Harry Potter and the ? (Prisoner of Azkaban)

Grim Defeat

“Okay” James said, drawing the word far out past its normal syllable count as he glanced carefully between the book and his best friend. “At least now we know Sirius really is at Hogwarts” he finished with a mutter.

“Er, Sirius” Remus said cautiously when the silence just kept dragging on and they just kept staring at him like he would have a completely normal explanation for this. “No offense mate, but I’m honestly wondering if you hadn’t really lost your mind on that one.”

Sirius was mouthing wordlessly, his eyes so round his friends were wondering if they weren’t just going to completely fall out of his head.

“Don’t suppose it just has something to do with his low impulse control?” Lily offered weakly. “He finally made his way there and was just that eager to see Harry?”

“With a knife?” Harry reminded. Harry couldn’t help but shift his weight around uncomfortably as he continued eyeing Sirius. Remus might have meant it as a joke, but Harry really was starting to have this feeling like there was some darker, unknown reason Sirius was trying to get into Gryffindor tower... but what? It had to be because of him, what other motive would he have for going in there? But something just didn’t feel right, and as always his mind was unhelpful as ever in giving him a reason why.

The others were trying, their minds spinning in every direction possible for this to seem logical, for any kind of motive that didn’t make their skin crawl, but they were all coming up with a blank on this one. At least four of them were, Sirius looked like he’d completely shut down and wasn’t going to be processing anything anytime soon.

James got uneasily to his feet and walked over to pick up the book, checking his chapter before walking back over and smacking Sirius with it.

“Ouch” Sirius yelped in shock, rubbing at the spot on his arm, and coming out of whatever trance he’d clearly been in. “What was that for?”

“Felt like someone should for that stupid stunt” James said with an air of carelessness, while he was still keeping a very protective eye on his friend, “got any ideas why you did?”

Sirius shook his head miserably from side to side, sighing deeply before saying “I don’t know, maybe Lily’s got something in saying I was just really impatient to see Harry, and I had the knife for protection? I’ve obviously not got my wand anymore.”

“See, I don’t know about that” Remus argued back with a frown in place. “It would have been much easier to set up something with me, then we could both talk to Harry at the same time. Even you’re not so mad as to think this was a good idea Padfoot.”

“Maybe now I’m not” Sirius grumbled, eyeing the ceiling carefully and not looking at anyone.

James and Remus exchanged heartbroken looks, while to be perfectly honest Lily couldn’t really come up with a way to argue that point.

Then James grit his teeth in frustration, and made to swing at Sirius again. This time he was paying attention enough to duck, then glared daggers at his best friend. “Why do you keep trying to hit me?”

“Because you’re being an idiot” James snapped, and Sirius felt like leaning back at the fiery glare he was now receiving. “I don’t want anyone to ever say that again, least of all you. I’m positive you must have a reason for this, and you will get your chance to talk to Harry by the end of the year and explain it.” With that he turned to his chapter and began reading; not leaving any room for argument. Remus looked happy that the subject was being changed, agreeing with James all the way, but Harry and Lily exchanged uneasy looks.

Lily couldn’t help but wonder if her husband wasn’t in denial about this matter. Something wasn’t adding up with this, and though neither of them had an idea of what, they were both thinking it might have a little more to do with something other than Harry. Lily just couldn’t help but think that, unless Azkaban really had driven Sirius mad, what other explanation could it be?

Dumbledore personally escorted the whole of the house back down to the Great Hall, and moments later the other houses arrived as well in a swell of confusion. Dumbledore instructed all of them that it was safer to be kept in here for the night,

“Interesting little slumber party” Remus muttered, still keeping a worried eye on Sirius. James words hadn’t seemed to be much comfort to him, and he was still rubbing absentmindedly on where he had now been whacked twice, and looked as if he was only half paying attention.

and to remain as quiet as possible, while the Head Boy and Girl were in charge. Percy couldn’t help but swell with power as he glanced around the room at that news.

“Course he was” Harry rolled his eyes, now continuously throwing worried glances over at Sirius, they had all noticed he didn’t seem to have as much confidence as James did.

Then Dumbledore summoned enough sleeping bags for all of them,

“Glad he remembers the little things” Lily chuckled without any real humor.

“Where did they all come from” Harry yelped in shock, his mind boggling at the idea of summoning so many things at once.

“I’m fairly confident they keep a private store of those somewhere in the castle” Remus explained “for emergencies like this.”

Harry still found this a pretty big feat, but didn’t say anymore.

and left. Percy jumped in at once, telling them all to get to sleep, he was turning the lights out in a minute.

“He is such a killjoy” James smirked, trying his very best to put a sense of normalcy back into his tone that no one actually bought.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione grabbed up their own bags and pulled them into a corner so they could talk in peace, while Hermione asked if Black was still in the castle.

“Absolutely not” Remus said at once, punctuating that with a roll of his eyes to show how ridiculous he thought that was.

Ron pointed out Dumbledore thought so, and Hermione whispered it was good fortune he’d picked tonight to pull that stunt,

James suddenly brightened all the more, a real smile coming across his face as he began laughing.

“I don’t see why that’s funny” Lily scowled at him, wondering if James wasn’t joining Sirius in a spot of madness now.

“I was just thinking that Hermione might be wrong on that one” James disagreed “and that Sirius was trying to get a bit of irony owed to him on this particular night. All that rubbish-” no one needed to ask why he couldn’t actually say the words ‘we died’ and had instead deflected to that “on Halloween, so Sirius wanted to make an impression.”

Lily’s eyes might have brightened with understanding, but she didn’t look any more convinced.

Remus was shaking his head from side to side, not looking any more convinced but a little more indulgent as he replied “think that’s giving him a little too much credit mate. Can’t imagine Sirius thinking in that kind of poeticness.”

“Hello, I am sitting right here” Sirius sniffed, allowing a genuine smile to appear as he was easily able to focus on this simple thing, his friends picking on him. The others were relieved to see him get some sense of normalcy back about him, which made James feel all the worse when he realized no one was going to comment further and he had to simply turn right back to this.

the holiday where everyone was out of Gryffindor common room.

“Perfect time to try and sneak in and wait out for Harry to be alone” Remus reminded Sirius quietly. Sure that plan had some major holes, like he obviously hadn’t snooped out and found the password for one; but Sirius could turn into a dog and hide under the bed for just this opportunity. No it wasn’t ideal, it would make more sense for him and Sirius to work out something far better...but perhaps Sirius had grown impatient and gone ahead without him? It wouldn’t be the first time Sirius had disregarded his advice on something because he was so impatient, though he would have liked to think on something like this he could have gotten through his friends thick skull... Remus sighed when he realized he just kept creating more questions rather than a solution.

Ron pointed out the man was on the run, he probably wasn’t keeping track of the days of the week, otherwise he’d have just come right into the hall.

Sirius grumbled something about he still didn’t think he was that deranged, but quietly enough he didn’t think either of his friends really understood what he meant.

Then Hermione whispered, how did he get in?

“That’s something I am still genuinely curious about” Lily said briskly, trying to keep her suspicions about Sirius mind state out of her voice. She wasn’t sure how good a job she did, since James kind of gave her a dirty look anyways, but Sirius distracted them by saying “I’ve still got no idea. I really have been thinking about that, and all I can come up with is that I must learn something new within the next year.”

“That isn’t public knowledge, and that Dumbledore doesn’t know and has proofed against, and the rest of the wizarding world hasn’t figured out?” Remus asked in disbelief.

They were all genuinely puzzled, only one thing coming to mind in that Sirius was an animagus. That qualified under all of those questions, but what did that have to do with getting past dementors? Sirius did know all of the secret entrances in and out of the school, so if he did waltz right past the guards as a dog and use one of those, was it doable? That didn’t answer one of their original questions, of why he hadn’t simply done this moments after he’d been taken to Azkaban, why wait all this time? Of course, as far as any of them knew, this hadn’t ever been studied; did dementors have an effect on animals? Was it the same basic principle as werewolf bites didn’t affect an animal, just humans?

