The Road not Taken by potterfan2008

Summary: The summer before his third year, Harry stormed out of his relatives' house and met a large dog. Instead of taking the Knight Bus, Harry throws his lot in with Sirius Black. Join him as he fights for his godfather and gets to know his best mate's little sister just a bit better.
Rating: PG-13 starstarstarstarstar
Categories: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2016.07.27
Updated: 2016.08.09


Chapter 1: Chapter 1 Sirius Black
Chapter 2: Chapter 2 The Canary Islands
Chapter 3: Chapter 3 The Hogwarts Express
Chapter 4: Chapter 4 Arrival at Hogwarts
Chapter 5: Chapter 5 Hippogriffs and Roosters
Chapter 6: Chapter 6 Ginny's Troubles
Chapter 7: Chapter 7 Padfoot's Return
Chapter 8: Chapter 8 Pettigrew's Capture
Chapter 9: Chapter 9 Repercussions
Chapter 10: Chapter 10 Christmas
Chapter 11: Chapter 11 Hermione's troubles
Chapter 12: Chapter 12 First Dates and Easter Break
Chapter 13: Chapter 13 Pettigrew's Revenge
Chapter 14: Chapter 14 End of the Year

Chapter 1: Chapter 1 Sirius Black

Author's Notes: Hello! This is another story that has been sitting on my computer for a while. It is a re-imagined third year story. Thanks to my wonderful beta, Arnel, for all of her hard work with this story. This story is finished and will be posted over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy!

Harry was shaking with pent up anger and a bit of fear as he dragged his trunk down Privet Drive. He knew he shouldn’t have gotten so angry, but listening to that horrible woman go on and on about his parents was more than he could take. His father wasn’t a drunk and his mother wasn’t a ‘bad seed’ or whatever stupid thing Aunt Marge called her.

As he turned down Wisteria Walk, he wondered just where he should go. Was the Ministry even now looking for him? Should he just hop on his Nimbus and fly off? Both Ron and Hermione were on holiday with their families and honestly he didn’t really have many other friends. Sure he and Neville got along and he was friendly with the girls on the Quidditch team, but he couldn’t imagine showing up at any of their houses unannounced in the middle of the night. Not that he even knew where any of them lived, they just weren’t that close.

Looking up, he scanned the skies once more. He really wished he knew where Hedwig was, he didn’t want her to go to the Dursleys' house and get hurt because of him. He wouldn’t put it past Uncle Vernon to take his anger with Harry out on poor Hedwig. Unfortunately, there was no flash of white in sky.

Turning down Magnolia Road, he headed for the play park. If nothing else, he could sleep there. He reached the play park and pushed open the gate. For once he was glad for his cousin’s delinquency. He knew that it was Dudley and his gang who had broken all of the locks on the gates. Of course it had been Harry who had been blamed for it, but since he’d started at Hogwarts his aunt and uncle didn’t punish him as severely as they had in the past.

A noise had him turning around quickly. He looked into the darkness nervously. After a moment a large, black dog stepped out of the shadows. Harry relaxed slightly. He’d never really liked dogs, but this one for some reason didn’t make him nervous. While it was big, it was also skinny and rather bedraggled.

“Hello,” he said quietly. The dog approached him and Harry could see how skinny the dog was. Smiling, Harry cautiously extended his hand to the dog. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

The dog seemed to cautiously sniff him, before letting Harry pet him. Harry petted the dog for a few minutes noticing how easily he could feel the dog’s bones under his fur. He wished he had some food to share with the poor animal. Looking around the park, Harry headed over for the nearest bench and the dog followed. Glad for the company, even if it was only a dog, Harry grinned as he sat down and settled his trunk next to him.

“Sorry I don’t have any food or anything for you,” Harry said as he continued to pet the dog. “I left my aunt and uncle’s house tonight. I’m sure I’m in lots of trouble, but I really don’t care. Aunt Marge, who isn’t really my aunt, was saying all kinds of horrible things about my parents. She’s been doing it all week and I’ve held my tongue all week, but tonight I couldn’t. I got so angry at her that I somehow blew her up. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I was just so angry with her. Last summer a house elf did some magic in my house and I got in all kinds of trouble. I can only imagine what kind of trouble I’ll be in for blowing up my aunt.”

He sat quietly for a minute. “My parents died when I was a baby so I’ve lived with my aunt and uncle since then. They don’t like me much. I never knew why they just always hated me. Then I found out two years ago that I’m a wizard and my aunt and uncle hate magic. I don’t think that’s all of it, I think they’d still hate me even without the magic, but who knows.”

Harry fell silent as he thought over the night. He grimaced, he really was going to have to sleep on the park bench. Maybe in the morning he could make his way to London and find Diagon Alley.

The sound of the dog whining made him look back at the dog. As he watched, to his astonishment, the dog turned into a man. The man was as skinny and neglected looking as the dog had been. For some reason, this didn’t really alarm him. Something about the dog and now the man just made Harry trust him.


The man smiled. “Hello, Harry. My name is Sirius Black. I was a friend of your parents.”

“Really?” Harry was amazed. People mentioned his parents as heroes, but no one ever talked about them as friends or real people.

Sirius nodded. “What happened tonight, Harry?”

Colouring slightly, Harry explained about Aunt Marge’s visit and the disastrous dinner party. Sirius frowned as he listened to Harry’s account. Sirius’ family life had been awful and he could tell that Harry was leaving out a lot. “So what are you going to do?”

Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. My friends are out of the country on holiday and I…well I don’t really know where to go or anything. I thought I’d just sleep here tonight.”

Their conversation was interrupted by a fluttering of wings. Harry looked up in relief. “Hedwig! I was worried about you, girl.”

The snowy owl landed on his outstretched arm and rubbed her beak against Harry’s hand. Harry petted her and smiled. Turning to Sirius he explained, “I was afraid she would go to my relatives’ house and Uncle Vernon would hurt her.”

Not liking what he was hearing at all, Sirius made a decision. “Harry, would you like to come with me? I know you don’t remember ever meeting me, but I am your godfather. I was going to go to a safe place and hide out for a while. I need to tell you that I just escaped from prison — I was wrongly imprisoned. A man who I thought was a friend of mine framed me for dark magic and being one of Voldemort’s followers.”

Harry was surprised, but when he heard that Sirius was his godfather he knew it was the right thing to do. “Sure, I’ll go with you.”

The fact that Harry so willingly agreed to go with him solidified in Sirius’ mind that something was seriously wrong with Harry’s living arrangements. “Have you ever Apparated?”

Harry shook his head. “I don’t know what that means.”

Sirius smiled at him. “Don’t worry, it won’t be a problem. It’s a means of wizard travel where you can go from one place to another using magic. It feels a bit strange, but it doesn’t hurt or anything.”

“Okay,” Harry agreed. “What do I need to do?”

Sirius held out his hand. “I’m going to take your arm.”

Nodding, Harry let Sirius take his arm. There was an uncomfortable feeling of being squeezed, but suddenly they were in a dark alley. Hedwig squawked rather indignantly, apparently she didn’t like the sensation of Apparating either. Looking around Harry realized they were in a city, he wondered which city it was.

Sirius led him out of the alley towards the street. The street looked rather old and neglected as though it had seen better days. They were facing a row of older homes in varying states of disrepair. Sirius gestured towards Number Twelve. “This is my family home. I should warn you, my whole family is dark and this house is…horrible. I just need a place to regroup and figure out what to do.”

“Okay,” Harry replied. He couldn’t really explain it, but he trusted Sirius.

Together the two of them entered the dark and gloomy house. “My father placed all sorts of charms on this place,” Sirius explained. “Its unplottable and there are Muggle repelling charms on it. We will be safe here for a short time. Unfortunately Dumbledore knows about this house so he might think to look for me here.”

Harry was surprised. “You don’t trust Professor Dumbledore?”

Sirius sighed. “I guess now is a good a time as any to tell you my story.” He had led the boy down to the basement kitchen and started a fire. “I have always respected Professor Dumbledore. He was the leader of the light and the defeater of Grindelwald. When I started Hogwarts he seemed like an all-seeing wonder. He’s a bit odd, but he has a liking for sweets and a good prank so when I was a kid at school, he seemed great to me.”

Harry nodded he had also found Dumbledore to be odd but a great wizard. Sirius glanced over at Harry and smiled. “Sorry, you just look so much like your father. Your father, James, was my best friend. We met on the Hogwarts Express and just clicked. We were both the oldest son and heir of old Pureblood families. James’ family was much different from mine. His parents were wonderful. They didn’t hold with this pureblood nonsense like my family and they were incredibly supportive.”

Gesturing around at the house, Sirius said, “I ran away when I was sixteen years old. My parents were horrified that I was in Gryffindor — my whole family had been in Slytherin for years. They couldn’t believe I’d befriended half-bloods and even worse Muggleborns.” Sirius rolled his eyes as he spoke. “I have never seen that blood counts for all that much.” He smiled again at his godson. “Your mother was a Muggleborn and she was one of the best students in our year, not to mention she was just a genuinely nice person.”

Standing Sirius began rummaging through the cupboards. He made a face at the dirt and dust. “I hate not having my wand.”

“You can use mine,” Harry offered extending his wand to the man.

“Thank you, Harry,” Sirius said taking the wand. He winked at the boy. “It’s been a while since I’ve done magic. Let’s see if I can still do some.”


Harry laughed as the spell hardly made a dent in the amount of dust and dirt. Making a face, Sirius conjured up a large bucket of soapy water and two cleaning clothes. Taking one for himself he handed one to Harry. Together the two of them tackled the kitchen using a combination of Muggle and magical means. As they cleaned, Sirius told Harry about the Marauders and how they had become Animagi in order to be with their friend, Remus or Moony.

“A real werewolf?” Harry asked in wonder.

Sirius nodded. “Most of what you hear about werewolves is crap. Most of the time they are just regular people, it is only during the full moon they become monsters. It is totally not their fault and they are often treated horribly because of it.”

“I can imagine,” Harry said, thinking of he had been treated over the past year by most of the Hogwarts students.

Sirius raised an eyebrow. He knew there had to be a story, but he wasn’t going to push Harry into sharing anything. By this time they’d cleaned up quite a bit of the kitchen, enough to find a kettle.

While Harry was cleaning the kettle, Sirius opened the cupboards. He gagged at the smell. Harry looked up wrinkling his nose as Sirius banished a bottle of obviously spoiled salad cream and several jars of pickled onions that had gone bad.

“Damn, that was nasty,” Sirius commented. The cupboard was rather bare, but Sirius found two boxes of tea bags. He looked at them curiously. “We have a choice of Blackcurrant and Vanilla or Cherry and Cinnamon. My mother must have bought these; my father wouldn’t drink anything but loose tea — no tea bags allowed.” He held up the boxes. “Do you have a preference?”

Harry shook his head and Sirius chose the Blackcurrant and Vanilla tea. Harry put on the kettle while Sirius went back to the cupboard. “Harry, I’m afraid we only have these. We’ll have to go shopping and get some food.”

He brought over to the table a jar of applesauce and two unopened boxes of biscuits — one of chocolate digestives and the other was shortbread. Sirius opened the digestive biscuits and smelled it. Cautiously he took a bite. His face cleared. “Well, they might be older than you are, but they don’t taste too bad. Someone must have put a preservation charm on them.”

Soon the two were sitting at the newly cleaned large wooden table with a pot of tea, a bowl of applesauce and a plate of biscuits. Harry offered some tea and biscuits to Hedwig. She drank some tea and settled at the end of the table to watch over him. Harry noticed that Sirius seemed rather hungry so he only had a handful of biscuits leaving a majority of them and all of the applesauce for Sirius. After all, he’d had dinner with his relatives and it didn’t seem like Sirius had eaten in ages.

While they ate, Sirius continued his story. “Just before we finished at Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore approached us with an offer. He had started something he called the Order of the Phoenix. It was an organization to fight Voldemort.”

Harry raised an eyebrow. He was amazed that Sirius was able to say Voldemort’s name without any problems. It reinforced Harry’s belief that Sirius was trustworthy.

“So did you join?” Harry asked.

Sirius nodded. “Me, Remus, James, and Lily all joined — along with Peter.”

“Who’s Peter?” Harry asked.

“Peter Pettigrew,” Sirius bit out. “We thought he was our friend. He wasn’t as talented or as good a student as the rest of us, but he was a Gryffindor and our friend so we helped him. He’s the one who eventually betrayed your parents to Voldemort.”

Harry felt sick. “He was a friend of theirs?”

Sirius nodded. “As I said, we all joined the Order and helped fight Voldemort. Soon after you were born, Dumbledore told your parents they had been targeted by Voldemort. I don’t know why they were targeted, but they were. They hid for a while and it was hard on them especially on your dad. He wanted to be out fighting and of course he wanted to protect you and your mum. In October, your dad approached me about being their Secret Keeper.”

“Secret Keeper,” Harry repeated. He looked puzzled and Sirius quickly explained the Fidelius Charm. Harry thought it over. “So my dad asked you to be his Secret Keeper?”

“He did,” Sirius agreed. He sighed. “The day before we were to perform the spell I ended up in a fight with my cousin, Bellatrix. She’s a Death Eater, one of Voldemort’s most devoted followers. She was taunting me about finding the Potters. I realized that I would be the obvious choice for the Secret Keeper. So I came up with the brilliant idea of using Peter as the Secret Keeper. That way Voldemort would come after me, but you and your parents would be safe.”

Harry had to blink away tears as he listened to his godfather talk about finding his parents dead on Halloween night after having been betrayed by their friend. Sirius wiped his eyes unashamedly.

“The next morning I made my biggest mistake when I went after Peter. As soon as he saw me, he started to run. I caught up with him on the street. He yelled something about me betraying James and Lily and then he cast an extremely dark spell. The whole street exploded and when the smoke cleared I was standing there with twelve dead Muggles and Peter was gone. All that was left of him was a finger. I imagine he cut off his own finger before he transformed into a rat and escaped down the sewer or something. I started laughing — I think I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that little Peter had turned dark or that he had gotten the better of me. Magical Law Enforcement showed up and I was arrested.”

“But didn’t you get a trial or anything?” Harry asked.

Sirius shook his head. “No, I’d been found at the scene of the crime and my name was Black. My family had long been supporters of Voldemort’s and many people just assumed it was a matter of time before I joined him.”

“That’s awful!” Harry gasped as he realized, “Professor Dumbledore didn’t help you.”

“He wouldn’t even see me,” Sirius said rather bitterly. “He knew there was a traitor who was close to the Potters and with my family I was the obvious choice.”

“He should have listened to you!” Harry said indigently. “I could tell you wouldn’t hurt me, why couldn’t he?”

Sirius smiled at his godson’s defence of him it warmed him in a way he couldn’t describe. Before he could say anything else a noise behind them caused them to jump. Sirius turned with Harry’s wand at the ready. An extremely ancient and rather filthy house elf scuttled into the room.

“Bad Master is back. Too bad he didn’t die in Azkaban; he broke poor Mistresses’ heart.”

Sirius snorted. “My mother didn’t have a heart to break. What the hell are you doing here, Kreacher?”

“Kreacher serves the noble house of Black.”

“Not very well,” Sirius said. “This place is filthy. Have you cleaned anything since my mother died?”

“Master brings a nasty half-blood into our noble house,” Kreacher said ignoring Sirius. “My poor mistress would be so upset.” The decrepit little elf eyed the boy. “It’s the Potter boy. The boy who brought down the Dark Lord.”

Harry looked between the two of them curiously. The only house elf he had any experience with was Dobby and the two of them couldn’t have been more different.

“Kreacher!” Sirius said sharply. “You will not speak that way of my godson. Has anyone been here looking for me?”

Kreacher seemed to struggle with the answer, but he eventually said, “No one has been here in years.”

“Excellent,” Sirius said. He looked at the elf. “You will not tell anyone that Harry and I have been here. Do you understand? No writing or hinting or any type of communication to let anyone know we’ve been here.”

“Yes, Master,” Kreacher said resentfully.

“Are the bathrooms fit to use?” Sirius asked. “Clean up the bathroom next to my room and clean my room.”

“Yes, Master.”

Harry stared at the elf as he made his way out of the kitchen. “What…”

“Kreacher was my mother’s house elf,” Sirius bit out. “He always hated me and he would do anything to get me in trouble. He and my parents much preferred my younger brother who was a perfect little Slytherin. Kreacher would do things like leave a puddle of water outside my room so I would slip and fall, then I’d get in trouble for roughhousing or making a mess.”

He shook his head. “One time, I was probably nine or ten. Kreacher was going on about how Mistress’ silver was dirty. I thought if I cleaned it, maybe she would be happy. When she found me in her silver drawer…well let’s say she wasn’t happy. Kreacher laughed his foul little head off over that.”

Harry listened in horror. “Did…did she beat you?”

Sirius nodded shortly. “She did. My father did too, but he didn’t like to get his hands dirty as much. He would usually use his wand.”

Harry’s eyes widened. “Your father cursed you?”

“When I was little it was stinging curses or other little things,” Sirius said in a controlled voice. “When I got older…the night I left here he’d used the Cruciatus Curse on me.”

“What’s that?” Harry asked, rather afraid of the answer.

To Harry’s surprise, Sirius smiled. “I’m actually glad you don’t know what that is. It’s the torture curse — one of the three Unforgivable Curses. Use of any of them is supposed to land you in Azkaban, but of course if you use them at home against your family no one knows.”

“That’s horrible,” Harry said feelingly.

Sirius looked over at his godson curiously. “I get the feeling your relatives aren’t very nice to you either. Do they hit you?”

Normally Harry would never have answered that question, but after what Sirius had told him he knew he had to tell the truth. “Not much. My cousin likes to hit me. Him and his friends like to go ‘Harry hunting’ and they beat me if they can catch me, but I’m pretty fast so they don’t catch me often. My aunt doesn’t hit me much; she usually just makes me work. She’ll give me a ridiculously long list of things to do and if I don’t finish I don’t get to eat.”

“Does that happen a lot?” Sirius asked. Seeing Harry’s confusion, he clarified, “That you don’t get to eat.”

Harry nodded. “My uncle wouldn’t feed me at all if he could get away with it.”

“Does your uncle hit you?” Sirius asked when Harry didn’t say anything else.

Harry sighed, he really hated this topic. “Not much, he can’t catch me most of the time. It was a lot worse when I was little; he used to use his belt on me.” Harry shivered. “I hated that. He would hit me and throw me in my cupboard. That was one of his favourite punishments — locking me in my cupboard.”

“Your cupboard?” Sirius asked in a very cool controlled voice.

Harry swallowed; he really hated thinking of the past. “That was my room when I was little. I lived in the cupboard under the stairs until I got my Hogwarts’ letter. When the letter came addressed to me at the cupboard under the stairs they became nervous that someone was watching them and moved me to Dudley’s second bedroom. It’s a lot bigger, so if they lock me in there at least I can walk around.”

His eyes found Hedwig who was watching him with her big amber eyes. “I was so worried about Hedwig. I really thought Uncle Vernon was going to hurt her the last two summers. He threatened to kill her if she woke him up one more time.”

To Harry’s horror, he felt tears welling up in his eyes. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t blink them back this time. In an instant he felt Sirius’ arms come around him. It felt odd at first, he wasn’t used to anyone hugging him, but after a moment he relaxed against his godfather. The tears he’d tried so valiantly to hold back fell against Sirius’ robes. Sirius ran one arm soothingly down Harry’s back.

Sirius held the boy until he stopped crying. When he felt Harry relax, he dropped a kiss on top of his head. “I am so sorry, Harry. I know what it’s like to not be wanted at home. I never wanted that for you.”

Harry pulled away and wiped his eyes on his shirt sleeves. “Sorry. I don’t usually do that.”

Sirius waved away his excuses. “It’s fine, Harry.” He grinned at his godson. “You should have seen me when I arrived at your grandparent’s house. As I said, my dad used the Cruciatus on me and I packed up and left. I made my way to your grandparent’s house. It must have been past one in the morning when I arrived. Your grandmother took one look at me and held out her arms. I cried like a baby in her arms. I thought your dad was going to take the mickey out of me, but he never did. He was…he was great. The best friend a guy could ask for. I stayed in his room that night and the next day your grandmother gave me my own room right next to your dad’s. I stayed there until I graduated from Hogwarts.”

“Really? They sound great.” Harry’s eyes lit up hearing not only about his dad, but his grandparents as well.

“They were,” Sirius said. “I am going to do my best to be there for you like they were for me.”

Harry grinned. He really liked the sound of that. A thought crossed his mind. “So how did you get out of jail?”

Sirius laughed. “That is another tale!” He explained to Harry how he’d seen the picture of Peter in the paper and how he escaped as Padfoot.

Drinking his tea, Harry listened in amazement to Sirius’ tale. “Wait, so you mean that Scabbers is Peter?”

A dark look crossed over Sirius’ face and he nodded. “He must have decided hiding with a wizarding family was the best way to hear news about his Master.”

Anxiety seized Harry. “Ron and his family aren’t in any danger, are they?”

“I don’t think so,” Sirius mused. “Peter has obviously been hiding there for many years and feels comfortable there. As long as he doesn’t feel threatened, he won’t be any danger.”

Relieved, Harry tried to hide his yawn, but Sirius noticed. He stood up and sent the dirty tea cups to the sink. “Come on, let’s see if Kreacher managed to clean up.”

Together they headed upstairs with Sirius leading the way in the dark and gloomy house. As they reached the front entrance hall, Harry nearly jumped out of his skin as one of the portraits began screeching. “Traitor! What are you doing here you wretched beast? Why couldn’t you be the one to die?!”

“Mother,” Sirius said after regaining his composure. The portrait continued screaming, now she had descended into profanities. With a wave of the wand, Sirius pulled a curtain over her silencing her. He managed a weak smile at his godson. “That was my lovely mother.”

“She’s horrible,” Harry whispered back.

Sirius laughed and the pair continued upstairs. Harry couldn’t see much about the house other than it was dirty and much bigger than it looked from the outside. By Harry’s reckoning they’d reached the fourth floor when Sirius turned down the corridor. He opened one door and Harry peeked around his godfather.

It was possibly the biggest bathroom he’d ever seen. There was a large shower and a huge sunken tub. The whole room had obviously been recently cleaned, the fixtures were gleaming.


“I know,” Sirius grinned. “When we were little, my brother and I would swim in here. We’d have great naval battles or have to rescue damsels in distress from mermaids. It was great fun.”

“I bet,” Harry said rather enviously.

Backing out of the room, Sirius continued down the hall and opened another door. This was obviously Sirius’ room. The room was painted Gryffindor red and gold and on the ceiling were plastered dozens of pictures of girls in bikinis. Harry’s eyes widened and he blushed before looking away. Kreacher was finishing up in the room.

“Kreacher put new sheets on Master’s bed. Where will the little half-blood sleep? Kreacher can fix a spot on the floor for it.”
Sirius’ countenance darkened. “Enough Kreacher. I’m going to take a shower. Stay away from Harry — that’s an order. You have to do what he says if he gives you an order, but don’t pester him. Why don’t you find some food for the morning?”

Kreacher bowed low so his nose was almost touching the ground. “Yes, Master.”

“Nasty little beast,” Sirius murmured as the elf left the room. “Sorry about him, Harry.”

“That’s okay,” Harry said. He looked around the room curiously. It was easily bigger than both his and Dudley’s rooms combined. Kreacher obviously could clean if he wanted to as the furniture in here gleamed. It was as far from his room of mismatched left over furniture as you could get. The large bed, chest of drawers, and wardrobe were very nice and looked expensive.

Sirius headed over to the wardrobe against the far wall. He pulled out some clothes and said, “I’m going to take a shower. I feel filthy. I never felt clean in Azkaban.”

“Of course,” Harry said.

“Feel free to explore this room, but don’t go exploring other rooms. Kreacher has obviously let the house go and I don’t know what might be lurking around here.”

Once Sirius left to take his shower, Harry sat down on the bed. He really couldn’t believe everything that had happened that night. He grinned when he thought of Aunt Marge floating away from Little Whinging. Sirius had reassured him he wouldn’t get in trouble for accidental magic. Sirius explained that the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad would find her and return her to normal. They would probably Obliviate her so she wouldn’t remember what had happened.

He realized that his trunk was in the room, so he changed into his pyjamas. He’d take a shower in the morning. Wandering around the room he saw a picture on the wall. Unlike the bikini clad girls, this was a wizarding photo of four young men. Harry’s heart leapt when he recognized his father and Sirius. The other two must be Peter and Remus. After studying the picture, Harry decided the heavyset boy must be Peter.

He didn’t look evil — maybe a little weak, but not evil. Harry shook his head, Voldemort could make people do all sorts of things. Not for the first time that summer, Harry thought of Ginny Weasley. The previous year she’d been possessed by an old diary of Voldemort and forced to open Slytherin’s Chamber of Secrets releasing a deadly Basilisk on the school. Luckily, no one had been killed and Harry himself had killed the Basilisk when he went down the Chamber of Secrets to find Ginny.

He hoped she was having a good summer. Hopefully the trip to Egypt would be good for her. Ron seemed to feel that Ginny was just fine, he’d been shocked that Harry would even ask after her. Ron claimed that Ginny was back to normal, but Harry wasn’t so sure. He couldn’t imagine an experience like that wouldn’t be scarring. He’d thought about writing to Ginny himself, but he was reluctant to do so because Ginny had had a huge crush on him. She would blush and stammer whenever he was around. It was a bit embarrassing, but Harry also found it a bit flattering.

When he was growing up, everyone had ignored or teased him. To go from that to someone having a crush on him was dizzying. Except for the rather embarrassing, but kind of flattering Valentine she sent him last year she’d never actually approached him until the day she’d been taken into the Chamber. He didn’t think she still had a crush on him; she seemed more comfortable around him at the end of term and fine on the train. He hoped they could become friends this next year.

As he thought about it, he thought maybe Sirius would have some insight. He might have a really good idea about what he should do. Harry yawned and lay down on the bed. He didn’t know where he was supposed to sleep, but he was getting tired. He imagined that after not having a decent shower or bath for over twelve years, Sirius might be a while.

The bed was huge, so Harry pulled back the covers and lay down on one side of the bed. The bed was very soft and comfy and it didn’t take long for him to drift off.

While Harry was falling asleep, Sirius was enjoying a soak in the tub for the first time in over a decade. He’d shaved off his rather scraggily beard and brushed his teeth. His hair was rather tangled and matted and it took him a while to work a comb through it, but he’d finally managed.

When he finally felt clean he stared at his reflection in the mirror, he was shocked at what he saw. He looked a decade or two older than his actual age of thirty-three. He’d lost a considerable amount of weight as between the Dementors and with the gruel served by the prison he couldn’t remember the last time he’d had an appetite. He was amazed that Harry had been able to trust him — he must have looked rather scary to the boy.

He brushed through his hair and brushed his teeth again before pulling on some of his old clothes that had been left in his wardrobe. The trousers were flared at the ankle and Sirius imagined they were hideously out of date, but they were clean and they were his. A quick charm burned the prison robes. Sirius couldn’t resist a smile as he watched them burn.

Making his way back down the hall, he re-entered his childhood bedroom. A smile crossed his face at the sight of the sleeping boy. He was amazed and humbled by the trust Harry had shown in him tonight. Obviously the boy came from a very neglectful and abusive home, Sirius was surprised at how small Harry was. He wondered why no one had ever done anything about it. He’d heard over the years how Harry was famous as the Boy Who Lived. Surely someone should have been keeping an eye on him and his living arrangements.

Sirius lay down on the other side of the large bed and watched the boy sleep. Having Harry with him would change a lot of his plans. When he’d escaped from Azkaban, the one thought on his mind was to get to Peter, but now he had Harry to think of as well.
Sirius ran through one plan after another — some ridiculous, others actually workable. While he had thought of contacting Dumbledore or his good friend, Remus, he had decided against it. Not only had neither of them lifted a finger to help him, they had also left Harry in an obviously neglectful and abusive home. How could they not notice the boy was much smaller than he should be? What the hell was he even doing with Lily’s sister? Even with Sirius in jail, Remus could have taken him or any number of people would have been preferable guardians to the Dursleys.

The next morning, Sirius headed down to see if Kreacher had managed to find some food while Harry went to take a bath. To his surprise, Kreacher had managed to obtain some food and Sirius set about making eggs, bacon, and toast.

As he was setting the toast rack on the table, Harry entered the kitchen. Harry had taken the time to play in the huge tub this morning and to his amazement Sirius didn’t mind. Harry sat down at the table and watched Sirius plate the food. It was rather strange to be the one to be sitting at the table rather than the one to be fixing the food, but Sirius seemed to find it quite normal.

“Good morning,” Harry said shyly.

“Good morning,” Sirius said cheerfully. “Kreacher actually managed to find some food for us.”

“Great,” Harry said.

As the two of them ate, Sirius eyed Harry’s clothes disdainfully. He imagined that Harry’s relatives didn’t buy him new clothes.

“So I’ve been thinking,” Sirius said. “We need to get out of here for a while. Obviously they will be looking for me and I imagine they will now be looking for you as well.”

Harry nodded and Sirius continued. “My parents had a holiday home in the Canary Islands which I have inherited. Kreacher was able to make a rather sizable withdrawal from my vault, so I have plenty of money. How would you like to spend the rest of your summer in paradise?”

Harry’s eyes sparkled. He’d never gone on holiday before. “That sounds wonderful!”

Back to index

Chapter 2: Chapter 2 The Canary Islands

Author's Notes: Thanks for the wonderful response! Again, thanks to my beta Arnel.

Harry walked out of the beach house onto the patio carrying a plate of eggs and toast. Sirius was already seated on one of the lounge chairs beside the pool. It was their second day in the Playa Blanca and Harry was having the time of his life. They’d made a stop in Casablanca the day they left England and Sirius had been able to purchase a wand. Once he’d bought his wand and a few other purchases, they’d taken several Portkeys to throw off anyone who might be following them. They finally landed on Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands. Harry was rather glad to be done with Portkeys; they were rather unsettling.

The Black holiday house was in a Muggle resort community, but as with their London house it was well hidden from their Muggle neighbours. A wizarding cleaning company kept the house clean and ready for occupancy. The two houses were as opposite as possible. The holiday house was an impossibly bright white with a brilliant blue trim around the windows. The house was open and airy with lots of windows to take advantage of the view. There was a beautiful heated pool on their patio even though the house was a short five-minute walk from the beach. To Harry it was like a picture postcard had come to life in front of him.

“Good morning, kiddo,” Sirius said cheerfully. He slid a vial of nutritional potion in front of Harry who made a face, but dutifully swallowed it.

As Harry ate his breakfast, Sirius said, “I thought we could go over to Deiland shopping centre this morning. It has all sorts of shops so we can get some new clothes. We can also get some groceries before coming back home.”

“That sounds great,” Harry said. He really didn’t like shopping much, but he’d discovered in the few short days with his godfather that everything was fun with Sirius around.

“Good,” Sirius smiled.

Harry looked around the mall in astonishment. Aunt Petunia had never taken him anyplace like this before. Sirius saw his face and grinned.

“Pretty brilliant, isn’t it?”

Harry nodded enthusiastically. “This is great. My aunt usually just takes me to the charity shop if I can’t wear Dudley’s cast offs. I’ve never been to a mall before.”

Sirius frowned briefly at the mention of Harry’s relatives, but had to smile at his godson’s enthusiasm. Together the two of them started wandering around the mall. Both of them needed new wardrobes and they had fun picking out clothes that would be fun on the island, but would also work back in Great Britain.

It was a new experience picking out colours that he liked and clothes that actually fit. Whenever Harry thought he had enough clothes, Sirius would invariably add a few more. Soon he had not only jeans and t-shirts, but also nice trousers and dress shirts. Sirius threatened him with red heart covered boxers, but to Harry’s relief he didn’t actually purchase them although he did make sure Harry had boxers, pyjamas, and socks as well.

As they were leaving the shop, Sirius looked over at the teenage boy. “Harry, we forgot to get you a swimming costume.”

Harry blushed. “I-I don’t actually know how to swim.”

“No problem, kiddo,” Sirius said with a smile. “I can teach you. We can’t let that beautiful pool go to waste.”

Harry’s face lit up. “Okay.”

When they left the shop he was the proud owner of three pairs of board shorts. Harry liked the longer type of shorts because he felt the others emphasized his knobby knees. They stopped in a shoe store and bought both trainers and dress shoes for both of them.

It was after noon when Sirius said, “Are you hungry?”

Harry nodded his head and soon they had made their way to the food court and after much discussion they ended up in a sandwich shop. As they ate, they watched the people walking by.

Harry glanced over at his godfather. So far the day had been amazing. He’d never had so many things bought just for him. He’d noticed the amount of attention his godfather received from women in the mall. Sirius flirted with all of them, not just the young pretty girls, but also the older women, the young mums, and the heavyset girls. Most of the girls responded with an extra smile or blush, some of them blatantly flirted back. It amazed Harry how at ease Sirius was with them. He found girls to be rather mysterious and very confusing.

“Sirius, can I ask you something?”

Sirius nodded. “Of course, Harry.”

Harry sighed and when he didn’t say anything right away, Sirius smiled kindly. “Is this about a girl?”

Harry’s eyes grew wide. “How did you know?”

“What else ties teenage boys up in knots?” Sirius teased lightly. “Is this about your friend Hermione?”

“No,” Harry said making a face. “No, this is about Ginny, Ron’s sister.”

“Is she younger or older?”

“She’s younger,” Harry said. “She’ll be twelve in a few days. Anyhow she…she had a big crush on me. I don’t know if it was me or the whole stupid Boy Who Lived rubbish. I stayed with the Weasleys last summer and she was too shy to really talk to me. She would blush and stammer whenever we were in the same room together. It probably didn’t help that her brothers would tease her about it.”

“What do you think about her?”

Harry shrugged. “She’s nice and I wish she would talk to me more, I think we could be great friends. I’m great friends with Ron and the twins and I get along okay with Percy. Ron told me she never shuts up, but I never got to see that side of her. Ron…he’s not always very nice to her. He wouldn’t let her hang out with us or talk to us. Then…horrible things started happening.” He looked over at his godfather. “Have you ever heard of the Chamber of Secrets?”

“Slytherin’s secret chamber?” Sirius said after a moment. “It’s a lost chamber where Slytherin supposedly left some sort of monster or something, isn’t it?”

“A Basilisk,” Harry corrected.

Sirius closed his eyes briefly. “Do I want to know how you know that?”

“Probably not,” Harry admitted. “Strange things started happening and I started hearing voices that no one else could hear. It was a strange voice that wanted to kill.” He shivered. “It was really creepy and I didn’t know what to do. Ron and Hermione said I shouldn’t tell anyone I was hearing this voice — I don’t know if it’s because they couldn’t hear it, but…well, I didn’t tell anyone. Then students started getting Petrified.”

Slowly Harry told Sirius the story of the past school year. The students getting Petrified, how he was blamed, and how Dumbledore was forced out of the castle. Harry told him how Hagrid was sent to Azkaban and shared his adventure in the Forbidden Forest. When he reached the part where Ginny was taken into the chamber, Sirius stopped him.

“Harry,” he paused. “Why could you hear the voice and figure out where the chamber was when no one else could?”

Harry looked at his godfather, assessing him. “Promise you won’t hate me.”

“What? I could never hate you,” Sirius said fervently. “I promise I won’t hate you.”

Looking down at the table, Harry said, “I’m a Parselmouth. I can talk to snakes. That’s why I could hear the Basilisk and no one else could.”

Harry waited for Sirius’ outburst, but none was forthcoming. A gentle hand lifted his chin. “Is that why the students thought you were the heir of Slytherin?”

Harry nodded and explained what had happened at the Duelling Club. A look crossed Sirius’ face that Harry couldn’t identify.
“I’m so sorry, kiddo. I wonder where you got the ability,” Sirius mused. “I don’t remember James or his dad mentioning any Potters who were Parselmouths.”

“Professor Dumbledore thinks that Voldemort accidently gave me some of his abilities — you know, that night,” Harry explained. “My scar really hurt when I faced Voldemort during my first year and I can talk to snakes.”

Sirius nodded thoughtfully. “I guess that makes sense. Things obviously didn’t go the way Voldemort planned that night.” He reached out and set his hand on Harry’s shoulder and squeezed. “I’m so sorry you were ostracized for something that you had no control over. I don’t hate you and I’m not ashamed of you or anything.”

Harry smiled brightly at Sirius’ wholehearted acceptance of him. Sirius grinned at him. “Okay, so we left poor Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets.”

Harry laughed. “Sorry, that sounds funny.” He sobered up as he told Sirius about his trip into the Chamber of Secrets and his fight against both the Basilisk and the memory of Voldemort.

“He said he was memory trapped in a diary?” Sirius queried.

Harry nodded. “It was awful. He was getting more solid and Ginny…” he swallowed convulsively. “She was so pale and so still. I was so scared she was dead. Tom was laughing and telling me that once she was dead he was going to take her over. When Fawkes dropped the diary in my lap somehow I knew what to do. I stabbed the bloody book with the Basilisk fang. Tom screamed and ink poured out of the diary. When Tom disappeared Ginny woke up. I felt so badly for her, she was so scared and upset, but she was so brave. She told me that she’d wanted to tell me that morning what was going on, but she couldn’t.”

“She sounds like a brave girl,” Sirius commented. “Fighting off Voldemort for a whole year.”

Harry nodded. “She is. I was so worried that somehow they would blame her, but Dumbledore realized that Voldemort had somehow enchanted the diary and someone had planted it on Ginny. Stupid Malfoy!”

“Lucius Malfoy?” Sirius asked.

Harry nodded. “His son, Draco, is my year and he’s a bigoted, cowardly little ponce just like his father. Going on about Muggleborns and Blood traitors, he’s an idiot. His dad bought the whole Slytherin team the new Nimbus Two Thousand and ones so Draco could get on the team.” Harry laughed. “It still didn’t help. I grabbed the Snitch from right under his nose.”

Sirius smiled appreciatively. “Good for you. My cousin, Narcissa, is Draco’s mother. She was always a prissy little snot.”

Harry grinned, he loved that Sirius wouldn’t tell him to respect adults for no reason other than the fact that they were older than him.

“So, you rescued Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets,” Sirius said.

His grin fell from his face. “I just want to make sure she’s okay. From what Riddle said, he was awful to her. He’s so evil and she’s so young and sweet. I know he made fun of her and made her feel badly about herself. He used the things he’d made her do as reasons why her family and friends would hate her. He would make fun of the things she wrote. I asked Ron if she was okay and I could tell he thought I was stupid for asking. I want to write to her myself, but Ron specifically told me not to. He said that she would take that as a sign that I was in love with her or something.”

“What do you think?” Sirius asked gently.

Harry groaned. “I don’t know. I mean I’ve never really had many friends — I didn’t have any before Hogwarts. Somehow I don’t think she would be that…silly. She was so scared and I think it would be good to tell her that I’ll still be her friend. Ron is always joking that saving someone from a Mountain Troll cements a friendship. I would think that saving someone from a Basilisk would do that as well.”

Sirius stifled a groan at Harry’s casual reference to a Mountain Troll; he didn’t think he wanted to know what that meant. “I would agree that saving someone from a Basilisk would make you friends for life.”

“So do you think I should write to her?”

“It sounds like you really want to,” Sirius observed. “I think that shows that you should.”

“Did you see that shop next to the pet shop?” Harry asked. “It had all sorts of pretty things. I saw some really pretty hair clips. I’d like to get her one and send it to her for her birthday. Can we do that?”

“Okay,” Sirius said. “We can do that.” He shot a glance at his godson. “What colour hair does she have?”

