On the Wings of an Angel

Chapter 17

Harry never did find out what Professor McGonagall said to the man but suddenly his detentions stopped and he was able to reclaim his free time again; free time that was quickly claimed by Oliver in order to catch him up on what he had been missing for the last few weeks.

This also meant that he was free to make plans for the first Hogsmeade weekend of the year and Harry was beyond excited at being able to catch his first glimpse of the village that sat just within the protective borders that Gabriel had put around the Forbidden Forest during his time as a tree. It was because of this that Hogsmeade was the largest pure Wizarding populated town within the UK, or at least that was what Gabriel believed.

'When I put up barriers,' the archangel said with an air of self-satisfaction. 'They stay the way that I made them.'

He was stopped from joining the other students that were going down to the village by a sheepish and regretful looking Professor Lupin. "Hello, Harry." He greeted, sounding a bit less rugged than he had when he'd first met the professor on the train.

"Professor Lupin," Harry replied back, getting the feeling that this was more than just a teacher running into a student in the halls. The professor looked uncomfortable, more so than Harry had ever seen the man, before sighing and motioning for Harry to follow him. More curious than anything else, Harry decided to allow the man (whose magic still looked like an animal to him, and even more curiously, so did his soul).

'Ooh,' Gabriel whispered in Harry's mind, going silent when Harry tried to demand an explanation. Frustrated with his other self, he turned his full attention to a hesitating Professor Lupin, motioning (politely) for the man to speak.

"Professor Dumbledore has asked me," he began before hesitating again. "He's asked me to inform you that due to the seriousness of Sirius Black's escape, it has been decided that, for your own safety, you remain in the castle during Hogsmeade weekends."

Harry felt his eyebrows shoot up. Really? They had to be kidding. "Then why," he asked with narrowed eyes. "Are the rest of the students allowed to go into town and not me?"

He knew the reason. It was fairly obvious since he'd overheard Mr. and Mrs. Weasley talking that night in the Leaky Cauldron but he wanted them to tell him. If the school thought that he would easily go along with such a ruling, one that seemed unfair if you didn't know all the facts, they were sorely mistaken. He'd enough of adults ruling his life and feeling justified in keeping information from him, things that could potentially be more than a bit important.

Lupin brought a hand up to rub his eyes, a pained expression crossing his face as he sighed. "This isn't a discussion that we should have here." The professor searched Harry's face, looking for something and nodding as he apparently found it. "If you would follow me to my office, then I will explain."

'That was easy,' Gabriel commented in surprise. It was usually much harder getting information out of adults than Lupin was making it. In fact, the man seemed surprisingly willing to give him the information he was asking for, something that Harry didn't have any recent memories of happening with any other adult he'd encountered. It was refreshing, to say the least.

That didn't mean that he wasn't going to make this conversation harder than the man probably wanted it to be just because he was being so cooperative in telling Harry what he wanted to know. He could be nice and easily except the answers he was no doubt going to get...yet he found that if he did that, he was just opening himself up to have his life dictated for him and he didn't want that. Maybe he wouldn't have minded if he was still the same person he had been in first year, seeking the attention of others and revelling in it when it was given despite how it might affect him; nevertheless, that wasn't the case anymore and Harry had enjoyed the freedom he'd had over the summer more than he'd ever thought possible. He wasn't going to give that up to anyone.

Gabriel quite agreed with him, and even though his other half kept quiet, he knew what he would say. He knew that Gabriel, and whoever else they had once been, had the same appreciation for freedom and making their own decisions as he did and sometimes, he wondered what had happened in his first life to cause such a lasting thirst to make his own decisions. 'Two years ago and most of what you just contemplated would have went right over your head,' Gabriel told him, effectively cutting off Harry's thought process and drawing him back into the real world where he had, without realizing it, started to follow Professor Lupin to his office on what seemed to be autopilot, his wings folded tightly to his back to avoid hitting any of the wandering students.

Gabriel was right of course. Two year ago, Harry wouldn't have been able to even understand what being two people meant, much less accept that one of those different sides was an Archangel and the Messenger of God and whatever else Gabriel was that he hadn't told Harry about yet. There was no denial from the obviously listening memories so Harry felt confident in assuming that there was more to his other half than he was currently aware of.