Harry was nearly bouncing in his seat when James voiced all of this, which meant they must be on the right track, he didn’t normally show this much excitement when they weren’t. By the time they had circled through every bit of possibilities on this subject, they were all practically beaming at having figured out something even this minor. It certainly made them all feel better than the other tons of questions they had about the situation that just kept getting worse.

Others all around the hall were asking this very question, one Ravenclaw kid suggestion he might know how to apparate onto the grounds.

“Of course I do, most any adult wizard does” Sirius rolled his eyes. Even finding out something as minor as how he had gotten himself past the dementors finally seemed to have lifted Sirius’ mood tenfold, bringing back his more boisterous and rather pompous nature.

He looked to be in such a good mood again, no one bothered to point out to him he most likely didn’t have a wand, and the obvious part where he can’t apparate inside the actual school; since Sirius most likely knew both of these anyways and was just answering the rhetorical question.

A Hufflepuff postured that Black had disguised himself.

“Actually not that far off” James smirked, now feeling like rubbing it in Lily’s face that they most likely hadn’t registered and this was how Sirius was getting around. After all, if they had, then surely they would have put out an alert on Sirius’ dog form as well as his human picture.

Lily properly acknowledged his smug tone by sticking her tongue at him, having come to much the same conclusions.

While Dean offered that he could have flown in.

“And we’ve already explained why that wouldn’t work” Remus shrugged “not only that, but dementors could sense him even if I did invite him on the premises, so that wouldn’t work all the more.”

Hermione scoffed at all of these, asking if she was the only one to have read Hogwarts, A History?

“Only one who’s memorized it” James smirked.

Ron told her she was, and Hermione explained why each of those wouldn’t work, and she’d love to see the disguise that fooled dementors.

“Well I very much hope it impresses you” Sirius smirked.

Reminding them they were at every entrance, and Filch knew all of the secret passages into the school.

“I doubt he actually knows all of them” James scoffed “otherwise they’d be boarded up and blocked off from all students.”

Lily couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps they were. Harry certainly hadn’t found any out of the school, but perhaps her son wasn’t the best way to argue that point. The one thing she could say for her son was that he really didn’t go out of his way to find trouble like that, unlike his father on that one.

Then Percy called that it was time they all get to bed, not to talk anymore.

“Please” Remus scoffed “as if anyone could sleep with this kind of news going around.” If he didn’t think it would inflate his friends ego another few degrees, he might have even pointed out just how much of an accomplishment this really was, sneaking into Hogwarts in this manner. Side effects and actual reasons for him doing this aside.

The lights did go out, and then the most dominant noise was the ghosts flitting in having serious conversations with the prefects.

“Not as Siriusly as I could have” Sirius said quickly, taking the absent minded nudge he received from James with a happy grin this time. He was going to soak in this pleasurable mood for as long as he could, knowing by now he shouldn’t count on it to last long this time.

Between that and the ceiling above that mimicked the stars outside, Harry found himself wondering if this was what camping was like.

“That sounds like fun honestly” Lily grinned “I think we really should go camping some time.”

“I’ll keep that in mind” James acknowledged.

Teachers periodically poked their head in to check on them, and by the time most of the students had nodded off, Dumbledore himself came.

Despite the confidence James had that Sirius really wouldn’t have stuck around and gotten back out of there, he also couldn’t help the slight relief he felt at the headmaster’s reappearance. Surely if Sirius had been caught, Dumbledore wouldn’t have come back, but would be tied up for hours dealing with the ministry and what have you because of it.

Harry feigned sleep as the headmaster approached Percy, who was nearby telling off some kids for talking.

“I think he just needs to keep his girlfriend at his hip, see that ‘lighter side of him’ we still haven’t seen” Remus muttered into Sirius’ ear, making Sirius begin snickering again.

Ron and Hermione quickly pretended to be nodding off as well when Dumbledore approached.

“Convenient” Lily rolled her eyes, though to be honest this time she really thought that might have just been a lucky break. Of all the students scattered in the great hall, there was no way they could have possibly noticed those three in particular when they were talking. Even then, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities that Percy would be cycling near his brother.

Percy asked if Black had been caught, and Dumbledore said no.

This time the other four couldn’t help but joining James in the relief at this confirmation Sirius really hadn’t been recaptured.

Then he said he’d found another painting to be put in front of the Gryffindor tower.

Sirius grimaced and pushed his hand through his hair in frustration, truly bothered he had clearly hurt the Fat Lady’s painting so much it couldn’t just be mended quickly, but James distracted him easily enough by asking “Wonder who they got to do the job?”

There were several memorable portraits some of them suggested, Harry’s favorite being Remus who offered they might have even used one of the old Headmaster’s ones from Dumbledore’s office, but then James really did have to keep reading to get his answer.

Percy asked about the Fat Lady, and Dumbledore explained she was hiding out, still afraid because she’d denied Black entrance when he didn’t know the password and he’d lashed out.

Sirius couldn’t help but bite at his lip, torn between anger at himself for this act, and confusion as to why he seemed so desperate to get in as really; seeing Harry shouldn’t have caused this much of a forceful reaction. Yes, he’d be going crazy wanting to see his Godson, but then he grimaced at his mind’s choice of words as he was once again very forcefully questioning himself if he truly had gone...well crazy.

Remus and James weren’t having it, refusing to let him dwell on this, so Remus offered him back the baby who Sirius took happily, and James made the comment “I think she owes you a thanks to be honest. How often does she get to travel the castle like this?”

Harry released a surprised snort of laughter at that, only Lily still look perturbed as her thoughts had been paralleling Sirius’ and she didn’t seem able to shake it off quite as easily. While no she didn’t really think he’d do Harry harm, it still was distressing to even consider what had become of Sirius, and not thinking about it wasn’t going to make it any easier if she happened to be right. Then she sighed as she focused back in on James, also recognizing dwelling on it wasn’t going to make the problem better either.

Then more footsteps announced the arrival of Snape.

“Oh great, just bloody perfect, I really wanted him to come around and get his opinion on the matter. Would have kept me dwelling all day if we didn’t hear his stupid-” Sirius cut himself off by blowing a loud raspberry in baby Harry’s face, causing great peals of laughter from all of them at that sudden random act.

Dumbledore asked for his report, and Snape said that the whole of the castle had been searched with no trace, and Dumbledore agreed he hadn’t really expected Black to stick around.

“See, even Dumbledore still has that kind of faith in you” James smirked.

Then Snape asked if Dumbledore had an idea how Black got in, and Dumbledore admitted he had several, though none of them fit.

“Would honestly kind of like to hear that” Remus chuckled.

Sirius didn’t seem to find that quit so funny, having come to the sudden realization that even Dumbledore probably thought he’d committed that terrible crime, and finding it quite depressing his old headmaster thought that of him. McGonagall would as well, Merlin anyone he once knew would think the worst of him now... except Remus of course. He sighed, refusing to allow his mind to linger on this depressing realization, taking a comfort in that one small fact his friend still would have stood by him, no matter how little influence he could have offered because of his status.

Harry cracked an eye open to see Snape, his profile making it clear how angry he was.

“He would be upset you obviously got the better of everyone in that castle” James cackled.

Snape then tried to remind Dumbledore of a warning he’d given before, now trying to put himself between Percy and Dumbledore, clearly trying to butt him out of the conversation.

“Well then you should have had this out of earshot, like oh I don’t know, in one of your offices” Lily rolled her eyes.

Dumbledore agreed with a sharp tone, a clear warning not to keep going.

“Hope he does, as I’d really like to hear this” Sirius said honestly, taking any pleasure in this old bat getting told off.