“Her hair is really pretty,” Harry replied enthusiastically. “It’s red but with lots of other colours like gold and orange and copper in it as well. When she sits in front of the fire it lights up her hair and it’s really beautiful.”

Sirius hid a smile. It sounded like Harry was rather smitten with his young friend. Once the pair finished eating, they headed down to the shop Harry had mentioned.

The shop had a wide array of decorative barrettes and hair clips from which to choose. Sirius was quite patient and refrained from teasing Harry. He realized how important this was to the boy. The time he’d spent in Harry’s company had shown him that he needed to be gentler with Harry than he’d ever had to be with James. While Sirius could tease him about some things, too much teasing led Harry to shut down rather than retaliate as James would have done. Sirius understood only too well what a lifetime of living in a neglectful and abusive family could do. While Sirius had chosen to be the rebellious class clown, Harry was more serious and Sirius respected that choice.

After browsing for quite a while, Harry had narrowed his choices down to a larger rhinestone studded butterfly clip and a set of smaller lily combs that came in a variety of colours. Sirius watched as the boy kept going back and forth between the two.

“You could get both,” Sirius suggested. “It seems to me the clip would be useful for everyday wear, as you said she wears a lot of ponytails. The lily combs would be nice for a special occasion.”

“These are lilies?” Harry asked excitedly.

Sirius nodded. Harry turned to the shop clerk. “I will get the butterfly clip and a set of the purple lily combs.”

“Very good, sir,” the clerk replied. “Would you like them wrapped?”

Harry nodded. “Yes, please.”

Harry left the shop feeling quite proud of himself. At his urging the two stopped at the pet store to look at the animals. There were several black puppies and soon the two wizards found themselves in one of the play areas with a friendly, playful black lab puppy.

“Can you understand dogs when they bark?” Harry asked curiously as he watched Sirius playing tug-of-war with the puppy.

“Not understand them like I can translate bark for bark,” Sirius said after thinking about it for a moment. “Animals communicate differently. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I can communicate easily with dogs. This little guy thinks we are both lots of fun and wishes he could come home with us. With other animals it’s like…like they are speaking another language or a dialect or something. I could mostly communicate with your parents’ cat, but a stray cat wandering through the garden I probably couldn’t communicate with.”

Harry nodded his understanding. He threw a little red ball gently at the puppy. “My parents had a cat?”

“Your mum loved animals,” Sirius said with a fond smile. “I can easily imagine they would have had a house full of kids and a yard full of animals. She wanted a puppy, but she wanted to wait until they were out of hiding. Lily was afraid if they got a puppy and they were attacked the dog might get killed or they would have to leave it behind. So until you could get a dog of your own, I used to transform into Padfoot and play with you. That was so much fun.”

Harry’s eyes shone as he listened to the story. He loved hearing about his parents, even if it made him sad on occasion.

Sirius laughed his barky laugh. “Lily used to threaten me that she’d fill the house with Siamese cats. I hated Siamese cats, my mother used to own them and they always seemed very creepy to me.”

“I don’t like bull dogs,” Harry volunteered. “Aunt Marge breeds them and one year her mean old dog chased me up a tree. He stayed under the tree barking and trying to bite me if I tried to get down. My stupid relatives thought it was funny. Aunt Marge didn’t call him off until almost midnight.”

Sirius growled. The words Harry heard him mutter under his breath most certainly would have caused Harry to get his mouth washed out with soap. Harry giggled. When Sirius looked at him in confusion, Harry said, “Most grown-ups don’t say rude words around me.”

Sirius laughed. “You wound me, Harry. I’m a grown-up? What has this world come to?”

They stayed playing with the puppy for quite a while and Sirius went out of his way to make Harry laugh. It was one of the sweetest sounds in the world and Sirius vowed to do whatever he could to make sure Harry laughed more often.

To Harry’s delight, he had taken to swimming quite quickly and was soon splashing around the pool having a grand time. Sirius enjoyed playing in the pool and the pair had several epic splashing wars. Sirius had even jumped in as Padfoot as few times, paddling around the pool as a dog.

For Harry this was paradise. Dudley had received swimming lessons, but of course Harry had not. The few times the Dursleys had taken him to the local pool, Dudley and his nasty little friends had tried to dunk Harry and hold his head under water. The lifeguards had to intervene several times. To have the time to learn to swim and be safe was nothing short of a miracle as far as Harry was concerned.

After both wizards ended up with spectacular sunburns on their first day on the island, Sirius had been vigilant in applying the sunscreen charm. As a result, Harry was becoming quite tan.

Two days after their shopping trip, Sirius padded back out to the pool patio with a platter of sandwiches. “Lunchtime, kiddo!”

“Okay,” Harry said. He pulled himself out of the pool and dried off quickly.

“Thanks,” he said as he selected a roast beef sandwich. Without prompting, he swallowed his nutrient potion before he started to eat. While he hated taking potions, he did feel they were doing him some good. He’d gained a little bit of weight and he could certainly see the difference in Sirius. He’d gained quite a bit of weight back and with his tan and styled shoulder-length hair, he didn’t resemble his wanted poster at all.

“Harry, you’re starting your third year, right?”

Harry nodded and Sirius continued. “What classes are you picking up?”

Squirming a bit, Harry replied, “Care of Magical Creatures and Divination.”

“What…why?” Sirius asked in confusion. “As the oldest son of a noble house you should be taking Ancient Runes at the very least if not Arithmancy also. Why Divination?”

His heart sinking Harry said, “I didn’t really know what to take. None of the classes were really explained very well and I ended up taking what Ron is taking.”

When Sirius didn’t respond right away, Harry lost his appetite. He hated disappointing Sirius. “Is that bad?”

Sirius seemed to catch Harry’s tone of voice and hastened to reassure him. “No, kiddo, it’s okay. Ancient Runes is a class that teaches about runes which are a different form of writing. It is more of a pictograph form of writing and it is often used in spell casting. Runes can be used to protect houses and people. The reason oldest sons usually take Ancient Runes is because they are often called upon to ward their homes and their lands, especially oldest sons of ancient and noble families like ours. We often have multiple properties and sometimes have other families working for us like on a farm or a large estate.”

When Sirius didn’t seem upset with him, Harry started eating once again. After thinking over what Sirius said Harry said cautiously, “Ancient Runes does sound kind of interesting. Do you think I should switch to that?”

“I do,” Sirius said. “I’m sure if you send an owl to Professor McGonagall, she’ll be more than happy to switch you.”

“Okay,” Harry said after a minute. He looked over at his godfather; he really wished he could have always lived with him. “You don’t think that Ron will be really mad at me, do you?”

“He shouldn’t be,” Sirius said firmly. “He can join you in the class or the two of you will be in one class different.” He watched his godson and he could see something was bothering him. “What’s wrong, kiddo?”

Harry smiled at the nickname Sirius had for him — it was really nice. He shrugged. “I just don’t want Ron to be mad at me. He…he doesn’t like doing a lot of schoolwork and…”

Sirius could see Harry was having trouble articulating his thoughts. “Are you afraid he won’t want to be your friend anymore?”

Harry looked down at the table, tracing a pattern on it. He shrugged. “I don’t know. Ron…he was my first friend ever. He doesn’t like doing schoolwork and he always makes fun of Hermione for doing so much. I don’t want him to make fun of me.”

A surge of anger swelled in Sirius at the unknown Ron. He could see how much Harry was agonizing over this. “I don’t know exactly what to tell you. I would hope that Ron would be supportive, but I don’t know him and I don’t know how he will react. I can tell you that I would hope you would do your very best in your classes and I hope Ron would respect that.”

Harry fidgeted slightly before he looked up at Sirius. “So you want me to do my best in school and not hold back or anything.”

For a moment Sirius was confused by Harry’s statement. Why wouldn’t he want Harry to do his best? Understanding flashed through him. “Your relatives didn’t want you to do well, did they?”

Blushing, Harry shook his head. “I’d get in trouble if I did better in school than Dudley and Dudley isn’t very smart so I’d…well, I wouldn’t do well on purpose.”

“Have you been doing that at Hogwarts, too?” Sirius asked gently.

Slowly Harry nodded. “I waited to see how well everyone did and I…erm, I kind of made sure I wasn’t the best or the worst in the class. I don’t have to fail things like I did in primary school, but I don’t try as hard as I can. Everyone talks about me as it is, I…I guess I just wanted to be average.”

Putting a hand on Harry’s arm, Sirius said, “When you get back to Hogwarts, why don’t you try to do your best and see what happens? I don’t like the idea of you not learning as much as you can because of your friends. Your friends should encourage you to do your best and support you, not hold you back.”

Taking a deep breath, Harry nodded, “I promise. I will try my best.”

After lunch, Sirius changed into Padfoot and the two of them headed down to the beach. Harry found a stick lying on the beach and soon he and Padfoot were playing fetch. For Harry it was great fun. He’d never really had many opportunities to just play and he loved it. Padfoot jumped into the surf after the stick and Harry followed.

It was a fun and relaxing afternoon for the two of them. In the following days, Sirius did something for Harry that no adult had ever done — he helped him with his homework. He read over Harry’s essays and discussed the ideas Harry was trying to get across. Unlike Hermione who tended to rewrite Harry’s work for him, Sirius helped Harry to rewrite his own essays. To Harry’s complete amazement, Sirius let him actually practice magic. It really was the best summer ever.

Harry reluctantly left the window to his room and headed to bed. He loved the beach and loved listening to the sounds of the waves lapping on the shore and birds screeching as they flew and dove in the water. As much fun as he’d thought a trip to the beach would be, the reality was so much better.

He and Sirius had spent almost two hours on the beach making sand castles that afternoon. It thrilled him to have someone to play with. That Sirius was willing to crawl around on the sand and play with him was brilliant. There was a little girl staying in one of the other cottages who had been watching them a bit wistfully. Sirius invited her to play with them. It was a new experience to play with a little child. On Privet Drive, no parents would let their four- or five-year-old anywhere near Harry. Here, the other parents smiled at him and didn’t have a problem with him playing with their children.

After making sand castles, Harry had been drawn into a football game with some other boys on the beach. It wasn’t very organized, but it was fun. Sirius and some of the other parents laughed and cheered them on.

Walking to his bed, Harry briefly wondered if Ginny had received her presents yet. He hoped she would like them. He still wasn’t used to giving presents, so he always felt a bit unsure about how they would be received.

As he was drifting off to sleep, he heard a strange noise. Jolted into wakefulness, he sat up and strained to hear. The noise came again. It was a moaning, upsetting sound.

Pushing back his covers, Harry followed the noise to Sirius’ door. He paused outside the door, unsure of what he should do. His aunt and uncle hated if he came in their room at night. Another moan made up his mind and he knocked on the door before pushing it open.
Sirius was tangled in the sheets obviously in the grip of a nightmare. Harry hurried over to his godfather.


There was no answer save for another anguished moan. Reaching out, Harry shook the older man’s shoulder. “Sirius, wake up.” After another minute, Harry repeated his actions, a little harder and louder. “Sirius! Wake up!”

Sirius woke with a start, sitting straight up, looking around blinking. “Harry,” Sirius said softly looking around in confusion.

“Are you okay?” Harry asked anxiously. “It sounded like you were having a nightmare.”

Wiping his eyes on the edge of his sheet, Sirius scooted over and Harry climbed up on the bed sitting on the foot, facing his godfather. Sirius lit the candle that sat by his bed.

“Did I wake you up, kiddo?” Sirius asked.

Harry shook his head. “I was just lying down.”

“I’m sorry,” Sirius said staring down at the sheet. “I…I had a nightmare about Azkaban.”

“What’s it like there?” Harry asked cautiously.

Sirius shuddered. “It’s horrible. The Dementors that guard Azkaban are the foulest creatures that walk the face of the Earth. They make you re-live your worst memories and they make everything so damn cold. You feel like you’ll never be happy again. It’s miserable re-living your worst memories over and over again, but it’s made worse by listening to those around you re-living their worst memories.” He shuddered again. “Trust me, some of those people have lived horrible, violence-filled lives.”

“That sounds awful,” Harry said sympathetically as he reached out a hand to pat his godfather’s arm.

Sirius nodded. “It’s such a desolate place. It seems like there is never any sunshine or warmth there at all. All hours of the day and night you hear the screams and moans of the other prisoners. They would feed us this…slop twice a day. It was a greyish, unidentifiable glop that either had no taste or bordered on rancid.”

“How did you survive?” Harry asked in astonishment. The horrors his godfather had lived through sounded torturous. It wasn’t fair that someone so good to him would have been treated to badly.

Sirius shrugged. “I lived a lot of my time as Padfoot. The Dementors couldn’t read my emotions as a dog so they left me alone. I will admit I’ve been hungry for the last twelve years.”

Harry giggled, making Sirius smile. Reaching out, Sirius ruffled Harry’s hair. “It’s thanks to you, kiddo, that I’ve been able to recover as much as I have.”

“Really?” Harry asked as he scooted closer to Sirius.

Sirius nodded. “I was in a pretty bad place when I broke out of prison. I don’t think I would have pulled myself back together as quickly as I did if I didn’t have you in my life.”

Harry grinned happily. No one had ever really wanted him before. Reaching out he initiated a hug, something he’d never felt comfortable doing before. Sirius pulled him into an embrace and dropped a kiss on the top of his head.

“Thank you for coming to check on me,” Sirius said.

“You’re welcome,” Harry replied a bit shyly.

Ginny sighed as she put her clothes away in her wardrobe. Egypt had been an amazing place to visit and she didn’t have words to express how happy she was to be able to talk to Bill, but she was glad to be home.

The beginning of the summer had been awful. Ginny had been plagued with nightmares that ended with her screaming and waking the whole house. While her parents had been understanding, her brothers weren’t as much. Percy had taken to treating her like she was a small child and unable to make even the simplest decision on her own. The twins were good to her. They seemed to truly feel badly that they hadn’t noticed what was happening to her.

Ron was the brother who confused her the most. At times he seemed sorry that he hadn’t spent more time with her during the school year, but at other times he was angry that she had allowed herself to be duped by an enchanted diary. He had yelled at her several times for Hermione ending up in the hospital wing and Harry almost getting killed. Ginny hoped that he would get the anger out of his system and be her friend once again, but so far that hadn’t happened. Out of everyone, he was the only one who never checked on her when she had her nightmares. In a way Ginny was glad, it was awkward enough with her parents hovering over her every night, but it would be nice to know he cared.

The time spent with Bill was wonderful. He’d always been her favourite brother and the one she went to for advice. He didn’t let her down. Unlike everyone else, Bill didn’t tiptoe around the topic. He talked to her about everything that had happened and he helped her see that it wasn’t her fault. She wished that he lived closer, but at least he was a good letter writer. She had promised to write to him more faithfully this year.

After putting away her clothes, she headed downstairs to see if her mother needed any help. She was set to work mixing up bread dough. Although she’d never admit it to her mother, it was one of her favourite jobs. She loved the feel of the dough as she kneaded it and the smell of freshly baked bread was one of her favourites.

As she worked, Ron gravitated down to the kitchen. He dumped his dirty clothes in the scullery before taking a seat at the table. He’d been grumpy since they’d returned to England and he’d found out that Harry was missing.

It was all very mysterious. Something had happened and Harry had run away after performing some accidental magic at his aunt and uncle’s house. About the same time, Sirius Black had escaped from Azkaban. Everyone was concerned that Black had somehow caught Harry. Ginny hoped with all of her heart that Harry would be okay. It just wasn’t fair how so many bad things happened to Harry.
She set the dough aside to rise and washed her hands. A tapping on the window made her look up. A large, beautiful, exotic-looking bird was on the other side. Ginny opened the window and to her amazement, when the bird extended his leg he had a letter and a small package addressed to her.

She removed the bird’s burden and offered him some water and a treat.

“Goodness,” Mrs Weasley said as she entered the room. “What a beautiful bird! Where did it come from?”

“I don’t know,” Ginny said. She held up the letter and package in her hand. “He brought this for me. I guess for my birthday.”

Sitting down at the table she opened the letter. Scanning the letter, she gasped when she read the name at the bottom of the letter.
10 August, 1993
Dear Ginny,

I hope you have a wonderful birthday! I bet you’re surprised I remembered, aren’t you? I’ve been thinking about you this summer and I hope you’re doing well. I’ve been worried about you, what a horrible first year you had. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t a better friend to you. I keep thinking that if we had just paid a bit more attention to you, then you wouldn’t have been writing in that awful diary.
This next year will be different, I promise! I want to be a better friend.

How was your trip to Egypt? I’m rather jealous, Egypt sounds fun. I know you’ve been to at least to Romania and Egypt. Have you been anywhere else?

I’m actually having a great summer. I’ll tell you all about it on the train. My godfather, Sirius Black (who is not a murderer) and I are on holiday. I can’t say where, but I’m safe and having a brilliant time. I’ve never been anywhere before and we are spending a lot of our time at the beach. Sirius taught me how to swim and I’m having a great time.

Anyhow, Happy Birthday! I’ll see you on the train.


P.S. I hope you like your present. The flower in the combs is a lily. I thought that was cool because my mum’s name was Lily — I don’t know, maybe it was stupid, but I thought you’d like it. I don’t know if you like purple, but I know you don’t like pink.

P.P.S. If you have to show people the letter that’s fine. Sirius says that people are probably looking for me. I’m fine and I’ll be on the train. Don’t worry, Sirius would never, ever hurt me!!

With a slightly shaking hand, Ginny opened the package. Inside the box she found a beautiful butterfly clip and a pair of purple lily combs. Both of them were made of brilliantly coloured stones set into gold and were both very pretty. She gasped, she’d never been given anything so nice. Her thoughts were spinning around in her head.

She couldn’t believe that Harry had written to her. He’d remembered her birthday!! She reread the letter — was Sirius Black actually innocent? She hoped for Harry’s sake that was true, Harry sounded really happy. She looked at the box again. They were quite honestly the prettiest things she’d ever been given.

“What is it, love?” her mother asked.

“They are from Harry,” Ginny said as she held out the box.

“What?!” Ron erupted. Reaching over he grabbed the letter from her hand. Mrs Weasley hurried over and read the letter over Ron’s shoulder.

Without another word, she hurried over to the Floo and called Professor Dumbledore. In just a few minutes, the venerable old wizard was seated at their kitchen table reading her letter. He performed several spells on both the letter and the package, but Ginny couldn’t tell what they were or what they showed him.

Ron had stormed angrily up to his room after reading her letter. Ginny wasn’t entire certain if he was angry at Harry or her, but she stayed out of his way. He scared her a little when he became so angry. She was rather glad he wasn’t in the kitchen while she talked to Professor Dumbledore.

“Is this the first letter you’ve had from Harry?” Professor Dumbledore asked kindly.

Ginny blushed and nodded. While a lot of her awe of and respect for the Headmaster had disappeared when he hadn’t been able to help her the previous year, she was still rather nervous in his presence.

“Do you have any idea where he might be?” Mrs Weasley asked anxiously.

“Unfortunately, no,” Professor Dumbledore replied. He sipped his tea before he elaborated, “We know that once Harry performed the accidental magic on his aunt he fled his house. He didn’t take the Knight Bus and as far as we can tell, he didn’t use any Muggle means either. I don’t know when he met Sirius Black, but evidently he did meet Black and is staying with him. I don’t know what means Black used to convince Harry to accompany him. Judging from your daughter’s letter, it is obvious that Black has lied to the boy.”

“Can’t you track him?” Mrs Weasley asked. “It worries me so much that Harry is in the clutches of such a man.”

“Harry said that his godfather wasn’t a murderer,” Ginny protested. “It sounds like he’s having a great holiday. If he meant to murder Harry I don’t think he’d take him on a holiday and play with him. I mean, he took Harry on holiday, why would he do that if he was bad?”

“I don’t know,” Professor Dumbledore admitted. “However, I would feel better if we knew where he has taken Harry and why he felt the need to remove him from his legal guardians. Regardless of his protestations now, I believe that he betrayed the Potters and murdered those Muggles, but I will admit I am not certain. Be that as it may, he has spent twelve years in Azkaban and who knows what sort of impact that might have made upon him.”

Back to index

Chapter 3: Chapter 3 The Hogwarts Express

Author's Notes: Special thanks to Arnel for her beta skills! I have changed a bit of Harry's family history and modified the history of the wizarding world. It just seemed to work better for my story :)

Sirius smiled as he watched his godson double check his trunk. Harry had changed immensely over the past three weeks. He was tan and had lost that underfed look, but the biggest change was his attitude. He was more confident and much happier than he’d been when Sirius had found him.

On their way back to England, they had stopped once again in Casablanca. Sirius had purchased a vial of eye correction potion and Harry’s eye sight was now slightly better than 20/20. His glasses were now a thing of the past and Harry was thrilled about it.

“Do you have everything?” Sirius asked.

Harry nodded. “My trunk has never been this full before. I love all of my new clothes and new robes. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many new things all at once.”

“At least you got rid of all of those shiny new Lockhart books,” Sirius laughed.

Harry joined his laughter. He’d been able to sell all of his Lockhart books at a bookshop in Casablanca. The witch working there had been thrilled to receive Lockhart’s whole collection of books hardly used.

“I still can’t believe he lied all that time and no one caught on,” Harry groused.

Sirius shrugged. “A good lie is often rooted in truth. It seems like the events he reported were factual, it was just his presence that he lied about. Lockhart is a good looking and personable wizard who tells a good story.”

“I guess,” Harry agreed. “I just hope the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor this year is good. We haven’t had a really good professor.”

“Even without a decent professor you seem to have a good handle on Defence,” Sirius said.

Harry grinned. “Thank you.”

Closing his trunk, he looked at his godfather in concern. “What are you going to do? They are going to question me when I return. Are you going to be safe?”

“I’ll be fine,” Sirius reassured his godson as he had done frequently over the past few days. “I’m going into hiding. Just tell them the truth. You won’t be able to reveal where we stayed in London or the Canary Islands. The charms on the properties prevent that. You won’t be able to tell them anything that will lead them to catch me.”

“What if they…I don’t know… read my mind or something? Professor Dumbledore always seems to know everything.”

Pulling the boy into a hug, Sirius tried to reassure him. “It will be okay. If they do find me, I can tell them where Peter is now. Remember, do not do anything! I plan to approach Professor McGonagall, but I don’t want to just go after him without a plan. That obviously didn’t work well last time. I’m hoping Professor McGonagall will be able to help capture him and make certain he makes it to Azkaban.”

“I won’t do anything,” Harry promised fervently. “I don’t want to do anything that will result in Peter getting away.”

“Good!” Sirius said. He glanced at the clock. “We better get going.”

Sirius shouldered his own rucksack that was filled with his new clothes and other supplies. Nodding, Harry called to Hedwig who flew into her cage. Harry closed and locked the door after running his finger down the bird’s soft feathers. He grinned at his godfather. “I think Hedwig enjoyed the beach as well. She looks happy.”

Sirius smiled. “I’m sure she did. She liked helping you play fetch.”

Harry dissolved into laughter remembering their last afternoon on the beach when Hedwig would swoop down and snatch the stick Harry was throwing to Padfoot. The three of them had played a rather odd and lopsided game of fetch. Harry had laughed the entire time.

With his trunk and cage secured, the pair headed down the street. Sirius was dressed simply in jeans and a t-shirt with a ball cap on his head. The tanned and well-rested former prisoner received many second glances from the ladies they passed, but no one connected him with the scruffy and rather demented-looking wizard in the wanted posters.

As they drew within sight of King’s Cross, Harry sighed. For once the prospect of returning to Hogwarts wasn’t as appealing as it usually was. Sirius seemed to read his mind.

“Don’t worry, kiddo. I’ll be fine and I’ll stay in touch.” He grinned at the boy. “I’m thinking of heading north. Scotland is supposed to be beautiful this time of year.”

As they reached the station, Sirius reached out and pulled Harry into a hug. “I love you, kiddo. Please be very, very careful. No trolls or Basilisks this year.”

“I promise.” Harry laughed as he hugged his godfather tightly. Pulling back he looked up at the man who had become more of a father figure to him than anyone else had ever been. “I love you, too. You need to be careful, too.”

“I will,” Sirius said as he kissed Harry on the forehead. “Let me know how Ginny liked her present.” He shifted his gaze over to Hedwig. “When you send me messages, change owls frequently. As much as I’d like to see Hedwig she is too distinctive to use all the time.”

Harry nodded and Hedwig hooted her understanding. Before they entered the building, Sirius changed into Padfoot and taking a deep
breath, Harry headed to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, ready to see what awaited him.

He half expected to find rows of Aurors waiting to take Sirius into custody so he was happy to find it was the same chaotic frenzy that it was every first of September. Parents and children hurried along the platform while the shiny, gleaming, scarlet engine sent out billowing clouds of smoke. As he watched, Harry noticed a few extra adults who were scanning the crowd rather than seeing off children.
Aurors, he thought grimly. He gripped Padfoot’s fur tightly and the dog nodded slightly letting him know he’d also noticed the Aurors.

Harry skirted along the edge of the platform, hoping to avoid notice. He reached the back of the train without being spotted. To his surprise, the Aurors hadn’t given him a second look.

Several cars away he could see the Weasley family saying their goodbyes. His heart lifted at the sight of his friends. Kneeling down next to Padfoot, Harry hugged the dog tightly.

“I love you, Padfoot,” he whispered. Hedwig hooted as if in agreement.

Padfoot barked softly and licked him on the cheek. Harry laughed. “Have a good trip and be careful!”

With one last pet for the large dog, he headed towards the Weasleys. As he neared the group, Mrs Weasley was hugging Ron. It was Mr Weasley who noticed Harry approaching.


The rest of the group turned as one, Harry coloured a bit under the sudden scrutiny. Mr Weasley quickly made his way over to the boy. “Harry, are you all right?”

“I’m fine, Mr Weasley,” Harry said easily. He wasn’t certain that Mr Weasley believed him.

“Harry, I am going to perform a charm on you,” Mr Weasley said as he drew his wand. Harry flinched as the yellow beam hit him. It didn’t hurt at all, but he didn’t like the sensation.

“There are no tracking or compulsion charms on you at all,” Mr Weasley announced. With another movement, something silvery flew out of Mr Weasley’s wand. “I’ve sent word to both Hogwarts and the Ministry to let them know you are safe.”

That seemed to trigger something in everyone else. Mrs Weasley bustled over and engulfed him in a huge hug. “Harry, we were so worried about you.” She pulled back and looked down at him. She seemed surprised to find he looked so good. “Where are your glasses? Did that man steal them? Can you see?”

“Yes, I can see,” Harry said indignantly. “Sirius got an eye correcting potion for me. He wouldn’t steal from me.”

Fred and George grinned at him. “We are glad to see our star Seeker is in one piece.”

“I’m good,” Harry affirmed returning their grin.

Nodding the twins headed out to find Lee Jordan. Hermione gasped, “Mrs Weasley, we need to get on the train. It’s getting ready to leave.”

“Of course,” Mrs Weasley said. She seemed rather flustered by Harry’s staunch defence of Sirius. She gave hugs and kisses to everyone and they hurried onto the train making it just before the train started moving.

Harry grinned at Ron. “It’s good we made it. I think we’d be in a lot of trouble if we missed the train two years in a row.”

“What happened, Harry?” Ron asked finding his voice.

“I’ll tell you in a minute,” Harry said as they looked for a compartment. They finally found a compartment with a sleeping man in it. For some reason the man looked a bit familiar to Harry, but he quickly dismissed the thought — it wasn’t like he knew any adult wizards. “We might as well go in here. Every other compartment is full up.”

“Go away, Ginny,” Ron said shortly.

Harry could see the hurt on her face and he glared at Ron. “No, Ginny. Please stay.”

Ginny looked between the two of them and obviously decided that Harry was serious. She scooted in and sat gingerly on the bench near the sleeping man. Ron and Harry put all of their trunks up on the rack and Harry petted Hedwig as he set her cage next to the cage that held a huge ginger cat. Whilst everyone was occupied in settling in their seats, Harry surreptitiously cast a sleeping spell on Scabbers who was peeking out from Ron’s pocket.

Sirius had coached him in the sleeping spell and Harry had practiced it all week. He didn’t want to take the chance that Scabbers might hear about Sirius and decide to make a run for it. Giving Ginny a quick smile, Harry sat next to her while Ron and Hermione sat across from him.

Eyeing the sleeping man nervously, Ron said, “I wonder who that is.”

“Professor R.J. Lupin,” Hermione said, promptly pointing to the man’s labelled trunk, sitting neatly above him.

Harry’s eyes widened at the name. This was Moony? He looked quite a bit older than Sirius did with grey hair and several scars on his face, neck, and exposed arms. Sirius had told him that werewolves aged more quickly than others, but Harry hadn’t expected the difference to be quite so dramatic. He wondered what Moony was doing here. Looking up at the battered trunk, he re-read ‘Professor R.J. Lupin’. Could Moony be the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher? Harry didn’t know of any other opening that needed to be filled. That would be amazing, to learn from someone who was a great friend of his parents.

Hermione who had been looking Harry over finally had enough.

“Harry James Potter!” she scolded. “We have been so worried about you! How could you take off like that? Are you alright? You were kidnapped! How can you just be sitting there looking so tan and healthy? How did you escape from him? Did you get your books for this year?”

Harry was laughing by the time she ran out of questions. “I’m fine, Hermione. I wasn’t kidnapped, and don’t worry, I’ll explain everything.”

He was startled when she suddenly lurched across the compartment and threw her arms around him. He caught her awkwardly and gave her a tentative hug. She pulled back and sat back down next to Ron.

“I was so worried about you!”

“I’m sorry, Hermione. I didn’t mean to worry anyone,” Harry said earnestly.

“What happened, Harry?” Ron asked, hurt evident in his voice. “How could you disappear and then just write to my sister like nothing ever happened?”

Harry blushed slightly. “I’ll explain.”

He smiled at Ginny who blushed, but smiled back. “I guess that means you got my letter.”

She nodded and turned her head slightly so he could see that she was wearing the butterfly clip in her hair. “I did. Thank you so much, Harry. I admit I was surprised that you remembered my birthday. Thank you for the hair clip and combs. They are so beautiful.”

Harry grinned. “You’re welcome. I’m glad you like them. I was there for your birthday last year and…erm, I was a bit worried about you after everything that happened this year.”

“I’m getting better,” she said shyly. Harry smiled, glad that he’d taken the time to send her a letter.

“Okay, Ginny’s fine,” Ron said impatiently. “What happened?”

Harry laughed at Ron’s expression and began his story. “It all started with my Aunt Marge.” He explained how she spent the week insulting his parents and testing his patience.

“So she just blew up?” Hermione questioned sceptically.

Harry nodded. “It was kind of funny. She blew up like a balloon and floated away.”

Ginny giggled and Harry smiled, happy to hear the sound. Ron laughed as well. “The department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes found her and punctured her. They modified her memory and sent her home. Dad told us.”

“That’s good,” Harry said. “I don’t like her, but I’d hate for her to get lost.” He looked at his best mate. “Am I in trouble with the Ministry? I didn’t know what to do. Uncle Vernon was so angry with me and I was afraid the Ministry would try to expel me again.”

“You’re not in trouble for that, no,” Ron answered honestly. “They were more worried that you disappeared and that Black had found you. What happened? How did he catch you? Did you escape?”

“He didn’t catch me,” Harry said irritably. He was a bit upset that they didn’t believe him. “Didn’t you see what I wrote to Ginny? Sirius didn’t kidnap me! He rescued me.” Harry quickly explained how Sirius had found him and how he’d decided to go with Sirius.

“Harry, that was so dangerous!” Hermione scolded. “You took off with a man you didn’t know after a very brief conversation. Haven’t you learned anything? He’s a mass murderer. No matter what sort of excuse he might have given you, he killed thirteen people at once. He is a follower of You-Know-Who! He can’t be trusted!”

“No, he didn’t kill anyone and Sirius never followed Voldemort,” Harry returned heatedly. “Sirius was framed.” He explained how Sirius and Peter had switched Secret-Keepers and how Sirius confronted Peter. He kept Peter’s identity a secret for now.

When he was finished, he looked around at the others. Ginny was the only one who seemed to believe him. Hermione and Ron shared a look that started his blood boiling. It was a look that said they didn’t believe him.

“I’ve never heard of this Fidelius Charm,” Hermione said. “I’ll have to research it when we get to school. It seems rather complicated. If your parents knew You-Know-Who was after them why didn’t they just leave the country?”

“Gee, Hermione, I don’t know,” Harry snapped. “Maybe they did what they thought was best!”

Hermione seemed a bit taken aback by his anger. “I’m sorry, Harry. I didn’t mean to criticize your parents; I’m just trying to understand what happened.”

“I can’t help you there, on account of the fact that they were murdered when I was a baby,” he replied coolly.

Ginny looked anxiously between the two friends, uncertain if she should say anything. She was rather surprised that Hermione didn’t believe Harry. If there was one thing Ginny was certain of, it was that Harry didn’t lie. While most of her embarrassing and rather debilitating crush had died on the floor of the Chamber of Secrets, she still admired and respected Harry. Only this time it was the real Harry Potter — the Harry who was a bit messy and moody, who loved to fly and didn’t like doing his homework and was horribly awkward around girls.

She glanced at her brother who seemed at a loss as to what he should do. Taking a deep breath she said, “How awful that he was in Azkaban for so long and he was innocent.”

Grateful that someone believed him Harry gave her a dazzling smiled. “I know. Can you imagine being in prison for twelve years for something you didn’t do? Azkaban sounds awful. Sirius would have some horrible nightmares some nights. I would sit and talk to him until he went back to sleep.” He looked back at Hermione. “Besides, he’s my godfather and my legal guardian. He can’t kidnap me, he’s the one I’m supposed to be with.”

“Harry, don’t you think people would know if Sirius wasn’t really a murderer?” Hermione tried a different tact. “It would have come out at his trial if he was innocent.”

“Were you not listening to me?” Harry demanded. “Sirius didn’t get a trial! He was thrown into jail because of his last name and because Professor Dumbledore wouldn’t listen to him. My parents changed Secret-Keepers without telling him.”

“You don’t know that for certain,” Hermione pointed out. “Besides the ministry must have had some other evidence on him. Professor Dumbledore wouldn’t have let them send an innocent man to jail.”

“Professor Dumbledore isn’t always right,” Ginny spoke up. “He makes mistakes just like everyone else. He let them send Hagrid to prison last year and Hagrid is the last person who would ever hurt someone.”

“Ginny!” Hermione was scandalized that Ginny was disparaging the Headmaster so freely.

“What?” Ginny returned. “He should have been able to figure out what was happening last year and he should have been able to help me. Instead, he hires some fake idiot and leaves when things got rough. He should have been able to put all of the clues together much faster than a group of second year students. As grateful as I am to Harry, it shouldn’t have been up to him to rescue me.”

“Maybe you should have used your brain and not trusted a diary that talked back to you,” Ron said snidely.

Harry gasped at the outright meanness in Ron’s voice. “Ron! It’s not her fault! Voldemort bewitched that diary. How was she supposed to fight against that?”

He turned to Ginny. “I’m really sorry we ignored you last year. I can only imagine how horrible it must have been for you. Please let us try to make it up to you.”

She blushed but managed a smile. “I’m the one who’s sorry. I’m sorry I put you in so much danger. Thank you for coming after me.”

He grinned. “You’re welcome. I’m glad I did and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Before either of the two older students could say anything, Ginny said, “So you went to the beach?”

Harry nodded excitedly. “Sirius took me to stay at a beach house. It was brilliant. I’ve never been to the beach before. The house where we stayed was really nice. It had a private pool and Sirius taught me how to swim and everything.”

He spent a good deal of time telling stories about his summer, careful to not reveal anything that might accidentally give away where they had stayed. Ginny was the only one who was acting normally. Hermione and Ron obviously still thought he was hiding something or that he had been kidnapped and didn’t realize it.

After some time Hermione sighed. “Well, I have to say Mr Black seems to have taken good care of you. You look quite healthy and I’ve never seen you so tan. I didn’t hear what you told Mrs Weasley about your glasses, why aren’t you wearing them?”

Harry laughed at the ‘Mr Black’. “Sirius gave me a potion that fixed my eyes so I don’t have to wear glasses anymore.”

“Really,” Hermione was intrigued against her will. “I didn’t know there was such thing.”

Harry shrugged. “I didn’t either, but Sirius asked me if I wanted to try it. We bought it at a wizarding market.”


He shrugged, he didn’t see a reason to hide that information. “Casablanca. We travelled through there on our way back to England.”

“Casablanca,” Ginny said excitedly. “I’ve always wanted to go there.”

“It was really amazing,” Harry said. “Their magical shops are mixed in with the Muggle shops. We went to this huge outdoor bazar and most of the magical shops are down what looks like a small alleyway. They were really huge stalls filled with all sorts of cool things. It was brilliant. The shopping district was inside the old city walls and it was this maze of shops and stalls. Sirius found his way around easily, but I know I would have been lost.

“There was even a stall selling flying carpets. I never knew they were real. I got to try one out. They had a little area where you could fly the carpets. I wish they weren’t illegal here or I’d buy one in a heartbeat. Sirius and I raced around on them. It was so fun.”

“That sounds like fun,” Ron said. “We got to ride a magic carpet in Egypt, but it was one of the large family-sized rugs. We didn’t get to race.”

“That’s too bad. It was a lot of fun,” Harry said. “The marketplace was really amazing. It was outdoors and had all sorts of stalls selling lots of things. I didn’t know what half of them were.” He reached into his bag that he’d packed for the train and pulled out an ornate, golden jar with bright boldly coloured jewels on the top. When he opened the jar an exotic scent wafted through the compartment.

Hermione leaned over to look at the jar. “Is that some kind of potpourri?”

Harry shook his head. “It’s a blend of herbs and spices that are used in protection rituals. There is turmeric, sage, holly leaves, rosemary…I know there’s other stuff in there, but I can’t remember it all.”

“Protection rituals?” Hermione asked sceptically. “That sounds like superstitious nonsense.”

“Protection rituals are real,” Ginny spoke up. “Our granny uses them every spring to rid her house of any unwanted spirits or any lingering spells.”

Ron wrinkled his nose. “It always stinks up the house. I hate cleansing time, I always get a headache.”

“It smells nice,” Ginny countered. Turning to Harry she asked, “Is there chamomile in there? That is supposed to be good to remove curses cast against you.”

Harry nodded. “Yes, I didn’t know that’s what it did, but the witch did mention chamomile. Sirius said my grandmother used to perform protection rituals every spring also. He and my dad used to help her get ready.”

“It doesn’t sound like it’s very useful,” Hermione said.

Harry shrugged. “I don’t think it’s supposed to be overly powerful. Sirius said it just provides good energy to the house. It won’t protect against Dark magic or anything, but it cleanses the house of negative energy.”

“It does,” Ginny said. “I love cleansing time. Not only does the house smell nice, but there is a nice energy in the house. My grandmother says that it is good to renew our commitment to our house to make it a home.”

Hermione looked over at Ron and noticed that he looked a bit worried as well. Harry kept using the phrase Sirius said over and over again. No matter what Harry said, a grown man taking a boy from his home without permission was kidnapping. Harry didn’t seem to realize what danger he’d been in.

As she watched Harry and Ginny talking, she realized with a start that she’d never heard him talk so much before. At least not about things not related to school or Quidditch. Harry was usually quite shy about talking to girls, but he didn’t seem at all nervous talking to Ginny. She frowned slightly as she listened to them talking. Could Harry possibly have a crush on Ginny? It didn’t seem likely, but as she listened to them chattering away she had to acknowledge it was a possibility.

