all those years ago except now to the real thing, but he didn’t get the chance as a bark caught him off guard and something even darker smacked into his knees.

Not to be outdone, Sirius had transformed along with James, but had instead chosen to pounce on Harry in a fit of playful enthusiasm so that Harry could really see what they got up to in these moments.

Harry took a few startled steps back before laughing at what he was seeing. It was the first time he’d seen the pooch in proper lighting, and he recognized he hadn’t been exaggerating the size at all, Sirius was quite a huge beast in bulk, but the pink tongue lolling out the side of his mouth and the swishing tail gave every indication he may as well be looking at a puppy and not a bear. Padfoot looked far younger and healthier than Harry had memories of, properly weighted with gleaming fur as healthy as his real hair and the calm gray eyes Harry had grown quite accustomed to looking at.

Not to be outdone, Prongs wasn’t letting him have all the fun as he nudged him in agitation, which Padfoot easily dodged and ducked down like he was asking to play.

“Not in the living room” Lily scolded, walking past the pair to head for the stairs. “We don’t need any more broken furniture-”

“You broke the last one” Remus protested for his friends, which Lily ignored as she vanished.

The two animals gave a very obvious ‘pout’ persona before with a small pop they turned back into men.

“That was so cool” Harry practically squealed, feeling like a little kid as he ogled the two.

James and Sirius exchanged very superior smirks, more than pleased that they had impressed the boy like this, and for the first time in his life James understood the feeling of how being praised by his son could feel.

In case I didn’t say it enough in this chapter, I hate time travel. I have hated every time travel plot I’ve ever come across, and before you can say it, yes. Ever. Single. One. Even my most beloved Harry Potter book. I can’t help it, my overanalyze everything brain just comes up with too many questions that never get answered, and I just end in headache. This was my least favorite chapter of the whole entire series, even if the end results was Sirius getting away, and I’m sorry if that came across as lackluster as I felt this chapter’s reveal was. I want it to be better, I was just having major struggling issues, and I am sorry for that, but I don’t know how to fix it either because every time I tried I got caught up in more mind bending questions.

Yes I do acknowledge this is technically a time travel plot line, but the one thing I will grasp on is when these kinds of things happen and changes occur. There will be an AU after this, consequences to Harry messing with the past. What Harry and Hermione did blows my brains because of the permanent loop part, where it never ended and it’s still going and there’s a Harry and Hermione who are just now starting to go back just as they arrive and gah!

Hope you guys enjoyed the last part at least. Deer’s aren’t naturally black by the way, which is why James is melanistic, which means an unnaturally black animal, like the opposite of albino. I love fan art, and while I greatly admire the way other people do him as a natural deer, the other animagus’ we’ve seen seem to have their animals naturally resembling their human coloring. For example McGonagall’s tabby cat, tabby only means black stripes on a cat, like McGonagall’s black hair going gray.

Also, please don’t think I’m a total Dumbledore hater, I respect a lot of the hard decisions he had to make for the good of everyone, it’s just easier to hate the face then a lot of the nameless faceless people who also had to have interacted with the Ministry and Dumbledore to make a lot of these things happen.

*I really don’t have a lot of defense for what Sirius did, as it’s clear he knew full well what he was telling Snape to go do, but I don’t really think it should be counted as a full blown attempt at murder either, because it’s not like he forced Snape to go. He taunted him, like telling someone to jump off a building to quite bothering you. You shouldn’t do it, but people are stupid and Sirius shouldn’t have his whole life ruined because of it. Since we never get the full story, from what I can gather Sirius told Snape if you poke the Whomping Willow you’ll see what we get up to, and Snape did, but James found out and stopped Snape who still saw Remus transforming.

**I’ve shown several times that I dislike what Dumbledore’s done, but this one thing really broke my heart. For the reasons I’ve stated it’s clear Sirius couldn’t absolutely prove he didn’t do it, but his evidence should have shown some doubt that he hadn’t! Of course we all know Sirius wasn’t even given a trial to prove otherwise, but the fact that Dumbledore hadn’t seemed to care one little bit just really confuses and bothers me about him.

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