Snape didn’t take that warning, continuing that Black may have gotten help from the school, Snape hadn’t been very pleased with the newest appointment,

“I see what he’s on about” James rolled his eyes.

“While he’s most likely not wrong-” Remus shrugged, but Sirius finished for him “like I need anyone’s help.”

Dumbledore cut him off that he did not think for one second a teacher would help Black.

“Huh” the others muttered, Dumbledore phrasing it this way actually managed to spring a few questions to mind. Was Dumbledore implying he didn’t think Remus would help him, in which case Remus would have had to lie and fool the headmaster about this; or did Dumbledore possibly know something? That Sirius was innocent every person in this room still believed, could it be possible Dumbledore still believed it too, and hadn’t been able to do anything about it during the trial, and was now trying to possibly help out Sirius himself.

Harry in particular didn’t really think that, and it also turned his mind into an even darker train of thought, could he be saying that because Dumbledore really thought Remus wouldn’t help Sirius? Why though, what could make the headmaster think this? Harry was getting a very sticky feeling deep inside him, that emptiness was rearing its ugly head when his mind was trying to disagree with his gut on this matter.

James couldn’t help but hesitate before he kept reading this time, torn between wanting to question this further, and afraid of what answers might crop up. After exchanging a look with Remus, and the silence continued to drag on from the others, he decided to leave that one be for a time.

Then Dumbledore excused himself, saying he had to go and check on the dementors. Percy asked why they hadn’t helped search the castle, and Dumbledore stated that so long as he was running this school, no dementor would come through those doors.

“Thank Merlin for that” Lily said in relief.

Harry looked over to see Ron and Hermione looking just as confused as him.

Sirius couldn’t help a surprised snort of laughter, he honestly kept forgetting these kids in the book weren’t privy to the knowledge they were half the time. It was more than obvious to them, but of course even Harry wouldn’t have known at the time Remus was obviously who they meant. Then that humor dried up slightly, just a tad of resentment taking its place as he remembered all over again Harry really should have known that.

Black was in every conversation for the next several days.

Sirius couldn’t help but grimace at that, having always enjoyed attention in his youth, and finding that mirrored back now the worst form of mockery.

Everyone was speculating to no end how he could have pulled of this latest stunt, Hannah suggesting that he turned himself into a bush.

“I threatened to turn you into a dandelion one time” Lily remembered fondly.

That gave them all a soft moment of amusement again, Harry in particular as he asked “and why was that?”

“I caught him flirting with one of my friends, the day after he’d broken up with another girl” Lily shrugged “told him to get lost or I’d turn him from a hound dog to a dandelion. Seemed cleverer at the time than it does now.”

“I took the threat for what it was though” Sirius shrugged, not looking any kind of abashed at this little retelling “wouldn’t have been the first time Lily’d cursed me for much less.”

The Fat Lady had been replaced with Sir Cadogan,

“Wow” Remus chuckled in amusement “didn’t see that one coming.”

“This ought to be fun to watch” James agreed mildly.

Harry rolled his eyes, already getting a faint feeling of more agitation then humor, but didn’t argue the point.

which didn’t please anybody as he randomly changed the password twice a day into the most random things possible.

“Can he do that?” Lily frowned “Thought only McGonagall could do that.”

“Probably gave him permission, after my little stunt” Sirius reminded her, with just a touch of bitterness complimenting that.

Seamus could be heard complaining to Percy about it, but Percy pointed out he couldn’t do anything about it, as Cadogan had been the only one willing to do the job.

“Brave or suicidal” Sirius piped up again, and when Remus made to smack him again for that dark humor, Sirius quickly reminded “thought I was allowed to make jokes about that.”

Remus sneered at him, still not finding that the least bit funny, but Merlin if it made him feel better who was he to argue?

Harry couldn’t care less about this though, as he had his own problem. He was now being followed,

“Oh crap” James groaned, planting his face in the pages for a moment to collect himself at this amount of absurdity all over again. He still found it laughable at best of anyone thinking Sirius could do Harry real harm, but he obviously couldn’t convince anyone of that in this future, and it was pointless to grumble on the matter now when Sirius was trying too hard not to let himself stay down on this matter, so he blasted through this part as fast as he could.

by teachers who found any reason to walk with him to his next class, and worst of all Percy, who Harry got the suspicion was acting on orders from his own mother, kept an eye on him like some guard dog.

“Can’t deny I adore the description anyway” Sirius huffed to himself.

Remus rolled his eyes, not finding it any more amusing his using the dog jokes then his own name, and dearly wishing he hadn’t given up the baby now so that he had more a reason to swing at him.

McGonagall turned out to be worst of all, as she called Harry to her office one day with the demeanour akin to someone dying.

“Only person that could refer to is the Dursleys” Harry offered, trying his own attempt at humor “then I can’t imagine I’d be too sorry.”

That did give them all a chance to give a laugh, albeit a dark one as they half wished that were true anyways.

She began to explain that she couldn’t hide it from him anymore in a serious tone,

Sirius opened his mouth to say that same joke again, but Remus took the opportunity to poke him in the jaw, smirking as he scolded “not twice in the same chapter, please save my sanity from that.”

Sirius rolled his eyes at him, telling his friend now he was being a killjoy, and James took that distraction to read out the ridiculous sentence

that Black was supposedly after Harry. Harry said he knew this, he’d heard about it over the summer from Mr. Weasley.

“Oh yeah, you could just hear the surprise in Harry” Lily rolled her eyes, wanting to laugh all over again as even she wouldn’t have openly admitted to eavesdropping like Harry had done twice now.

While shocked, McGonagall said that he should then understand full well why he was being taken off the Quidditch team.

“She what!” James cried in outrage, now matching the expression that someone had just told him someone had been killed.

“Couldn’t they just ask someone to oversee the practice if they’re that worried” Remus scowled, knowing he’d personally volunteer in a heartbeat.

“She can’t do that” Sirius spluttered in disgust. “What the bloody hell do they think I’m going to do, get onto the pitch and chuck that knife at him?”

“Well, yes it seems” Lily frowned over at him when James and Remus scowled at him for that stupid comment.

Sirius matched her expression, but James refused to let them really start arguing and began reading again swiftly, dearly wishing Harry would do something to make her see sense!

Explaining practices just left him to vulnerable. Harry tried to protests, saying he had a game coming up this weekend, he had to train!

“Well, she isn’t actually kicking him off the team” Remus said slowly, frown still in place, but this wasn’t as bad as he’d originally thought. “I guess it wouldn’t be too bad if you just couldn’t practice with the team, but could still play in the games.”

“I’d still go crazy,” Harry disagreed “Quidditch was the best stress relief I had, no way do I want that taken away.”

McGonagall did consider, and Harry held out hope since he knew his head of house was as much a fan of her team as anyone, so she did bargain that Harry could keep at it so long as Madam Hooch was there at all times.

“Thank you” all the boys breathed in relief. Lily rolled her eyes, she personally wouldn’t have felt too bad if Harry hadn’t been able to play anymore since the moment he’d started playing he’d yet to be able to go one game without her heart wanting to leap out of its chest, but she wasn’t going to begrudge Harry this getaway either.

While the weather seemed determined to rain on them until they drowned, this had never affected the Gryffindor’s practices, now overseen by Madam Hooch.

“Bollocks” Sirius scowled when he realized this was most likely going to be the chapter that held said match.

James gave him a pitying look, but before he could even open his mouth to offer Sirius turned his attention resolutely back to the baby, silently answering before he could offer. Sirius would keep his word, he’d wait until Harry’s final year to openly demand his due Quidditch match, but it certainly was frustrating this just kept skipping over him.

James considered for a moment still asking, Sirius might have silently answered but he’d been dealing with so much lately he might have forced him to read it just to put a real smile back in place, but then Remus subtly shook his head and pointed out the now dozing child. If James traded now, baby Harry would fully wake up again, and they may as well give the kid his nap while he could.