It was early afternoon and Harry was enjoying his trip to Hogwarts. Ginny was a lot of fun to talk to. She was smart and funny and she didn’t want to keep harping on his alleged ‘kidnapping’. He didn’t know why Hermione was so angry about Sirius, but it was starting to get annoying. He didn’t insult or make mean comments about her parents, so why couldn’t she grant him the same courtesy? He didn’t understand her attitude. They had only finished two years of wizarding school, was it any wonder there were charms and spells they’d never heard of?

Reaching over, Harry grabbed two more pumpkin pasties off the pile of treats he’d purchased from the tea trolley. Ginny refilled her pumpkin juice and topped off Harry’s as well. She tossed her brother a chocolate frog.

Ron who’d been reading the latest issue of Quidditch Weekly accepted the treat with a rare smile for his sister. He ripped open the treat and quickly bit the head off the frog. Once the frog had been eaten he turned his attention to the card.

“Ginny, I have a Queen Maeve, do you want it?”

“Thanks,” Ginny said accepting the card.

Ron laughed. “Is Cliodna still your favourite?”

Blushing slightly Ginny nodded. Harry was intrigued. “Why is she your favourite?”

“I was really little when I first saw her card. She was so pretty — she had red hair and was surrounded by birds and flowers. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up,” Ginny explained. “You don’t often see pictures of famous people with red hair and she was so beautiful.” She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve always liked animals and the fact that she was an Animagus was fascinating. I was sure I would be an Animagus when I grew up. I read all about them and tried to learn as much as I could about Animagi.”

“Do you still want to be an Animagus?” Harry asked with interest. He’d always found the idea interesting, but since learning his father was an Animagus and watching his godfather transform he was fascinated.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I like Transfiguration and I like animals so I’d like to learn more about it.”

“It sounds really fun,” Harry said thinking of the fun he’d had with Sirius while he was Padfoot. He wished he could tell them about his father and godfather, but Sirius had asked him to keep that to himself for now.

“I don’t know,” Hermione said entering the conversation. “I’m sure it would be fascinating to spend some time as an animal, but what if you get stuck as the animal?” She shuddered, “I don’t know if I would enjoy that. Besides, is there a good practical reason to turn into an animal?”

“I don’t know,” Ginny said. “Being an animal could be useful sometimes. Bill told us about one of his co-workers who could turn into some kind of bird…” She looked at her brother who nodded.

“A hawk, I think,” Ron put in.

“He would fly over the treasure sites,” Ginny explained. “Sometimes when they were concerned about the floor, he would fly over them. It always sounded really cool.” She shrugged. “I can’t explain it, but it sounds like fun.”

Harry looked over to where Hermione was sitting. She had an overstuffed bag of books at her feet. While seeing Hermione with books was certainly not unusual, it seemed like more books than usual.

“Hermione, how many classes are you taking this year?” Harry asked. He looked over at her stack of books and saw not only Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, but Muggle Studies as well. “Muggle Studies, why on earth are you taking that?”

“It’s fascinating to see how the wizarding world sees Muggles,” Hermione replied earnestly.

“I’m glad I’m not taking that,” Ron put in. “Divination and Care of Magical Creatures should be the easiest, right Harry?”

With a sinking heart, Harry realized that it was time to come clean. “Um, I switched one of my classes. I dropped Divination and I’m taking Ancient Runes.”

“What?!” Ron was outraged. He glanced at the sleeping professor after his outburst and when the professor kept sleeping, he continued in a quieter tone of voice, “How could you do that? I thought we were taking all of our classes together. Why are you taking Ancient Runes? That’s for the swotty know-it-all types.”

“Sirius said that I should take Ancient Runes,” Harry explained. He desperately tried to recall the conversation with Sirius about changing classes. “As the heir to an ancient and noble house, it will be useful in the future.”

“Heir to an ancient and noble house?” Hermione asked curiously.

“So because you are an heir you are leaving me behind?” Ron asked hurt and upset.

“Ron, stop acting like a prat,” Ginny spoke up. “You know he’s right. That’s why Bill took Ancient Runes. We aren’t an ancient and noble family, but he works with a lot of them at Gringotts. Ancient Runes form the basis for any home wards and Harry will need to know that kind of stuff. It’s not like he can ask his father.”

Ron looked a bit ashamed of his outburst. “Sorry, mate. I forget sometimes that you weren’t raised knowing this stuff. I guess it does make sense that you would need to know that kind of information.”

“Why?” Hermione asked looking at the rest of them. “What does heir to an ancient and noble house mean?”

“I’m still not exactly sure,” Harry said. “Sirius said that my family is an ancient and noble house and I’m his heir as well and his family is also an ancient and noble family. It has something to do with the families that started the Ministry.” He looked over at Ginny who seemed to know what he was talking about. “Is that right?”

Ginny smiled gently. “Ancient and noble families are the families that have been around for centuries — even before the Roman invasion. There were some tribes that were strictly wizarding, but they also married into other ancient tribes. After the Romans left, they lived as any Muggle nobles of the time. They had keeps or castles and provided shelter to those who lived on their lands. The difference is that the ancient and noble families usually sheltered or provided lands for other magical families. For a long time we lived in peace with the Muggles, but during the Middle Ages the magical families started pulling away from the Muggles. They had to because if the Muggles were living until they were like twenty-nine and the wizards were living until they were over one hundred — it was really better if they didn’t mix.”

“I never thought of that,” Harry said thoughtfully. “I guess that would be hard to explain.”

Ginny nodded. “After the Civil War and all of the fighting over religion in the 1500 and 1600s, the ancient and noble families decided that they needed to form their own government. They gathered together and eventually formed the Ministry. I know that all of the ancient and noble families have a seat on the Wizengamot — usually multiple seats.”

“How do they get multiple seats?” Hermione asked.

“Different families die out and they owe their allegiance to another family, that family gets the seats of the family that died out,” Ginny explained. She shrugged. “I’m not exactly sure how it works, I went to work with dad one day and he took me down to sit in on a session of the Wizengamot. It was mostly boring. The Weasleys only have one seat on the Wizengamot, but my dad takes his responsibility very seriously. His Muggle Protection Act was a really great idea. Bill says it’s a great piece of legislation. Even if it made Lucius Malfoy angry, I think it was a good idea.”

“Sirius was really impressed with the Muggle Protection Act,” Harry said. “His relatives were really horrible and used to go Muggle hunting and horrible things like that, but Sirius isn’t like that. He said that the act was really needed and it is well written.”

Hermione sat back in her seat and picked up her book, but in reality she was watching Ginny more closely. The younger girl was not at all like Hermione thought she would be. She was smarter and more observant than Hermione expected.

Harry was almost asleep when the train slowed and came to a complete stop. Opening his eyes, Harry looked around. “What’s going on? We aren’t anywhere near the school.”

“I don’t know,” Hermione said as she peered out the window. She shivered. “It’s awfully cold all of a sudden.”

Ron peered out the compartment door into the corridor. He could see other students doing the same, but didn’t see any adults or any reason for them to have stopped.

The four of them huddled a bit closer as it became colder and colder in the compartment. Harry felt really strange all of sudden. It was like he would never be happy again. Neville stumbled into their compartment after a moment. “It’s so cold out there!”

Suddenly the compartment door was flung open again and Harry saw an apparition that seemed to be straight out of hell. It was tall and covered head to toe in a black cloak. As it glided towards them, the temperature, which had been cold, dropped well past freezing. As much as he wanted to, Harry couldn’t take his eyes off the creature. He heard Ginny whimper and wished he could comfort her, but truthfully, he couldn’t move.

“No!” he heard a voice shouting. Although the voice sounded completely terrified, it rather comforted him as though he should know whose voice it was. It was a woman’s voice, but that was all he could tell. He wanted to help her, but he couldn’t tell where the voice was coming from. He felt as though he was falling before his world went black.

He woke a minute later to see Ron crouched over him. When he realized Harry was awake, he pulled Harry up into a sitting position.
“Are you okay, mate?”

Harry nodded a bit uncertainly as he looked around the compartment. It was suddenly warmer than it had been. Ginny looked small and scared. Harry levered himself up to sit next to her.

“Eat this, Harry.”

Looking up Harry was surprised to find that Moony was awake. He looked at what he’d been given. It was a hunk of chocolate.

Obediently, he took a bite and an amazing warmth spread through him.

Moony nodded approvingly and he looked around at the other kids. “Everyone eat your chocolate. It’s the best thing for you after an encounter with a Dementor. I need to have a chat with the driver.”

Silence reigned in the compartment for a few minutes as everyone ate their chocolate. Looking over, Harry was glad to see that Ginny looked a lot better than she had when he’d first woken up. He hesitantly reached out and covered her hand with his.

“Are you okay?” he whispered.

His heart almost broke at the lost look in her eyes. “I…I could hear his voice. Tom, he was telling me…horrible things.”

Harry’s eyes widened. “Tom’s gone, Ginny. Remember, I killed the Basilisk and stabbed the diary. He can’t hurt you.”

She gave him a wan smile as she took another bite of chocolate. “I know. Dementors… they make you remember the worse experiences of your life. Dad had to go out to Azkaban once and he looked awful when he came home.” She shivered.

Harry scooted a bit closer to her in an effort to keep her from shivering. “Poor Sirius, I can’t imagine living with that for twelve years. No wonder he has nightmares.” He thought back to what he’d heard. “I heard a woman screaming. It was horrible, I wanted to help her, but I didn’t know how.”

She squeezed his hand and he managed a smile for her. Somehow she just knew how to make him feel better, he didn’t know how she did it. He closed his eyes and she leaned her head against his arm. They sat like that for quite a while. The rest of the ride to Hogwarts was rather silent and Harry was glad of that fact.

Back to index

Chapter 4: Chapter 4 Arrival at Hogwarts

Author's Notes: Thanks again to the wonderful Arnel!

Harry made his way into the Great Hall and sat down across from Ron. Ginny sat down next to him. Ron looked over at the two of them. “What was that all about?”

“She wanted to make sure me and Ginny were okay after the whole Dementor thing,” Harry said, still rather offended. “I don’t know why it’s such a big deal. We’re both fine and Professor Lupin knew to give us chocolate.”

Ron nodded and looked around. “Where’s Hermione?”

Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. Professor McGonagall wanted to talk to her in private. She didn’t say why.”

Hermione slid into the seat Ron had saved for her just moments before Professor Dumbledore started talking. Harry’s attention was drawn to the headmaster. He really wasn’t sure how he felt about the man right now. He was still upset that someone so seemingly unconnected to him had made so many decisions that had affected him so deeply.

Since his first year he’d held the professor in the highest esteem and now he was a bit disappointed to discover that the professor made mistakes just like everyone else. It wasn’t just the fact that Harry had been sent to live with relatives who hated him. The fact that Professor Dumbledore had not helped Sirius was something Harry was having a hard time accepting.

He recalled Ginny’s comments on the train. It was rather disconcerting that the man who most people thought of as the most powerful wizard in the world hadn’t been able to help Ginny. While Harry would never regret going down into the Chamber of Secrets, he did feel upset that it had been necessary. Why hadn’t Professor Dumbledore known that Ginny was being possessed? Maybe it was a bit unfair to expect so much from one man, but Harry felt let down by Professor Dumbledore.

Harry knew that Sirius hadn’t really wanted him to return to Hogwarts. Sirius had reviewed all of his options with him — he could be tutored at home or he could attend another wizarding school. That had rather shocked Harry — it had never occurred to him that there might be other magical schools. Beauxbatons had been rather tempting, but in the end Harry didn’t want to leave his friends. Plus Hogwarts also had the connection to his parents that none of the other schools could match.

The opening feast seemed to drag on forever, but finally they were free to head up their rooms. Harry was rather upset to discover that the Dementors would be guarding the school all year. They made him feel so weak.

As he started the leave the Great Hall, Professor McGonagall appeared at his shoulder. “Mr Potter, the headmaster would like to speak with you.”

Harry felt his insides tighten and he suddenly wished he hadn’t eaten so much at the feast. He turned to his friends, but before he could say anything Hermione spoke up, “We’ll see you upstairs, Harry.”

Nodding, Harry followed his Head of House to the headmaster’s office. As they left the chattering excited student body behind Harry asked, “Professor, do you know what this is about?”

“The headmaster has some questions about what happened to you this summer,” Professor McGonagall said rather gently.

All too soon Harry found himself standing in front of the gargoyle that guarded the headmaster’s office. He followed Professor McGonagall up the stairs and into the office. Professor Dumbledore was standing behind his desk talking to a tall black man and an older woman with short grey hair. Harry didn’t recognize either of them, but the robes they were wearing indicated that both of them worked for the Ministry.

A low musical note sounded and Harry smiled automatically. He walked over to Fawkes’ perch and reaching out his hand, he stroked the phoenix’s beautiful crimson feathers. “Hello, Fawkes.”

Fawkes looked up at Harry who suddenly felt more hopeful and happy. Leaning closer to the bird, Harry whispered, “Thanks, Fawkes.”

“Harry, this is Kingsley Shacklebolt,” Professor Dumbledore said indicating the man with whom he’d been speaking. “He is an Auror. This is Madam Amelia Bones; she is Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. We have some questions about what happened to you this summer.”

Harry nodded and started towards the chair Professor Dumbledore indicated for him. He felt a bit overwhelmed by all of the official people there and he wished Sirius was there, but of course that was impossible. “Professor McGonagall, can you stay?”

“Of course, Harry.”

Professor McGonagall sat next to Harry and gave him a rare smile. He nodded back at her trying to convey how grateful he was that she stayed.

Once everyone was seated, Kingsley began. “Harry, can you tell me what happened on the night of the sixth of August?”

Nervously, Harry described Aunt Marge’s diatribe against his parents and how he accidentally blew her up. Professor McGonagall interrupted him at this point. “Didn’t your aunt and uncle say anything when she started insulting your parents?”

Harry looked at her in confusion before shaking his head. “No, they think the same thing, but they just don’t insult them all the time. My aunt hated my mum and she hates magic.”

To Harry’s astonishment Professor McGonagall turned to Professor Dumbledore. “Didn’t I tell you not to leave him there? No one should live where they are treated so poorly. I told you before you left him there that they were the worst kind of Muggles!”

“I do understand,” Professor Dumbledore said soothingly, “but it was necessary to leave Harry with a blood relative and still remains vital to his safety.”

“Why?” Harry asked, emboldened by Professor McGonagall’s defence of him.

“That is a discussion for another time,” Professor Dumbledore said. “We are here to find out what happened this summer.”

“We are and we need to get on with that discussion, but it seems Mr Potter’s living arrangements need to be looked into as well,” Madam Bones said with a disapproving look at the headmaster.

Realizing that he needed to get on with his story, Harry continued, “I grabbed my trunk and left my aunt and uncle’s house. I was so angry and I was afraid I’d be in so much trouble.”

“Why? It’s only a case of accidental magic,” Madame Bones said.

Harry looked at her in confusion. “Last year a house-elf made a pudding explode in my aunt’s kitchen and I got a letter saying I was in trouble for performing magic and I could be expelled for doing more magic — something like that. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it definitely said I was in a lot of trouble and I didn’t even do that. If I can be threatened with expulsion for something a house-elf did, I figured I would definitely be expelled for blowing up my aunt.”

“A house-elf?” Madam Bones looked between Harry and Professor Dumbledore. “Did you know about this Albus?”

“Yes, Dobby, the Malfoy’s former house-elf, took it upon himself to try and prevent Harry from attending school last year. I didn’t discover this until the end of last year,” Professor Dumbledore explained.

“If this Dobby will confirm Mr Potter’s account we can clear up his record,” Kingsley spoke up for the first time.

“That would be great,” Harry said. Taking a deep breath he continued, keeping his eyes on Fawkes while he spoke. “I went to the park trying to figure out what I needed to do when a man approached me. I didn’t recognize him or anything, but for some reason I trusted him. He knew who I was and he called me by name. I explained what had happened at my aunt and uncle’s house and he told me he knew my parents and that in fact he was my godfather. He asked if I wanted to go with him, so I did.”

“Just like that?” Madam Bones asked aghast that it had all been so simple. Everyone had imagined that Sirius had violently kidnapped the boy, not that he simply asked the boy to join him.

Harry nodded. “It seemed like a better idea than going back to my aunt and uncle’s house. My uncle was really angry. Sirius…he likes me and he wanted me to be with him. He told me everything that happened. He wasn’t my parent’s Secret-Keeper, Peter Pettigrew was.”

Before anyone could interrupt he explained how Sirius and Peter switched and how Sirius went after Peter. He wasn’t sure if he should explain who Peter was or not — after all weren’t these the same people who put Sirius in jail without the benefit of a trial? He decided to keep that part secret for now, but would let Sirius know about this meeting.

Kingsley had listened to Harry’s story quietly and now stood and withdrew a picture from his files. He showed the picture to Harry. “Does Sirius have this tattoo on his left forearm?”

The tattoo showed a snake coming out of a skull. Harry shivered for some reason and he shook his head. “No, he doesn’t.”

“Are you sure? He probably would have hidden it from you.”

“He taught me how to swim,” Harry said. “We spent most of the past three weeks at the beach. I would have seen it.”

“If he was a spy Voldemort might not have marked him,” Professor Dumbledore said.

“Voldemort marked his followers?” Harry asked in disgust.

Kingsley nodded. “Where did you go with Sirius Black?”

“He took me to the beach,” Harry said. “I can’t say where. There’s some sort of charm on the house, but it wasn’t in England. We had a great time. He took me shopping and taught me to swim and played with me. He told me lots of stories about my parents and even some about my grandparents. He even helped me with my homework.”

“Is Mr Black behind your request to switch to Ancient Runes?” Professor McGonagall asked.

Harry nodded. “He asked what classes I was taking and explained why I should be taking Ancient Runes. He gave me a book about Ancient Runes and taught me a bit about them. Sirius is really smart.”

To his surprise Professor McGonagall gave him another smile. “That he is.” She looked over at Professor Dumbledore. “I know you said the evidence against Sirius was overwhelming, but it never really sat right with me that he would betray James like that. In the three weeks he had Harry, he obviously hasn’t harmed him.” Turning back to Harry she asked, “Did he give you potions?”

Making a face, Harry nodded. “He said I was too small for my age and blamed it on my relatives. He gave me lots of nutritional potions and he even got me a potion so I don’t need my glasses.”

Kingsley whistled. “That’s almost eight hundred Galleons a dose.”

“That’s drop in the bucket compared to the size of the Black and Potter estates,” Professor Dumbledore said. “I am curious, Harry, why did you only send letters to Professor McGonagall and Miss Weasley?”

Blushing slightly, Harry replied, “I told you we weren’t in England. I…It seemed like a lot to explain in a letter, so I thought I’d tell Ron and Hermione when I saw them again. I wanted to switch to Ancient Runes, so that’s why I wrote to Professor McGonagall and I sent Ginny a birthday present. You know that. Ginny told me you read the letter.”

“I’m just surprised,” Professor Dumbledore said.

“I was worried about her,” Harry admitted.

“I think that was very kind of you,” Professor McGonagall said. “Are there any more questions for Mr Potter? He needs to be getting up to his room.”

“Do you know where Sirius Black is now?” Kingsley asked.

Harry shook his head. “No, he left me at the station and told me to be good and he’d be keeping an eye on me.”

“He walked you to King’s Cross?”

“He walked me to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters,” Harry corrected. “He’s not like my relatives; he made sure I got onto the train safely.”

“Sirius Black was on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters this morning?” Madam Bones asked incredulously.

Harry nodded and he had to hold back a laugh at the look on everyone’s face. Kingsley recovered first. “Do you know Sirius’ plans?”

“He wants to find Peter so he can get a trial and then we can live together like my parents wanted,” Harry replied promptly.

“Do you know how he plans to do this?”

Harry shook his head. Madam Bones said, “Thank you for your cooperation, Mr Potter. I appreciate your candour and hope for your sake that everything works out as you hope it will. I also plan to look into your home situation.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Harry said shyly. “Can you just make sure that when the Aurors are looking for Sirius they don’t hurt him? Those Dementors were horrible; I can’t even imagine what poor Sirius went through with those things for so long.”

“I will see to it,” she promised, exchanging a look with Kingsley.

“Thank you.”

“Thank you, Harry,” Professor Dumbledore said as he stood.

Harry nodded. He walked over and pet Fawkes once more before he left followed closely by Professor McGonagall.

“You did very well in there, Harry,” Professor McGonagall said. Harry smiled shyly, surprised both by her comment and her use of his first name.

“Thank you.”

“I wish I’d done more,” she said. “When your parents died, it was a very awful time, especially for those of us who knew James and Lily. I didn’t want Albus to leave you with those horrible people, but he said it was important that you live with your blood relatives and it was best if you grew up out of the spotlight. I accepted his assertions without checking up on you and I apologize for that.

“I didn’t know what was happening with Sirius, to be honest. I was busy here at school and we had so many grieving families: before You-Know-Who’s defeat we had deaths and disappearances very frequently among the student’s families. I was very involved in helping the students and their families that I…I didn’t pay attention to what was happening with Sirius. I testified to Mr Crouch who was head of Magical Law Enforcement at the time that I didn’t believe Sirius would betray James, but I didn’t have any proof and I didn’t know what had happened.”

“Sirius will be glad to hear you believed in him,” Harry said.

“He has been good for you.”

Harry smiled. “He’s brilliant.”

“Good,” she replied. “Not to change the subject, but I wondered if you had considered taking Arithmancy. I asked because it is required for several professions, not to mention I noticed in looking at your schedule that you have a free period tomorrow morning. Now of course you are allowed a free period, but I thought I would give you the option.”

Harry turned the thought over in his mind. “Is it hard? I’m just a bit worried that picking up three new classes would be too much.”

“It is more academic than some of our other classes, but you are taking Care of Magical Creatures, which does not usually have a lot of homework and essays. Arithmancy looks at numbers and how they affect our world. I’ve noticed that many Muggle-borns who did well in Maths in primary school do well in Arithmancy. Did you enjoy Maths?”

“I did,” Harry admitted. “Can I try it and drop it if it’s too much? I promised Sirius I would try a lot harder in my classes this year, but I don’t want to take on too much.”

“I understand,” she said. “Why don’t you take it for at least the first term and see how you like it? If it becomes too difficult to keep up with your classes, let me know.”

“Okay,” Harry said. “I’ll give it a try.”

“Excellent, I’ll let Professor Vector know and you can order a book tomorrow.” As they arrived at the portrait hole she said, “Have a good night, Mr Potter. The password is ‘Fortuna Major’.”

Harry was surprised that Ron and Hermione weren’t waiting up for him when he returned to the common room. Ginny was sitting by the fire, so he walked over to join her.

She looked up with a smile as he sat down next to her. He was glad to see she only blushed slightly.

“Were they asking about Sirius?” she asked.

He nodded. “Madam Bones and an Auror were there as well.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Wow, that’s really official.”

“I thought so, too,” Harry said. “I’m glad Sirius told me a bit about what might happen. I didn’t even know what an Auror was before he told me.”

“He sounds great,” Ginny said sincerely. “Actually from what you’ve told me, he sounds like my older brother.”

“Which one?” Harry asked intrigued.

“Bill, he’s the oldest,” Ginny said. Looking around the room she lowered her voice, “He’s my favourite, but don’t tell anyone I said that.”

“Is that why your parents took you to Egypt?” Harry asked.

“I think so,” she said. “They never said anything.”

Harry looked over and saw her downcast face. He could have kicked himself for upsetting her. “I’m sorry, Ginny. I didn’t mean to make you upset.”

“No, don’t worry about it,” she said. “I’m really doing a lot better.”

“Good,” Harry said in relief. “I asked Ron how you were doing and I think he thought I was crazy for asking.”

“Ron’s been…he’s been a bit odd this summer. He’s mad at me that I almost got you and Hermione killed and he’s embarrassed by me,” Ginny said sadly.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Harry said firmly. “Do you know what Sirius said when I told him what happened? The first thing he said is that you must be very strong.”

She blushed. “That’s what Bill said, too. I don’t feel very strong.”

“You are,” Harry said. “You stood up to Voldemort for an entire year and you didn’t give in to him. He wanted you to use the Basilisk to kill and you didn’t. He wanted you to give up so he could take over your soul and you fought against him. He even told me how you fought against him; of course, he was being stupid — he thought he won.”

“Thank you,” she said. “I’m not sure I deserve that much credit, but I’m really glad I was able fight as long as I did.”

“What are you doing still up?” Harry asked, looking around the common room. There were a few seventh years visiting in the corner, but otherwise most of the students had moved up to their dorms.

She sighed. “I don’t know my roommates all that well. I didn’t get to know them much last year and I felt a bit out of place, plus I had to talk to Hermione.” She made a face. “I have to do her laundry for three weeks.”

“Why?” Harry asked in confusion.

“As repayment,” Ginny said matter of factly. “All of the students who were affected by me last year…well, I owe them a debt. Most of them were fine, I apologized to all of the students and families at the beginning of the summer. Colin and Justin had intensive teaching over the summer — I know they used some really special kind of magic to help them learn so much information in such a short period of time. My dad had to pay a small fee to help with the cost. Penelope and Hermione didn’t miss as much class as the others so they didn’t need such measures, they both caught up easily.

“Justin and Colin’s parents were really nice and didn’t think I owed them anything. Penelope’s parents were really nice, also. Her mum is a witch and understands these things a bit more, I helped her with mending and housework a few days a week for the first few weeks of summer. Hermione’s parents left it up to her. I think she was more upset over the classes she missed than anything else. The punishment can’t be longer than they were Petrified, so I have to do her laundry for three weeks.”

“You shouldn’t have to do any of that,” Harry said, rather offended on his new friend’s behalf. “How could Hermione agree to that?”

Ginny shrugged. “She had read up on customs and thought it was a good punishment. Even though she understands that I was being controlled by the diary, she still thinks I should have known something was wrong and should have told someone. She thought it was an appropriate punishment.”

“That’s wrong,” Harry said.

“Is that why you didn’t want any repayment?” she asked.

“What are you talking about?”

“I owe you a bigger debt than any of the others, but my father asked and Professor Dumbledore said you didn’t want any repayment.”

Harry supressed a frown. While he didn’t like Dumbledore answering for him, he certainly didn’t want Ginny feeling beholden to him. “I think you went through enough last year, you don’t owe me anything.”

She shot a grateful look at him. “Thank you, Harry.”

Grinning, he changed the subject. “Where are Ron and Hermione? I thought they might wait up for me.”

“They were rowing,” Ginny said. “I don’t know how you put up with the two of them. Hermione’s new cat, Crookshanks, has taken a dislike to Scabbers. I don’t really blame Crookshanks, but they are both being stupid. Cats and rats don’t get along.”

“You don’t like Scabbers?” Harry asked in surprise.

She shook her head. “I know this probably sounds crazy, but I don’t like that rat. At the beginning of the summer I found him hiding in the drawer with my knickers, he was watching me get changed. It really creeped me out, I don’t know why — I mean, it’s a rat, right?”

Harry felt a swell of anger at Peter. How dare he spy on Ginny like that? “That is creepy. I don’t blame you.”

“Ron laughed at me,” Ginny said blushing as she remembered the unkind things Ron has said. Ron had laughed at her and told her no one would want to watch her get undressed because she was so ugly.

“That’s not nice,” Harry said irritated at his best mate.

“I slept with my door locked for a few days after that,” Ginny said. “Mum wasn’t too happy with me, but it made me feel better. I wish I could have a kitten, but mum said they are too expensive. We just had enough money to buy school supplies and Ron a new wand after
paying for the trip.”

She pulled her wand and Harry noticed how beat up it was. “I wanted a new wand too, but we couldn’t afford that either. I wish I had a way to make some money.”

“I know what you mean,” Harry said. “Before I knew I was a wizard I never had any money. Until Sirius took me shopping this summer, I never had new clothes — Muggle style clothes, I mean. I had to wear all of my cousin’s hand-me-downs and he’s like four times bigger than me.”

Ginny giggled. “That’s awful. I have to wear some hand-me-downs, but at least being the only girl I get some things new.”

“God, I can just imagine if my cousin had been a girl,” Harry said shuddering. “I would have been forced to wear her clothes for years.”

Ginny started laughing at the mental image. “I can just see it. I could have made a lot of money blackmailing you with pictures of you in your cousin’s favourite dress.”

Harry laughed as well, happy that he’d reversed her earlier unhappiness. “Just don’t tell anyone!”

Settling into the couch, he listened to her chatter about Egypt. It sounded very fascinating, maybe Sirius could take him traveling next summer. The sound of the clock made him glance up at the mantel clock. To his surprise, it was quite late.

“I guess we better head to bed,” Harry said. He didn’t really want to, but he knew he’d be tired in the morning if he didn’t get to bed now.
Together they walked towards the stairs, Harry paused before heading up to the boys’ dorm. “Thanks, Ginny. I had fun talking to you.”

“Me, too,” she said with a shy smile. She stared at him for a minute before saying, “I’ll see you in the morning.”

Harry found himself waiting for Ron and Hermione in the common room the next morning. Ginny had already passed him on her way out. He was happy to see that she was talking to two of her roommates.

A noise alerted him to Hermione heading down the stairs. “Harry, I’m glad you waited for me. I’m sorry I couldn’t wait last night, Crookshanks was having trouble settling in and Ron was blaming him for going after Scabbers. Crookshanks was just exploring, nothing for Ron to get all excited about. Aren’t you excited to be starting our new classes today? Of course, we won’t get to start all of them today, but we will get to start some.”

Ignoring her comments about Crookshanks and Scabbers, he said, “That’s okay, I’m glad to see you this morning.”

“So what did Professor Dumbledore want?”

“He wanted to know about Sirius,” Harry said. “It wasn’t just Professor Dumbledore either, it was Madam Bones and an Auror named Kingsley. They at least listened to me. Madam Bones doesn’t seem to be a big fan of Professor Dumbledore.”

“That’s not good,” Hermione fussed. “Professor Dumbledore is one of the most powerful wizards alive and he’s head of the Wizengamot.”

“That doesn’t mean he’s infallible,” Harry said. At Hermione’s expression, his mood soured. “Yes, Hermione, I know what that means.”

“Don’t get upset,” Hermione said. “Do you think they will be able to capture Sirius Black?”

“I hope not,” Harry said. “They need to help him not chase him. Madam Bones said she would try to make sure no one injures Sirius if they do manage to capture him. I’m hoping he will be able to turn himself in once the circumstances are right.”

“He should just turn himself in,” Hermione fussed.

“That would kind of defeat the purpose of his escaping in the first place,” Harry returned evenly. “He won’t turn himself in until Peter is captured or he can prove he’s innocent.”

Luckily at that point Ron joined them and ended the conversation. When they entered the Great Hall, they sat down at the end of the Gryffindor table. The sight of Ginny chattering away with her roommates was rather calming to him. He was very glad she was starting to make friends with those in her year. He caught her eye and she smiled and waved. He happily returned the wave.

Looking up at the head table he was glad to see Hagrid up there. He imagined Hagrid’s class would be lots of fun. Moony was rather a surprise. Having heard so much about him from Sirius, Harry was surprised that Moony hadn’t acknowledged that he knew him. Maybe he’d changed since Sirius had known him.

Soon Professor McGonagall was handing out time tables. Ron’s voice could be heard over all the others at the table.

“Blimey, Hermione, how many classes are you taking? How will you be able to do all of that?”

Harry didn’t hear her response as Professor McGonagall had reached him. “Here you go, Mr Potter. I’ve spoken to Professor Vector and she will be happy to accept you in her class. She will have a book for you to use, but I suggest you order a set of books from Flourish & Blotts.”

“Okay, Professor,” he said. Looking up at her, he added, “Thank you.”

Heading out of the Great Hall, Ron and Hermione quickly caught up with him. Hermione spoke first. “I’m really sorry, Harry. I’m just worried about you and I don’t understand how this happened.”

“Please, just listen to me,” Harry said. “Sirius loves me and wants to take care of me.”

“Okay,” Hermione said doubtfully.

Harry could tell she still didn’t believe him, but she’d apparently decided to stop arguing. He appreciated that at least — he hated arguing, probably as much as Ron and Hermione seemed to enjoy it.

Back to index

Chapter 5: Chapter 5 Hippogriffs and Roosters

Author's Notes: Thanks again to Arnel for her hard work! Any mistakes in Hagrid's speech are strictly my own. Thanks for the wonderful reviews, it is much appreciated!

Hermione looked at Harry in confusion when he slipped into Arithmancy. “What are you doing here?”

“Professor McGonagall suggested I take Arithmancy,” he said a bit stiffly as he was still rather upset with her.

“Oh,” Hermione said before smiling. “I’m glad you are finally taking your studies more seriously.”

“Does that mean you’ll stop insulting Sirius every five minutes?”

Hermione bit her lip nervously as she looked over at Harry. “I’m sorry, Harry. I’m just worried about you.”

“I appreciate that,” Harry replied, “but I’m fine.”

He was rather relieved when Professor Vector entered the classroom. To his surprise, Harry found that he rather enjoyed Arithmancy. It was related to maths, but at the same time it was very different. Professor Vector seemed like a strict teacher, but she didn’t seem like she would favour one house over another or anything like that.

Harry caught up to Ron in the common room. “Sorry I didn’t tell you about Arithmancy. Professor McGonagall just mentioned it last night. I thought I’d give it a try.”

“That’s okay, mate,” Ron said. “I don’t know that I like Divination.” He looked at Harry very seriously. “I don’t know how to break this to you, but Professor Trelawney was quite upset you dropped her class. She said that you are cursed and she saw a Grim in your future.”

Harry looked at Ron trying to figure out what on earth he was talking about. Ron must have picked up on his confusion because he said, “A Grim is an omen of death. If you see one, you die.” Looking anxiously at Harry Ron asked, “You haven’t seen a great big black dog have you?”

Fighting back the laugh that was welling up in him, Harry assured Ron that he hadn’t seen a Grim anywhere. He couldn’t wait to tell Sirius about this.

“It doesn’t sound very likely,” Hermione added. “Harry wasn’t even in the class. How could she read his aura?”

“You’re just upset that she said you weren’t receptive to the future or whatever,” Ron said.

Harry looked back and forth between the two of them trying to figure out what was going on. Hermione certainly couldn’t have been in Divination because she’d been in Arithmancy, so how did she know what had happened in Divination?

A squeaking noise interrupted their conversation. Harry looked down and felt a surge of rage when he saw Scabbers stick his nose out of Ron’s pocket. Ron quickly picked up the rat and tried to comfort him.

“That stupid cat is really upsetting Scabbers,” Ron said with a scathing look at Crookshanks who was returning the look with equal loathing. Hermione hurried over to console her cat.

“Maybe you should make sure he’s safe in our room,” Harry suggested.

“That’s a good idea,” Ron said approvingly.

After securing the rat in his cage next to Ron’s bed, the two boys headed off to Transfiguration. Hermione followed slowly behind them. Harry realized that he was probably being a bit of a prat, but he didn’t want to hear any more about how Sirius wasn’t good for him or whatever.

When they arrived in Transfiguration, Harry noticed that most of the class were shooting furtive glances at him and whispering among themselves. He thought it was most unfair of some professor he didn’t know to predict his death to his classmates.

Shaking off his irritation, he listened with interest to Professor McGonagall’s lecture on Animagi. She talked about the need to register and the consequences of being an unregistered Animagus. It was very interesting and he was a bit disappointed that Ginny wasn’t in the same year as him. She would like this lecture. When Professor McGonagall turned into a tabby cat and back into herself, the class started clapping.

She gave the class a very rare smile. “Thank you. It is rather important that you know how to determine if an animal is an Animagus.”

She demonstrated the spell and had the class practice the spell and wand movement. Harry practiced along with the rest of the class. Once the students had practiced, Professor McGonagall asked for a volunteer. Not surprisingly Hermione raised her hand, but most of the class seemed startled when Harry raised his hand as well.

“Mr Potter, please come up here.”

As Harry made his way to the front of the class, he noticed the glares Hermione was giving him. Mentally, he shrugged, he had promised Sirius he would try harder in class he would worry about her hurt feelings later.

When he arrived at the front of the class, Professor McGonagall opened a basket that he hadn’t even noticed before. She withdrew from the basket, Mrs Norris, the caretaker’s hated cat. To his surprise, Mrs Norris was calm and well behaved for Professor McGonagall. He wondered if it was because she was a cat Animagus.

Setting the cat gently on the table in front of her so the whole class could see, she said, “Mr Potter, I want you to cast the spell on Mrs Norris.”

Nodding Harry did as he was instructed. To his relief, he was able to easily perform the spell and a light flashed from his wand and Mrs Norris glowed a soft yellow for a moment.

“Good, Mr Potter,” the professor said approvingly. “The yellow colour indicates that she is a natural animal. A blue colour indicates an Animagus. Now I will transform into my cat form and I want you to cast the spell on me.”

The slight worry must have shown on his face because she leaned in and said, “Don’t worry, Mr Potter. I have every confidence in you.”

He nodded and after she transformed he cast the spell once again. When the spell hit her, she lit up with a soft blue light. He released the spell and she transformed back into herself.

“Well done, Mr Potter. Five points for Gryffindor,” Professor McGonagall said as he headed back to his desk. “I want everyone to practice performing the spell. You may practice on your pets if you wish. The spell will not hurt them.”

At the end of class, Hermione approached him with a hurt look on her face. “How did you perform that spell so quickly?”

“I don’t know, Hermione,” Harry said. “I practiced with the rest of the class and I was able to do it. What is wrong with that?”

“I’ve never noticed you volunteer before,” she said a touch suspiciously. “What’s going on? First you sign up for Ancient Runes and Arithmancy and now you are volunteering in class.”

Harry shrugged as they started down the stairs towards the Great Hall. “I don’t know what to tell you, Hermione. I promised Sirius I would work harder on my schoolwork this year.”

She didn’t say anything else, but Harry could feel her eyes on him as she studied him during lunch. He didn’t understand why she was upset, he figured she would be happy that he was taking his studies a bit more seriously.

He talked mostly to Ron as they headed out to the paddock near Hagrid’s hut for Care of Magical Creatures. Ron didn’t seem the least put out that Harry had volunteered in class so Harry would rather talk to him.

Harry watched in amazement as Hagrid led at least a dozen hippogriffs out into the paddock and chained them to the fence so the students could see them. He’d never seen or heard of such an animal. Hagrid’s lecture was rather fascinating. It was a bit odd to hear his friend speaking in front of the class with his rough accent and less than polished speech, but Hagrid definitely knew his animals.

Harry somehow found himself volunteering to approach a hippogriff when the rest of his classmates held back. Riding the hippogriff was a bit uncomfortable, Harry wondered if he would have done better if he’d ever ridden a horse before. After bowing to Buckbeak, he stepped back and watched as his classmates warily approached the large animals.

Ron and Hermione were working with a chestnut animal and Harry watched them with interest. He felt a thrill of foreboding as Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle approached Buckbeak. Malfoy disregarded everything Hagrid had told them and blatantly insulted the large hippogriff. Harry could see the danger as Malfoy called Buckbeak a ‘great ugly brute.’

Without even stopping to think it was Malfoy he was saving, Harry dove at the boy and pulled him out of the danger of the hippogriff’s slashing talons. He screamed as the sharp talons slashed him across the upper back.

“Harry!” Hagrid quickly wrestled Buckbeak back into submission. Malfoy rolled to his feet and looked down at Harry in astonishment, for once his normal sneer was gone. “What the hell did you do that for, Potter?”

“Me? What the hell was that for, you idiot? Hagrid told us not to insult them, so the first thing you do is call him a name?” Harry glared at Malfoy in complete disbelief. As his anger started draining away, Harry felt some of his energy leaving as well. He swayed slightly.

Hagrid strode over to Harry and lifted him in his arms. “Malfoy, that’ll be fifty points from Slytherin. Harry take twenty points fer Gryffindor. Class dismissed.”