He doubted that Archangel's usually took joy in tormenting human bullies, no matter what age they were. 'No,' Gabriel answered quietly. 'They didn't.'

Harry was prevented from inquiring further by their arrival to the Defense classroom and consequently, the office that was located inside. His attention was immediately by strange creature that was in the middle of the room, locked inside a water tank. "What is that?!" he half demanded half asked.

"That is a grindylow." The professor quickly told him. "I had it brought in for our next lesson."

Well, that was certainly going to be an interesting lesson if there ever was one, Harry grimaced as he looked at the indescribable creature that was currently slamming against its watery cage with all its strength. Harry couldn't even feel sorry for it as it screeched in anger. 'That is definitely not cute,' Gabriel proclaimed seriously. Harry completely agreed.

Havoc and Tinker picked that moment to stick their heads out of his pockets in an attempt to see what was causing all that racket. They both let out high pitched screams as they saw the offending grindylow, ducking back into his pockets as Lupin looked at them, startled. "Were those pixies?" he asked, seemingly stunned and amused.

"Cornish pixies," Harry felt the need to specify.

"Why are they in your pockets?" The professor asked as he seemed to be trying not to laugh. Harry's opinion of the man grew just a tad.

"That would be because they didn't really want to leave after Lockhart set a whole cage of them free." Harry explained easily. "They're cute."

The professor just shook his head, probably baffled by Harry's (and Gabriel's) logic on why he had let them stay in his pockets. The man was also no doubt wondering if any of the other professors were aware of Havoc and Tinker's presence, something that Harry wasn't really certain of considering none of them had ever said anything to the thirteen year old. "You said that you'd explain," Harry prompted after a few moments of silence.

"So I did," he sighed in response and Harry got the feeling that he probably wasn't going to like what he was about to hear. In fact, from the look on Lupin's face, he was certain that he was going to hate hearing everything that the man was about to say and he knew it. "You might want to have a seat."

Harry didn't sit, his wings fluttering back and forth in agitation, something that he doubted being in a chair would help. The professor didn't seem perturbed by this and began speaking. "The first thing you should know is that I knew you father. We were actually friends during our time at Hogwarts together. We were quite a rambunctious group of Gryffindors and the four of us," the professor gave a wistful smile. "Well, we were the best of friends."

"Four?" Harry prompted gently, even though he already had an idea of who one of the other two had been.

"Myself, James, Peter Pettigrew, and Sirius Black." Lupin confirmed sadly. "Peter was a timid fellow but he could easily be the most brave of us when necessary. That changed during the war and as time passed, it was a wonder that he could look at his shadow without fainting. Dark days, those times and I fear that it changed us in ways that were likely not for the better."

Harry didn't interrupted as the man collected himself before continuing. "We'd gotten news that the Dark Lord was targeting Lily and James. We never found out why and I suspect that they, themselves, weren't completely sure of the reason, but Lily was already pregnant at the time and they decided to go into hiding just to be safe, choosing to use the Fidelius Charm to protect themselves."

He had no idea what the meant and it must have showed on his face because Lupin chuckled. "The Fidelius is the most powerful secret charm in existence. It relies on the trust that the host family places in a friend and completely wipes out any information about a place from all the minds and records of it in existence. Your parents home in Godric's Hollow was protected by such charm and who better to be their secret keeper than Sirius Black. Voldemort should never have been able to find them."

And suddenly Harry understood why the man was so reluctant to tell him this. He understood why Draco Malfoy had been hinting towards him getting vengeance on Black since school began and he understood the pitying look on the faces of the professor's whenever the man was mentioned. "Black sold them out to Voldemort," he said and didn't even need the confirmation from Lupin.

There was a wrongness to that sentence that had Harry pausing, forcing back a frown as he tried to pinpoint where the feeling was coming from. 'There's more to this,' Gabriel said with certainty. 'I don't know what it is or why Lupin doesn't seem to know but there is definitely more to this than what we're hearing now.'

Harry agreed but he also didn't agree. Why should he care if there was more to the story when because of this one man, he'd spent a decade in a closet, bullied, and neglected by his so called family after a madman had tried to kill him and had succeeded in killing his parents, leaving him an orphan? The betrayal of someone who was supposed to be family, someone you trusted with the life of not only yourself and your family stabbing you in the back, stung badly in his chest for reasons that Harry couldn't, or wouldn't, acknowledge.