James shrugged and decided to go on. Harry watched all of this with high interest, greatly enjoying the silent conversation that had just taken place, and feeling a depressing realization all over again when he recognized he’d never truly see this in his own time.

It wasn’t until the training run before the game that Wood delivered the worst news, that they were going to be playing Hufflepuff instead of Slytherin.

“Those crappy little tarts” James said at once.

“Is Malfoy still faking that injury” Remus rolled his eyes.

“Sadly yes” Harry sighed, that remembered issue making its reappearance. “How come Madam Pomfrey couldn’t prove that he wasn’t faking this?” He added on, as it was obvious to anyone as far as he was concerned.

James did not look pleased as he worked out “As it wasn’t technically school related, he still had an arm to do his homework and such, I suppose Wood couldn’t have gotten this to happen. He had no proof, and so long as Hufflepuff agreed to the switch it wasn’t technically forfeiting.”

“What’s the big difference?” Lily asked curiously, as all the boys were clearly taking a great offense to this. Lily certainly found it sad that these students were still playing up this, but she could tell there was something else about this.

Sirius was more than happy to explain, all the while using a huffy tone at these little jerks “Every team has a different style of playing. So giving such short notice that the team won’t be playing means they’ve been practicing a completely different regiment then they would have against the other team.”

Lily couldn’t help but recognize that there clearly was much more thought and skill in this sport then she normally thought, but simply nodded in understanding.

Wood as outraged as anyone at the news as he explained that they’d been able to get away with this because Malfoy’s arm was still injured. Of course Wood knew they just didn’t want to play in this horrid weather.

“Like it will make a difference when they still play” James spat. “Gryffindor’s team will still smoke the field with these backhanded twats.”

Harry insisted that Malfoy was faking it, but as they couldn’t prove that, they were stuck. Then Wood informed Harry that Hufflepuff’s Seeker was named Cedric Diggory.

Harry suddenly released a furious yelp of pain, clasping his hand to his forehead like he’d just been scalded. The others startled at once, looking to him with mounting worry, but Harry was determinedly already putting himself under control, ignoring the painful build up that name had caused and blinking the white spots out of his eyes to glance around and see their fearful looks. He gave them a sheepish smile, but didn’t offer an apology this time, knowing by now how that would be received, and instead explained the feeling that had accompanied the flash. “Another name I’m sure I know. It is definitely significant to me” then he paused and cocked his head to the side as he tried to consider and absorb all he could from that already faded feeling without straining himself. He shrugged, recognizing he had nothing else to offer on this.

The rest of them exchanged curious looks, that had hardly explained why Harry felt so strongly about this student, but knew better than to press him for a more direct answer.

The Chaser girls began to giggle.

James rolled his eyes, not understanding that attitude one bit about a rival team, but read curiously.

Wood asked what was so funny, and Angelina happily explained that Diggory was that handsome one, yes?

“Ah” Lily smirked.

“Would recommend against dating someone on a different house team,” Remus chuckled “but to each their own.”

Fred snapped back people only thought that because he was to dense to say anything.

“Did I detect a hint of some jealousy in that?” Sirius asked with interest.

“Wouldn’t surprise me” James shrugged, not nearly as curious about these boys love life, and far more concerned about what kind of player this Diggory was.

Then Fred continued addressing Oliver, reminding him the last time they’d gone against Hufflepuff, Harry had broken a record for the fastest catch.

“Hope he doesn’t let them get too over confident” James noted, quirking a brow in surprise “letting them get cocky could cost them later.”

“Wish someone had told you that sooner” Lily snipped at him, and James gave her an indulgent smile for that.

Wood rounded on him, shouting that was completely different!

“Dang, bit of an overreaction with the shouting” Sirius winced.

“Might I remind you, this is the same boy who said, ‘get the snitch or die trying’” Lily rolled her eyes “I don’t think anything’s an overreaction to this boy about this game.”

“Mum” Harry groaned “I told you, he didn’t really mean that.”

Lily shrugged, she still wasn’t taking that back.

Wood was still insisting they had to remain sharp, as Diggory was bigger than Harry and his bulk would be an advantage in this weather! They had to win! Fred looked very startled as he began calming his captain.

“Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking it” Sirius smirked, though to be honest he did agree with Oliver as well. He would love more than anything to hear about Harry getting the Cup, it would probably make up for any awful feelings he had about this year.

Promising they were taking Hufflepuff seriously.

“Oh come on!” Sirius cried in outrage, receiving two very sharp pokes from both sides of him, making him squirm slightly and nearly waking up the infant. Both boys looked slightly repentant, and Sirius began grumbling if they didn’t stop it he was going to move to the fireplace again. James didn’t take the threat, well seriously, but he did stop attempting to smother his friend; while he was holding his son anyways.

The weather refused to be on their side, slowly getting worse as time went on, to the pleasure of Malfoy.

“Wish they would just cancel the match, and wait until this little brat stops faking his injury” Lily sighed.

“Not going to happen,” James shook his head “last year was an anomaly, Quidditch isn’t usually cancelled for anything, since in the professional leagues Quidditch really isn’t cancelled for anything.”

He lamented how sad he was he couldn’t play because of his injury.

“Someone needs to show that kid a real injury” Sirius scowled.

Harry didn’t get much of a chance to think on that, as Wood kept randomly running up to Harry in the corridors and coaching him on maneuvers for the game, and at one point this went on for so long he realized he was late for his DADA class.

“Well then, it’s a good thing you have such an understanding professor” James snickered.

Remus rolled his eyes indulgently, privately thinking he would end up defending himself if his future self did give Harry a warning for that, then he went slightly cross-eyed, still finding it just a little weird he was thinking of himself in the future tense at all like this.

Wood was still yelling after Harry as he ran off that Diggory was known for his turning abilities,

“Glad he took the hint” Lily grumbled.

but Harry paid that no mind as he darted into class, already apologizing to his professor for being late, when he caught sight of Snape.

“Say what” they all frowned, looking genuinely upset and confused at this.

Then Remus blinked in understanding, asking “don’t suppose you know how close to a full moon it was Harry?”

Harry thought about it for a moment before shrugging, admitting he really had no idea as he didn’t keep an eye on that type of thing.

James was still frowning as he said “yes alright, so you wouldn’t be feeling too good if that’s it, but Snape! No other teacher could have covered for you!”

“I’m fairly sure I didn’t get to pick my replacement” Remus offered.

Sirius was just a little too distracted to put his opinion on this, thinking back to that potion and what he’d thought it was. If Remus was still this sick around the full moon, had they been wrong, and this had nothing to do with his lycanthropy? He was still frowning, very unhappy that he might have been wrong on that guess, but also at least a bit happy he’d never voiced this theory, since they would have been right and it would have given false hopes to Remus.

Harry was still scowling though, grumbling that “of all our rotten luck. We’d heard rumors a few times by now that Remus had missed some of his classes because he was sick all the time, but the twins got Sprout for a cover.”

They all agreed it was a real misfortune the schedule had worked out like that, but Remus had been right, it wasn’t like it had been planned.

Snape wasn’t pleased, telling Harry he’d lost ten points for his house for being so late and told him to take his seat.

Remus frowned, since he knew Harry wasn’t always late he found that a far harsher punishment then it was called for, but this was Snape, so there wasn’t any point in saying this.

Harry didn’t, instead asking where their normal teacher was.

“I’m touched” Remus smiled indulgently at Harry, who instantly smiled right back. He didn’t need to know the missing link he hadn’t then to always know he’d rather have Remus then Snape any day of the year.

Snape smirked as he informed them that he was feeling sick today,

“Sadistic little bastard, finding that funny” Sirius scowled.

Lily gave him a rather ugly look, though mostly for his saying that while holding her son.

then again told him to sit down. Harry asked how sick, and Snape seemed mildly disappointed when he admitted it wasn’t going to kill him.