Harry tried to smile at his friend and reassure him, but the edge of his vision was becoming black. As they reached the castle, he passed out.

Harry looked up as the doors to the hospital wing opened. Madam Pomfrey had already healed his wounds and given him several potions. He was going to have to take healing potions for several more days and Madam Pomfrey asked him to wear a sling for two weeks.

To his surprise, it was Ginny who entered and headed over to his bed.

“Hi, Harry,” she said a bit breathlessly. “Are you okay? I heard what happened.”

“I’m fine,” Harry said. “I’m ready to leave.”

“That’s not a huge surprise,” Ginny laughed. “Where are Ron and Hermione?”

“They went down to dinner,” he explained. “They were here most of the afternoon. The only good thing about me getting injured is they stopped fighting.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Let me guess, they were rowing about cats and rats.”

Harry nodded. “I think they like rowing, I don’t know why. I hate the arguing, the not talking to each other and all.”

“Mr Potter, how are you feeling?”

Harry turned in surprise to see his Head of House standing there. “Professor, I’m fine.”

“May I ask you to describe what happened in your own words?” she asked as she sat down in a straight-backed chair next to his bed.

“Hagrid lectured us about hippogriffs. He told us how proud they were and he demonstrated how to approach one. I volunteered to approach Buckbeak and I actually got to ride him — that was really fun. Once I landed, Hagrid had the rest of the class work in groups and approach the hippogriffs. I noticed Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle approaching Buckbeak and I just kind thought it didn’t seem like a good idea, so I watched them. As soon as he got close to Buckbeak, Malfoy started insulting him. He didn’t even bow or anything that Hagrid taught us.”

“That would explain why the hippogriff attacked,” she said dryly. “So what happened next?”

Harry shrugged, he really hated talking about his actions. “I realized that Buckbeak was going to attack Malfoy and I didn’t want Hagrid to get in trouble. Malfoy’s always running on about his father and all that rot. I thought if Buckbeak attacked Malfoy, Hagrid would get into all kinds of trouble, so I pushed Malfoy out of the way.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, Mr Potter,” she said after a moment, “but please be a bit more cautious in the future. I would hate to see you seriously injured. I am pleased that you will recover nicely. Madam Pomfrey is going to keep you overnight, so rest up and listen to what she says.”

Harry grinned, despite the fact that he would be there another night. “Thank you.” A thought suddenly occurred to him. “Hagrid isn’t in trouble, is he?”

“Your account is in line with what most of the class described, so no, he will not be in trouble,” she replied. She stood with a swish of her robes. “Have a good night, Mr Potter. Good night, Miss Weasley.”

“Good night,” both students replied.

As Harry settled back against the sheets, a wave of pain washed over him. Madam Pomfrey seemed to have been watching for such an occurrence because she bustled over with a pain reliever in her hands.

“Take this, Mr Potter,” she said gently as she ran her wand over him. “It isn’t uncommon to have some pain with this type of injury.” She frowned slightly and summoned another vial of potion from her potions room. “This is a Blood-Replenishing Potion.”

Harry made a face as he swallowed it. “Sirius made me take this over the summer.”

“What other potions did Mr Black give you?”

As the pain potion started to take effect, Harry started to relax. “Mostly nutritional potions, but the first week he gave me the Blood-Replenishing Potion. He did that because my aunt and uncle didn’t feed me as much I needed it.” He shrugged. “I’m not exactly sure

“That was quite smart of him,” the matron responded. “Often those who are malnourished can suffer from anaemia or low blood counts. That is possibly what he was hoping to correct.” She gave him a rare smile. “Get some sleep, Mr Potter. You will be able to leave in the morning.”

“Okay,” Harry said. He was getting rather tired. He closed his eyes as Ginny pulled the sheet up over him. Opening his eyes he gave her a sleepy smile. “Thank you.”

She blushed, but said, “You’re welcome.”

Early the next morning Madam Pomfrey let him out of the hospital wing so he could return to Gryffindor Tower to wash and change before breakfast. He ran into Ron and Hermione in the common room. They were both pleased to see him out of the hospital.

“Did you hear about Malfoy?” Ron asked gleefully.

Harry shook his head and Ron explained, “Professor McGonagall pulled him out of the Great Hall and yelled at him for quite some time before giving him a week’s worth of detentions with Filch.” Ron chortled over his enemy’s downfall. “I hope he has to scrub the boys’ loo with a toothbrush or something.”

“Ron,” Hermione said reprovingly, “you shouldn’t get so much enjoyment out of another’s pain.”

Ron and Harry looked at each other and started laughing. There were some things that Hermione just didn’t understand.

Saturday morning, Harry found himself awake early and headed down to breakfast alone. Hedwig flew down beside him, but she didn’t have a note for him. Harry offered her a piece of bacon while he kept a look-out for any owl that Sirius might have sent. He had hoped to hear from him, but realized it might be difficult for his godfather to contact him.

He sighed, it was hard to see Peter in his cage by Ron’s bed, but he didn’t know what to do. He’d sent a note to Sirius the first day of classes and let him know that Peter was still with Ron. The only thing that held him back from doing anything was the thought of Peter escaping once again. Sirius had underestimated the rat and ended up in Azkaban for twelve years, and Harry didn’t want to mess anything up. So as difficult as it was, he just waited.

“Good morning, Harry.”

Turning he saw Ginny sit down next to him. “Good morning,” he replied as she loaded up her plate with eggs and sausage.

“Where are Ron and Hermione?” she asked after demolishing a good portion of her breakfast.

“Ron’s still sleeping,” Harry explained. “I have no idea about Hermione. She said something last night about the amount of homework she had, but I don’t know how she has so much homework, we’ve only had two days of classes.”

“I don’t understand it either,” Ginny said. “She bought books for lots of classes at Flourish and Blotts. Her book list was really long and she wouldn’t answer Ron any time he asked her about it.”

Harry furrowed his brow. “She wouldn’t try to take all of the classes would she?”

Ginny shrugged. “I don’t know. You know her a lot better than I do. What do you think?”

He laughed. “Well, if you could make more hours in the day, she might want to take all of the classes. I asked her why on earth she was taking Muggle Studies and she said she wanted to see how wizards saw Muggles.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Ginny said, rolling her eyes. “How do you like your new classes?”

“Care of Magical Creatures seems like it will be interesting, although I hope it won’t always be so dangerous,” Harry laughed. “I actually like Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. I was afraid Ron would be upset that I’m taking more classes, but he seems to be fine with it.”

“That’s good,” she said as she reached for a piece of toast. Harry slid the orange marmalade over towards her. He’d realized that was her favourite. She smiled her thanks as she slathered it over her toast.

“How are your classes going?”

She shrugged. “Okay, I guess. I remember more than I thought I would, so I’m not behind in anything.”

“I saw you talking to some of your roommates the other day,” he commented.

“Yes, I’ve started making some friends this year.” She sighed. “It’s so hard sometimes. I’ve never really had any girlfriends, I’m used to mostly hanging out with my brothers or my mum. Two of the girls in my year are…erm, rather catty. They are always commenting on my boys’ robes or my hand-me-down clothes. It’s really annoying.”

“I know what you mean,” he commiserated. “In primary school, Dudley would encourage the other kids to make fun of me. Most of them
wouldn’t make fun of me for not having parents, like Dudley would, but they’d make fun of my clothes or my glasses or whatever.”

“Your cousin sounds horrid,” she said as she pushed her plate away.

“He is,” Harry agreed. When he realized that she was finished eating, he stood up. “I’m going for a walk. Do you want to come along?”

“Sure,” she replied.

They headed out of the castle and started to walk down towards the lake. It was a rather warm September day and many students seemed to be enjoying their first weekend back at school outdoors.

Harry was content to listen to Ginny chatter about her classes. He found he liked listening to her. She was smart and funny and her observations about people were spot on. He didn’t understand why Ron complained about her talking so much, Harry rather liked it.

“I was so nervous that I wouldn’t remember anything and I’d have to repeat my first year or something,” she commented. “Bill helped me review some of the spells and theory when we were in Egypt. He’s really good at teaching, he’s very patient - a lot better than my mum.”

“What sort of things has your mum taught you?” Harry asked curiously.

“Well…everything,” Ginny replied giving him an odd look. “Mum taught me, well, all of us really, at home. She taught us to read and write, she taught us maths, history, geography, in our last year before Hogwarts she started teaching us basic magical theory, wizarding government and laws.”

“Really?” Harry was surprised. “I hadn’t realized that. Are all wizarding children taught at home?”

“Most of them are,” Ginny explained. “I know some families get together and have a group of children taught together and some of the rich families hire tutors to work with their children. Mum just taught us at home.” She looked over at him curiously. “Surely Ron must have told you this.”

“I don’t think so,” Harry said as he tried to remember what Ron had told him about his previous schooling. “I don’t think he said anything so I just assumed he went to school.”

Ginny laughed. “No, I don’t think we would fit into a Muggle school very well and my mum would have fits every time she had to communicate with the school. Muggles make my mum nervous.”

“I can understand that,” Harry said after thinking it over. “The wizarding world still makes me a bit nervous. I’m never sure if people are joking or serious about things and there are still so many things I have to learn about. Sirius taught me so much, but I think he was surprised at the things I didn’t know.”

“Like what?”

Harry shrugged a bit self-consciously. “I didn’t know about Apparition or Portkeys or anything like that, Sirius had to explain them to me. He’s always really nice about it and he explains things really well.”

Without even discussing it, the pair turned away from the lake and started crossing the expansive grounds, giving the Whomping Willow a wide berth. Harry entertained Ginny with the story of him and Ron crashing into the tree the year before.

She laughed at the thought of her dad’s old Anglia ejecting them from the car and running off to the forest. “I didn’t realize what had happened. There were so many wild stories flying around and when I asked Ron…well, he told me it was none of my business.”

“I don’t know why he has to be mean sometimes,” Harry grumbled. “He’s mean to Hermione sometimes too. I don’t understand that.”

Ginny laughed. “I don’t either.”

“Do you want to see if Hagrid’s home?”

“Sure,” Ginny replied easily. “I really like him.”

“He’s great,” Harry said. “He’s the one who came and told me I was a wizard. He gave me Hedwig, too.”

As they walked along, Harry noticed that Ginny had gone very quiet. He turned to look at her and was shocked to see the look on her face. She was very upset and looked to be almost on the verge of tears.

“Ginny, what’s wrong?”

She looked up and him and seemed to crumble. To Harry’s horror, she started sobbing. The only word he could make out was rooster. Then it hit him, she was recalling the previous year when she’d been forced to kill Hagrid’s roosters. He could have kicked himself for not thinking about how it might affect her. Why didn’t he go the long way around so she didn’t have to see the chicken coop?

Gingerly, he wrapped an arm around her. She immediately buried her face in his shoulder. Feeling very uncertain what he should do, he hesitantly wrapped both arms around her. That felt right and he used one of his hands to run down her hair. He remembered the night he’d broken down and Sirius had just held him, he tried to do for her what Sirius had done for him.

After a few minutes she calmed down and he could tell she’d stopped crying. He held her for a few more minutes until she eventually pulled back.

“I’m sorry,” she stammered.

“Nonsense,” Harry said as he handed her one of his handkerchiefs. “I’m sorry I didn’t think about that when we came this way.”

Blushing, she wiped her eyes and blew her nose. “I had this nightmare at the Burrow that I went and killed all my mum’s chickens and that Tom was still there making me do horrid things. My parents kicked me out of the house and none of my brothers would talk to me. It was horrible.”

Harry nodded sympathetically. He wished he knew what to do to make her feel better.

“The first time my mum sent me out to get eggs this summer I ended up huddled outside the coop crying. Ron started to make fun of me, but my dad saw what was happening and he intervened. My dad doesn’t usually get involved in disciplining us, but when he does…watch out.”

“I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that,” Harry said sadly. He hated that something so evil was upsetting her so much. It really wasn’t fair.

“Thank you, Harry.”

By this time they were close enough to Hagrid’s cabin that Fang started barking. Hagrid came to the door to see who it was. He smiled when he saw Harry and Ginny.

“Harry! Ginny! Come on in,” the friendly giant enthused. “How’s yer shoulder, Harry?”

“I’m good,” Harry said with a smile. The two teens followed Hagrid into his cabin. Harry loved Hagrid’s cosy cabin, it was full of all sorts of curious things.

Hagrid’s smile fell away when he saw Harry’s sling and he looked at his young friend sorrowfully. “I’m so sorry yeh got hurt. I reckon that startin’ with hippogriffs probably weren’t such a good idea.”

“You didn’t get in trouble did you, Hagrid?” Harry asked anxiously as he tried to keep Fang from licking his face.

“I had a meetin’ with Professor McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore,” Hagrid said meekly. “They were both upset with me that yeh got hurt and Professor McGonagall said I was lucky that yeh pushed Malfoy out o’ the way as he would have caused all sorts o’ problems. Malfoy complained ter his dad, but as he wasn’t hurt Professor Dumbledore was able ter handle the complaint. Thank you fer doin’ that Harry, but I’m so sorry that yeh got hurt.”

Harry patted the large man on the arm. “Don’t worry about it, Hagrid. I’m fine and it was a fun lesson. Malfoy was just being an idiot as usual. You told us not to insult the hippogriffs and that’s the first thing he did. He deserved to get slashed by Buckbeak, but I didn’t want him to cause problems for you.”

“Thank you, Harry,” Hagrid said emotionally.

“You’re welcome,” Harry said with a smile. He watched fondly as Hagrid bustled over to the stove and prepared tea for the three of them. “So how have your other classes gone?”

“Good, good,” Hagrid said as he brought the tea service to the table. “I reviewed me lesson plans with Professor McGonagall an’ she thought everythin' looked good. There aren’t too many NEWT students, so I only have one NEWT class.”

Harry broke up his rock cake and pushed the pieces around on his plate. He fed it to Fang when Hagrid’s back was turned. Ginny had declined any rock cakes, so Harry reckoned she must have had experience with Hagrid’s cooking in the past.

After talking about his classes for a while, Hagrid’s gaze fell upon Ginny. He looked at her in concern. “What’s wrong, Ginny?”

She sighed. “I had a kind of flashback or something when we walked over here.” Looking up she met Hagrid’s eyes. “Hagrid, I’m really sorry I killed your roosters. I don’t really remember all of it. I sort of remember watching them and then…” her voice dropped off for a minute before she seemed to gather her strength to continue, “I ended up in the girls’ loo with feathers and blood on my robes. I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know who to talk to or anything.”

Hagrid patted her arm gently. “Don’t worry, Ginny. I went ter school with Tom Riddle an’ I know how he operated. He was a bad one. He fooled a lot o’ people with his good looks an’ good manners.”

Ginny’s eyes widened. “That’s right, you went to school with Tom.”

“He’s the reason Hagrid was expelled,” Harry said angrily.

“What?” Ginny was angry on Hagrid’s behalf.

“Tom showed me in the diary how he made people think that Hagrid’s giant spider was the creature who killed the girl,” Harry said angrily as he thought about how many lives Tom had ruined.

“No one believed me ‘cept Professor Dumbledore,” Hagrid said. “He’s a great man, Professor Dumbledore. Tom seemed so sincere an…” Hagrid ducked his head bashfully. “I ain’t never been able ter express myself as well as Tom could. I think most of ‘em were jest waitin’ fer me ter do somethin’ wrong.”

“Kind of like they did with Sirius,” Harry said.

Hagrid’s face split into a grin. “Professor Dumbledore tol’ me what ye tol’ him. I can’t believe it was Peter. Ye gave us quite a scare this summer, Harry. What happened?”

With a grin Harry launched into the story of how he’d run into Sirius. Hagrid was a good audience, gasping and laughing in the right places.

“I’m very happy for yeh, Harry,” Hagrid said sincerely. “You deserve to have someone there fer yeh. I really hope they can find Peter an’ Sirius can go free. I hated leavin’ ye on that doorstep. Professor McGonagall weren’t too happy ‘bout it either. She’d been watchin’ ‘em all day an’ she dinn’t like what she seen, but Professor Dumbledore said ye needed ter stay with yer mum’s sister.”

“Doorstep?” Ginny asked looking between Harry and Hagrid. “They left you on a doorstep in November? That’s horrible. What if you’d gotten sick or someone had taken you or something?”

“Professor Dumbledore cast charms ter keep him safe,” Hagrid hastened to reassure her.

“He was a baby,” Ginny said outraged. “What kind of person leaves a sleeping baby on a doorstep?”

Harry started laughing. “Ginny, it’s fine. I’m here now — no harm.”

“They still shouldn’t have done it,” Ginny grumbled. “Why couldn’t they have — I don’t know, knocked on the door and talked to your relatives?”

“’Cause then they never would have taken me in,” Harry replied honestly. “They didn’t want me and my aunt has always groused how her biggest mistake was bringing me in the house.”

Ginny’s eyes widened at his matter-of-fact tone. She couldn’t imagine being brought up in such an environment and she still thought it was awful that they left him on the doorstep, but she didn’t want to make either of them uncomfortable by continuing to complain about it.

Hagrid must have realized she was still upset for he said, “I know it seems harsh, but it were a crazy time. The news that
You-Know-Who was dead were jest makin’ the rounds. People were celebratin’ like crazy or comin’ up with reasons why they been forced to help him. I think Professor Dumbledore was afraid someone would go after Harry. Another family was attacked a few weeks later by some of You-Know-Who’s biggest followers — the parents were tortured into insanity. Professor Dumbledore knew it might not be the most fun house for Harry ter grow up in, but he could keep him safe there.”

“I guess that’s true,” Harry said after a minute. “I’ve been kind of mad at Professor Dumbledore this summer once Sirius found me and told me how he’d been sent to prison without a trial and that he was supposed to get me but Professor Dumbledore intervened…”

As Harry trailed off, Hagrid smiled at him gently. “It’s okay ter get mad, but Professor Dumbledore was trying ter keep everythin’ from fallin’ apart. He might not always be right, but he would never do anythin’ to hurt yeh. Maybe there were a better place to put yeh, but that night…”

“I guess that’s right,” Ginny admitted. “My dad told us stories about how scary it was when He was still in power. Families would disappear and people were tortured or made to do things against their will. One time Death Eaters came to the Burrow and my mum had to hide with all of my brothers in the orchard. I hadn’t been born yet, I think Ron was a baby when it happened. She got a message to hide and had just gotten everyone hidden in the apple trees when they attacked. Luckily my mum is really good with charms and hid everyone until help came. When the Death Eaters couldn’t find anyone they went through the Burrow looking for things to steal. They wrecked everything. Bill told me they were cleaning and fixing things for weeks afterwards. My parents don’t like to talk about it, I only know about it because Bill told me. He was not yet ten when it happened. I don’t think the twins even remember it.”

Hagrid nodded. “Those were scary times an’ the Ministry weren’t strong, so people looked ter Dumbledore to protect ‘em. I don’t know what happened with Sirius, why he didn’t get a trial, Harry, but before ye jest blame Dumbledore ye should ask him what happened. Ol’ Barty Crouch was runnin’ the trials in those days.”

Harry flushed feeling a bit reprimanded. It was so easy to blame Professor Dumbledore, but was it really fair? Maybe he should get Professor Dumbledore’s side of the story first. After all, he hadn’t know about the switch in Secret-Keepers.

Hagrid must have been able to see what he was thinking for the giant patted him on the arm. “Don’t worry about it Harry.”

The rest of the visit Hagrid regaled them with both stories of James and Sirius’ adventures as well as some of Charlie’s trips into the Forbidden Forest. Harry told both Hagrid and Ginny about his and Ron’s run-in with Aragog and his children the previous year. While Hagrid assured him that he had just misunderstood the spiders’ intentions, Harry was fairly certain the spiders would have happily eaten both of them if the old Anglia hadn’t rescued them. It was close to noon when Harry and Ginny left Hagrid’s cabin.

As they started to walk back to the castle, Harry felt much more relaxed and happier than he had since returning to school. He caught Ginny’s eye and grinned. “I always like visiting Hagrid.”

“He’s great,” Ginny agreed. “I came down and talked to him some last year before…well, before Tom.”

“I’m really sorry I forgot about the roosters,” Harry said earnestly. “I didn’t mean to bring back bad memories.”

“That’s okay,” she said with a sad smile. “I think I have to face some of these memories so I can put them to rest.”

Harry nodded, he could understand that. “If you need help with that, I can help,” he offered a bit awkwardly.

She smiled more brightly this time. “Thank you, Harry.”

Back to index

Chapter 6: Chapter 6 Ginny's Troubles

Author's Notes: In honor of Harry's birthday, I'm posting another chapter tonight! Hope you enjoy it. Thanks again to the wonderful Arnel!

Saturday afternoon, Ginny gathered up Hermione’s dirty laundry and headed for the laundry rooms. The laundry rooms were located on one of the sub-basement levels on the opposite side of the castle from the kitchen. It was an area of the castle where students didn’t usually frequent, but to her relief Ginny was able to find it without incident.

Inside the first room were rows of very large buckets full of clothes, soap, and water that were magically washing the clothes. In the corner was a collection of smaller buckets and an elf was cleaning a set of robes against a washboard. Ginny could see into the next room which held rows of clothes lines with clothes hanging up to dry. All in all it was quite an impressive operation.

The elf looked up as Ginny entered. “Hows can I help you, Miss?” the little elf squeaked.

“Hi, I’m Ginny, Ginny Weasley. I am supposed to wash laundry to fulfil a debt,” Ginny explained.

“Yes, Miss. Professor McGonagall told me you was coming.”

The elf moved away from the corner so Ginny could see her more clearly. She was tiny, only reaching Ginny’s elbow, with big round blue eyes and large floppy ears. Ginny wasn’t sure why she thought the elf was female, but that was the impression she had. The elf was wearing a clean, white tea towel toga style tied over one shoulder. The towel had the seal of Hogwarts embroidered into the centre.

While Ginny was taking stock of the elf, she seemed to be doing the same to Ginny. “I is Tia, Miss Ginny. Does you have the clothes you needs to wash?”

“Yes,” Ginny said as she opened the laundry bag.

Tia showed Ginny the spells necessary to start the buckets washing the clothes, how to go about getting out stains and generally answered any questions Ginny might have. Soon enough Ginny had a load of clothes cleaning themselves. She settled down on the stone floor and watched Tia work, realizing that she should have brought a book or something to do to pass the time.

“How long have you been at Hogwarts, Tia?”

“I was born here, Miss Ginny,” Tia replied even as she started working on another set of stained robes. “My great, great grandmother came here after her family died. Hogwarts will always take in any elves who need to work.”

“I didn’t know that,” Ginny looked around. “How many house-elves work here at Hogwarts?”

“There is over five hundred house-elves working here,” Tia replied.

“I didn’t realize that,” Ginny said. “I’ve never seen a house-elf before.”

Tia looked up with a bit of a smile. “That means we is doing our jobs, part of a house-elf’s duty is to never be seen unless it is necessary.”

Another elf, this one much older than Tia, silently entered the room and with a snap of her fingers one of the buckets emptied itself of clothes. The clothes floated into the next room where the elf directed them onto the clothes line.

“What happens when as elf is too old to work?” Ginny asked.

Tia looked rather scandalized at the idea. “Elves always work. Older elves perform easier tasks like young elves, tasks that aren’t difficult or physically hard. Elves helps each other. The older elves takes care the younger elves and teaches them. We takes care of each other.”

Ginny frowned. “What happens if an elf is set free?”

“Free elves is bad elves,” Tia declared.

“My friend, Harry, freed an elf who worked for a bad family,” Ginny said. “He told me that the elf was abused. His owner would kick him and hit him and order him to punish himself.”

Tia softened a bit as she listened to Ginny. “You is talking about Harry Potter.”

Ginny nodded. Tia said, “Harry Potter did a good thing helping Dobby. Dobby worked for a bad family. Elves can be set free, but most good elves don’t want to be. Elves that work for bad families who hurt them…it is bad, Miss Ginny. If they can be freed, they can come to Hogwarts. Hogwarts is always open for elves. Lady Hufflepuff made it that way.”

Tia made a weird shrugging motion. “Some elves like to be free, but free elves don’t get their magic stronger.”

“So it’s a trade off,” Ginny said. “Elves belong to someone and they get stronger magic or they are free and they don’t get stronger.”

“Yes, Miss Ginny.”

Ginny spent the rest of her time talking to Tia and learning all about house-elves. It was kind of fun and rather different. Once Hermione’s clothes were finally finished, she headed back to Gryffindor tower. She resolved to bring some homework with her the next time she went. Although talking to Tia was fun and interesting; washing, drying, and folding Hermione’s clothes had taken a lot longer than Ginny had anticipated.

Ginny jumped as the letter she was writing was snatched out of her hand. Looking up she glared at her older brother, Percy, who was now reading her letter.

“Give that back,” she said outraged at his actions.

He handed it back to her unmoved by her anger. “I had to check what you were writing. Mother and father expect me to watch out for you, not to mention the fact that I am Head Boy this year. I don’t want my final year ruined by a little sister who can’t figure out right from wrong.”

As much as Ginny wanted to rage at him she couldn’t. How could she blame him for not trusting her? Without a word of complaint she took her letter back, her hand shaking slightly. Percy stalked off, leaving Ginny not just a little shaken. How long was it going to take for anyone to trust her again? The happiness she’d felt since her walk around the grounds with Harry the day before fled in the face of her brother’s distrustfulness.

It took her some time, but she finished her letter to Bill. She slipped out of the common room and headed up to the Owlery. She had to admit she felt a bit envious of all of the groups of people talking and laughing.

While she was making friends with two of her roommates, Sarah and Anwen, it was hard going. The two of them had become fast friends at the beginning of first year and Ginny often felt like an outsider with them. Her two other roommates, Freya and Rowena, had mocked her from the beginning — making fun of her boys’ robes and her homemade and patched clothes. Rowena and Freya both had extensive wardrobes full of beautiful clothes. Ginny thought both of them were a bit shallow and annoying, but she had to admit she felt a bit of jealousy when she saw them dressed in their perfect clothes.

Feeling very alone, she was rather down by the time she arrived at the Owlery. Opening the door, she was surprised to see Harry talking to Hedwig who was sitting on Harry’s arm and looking back at him with her wise amber eyes. Harry looked up when Ginny entered and smiled.

“Hi, Ginny,” he said easily.

“Hi,” she replied a touch shyly. She started looking around for an owl to send overseas when Harry said, “Do you need an owl? Hedwig is looking for something to do.”

Ginny’s eyes widened, he would actually lend her his beautiful owl? “If she doesn’t mind flying to Egypt, that would be great.”

Harry looked down at his owl. “Would you mind taking Ginny’s letter to her brother in Egypt?”

Hedwig looked between the two of them and flew over to Ginny landing next to her along the wall. Ginny’s eyes lit up at the owl’s response. “Wow, thank you Harry and thank you Hedwig. She is such a beautiful owl.”

The two laughed as Hedwig fluffed up her feathers under Ginny’s words. Harry said, “She is a beautiful owl and she’s a great friend. I think she gets a little bored sometimes because I don’t have anyone to send letters to so if you want to send something with her, just let me know.”

Hedwig gave a low hoot as if to confirm what Harry had just said. Smiling, Ginny carefully attached the letter to Hedwig, trying not to mess up with Harry watching her. Harry lifted the bird and whispered something to her that Ginny didn’t catch before launching her out the window. They stood watching as she winged her way south.

“Thanks again, Harry.”

“Not a problem,” he replied easily. As they headed toward the door, Harry glanced down at her, she seemed much quieter than she had the day before. “What’s wrong?”

She blushed at his question, but said, “Percy. When I was finishing my letter to Bill, Percy came over and ripped the letter out of my hand to make sure I wasn’t doing anything inappropriate.”

“What? That’s awful.”

She sighed. “I’m not really sure how to feel about it. On the one hand, I want to get angry and yell and scream at him, but on the other
hand if someone had done that for me last year how much trouble could have been avoided?” She shrugged. “I just wish he’d been nicer about it or done it out of concern for me, not concern about how it would look or how it would reflect on him. He’s been watching me and I’m sure he’s reporting back to my mum. He was always the little tattle tale of the bunch.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said rather awkwardly. “I know what you mean. My cousin, Dudley, is forever trying to get me in trouble. When I would
clean a room, he would come behind me and mess it up and then tell my aunt so I’d get in trouble.”

Ginny gasped. “That’s so mean. Even Percy’s not that mean. He gets us in trouble, but usually someone is doing something against the rules at the time. Percy sets a great deal of faith in rules.” She giggled. “Of course the twins try their hardest to break all the rules.”

Harry laughed. “I can imagine. Your mum is so nice, though. I think even if it was my cousin who behaved the way they do, my aunt would yell at him. I remember when I was watching your family go through the barrier to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters before my first year and the twins were talking back to your mum, she never really lost her temper and she was so nice to me.”

“How did you see us?” Ginny asked curiously.

“Well, Hagrid forgot to tell me how to get onto the Platform and my aunt and uncle were…well, they thought it was funny. They dropped me off in front of the wall between platforms nine and ten and laughed the whole time. I had no idea what to do. I heard your mum say something about Muggles and she asked what the platform number was, that’s when I knew for sure your family was magical,” Harry said.

She laughed. “Mum always does things like that. She’ll ask what the platform number is and I was always so proud when I could answer her. It took me forever to realize she was doing it so we would remember, not her. She used to do that with potion ingredients and all sorts of things. ‘Now what’s the last ingredient I need?’ I guess she just can’t resist the opportunity to teach us something.”

By this time they’d reached the main staircase, Harry headed off to the library while Ginny headed back to the common room. As she started to cross the common room, one of the sixth year Prefects approached her.

“Are you Ginny Weasley?”

She nodded a bit nervously. The boy handed her a little scroll tied up with a green ribbon. She noticed Percy watching her so she hurried up to her dorm room so she wouldn’t have to deal with him.

Her heart sank as she opened the scroll and found a note from Professor McGonagall.

Miss Weasley,

Please report to my office at three this afternoon.

Thank you,

Professor McGonagall

Ginny nervously knocked at Professor McGonagall’s office door at precisely three in the afternoon. She’d been waiting just down the hall for the past five minutes because she didn’t want to be late. Professor McGonagall welcomed her into the office and gestured for the girl to sit down across from her desk.

“Would you like some tea?”

Startled, Ginny nodded. “Yes, please.”

The professor poured two cups of tea and offered Ginny a tin of ginger biscuits. Ginny helped herself to a few biscuits and sat back in her chair.

“How are your classes going so far, Miss Weasley?”

Ginny shrugged. “Okay. I actually remember a lot more than I thought I would. Bill helped me review everything I learned over the past year.”

“Very good,” the professor replied. She looked over the young girl. “I just wanted to meet with you and make certain you were doing well this year. I feel dreadful that I didn’t realize what was happening last year and want to make certain that you are able to integrate into your year. Your school house is supposed to take the place of your family while you are here and I feel we truly let you down last year.”

Ginny coloured even as she relaxed a bit under the professor’s obvious sincerity. This was the last thing she expected. “Thank you, Professor. I really appreciate the concern.”

“I understand that Miss Granger has requested you clean her laundry for three weeks.”

Ginny’s cheeks flushed a deep red. “Yes, she has. I started yesterday. One of the house-elves showed me where I needed to work and showed me where everything was; she was really helpful.”

“Good,” the older witch said as she lifted her tea cup. “I am not certain I approve of the decision, but it is up to both sets of parents to determine repayment. Miss Granger is the only student left, is that correct?”

Ginny nodded. The professor sipped her tea before saying, “If you have any difficulties, please let me know. This repayment should not interfere with your schooling, so if you are finding it takes too much time, please let me know.”

“Thank you, Professor,” Ginny said. It was nice to know that someone was actually concerned about her. Before she realized it, she was quite relaxed and enjoying her tea. It was rather like having tea with her favourite great-aunt — slightly formal, but fun nonetheless.

As the clock struck 5pm, Ginny stood to go. Professor McGonagall also rose from behind her desk. “Miss Weasley, I would like for you to take tea with me each Sunday this term. It will help ensure that everything is going well for you and I would enjoy spending the time with you.”

“That would be very nice, Professor,” Ginny said with her eyes shining. “Thank you.”

“You are quite welcome,” the stern professor answered, not sounding exceptionally stern at that moment.

Ginny was rereading her essay on the uses of Mandrake several days later when Hermione came storming up to her.
“I need to talk to you upstairs, now!”

Ginny jumped up and followed the older and visibly angry witch. As she hurried up the stairs she wondered nervously what had set the other girl off. She followed Hermione into the third years’ dorm room.

It was set up much like Ginny’s dorm room except there were only three beds. Lavender’s bed was obvious as all of her bedding was a beautiful shade of lavender. Parvati’s open wardrobe door showed a colourful collection of sarees and pictures of Parvati and her twin sister, Padma, were scattered around the space.

Hermione’s space was as neat and clean as Ginny would expect. She seemed to have books stacked neatly everywhere. On the bedside table was a collection of pictures that Ginny thought were probably Hermione’s parents, but she didn’t have much time to look around.

Hermione reached into the laundry bag at her side and pulled out a white shirt that was now badly stained with ink. “How did this happen? The whole point of the repayment is for you to pay me back for causing me to miss school because of your carelessness. It is not so you can ruin my favourite blouse! You need to go back to the laundry now and fix this.”

“But Hermione, it’s only an hour until curfew,” Ginny protested.

“I don’t care,” Hermione stormed. Ginny jumped back a bit nervously. She’d never realized what a temper Hermione had before. Hermione glared at her. “This is my favourite blouse! I can’t believe you would be so careless. I guess I should have known, you didn’t show the best judgement in writing in the diary last year, but I thought you could be trusted with my clothes. You better fix it or you’ll have to buy me a new one!”

Almost in tears, Ginny grabbed the blouse and hurried out of the dorm room. She didn’t remember seeing the ink stain when she folded it, but really hoped she would be able to get it out. Her parents would never be able to afford to replace Hermione’s obviously expensive blouse. She almost ran to the laundry rooms and was very happy to find Tia hard at work. She’d met a few other house-elves, but Tia was the friendliest.

“Tia, can you help me? I got a huge stain in Hermione’s blouse and she’s really, really mad at me,” Ginny blushed at the shakiness in her voice. She hated getting so upset, but she didn’t want to cause more problems.

“Miss Hermione got another ink stain?” Tia asked kindly. She looked at the small girl who was almost shaking. “Don’t worry, Miss. Tia
will help you.”

With a snap of her fingers, Tia summoned a bottle that was labelled in a language Ginny couldn’t read. “This is a very powerful stain remover.” The elf gently talked Ginny through treating the stain and letting it set in a bucket. “It should set overnight and you can wash it in the morning. It will be as good as new. Lots of students end up with ink stains, they forget to take their quills out of their pockets or just drop ink on them. It’s not a problem.”

Ginny sank down onto the cold stone floor in a bit of relief. “So the stain will come out?”

“Of course, Miss Ginny.”

“Thank Merlin,” Ginny breathed blinking back tears of relief. “She said I would have to replace the blouse if the stain didn’t come out and I can’t afford to replace such an expensive blouse. I feel so stupid that I didn’t see the stain earlier. I don’t know what happened or how I could have done that.”

The elf looked at the young girl in concern. “You didn’t cause the stain, Miss. Miss Hermione left an ink quill in her blouse pocket, which is what caused the stain. What does the big sign above the laundry baskets in the dorms say?”

“It says to check our pockets and make sure they are empty,” Ginny replied automatically.

“Exactly,” Tia said. “The rules don’t change just before you are doing Miss Hermione’s laundry and not us elves. It happens all the time.” The older elf chuckled softly. “Those Ravenclaws are the worst. They are always forgetting their ink quills.”

She watched Ginny for a moment. “Is something else wrong, Miss Ginny?”

Ginny sighed. “Hermione was just so angry. I thought we were sort of becoming friends, but she is always so busy and always doing schoolwork. She…she said some kind of mean things when she found her blouse.”

“It could be Miss Hermione is under a lot of strain. She sets a great store in her school work and she is very busy,” Tia said wisely.

Ginny nodded as she thought over what the elf said. She looked over at Tia curiously. “How do you know so much about Hermione?”

The elf laughed, it was a soothing, melodic sound. “Tia is one of the elves for the Gryffindor girls. Elves learns a lot about the students when we does the laundry and visits the tower. Tia knows that you like Quidditch and yous been to Egypt recently.”

Ginny’s eyes widened. “That’s true! I guess you would learn a lot about us.”

“Don’t worry, Miss,” Tia said gently. “Elves is never to talk about the students we takes care of.” She winked at the young girl. “Tia will not tell anyone about the picture of Harry Potter next to your bed.”

A much calmer Ginny snuck up to Gryffindor tower sometime later leaving behind a pensive elf. Tia knew, as all of the Gryffindor elves did, about Hermione’s Time-Turner. She wondered if Miss Hermione was becoming short-tempered because of her work load. Miss Ginny was a sweet young witch who had been through a horrid ordeal the year before, Tia wasn’t going to let Miss Hermione upset her unnecessarily.

After a night full of dreams of Hermione coming after her for ruining her blouse and Ginny having to become a house-elf to repay all of the damage she caused, Ginny was so happy to be able to get up. She sleepily went through her morning routine and hurried down to the laundry room very early to set Hermione’s blouse to wash. To her relief, by the time it came out of the wash the stain was completely gone. She set the blouse to dry and glanced at her watch. Her heart dropped, it was just past eight o’clock, and she was not going to make it to breakfast. She glanced at the drying blouse and hoped that it would finish drying before her first class.

“Miss Ginny.”

Ginny jumped, she’d been so engrossed in her own thoughts she hadn’t heard Tia approach. “Good morning, Tia. I didn’t see you.”

“Good morning, Miss.” Tia looked over at the blouse. “Miss Ginny, Tia will send the blouse up to Gryffindor tower when it is dry. You don’t need to skip breakfast and you don’t want to miss your first class, right?”

Ginny looked between the elf and the blouse, she was torn as to what she should do. “I’m afraid I’ll have to stay, Tia. The agreement says that I’m not to enlist any help in the actual washing, drying, and returning of the laundry. If I mess up my family will have to pay Hermione’s family and they really can’t afford to do that. I’ll be okay.”

Tia frowned at Ginny’s response, but didn’t say anything. She certainly didn’t want to cause Miss Ginny more worry. Hurrying out of the laundry room she utilized the house-elf passageways to the kitchen. Several minutes later she re-entered the laundry room.

“Here Miss Ginny, please sit and eat,” Tia entreated. She offered Ginny a basket full of breakfast items.

“Thank you, Tia,” Ginny said gratefully as she pulled a plate of eggs and bacon out of the basket. She hadn’t been looking forward to skipping breakfast. While Hermione’s blouse dried, Ginny ate her breakfast and waited with a rather growing impatience for the blouse to be done.

Finally it was dry. Ginny carefully folded it and wrapped it carefully in tissue paper to carry it upstairs. Nothing could happen to the blouse on the way upstairs. She smiled at Tia. “Thank you very much, Tia. I really appreciate you bringing me breakfast and caring what happened to me.”

“You are welcome, Miss Ginny.”

Ginny hurried up to Gryffindor tower. She was honestly a little short of breath by the time she’d run up all of the staircases. She ran through the common room and knocked on the door of Hermione’s dorm room. When there was no answer, she cautiously entered, secretly glad she’d avoided Hermione. Hopefully the next time she saw Hermione, the older witch would be in a better mood. Carefully setting the wrapped blouse in the middle of Hermione’s bed, Ginny hurried into her own room to grab her bag.

Her heart sank when she caught sight of the time. It was after nine and she was late to her first class — which today was Potions. For a split second she contemplated going to the hospital wing, but in the end she hurried back down the stairs to the dungeon.