"I'm sorry," Lupin told him, correctly interpreting the rage and grief in Harry's eyes. "It's not an easy thing to accept, I know." And he did. Harry didn't need to look farther from Lupin's eyes to know that much. "Sirius Black was James Potter's best friend and he betrayed him that night twelve years ago. Only, Voldemort wasn't successful in killing you and in a strange turn of events, was destroyed himself. Peter, as timid and jumpy as the war had made him, tracked Sirius down to a muggle town, confronting him."

Lupin paused again and Harry watched as the man visually composed himself, his eyes watering a bit suspiciously. "Sirius killed Peter and the thirteen muggle bystanders that were in the area at the was nothing left of poor Peter but a finger and I'm sad to say that it was only then that the Aurors caught up with him and he was taken into custody."

Harry suddenly understood why no one had ever told him about this before. How did you tell someone that your parent's best friend went absolutely mad, betrayed them, and then massacred thirteen innocent people along with one of his friends? It also explained why Lupin himself had been reluctant to tell him what was going on and Harry nearly felt sorry for putting the man through retelling that story.

Almost. He had needed to know and it was about time that someone what honest with him about why a random stranger (although Sirius Black wasn't as much of a stranger that Harry had thought he was) was trying to kill him. It was certainly better than 'I don't know' and 'You survived due to the power of love'. 'I still can't believe that he tried to pull that one on us!' Gabriel snickered inside their head. It was ridiculous that Dumbledore had expected him just to buy that his mother was the only one in the Wizarding World that had died trying to save her child and that was why Harry had survived. Yeah right.

The rest of their meeting was interrupted by a strangely docile Snape. The Potion's Master didn't even look Harry's way when he entered the room and practically ignored Lupin, even though this was probably a great moment to throw in another derogatory comment towards the already emotionally strained man but, uncharacteristically, he kept silent and seemed to almost flinched when Lupin thanked him. 'What I wouldn't give to know what McGonagall said to him,' Gabriel marveled as Snape left with two wide eyed wizards starring in his wake.

"That was..." Lupin started to say before remembering who he was talking to and cutting himself off abruptly. It seemed that he didn't want to give Harry a wrong impression of his Potions Professor or was reminding himself that it was unprofessional to talk about ones colleague to ones student, something that Snape hadn't given him the same courtesy of before.

"Weird." Harry finished. "Really weird. I wonder what Professor McGonagall said to him?" Lupin looked at him in surprise but took the opening as it was: an opportunity to continue to conversation now that Harry had gotten the information that he'd wanted, the potion that Snape had delivered giving off an ungodly smell from its place in the room. If Harry didn't know for a fact that nearly all potions smelled that bad, he would have thought that Snape was trying to poison the Defense Professor in the most unsubtle way ever invented.

Their conversation continued on from there and Harry felt himself enjoying talking to an adult for the first time since he'd met Hagrid (who was more of an overgrown kid than an adult) and before he knew it, it was nearly time for lunch and the Professor still needed to go over the fifth and seventh year essays (it was OWL and NEWT year for those age groups and Professor Lupin was working overtime to try and get them ready after years of having poor Defense Professor's).

So Harry said his goodbyes as the professor moved to catch up on the work he had missed, promising not to go down to the village until it was certain that Black wasn't going to jump out behind a building at him (even though he doubted that was likely, seeing as the few lives he had lived in the Wizarding World had clear memories of the village being quite populated) and went down to the Great Hall to have lunch.

Ron and Hermione weren't back yet, as was evident as he sat next to Neville in the nearly empty Great Hall, nibbling on a sandwich he had made out of the chicken and bread that was present on the table. "Hi Harry," Neville greeted him when he noticed the other boy, the round faced third year looking around for the other members of the Gryffindor Trio. "You didn't go to the village?" Neville asked, curious.

Harry shook his head. "Too much risk with Sirius Black on the loose." He explained easily, Gabriel grumbling at the unfairness of it all. "The Professors don't think the village is safe." And considering how many battles had taken place there during Grindelwald's war and then Voldemort's, Harry honestly couldn't blame them. Being so close to Hogwarts, it was like the village had a giant sign advertising 'Come attack me!' on it. Neville seemed to be thinking the same thing as he nodded.