This time James, Sirius, and Harry all said something rather foul for that implied tone, even Lily couldn’t help a cheeky response for his being all the more unprofessional in front of the students like that.

Remus was just warmed and slightly amused at their defense of him.

Then he took five more points away from Harry for still not taking his seat, and threatened to do more if his orders weren’t followed.

“Maybe if you did more to earn their respect, they’d listen to you” Remus snarked, causing James and Sirius to exchange triumphant smiles, very much wishing Remus would really say something like that to Snape soon.

Harry slunked off to his seat as Snape began talking to the whole of the class, beginning by saying Lupin hadn’t left any kind of note about what they’d gone over in this class,

“I doubt that” James scowled, knowing Remus was usually a pretty organized person and would think to do something like this.

“Most likely, you just didn’t look for one” Sirius agreed with a growl.

and Hermione raised her hand and began to explain, but Snape told her to be quite, he’d only been pointing out how little Lupin kept up with his work.

“He could have left you a whole damned book worth of notes and you’d still complain” Harry huffed.

Lily gave a disapproving look at her son, clearly thinking these boys were rubbing off on Harry since this was the first time he’d said something like this, but she couldn’t disagree either.

Dean shot back that Lupin was the best teacher they’d ever had, while the rest of the class nodded in total agreement.

This time Remus really couldn’t help but blush, the combined affection from this class and his family both unexpected and more warming then he would have seen coming.

James and Sirius were unsurprised, James continued in a rather pompous tone of voice as if he’d just received the compliment himself he was so happy for his friend.

Snape was not pleased, looking more menacing than ever.

Sirius rolled his eyes, knowing he’d have to see that to believe it. While he considered Snivellus no one to underestimate during school, he still found it hard to find him ‘menacing’.

He scoffed that they were easily pleased, telling how a first year should have been able to deal with the stuff they’d been handling.

“And I might agree with you,” Remus frowned “if they’d had a competent teacher the past two years.”

“I was fixing to have heart failure,” Sirius told him with a straight face “watching you agree with him like that.

Remus rolled his eyes indulgently as he explained “I’ll bet that Dumbledore had told me of the past two years, so I haven’t been surprised one bit what you’ve been going over.”

He turned to the instructed book, and went to the very last chapter, knowing full well the class hadn’t gotten to it yet.

“Typical” James gave a long suffering sigh, before doing a double take at the next word.

Which happend to be over werewolves.

“Why that-” Lily then proceeded to call him something that would have made her go red in the face on a normal day. The boys hardly noticed, as their language wasn’t much better. What Snape was doing right then was absolutely horrible, and he had no right whatsoever!

Remus went from giddy pleasure he had clearly been handling his dream job like a glove, to shame and fear that he very well might get kicked out of it before the first term was up. If even one student figured it out, mayhem was going to explode inside the castle, owls from parents were going to start arriving...Merlin he might even be arrested. No, surely he was just being paranoid, Dumbledore wouldn’t have hired him if it could get that bad... right?

After being the last one to stop his verbal abuse, Sirius finally found some small words of comfort “look at it this way, students have to learn this every year, and no one figured it out while you were at school. Surely it won’t be any different now.”

Lily wanted to disagree, saying it was slightly different from a random student to a more prominent teacher, but she refused to be the one to drain what little color had just returned to Remus’ face; clearly he’d taken Sirius’ comfort to heart.

James was still gritting his teeth so hard he wondered if it was going to crack his skull, Sirius might be right but it didn’t excuse this slimeballs actions, but after swallowing a bit of bile forcefully read.

Hermione tried to protest that they were on something else, but Snape snapped at her he didn’t need her opinion on it. The class hatefully began flipping to the proper chapter, and Snape began questioning them what were the differences between a werewolf and a normal wolf. Hermione was the only one to raise her hand,

“Guess I’m not too surprised,” Remus sighed, not looking nearly as amused as he tried to put into his tone “Hermione would read ahead and know this.”

but Snape ignored this, taunting them that they could come face to face with the monster and not recognize it, Lupin was clearly lacking.

“Yes, because he’d just go out of his way to do that” Sirius growled.

Remus couldn’t help but wince, almost happy now that he thought about it, that Snape had decided to take this lesson. Twisted as his reasons were, it was still slightly better than having to do this himself. He chose not to say that aloud though, knowing it wouldn’t be received well.

Parvati began to remind Snape that they hadn’t studied this yet, and Snape told her to be quite as well, before saying he’d make a mental note to tell the headmaster how far behind this class was.

“Behind,” James scowled “I’d like to see how many of your students can pass a simple potion, considering how much they all hate you I wouldn’t be half surprised if they failed on purpose.”

Hermione was still trying to stay on topic, beginning to list the ways she knew the two differed, but then Snape took five points from her for speaking out of turn, and being a know it all.

Harry scowled so badly at the book, he actually made as if to twitch for his wand that time.

“That man has no bounds,” Lily yelped in outrage “he asked a question and then insults her! I can’t believe I’m even surprised anymore, after the way he’s been treating Neville” she trailed off into foul mutterings, but the other boys didn’t have nearly the same restraint. They continued gripping about him for a few more minutes until it started getting loud enough the baby started squirming again.

James sighed, but relented they couldn’t continue yelling forever, so pressed on.

Ron lost his temper, as Hermione put her hand down and looked near tears he shouted at the teacher that it was Snape’s own fault for asking a question he didn’t want the answer to. Disregarding the fact that he called his friend a know-it-all once a week.

“And that’s why I adore Ron” Lily smiled fondly before Sirius could make a joke about how she’d mimicked him. “Very happy someone said that to him.”

James looked for a moment as if he might get up and kiss his wife for that one, having only been a beat away from saying something similar, while the other boys were nodding in fervent agreement.

Snape gave Ron a detention for that, telling him that if he ever spoke about the way he taught again, he’d be the worst kind of sorry.

This thankfully didn’t reignite the attitude, though it hardly lessened it. The only reason they weren’t doing a bit more than grumbling was because they could hardly argue that point, though they each found it personally loathsome at the implied threat he’d just made to a student.

Then Snape set them to work on taking notes, while going over previous assignments they’d had. He was critiquing that one had been graded wrong, kappa’s weren’t from Mongolia,

“What, did the student simply say East Asia and that just wasn’t specific enough for you” James scowled.

and on one he wouldn’t have given the student a three out of ten it was so poorly done.

“I’m finding it more of a miracle every day anybody ever passes his courses” Sirius snarled.

When they were finally released, Snape set them the homework of an essay on how to spot and kill a werewolf,

“He shouldn’t even be allowed to assign homework while he’s subbing” Harry huffed.

Remus personally felt he might have argued that point, for any other teacher, but didn’t find it worth it for this pompous git.

two rolls of parchment,

“Two rolls of parchment?” Lily balked. “They may as well just copyright the whole chapter on them.”

“He may as well simply write on the board what he’s wanting them to figure out!” James snarled.

and he wanted it Monday.

“Please Remus, please drag your arse out of bed and make it to that class” Sirius groaned.

Remus gave his friend a pitying look, though he couldn’t deny he hoped so himself.*

He finished by saying it was high time someone took over this class.

“I swear he’d mock Dumbledore himself he’s so bitter about not getting this job” James grumbled.

Ron had to stay behind to be given his detention details, while the rest of the class stormed out and hardly waited until they turned the corner to talk about Snape.

“Impressed they even have that self-restraint” Sirius huffed.

Harry was telling Hermione that Snape had never been that bad before, what was it about Lupin?

“Even knowing the answer, this is still stupid” Harry scowled.

Harry wondered if it was all really because of the boggart.