“Miss Weasley, class began twenty minutes ago,” Professor Snape observed silkily from his place in the front of the room.

“Yes, sir,” Ginny said softly. “I’m sorry, sir.”

“I don’t care to listen to any manufactured excuses,” Professor Snape interrupted. “I’ve heard enough from your abominable brothers. In an effort to teach you to be on time in the future that will be twenty points from Gryffindor — no, let’s make it an even thirty points. Twenty points for each minute you were late and another ten for your lateness itself.”

Ginny’s heart sank and she could feel her cheeks darkening as she shakily took her place.

“Good going, Weasley,” Rowena hissed. “You’ve lost us a ton of points. Don’t expect us to help you. I know you left the dorm early this morning, what were you doing?”

“Probably meeting a boy,” Freya put in with a malicious gleam in her eyes. “Maybe she was hoping to make some money that way.”

The two girls started laughing and whispering to each other as Ginny felt herself blushing. Snape, of course, didn’t reprimand them because they were making fun of her. She wasn’t even entirely sure what everything Freya was saying meant, but it didn’t sound very nice. Ignoring the two mean girls, Ginny tried to read the ingredients and instruction list, but the steam in the air from the already bubbling potions of her classmates made that rather difficult. By the end of the lesson, Ginny had lost another five points for Gryffindor and received a zero for the assignment.

Charms was slightly better, Ginny genuinely enjoyed Charms and did well in the class. She didn’t lose any points, but she could hear
her classmates whispering about her. Lunch was made miserable by Percy, who upon hearing she’d lost thirty-five points during Potions, took it upon himself to scold her in front of all of Gryffindor. The only good thing about that was Harry was not there. It would have been too embarrassing to be scolded like an errant child in front of Harry.

10 September, 1993

Ginevra Molly Weasley!

I am so upset and ashamed of you. Losing thirty-five points in one class?! Don’t think I didn’t hear about the debacle with Hermione’s blouse, either! The only reason this is not a Howler is I don’t want to remind the other students of your colossal mistakes of last year. Your reputation could easily be ruined by your actions!

Young lady, this is not the type of behaviour I expect from you — being late to class, almost ruining Hermione’s blouse! Do you realize how much it would have cost to replace? More Galleons then we have at the moment!

You will complete your debt repayment carefully and respectfully without any more incidents. I don’t expect to hear that you’ve lost so many points, either. I know you had a rough year last year, but that is no excuse for not trying your best. I have written to Professor McGonagall to ask that she keep me abreast of your marks. I will not hesitate to pull you out of Hogwarts if your grades slip.

Perhaps we underestimated your readiness to go back to Hogwarts. If the events of last year have affected you to such a degree that you are unable to behave appropriately, then it might be best for you to come home. I have talked it over with your father and he has urged me to let you stay at least for the rest of the term.

I don’t expect to hear any more about you losing points, being late for class, or not repaying your debt appropriately.


Ginny blinked back tears of unhappiness as she reread her letter. It was so unfair! Obviously, Ron was reporting on her as well as Percy. It wasn’t her fault that Snape was such a horrid professor and he hated Gryffindors. Not wanting to be around anyone, she pulled on her cloak and headed outside.

Walking down the sloping lawn, Ginny didn’t really have a destination in mind. She was doubly surprised to hear a voice saying, “Ginny?
Are you okay?”

Looking up, Ginny was surprised to see Harry with his broomstick over his shoulder. “Oh, hi, Harry. I’m fine. Do you have Quidditch practice?”

“No, Oliver said practice won’t start for another two weeks, but Professor McGonagall said I could practice for a while if I want,” Harry explained with a sparkle in his eyes.

Ginny couldn’t help but smile back at him; he looked so excited at the prospect of flying.

“That’s great,” she said a bit wistfully.

“Do you like to fly?” Harry asked.

Ginny nodded eagerly. “I taught myself to fly when I was younger, I used to sneak out at night and practice flying after everyone had gone to bed. My brothers would never let me fly with them.” She made a face. “It was always ‘You’re too little, Ginny’ or ‘You’ll get hurt, Ginny’ or some other ridiculous excuse. So I did it by myself.”

“That’s great,” Harry said with admiration in his voice. “Say, do you want to come down and fly with me? You can ride my broom.”

Ginny’s eyes widened. “You’d let me ride your Nimbus?”

“Sure,” Harry said as the two set off for the Quidditch pitch together. “It’s a great broom. Professor McGonagall gave it to me my first year so I could play on the team. It’s funny, I’d seen the broom when Hagrid and I went to Diagon Alley, but I never would have imagined that I would be playing Quidditch just a few months later.”

“Is it true that you made the team after your first flying lesson?”

Harry laughed and launched into the story of how he made the Quidditch team. He described the events to her, his excitement plain to see. “I was so worried that I was in trouble that at first that I didn’t realize what was happening.”

By this time they’d arrived at the pitch and Harry pushed open the gate and gestured her onto the pitch. He looked over at her and she smiled. “Why don’t you fly for a bit yourself and then I can fly some?” she suggested.

“Sure,” Harry said easily flashing her the grin that she always thought was so cute and kind of sexy.

Ginny settled onto the grass and watched as Harry took off into the bright blue sky. He was amazing to watch. His enjoyment was obvious to see. Ginny didn’t think she’d ever seen anyone fly so well or so easily. Even Charlie, who was the best in her family, didn’t fly quite as fearlessly as Harry.

As she watched, he flew up fairly high into the air and after flying in a circle he dove almost straight down. Ginny gasped as she watched him. It was an amazing sight. It didn’t even occur to her to worry for him. He obviously had everything under control.

After he’d been flying for a while, he flew over next to her. His hair was windswept, his cheeks were pink, and his brilliant green eyes were shining bright. “I love flying! That was the one thing we didn’t get to do this summer. Sirius promised he’d try to find someplace where we can fly for next summer.”

Ginny grinned back at him. “It shows, you look like you were having a great time up there.”

“Do you want to fly?”

Ginny nodded eagerly before hesitating. Harry caught the look on her face. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, I’ve just never ridden such a powerful broom before,” she said a touch nervously.

Harry scooted back on his broom and patted the handle in front of him. “Hop on. We can fly together and then you can fly by yourself.”

“Are you sure?” Ginny was excited at the thought of flying with him, but nervous at the same time.

“Of course,” Harry said.

That was all the encouragement she needed and she clambered onto the broom in front of Harry. She blushed as he scooted up behind her and wrapped his arms around her to grab the broomstick in front of her.

“Hold on,” Harry murmured in her ear. His breath on her ear caused a strange shiver to race down her spine. Harry launched them into the air, slowly at first, but gradually building speed.

After a few minutes, he said, “Ready for some fun?”

She nodded eagerly and he said, “Okay, make sure you’re holding on.”

With that he shot across the field as if he was shot out of a rocket. He started easily with a spiral turn that soon turned into larger loops. Ginny whooped loudly, laughing out loud in enjoyment. Soon they were higher in the air than Ginny had ever been before.

“It is amazing!”

“Isn’t it?” Harry said happily. He looked down at her. “Do you want to dive?”

“Yes!” she squealed.

He tightened his arms around her and nudged the broom downward. Ginny squealed the whole way down. She’d never dived so far or so fast and she loved the swooping feeling in her stomach. As the ground grew nearer, Ginny gasped, but she trusted Harry implicitly.

Neatly, he evened out the broom and spiralled them down to the ground. She jumped off the broom happily. “Harry, that was amazing!”

He laughed. “I’m glad you liked it. I pulled up sooner than I wanted, but I’ve never dived with someone else on my broom before.” He slid off his broom and held it out to her. “Do you want to try it yourself?”

“You wouldn’t mind?”

Harry shook his head and after a moment, Ginny mounted the broom and took off. The Nimbus was so much nicer than any broom she’d ever flown before. It was powerful and steady. Charlie’s old broom was the one she flew the most and it was so old and had been repaired so many times that the charms stuttered at times. The school brooms weren’t much better.

Ginny flew, forgetting her troubles and the letter from her mother. It was such as amazing feeling to fly through the air. It was the best feeling in the world. Glancing down she waved at Harry who was stretched out on the grass watching her with a smile.

She couldn’t describe it exactly, but when he put his arms around her she felt so safe. She was actually quite proud of herself that she could act so calmly. When he’d first slid up behind her, she wanted to squeal with excitement. Somehow she’d managed to become friends with Harry this year. It helped that her horribly debilitating crush on him was gone.

It had died in the Chamber of Secrets last spring. She realized that while he was not the perfect storybook hero she’d dreamt of all her life. He was a real boy, but he was a real hero as well. She would never forget waking to the sight of him covered in blood and muck with a huge sword and the destroyed diary. It was then she’d started falling for him, Harry. She didn’t want to say anything because she didn’t want to ruin the friendship they’d started. She could only hope that one day he would return her feelings.

When she landed beside him he looked up with a smile. “Have fun?”

“I did, thanks,” Ginny replied beaming.

Together they started walking back to the castle. “You fly really well,” Harry said enthusiastically. “You would do well on the Quidditch team.”

She blushed happily. “Thank you. I do want to join the Quidditch team eventually. I’d like to be a Chaser.”

“It’s too bad we have such a great trio of Chasers,” Harry said. “Maybe once Angela and Alicia finish you can try out. They’re in their fifth year now.”

“That would be wonderful,” Ginny said with a smile.

As they neared the castle Harry sighed, “I guess we have to get back to the real life.”

“How’s it going for you?” Ginny asked as she looked up at him. “Almost every time I’ve seen you this week you’re working hard.”

“It’s going really well, actually,” Harry said with a smile. “I really like Ancient Runes. It’s so interesting. From hearing Ron and Neville talk about it, I’m very glad I didn’t take Divination. Honestly, that sounds like a load of bunk.”

Ginny giggled. “I think Divination is something you can do or something you can’t, I don’t think they can teach it to you. My granny taught me to read palms, but honestly they don’t tell you much.”

“Arithmancy is interesting,” Harry said. “I’m glad that Professor McGonagall talked me into taking it. I was afraid that picking up three classes would be way too much, but I’m keeping up well. Sirius really helped me. He taught me some good studying techniques over the summer.” He blushed slightly. “Sirius told me how my parents did so well in school and I just wanted to try harder to do better. I was afraid that Ron would be upset at me, but he’s not been too bad.”

“That’s good,” Ginny said. She shook her head. “Ron sometimes skates by on the least he can do and he wants everyone around him to do the same.”

“He’s been fine,” Harry said. He grinned at her. “At least once you set him straight on the train. Thank you for that.”

“You’re quite welcome,” she said with a smile. “He just doesn’t think sometimes. He gets his feelings hurt easily and he can be quite the drama king if you don’t stop him in his tracks.”

“Well, it worked,” he replied. He shook his head. “If only Hermione would be that easy to handle.”

“Why?” Ginny asked. “I would think she would be thrilled that you are working so hard.”

“I thought so, too,” Harry said. “She was fine with Ancient Runes, but for some reason she keeps trying to get me to drop Arithmancy. She says she doesn’t want me to get in over my head. It’s kind of aggravating, because it’s like she can take all these classes and handle it, but it’s too much for me. I might not be as smart as her, but I’m not stupid.”

“That’s not right,” Ginny said with feeling.

He shrugged. “I keep hoping that once we start getting some grades back she’ll see that I’m doing fine and won’t keep giving me such a hard time.”

As they entered the castle, Harry glanced over at her. “Can I ask what had you so upset earlier?”

Ginny sighed and told him about the letter. He was appalled. “That’s awful! It’s not your fault Snape is a greasy, biased git. Why did Percy tell your mum about that?”

“I don’t know, he seems to think that I’m ruining his life and wants to stop anything that will cause a stain on his reign as Head Boy. I told you he’s always been a bit of a tattle tale.”

“He was bang out of line, I’m sure the twins have lost loads of points lots of times.”

“I know, but Percy was tasked with looking out for me and he seems to feel this is the best way to do so.”

Harry looked over at her in concern. It really wasn’t fair of them to treat her so poorly. It wasn’t her fault that Lucius Malfoy had planted Voldemort’s diary on her. He really didn’t like this bit about Hermione either.

“How much longer are you stuck doing Hermione’s laundry?”

“Another week and a half,” Ginny said. “I can’t wait until it’s over. Tia has been great, but it takes more time than I thought it would.”

“It’s not right of her to yell at you,” Harry said firmly. “She’s so busy this year. I don’t get it, we’re only in our second week and she’s always in the library or doing homework. She usually isn’t this bad.”

“Maybe she’s having trouble keeping up with her classes,” Ginny suggested. “Maybe that’s why she wants you to drop one.”

Harry thought about it for a minute. “That could be. She’s taking four extra classes even though Professor McGonagall said we should only take three at the most. She’s taking Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies, and Care of Magical Creatures. I don’t see how she has time for everything. I really don’t understand why she’s taking Muggle Studies — she’s Muggleborn so they can’t be teaching her anything new.”

“I don’t know,” Ginny said. “I’m just going to stay out of her way and make sure nothing else gets stained.”

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Chapter 7: Chapter 7 Padfoot's Return

Author's Notes: Thanks again to my wonderful beta, Arnel! Ron and Hermione's conversation about Hogsmeade is inspired by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter Five - The Dementor pp. 76-78

September quickly gave way to October and Harry’s favourite time of the year — Quidditch time! Harry was finding that his lessons were both fun and informative. He was keeping true to his word and trying his best in all of his classes. He discovered that he enjoyed Transfiguration, Ancient Runes, and Charms, but his favourite class was Defence Against the Dark Arts. While he was enjoying the class like most of his other classmates, he was a bit disappointed that Professor Lupin had not approached him or indicated in any way that he knew Harry when he was a baby.

Ginny seemed to be flourishing and Harry was very happy for her. They had eaten together several times and spent time in the common room together. She seemed to be making friends with some of her roommates and others from her year. Thankfully, she was finished with her obligation to Hermione and seemed much happier for it.

Hermione was still keeping extremely busy with her classwork. Harry really didn’t understand how she was attending so many classes. He did wonder if maybe she was getting some extra tutoring or something, but he honestly didn’t have a whole lot of extra time to wonder what Hermione was doing.

To Harry’s relief, after Ron’s initial reaction, he was fine with Harry taking the two extra classes. He never made fun of Harry for doing his schoolwork, but Ron still tended to leave his work until the last minute. Harry was amazed to discover that if he kept up with the reading and classwork, his homework came much easier. All of his professors had commented on his new commitment to his classwork, except of course for Professor Snape. He was nastier than ever.

Other than Snape, the one dark spot in Harry’s life were the Dementors. It had truly shocked him when his boggart turned into a Dementor. He really couldn’t think of a way to make a Dementor into something funny. The sight of them floating off in the distance was truly terrifying. It made him worry about Sirius.

He’d had two short notes from his godfather indicating that he was indeed making his way north. Harry had worried when an article in the paper said Sirius had been spotted, but when Harry read the article he didn’t think the person had actually seen him. The description the person gave was of the gaunt, scary-looking Sirius of the wanted posters, nothing like Sirius looked now.

Quidditch practice took place three nights a week in all sorts of weather. No matter how cold or wet practice was, the team was excited at the thought of finally winning the Quidditch Cup. Harry thought they probably would have won last year if the Basilisk hadn’t forced the Quidditch season to end early.

One evening he headed back to the common room cold and stiff. When he clambered into the portrait hole, he found most of the house in the common room chattering and in good spirits.

“What’s going on?” Harry asked Ron and Hermione.

“The first Hogsmeade weekend,” Hermione enthused. “It’s going to be Halloween weekend. I can’t wait. It’s the only entirely wizarding village in Britain and there have been several important historical events in Hogsmeade.”

“Historical events,” Ron looked at her incredulously. “Who cares about historical events when they have Honeydukes?”

“What is that?” Harry asked curiously.

“Honeydukes is only the best sweetshop in the world,” Ron said dreamily. “They have Chocoballs and sugar quills and all sorts of amazing sweets: Chocolate Frogs, homemade fudge, Pepper Imps, Ice Mice.”

“I’ve heard the most haunted building in Britain is in the village,” Hermione said obviously not wanting to be outdone. She ignored Ron’s continued litany of sweets. “The Shrieking Shack, it’s called. Some nights all sorts of screams and horrid sounds are heard coming from it.”

Harry’s heart sank a bit listening to the two of them. “Well, you will have to let me know how it is.”

“What?” Ron asked in a horrified tone. “Where will you be?”

“I didn’t get my permission slip signed,” Harry said sadly. “Uncle Vernon said he’d think about signing if I behaved during Aunt Marge’s visit. Obviously, I didn’t. I didn’t even think about asking Sirius to write a note or anything.”

“But…but just ask McGonagall, she likes you I’m sure she’d let you go,” Ron said.

Harry didn’t really think that was the case, but he allowed himself to be persuaded to ask her. He did want to go to Hogsmeade with the rest of his friends – after all it wasn’t like Sirius actually was out to get him. Listening to all of the students talk about Hogsmeade and all of its wonders made him eager to explore the village. He’d never really had to opportunity to explore such a uniquely magical place and it sounded like so much fun. The older members of the Quidditch team all seemed excited about the visit, even Oliver who Harry had never seen excited about anything but Quidditch.

Professor McGonagall brought up the subject of Hogsmeade herself in their next class reminding members of her house to turn in their permission slips. At the end of class, Harry walked up to her desk a bit nervously. He rather wished Ron and Hermione weren’t loitering in the doorway.

“Professor, my aunt and uncle never signed my permission slip.”

Before he could say anything else, she interrupted, “I’m sorry, Potter. The rules are quite clear. No permission slip, no visit.”

“But I’m sure Sirius wouldn’t mind,” Harry said. As soon as he said it he realized it was probably the wrong thing to say.

Professor McGonagall looked at him with a mixture of exasperation and possibly pity in her expression. Looking over his shoulder she said in a firm voice, “Mr Potter will join you for lunch.”

Reluctantly, Ron and Hermione left the room. Professor McGonagall gestured for Harry to sit and she sat behind her desk. “Harry, I know that you believe with your whole heart that Sirius is innocent and I’m not saying you are wrong, but he is a wanted man.”

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” Harry said defensively.

“I truly hope that is the case,” she replied. “I remember how gentle he was with you when you were a baby and it seems incongruous with what he’s accused of doing. I know that Madam Bones and Auror Shacklebolt have quietly reopened the original investigation, but unfortunately until he is cleared, the Ministry is concerned that he is after you. We have a directive from Minister Fudge to keep you safe in the castle.”

Harry’s heart sank as he realized he truly wouldn’t be allowed to go with his friends to Hogsmeade. Professor McGonagall reached out and patted him on the arm. “I am sorry, Harry.”

Sighing he stood up. “Thank you for explaining it to me, Professor.”

“Not a problem, Mr Potter.”

Harry caught up to his friends at lunch and explained what she’d said. Ron shook his head in disbelief. “So you can’t go? That’s not fair.”

“Ron, he’s already been kidnapped once this year. Do you want it to happen again?”

Harry glared at Hermione. “I wasn’t kidnapped! I’ve told you that several times.”

His temper wasn’t helped with he saw Ron and Hermione exchanging knowing glances.

“Harry, I think you might have Stockholm syndrome,” Hermione said gently.

Harry looked from one to the other trying to figure out what she was banging on about now. “What the hell is that?” Harry asked torn between irritation and amusement.

“Language, Harry,” she scolded. “Stockholm syndrome is what happens when a kidnap victim sympathizes with their captors. The captor shows them small kindnesses that make them think the kidnapper isn’t evil and likes them or something. The victim starts seeing things from the kidnapper’s point of view.”

Harry stared at her shocked that she didn’t believe him. “I told you, Hermione, I was not kidnapped! Sirius is my godfather and he is my legal guardian so how can he kidnap me? He does love me, I’m not imagining things. Why can’t you be happy for me? Why does it have to be a problem? I thought you would understand and be happy for me.”

“Harry, I know that’s what you want to believe, but the Ministry obviously doesn’t agree. They still have Dementors guarding the school. If they believed you, don’t you think they would have removed the Dementors?” Hermione said in a slightly pitying tone.

“Black is supposed to be a stone cold killer, mate,” Ron spoke up. “I asked my parents and he’s rumoured to be You-Know-Who’s right-hand man. You’re lucky to be alive.”

“A stone cold killer?” Harry scoffed at the idea. “He took me to the beach and taught me to swim. He helped me with my homework and encouraged me to do better in school. He bought me an expensive potion to fix my eyes. Does any of that sound like a stone cold killer?” He glared at his friends. “I thought you believed me.”

Ron shifted guiltily, but Hermione met his eyes. “Harry, I know you want to believe him, but it doesn’t seem very plausible.”

Turning on his heel, Harry strode out of the Great Hall. The argument with his friends had rather diminished his appetite. He couldn’t understand Hermione, he thought they believed him. To discover that they still thought Sirius was a killer was incredibly disheartening.

The next week was very difficult for Harry. He didn’t even want to talk to or even look at Ron or Hermione. Both of them had tried talking to him, but he slipped out of class as soon as it ended and didn’t sit with them during lessons. It really brought home to him how alone Ginny must of felt the year before.

He didn’t really have any close friends other than Ron and Hermione. Most of his classmates were friendly enough, but these were the same people who’d been happy to think he was the heir of Slytherin the year before. He ate lunch with his other roommates at times, but Seamus and Dean were best mates and he and Neville just didn’t have much in common. Neville had actually said that he didn’t like flying. Harry really didn’t understand that.

He spent most of his free time alone, but Ginny joined him a few times and Harry enjoyed her company. She didn’t seem to think Sirius was evil or bad for him, he wished Ron and Hermione could see things the same way.

The morning of the Hogsmeade visit, Harry left his room early as he didn’t really want to hear all of his classmates chattering on about going to Hogsmeade. He ate breakfast in the Great Hall before heading up to the Owlery.

Hedwig, who had returned from Egypt, flew down to meet him.

“Hi, girl,” he said a bit moodily.

Hedwig hooted softly at him. He spent the next hour petting and talking to her. It did help his mood. Hedwig really was a good friend to him. The two of them watched together as the students allowed to go to Hogsmeade were checked by Filch and headed off down the road.

Harry sighed. “Thanks, Hedwig.”

The owl rubbed her beak against his cheek before flying off to the rafters to settle in for a nap. Harry wandered down the tower and just walked aimlessly through the castle.

“Hello, Harry.”

Harry turned to see Professor Lupin. “Hello, Professor.”

“You aren’t headed off to Hogsmeade?”

“No, the stupid Ministry won’t let me go,” Harry explained. He looked over at the man he knew had been great friends with his father.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course,” Lupin replied. “Why don’t you come in?”

Harry followed the man into his office. It was quite different than it had been the year before. Professor Lockhart had surrounded himself with his own pictures while Professor Lupin had pictures of all manner of dark creatures. There was a large aquarium set up in the corner with a strange looking creature in it. Harry was drawn to look at it more closely. It was pale green with two horns on top of its head and sharp claws.

“Do you know what that is?” the professor asked.

“A grindylow, isn’t it?”

“Very good,” Professor Lupin replied. “We will start studying them next week.”

Harry nodded absently as he watched the water demon in the tank. As he was trying to decide how to broach the topic of Sirius and his father, Professor Lupin said, “You are quite gifted in Defence Against the Dark Arts.”

“Thank you,” Harry replied. “It is one of my favourite classes. I thought the lesson on the boggart was interesting. I wish I’d had the chance to face the boggart, but I ended up at the back of the line and we ran out of time.”

“What do you think it would have turned into?”

“I thought about Voldemort at first,” he admitted, “but then I remembered the Dementor on the train.” He shuddered. “That was horrible. I could hear a woman screaming and this awful laughter.”

Lupin gasped at Harry’s revelation. Harry looked up at him. “Do you know why they affect me so badly? No one else passed out on the train. Ginny was really pale and scared, but she didn’t pass out.”

“Harry, it has nothing to do with bravery or anything like that,” Lupin said reassuringly. “Dementors make us re-live our most awful memories. You have lived through things that no one your age should ever have to face.”

Harry nodded and shivered slightly as he recalled what he heard. He glanced over at Lupin. “I think they are horrible. Poor Sirius, I can’t even imagine living with them for twelve years.”

Lupin dropped the tea cup he’d just picked up, shattering it and splashing tea everywhere. Harry watched with interest as Lupin shakily cleaned the mess before turning to look at him.

“Harry, I heard that Black kidnapped you over the summer.”

“He didn’t kidnap me,” Harry interrupted fiercely. “Sirius is innocent, he didn’t betray my parents. Peter Pettigrew did!”

“Peter Pettigrew foolishly confronted Sirius and unfortunately paid with his life.”

“So you won’t even listen to Sirius’ side of the story?” Harry asked angrily.

Lupin pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes as if fighting off a sudden headache. Harry felt a little badly for yelling at the man, but he was tired of hearing how Sirius was so evil.

“I know this is a bad day for you,” Harry said. “I know it’s the full moon and, yes, I know what that means for you. Sirius told me.”

“So he felt free in giving away my secret to a perfect stranger!”

Harry stopped stung by the words. “I didn’t realize I was a perfect stranger. Sirius told me you used to play with me when I was a baby and that you and my parents were great friends. I’m sorry to have bothered you — it won’t happen again.”

Turning, Harry almost ran out of Lupin’s office. He headed outside and ended up beside the lake. To his dismay, he discovered he was crying. He quickly wiped his tears on his shirt sleeves. How could Lupin not even listen to what he had to say?


Hoping no one could tell he’d been crying, he turned at the tentative voice. To his relief it was Ginny. She would never call him on it, even if she could tell he’d been crying. “Hi, Ginny.”

“Hi,” she said as she sat next to him. “Are you upset that you had to stay here?”

Looking out over the lake, Harry related his conversation with Professor Lupin. “He wouldn’t even listen to me,” Harry complained.

“I’m sorry,” Ginny said sympathetically. “I heard about Hermione.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Yes, I have some stupid syndrome. Why can’t she be happy for me?”

“I don’t know,” Ginny said. “I believe you.”

Harry’s gaze softened. “I know and I really appreciate that.”

“Do you want to go for a walk?”

“Sure,” he stood easily and the two headed off around the lake. He found it very easy to talk to Ginny for some reason. He didn’t know quite why, but she actually listened to him and most importantly she believed him. He told her about his Quidditch practices and she told him about her Sunday afternoons with Professor McGonagall.

“That’s great, Ginny,” he said. “It’s brilliant that you have someone to talk to about everything.”

“She’s been very understanding,” Ginny said blushingly. “She even talked to my parents about calling off the debt repayment after that whole thing with the blouse, but my mum figured I needed to learn a lesson.”

“What? To always check your pockets?” Harry shook his head. “I think Hermione went a bit too far.”

Ginny shrugged. “I’m just glad it’s over.”

As they neared the curve in the lake, Harry heard a familiar barking. He looked around in excitement and to his delight he saw a large black dog hiding in the thicket of bushes near the lake.

“Come on, Ginny,” he said excitedly pulling her towards the dog.

He dropped to his knees and threw his arms around Padfoot. “You made it! I’ve been so worried about you.”

Padfoot licked Harry on the side of the face, barking excitedly. Harry looked around. “Shh! You have to be quiet. Most of the older students are in Hogsmeade, but there are still some around.”

Padfoot lowered his head, but grabbed Harry’s arm gently with his teeth pulling him around the lake. Harry gestured for a rather confused Ginny to follow. Padfoot’s extensive knowledge of the grounds was helpful as he led them to a rather secluded grove that if you didn’t know it was there, you would never find. They pushed past a rather overgrown section of bushes and ended up in a shaded grassy area. It was surrounded on all sides by trees and had a small pond in the centre. There were several large boulders that made for perfect places to lean against.

“Harry, what’s going on?” Ginny asked as they came to a stop.

Harry glanced over at Padfoot who gave him a strange little shrug that Harry interpreted to mean he could use his own judgement. “There was one thing I didn’t mention about Sirius.”

Ginny gasped as Padfoot transformed into Sirius. He smiled at the young girl and gave her a slight bow. “Sirius Black at your service. Are you Ginny?”

She nodded silently as she looked him up and down. Harry looked over at her nervously. “Gin, are you okay?”

She nodded again. “Yes. I’m just surprised.” She looked over at Sirius. “You don’t look at all like your pictures.”

Sirius laughed. “Good! I think the time Harry and I spent together did me a world of good.”

At this Harry reached out and hugged his godfather. Ginny watched in amazement. Harry usually shied away from hugs or any type of physical contact, but he actually initiated a hug with Sirius who returned it and kissed Harry on the forehead.

“How are you, kiddo?” Sirius asked with concern.

“I’m good,” Harry replied, “better with you here. I’ve been worried about you.”

Sirius waved off his worries. “I’m fine. Most Muggles are quite happy to feed a lovable stray and I’ve found a few rats and other snacks.”

“Rats? Sirius, that’s horrid. Do you want us to sneak in and get you some food?” Harry asked looking at his godfather in concern.

Sirius leaned over and ruffled Harry’s hair. “No, I’m fine for now. So tell me what’s going on.”

“D-do you want me to leave?” Ginny asked uncertainly.

“No,” Harry said promptly. “You’re the only one who’s believed me.”

“What do you mean?” Sirius asked in concern.

The three sat in a small circle on the grass with Harry leaning up against a large boulder. He explained to Sirius everything that had happened so far — from his first meeting with Madam Bones and the Auror to Hermione’s assertion that he had been brainwashed by Sirius.

Sirius frowned as he listened to Harry’s narrative, but he was happy to see that Harry had a very staunch supporter in Ginny. “I’m so sorry, Harry. I’m sure they will come around eventually. What about Peter?”

Harry glanced guiltily over at Ginny before he said, “He’s in his cage next to Ron’s bed. Hermione has a new cat and he kept attacking Peter, so I talked Ron into keeping Peter in his cage. I was afraid he might try to run. I wasn’t sure if I should tell anyone or not. I wanted to tell Professor McGonagall, but I was afraid I would mess up and Peter would escape again. I didn’t want to make things worse.”

“Harry, there is nothing you could do to make things worse for me,” Sirius said gently.

Ginny broke in. “Wait, are you saying that Peter is Scabbers?”

Harry nodded. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you, but I was afraid he’d realize I know who he is. I think the only reason he hasn’t taken off is he’s been locked up.”

A disgusted look crossed her face. “So he’s really a wizard who was spying on me?”

Blushing Harry nodded. Sirius groaned. “That should have clued us in. He was caught spying on some girls while we were in school, but we just blew it off as him being stupid. Harry told me he’s been with your family for a long time.”

Ginny nodded. “He’s been with us as long as I can remember. Percy found him or was given him or something. When he was made prefect my parents got him an owl so Ron ended up with Scabbers.”

Sirius growled. “Damn rat! I still can’t believe that he betrayed us like that.”

“Your story makes a lot more sense when you realize he’s a rat,” Ginny said to Harry. She looked over at Sirius. “Was he a dog when you first saw him in the park?”

Harry laughed. “He was. He came over to me and I started talking to him and soon enough he turned into a person. It didn’t even really faze me, I don’t think. I don’t know if I remember some things from when I was little or not, but I just automatically trusted him. It was so funny when Ron got all concerned about that grim thing, asking me if I’d seen a big black dog. I wanted to say ‘yes, I’ve just spent three weeks with one’, but I don’t think he’d find that funny.”

“A grim,” Sirius laughed. “I used to get that all the time. James loved to tease me about that.”

“So what are we going to do?” Harry asked.

“Are the students still in Hogsmeade?” Sirius asked.

Harry and Ginny nodded. Sirius sighed. “I say we get McGonagall involved. She’s level headed and she’s an Animagus herself so she’ll understand.”

Relieved that some action would be taken Harry agreed. “I think she believed me about you. She said something about your actions being ‘incongruous with what you were being accused of’.”

Sirius smiled. “Good old Minerva. She always was my favourite professor.” He looked over at Harry. “It seems that another old friend of mine is here.”

Harry’s eyes widened. “Yes, we need to avoid Professor Lupin.” He quickly explained what had happened earlier that day. “He wouldn’t hesitate to turn you in.”

Sirius frowned. He’d hoped to be able to convince Remus to help them, but he could imagine how Remus’ world might have fallen apart with the deaths of James and Lily and his own supposed betrayal and Peter’s alleged death. It was a lot for one person to go through and Remus had never been that strong to begin with.

Glancing up at the two waiting for him, he asked, “Do you think you could get Professor McGonagall to come outside?”

Harry nodded eagerly. “Yes, we could bring her out here. Make sure you turn into Padfoot first.”

Laughing Sirius hugged his godson before turning back into a black dog. He lay down beside the pond to wait. Harry and Ginny ran up to the castle and Professor McGonagall’s office.

She quickly answered the knock on her door and was rather surprised to see the pair on her doorstep. “Mr Potter, Miss Weasley, how may I help you?”

“Professor, could you come out onto the grounds with us?” Harry asked. “I promise I will tell you on the way why it’s important, but we need to hurry.”

She stepped into the corridor with them and closed her office door.

“Thank you,” Harry said as he led the way. He didn’t say anything else until they left the castle. Once they had, he said, “Professor, there is one or I guess two important things I didn’t tell Madam Bones at the beginning of the year.” He stopped walking and turned to look at her. “I’m sorry I didn’t say anything, but Sirius was put in prison by those people for twelve years without a trial and I was afraid if
I said anything he’d be caught by those horrid Dementors.”

Professor McGonagall looked at him as though to assess his sincerity. “I can understand that.”

Breathing a sigh of relief, Harry said, “Sirius is an Animagus. That’s how he escaped from Azkaban and that’s how he first approached me. He’s a big, black dog.”

Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrows as she followed the two students down by the lake. “I would assume your father and the others were also Animagi.”

“Yes, they learned so they could be with Remus during the full moon,” Harry explained. “He seems to have forgotten that, though. He wouldn’t even listen to me about Sirius.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” the older witch said sympathetically. “He has been hurt very badly with this whole affair, I’m afraid.”

Harry wanted to roll his eyes, but didn’t want to antagonize her. By this time they’d reached Sirius’ hiding spot. Pushing aside the bushes, Harry led the professor into the grove. Padfoot sat up and started his tail wagging when they arrived.

Laughing, Harry reached over and petted Padfoot. “I explained who you are.”

Padfoot quickly transformed into Sirius who bowed slightly at Professor McGonagall. “Professor.”

“Sirius Black,” she said with a touch of amazement in her voice. “You are looking well, nothing like your wanted posters.”

Sirius grinned. “That’s Harry’s doing.”

Looking around, Professor McGonagall walked over to the boulders and sat down on one. “Please tell me your story from the beginning.”

Sirius sat down across from her while the younger two sat on the grass. Sirius explained how they’d become Animagi at school and he talked about the Potters’ need to go into hiding.

“We couldn’t figure out how Voldemort would always find them,” Sirius said with a touch of anger in his voice. “At the beginning of October that year, Dumbledore approached them with the idea of using the Fidelius Charm. James had resisted for a while, but after his parents died he finally agreed.”

“Were my grandparents killed by Death Eaters?” Harry interrupted.

Sirius shook his head. “No, James’ parents were older when they had him. Mr Potter was sick for a while and died just after your first birthday. Mrs Potter followed him soon after. I think that made James worry about you and your mum a bit more.”

Harry nodded and Sirius resumed his story. “When James and Lily decided to use the Fidelius, Dumbledore offered to be their Secret-Keeper, but James insisted upon me. Shortly before we were to cast the charm, I was in a fight with Bellatrix. She was taunting me with everything they would do to the Potters. That’s when I realized what an obvious choice I was for Secret-Keeper. I convinced James to use Peter. The theory was everyone would go after me and Peter would keep the Potters safe.”

Professor McGonagall nodded slowly as she thought over everything Sirius had told her. “That does make sense.” She looked between Harry and Sirius. “Do you know where Peter is now?”

Sirius looked pointedly at Harry who coloured slightly before answering, “He’s in his cage by Ron’s bed.”

Professor McGonagall’s jaw dropped in amazement. “Peter Pettigrew has been hiding as Mr Weasley’s rat?”

“That’s how I knew where he was,” Sirius explained. He reached into the pocket of his trousers and pulled out a worn copy of the newspaper picture of the Weasleys in Egypt. He pointed to the rat on Ron’s shoulder. “That’s Peter. I would recognize him anywhere.”

Pursing her lips, the professor appeared to be considering the options. After a few minutes consideration, she looked up at the students.
“Mr Potter, you decided to practice the Animagus detection charm in preparation for your upcoming test. You discovered Mr Weasley’s rat was an Animagus and came to get me. When we get back to the castle, I will accompany you and Miss Weasley to your dorm room in case any of the students have returned early.”

Harry nodded. The story made sense. It was only luck that Scabbers hadn’t been used for the charm. Hedwig, Trevor, and Crookshanks had all been tested by various third year students.

Turning to Sirius, she said, “I will Disillusion you until we get to my offices. I don’t know if you are aware that both Severus Snape and Remus Lupin are teaching here this year.”

Sirius nodded. “Harry has told me.”

Professor McGonagall continued, “Once I have confirmed that the rat is an Animagus, I will summon Professor Dumbledore and Professor Flitwick. I will change Mr Pettigrew and make sure he is sufficiently secured so Professor Dumbledore knows who and what we are dealing with and acts accordingly.”

Once the course of action was decided upon, Sirius changed into Padfoot once again and Professor McGonagall cast a spell upon him. Harry watched in fascination as his godfather disappeared from view.

“Sirius, stay close to Harry,” the professor commented as she led the way towards the castle.

Harry grinned happily at Ginny as they walked around the lake. This was perfect! After being rejected earlier by Professor Lupin, Professor McGonagall’s support meant a lot to him. As they were about to start across the lawn, Harry felt chilled. Glancing over at Ginny he saw a look of fear on her face.

He slowly realized what was happening — Dementors. Turning, he saw a group of three or four closing in on their group. As they came closer, Harry heard Padfoot whimper and he grabbed Ginny’s hand as she whispered, “No, Tom.”

He heard the woman screaming, but this time he also heard her pleading, “Not Harry. Don’t take Harry.”

Futilely he moved in front of Ginny in an effort to protect her, but he felt rather helpless. To his astonishment, Professor McGonagall drew her wand and yelled, “Expecto Patronum!”

A silvery looking cat leapt out of her wand at the Dementors. The Dementors fled in the face of the silvery animal and after ensuring they were gone she looked at her companions. “Are you alright?”

Harry nodded mutely and looked over at Ginny. She was wiping her face, but she too nodded. Padfoot gave a quiet bark to let them know he was still with them.

Professor McGonagall looked furious. “Dementors, on the grounds!”

“What happened, Professor?” Ginny asked shakily. “Why did they come after us?”

“I’m not entirely certain,” the older witch admitted as she started once again for the castle walking quickly. “I believe they are getting restless guarding the school and perhaps the emotions they detected were too much of an enticement for them.” She looked over at the teens. “You both did very well and stayed calm. I will make sure you have some chocolate once we are back inside.”

“What was that spell?” Harry asked.

By this time they had almost reached the castle doors. “The spell is called the Patronus Charm. It is a NEWT level charm and it uses your happiest memories to form a shield. It works well against Dementors and Lethifolds.”

“Can you teach it to me?” he asked. “I hate those things.”

Stopping for a moment, she turned to look at him. She must have approved of what she saw for she nodded. “I can teach you. It is a difficult charm, but if you have the determination I can teach you.” Her gaze softened slightly and she said, “I can only imagine what you hear when the Dementors get too near, but I imagine it isn’t pleasant.”

He shuddered. “No, I hear…well, I think it’s my mum. She’s begging someone not to hurt me.”

His normally unflappable professor winced and she reached out and clapped him gently on the shoulder. “I am so sorry that you have to remember that.”