"Gran didn't want me going for the same reason," Neville confided in him. "Said that if Black was still on the run last year, she'd think about letting me go but until then..."

Harry grimaced and nodded, looking around to see that only first and second year students were still in the Great Hall at all. "At least we'll have time to catch up on our Rune's homework." Neville grinned brightly at Harry's attempt to make light of the fact they seemed to be the only ones that were old enough not at the village.

"What did you think about problem six in the packet?" Neville asked, a strange light in his eyes that Harry hadn't seen anything but Herbology put there. It would figure that Neville had finally found something other than Herbology that he could get into.

The following few hours were spent discussing the pros and cons of each rune and how hard it was to remember each sequence that Babbling assigned them every three days. It seemed that the practice was at least improving Neville's memory, which was a plus considering how hard the other boy had, had it trying to remember the common room passwords and the different materials for each class.

Harry was actually disappointed when Neville told him that he had to go down to the greenhouse to talk to Professor Sprout about more advanced work. It seemed that the Hufflepuff head of house had noticed that the current class work as a bit beneath Neville's level and was taking steps to make sure that he was still getting something out of coming to class. Today was the first day since the beginning of the school year that Sprout had enough free time to come up with a lesson plan for him. "I think she wants to apprentice me," Neville to him as Harry walked with the boy down to the greenhouses, planning on visiting Hope and her foals. "Gran thinks I'd be better served to pay more attention in Defense but Professor Sprout keeps telling me that a good Herbologist is worth ten times as much as someone proficient in Defense."

'Makes sense,' Gabriel acknowledged. 'Being good at defending yourself is a well and good but having an in depth knowledge of Herbology gives you the advantage of turning the whole battlefield into your weapon.'

'That's true,' Harry nodded as he waved goodbye to Neville, making his way down to Hagrid's hut where he could already see Sol's golden freckled hide flickering through the trees. It always amazed him how the unicorn family always seemed to know when he was coming to visit. 'Casting spells is just that much harder when the ground you're standing on is the one attacking you.'

"'Ello 'Arry!" Hagrid called out, appearing from behind his hut. "Ah was 'ondering why this lot was ere!"

"Hello Hagrid!" Harry waved back, dodging the excited golden and white unicorn that shot from behind the hut, heading straight at him. He laughed as he mentally shook his head in surprise. He'd had so little time since returning to Hogwarts that he hadn't realized just how big Hope's foals had gotten. Sol was nearly as tall as his mother, his sisters already just as big as Hope was, though they were noticeably younger than their mother. "You lot have gotten so big!" Harry exclaimed as Sol reared in pleasure.

"'Aven't they?" Hagrid grinned, proud. "Ah've been tryin' ta get them ta come ta class tomorra. Ah bet everyone 'ould be pleased ta see a unicorn there!"

Harry brightened at the idea, never one to turn down any ideas that would let him see the family of four more than he currently did. "I bet it would be great experience," he told a skeptical Hope as she huffed in answer to Hagrid's request. "Celestica, Mystica, and Sol have only ever met Hagrid and me, human wise, and they do need to learn that no everyone has good intentions," he reminded her. The unicorn whinnied, obviously worried about an attack like she had suffered.

Harry laughed, "Don't worry. If old Voldemort shows up, I'll be sure to blast him for you." Not that the Dark Lord was likely to show up, considering her was currently a wraith that had no corporel body. He doubted that anything like the diary was here, either.

Hope gave another uncertain whiny, not at all pleased by the idea but seeing that practicality of it. Harry knew for a fact that he wasn't the first human that she had ever met (and neither was Voldemort) and this was probably one of the safer ways to introduce the nearly grown foals to humans other than Harry without risking them being hurt.

Hope took a few moments before grunting her agreement, Hagrid cheering happily in the background as he realized that he would be getting his demonstration after all. "I'll make sure that nothing happens to them," he promised her as she gave Hagrid what could only be described as a skeptical look. She huffed, making sure that he knew that she expected nothing less, as Hagrid began excitedly telling the three listening foals that they would get to come to class tomorrow after all. Sol seemed especially delighted by this fact, nearly toppling Harry over in his excitement.

Tomorrow was certainly going to be interesting.

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