“Actually not” Remus disagreed, then he blinked when he realized Harry actually didn’t know the complete reason. Harry now thought Snape hated him for their childhood grudge they had told Harry about, but they had actually left something out when briefly telling Harry a bit about their time during school. No one had brought up the night that Snape had figured out he was a werewolf. Harry didn’t seem to be questioning this now, and Remus swallowed hard before asking hesitantly “ah Harry, why aren’t you more surprised Severus knows about me?”

Harry just shrugged as he said “thought all the teachers would know, none of them seem to be that confused as to why you’re sick.”

James and Sirius exchanged uneasy looks when they realized what Remus was considering telling Harry, then Sirius nudged Remus hard, not particularly wanting that story to come to his ears right now. Yes Harry right now still didn’t really think the worst of Sirius like he did back when he was thirteen, but he’d still rather go as long as possible without that little story coming up.

Remus wasn’t going to argue the point, so James took the silent opportunity to keep going.

Hermione disagreed, but did hope Lupin was feeling better soon.

“Trust us Hermione, we all do” Lily sighed.

Ron ran up to them not long later, calling Snape something that made Hermione say ‘Ron!’

“What did he say” Sirius asked, far too amused in Lily’s opinion.

Harry told them, which made Lily do a double take that he knew that word, but James chuckled in complete agreement and moved on anyways.

Then he explained his detention was to scrub out the bedpans in the hospital wing, without using magic.

Most of them muttered either ‘ouch’ or ‘ew’ for that particular punishment.

Then Ron groused at the world why couldn’t Black have hid out in Snape’s office and done him in for them?

“Now why didn’t I think of that” Sirius cried, shifting the baby carefully into one arm so he could pop himself on the forehead for the theatrics, causing at least Harry to laugh.

Harry woke the next morning with Peeves blowing air into his face.

“I’ve never known Peeves to get into the dorms” Lily startled.

“We’ve let him in from time to time as personal vengeance” Remus shrugged, more than happy at this change of subject. “The twins might have done the same for some pregame jitters release.”

Harry asked what the point of that was, and Peeves just laughed as he left.

“He’s a lovely chap really” James snickered.

Harry glanced at his clock and saw it wasn’t even five in the morning.

“Dang” Sirius drew the word out, now grimacing in pity.

It was impossible to go back to sleep though, the weather outside was so awful you could hardly see five feet. So instead Harry got up and went downstairs to lounge in front of the fire, but as he was leaving his room, Crookshanks tried to sneak past, and Harry had to grab him to stop him.

“Dang, that cat really does seem to have it out for Scabbers in particular” Lily winced.

Harry gave his mom a curious look, very much wondering why his gut’s first reaction was to agree with his mother’s obvious joke. Cats didn’t ‘have it out’ for any other particular animal...right?

He pulled the cat outside and scolded it, telling him to leave Scabbers alone.

“Never met a pet with a grudge” Remus chuckled without any amusement.

Harry was left stewing in the common room, reflecting that the larger boy Diggory who he’d seen in the hallway would have a better time in the field today as this weather wouldn’t bother his bulk nearly as much.

“Well dang, this just all kinds of sucks” Sirius grimaced.

He didn’t move around too much, except to occasionally get back to his feet and stop Crookshanks going back up to his room,

“Jeez, I think Hermione should put a leash on this cat” James scowled.

“We’ll be lucky if we go till the end of the year without another accident like last time” Sirius agreed.

but before long the rest of the team arrived and they went down to breakfast. Oliver was in a clear panic as he kept eyeing the storm outside, and Alicia tried to calm him down it was just a little rain.

“Admire the girl’s pep anyways” Remus smiled.

“Even if this sounds like quite a bit more than ‘a bit of rain,’” Lily smirked.

Such was the popularity of Quidditch, that the weather be damned, and the stadium filled to capacity just like always. As Harry tromped down in the muck, he spotted Malfoy and his friends with an umbrella laughing at the lot of them.

“You just wait you pompous, arrogant little thing” James sneered “you’ve got four more years of this game, and I’ll bet the next time you do have to play Harry the weather’s going to be just as bad, and Harry’s still going to sweep you seven ways.”

Harry couldn’t help but grin at his dad for the confidence, allowing him to ignore a building sense of unease about this game. He was trying very hard to ignore this, not wanting yet another game to be ruined again.

Inside the locker rooms, Wood was trying to give his usual pep talk, but words were escaping him, until finally he gave up and led them outside.

“Wow, poor kid” Sirius said in sympathy.

Lily still couldn’t help but feel he was taking this a little too seriously, but she also recognized that there wasn’t much she could do but continue hoping nothing to bad happened during this game. One quick glance at Harry didn’t help those spirits.

The wind was so fierce Harry was staggering even before he made it to the center of the stadium, and already half blinded by the rain all over his glasses.

“No one’s still showed you that charm” James scowled at Harry’s team mates. Sure it didn’t say anyone else wore glasses, but surely someone would have taken the time to show Harry this.

Harry just shrugged, admitting that no, no one had told him about this so he’d not known to do it.

Harry was having problems seeing his own glove, how was he going to find the tiny golden ball? The Captains of the teams shook hands, and while Diggory tried for a smile, Harry saw that Wood looked more tense then anything.

“Nicer than some other teams, I assure you” Remus snickered.

Harry didn’t hear Madam Hooch’s order to get on their brooms, but he followed suite as the other’s did, and also went on faith as he kicked off that the whistle had been blown.

James couldn’t help the little swell of happiness that reading this caused him, absolutely positive that nothing could go wrong during this game.

He shot into the air like always, but soon found himself completely lost. He couldn’t hear the commentator, could barely make out the sea of students below, and more than once a Bludger nearly took his head off because he couldn’t see through the downpour drowning his glasses.

All five of them were frowning at this, knowing the game was hardly any fun in these conditions. James was still personally affronted someone, like himself, hadn’t been able to give Harry some simple advice like blocking the rain from his glasses, but he refused to let his mood stay dampened and so read on with forced chipper.

He only just noticed Wood waving him to the ground, and Harry shot down to find Wood had called a timeout, and Harry took the quick moment to try and wipe off his glasses.

“What did you even have to dry them on,” Sirius rolled his eyes “sounds like everything on you was soaked.”

Harry nodded, admitting he hadn’t exactly done a good job and had in fact made his glasses even wetter.

Harry asked what was going on with the rest of the game, and found they were winning by points, but they had to catch the Snitch soon to keep it. Harry was just pointing out how useless he felt with the glasses when Hermione showed up, telling Harry she knew something that might help.

“Thank Merlin for Hermione” James smirked.

“High time someone thought to give you that spell” Sirius agreed.

She took Harry’s glasses and used the spell Impervius on them.

Harry nodded to himself, now determined to commit that spell to memory for future use.

She explained that now they would keep water off his face, and Wood looked likely to kiss her.

“I’m sure that would have been a sight” Remus said, not even bothering to hide a light laugh at this obvious joke.

They returned to the game with renewed vigor, and Harry was just banking around the field when he saw it again, in the highest points of the stands was sitting a black dog.

All of them released surprised bursts of laughter at this. Even Lily had to admit, loco or not, Sirius would certainly not have sat by when he found out Harry was on the Quidditch team and would swim across an ocean just to see this for himself. Harry went from startled at realizing this to amusement himself, further burying that nuisance of a feeling that something really bad was about to happen. Surely he was just remembering the feelings of having to play in such weather.

Harry was so shocked he nearly slipped off his broom,

Sirius refused to let his wince ruin his proud look, so he’d startled Harry again, Harry was sure to shake it off and continue playing.

but when he steadied himself and looked again, the dog was gone.

“Looks like you got spotted” Remus noted lightly.

Sirius cocked his head to the side, curious why he would have moved even if Harry had stared at him. Honestly he’d have much rather his future self had done something that would make Harry want to seek him out, rather than this constant disappearing act. The Knight Bus he could understand not wanting to hang around, but in the stands like this, why should he do more than he already was to stay out of sight?