Padfoot nudged Harry with his nose. Harry smiled down at the dog grateful for his support.

The group made their way up to the top of Gryffindor Tower quietly. Padfoot’s nails clacked on the stone floor, but that was the only noise from the group. Harry glanced over at Ginny and was glad to see that she was looking better. They stopped at Professor McGonagall’s office to let Padfoot in. She gave each of them some chocolate.

Harry felt much better and he noticed that Ginny wasn’t as pale either. Sirius ate his chocolate and changed back into Padfoot.

“Stay here until I come get you,” Professor McGonagall said firmly to the dog. “I don’t know who the Aurors will bring, but I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea.”

Harry knelt down and hugged his godfather. Smiling he whispered into his fur, “I think it’s almost over.”

Padfoot padded over to the fire and stretched out in front of the hearth. Professor McGonagall led the students up to the common room. The common room was empty when they arrived. The older students were in Hogsmeade while the younger students were outside or busy elsewhere. Harry led the way up to his room hoping that it was at least fairly clean.

Scabbers was sleeping when Harry entered, but the noise of the three of them woke him. Harry fancied he could see a look of fear on the rat’s face when he saw McGonagall. The rat started making screeching noises and backing up in his cage.

“What are all of you doing here?” came a voice from behind them. “Ginny, get out of my room!”

“Ron,” Harry said in surprise. “I didn’t know you were back.”

“We just got back,” he said indicating Hermione who was standing next to him. “What are all of you doing in there? What did you do to upset Scabbers?”

“I was practicing the Animagus detection charm,” Harry explained quickly. “I had already tried it on Hedwig so I decided to try it on Scabbers and he turned blue.”

“Harry, you probably just did the charm wrong,” Hermione put in. “You know Scabbers isn’t an Animagus.”

Harry glared at her for a moment before actually casting the charm. As he knew it would, when the spell hit Scabbers it turned blue.
Professor McGonagall took over and cast the spell again herself. “You are correct, Mr Potter. This rat is an Animagus.”

Back to index

Chapter 8: Chapter 8 Pettigrew's Capture

Author's Notes: Thanks again to Arnel! I appreciate her hard work. I gave Peter my grandfather's middle name - he hated it so I thought it would work for Peter.

“Professor, did Harry do the spell wrong?” Hermione asked in confusion.

“No, Miss Granger, he did not,” Professor McGonagall replied firmly.

“But Scabbers isn’t an Animagus,” Ron protested. “He’s just a rat, an average garden rat.”

“How long has he been in your family?” Professor McGonagall asked.

Ron shrugged. “I don’t know. Percy had him before me. He’s always been around. This doesn’t make any sense. Look, you’re upsetting him.” He started towards the cage to comfort his pet.

“No, Mr Weasley, do not touch that cage,” Professor McGonagall said sharply.

“But he’s my rat,” Ron protested angrily. “This is mental.” He sat down on his unmade bed and glared at Harry. Hermione stood awkwardly at his side as she tried to understand what was happening.

After a few tense minutes the sound of footsteps on the stairs could be heard and Professor Dumbledore and Professor Flitwick entered the dorm. Professor Dumbledore spoke up first. “Professor McGonagall, how may we assist you?”

“I have an unregistered Animagus here,” she said crisply.

Harry heard Hermione mutter, “Harry could have done the spell wrong.”

Professor Dumbledore stepped forward and cast the same spell Harry had with the same results. The older wizard raised an eyebrow as he considered the circumstances. Looking over at Professor Flitwick he said, “Professor if you could cast a containment spell, I will force him to change.”

Harry watched with great interest as the diminutive professor cast a spell that shimmered over the cage. Professor McGonagall then Vanished the cage while at the same time Professor Dumbledore cast a spell that forced Scabbers to change back into Peter Pettigrew.
The three professors gasped as the short, balding man with watery eyes and somehow sharp rat-like features appeared.

“Peter Pettigrew!” Professor Dumbledore exclaimed in a shocked voice.

Ron and Hermione appeared beyond shock. Professor Flitwick immediately cast a spell that caused ropes to shoot from his wand. “I’ve prevented him from transforming, Albus, but we need to get the Aurors here.”

Professor Dumbledore nodded gravely as he looked between his deputy and Harry; for once his blue eyes weren’t twinkling. “Mr Potter, if you could come with me?”

Harry nodded grimly and turned to follow the two professors. Before leaving the room he turned to Professor McGonagall. “Thank you.”

She nodded and he followed the two men back to the headmaster’s office. Professor Flitwick secured their prisoner while Professor Dumbledore contacted the Ministry. Harry walked over to Fawkes to greet him. “Hello, Fawkes.”

A short, warm musical sound washed over him and Harry couldn’t help but smile as he pet the phoenix’s beautiful crimson feathers. “You always know how to make me feel better.”

It didn’t take long before Auror Shacklebolt and Madam Bones appeared in the office. They were accompanied by several other men in Auror’s robes as well as another Ministry official who wasn’t in Auror robes, but different colour robe. Harry didn’t know who any of them were.

Madam Bones gasped, “Peter Pettigrew.” She turned to look at Professor Dumbledore. “What happened?”

“I was just about to ask Mr Potter the same question,” the headmaster replied as he took his seat behind his desk.

Sinking into the closest chair, Harry faltered for a moment. The cover story Professor McGonagall had made up was going to be enough for his friends, but should he tell the truth to the other adults?

Feeling a bit nervous Harry said, “I talked to Professor McGonagall this afternoon and told her where Pettigrew was hiding. That’s why Sirius escaped from Azkaban. He saw the picture of the Weasleys in Egypt after winning the prize draw and Scabbers was sitting on Ron’s shoulder. Sirius recognized him right away.”

Madam Bones looked at him with an expression Harry couldn’t read. “Why didn’t you tell us this before? Why did you choose today?”
“I didn’t know if I could trust you,” Harry replied simply. “You work for the same government that sent Sirius to jail without the benefit of a trial. I figured if I presented Peter to you, you would have no choice but to investigate. I waited to hear from Sirius and he said I should go ahead and tell Professor McGonagall.”

“Do you know where Black is now?” Madam Bones asked.

“I can get him,” Harry prevaricated.

At the Auror’s request, Professor Flitwick lifted the Silencing Charm he’d cast upon the rat. Peter realized it immediately.

“Professor Dumbledore, sir. I think there has been some misunderstanding.”

“I think there has,” Professor Dumbledore said. He gazed at Peter with a mixture of revulsion, anger, and a touch of pity.

“Madam, I have some Veritaserum,” Auror Shacklebolt said.

At a nod from Madam Bones, two of the Aurors held Pettigrew while Shacklebolt administered three drops of the truth serum. Harry watched in interest as he realized that the Ministry employee who wasn’t an Auror was there to record everything that happened.
Peter’s eyes glazed over and Madam Bones began interrogating him while the clerk took notes.

“State your name.”

“Peter Alphonsus Pettigrew.”

“It was believed that you were dead, how did your evade detection?”

A strange smile lit Peter’s face. “I have been an Animagus since I was in school. Sirius didn’t think I would be able to make it, but James had faith in me. After I told the Dark Lord where the Potters lived, I left my flat. I knew Sirius would come looking for me once the Potters were dead. He was completely taken off guard, he never suspected me.

“He caught up to me on the street and I yelled something about him betraying James and Lily. He didn’t think I would do anything to endanger the people on the street, but they were just Muggles so I really didn’t care what happened to them. I cast a very dark spell and killed the Muggles.” Peter laughed. It was chilling to see the inappropriate happiness on his face.

“I’ve always enjoyed killing Muggles. That was the first time I’d tried that particular spell. The Dark Lord taught it to us himself, but I hadn’t had a chance to try it before. It was thrilling the feeling of power that flooded me. After cutting off my own finger I transformed into my rat form and ran off down the sewer. I really didn’t expect Sirius to spend so many years in Azkaban — that was just a bonus. I outwitted both Sirius and James — they didn’t think I was equal to them. They thought they were better than me and I showed them.”

Harry stared at the man in revulsion wondering how his father could have ever been friends with this man.

“How did you end up with the Weasley family?”

“I wanted to hide with a magical family so I was in a good position to hear any news of my Lord. I ended up in Devonshire and wanted to stay with a pure-blood family. The Diggory boy wouldn’t play with me, but Percy took a liking to me right away. He took me home and asked his parents if he could keep me. No one ever checked to see if I was an Animagus. I was thrilled when Ron became such good friends with Harry. I could keep an eye on him and await my master’s return. The only one who was ever suspicious of me was the girl.”

“Maybe if you hadn’t been hiding in her knickers and spying on her she might not have been suspicious,” Harry burst out, drawing the surprised attention of the rest of the room. Harry blushed, but said, “Ginny told me. She never liked him.”

“Great, a perverted rat,” one of the Aurors observed.

Clearing her throat, Madam Bones silenced everyone in the room. “Why did you betray the Potters?”

“The Dark Lord was so powerful,” the rat like man said. “There was nothing to be gained by fighting him. James never understood. I tried to talk to him, but he was too good and too far under her spell. A pure-blood family brought down by a Mudblood. I couldn’t believe he would actually marry her. She was smart and beautiful, but he could have kept her as a mistress. I thought for sure his parents would put a stop to their marriage, but they encouraged the match.”

“The Potters have always been on the side of the Light and have always welcomed Muggles and Muggle-borns in their family,” Professor Dumbledore observed. “So you were the spy who was betraying our plans to Voldemort?”

Harry was surprised that some of the Aurors gasped on hearing the name. How could they fight Dark wizards if a name scared them?

Peter smiled proudly and nodded. “I shared all of our plans with the Dark Lord. I was surprised that no one caught on to all of my lame excuses about my mother. I thought Sirius was a bit suspicious of me, but then he suggested that I be the Secret-Keeper. I was so excited to have the honour to bring the Potters to the Dark Lord.”

“What happened on the night of 31 October, 1981?”

“The Dark Lord wanted to use Halloween as a cover for his activities. I followed him to the Potter’s house in Godric’s Hollow and waited. I saw the green flash of the Killing Curse once on the ground floor. The nursery was at the back of the house so I didn’t expect to see anything, but suddenly there was a huge explosion. I could tell it was from the area of the nursery. I couldn’t imagine what might have happened, so I entered the house.

“I saw James lying dead in front of the fireplace. It was a sad end to a pure-blood line. Upstairs I suddenly heard the sound of a baby crying, which I didn’t understand. The brat should have been dead. I rushed upstairs and found the Mudblood dead on the floor and the baby crying in his cot. The Dark Lord was not there, his wand and cloak were both on the floor, but the Dark Lord had vanished.

“I picked up his wand and was filled with such power. I thought of killing the brat myself, but knew that if my Lord failed I would be able to do nothing. As my Lord’s body was not there, I knew some of his plans had worked and knew I needed to position myself to help my Lord when he returned.”

“What do you mean plans?”

For the first time Peter didn’t answer immediately, he seemed to be fighting and Harry couldn’t tell if he was fighting to answer or fighting not to answer. Auror Shacklebolt cast some sort of spell on Peter, Harry didn’t know what it was, but Peter stopped fighting and answered. “My Lord is the most powerful wizard in the world. He’s made many plans and some of them worked.”

“Do you know what these plans were?”

“No,” Peter said regretfully. “I wish I knew what my Lord had planned, that way I could be better prepared to help him.”

The Aurors exchanged concerned looks. “Are you saying you believe he still plans to return?”

“Of course,” Peter replied.

Exchanging a look with his boss, Auror Shacklebolt asked, “Is Sirius Black a Death Eater?”

Peter laughed. “No, Black turned down that opportunity on many occasions. He hated the Dark Arts and Death Eaters.”

As the Veritaserum wore off, Madam Bones had the Aurors take Peter off to the Ministry. She admonished them to be certain he could not transform and escape. Professor Flitwick bowed briefly and excused himself, leaving Harry with Madam Bones and Professor Dumbledore. Madam Bones sank into her seat looking rather weary. To Harry’s surprise, Professor Dumbledore looked rather old and tired.

It was Professor Dumbledore who spoke up first. “Thank you, Harry, for pointing out the error in our ways.”

“Does this mean Sirius will be free?” Harry asked in a hopeful voice.

“Indeed,” Madam Bones said. “I will issue a statement for the evening papers. Sirius Black is cleared of all charges and he has full guardianship over you. I wish to speak to him, but he is under no obligation to do so. There will be no punishment for his escape or becoming an illegal Animagus, although I would eventually like to know how he escaped.”

Harry smiled happily.

Professor Dumbledore smiled indulgently at the boy. “Harry, please take fifty points for Gryffindor. Why don’t you let your godfather know what has happened?”

“Thank you,” Harry said. He petted Fawkes once more before heading out of the office. He hurried to Professor McGonagall’s office. As soon as he closed the door behind him, Sirius transformed. Harry grabbed him in a big hug. “It worked!”

Sirius let out a loud whoop and swung Harry around while Professor McGonagall smiled at the pair of them. Sirius transformed back into Padfoot and danced around the room. Harry laughed and couldn’t help but join in. Eventually Sirius settled down and sat down in front of
a plate of sandwiches. He must have been eating while they were waiting for Harry.

“So, what happened, kiddo?” Sirius asked.

“It worked,” Harry said with joy and excitement in his voice. “Peter confessed under Veritaserum and Madam Bones said that you were cleared of all charges. Thank you so much, Professor. I appreciate everything.”

“You are very welcome, Harry,” Professor McGonagall said with a smile. “I am so thrilled that this worked out for both of you.”

Turning to Sirius, she said. “I would suggest getting in touch with Albus. He needs to know you are in the castle and I imagine he will have some questions for you. I think Poppy should look you over as well, I can’t imagine that twelve years in Azkaban have been good for you.”

“But Sirius won’t get into any trouble, right?” Harry asked anxiously as he looked between the two adults.

“No, he will not,” Professor McGonagall reassured him.

“Can we have Albus come to the hospital wing?” Sirius asked.

“That should be fine,” she replied.

Harry followed Padfoot and Professor McGonagall to the hospital wing and waited outside with his professor as Madam Pomfrey examined him.

Several hours later, Harry was finally convinced to leave Sirius for a while. He was so thrilled with everything that had happened that afternoon. Sirius was free! He still had trouble believing it, but Madam Bones had returned to the castle with a proclamation vacating his conviction as well as written proof of his guardianship of Harry.

The common room was practically empty, but Ron and Hermione were sitting by the fire, so Harry headed over to them.

“You’ve remembered us now, have you?” Ron asked angrily.

Harry stared at Ron in astonishment. “What are you talking about?”

“What am I talking about?” Ron’s hurt feelings were very obvious. “You discover my rat is an Animagus and you don’t even tell me? How long have you known?”

Harry looked up at Ron in surprise; he’d never imagined Ron would be mad at him.

When Harry didn’t answer, Ron seemed to get angrier. “Is that why you wanted him in a cage?”

“Yes,” Harry admitted. “Sirius told me about Peter over the summer. That’s why he escaped from Azkaban. He saw the picture of your family in Egypt with Scabbers on your shoulder.”

“He recognized a rat from a newspaper clipping?” Hermione asked sceptically.

“Yes, when Sirius confronted Peter over betraying my parents, Peter killed all the Muggles and cut off his own finger. That’s all they ever found of Peter was one of his fingers,” Harry explained. He looked at Ron. “Scabbers is missing a toe on his right front paw, isn’t he?”

“He probably lost it in a fight or something,” Ron dismissed Harry’s explanation.

“Did you see him?” Harry asked angrily. “I didn’t mess up the spell or imagine it. Professor Dumbledore cast the spell the same as I did and he forced Peter to change back into a person.”

“So you reveal that my family has been harbouring a Death Eater and then you run off to who knows where. Did you have a great laugh over how stupid the Weasleys are? How we didn’t recognize a Death Eater in our house?”

“Look, Ron, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Peter, but I didn’t want to take the chance that he might overhear and escape. Sirius’s freedom is way too important to me.”

Harry glared at Ron upset and hurt that his best mate had so little faith in his integrity or friendship.

“Sirius is more important than me?” Ron demanded.

“Yes!” Harry yelled. “I’m sorry that you feel stupid or whatever, but I was trying to free my godfather. He’s been in prison with those horrid Dementors for twelve years for something he didn’t do! So no, I wasn’t thinking about you.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Hermione demanded. “You could have tipped us off and we could have helped you. It’s like you don’t trust us anymore.”

“It would have tipped off Peter as well,” Harry replied angrily. “I’m sorry, but I did what I had to do. It’s not anything against your family and I certainly wasn’t laughing. I told Professor McGonagall and she came up to double check.”

“With Ginny.”


“You couldn’t tell us anything, but you confided in my stupid sister,” Ron accused him. “What were you doing with my sister?”

“I was talking to her,” Harry ground out. “She was with me when Sirius found me today. I told her because she hasn’t been telling me I’m imagining things and she isn’t convinced my godfather’s a murderer. You’re telling me he’s a stone cold killer and Hermione thinks I have some stupid syndrome.”

“That seemed much more likely than the story you were telling us,” Hermione defended herself.

“Well, now you know the truth,” Harry replied. “I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt, but neither of you were talking to me. I wasn’t going to trust you with my secret if you weren’t even going to try to believe me.”

“Harry!” Ginny raced down the steps of the girls’ dorm to join them. “What happened?”

“He’s free!” Harry’s good mood returned instantly. “He’s free and in the hospital wing!”

“That’s wonderful!” Ginny said enthusiastically. She threw her arms around him and gave him a big hug, which he returned happily.

“So tell me everything.”

Ron and Hermione looked put out that Ginny had joined them, but didn’t want to miss out on the news. The four of them sat down close to the fire.

“Madam Bones and a bunch of people from the Ministry came and they questioned him under Veritaserum.” Harry shook his head.
“Peter was horrible. He wasn’t even sorry that he betrayed my parents. I had to listen to him go on about how my father ruined his life because he married my mother who was Muggle-born. He laughed as he recalled how fun it was to kill all those Muggles.” He looked over at Hermione. “He would have killed you if he had the chance. He’s crazy.”

“Why didn’t he ever do anything?” Ron asked. He didn’t seem quite so angry anymore.

Harry shrugged. “I’m not entirely sure. He said he was waiting for a sign or something. He said something about one of Voldemort’s plans working.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Hermione asked sharply.

“I don’t know,” Harry said. “Peter said that when he found just Voldemort’s wand and robes he knew that one of Voldemort’s plans worked.”

Ginny shivered. “Tom was obsessed with cheating death. We already know that he managed that somehow.”

“Did you get some more chocolate?” Harry asked in concern.

Ginny smiled. “I did. Professor McGonagall made sure I got some.”

“Why?” Ron demanded.

“The Dementors attacked us when we were walking up to the castle,” Harry said with a slight shudder. “Professor McGonagall made them go away.”

“Why would Dementors attack you? They are supposed to stay outside of school grounds. You weren’t trying to sneak into town, were you?” Hermione asked disapproval obvious on her face.

“No, I wasn’t,” Harry replied stung by her lack of trust. “They came onto the grounds. Professor McGonagall said they might have been attracted by the emotions we were feeling.”

By this time students were starting to return from Hogsmeade. Trying to head off any more rows between them Ron said, “Why don’t we head down to the feast?”

“Sirius, I am truly sorry,” Professor Dumbledore said sadly much later that evening. Sirius had just finished telling both Professor Dumbledore and Remus Lupin his tale. “I did not realize that James had switched Secret-Keepers and Barty was quite insistent upon getting you to Azkaban as quickly as possible. It was feared that you would prove to be a rallying force for the other Death Eaters to gather around.”

Looking down for a moment, he looked back up at the young man who had been so wronged by his decisions. “I am sorry I did not investigate it more. I thought I knew you were James’ Secret-Keeper and he had obviously been betrayed by someone close to him. I let the system take care of you and for that I apologize.”

Sirius looked down at the floor, not meeting anyone’s eyes before finally looking up at the Headmaster. “I won’t deny that I have been furious with you for over a decade and I am still angry. I accept your apology because I think we need to work together. I am still angry and might not always be so calm about it, but Harry’s needs outweigh my childish need to hold onto my anger.”

“Thank you,” Albus said. “If you would like, you could stay here in one of the guest quarters in the short term. Poppy mentioned that she would like to put you under some treatment.”

Sirius didn’t answer for a moment. He looked over at Remus. “What do you think about that?”

“I would like very much to have my friend back,” Remus said emotionally. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you. I went to sleep one night and woke up to find my world destroyed. I didn’t think to question what I’d been told. As Albus said, I thought you were the Secret-Keeper.”

“Peter did a lot to sow discord,” Sirius said generously. Looking back at Dumbledore he said, “I’ll take you up on that offer.”

“I will make arrangements,” Dumbledore promised.

“There is one more thing I’d like to talk to you about.”

Dumbledore sighed. “Harry.”

“Yes, Harry,” Sirius replied. “Why was he sent to those wretched people?” He looked over at Remus. “Why didn’t you take him? Don’t give me some line about werewolves either.”

“It’s true,” Remus protested. “The Ministry never would have allowed me to have Harry. He was much better off with his relatives.”

“The way I hear it the Ministry didn’t really figure into the equation,” Sirius glared at the other two. “There is no way the heir to an ancient and noble house should have been raised in the Muggle world. There are plenty of cousins or other distant relatives who would have taken him in.”

“Perhaps,” Dumbledore agreed, “but the Malfoys and the Notts were the families pressing the matter. Originally, I considered placing him with a wizarding family, but in the aftermath of his parents’ deaths his relatives seemed like the best alternative. I knew they had a son about his age and hoped they would accept him and grow to love him.”

“Instead they beat him, starved him, and treated him worse than a house-elf.”

“What?” Remus looked between the other two men.

“You don’t even seem surprised,” Sirius accused. His eyes widened. “You’ve used Legilimency on him, haven’t you? That’s illegal!”

“I apologize,” the headmaster replied soothingly. “It seemed the best way to understand what he was going through.”

“So you knew how he was treated and you still did nothing.”

“What was I to do? There was still the problem of where he would go. The Malfoys renewed their request for custody shortly after Harry started at Hogwarts. Can you imagine what his life would be like if they obtained custody? It seemed that his relatives’ worst behaviour
was in the past.”

“You didn’t see the relief on his face when Hedwig showed up in that park,” Sirius said. “Harry was so afraid his uncle would kill her — literally kill her. That little owl is practically the only thing that kept him sane in that awful place. It would have killed Harry if anything happened to her.”

“I am sorry that’s he’s had a hard time of it,” Dumbledore said regretfully. “I had hoped he’d find a home in his aunt’s house, but more importantly I was able to build blood wards with his aunt based on his mother’s sacrifice. Those were destroyed when he left his house this summer.”

“Do not even think about blaming him,” Sirius warned. “The man made Harry’s life miserable. I knew something was wrong within seconds of meeting him. For a boy to agree to run away with me minutes after meeting me, it was obvious that his home life was horrid. Some of the things he’s told me…well, I guess you know.”

“I do,” Dumbledore confirmed sadly.

“I understand that you did what you thought best, but I don’t want my godson going anywhere near those people.”

Dumbledore reluctantly nodded. While he thought Harry should stay with his aunt, Sirius had been granted custody and had the backing of the Wizengamot.

Ron slowly made his way down to breakfast. It was rather late, but it was a Sunday so he wasn’t too concerned. He didn’t see Harry or Hermione, but he didn’t really expect to because they both usually woke before him.

He still couldn’t believe the events of the day before. How could Harry have known about Scabbers for over two months and never said anything? Why had he trusted Ginny of all people?

It was confusing and rather upsetting. He wasn’t angry as he had been when he’d first discovered everyone in his room, but he didn’t really know exactly how he was feeling. Was Harry not his best mate anymore? Ron hoped that wasn’t the case. He counted Harry as his best mate. Hermione was his best friend, but that was different. Harry was the one he goofed off with — Hermione wouldn’t understand some of the things he and Harry did for fun.

As he reached the Great Hall he could hear a few whispers here and there, but he didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to them. People were always gossiping. As he suspected there was hardly anyone left at the tail end of breakfast service. Ron quickly piled eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast on his plate and piled up a second one. Once he’d missed his second helping of breakfast because he’d slept in so long.

He shuddered at the memory; that was a horrible day. He’d been so hungry by the time they started lunch service. Eating was one of the few ways that he and Harry differed. Harry didn’t eat half as much as Ron did and if Harry was upset or nervous he ate even less. Ron couldn’t understand that — if he was upset he tended to eat even more.

Hermione sometimes yammered on about his table manners, but she didn’t understand. In his house if you weren’t quick enough, you didn’t get as much food. He knew that Hermione’s family didn’t have to worry about money and they didn’t grow or can their own food or any of the things his family had to do.

Harry had never really said much, but Ron had seen his house. He was sure Harry never had to worry about food either. Harry had mentioned that his aunt and uncle were strict and from some of the things he said Ron thought that Harry wasn’t always allowed to snack in between meals, but Ron didn’t imagine either of his friends knew the fear of the food having run out. It had never happened before, but Ron was always worried about it - especially when his parents started worrying about money.

That was one of the reasons he’d been so upset about Ginny’s stupid mistakes from the year before. If any of the families whose children had been attacked had pushed the issue, the Weasleys would have been hard pressed to pay them. When she’d so stupidly almost ruined Hermione’s blouse Ron really wished that his sister stayed home. He knew his parents had talked about keeping her home and educating her at home. He thought it would have been much better; that way he wouldn’t have to deal with her.

Finishing his first plate of food, he pulled his other plate closer. Ginny. Why had Harry suddenly become such good friends with her? He and Hermione had discussed it the day before. Hermione thought Harry might have a crush on Ginny, but Ron wasn’t so sure.
First of all, why would he? Ginny was plain, boring, and really annoying. If Harry wanted a girlfriend he’d pick a good looking, fun type of girl, not someone like Ginny. Second of all, if Harry had a crush on Ginny he’d have told Ron, right?

Ron’s thoughts wandered to Hermione. They’d had fun the day before, even if she did tend to want to drag him into boring, old bookshops and natter on about historical events. He still didn’t understand how Hermione was getting to all of her classes. Harry seemed singularly uninterested in that topic, but Ron really wondered what was going on. All she seemed to do was homework. Every time Ron saw her in the common room she was surrounded by books, that couldn’t be good for her, right?

As he finished his second plate of food, the serving dishes were still there so he grabbed some toast. Looking around the Great Hall he noticed for the first time that he was alone at the Gryffindor table. He spotted a Daily Prophet a few spots down and he reached out to grab it.

Turning it over, he saw the huge headline ‘Black Innocent’. He started reading and almost choked on his toast. The whole story was there. How Peter had betrayed the Potters to You-Know-Who and escaped, framing Sirius in the process. Sirius described how he’d seen the picture of the Weasleys in the paper and escaped to protect his godson. Black credited Harry with ensuring Peter was locked up until he could be exposed to the Ministry.

Ron could feel his ears getting red and hot as he read and reread the article. How could they name him and his family? Looking around the dining hall again, Ron wondered now if some of those whispers were about him. Why couldn’t Black have left the Weasleys out of it? Would everyone think they were stupid for not knowing Scabbers wasn’t just an ordinary rat? Hermione had asked him several times why they’d never checked Scabbers, now others were sure to start asking questions as well.

Gulping down the last of his breakfast, Ron stormed up to Gryffindor tower becoming angrier and angrier as he climbed the stairs. Once he reached the common room he glanced around before heading up to the seventh year boys’ room.

Percy looked up as his youngest brother stormed in. Ron glared at Percy. “Did you read the paper? How could you have done this?
Didn’t it ever occur to you to check Scabbers?”

Percy’s ears flushed a deep red. “No, it didn’t. I found him when I was five years old, Ron. Five.”

“Why didn’t mum or dad check him?” Ron demanded angrily. “Do you realize how stupid this makes us look? A Death Eater hid in our house for twelve years and we never even noticed.”

“I know,” Percy said frigidly. “I’ve already written to our parents voicing my displeasure.”

“Why couldn’t Black have kept his damn mouth shut?” Ron moaned.

“I was wondering that myself,” Percy admitted. “He didn’t have to say which family had found and taken in the rat.”

Back to index

Chapter 9: Chapter 9 Repercussions

Author's Notes: Thanks again to the wonder Arnel! Thanks for the wonderful review - I really appreciate it.

Hermione was working on her Divination homework when Ron climbed into the common room. She smiled at him in welcome as she hadn’t seen him all day. He didn’t look happy.

“Hi, Ron.”

Ron barely grunted in response as he sat down across from her. She frowned. “What’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong?” he repeated incredulously. “What isn’t wrong? My parents are apparently unable to perform a simple third year charm and now everyone is laughing at us. My sister should never have been allowed to return to school — I think she should have been expelled. My best mate is outside playing with my stupid sister and some big, black dog.”

“I’m sorry,” Hermione said softly. She knew that while Ron complained about Scabbers all the time, he’d counted the rat as a loyal pet and felt quite betrayed.

“I was mad at Percy, but he pointed out that he was only five when he found the stupid rat. Our parents should have fully checked out the stupid thing,” Ron said angrily. “We both wrote to them telling them how angry and upset we are. A stupid third year charm!”

“I can’t believe Harry didn’t tell us,” Hermione said, repeating the thought that had been on her mind since the night before. “He knew all term that Scabbers was an evil wizard and didn’t say anything. How could he have done that?”

Ron shook his head. “It’s that godfather of his. ‘Sirius is more important’. I can’t believe he’d put his godfather over his best mate. That’s just not right and then telling my idiot sister on top of it. If he thought there was something off with my rat he should have told me.”

“Why? So you’d tell me you didn’t believe me and let Scabbers escape?”

Ron and Hermione turned around to see Harry and Ginny standing right behind them. Ron flushed with a combination of embarrassment and anger. “Why would you think I would do that?”

“Because when I told you, you told me I was mental and you wanted to take him out of his cage to comfort him,” Harry retorted. He looked over at Hermione. “Why would I tell you anything? You’ve been determined to make Sirius out to be a bad guy all term. You’ve told me he’s a killer and a bad man and he brainwashed me. Yesterday afternoon the first thing you said was that I must have done the charm wrong — that’s how little faith you have in me.”

“Well, you’ve never shown such proficiency in new spells before,” Hermione pointed out. “It was a logical deduction that maybe you’d performed the spell wrong.”

“Did you think Professor McGonagall did, too?” Harry asked.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Hermione defended herself. “It didn’t make sense to me that Scabbers could be an Animagus. It’s a very rare skill, there have only been seven Animagi in the past century.”

“That’s not entirely true,” Harry said. “My dad, Sirius, and Peter all became Animagi.”

“What? They didn’t register,” Hermione said. “I checked the register when Professor McGonagall assigned us the essay.”

Harry shrugged. “They did it while they were still in school — in their fifth year. I don’t think they really thought the registration was important.”

“That’s illegal,” Hermione said in a scandalized voice.

“What are they going to do — send him to prison?” Harry asked in a sarcastic voice.

Hermione blushed; she wasn’t used to Harry challenging her. “They could.”

“Sirius was in Azkaban for twelve years for something he didn’t do. Madam Bones already said he wasn’t in trouble, he just needs to register. Peter is a murderer so I don’t think they’ll prosecute him for being an illegal Animagus and my dad is dead so I don’t think any
of them will get in trouble for it.” Harry turned and headed out of the common room.

“You are being an idiot,” Ginny told her brother.

“Me? He didn’t tell me a Death Eater was sleeping in a cage next to my bed. Do you realize he could have killed our whole family?” Ron asked in outrage.

“Yes, I do,” Ginny replied. “That isn’t Harry’s fault. He didn’t know until the summer. It’s Peter’s fault. He wanted to live with a Pure-blood family so he could hear any rumour of his ‘master’ coming back. Peter didn’t want to hurt us; he was a danger to Harry. Harry didn’t want to give him a chance to escape, that’s why he made sure the stupid rat was locked up.”

“So why did Black have to tell everyone whose family was harbouring a Death Eater for twelve years? Did he have to make us look stupid?”

“You’re managing that quite well on your own,” Ginny said. “Could Mum and Dad have checked that the rat Percy brought home wasn’t an Animagus? Sure, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have killed us all if they tried to perform the spell on him. He’s an evil murdered who betrayed Harry’s parents and murdered twelve Muggles just to get away and framed Sirius. Do you really think he would have just let Mum perform the spell on him and wait while she called the Aurors?”

Ron paled as he considered Ginny’s words. “He really could have killed us all.”

“Yes, he could have,” she replied, “but that’s not Harry’s fault.”

Later that night, Ron watched as Harry sat with Ginny during dinner. It hurt that his best mate wouldn’t even look at him. The worst part was he probably deserved it. Hermione had seemed so sincere when she’d told him about that syndrome thing and Ron’s parents had confirmed that Sirius Black was a Dark wizard. How was he supposed to know the two sources he’d come to rely on for information would both be wrong?

Because his best mate swore he was right, a little voice whispered. Ron sighed. That was the crux of his problem. He’d not trusted his best mate. His first and best friend. He’d allowed his jealousy that Harry wanted to be friends with Ginny to cloud his judgement. He would fully admit that he didn’t want to share Harry with Ginny.

Ginny had been an okay playmate when they were little, but she was a girl and who wanted a girl around all the time? Hermione was different, she was smart and a good friend, but Ginny — she was a totally different story. First she had this embarrassing crush on Harry and then there was the whole thing with the diary. Shouldn’t she have known better?

Hermione certainly thought so, but it had been You-Know-Who’s diary. Could an eleven-year-old really be cleverer than the worst Dark Lord in centuries? As he piled another helping of roast beef and potatoes onto his plate, he wondered about that. He’d thrilled to Harry’s stories of seeing You-Know-Who in the forest and fighting off a possessed Quirrell, but Ron had to admit he was glad it had been Harry and not him. If he didn’t want to face You-Know-Who, how could he expect his little sister to?

Shame flooded through him. Over the summer he’d promised his brothers that he would look after Ginny, but at the first opportunity he’d tried to get rid of her. Once again he’d let his jealousy get the better of him. He really hated that he’d have to share everything. As the second youngest of seven kids, almost everything he had was used or second hand. His friendship with Harry was his alone. Sure the twins were friends with him, but they didn’t want to hang around him like Ginny did. What if Harry decided he liked Ginny more than Ron? That was his biggest fear.

Harry slipped into Arithmancy without even a glance at Hermione. He really couldn’t believe how she and Ron were acting. They hadn’t believed or supported him all term, yet they acted all shocked and hurt that he hadn’t told them about Scabbers. Ron had proven him right — the first thing he’d done was call them mental and try to let Scabbers out of his cage.

His musings were cut short as Professor Vector started handing back their homework assignments. He smiled to see an E on top of the paper. It really was amazing that preparing just a little for the class made everything just a little bit easier.

Once all of the homework had been returned, Professor Vector introduced the subject of the Agrippan method of Arithmancy where each letter is assigned a number between one and nine. After explaining the concept, each of the students carefully copied down the Agrippan number table.

“Very well,” Professor Vector said as walked around the room checking everyone’s work. “For your homework assignment, I would like you to calculate the personality number for yourself, at least one of your parents and one of your friends. When you’ve discovered their number, I would like a few paragraphs explaining what the number means and how the person fits into the description. If you wish to calculate both of your parents’ numbers you may, but I don’t wish to read page after page of explanation. I expect no more than four numbers in your essay. You may start now.”

Harry’s heart sank a little on hearing the assignment. When he saw everyone else had started the assignment, he raised his hand. Professor Vector glided over to his desk.

“Yes, Mr Potter, may I help you?”

“Professor, I never knew my parents and don’t think I could write about how they fit in a description.”

The normally stern professor’s face softened. “I’m so sorry, Mr Potter. I didn’t think of that. I normally double check prior to the beginning of the term to make certain none of the students are in your position, but because you signed up for the class at the last minute your name obviously didn’t show up. It didn’t cross my mind, I’m sorry.”

Harry smiled. “I understand. I was wondering can I use my godfather?”

“Of course,” Professor Vector looked extremely relieved that Harry had a solution for his problem.

“I have one other question — do I use a full name or a nickname?”

“Do you mean the shortened version of one’s name — like Jim for James?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Professor Vector raised her voice so the whole class could hear. “Mr Potter just brought up an excellent question — do you use a full name or a nickname or abbreviated form of the name? Any suggestions?”

Harry was not at all surprised when Hermione’s hand hit the air first. Professor Vector nodded at her. “Yes, Miss Granger.”

“The person’s given name should always be used,” Hermione announced confidently.

“It is the name most often used; however, I’ve found it a good policy to calculate both names and see which is the closest to their personality. Some people relate more easily to their nicknames than their given name.” With that Professor Vector left them to get on with their work.

Harry glanced over at Hermione and was unsurprised to see she’d already calculated her first personality number. Quickly he started
figuring out Sirius’s personality number and discovered that Sirius was a seven. He looked up the number seven on the personality explanations and then started explaining how Sirius fit into the description and how he did not.

When class was over, Harry carefully set the spell to dry his ink and carefully rolled up his scroll. He was actually surprised that he was almost done with the assignment. Glancing out the window, he made a face. It was raining again — honestly, practicing Quidditch in the rain wasn’t one of his favourite things to do.

“Harry,” Hermione called his name almost timidly.

“Yes, Hermione,” Harry replied evenly.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?”

He looked her over assessing her carefully. She’d hurt him quite badly by not believing him — was he ready to forgive her? They were in front of one of the empty classrooms so Harry gestured for her to enter and he followed.

The classroom was obviously not regularly used as everything was covered in dust, but Harry could see a few areas where the dust wasn’t quite so thick. He blushed slightly as he thought of reasons why students might need a private, out of the way, unused classroom.

After casting a quick Scourgify on the desk, Harry leaned up against it. “What do you want, Hermione?”

“Harry, I am so sorry,” Hermione said sincerely. “I’ve been so worried about you all summer and then you show up with a fantastical story and a godfather who ‘rescued’ you from your relatives. Not to mention the fact that he was a wanted man and no one heard from you all summer.”

“I’ve heard all of this before,” Harry said a touch impatiently. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t tell anyone where I was and I told you the whole story as soon as I saw you on the train.”

“No, you didn’t,” Hermione burst out. “You didn’t tell us about Scabbers.”

Harry flushed a bit. “Hermione, I’m sorry for hurting your feelings or whatever, but I didn’t want Peter to figure out what was happening and escape again. I was waiting to hear from Sirius.”

“You could have told us that,” she pointed out.

“When? Before or after you accused him of brainwashing me?”

She deflated suddenly. “I’m sorry, Harry. I’m doing it again. I just want us to go back to being friends again.”

“I miss you two,” Harry said after a minute. “All summer I was saving up stories to share with you when I got back. I had such an amazing summer — we spent the summer at the beach, I learned to swim, Sirius is such an amazing godfather. I’ve never had anyone who cared about me like that before. I wanted to tell you two all about him and you wouldn’t let me.”

“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “It just seemed like you didn’t need us anymore.”

“What? How did you come up with that?” Harry asked bewildered. “Just because I have someone there for me doesn’t mean I don’t need or want friends. You and Ron both have two parents, Ron has tons of brothers and a sister, I only have Sirius. Just because I have him doesn’t mean I don’t still need my friends.”

Hermione’s face fell; she’d never really considered it from that point of view before. “I’m sorry.”

Harry nodded. “It’s okay, Hermione, but please have a bit more trust in me. It really hurt that you wouldn’t believe me. I just assumed that the two of you would believe me, it never occurred to me that you wouldn’t believe me.”

Hermione wanted to defend herself, but she knew that if she said something now they’d be right back where they’d started. The fact was she’d trusted the adults and authorities more than she’d trusted her best friend.

Walking back to Gryffindor Tower, Harry felt a bit better. He really did hate arguing with his friends. Once back in the common room, Ron approached him. Suddenly Harry didn’t feel like he needed a big apology.

“It’s okay, Ron.”

“Good,” Ron nodded. “So are you two ready for dinner?”

Harry nodded as Hermione burst out, “Is that all you’re going to say?”

Harry’s green eyes met Ron’s blue eyes with amusement. Together they said, “Yeah.”

The rest of the week heading into Gryffindor’s match with Slytherin was great. Sirius was free and undergoing treatment by Madam Pomfrey. Harry was friends once again with Ron and Hermione and he was also friends with Ginny. The only bad part was the weather which was unrelentingly rainy.

He woke early Saturday morning and to his dismay he realized he could hear rain. He tried going back to sleep, but was unable to do so. He realized with excitement that Sirius was going to be able to watch him play today. When he was little, his aunt and uncle had always been so supportive of any little thing Dudley did. He’d always wished for just a tiny bit of that support for himself. Now he had something much better, he had Sirius there for him.

Grinning, he was now excited for the day. They were playing Slytherin and he loved being able to put Malfoy in his place. He lay in bed reviewing all of the new plays Oliver had implemented for this year. Quidditch was something he truly loved and the thought that they might be able to take the Cup this year was exciting. He knew that if he’d not been injured at the end of his first year and if the season hadn’t been cancelled last year, they probably would have won both years. He really hoped that this year they would be able to give Oliver the victory he deserved before he left Hogwarts.

His enthusiasm had dimmed slightly several hours later when he’d found himself sitting on his broom in the rain. It was difficult to see much of anything and to make matters worse it was a rather cold rain. This was the kind of match where he hoped he’d see the Snitch within the first few minutes, but the match had been going on for quite a while. It was difficult to gauge time in a match like this. He was very grateful for the fact that he no longer needed glasses as they would have been near useless at this point.

The Gryffindor Chasers were performing well under the circumstances, but even they had dropped the Quaffle several times. Oliver was doing great job in both keeping out the Quaffle and keeping up his team’s morale. Gryffindor was up 180-40. Harry had to laugh at Malfoy, he looked cold and miserable and half the time he wasn’t even paying attention to the game.

Every time Harry looked over at the stands, he felt a thrill to see Sirius cheering for him. It was the first time that he’d ever had anyone there just for himself. It was an amazing experience to have someone there just for him.

When Dudley was little he’d played football for one season. He’d hated it because of course, Dudley hated any type of exercise and it was something he wasn’t particularly good at. But no matter that Dudley wasn’t good; Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had shown up at every game cheering for their pride and joy. They’d never done that for Harry. He hadn’t even been allowed to play football, something he thought would have been fun.

Quidditch had always been easy for Harry and he loved the game, but somehow having Sirius there cheering just for him was amazing. It made sitting in the rain not quite so bad.

Turning his attention back to the match, Harry scanned the grey sky. He cheered as Alicia scored another goal. She waved to him as she flew under him. He made another circuit of the pitch searching for that elusive flash of gold. It wasn’t coming easily today.

Finally, Harry spotted the Snitch. He dove with reckless abandon for the little ball. He could tell that Malfoy had seen the Snitch as well and he was trying to catch up with Harry. Reaching out for the ball, Harry grabbed the Snitch well before Malfoy was anywhere close to it. Rising into the air with the Snitch held up high, Harry smiled at the cheers of the crowd. Instinctively, he looked for Sirius and found him cheering and whistling in the stands.

“Great job!” Oliver yelled over the noise of the crowd.

“Thanks!” Harry yelled back.

He took a victory lap around the pitch with the Snitch held aloft before he started down. He was half-way down when he heard someone, he thought maybe it was Angelina, yell, “Harry, watch out!”

Looking up, he never saw the Bludger that slammed into the bristles of his broom sending it spiralling out of control. Before he could regain control of his broom, another Bludger hit him in the back and he fell from his broom. He felt himself falling and blackness overtaking him before he hit the ground.

Harry awakened slowly. He could hear the voices of his teammates and it took him a minute to figure out what was going on. He could tell they were upset and he thought maybe the girls were crying. Struggling to open his eyes, he moaned quieting the whole room.


That was Sirius’ voice. Harry managed to open his eyes and found the worried face of his godfather. He tried to smile, but he didn’t think he quite managed it.

“What happened?”

“That git Malfoy chucked the Bludgers at you,” Fred said indignantly. The team was arrayed on one side of the bed. They all looked rebellious at the thought of Malfoy going after their Seeker.

Harry’s eyes widened. “My broom! What happened to my broom? I remember falling…”

He trailed off as Alicia lifted up a bag. “I’m sorry,” she said. “When you fell, the broom drifted out over the grounds and hit the Whomping Willow and…well, you know it doesn’t like to be disturbed.” She opened the bag to show the remains of Harry’s beloved broom. It had been broken into hundreds of small pieces. She set the bag down next to him on the bed.

Madam Pomfrey bustled over to the bed. “Okay, enough excitement. You will all be able to visit Mr Potter tomorrow.”

His teammates all said goodbye and left Harry with his godfather and the school nurse. She was running her wand over him. “You fractured some bones, which have been healed. I’m concerned there might be some internal damage. I’m keeping you here overnight for observation. If all goes well, you can be discharged tomorrow.”

Harry nodded and was immediately sorry he did so. His wince didn’t escape the matron’s eagle eye. She Summoned a vial of potion and handed it to him. “This is a mild pain potion.”

“Thank you,” he said.

“You are quite welcome,” she replied tenderly. Straightening his sheets, she nodded to Sirius and headed back to her office.

“Can I have some water?” Harry asked.

“Of course,” Sirius said. He gently helped Harry sit up a bit and held the water so Harry could take a few sips. Once Harry had his fill of water, Sirius helped him lay back down.

“You scared me, kiddo,” Sirius said.

“Sorry,” Harry said sleepily.

“It’s not your fault,” Sirius replied. “It’s my stupid cousin’s son’s fault. Stupid little ponce! He looks just like his father. Damn Death Eater.”

“Malfoy’s father was a Death Eater?” Harry asked. “I guess that’s not very surprising. He’s evil enough. He targeted Ginny just because of her father. He didn’t care that she could have killed people or been killed herself.”

“Old Lucius was one of Voldemort’s favourites,” Sirius explained. “He was Voldemort’s man at the Ministry. He and my slag cousin, Bellatrix, were both in Voldemort’s inner circle.”

Harry smiled. “Your family is worse than mine.”

“Not a contest anyone wants to win,” Sirius laughed. “Go to sleep, kiddo. When you are feeling better we’ll order a new broom for you.”

“Okay,” Harry smiled. “As long as it’s not a Nimbus 2001 — I don’t want anything that Malfoy thinks is good.”

“Not a problem,” Sirius laughed.

“So you can see it was an ill-advised fit of temper,” Dumbledore said genially.

“No, it was the actions of a spoiled child raised in a Dark house with no repercussions for his actions,” Sirius countered. “I want that boy off the team. He could have killed Harry. I think he should be expelled, but I know you won’t do that.”

“Sirius,” Dumbledore chided. “There is no need for such hostility. I agree that Mr Malfoy should not have thrown those Bludgers, but he
says he didn’t mean to injury Harry. He was surprised that he even hit him. He was angry that he wasn’t able to catch the Snitch and he threw the Bludgers in anger. He’s served detention and been reprimanded by his Head of House.”

“Please, Snape probably congratulated him on his aim.”

“Sirius, please, you of all people should know what a difficult position young Mr Malfoy is in. He is being pressured to follow in his father’s footsteps and if we don’t offer him another way he will.”

“So instead he should learn that he can get away with whatever he wants?” Sirius asked incredulously. “I grew up with these people. I was pressured to follow in my family’s footsteps — please don’t use that as an excuse. I do know what it is like. He is going to follow in his father’s footsteps. He’s learned that he can throw his family’s name and wealth around and he will get his way. Why would he want to do something differently? You’ve told him he won’t be punished for any behaviour.”

“He is being punished,” Dumbledore reiterated. “He was given detention.”

“And if Harry had been seriously injured? Malfoy would have had to what…serve two detentions?”

Sirius glared at the older wizard. “I have very serious doubts about the way this school is being run. You let Snape terrorize all non-Slytherins and let the Slytherins get away with anything they want.”

“He can’t be seen to favour Harry or treat him well,” Dumbledore said patiently. “I know that isn’t what you want to hear, but when Voldemort returns Severus needs to be able to re-join him.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Sirius replied. “Malfoy has ingratiated himself into the Ministry and all the rest of his Death Eaters who have faded back into the woodwork have done the same trying to make people forget their past. Why is Snape so different? Why doesn’t he have to make up for his past?”

Dumbledore sighed. “Sirius, I know you are upset. You and James always had an adversarial relationship with Severus -”

“Which he was happy to continue with Harry,” Sirius interrupted. “He’s tormented Harry simply because he’s James’ son. Harry never even knew James.”

“I will speak to Severus and ask him -”

“Never mind,” Sirius interrupted the older wizard again. “He won’t change. I will be filing an official complaint with the Board of Governors and this will be the last year Harry will be taking Potions with the greasy git.”

“You can’t do that,” Dumbledore said angrily. “Harry needs to continue Potions until at least his OWL year and you know that Potions is required for many careers.”

“There is nothing that says he needs to take Potions from that Death Eater,” Sirius returned angrily. “I will hire a Potions tutor.”

“Sirius, no, it is important that Severus has contact with Harry,” Dumbledore said urgently. “Once Voldemort returns, he needs to have that interaction with Harry.”

“I really don’t care,” Sirius said. “I didn’t want Harry to return to this school, but I allowed him to return because he wanted to be with his friends. I don’t care what Voldemort wants or thinks. Snape is the one who joined him, not Harry. I will not allow Harry to be used as a pawn so Snape can maintain his position.”

Sirius stormed out of the room. He’d always respected the old man, but he hated how Dumbledore kept his eye focused on the big picture and missed the smaller details — like people’s lives. He wasn’t going to allow Dumbledore to use his godson. Harry deserved a lot better than that.

Harry smiled when he saw his ‘E’ on his latest Arithmancy homework. He was honestly surprised at how much he was enjoying the more challenging classes. Between Sirius’ encouragement and his earlier estrangement with Hermione, he was working a lot harder, but he was also learning a lot more.

Glancing over at Hermione’s homework, he was unsurprised to see that she had received an ‘O’ on the assignment. Hermione smiled
and glanced over at his assignment.

“You are doing really well,” she said as they left the class. She glanced over at him. “I’m glad that you are taking your studies so seriously.”

“Thank you,” Harry said.

“Please don’t get upset, but are you going to continue Arithmancy next term? You said you were going to try it,” Hermione said.

He looked at her in confusion. “What do you have against me taking Arithmancy? I like the class and I’m doing well in it. I’m doing well in all of my classes and I’m planning to continue taking it.”

“I don’t have anything against you taking Arithmancy,” Hermione said tightly. “I just want to make sure you aren’t taking on too much responsibility.”

“If you were just concerned you would ask about all my electives, but you only ask about Arithmancy. Why?”

“No reason,” Hermione said shrilly.

“Are you having trouble keeping up?” Harry asked. “Do you want me to drop a class so you can drop one?”

“Of course not!” Hermione said outraged. Harry watched in bemusement as she walked away. He really didn’t understand her attitude about Arithmancy.

Ginny swore under her breath as she moved to the next section of trophies. She was cleaning the trophy room as part of her detention for throwing Dungbombs in a girls’ loo full of Slytherins. Snape had lectured her and assigned her two nights of detention. Percy was furious — he’d also lectured her about her behaviour. Ginny was sure he was writing another letter home to complain to their mother.

She started cleaning the next section of trophies. It amused her to read the names of people who had been given trophies. It certainly gave her a list of names not to use for her future children. Elaphina Slaymaker — who would give their child that name? As she started cleaning the next trophy, she read the name and dropped her cloth.

What the hell was his trophy still doing in the case? Looking at the most recent, she saw that Ron and Harry’s trophies had been placed in the case. The each had received a trophy for Special Services to the School dated May 29, 1993. That was as it should be, but why was Tom’s trophy still in case?

Special Services to the School — Dumbledore knew Tom was a murderer. Why did he allow the trophy to stay? Reaching in, she grabbed Tom’s trophy from the case. It made her sick to think that he’d been honoured for terrorizing the school and murdering Myrtle.

She threw the trophy on the floor. What sort of spell could she use to destroy it? Her mind raced as she went through all of the spells she knew or she’d heard her family use. What was that one spell?


To her disappointment, it didn’t dissolve into a pile of scraps as she hoped, but it made a dent in the trophy. She shrugged and tried again, “Reducto!”

A small piece blasted off the trophy. She smiled and was getting ready to blast it again when she heard footsteps behind her.

“What are you doing you foolish girl?”

Damn, it was Snape! Ginny glared at him for a minute. “I’m doing something the Headmaster should have done years ago.”

Snape glared at her and picked up the trophy. His eyes widened when he took in the name on the trophy. “How dare you?! You stupid, insolent, little girl!”

“Upset that I ruined your master’s trophy?” Ginny taunted.

Her confidence faltered in the face of his anger. He was completely enraged; she’d never seen him so angry. She took a step backwards and into a solid body.

“Are you okay, Ginny?” Harry asked from behind her. She felt weak with relief. Harry wouldn’t let Snape hurt her.

“No, Potter, she is not okay! She will be expelled for destroying school property.”

Snape reached out to grab Ginny’s arm, but Harry stepped in front of her. “Don’t grab her.”

“What are you doing?” Snape sneered at him. “You can’t stop me from expelling her.”

“I’m going with you to the Headmaster,” Harry announced.

“Fine, you can be expelled too!”

The two followed the raging Potions Master to the Headmaster’s office. Ginny was actually starting to get a bit nervous as her righteous indignation faded. Professor McGonagall would understand, but would Professor Dumbledore? At least Snape brought the trophy along — with any luck it wouldn’t be going back into the case.

Ginny was amazed at the moving staircase that led up to Professor Dumbledore’s office, but that was nothing compared to his office itself. There were bookcases crammed with books and all sorts of things. She gasped at the large scarlet bird.

Harry smiled at the bird and walked over to pet him. “Hello, Fawkes.”

“He’s beautiful,” Ginny breathed.

Fawkes turned and looked at her, taking away her breath. “Hi, Fawkes,” Ginny whispered. “Thank you for helping Harry last year.”

Fawkes let out a beautiful sound that somehow filled her with a warm feeling, making her think that somehow everything would turn out okay. Turning back to the rest of the office, Ginny realized that Snape was filling Dumbledore in on what had happened.

“Is this true, Miss Weasley? Were you trying to destroy a trophy?”

“Did you see the trophy?” Ginny challenged. “You kept Tom Riddle’s trophy in the case. He got that trophy as a reward for lying and murder! It shouldn’t be in the case.”

Dumbledore’s face softened a bit as he considered her.

“You can’t let her get away with that,” Snape snarled. “Tom Riddle was an important Slytherin Head Boy. It is bad enough that so many of the trophies were awarded to Gryffindors or Ravenclaws. You can’t allow her to ruin one of our most prestigious Slytherins.”

“Ruin? How can she ruin Voldemort’s memory? He shouldn’t be allowed to have a trophy here for his stupid little followers to worship!” Harry exclaimed.

“Insolent child!”

“Severus, enough! Both Harry and Miss Weasley faced Tom Riddle last year in the Chamber of Secrets.” The Headmaster studied the two students. “We don’t generally remove trophies from the case.”

“He was given his award after he terrorized the school and killed Myrtle,” Harry replied hotly. “He didn’t deserve the award.”

“It was given under dubious circumstances,” Dumbledore agreed. “I will remove it from the trophy case.”


The older wizard silenced the Potions Master with a glare. “There will be no further punishment; however, I would ask that in the future you approach a staff member with your concerns, not try to solve them yourselves.”

Harry and Ginny left the Headmaster’s office neither aware that Dumbledore allowed Snape to display Riddle’s trophy in the Slytherin common room.

“Thank you,” Ginny said as they arrived in the corridor.

Harry grinned at her. “No problem. Stupid git! What spell were you using on the trophy? I don’t think I’ve seen that before.”

“It’s called the Reductor Curse,” Ginny explained. “It’s supposed to blast the stupid trophy to bits, but I don’t think I had enough power behind it. It’s an OWL level spell, I think. I’m not exactly sure when you learn it, but I’ve seen my brothers use it before.”

“We should practice that spell,” Harry mused. “You want to try it out tomorrow? We can go to the edge of the forest. There are a bunch of tree stumps — we can try it out. What do you say?”

Thrilled to be included Ginny agreed.

Ginny pulled on her warmest cloak as it had turned rather cold in the past few days. At least it had stopped raining, but the wind and cold had remained. The end of November at Hogwarts was a rather cold place. She looked at her reflection in the mirror in a bit of despair.

She was finally developing a bit of a figure, but she still had a ways to go to have the kind of figure guys would notice. She never really liked her hair or her freckles. They’d been made fun of her often enough that she was convinced no one would find them attractive. Her clothes were older and of course most of them had been her older brothers’. It was rather depressing at times.

Shaking off her dark thoughts, she headed down to the common room. She’d get to spend the afternoon with Harry. While she would probably have to put up with her brother and Hermione, she was at least being included.

“Hi, Ginny,” Harry greeted her. He looked her over. “Good, you dressed warmly.” As they started to leave the common room he commented, “I don’t understand why some girls wear such flimsy robes and then complain they are cold. They should just dress warmly.”

Ginny laughed. “I think they want you to admire how their robes compliment their bodies.”

Colouring slightly Harry said, “All they do is make me think they’re idiots.”

Ginny grinned, glad that she’d at least pleased Harry. “So are you glad this term is almost over?”

Harry nodded with a big smile. “Guess what? I get to go home for Christmas. Sirius has found a great house for us. He’s just renting it for the holidays and he’s going to look for a house for us for the summer.”

“That’s wonderful!” Ginny was pleased for him. “Do you know where the house is?”

Harry shook his head. “No, I don’t. He didn’t want to say in his letter where it was; I guess he didn’t want it to get out.”

She made a face. “I guess that makes sense.”

He shrugged. “Honestly, I couldn’t care less where it is or how big it is. I’m just thrilled I get to spend the holidays with Sirius.”

“He seems really nice,” Ginny said with a smile.

“He’s great,” Harry agreed. “It’s really nice that he was best friends with my dad and knew my mum really well also. I never knew anything about my parents. I’d never seen a picture of them before Hagrid gave me my photo album in my first year.”

Ginny looked at him in confusion. “Don’t you live with your aunt and uncle? Wouldn’t they be able to tell you stories about your parents?”

Harry blushed and looked away. An uneasy silence settled upon them as they walked out of the castle. Ginny’s heart sank — she’d somehow offended Harry. She wasn’t even sure what it was that had upset him.

“I’m sorry, Harry,” she said quietly. “My brothers always tell me I talk too much.”

He startled as if he’d forgotten she was there. “No, Ginny — I’m sorry. I thought you knew. I don’t know why I thought that because I’ve never really talked about it or anything. I don’t even know if Ron and Hermione know.”

He stopped and pulled her to a stop and into the courtyard that was deserted in the cold November afternoon. “My Aunt Petunia is my mum’s sister. She hates my mum. I don’t even know why, but Aunt Petunia never talked about my mum except to tell me how horrible she was or how my parents were drunken lay abouts who got themselves killed and landed me at their house. My aunt and uncle hate magic and they hated me. They never wanted me and they let me know it.”

Ginny was shocked — doubly shocked. She couldn’t believe that his relatives were so awful and she was surprised that he was sharing it with her. Suddenly things made more sense to her. The rags he was wearing before his first and second years that had been replaced this year. She’d heard her brothers tell her parents that Harry had been starved and locked in his room, but like her parents, she’d assumed they were exaggerating so they wouldn’t get into trouble.

“Merlin, Harry, I had no idea. I’m so sorry.”

He shrugged, but as he stood there with his hands jammed into his pockets and head bowed Ginny resolved to make sure he knew he was wanted here. Her whole family really liked him and wanted him around. She really liked him and wanted him around. She shied away from the word loved — she wasn’t ready to say that.

“I survived,” Harry said simply. “Sirius promised I’d never have to go back there. He’s wonderful and he’d never hit me or anything. His
relatives were horrid to him as well so he knows what it’s like.”

“I’m glad he’s there for you,” Ginny said simply.

Harry regarded her for a minute before smiling shyly. “Thank you.”

As they resumed their walk to the edge of the Forbidden Forest, Harry felt a bit lighter. He’d never really shared anything with Ron and Hermione about his relatives. They knew he didn’t get along with them, but he’d never given them instances. Ron…he wasn’t certain how Ron would react, but he imagined Ron’s eyes going wide and stammering something. Emotions weren’t really Ron’s forte and Harry didn’t think he’d know how to respond to information about Harry’s childhood.

He knew instinctively that Ron would never make fun of him as his cousin had, but he was afraid if Ron found how he’d been treated…somehow Ron would treat him differently. Maybe even decide it would be easier not to be friends with Harry than to figure out how to deal with it.

Hermione, on the other hand, would want to talk about it — endlessly. She wouldn’t rest until she’d found out all of his embarrassing secrets and Harry couldn’t handle that. She would feel sorry for him and try to fix him. That would be as bad as Ron ignoring it.

Conversely, Ginny had accepted him. She had secrets of her own and darkness that she didn’t want to talk to others about. He was actually glad he told her. He’d never shared that with anyone except Sirius before.

As they walked, Ginny tried to incorporate what she’d just learned with what she knew of Harry. She had always wondered what it was like at his aunt and uncle’s house, but she never imagined that they were so horrible to him. How could anyone treat a child like that?
She imagined from his actions that there was a lot he hadn’t shared with her. She resolved to be his friend no matter what.

They arrived at the area Harry had mentioned and as he’d described there were many tree stumps. Ginny looked around, she’d assumed that Ron and Hermione were meeting them out here, but Harry wasn’t even looking for them. He’d planned for just the two of them. It took all of her control not to squeal — she didn’t think that would be very mature, even if that’s what she wanted to do. She contented herself with just a smile.

“Okay, Ginny, what is the incantation?” Harry asked as he took out his wand.

“Reducto,” she demonstrated the spell and wand movement.

She watched as an intense look of concentration came over his face. She blushed slightly as she thought that he looked kind of sexy like that.


They both gasped as he managed to obliterate the top of the stump.

“That was wonderful!” Ginny enthused. “You did better than me.”

“Try again,” Harry encouraged her.

They spent an enjoyable afternoon practicing the spell and demolishing a good portion of the stumps in the clearing. While they didn’t return to the emotional topic they’d discussed on the way out, they spent the time talking about all sorts of things. They talked about their classes and Ginny solicited his opinion on what electives she should pick up next year.

“After listening to all of my friends, I would say stay away from Divination. It sounds like a load of bunk. I know Ron and Neville usually make it up.”

Ginny giggled. “I know. I think you are either a seer or you aren’t. My granny taught me how to read palms and she said she’d teach me how to do star charts. I’m not sure why I would ever need to do star charts, but it’s always fun to learn from her.”

“Is she the one who taught you about protection rituals?”

She nodded. “Yes, my Granny Prewett. She’s great. She’s had a lot of sadness in her life, but she keeps going. I think she’s amazing.”

“What happened to her?” Harry asked.

“Both her sons died in the war,” Ginny explained. “They were twins, Gideon and Fabian. They fought against V-voldemort and his Death Eaters. It was before I was born, my mum really misses them.”

“That sucks,” Harry said. “Stupid Voldemort.” He stopped and grinned at her. “You said his name.”

“I figured it’s just a stupid made up name, right?”

“That’s right,” Harry said with a smile.

Together they had a wonderful afternoon. Ginny was proud of herself that she was able to spend so much time with him and not swoon like an idiot. She was also happy that he was able to confide in her.

As they walked up to the castle Harry turned to her and asked, “Do you want to sit with us at the Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff match?”

It took all of her self-control not to squeal. “That would be great,” she managed to squeak.

Back to index

Chapter 10: Chapter 10 Christmas

Author's Notes: Thanks again to Arnel!

“Cool scarf,” Harry commented as Ginny joined them the morning of the Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff match. She was wearing a red and gold scarf with a lion knitted into it.

“Thanks,” she replied. “My mum made it for one of my brothers — Bill I think.”

“That’s really nice. It’s great that she makes things for all of you.”

Ginny beamed, happy for the compliments to her mother. Ron made a face, but luckily he didn’t say anything. The four of them headed out onto the ground towards the Quidditch pitch. Even though it was cold and windy, most of the school had still turned out for the match.

“So who do you think will win?” Ginny asked as she pulled her scarf tighter around her neck and lower face.

Harry shrugged. “Oliver seems to think that Ravenclaw is in better form this year. I think he might have watched some of their practices. I’ve never played Ravenclaw before.”

“Hufflepuff doesn’t seem to have a great team,” Ron commented. “They haven’t won the trophy in years.”

“Let’s hope we win it this year,” Harry said cheerfully.

“Do you have a new broom yet?” Ron asked anxiously.

Harry shook his head. “No, but Sirius said not to worry about it.” He grinned. “I think he’s giving me a new broom for Christmas.”

“That would be great,” Ron said. “Do you think he’ll give you another Nimbus?”

“I told him I didn’t care as long as it wasn’t a Nimbus 2001. I don’t want anything Malfoy thinks is a good thing.”

The Weasley siblings nodded approvingly of this sentiment while Hermione scolded him. Harry simply laughed as they climbed up the stairs to the Quidditch stands. They took a row in the stands. Harry watched as the Ravenclaw team flew into the air above the pitch.

Their Seeker was a fairly good, she flew well. Harry watched her a bit longer and realized that she was really pretty, too. Suddenly she looked right over at him, he blushed and looked down. He looked up a minute later and tried to make sure he was watching everyone, not just her. The Hufflepuff Seeker was older than Harry — he thought maybe sixth or seventh year. He was big, but fast. Harry watched a bit jealously as the boy laughed and flirted with the pretty girl. He didn’t think he would ever have the confidence to do that.

“Her name is Cho Chang,” Hermione said laughter evident in her voice.

“She’s good,” Harry said a touch defensively.

“I’m sure that’s why you’ve been staring at her.”

Harry glared at Hermione before looking around in embarrassment. Ron didn’t seem to be paying attention to their conversation, but Ginny seemed upset for some reason and Harry didn’t feel right about that.

The match lasted for three hours. Ravenclaw flattened Hufflepuff. Harry thought Diggory, the Hufflepuff Seeker, was going to catch the Snitch, but at the last minute it swerved and Cho grabbed it.

“Damn, they’re really good,” Harry commented as they climbed down the stairs.

Harry was really glad to be going home for Christmas. He couldn’t believe how quickly everything had fallen apart. Hermione kept teasing him about Cho Chang and he was starting to get his feelings hurt. He’d never teased her about her stupid crush on Lockhart.

Damn, there was Cho. He really didn’t want to see her right now. He dove into an alcove so he could wait until she passed by. He almost groaned when she and her friends stopped nearby.

“Did you see Potter watching you at the match?” Harry felt his face burn as one of Cho’s friends teased her.

“He’s cute,” Cho said. Harry smiled, but it was wiped away with her next comment. “Did you see that Weasley slag hanging onto him?”

“She’s trying to dig her claws into him, but he seems to be resisting,” one of the girls laughed.

Cho laughed with the others and added rather meanly, “I heard she’s already spent a lot of time on her knees. I guess she has to supplement her family’s income somehow.”

“I heard she was doing laundry with the elves, I bet she was trying to earn some extra money. She learned fast enough how she could make easy money.”

Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. How could they possibly be saying such things about Ginny? He didn’t know how long he stood there after the girls moved off. Why were they so mean? Any crush he’d had on Cho died a quick death — he’d never date someone who was so horrible to a friend of his.

He headed back up to Gryffindor tower in a bit of a daze. Ron and Hermione were doing homework in the common room when he returned. Hermione looked and smirked when she saw him.

“Guess what? They’ve announced another Hogsmeade visit,” Hermione said. “You can ask Cho.”

“Enough, Hermione!” Harry ground out. He headed up to his dorm room; he really didn’t want to be around her at all.

“Mr Potter, please stay after class,” Professor McGonagall called. Harry nodded as he gathered up his belongings; he didn’t even look at Ron and Hermione. He was still upset about their attitudes. Hermione wouldn’t let up about Cho and Ron thought it was rather funny.

After the classroom cleared up, Professor McGonagall said, “Mr Potter, I’ve received a note from Sirius — you have permission to go to Hogsmeade.”

Harry almost groaned, he’d been half hoping he wouldn’t be allowed to go. “Okay, thank you.”

Professor McGonagall looked at him for a minute as though she was trying to figure out what was wrong with him. “Are you still interested in learning the Patronus Charm?”

That perked Harry up. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Very well, I will start your lessons after the holidays. Is that acceptable to you?”

Harry nodded. “Thank you, yes. That will be great. I don’t know if I’m going to run into those things again, but they were awful. I’d feel much better if I knew I could fight them.”

Her face softened a little. “Dementors are amongst the worst creatures that travel in our world. They make us relive our darkest memories and I’m afraid your darkest memories are quite awful.”

“It is awful, but…it’s the only time I’ve heard my mother’s voice,” Harry whispered.

Professor McGonagall blinked rapidly. “I’m so sorry, Harry.”

She gently put her hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “I promise I will help you conquer that charm.”

“Thank you,” he said simply.

Sirius waited quietly against the wall adjacent to the barrier to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. He was actually very excited about Christmas with Harry. He hadn’t celebrated Christmas since Harry’s first Christmas and a lot had changed since then. Most of the month of December he’d spent decorating the cottage he’d rented in Northumberland. He’d deliberately picked an area that wasn’t heavily populated and one with no connections to their past.

Looking around the platform he frowned when he saw Lucius Malfoy standing on the platform with his shiny boots and immaculate robes. That man should be in jail. It aggravated him no end that so many Death Eater scum had managed to worm their way back into society. Sirius looked away before he became too angry. So far no one had noticed him and he rather wanted to keep it that way.

A harried looking red hair woman hurried onto the platform. Sirius looked at her for a minute, trying to place her. She looked rather familiar. After a moment, Sirius realized it was Mrs Weasley. He wondered if he should say anything to her, but before he could decide anything steam started to fill the platform.

He watched with mounting excitement as the train pulled in. The scarlet locomotive never failed to fill him with a sense of anticipation. He felt a wave of longing for his best mate. He always equated the Hogwarts Express with James. They met on the train and for the first several years James was the first person he sought out on the train. After his fifth year, he’d lived with the Potters so then he’d boarded the train with James.

Students started swarming off the train. Sirius stayed back, he still didn’t want to draw any attention to himself. He sent a trip jinx across the station as Lucius and Draco exited the platform that sent the pair sprawling.

“I saw that,” Harry laughed as the Malfoys quickly stood and glared around the platform looking for the culprit.

Sirius smiled and reached out to hug him. “Welcome home!”

“Can we leave?” Harry asked.

“Of course,” Sirius said. He was puzzled. Harry had hugged him back and seemed happy to see him, but something was off. “Don’t you need to say good-bye to your friends?”

Harry shook his head. “I said good bye on the train.”

“Let’s go,” Sirius agreed. “We’re going to Apparate, do you remember what that is?”

Making a face, Harry nodded. Sirius laughed and took Harry’s arm. After the horrid feeling of being squeezed finished, Harry looked around. The cottage was relatively small, but it looked very cosy.

“We’re in Northumberland and fairly isolated. I thought you’d enjoy it.” Sirius led him inside. “I’ve been decorating a bit.”

When he caught sight of the lounge Harry started laughing. “A little bit?”

Sirius shrugged sheepishly. “I haven’t celebrated Christmas since your first Christmas so I may have gone a bit overboard.”

“It’s brilliant,” Harry said with a big smile as he walked around the tree.

It was a big tree that Sirius had decorated with multi coloured ornaments and strings of lights. There was an angel on top of the tree. Along the hearth were boughs of greenery and more fairy lights. Two stocking hung from the chimney — one read ‘Sirius’ and the other read ‘Harry’.

“I’ve never had a stocking before,” Harry said with a smile. “Thank you, Sirius.”

“You are very welcome,” Sirius said. “I just wish I could have done that before.”

Harry shrugged. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not, but thank you for saying so,” Sirius said, giving him a one armed hug. “You want to see your room?”

After showing Harry his room, Sirius headed back to the kitchen. He wasn’t the best cook in the world, but he was getting better. He’d decided upon a stew for today. As he stirred and seasoned the stew, he wondered what was going on with Harry. He didn’t want to push the boy, but something was obviously wrong.

He let Harry stay up in his room until dinner was ready. Harry came down readily enough and seemed to enjoy his stew and the freshly baked bread Sirius had picked up in town that afternoon. After dinner, Sirius quickly washed up the dinner dishes.

“Do you want to take a walk?”

Harry shrugged. “Sure. What’s around here?”

“There’s a lot of empty countryside out there. I’ve been out exploring quite a bit in the past month.”

Harry agreed and the two of them wrapped up against the cold and headed outside. Sirius led the boy along one of the paths that he’d found. Harry was rather quiet.

Finally Sirius couldn’t stand it anymore. “What’s wrong, Harry?”


Guiding his godson over to a low stone wall that marked the border of the property, Sirius cast a few warming charms and they sat down. “Kiddo, you didn’t want to say goodbye to your friends, you’ve spent the afternoon in your room, and you’ve been really quiet.”

Harry sighed and looked at his godfather. The older man was so cool and self-assured, would he understand Harry’s problem? He thought about it for a minute — Sirius had escaped from prison for him and risked getting caught to help him. If Sirius could do that, he wouldn’t laugh at him, right?

“You promise you won’t laugh?” Harry wanted to die when his voice cracked on the last word.

Sirius put his hand gently on Harry’s shoulder and slowly Harry looked up to meet his eyes. Harry could only see concern, no laughter. “I promise I won’t laugh at you.”

“It started last month,” Harry said. “I told you that I made up with Ron and Hermione, right?”

Sirius nodded and Harry continued, “I thought everything was going well. I’m doing well in school and I’m friends with Ginny, Ron, and Hermione. Ginny even taught me a really cool spell — Reducto.”

“That is a good one,” Sirius smiled. “It’s also an OWL level spell. It’s pretty impressive that a second and third year can perform that spell.”

Harry smiled shyly. He explained how he’d found Ginny trying to destroy Riddle’s trophy. Sirius frowned as his godson described the confrontation between the students and Snape. It made him more determined than ever to get Harry out of that man’s class.

“We went to the Quidditch match and…I-I guess…the Ravenclaw Seeker, Cho Chang, was really pretty and I guess I was watching her.” Harry’s voice trailed off.

“That’s only natural,” Sirius said when it was obvious Harry was struggling with what to say next.

Harry blushed and looked down at his hands. “Hermione noticed and she called me on it.” He looked up angrily. “I never said anything about her stupid crush on Lockhart. Why did she have to say anything?

“Then they announced the Hogsmeade visit and Hermione kept ragging on me about Cho and it was really embarrassing. Ron hadn’t even noticed anything until Hermione kept on about it. She was worse in front of Ginny.”

Sirius hid a smile. He suspected this might be the true cause of Harry’s anger. “Did you say anything to Hermione?”

“I tried,” Harry said miserably, “but she said it would be good for me to get to know Cho. She said that Cho was nice, but she was wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

“I heard Cho and some of her friends and they were…they were horrible. They said all kinds of mean things about Ginny.” He glanced at his godfather. “I-I didn’t really even understand everything they said, but it wasn’t nice.”

“What did they say?”

Harry sighed and repeated what Cho and her friends had said about Ginny. Sirius was silent for a minute. Abruptly he stood up. “Let’s head back to the house. I have a feeling I’m not going to be wanting to siting on cold rocks for this conversation.”

The subsequent conversation was both embarrassing and enlightening for Harry. He’d never really had anyone explain things for him before. Aunt Petunia wouldn’t sign his form in primary school for the health class. Uncle Vernon had just told him that no normal girl would touch a freak and he better not get any freaks pregnant.

Sirius watched as Harry slowly digested everything he’d learned. It had been hard not to smile at times, but Sirius realized how difficult this was for Harry.

“Why would they say such horrid things?” Harry asked plaintively.

Sirius sighed. “Unfortunately, you are a famous and wealthy young man. I can tell you from experience that if the gold diggers think you are interested in a girl or she becomes too close to you they will stop at nothing to smear her name. I think maybe this girl, Cho, was a bit interested in you, but she’d seen you with Ginny.”

“But Ginny doesn’t even like me like that anymore,” Harry protested. “We’ve had fun and she’s a really great friend.”

“What do you think of Ginny?”

“What do you mean?”

Sirius smiled gently. “What do you think I mean?”

“It’s not nice to answer with a question with a question,” Harry said grumpily.

“You did it first,” Sirius laughed.

“This is so embarrassing,” Harry moaned. He looked over at Sirius and sighed. “I think she’s nice and she’s fun to talk to. She’s the only one who believed me — when Ron and Hermione thought you were a murderer, she believed me. She’s smart, but she doesn’t try to make me feel stupid like Hermione does sometimes.” He squirmed a bit before he added, “She’s really pretty.”

“Sounds like you might like her,” Sirius observed.

“But it doesn’t matter now,” Harry said, “she doesn’t like me like that anymore.”

“How do you know?” Sirius asked.

Harry looked at him in confusion. “Well…well I don’t know. She talks to me now and she didn’t used to. She used to blush and run away whenever we were in the same room, but we’re friends now.”

“I think she might still like you,” Sirius observed, “but I think now she likes you and not Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived.”

Harry sat quietly for a minute. “Like before she had a crush on someone who didn’t exist, but now she knows me? Is that what you mean?”

Sirius nodded.

After thinking about it for another minute, Harry blushed and smiled. “That would be kind of nice.”

Christmas morning Harry woke when a big, black dog jumped on his bed. Harry wrestled with the dog for a minute, dissolving into laughter when the dog started licking him.

“Sirius, stop!” Harry laughed and he shoved the dog off his bed. He hopped out of bed before the dog could attack him again. He wiped the side of his face. “That is gross! You shouldn’t lick people.”

Sirius transformed and dissolved into laughter. “What are you going to do? Hit me and tell me I’m a bad dog.”

“The thought crossed my mind,” Harry said as Sirius enveloped him in a hug.

“Never mind that,” Sirius said. “It’s Christmas!!!”

Amidst much laughter the two demolished the pile of presents under the tree. Harry had used his day in Hogsmeade to get Sirius some Christmas presents. Harry received more clothes, boots, and books.

“This is more presents than I think I’ve ever gotten in my whole life,” Harry laughed. “You didn’t have to get me so much stuff.”

“I wanted to,” Sirius said. “Besides there are two presents you haven’t opened yet.”

Harry turned to his godfather in excitement. “What?”

Sirius waved his wand and revealed two more presents. One was long and skinny — Harry thought it was probably a broom. The other was a big box complete with a bow.

Harry walked over to the big box. There was a top that was wrapped separately from the box, so he could lift the lid off. He gasped when he opened it to find a black Labrador retriever puppy in the box. Laughing, he lifted the yipping puppy out of the box.

“He’s adorable,” Harry said and he petted the wriggly and rather squirmy puppy.

“Isn’t he?” Sirius laughed. “I saw him in the pet shop and he was too cute to pass up. He’s really smart, too. He’s already house trained.” He grinned at his godson lavishing attention on the little puppy. “It’s been hard hiding him from you. He’s wanted to meet you since you arrived home. He kept trying to sneak up to your room”

Harry grinned at the thought. “I can’t believe I didn’t notice. You did a good job hiding him.”