He didn’t get long to dwell on it, as he spotted Cedric racing into the sky, and feet above him, was the snitch.

“Dang it Sirius,” James fake scowled “quite distracting him!”

“Well I am just so sorry he spotted me at all,” Sirius grinned with good nature, then he turned to Harry and said with mock sternness “how dare you pick me out in the crowd like that and get caught off guard.”

Harry was chuckling lightly, ignoring the growing tension inside of him as he continued bouncing around in unease. All of the boys noticed his mood this time, and James frowned for real now, wondering if Harry really might have lost the match this time. He quickly turned back to the book rather than let anyone dwell on it too much.

Harry slammed into high gear, yelling at his broom to go faster so he could catch up,

‘Doubt yelling at it actually helps’ Lily couldn’t help but think, but leaned forward, just as hopeful as anyone else that Harry truly did win.

but then he realized something weird was happening. The howl of the wind was dying down, and a new cold was seeping in. He glanced around in confusion, wondering why his hearing was failing him,

Harry groaned, coiling back into the couch suddenly as the ghost of a chill crept back over him; he now knew without a single doubt what was going on, and he didn’t want this one little bit.

James turned an ugly shade of gray as he looked swiftly from the book, to his son, to Sirius; coming to the sudden realization why Sirius might have run out of there now. If Sirius had sensed the dementors coming, it’s no wonder he would have bolted.

Sirius had to restrain himself from not shivering so hard it would wake up the napping child in his lap, but instead wrapped his arms as tight around him as he could without disturbing him. Remus gave him a pitiful look, but no words of comfort really came to mind.

Lily made a choking noise, remembering all too well what had happened the last time Harry had been around those things. She didn’t even have the heart to ask how high up he was on his broom, but simply scooped up her sons hand and held it tightly in her own, feeling slightly warmed when he returned the pressure.

then Harry glanced down as he recognized that cold feeling, and saw them moving on the field blow, gliding up towards them.

“Like I needed confirmation” James muttered as he turned the page with perhaps more force then necessary out of nerves.

At least a hundred dementors,

“A-a hun-” Lily stuttered, looking nearly faint.

“Harry passed out when he was around one” James moaned, his hands shaking so hard the book was close to falling from his grip.

Harry didn’t seem to appreciate the reminder, but he just couldn’t muster up the energy to gripe at his dad for it. The echo of that empty, cold feeling was as clear now as if he were in front of a dementor right now, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as what his gut was insisting. Something was about to happen, something bad, something that his family wasn’t going to appreciate hearing about.

Sirius and Remus exchanged a look, still on the same mindset as James and hoping that at least this time someone would step in sooner and try to get rid of those dementors. Then each remembered their own reason why that wouldn’t have happened. Remus was too sick to attend class, surely he was passed out in a bed somewhere. Sirius had just made a run from the arena, most likely unaware of Harry’s condition, and even if he was, could he really do anything to help without getting caught?

James swallowed hard, now desperately wishing he had forced Sirius to read this chapter just so he wouldn’t have to, but knew it wouldn’t be right to force anyone else to read about this either, so he mustered himself up and read.

could be spotted floating towards him,

‘Why him!’ Lily wanted to sob. Those things were in a stadium full of people, she vaguely understood why they would have been attracted to the swells of emotion coming from there, but why would any of them focus on her son in particular. She wasn’t an expert on dementors, and wasn’t even sure of how they worked. She understood they could be controlled and given directions, but she also couldn’t understand how that would relate to her son. She had no doubts though that no one understood this any better then her, maybe Remus, but she was far more concerned with hearing that Harry didn’t break every bone in his body and couldn’t bring herself to ask without really starting to cry so bottled that in.

and once again Harry could hear screaming beginning inside his head, it was a woman he knew, then he could make out her words, ‘not Harry.’

Now the book really did clatter to the floor, and James couldn’t help the tears that sprung to his eyes. He realized what Harry was remembering now...

“Oh” Lily whispered, swallowing very hard and blinking slowly and carefully as she tried her very best not to burst into tears as she suddenly realized what her baby’s worst memory was.

Harry went pale as his father, leaning away from the book as if it were going to lash out and bite him, and almost wishing it would. That would feel better than this horrible pit that was growing inside of him as that memory came back to mind.

James was just looking down at the book like it truly was his dead wife. He didn’t think he could do this, sit here and read about Lily’s final moments. It wasn’t like when he’d realized the deadly situations Harry was in, like reading the basilisk. Then, he could continually glance up at his grown son, and take comfort Harry had survived. Now though, now he truly couldn’t do that, because Lily...

“Here” and suddenly his son was being placed into his vacant hands, and James was rather startled to realize that his lap had some odd little wet spots. He shook his head so violently his glasses were nearly tossed across the room as he glanced up and around to see Sirius now picking up the book and rummaging around for his spot. Then he quickly went about settling his now fussy child, who clearly wasn’t pleased at the sudden change in placement.

Both Sirius and Remus were the color of new snow, and one look over showed Harry and Lily were only a bit better than James because they were clinging to each other. Harry was all but curled into his mother, and while Lily’s lower lip was trembling violently she was holding herself together by brushing her hand repetitively through her son’s hair in comfort for them both.

Sirius’ hands were shaking so bad, he was likely to get a couple of paper cuts from flipping pages until he found his place, but he’d take that any day rather than try and watch James say what he forced out next.

There was another voice, telling her to move, but the woman refused, begging over and over again not Harry. Harry knew he should do something, because that woman was going to die, but there was nothing, he knew nothing but sound as the woman continued to scream for mercy. Then he blacked out.

He had read all of that so fast, most of the words had strung together and his voice was so thick with emotion it was lucky they understood any of it. They all had though, so it was more unlucky in this case. Sirius had to clear his throat several times before he made as if to keep going, but then James forced himself to collect his emotions, and shove them out so that he could deal with it later. For now, he gave Sirius a grateful squeeze on the shoulder, and offered back Harry.

Sirius took a moment to silently asses his friend. He didn’t really like what he saw, but under the circumstances the fact that James wasn’t curled up into a ball on the floor was a miracle in itself, so he relented. Recognizing that James needed to do this for himself, not only finish this chapter, but continue reading this play out.

Remus and Sirius exchanged a look, loaded down with concern and their own distraught at the situation, but Sirius did indeed take the baby back so that James could read. Taking several deep breaths to make sure he could go on intelligibly, he began again.

There were other voices now, talking about how lucky Harry was he wasn’t dead, it was a very good thing the ground had been more mud then anything, but it couldn’t have been that bad as his glasses hadn’t even broke.

“That’s right comforting to wake up to that is” Harry mumbled, rubbing furiously at his arms to get the ghost of that chill away. Lily wrapped her arm protectively around him, not letting any more space between them then she could help, but knew better than to offer a spell to warm him. This wasn’t the kind of thing normal heat could cure, but her warm hug seemed to be doing the trick.

Harry struggled to remember, but was coming up blank. He had no idea where he was, or how he’d got there, or what could have caused this.

“Don’t rightly want him to remember to be honest” James huffed, dearly wishing he could purge that own memory from his system, let alone it festering in his son’s mind.

Then someone whispered how scary it had all been, and Harry’s brain caught up and he did remember as his eyes jerked open.

Remus sighed, wondering if it might be in his power in this future to convince Dumbledore Harry might do some good with a couple of extra DADA lessons. He was clearly vulnerable to dementors in particular, who could blame him, and Remus knew without a doubt he’d work day and night with Harry to help him learn the charm to counter them. Considering how limited he’d been so far though, he couldn’t help but wonder if the headmaster would assent to this. Clearly Remus didn’t have a lot of say in the matter, despite that right now he wouldn’t have cared and done it anyways no matter what anyone said, it seemed in this future he may have lost his will along with his friends.

Harry was in a bed in the hospital wing, with the majority of his team around his bed looking like they’d had a mud bath. Ron and Hermione were there as well, though more wet then anything. Fred was the first to get over his shock of him being awake, asking how he was?

“Absolutely peachy, and you” Sirius scowled.

Harry let his mind rewind back, to that Grim he’d seen, watching Diggory go after the Snitch, then the dementors showing up.

The group gave a collective shudder, now knowing they’d rather break an arm then allow Harry near those dementors again.

Harry asked what happened after that, and Fred told that Harry had collapsed, falling fifty feet back to the ground.

“Because this wasn’t the worst day of my life already, I really needed that mental image” James scowled, for the first time ever really wanting Fred to shut up now.

Alicia mumbled that they’d thought he’d died. Hermione made an odd noise, her eyes looking rather bloodshot at that statement.

That drew a wane smile from Lily at least, remembering her little guess that Hermione might truly see Harry as more than a friend, or at least it was heading that way, but she still felt a little too emotional about a few other things to really think on it.

Harry wouldn’t linger on that, asking when the rematch for the game would be.

James snorted so violently the book nearly slipped from his grasp again.

“Well, glad he’s got his priorities straight” Remus said in a too high pitched voice.

Harry gave them a rather sheepish look, before shrugging and admitting “really didn’t want to dwell on that memory in front of them, so I picked the first thing that came to mind.”

“Would they do a replay?” Lily asked quickly, fully understanding his logic.

James mulled that over for a moment, deciding he needed to thank his son for giving him this distraction as he said aloud “It depends. What with the dementors interrupting, and depending on when exactly Harry fell off, if that other kid caught the Snitch before Harry fell it would have been fair.”

Harry didn’t think his feelings could actually sink lower, but now as he continued remembering his teammate’s faces, and his father’s words sinking in, he realized this day actually could get worse.

James winced as he realized he wasn’t exactly helping, so hoping he was wrong he read.

When no one answered him, Harry then came to the conclusion that they’d lost. George explained properly saying Diggory had got the Snitch right before Harry fell.

“Dang it” they all muttered, though absently noting they didn’t feel nearly as down about this as they should have. Somehow, this game just didn’t feel as important as it should have anymore. They were certain that if Harry had won and this still happened, they would have properly congratulated him, but do to circumstances, James instead did what any good father would and told his son “’s’alright Harry. Can’t win every match you play right? You’re still a damned good Seeker, but even the best have to lose at it sometimes.”

Harry beamed over at him, warmed beyond belief the others didn’t blame him all the more for not only bringing up this terrible memory, but losing the game to boot. They were in fact going out of their way to comfort him and still try to make him feel better.

Diggory had tried to call it off, asking for a rematch himself,

“Least he’s a decent kind” Sirius grinned.

but even Wood had admitted it was a fair game. Harry then realized his captain wasn’t present, and asked where he was. Fred told that he was drowning himself in the shower somewhere.

They all grimaced, thinking the captain of the team should be up there making sure Harry was okay along with everyone else, but none of them could muster up the energy to be too mad at him, still all to drained themselves.

Harry curled into himself then, pressed his forehead against his knees in frustration and grabbing at his hair. Fred wouldn’t allow that, shaking Harry’s shoulder to keep his attention.

James immediately took back what he’d thought before about wanting the twins to shut up, and hoped these two would set Harry straight then like he had now.

Comforting the boy that Harry couldn’t win every game there was, it had been bound to happen. George jumped in that it didn’t even put them out of the Cup, it all added up to points from the other teams.

“See, you’re not even out of the running yet” Remus reminded bracingly, making Harry really smile this time. He may have lost the match, and was still stuck on hearing his mother’s last moments, but it was still good to know he hadn’t lost his team the running. Surely there must be some way to combat dementors and their effects, his gut was already assuring him he was on the right track so that he could fix this problem and hopefully not have to deal with this ever again.

Harry said nothing, still frozen on the fact that he’d lost his Quidditch game.

“Happens to the best of us” James and Sirius said together. It still wasn’t as funny as it usually was to them, but any attempt at humor was happily welcomed as the somber mood continued to linger.

Madam Pomfrey came marching over then, telling them all to get out so Harry could rest.

“She’s such a killjoy” Remus huffed with a roll of his eyes.

Ron and Hermione didn’t move though.

“Oh good, at least they got to stay” Lily slightly perked up.

Hermione began to explain how angry Dumbledore had been when he’d heard, that he’d been the one to use a spell to slow Harry’s fall to the ground,

“Good of him, least someone did” they all muttered a variation of this, still wanting to kick at themselves for not being the ones to do this.

and how he’d used some silvery spell to make the dementors go away.

“What silver stuff?” Harry asked swiftly, having noted before this was what Remus had been said to do as well to make them go away.

Remus was quick to respond, explaining all about the spell, and by the end Harry looked nearly back to normal. He was so sure in that moment that he must have already learned this, no matter how advanced Remus kept trying to tell him it was. The spell seemed very familiar to him, it seemed to hold a significance he couldn’t place, plus Remus being the one to tell him this felt right. When Harry tried to explain this to them, they all beamed with pleasure, having no doubts that, no matter how hard it would be, Harry, along with Remus’ help, could master this.

Then Ron jumped in that Dumbledore had been the one to take Harry up here, but it hadn’t looked good, everyone thought he might be...

James grimaced in disgust, mentally tallying up the times he’d had to say that aloud, and growing more than sick of the number.

he didn’t seem able to finish, but Harry didn’t need him to, nor did he really pay it much mind. He was stuck on what he’d heard when the dementors came for him, and the screaming returned. He looked around for something else to think about,

“Guess you didn’t tell them then” Lily murmured, hardly looking upset this time. She personally didn’t want to sit around and hear Harry explain this to anyone, let alone his friends.

and asked where his broom was? No one answered.

“Oh this can’t be good” James’ frown actually depend at their hesitation, then he read quickly.

It took Harry prompting them for Hermione to begin saying that when Harry had let go, his broom had blown away,

“Someone couldn’t have summoned it back?” Sirius asked listlessly, personally still too distracted by memories to come to really think on this much.

and hit the Whomping Willow.

Considering how numb most of them felt, this really couldn’t draw nearly as much of a reaction out of them as it normally would have. It was pretty awful that something like that happened to him, but it was clear as Harry continued leaning into his mother it wasn’t his greatest concern right now. Sirius couldn’t even bring himself to make the joke that falling off his broom had really been the better option.

Harry felt a horrible jump inside of him, well remembering that violent tree as he continued asking,

“And I’m guessing the broom didn’t come out on top in that fight” Remus sighed, so quietly no one but Sirius really heard it, and he couldn’t really muster up a smile for him this time.

and Ron added on that the tree didn’t like being hit.

“I’m sure Harry remembers that actually” James grumbled.

Then Ron finally turned loose a bag full of twigs and the remainder of his handle, and Harry stared down at his destroyed Nimbus Two Thousand.

“Ouch” James muttered, tossing the book away from him and watching with only the vaguest satisfaction as it landed on the table, then reached eagerly out for his son which Sirius willingly handed over.

So this had to be like the most depressing chapter, for all kinds of reasons. Their wrong assumptions of all these people’s motives, poor dang Sirius, Remus, and James, Lily and Harry, and Harry’s Nimbus... don’t know if it was my mood writing this chapter that caused this or not, but I hope you still enjoyed.

*This is just something personal I noticed but couldn’t work in how to make anyone point it out since Harry would obviously know by now, but does this mean that Hogwarts has block scheduling? Harry went his whole first week and didn’t have DADA until Friday, why would Snape tell them to give it to him Monday. He’s clearly assuming he’ll have the class again for the assignment to be handed in to him, but that must mean the weeks have different class time frames different weeks. In the next chapter though, they clearly have DADA again on that Monday, so I don’t know why they wouldn’t have had it on their first week.

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