Sirius summoned puppy’s food and water while Harry continued to fuss over and play with the little animal.

“Does he have a name?”

Sirius shook his head. “I’ve just been calling him ‘pup’. I wanted you to name him.”

“Really?” Harry smiled at the thought. “I’ll have to think of a really good name for him.”

Turning to the puppy who was trying to lick him, Harry laughed. “We need to open my last present.”

Carrying the pup with him, Harry knelt down next to the last present. He ripped the paper off the gift and gasped. He reverently ran a hand down the broom.

“This is a Firebolt!” Harry exclaimed reverently.

Sirius was watching him with a big smile on his face. “It sure is. You know one of the great things about this cottage is you can fly in the back garden.”

Harry’s eyes lit up. Sirius laughed. “Get dressed first!”

Less than ten minutes later, Harry was inhaling a bacon sandwich so he could go outside. Sirius and the puppy accompanied him out to the back garden.

“You can’t fly over the trees,” Sirius called.

Nodding Harry took off. He whooped with excitement. The Firebolt was so responsive he hardly had to think about where he wanted to turn before the broom turned. Sirius settled into a chair to watch Harry fly with the puppy running excitedly under the boy barking and jumping.

It was the best Christmas Harry ever remembered. He loved all of his presents, but best of all he had Sirius to talk to and spend time with. They explored Hadrian’s wall and tramped in the fields and lands near the Northumberland National Park. The puppy, who Harry named Hadrian, was great fun and loved to run alongside them as they tramped in the fields. Sirius had even discovered an area of the forest where they could fly.

“So how is it we can fly here?” Harry asked. He and Sirius both had their brooms slung over their shoulders. Sirius hadn’t been able to resist buy a Firebolt for himself as well.

“This is the Otterburn training area,” Sirius explained. “Muggles think that the Ministry of Defence closes this area at times. Well to be fair, at times they do, but at times the Ministry of Magic closes the area.”

“Cool,” Harry said.

“We can go much higher here than you can at the cottage,” Sirius explained.

Up ahead Harry could see a clearing where a number of people were gathering. They all had brooms; some were dressed in wizarding robes while others were dressed in Muggle clothing. There were several benches as well as a cart that appeared to be selling hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and hot tea. The smell of roasted nuts filled the clearing.

A witch in robes and carrying a clipboard approached them. “Welcome to the Otterburn flight area. Have you been here before?”

“No, ma’am,” Sirius replied with a charming smile. “This is our first time here.”

“Glad to have you,” the witch replied. “You may fly up as high as five hundred feet. We ask that you respect the other flyer’s space — no fighting or bumping and no spell fire. Anyone engaging in those activities will be ejected and banned from further entry. Other than that, please enjoy yourselves.”

“Thank you,” Sirius and Harry said.

Harry rocketed up immediately at an almost vertical climb. After flying in circles and performing some loops, he dove almost straight down at the ground. He couldn’t hear the gasps of the others around him. At seemingly the last minute he turned the broom and flew with his feet inches above the grass before climbing once again.

Sirius flew at a much more sedate rate, but he too seemed to enjoy the freedom to fly. He kept a close eye on his godson, but more out of a sense of amazement than concern. He didn’t worry about Harry’s flying skill. He’d never seen anyone with the skills Harry showed.

“I should have known you’d be here.”

Sirius turned to see Minerva McGonagall fly up to him. “Minerva!”

“Hello, Sirius.” She watched Harry dive with an uncharacteristic smile on her face. “I see you got him a new broom.” She gasped. “Is that a Firebolt?”

“Yeah,” Sirius smiled. “I thought my boy deserved the best. Isn’t he amazing?”

“He is,” Minerva agreed. “That first time I saw him dive — it was amazing. He dove almost sixty feet without fear.”

“He told me he was afraid he was in trouble and was shocked that you were putting him on the Quidditch team.”

Minerva laughed. “Well, I do cultivate a bit of a stern exterior.”

“A bit?” Sirius laughed.

After they’d been flying for almost an hour and a half, Sirius took a break to find something to drink and Minerva joined him. They had just sat on a bench when a wizard approached them.

“Excuse me, is that your boy?” The wizard asked pointing to Harry.

“Yes,” Sirius said proudly.

“He is amazing,” came the reply. “How old is he?”

“Thirteen,” Sirius replied a bit more guarded this time.

The wizard must have picked up on Sirius’ unease. He handed Sirius his card. “I’m Max Gibbs. I’m a scout for the Department of Magical Games and Sports. Your son is an amazing flyer — I don’t know that I’ve seen someone that young fly that well. Does he play Quidditch?”

“Aye, he’s Seeker for Gryffindor,” Minerva spoke up.

“Professor McGonagall, I’m sorry I was so focused on talking to this gentlemen,” Max apologized. His eyes widened. “Wait - that is Harry Potter?”

“Please don’t say that too loudly,” Sirius said. “We’re just here to fly and have some fun.”

“Of course, of course,” Max replied soothingly. “Sorry, I’ve just never seen someone with such skill at such a young age. I will look forward to seeing him fly as he gets older. We will definitely be scouting him.”

“What does that mean?”

The three adults turned to see Harry standing just behind them with his broom in hand.

“I’m Max Gibbs, Mr Potter. I was just telling your…father here that I’ve never seen such talent. If you want to play professionally, just let me know. I will be following your career with interest.”

“Thank you,” Harry said in a bit of confusion. He liked hearing Sirius referred to as his father — that was nice. He moved past Max to stand next to Sirius, that’s when he noticed Professor McGonagall for the first time. “Professor! Happy Christmas!”

“Thank you, Harry. Happy Christmas to you as well,” she replied. “I see Sirius replaced your broom with style.”

Harry’s eyes lit up. “I know, a Firebolt! Can you believe that?”

He held out the broom for his professor to see, the scout forgotten. While Professor McGonagall admired the broom and listened to Harry’s glowing review of his new broom, Sirius thanked Max for his interest. Shaking Sirius’ hand, Max took his leave.

“Do you want to try it out?” Harry asked Professor McGonagall.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” she asked after a minute.

“Of course not,” Harry smiled. “I’ve been flying it all week. I wanted to see if they have some hot chocolate.”

Harry took her broom while she tried out the Firebolt. Sirius smiled as he watched Harry with Minerva. She may cultivate a fierce
attitude, but Harry had obviously wormed his way into the witch’s heart.

“Sirius, can I have some money?” Harry asked holding out his hand.

Laughing, Sirius gave the boy a handful of coins. Harry grinned up at him. “Do you want anything?”

“Why don’t you get some hot peanuts?”

Harry headed over to the cart and made his purchases. As he walked back to his godfather, he looked around the clearing. It was pretty amazing that so many people had come just to fly. He was really glad that Sirius had suggested this.

“Professor McGonagall is pretty good,” Harry commented as he watched his professor fly.

Sirius nodded. “She played Chaser for Gryffindor and not as many witches played then.”

Professor McGonagall returned Harry’s Firebolt a touch reluctantly. “It’s a great broom, Harry. I think you will do well with it.”

“Thank you,” Harry said. With a grin for both adults, he took off once again.

“That boy loves to fly,” Sirius said with a proud smile. “James would be so thrilled.”

“Aye, he would. To be approached by a scout at his age — what an honour.”

“James talked about trying out for Portree or Puddlemere,” Sirius said with a smile.

“He would have done well,” Minerva said. “Harry’s captain, Oliver Wood, is being courted by several teams.”

“What does Oliver play?”

“Keeper,” Minerva replied. “He’s quite good and he’s desperate to win the cup this year. We should have won the last two years — with Harry on the team we should be unstoppable.”

“So why haven’t you?”

Minerva grimaced. “The first year Harry was in the hospital wing for the last match. Last year the Quidditch season was cancelled with everything that was happening.”

“Hopefully nothing like that will happen this year,” Sirius grumbled.

After an enjoyable afternoon flying, Professor McGonagall accompanied Harry and Sirius back to their cottage. Harry was happy to introduce her to Hadrian.

“It seems as though you are doing very well,” Professor McGonagall commented. “Are things going well with Sirius?”

Harry nodded. “Sirius is great. He’s fun and he’s really smart, too. We’ve had fun flying and exploring the area. We even went to a Roman army museum one day — it was really fun. My aunt and uncle never let me go places like that.”

“That’s wonderful,” Professor McGonagall replied. “How are your classes going, Harry? Are you having any problems with the three
electives you chose?”

Harry shook his head. “No, I’m enjoying them.” He made a face. “Well I would be if Hermione would stop harping on Arithmancy.”

“Why does Miss Granger have a problem with Arithmancy?”

“She keeps trying to talk me into dropping it,” Harry said, his aggravation slipping through. “I don’t know why. I wonder if maybe she’s having problems with taking so many classes and she wants to drop one, but won’t if I don’t.”

Professor McGonagall frowned. “I hope she won’t force you to change your mind.”

“No, I’m really enjoying my classes,” Harry said. “Thank you for telling me about Arithmancy. I was talking to Ginny and she said that both Ancient Runes and Arithmancy are required for a bunch of jobs. I didn’t know that.”

“I am afraid you are quite correct,” the professor answered. “It appears we have become a bit remiss in our duties. We hold career training in your fifth year, but it might be a good idea to provide an overview earlier so students can better plan their electives. I will speak to my colleagues when I return. Does that mean Miss Weasley plans to take Ancient Runes and Arithmancy?”

Harry nodded. “She can’t decide if she wants to take another class or not. She’s trying to decide between Care of Magical Creatures and Muggle Studies.”

“Either one would be a nice option,” Professor McGonagall replied. “If I recall correctly her brother Charlie took both those classes and
he might have some advice for her.”

Sirius joined them after checking on the roast he was preparing for dinner. The three settled into the cosy sitting room and Sirius stirred the fire so the room was nice and warm. Hadrian was curling up at Harry’s feet.

Professor McGonagall looked at both them before she said, “I wanted to speak to both of you about Harry’s desire to learn the Patronus Charm.”

Sirius looked a bit surprised. “Isn’t that a NEWT level spell?”

“It is,” the professor agreed. “Harry might not be able to perform it yet, but he is motivated and he is quite powerful. I think he might be able to pull it off.”

“I don’t have a problem with Harry learning the spell, but is there really such a great impetus now that the Dementors are gone?” Sirius asked.

“Perhaps not,” Professor McGonagall agreed, “but I think Harry’s extreme reaction to the Dementors would justify the effort.”

Colouring slightly he said, “Do you think you could help me brush up on it as well? I used to be able to do it, but since Azkaban…” He trailed off looking a bit lost. Harry scooted over and wrapped his arm around his godfather.

“Of course,” Professor McGonagall replied not sounding at all stern at the moment.

Professor McGonagall stayed for dinner. Harry found it a little odd to begin with, but he soon was having fun listening to the older two reminisce about the past. Both of them knew many stories about Harry’s parents and Harry loved listening to them.

After dinner they’d once again settled in the sitting room. Between the good dinner, the warmth of the room, and the wonderful smell of pine from the Christmas tree Harry was feeling very comfortable.

“Harry, do you know what a Patronus is?” Professor McGonagall asked.

“It’s a magical protection,” Harry replied. “It sounds like a magical guardian or something that can protect you against Dementors.”

“That is a good explanation,” she agreed. “Before you cast the spell, it is important that you think of a very, happy, positive memory. It is the strength of the emotions in that memory that will fuel your Patronus.” She looked over at Harry. “Your mother told me she used the memory of your birth to fuel her Patronus.”

A look of awe came over his face. The thought that he could be someone’s favourite memory was amazing. Sirius smiled at the look on his godson’s face.

“The moment that James put you on her stomach — it was beautiful. She looked at you and you looked at her and you both fell completely in love. She totally adored you and you loved her.”

Harry blushed and dropped his gaze as he blinked trying to get his emotions under control. He felt tears welling up in his eyes and he turned his head to wipe his eyes. He didn’t want Sirius or Professor McGonagall to see him crying. They both tactfully gave him the space to pull himself together.

“Back to the Patronus,” Professor McGonagall said. “I’d like for us to practice the charm tonight and then when we are back at the castle I have a plan to use a Boggart to help Harry practice in front of a Dementor.”

Harry looked confused for a minute, but then his face cleared. “Because my Boggart would turn into a Dementor, you’re going to find a Boggart?”


“The incantation for the spell is ‘Expecto Patronum’,” Professor McGonagall said as she demonstrated the proper wand movement.

Sirius and Harry both repeated her movements. Once she felt that had the wand movement down correctly, she instructed them to choose their memory. Harry’s eyes met Sirius’ and he knew exactly what memory he was going to use. He wondered if maybe Sirius was going to use the same one.

He recalled the moment when he realized that Sirius truly wanted him and let the emotions fill him up. Casting the spell, he was shocked to see a bit of silvery mist come out of his wand.

“Well done,” Professor McGonagall said encouragingly.

By the end of the evening, Sirius had managed to cast his Patronus which was the same as his Animagus form. He attributed his success to Harry being in his life. Harry had consistently been able to produce the silvery mist, but he hadn’t progressed from there.

After Professor McGonagall left Harry commented, “I never would have thought I’d spend the evening with her and have fun.”

Sirius laughed. “I know. James and I always tried to charm her and she never cracked, but once we left school she turned out to be a lot of fun. We even went to a few Quidditch matches together. She and your mum were rather close. Lily’s grandmother died just before she started at Hogwarts and I think McGonagall rather took that place in Lily’s life.”

Back to index

Chapter 11: Chapter 11 Hermione's troubles

Author's Notes: Thanks again to Arnel for her beta services!

“You have a Firebolt?!” Ron exclaimed once they’d settled into a compartment on the train.

Harry nodded excitedly. “It is brilliant! I went out flying every day.”

“A real Firebolt,” Ron repeated in amazement.

“What’s so brilliant about a Firebolt?” Hermione asked looking between the two boys.

“It’s an International standard broom,” Ron said. “It can go from zero to one hundred and fifty miles an hour in ten seconds. It has an unbreakable Braking Charm and they are supposed to be incredibly responsive to the rider. I read about them in Which Broomstick.”

“I heard the Irish team was using Firebolts,” Ginny put in. “They are supposed to be amazing.”

Harry nodded, happy to talk about his favourite present. “It is beautiful. It has a registration number on the handle. The handle is polished ebony with birch twigs for better acceleration. It is so responsive — it turns so easily.”

“How fast did you go?” Ginny asked excitedly.

“I hit one hundred and fifty mph,” Harry crowed. “It was amazing. I could do so many dives.”

“Harry, that sounds really dangerous,” Hermione objected as she looked around at her friends. “You were flying at one hundred and fifty miles per hour?”

Harry shrugged. “I love flying, Hermione.”

Hermione didn’t say anything, but her disapproval was obvious. There were very few things that Hermione wasn’t good at, but flying was definitely one of them. She watched all of the Quidditch matches with her friends, but she wasn’t interested in playing Quidditch or flying. This wasn’t the first time she’d pointed out to Harry how dangerous his favourite pastime could be.

“Where were you that you were able to fly?” Ginny asked.

“Sirius rented a house in Northumberland for the holidays,” Harry explained. “There is an area in the forest that is opened for flying at certain times of the year.”

“Oh, Charlie and some of his friends went there a few years ago,” Ginny said. “It sounded amazing. Otter- otter something, right? It has to do with the Muggle defence system.”

“Yeah, Otterburn training range. It’s under the Ministry of Defence, but the Ministry of Magic has arranged to use it at certain times of the year,” Harry explained, excitement shining in his eyes. “You’ll never guess who I saw there. Professor McGonagall! She even tried out my Firebolt.”

“That sounds wonderful,” Ginny said feeling quite happy for her friend. “I bet the Firebolt is amazing.”

“What would you know? You can’t fly,” Ron said rather meanly.

“Of course she can,” Harry replied wearily. “She flew my Nimbus.”

“What?! You let her fly your Nimbus?” Ron was shocked.

Harry shrugged. “She did great.” He grinned at Ginny who blushed, but grinned back.

“When did this happen?” Ron asked suspiciously looking between the two of them.

“I don’t know,” Harry said. “September sometime. I didn’t write down the date or anything. I was going down to the pitch to practice and I ran into Ginny. I took her up first and then she flew by herself.”

“You didn’t tell me about that,” Ron grumbled. “Don’t even think about letting her try your Firebolt, she’s way too young.”

“What?!” Ginny was incensed. “I suppose you’re old enough.”

“Of course,” Ron replied. “You’re too young and too little to handle a big broom like that. I’m older than you and I’ve much more experience flying.”

Harry looked between the siblings, not sure of what he should do. He honestly thought Ginny would be able to handle the Firebolt — she was a great flyer. She was a better flyer than Ron, actually. Why was Ron getting so upset?

“Don’t worry, Ron,” Hermione said. “I’m sure Harry has no intention of letting her fly his broom.”

Ginny slammed out of the compartment. Harry watched her leave, rather upset with his friends and unsure of what to do. He thought Ron and Hermione were both being mean and rather unreasonable. Should he follow Ginny? Indecision gnawed at him and he settled for glaring at his oldest friends.

“Why are you two so mean to her?” he demanded. “She can try my Firebolt if she wants to; she’s a really good flyer.”

“You can’t be so nice to her,” Ron complained. “We’ll never get rid of her if you keep being nice to her.”

“Get rid of her? I don’t want to get rid of her,” Harry replied angrily. “She’s a friend of mine. Why are you the only one allowed to be my friend? Why is it that we saved Hermione from a Troll and became instant friends, but I save Ginny from a Basilisk and I’m not allowed to talk to her?”

“No,” Ron protested. “It’s not like that. It’s just Ginny is annoying. If you are nice to her she’ll follow us around and think she can hang out with us. She’s too young to be friends with us. What happens if we run into another adventure — are we supposed to let her come? My mum would kill me. No, she’s annoying, she’s too young, and she talks too much about stupid things. Not to mention the fact that she has that stupid crush on you, if you keep talking to her she’s going to think that you like her.”

“Ron, be nice!” Hermione reprimanded. “Harry, he does have a point. If Ginny thinks she’s your friend, she won’t make friends with people her own age. She needs to make up for last year and make friends with her roommates. She is rather young — she’s almost two years younger than me.”

“Maybe I’m too young,” Harry snapped back. “I’m only a year older than her. She didn’t do anything wrong other than trust the wrong person — that can happen to anyone. I don’t know why you two are so mean to her. Ginny is my friend and she can hang out with me any time she wants. She’s gotten over her crush and we’re friends now, why is that such a problem?”

The three settled into an uneasy silence. Harry pulled his Ancient Runes book from his bag and started reading the next chapter. Ron and Hermione exchanged an uneasy look. Why did Harry want to be friends with Ginny? It was rather concerning for both of them.

A while later, Harry headed to the bathroom still rather aggravated with his friends. He was hoping to run into Ginny, he didn’t like being at odds with her. Unfortunately, he didn’t see her and soon arrived back at his compartment. To his dismay, Cho Chang was there talking to Hermione. Just the person he didn’t want to see. Hermione looked up with a big grin when she saw him.

“Look who stopped by to see you,” Hermione said gleefully as Harry glared at her.

“Hi, Harry,” Cho said softly. “I wanted to stop by and wish you a Happy Christmas. Did you have a good Christmas?”

Harry nodded. “Yes.”

“Hermione told me you received a Firebolt,” Cho said fluttering her eyelashes. “Maybe you can take me up on it sometime.”

“I don’t think so,” Harry said coolly.

“Why not?” Cho laughed. “Are you afraid that I’ll sabotage it? I promise I won’t.”

“No,” Harry replied tersely. “What do you want?”

Faltering under his disinterest, Cho quickly said goodbye and left the compartment.

“Harry!” Hermione reprimanded him.


“Don’t be rude,” Hermione scolded him. “You seemed to like Cho well enough before Christmas break. You couldn’t keep your eyes off her at the Quidditch match.”

Harry flushed. “I thought she was pretty. I’m sorry I stared at her. Why are you making such a big deal about it? I thought she was pretty, but then I found out what a horrid, mean person she is and I don’t want anything to do with her. I want you to stop pushing her at
me and quit making fun of me!”

He slammed out of the compartment, leaving his startled friend behind. Harry headed down to the corridor, rocking with the train. He couldn’t believe how horrid they were to Ginny. It didn’t make sense that Hermione was encouraging him to go after Cho, but discouraging him from being friends with Ginny. He thought Ginny was much nicer and she was really pretty, too.

A few compartments down, he found Ginny looking out the window. “Ginny.”

She turned and smiled shyly to see him. “Harry, I thought you were still with Ron and Hermione.”

“I’m sorry they were so mean to you,” Harry said. “I don’t know why they are acting like that.”

“That’s okay,” Ginny replied with a shy smile. “Thank you for coming to find me.”

Harry smiled, glad that he’d made the effort to find her. “Not a problem, you are much better company than they are right now.”

“Thank you for the beautiful quill,” Ginny said. “It’s lovely. I wanted to send you a thank you note, but I didn’t have access to an owl for most of the holidays.”

“You’re welcome,” Harry said happily. He’d found a pretty scarlet coloured quill that was made from a scarlet macaw feather while he was in Hogsmeade. It reminded Harry of both Fawkes and Ginny’s hair, so he’d decided to give it to her for Christmas.

They spent the next few minutes talking about their Christmas gifts. Ginny’s were mostly homemade, but she’d also received some
clothes and books.

“I think it’s so cool that your mum makes all of you a jumper for Christmas,” Harry said.

“I’m guessing your aunt never did anything like that?”

Harry laughed. “Aunt Petunia? She’s never given me a present, ever. But even for Dudley, she was never much for homemade gifts, she
thought they were inferior or showed you didn’t have enough money or some rubbish like that.”

Ginny shook her head. “I don’t understand that at all. Ron and Percy act like that sometimes. I like that my mum makes us jumpers.
She spends a lot of time and effort to make them. She picks out the colours and the themes. I used to help her when I was younger.
Well, not with the knitting or anything, but I would help pick the colours.”

“That sounds like fun,” Harry said.

“It is. Mum loves working on those jumpers. She made me a blue and white jumper this year. I love it, but I have to admit my favourite presents this year were from my oldest brothers.” Lifting her jumper slightly, she showed him a pretty dragon skin belt made from iridescent scales. “Charlie sent me the belt. He said it was from his favourite dragon. She shed her scales and Charlie thought of me.”


Ginny nodded. Holding out her right hand, she showed him a small ruby ring set in gold. “Bill gave me this. Rubies are supposed to be good for protecting your mind,” Ginny said blushing slightly.

“That was really nice of him,” Harry observed.

“Bill’s the best,” Ginny replied simply.

“I didn’t tell you about my second favourite present,” Harry said.

“What was that?” Ginny asked.

“Sirius adopted a puppy!” Harry explained with excitement. He pulled out several pictures of him playing with Hadrian. He also had a few pictures of him and Sirius together.

“He’s adorable,” Ginny cooed as she looked at the photos.

Harry told her all about Hadrian and the time spent with Sirius. She was happy to hear about him having such a good time. Sirius sounded like he was really good for Harry.

“What else did you do?” Harry asked they’d exhausted the topic of Hadrian.

Ginny made a face. “I helped my mum in the kitchen. She makes fudge and other sweets to send to my brothers and some of my aunts and uncles. I also helped with Christmas dinner. You know my mum - she makes way too much food.”

Harry nodded appreciatively. “Your mum is the best cook in the world.”

“I agree,” Ginny laughed. “She’s taught me some, but I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as her.”

“Don’t your brothers have to help?”

“Not in the kitchen,” Ginny said in disbelief. “Mum has very firm rules on appropriate chores for girls and boys.”

“That’s kind of silly,” Harry said. “Sirius and I had a great time cooking together. I had to do a lot of the cooking at my aunt’s house and of course Sirius has been on his own for a long time. We can’t cook like your mum, but we managed.”

Ginny frowned for a minute as she thought over what he’d said. “That makes sense. I wonder what my brothers did when they moved out. I don’t think she ever taught Bill or Charlie anything about cooking or anything.”

“My aunt had me cooking as soon as I could see over the stove. She put a little stool next to the stove so I could reach everything,” Harry said candidly. “I don’t think that’s the right way to do it, but I think both boys and girls should learn how to cook.” He smiled as he recalled the fun of cooking with Sirius. “One night he had this music playing and we were dancing around the kitchen while we were cooking. It was really fun. I imagine we looked like idiots dancing around, but it was brilliant.”

“That sounds fun,” Ginny said with a smile. While she had fun with her mum sometimes, she couldn’t imagine dancing around the kitchen with her.

Remembering what Harry had shared with her about his relatives, she was really glad that he had Sirius now. Pulling out a deck of cards, the pair played Exploding Snap and talked happily for the rest of the journey.

The next morning Harry was sitting at the Gryffindor table enjoying an early breakfast when Hermione joined him. “Good morning, Harry.”

“Good morning,” Harry replied a bit stiffly.

“Harry, I’m sorry about how I acted about Cho. I really did think you had a crush on her,” Hermione explained. “I was only trying to help.”

“I don’t know about that,” Harry said. “I thought she was pretty, but it wasn’t just that. It was like you were trying to embarrass me. Why did you do that?”

Hermione’s jaw dropped. “I wasn’t trying to embarrass you.”

“You weren’t? You kept making comments about her and teasing me about her, especially in front of Ginny.” As he finished the sentence, Harry realized that was exactly what Hermione had been doing. He narrowed his eyes. “You were trying to embarrass me in front of Ginny, why?”

“Whether you want to admit it or not, Ginny has a huge crush on you,” Hermione replied. “I simply wanted to point out to her that you aren’t at all interested in her. It’s not fair to her to lead her on and I’ve heard some very concerning rumours about her.”

“What?” Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Is this the crap Cho and her friends were talking about?”

“I don’t know what they were talking about,” Hermione said stiffly. “I don’t like to spread rumours, but I’ve heard several stories about her sneaking out to meet boys. There are even stories about how she’s doing things with boys for money.”

Harry was furious. “She’s not like that at all! I can’t believe you would believe these lies.”

“Can you explain how she suddenly has extra pocket money?” Hermione asked sceptically.

“Yes, she’s sewing.”

Hermione stared at him in confusion. “Sewing, what are you talking about?”

“After you were so horrid to her because of your stupid blouse, she was looking for a way to make extra money. She’s been fixing tears in people’s clothes and making clothes fit better. She told me about helping her mum with sewing and I said it was too bad I didn’t realize that before Sirius bought me all new clothes. That’s when we realized that there were other people who needed help. She’s helped a bunch of people adjust their clothes so they fit better and she’s even helped Katie and Alicia redesign their robes. She’s hoping to save enough money to buy a wand of her own.”

“I didn’t realize that,” Hermione said in a completely different tone of voice.

“Will you make sure that other people know the real story?” Harry asked. “I hate that she’s had so many rumours spread about her.”

Hermione nodded reluctantly. “I will. I didn’t realize that’s what was happening.”

“Why don’t you like her?” Harry asked curiously.

“I don’t really know her,” Hermione said. “All I know about her is what I’ve heard from Ron and what happened last year. I just think she should have known better.”

Harry frowned. “She should have known better, what do you mean? She thought her mum gave her the diary.”

“Yes, but once she realized it didn’t act like a regular diary, she should have told someone.”

“Hermione, we all looked at the diary and even after Riddle showed me how he managed to get Hagrid expelled you never suggested the diary was evil or that I should tell someone about it. If none of us thought anything was wrong with it, why was she supposed to? You never said I should have told someone.”

Hermione bit her lip as she thought back to the previous year. She frowned. “That’s true. Maybe I have been a bit unfair to her.”

“She’s really nice and fun to be around,” Harry said. “We’ve become good friends this year and I think if you gave her a chance, the two of you could be friends as well.”

“I don’t know, it would make Ron a lot happier if she wasn’t hanging around with us all the time.”

“So what Ron wants is more important than what I want?” Harry asked incredulously.

Hermione blushed deeply. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just you invited Ginny to start hanging around with us without asking either of us what we thought about it. Ron doesn’t want to spend so much time with his sister. Ginny is simply too young, she needs to make friends her own age.”

“Fine,” Harry bit out. He pushed away his half eaten plate. Their discussion had destroyed his appetite. He really couldn’t believe they were making him chose between Ginny and them. Without another word to Hermione, he headed off to Arithmancy.

During Arithmancy, he sat next to Terry Boot and Michael Corner. He didn’t know either of them very well, but they’d worked on a group project and had all worked well together. Michael and Terry seemed surprised, but they easily welcomed him into their group.

The Quidditch team was thrilled to see Harry’s new broom. Oliver was over the moon after the first practice with Harry riding the Firebolt. Professor McGonagall had come out to watch part of the practice and she seemed quite pleased with how well Harry was flying on the international standard broom. The team was out on the pitch for over an hour after practice taking turns trying out the Firebolt.

Harry watched as his teammates tried out the Firebolt. When Katie landed, he turned to Ginny who had also come down to watch practice. Holding out the Firebolt, he asked, “Are you ready to try it?”

“Of course,” she said gleefully.

She took off, rocketing into the darkening evening sky. While she wasn’t quite as adventurous as Harry, she was obviously a natural flyer.

“When did she learn to fly like that?” Fred demanded as he watched his sister loop around the Quidditch rings.

Harry grinned at the look of shock on the twins faces. “You really didn’t know she could fly?”

They both shook their heads as they kept their eyes on Ginny. “We’ve never let her fly with us because she’s so young and we were afraid she’d get hurt.”

“She’s been breaking into your broom shed since she was six,” Harry said laughing.

“That would explain it,” George said as he watched his sister.

Oliver was watching her assessing her flying with a captain’s eye. “She’s quite good. Does she want to play Quidditch?”

“She wants to play Chaser,” Harry said.

“We need to work to keep our places, girls,” Angelina laughed as she watched the younger girl.

Harry watched with satisfaction as the three Chasers flew up and started passing the Quaffle back and forth, showing Ginny some moves. Oliver headed up to the castle, but the twins stayed and watched with Harry.

It was amidst much laughter and good spirits that the Quidditch team returned to the common room. Harry headed up to his dorm room to safely stow his Firebolt. Ron was sitting on his bed when Harry entered.

“Why didn’t you invite me to try your Firebolt?” Ron demanded. “I saw the whole team flying it and you even let Ginny fly it after I told you she couldn’t.”

“Ron, you need to learn that you can’t tell me what to do,” Harry returned angrily, his good spirits crashing quickly. “Fred and George were both there and they didn’t have a problem with Ginny flying. Professor McGonagall was watching practice and she didn’t have a problem either. I wouldn’t let her fly it if I didn’t think she was safe.”

He wanted to add he’d never let Hermione try his Firebolt for that very reason, but he didn’t want to be so mean. “As for why I didn’t invite you, Hermione told me that you didn’t want to hang out with your sister and I had to make a choice. So I did.”

“You chose my sister over me?”

“Ginny has been there for me all year,” Harry burst out. “She doesn’t make fun of me or tell me I’m imagining things. She doesn’t put limits on who I can be friends with.”

“Of course she doesn’t,” Ron yelled. “She has a stupid crush on you and would agree to anything you say.”

“No, she doesn’t,” Harry yelled back. “She’s over her crush and we are friends now. She doesn’t automatically think I’m right, but she doesn’t keep telling me I’m wrong and she doesn’t try to embarrass me.”

It looked like that might be the end of the friendship that had seen them through so many adventures. Hermione was buried in her books and hardly talked to anyone, Ron was angry and upset with Harry and his sister, and Harry kept his distance from the other two.

Harry was happy being Ginny’s friend and he enjoyed her company, but he couldn’t deny he missed Ron and Hermione. He didn’t understand why they couldn’t all be friends. Why was three the right number, but four was too many? Why did he have to choose between Ron and Ginny?

Ron stomped into the common room after watching Harry and the rest of the Quidditch team head out to the pitch for practice. He threw himself down next to Hermione who glared at him.

“What is it, Ron?” she asked impatiently.


“Have you talked to him?”

“Why should I?” Ron returned hotly. “He chose my baby sister over me!”

Hermione looked troubled. “I know. He’s not talking to me either. I don’t really understand it.”

“Why’s he upset with you?” Ron asked, his anger set aside for the moment.

Hermione coloured slightly. “I kept teasing him about Cho Chang.”

“The pretty Ravenclaw player?”

Hermione nodded. “I noticed him watching her at the Quidditch match and…well, I may have teased him a bit too much. When you’d gone to talk to your brothers on the train, she came into our compartment to say hi. Harry was rather mean to her. I guess he heard her talking about someone and he decided she was rather shallow and not very nice.”

“So why’s he mad at you?” Ron was still confused.

“He realized that I teased him more about Cho when Ginny was around,” she admitted. When Ron didn’t reply right away, she hurriedly explained, “I thought if Ginny realized he had a crush on someone else she would go away.”

“That was really smart,” Ron said admiringly.

“It was until he realized that I’d been teasing him more when she was around. He was upset with me and I tried to tell him that she needed to make friends with people in her own year, but he got really upset with me.”

“I thought we all agreed that we would be there for Ginny this year.”

Ron turned around to see his older brother, Percy, looking at him disapprovingly. He flushed under Percy’s glare. “I don’t mind being there for Ginny,” Ron protested, “I just don’t want her stealing my best mate!”

“Even after everything that happened last year because we ignored her, you want to keep pushing her away,” Percy commented, disapproval evident in his voice.

“She needs to find friends of her own,” Ron protested.

“Why can’t Harry be friends with both of you?” Percy asked curiously.

“Because!” Ron sputtered angrily. “He was my friend first. We’ve been best mates for two years and we don’t need her. I don’t want to hang out with my baby sister all the time! She’s annoying and she has a horrible crush on Harry.”

“Not to mention she doesn’t have the best judgement in the world,” Hermione put in.

Percy grimaced. “I do realize that, but she’s young. She might benefit from your guidance and friendship.”

Ron shook his head. “No, she needs to find other friends.”

“It doesn’t seem as though Harry agrees with that,” Percy pointed out. He sat down next to his brother. “You can’t decide who Harry can be friends with. It sounds like that is why he is upset with you.”

“I’m not deciding who he can be friends with,” Ron said weakly as redness crept into his face.

“Yes, you are,” Percy replied calmly. “You’ve told him he can’t be friends with the girl whose life he saved. Imagine that you were alone
when you saved Hermione from the Troll. You might feel that it is only natural for the two of you to be friends, but what if Harry didn’t want to be her friend — not only didn’t want to her friend, but didn’t want you to be her friend. How would you feel if Harry said you couldn’t be friends with her?”

“Harry would never do that,” Ron said dismissively.

Percy reached out and grabbed Ron’s arm. “What if he did? What if Harry made you choose between being his friend and being Hermione’s friend? How would that make you feel?”

Ron looked at his brother in confusion. He snuck a glance over at Hermione and found her looking thoughtful. Reluctantly he thought about what his brother had asked — it seemed kind of stupid because Harry would never do that.

His eyes widened as he realized that’s exactly what he was doing to Harry. He thought back over the past few weeks. His feelings had been so hurt that Harry wanted to be Ginny’s friend that he didn’t stop to think how his actions were affecting Harry. Harry had risked his life to save Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets. While Ron had gone down there with him, it was Harry who’d had to face Riddle and the Basilisk.

For a moment Ron imagined what would have happened if Hermione had been taken into the Chamber. He’d be furious if Harry told him he couldn’t be friends with her. His face flushed as he thought it over. He looked over at his brother who was looking at him with sympathetic eyes.

“What should I do?”

“I think you need to apologize to him,” Percy said. He raised his hands when it seemed like Ron was going to complain. “I know I haven’t been Potter’s biggest fan, but he did save her life and he is making an effort to be her friend — that’s more than either of us have done.”

“Mr Potter, please come in,” Professor McGonagall beckoned him into her classroom. In front of her was a large chest that made the occasional rattle. “I have found a Boggart for our lessons.”

Harry’s eyes widened a bit. He wasn’t sure he was ready to face that awful creature, but resolutely, he nodded. Whilst Professor McGonagall didn’t reply, Harry thought he could almost feel her approval.

“Very well, Mr Potter,” she said brandishing her wand. “Do you have your happy memory in mind?”

“Yes, Professor.”

Harry took a deep breath and concentrated on the memory of him, Hedwig, and Sirius playing on the beach over the summer. He recalled the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore, the sounds of other beach goers talking, laughing, and singing, as well as the occasional dog barking and the sound of the sea gulls screeching overhead. The smell of the salt and sunscreen were almost real. He could almost feel the warmth of sun as he thought about that day. It had been a fun day, playing on the beach and swimming in the pool. He loved playing with both Hedwig and Sirius, but most importantly he loved Sirius and knew that Sirius loved him. The feeling of being happy and loved flowed through him. Concentrating hard on that feeling, Harry faced the chest.

Professor McGonagall opened it and stepped away. After a moment, a Dementor soared out of the chest and hovered in front of him. He felt a cold wind in the previously warm room.

Taking a deep breath, Harry yelled, “Expecto Patronum!”

Even as he started yelling, the classroom seemed to fade and he felt as though he was falling through a thick white fog. He heard clearly — “Not Harry! Please, not Harry!”

The next thing he knew, Professor McGonagall was standing over him, helping him to his feet. He ate the chocolate she handed him without any complaints. Once he felt calmer, he looked up at her. “Can I try again? Please.”

After working for another hour, Harry had heard both of his parents’ voices as well as Voldemort’s voice taunting his mother. He’d managed to get the grey mist again, but he hadn’t been able to produce a Patronus.

“Don’t get discouraged, Harry,” Professor McGonagall said kindly. “This is a difficult spell that a lot of adults have trouble performing.” She handed him a new bar of Honeydukes finest chocolate. “Eat this tonight before bed. We will try again next week.”

Hermione jerked awake when she heard a noise up in the girls’ dorm. She grabbed her watch immediately. It was ten pm. What was she supposed to be doing? Looking around the small table she’d been using the past several weeks, she glanced over her notes trying to remember what she was doing.

Rubbing her eyes, she walked over to the sideboard and poured a fresh cup of tea. Her hair was falling down around her face; impatiently she pulled out her ponytail holder, and regathering her hair, she secured it once again. Sitting down she reassessed her work.

She’d finished Potions, Transfiguration, Divination, and Charms. Sipping her tea, she started to feel re-energized. She only had Muggle Studies and Ancient Runes. She didn’t have anything due in Arithmancy or Care of Magical Creatures. After carefully putting away the homework she’d completed, she pulled her Muggle Studies close to her. She groaned out loud at the assignment. So far all of her assignments had been discussing Muggle technology, but this was to discuss one of the Muggle religious beliefs. It really wasn’t fair, she hadn’t been raised in a religious household and at this hour she didn’t have time to delve into the topic as she would have liked.

An hour later, she was reading over her essay. She wasn’t entirely happy with it, but there wasn’t much she could do about it. If she’d started her homework earlier, she could have used the Time-Turner and gone to the library, but once she was in the tower it was too difficult to use the Time-Turner. For weeks now she’d silently coveted Harry’s Invisibility Cloak. If she had one, she’d be able to hide under the cloak and either work on another essay or even catch up on her sleep, but she couldn’t risk having two of her in the tower at the same time — there were too many people who might see the two of her.


Turning, Hermione saw one of the seventh year prefects, Sarah, standing on the stairs. “What?”

“Hermione, it’s almost three in the morning,” Sarah pointed out.

“I’m perfectly capable of telling time,” Hermione snapped. “I’m almost done.”

Sarah’s eyes narrowed as she took in the harried third year student. Over the course of the term, she’d noticed Hermione isolating herself more and more. She was always revising and unfortunately, she was also becoming short tempered. Sarah had been drawn downstairs by the light in the common room as she was returning to her room from the first year dorm. One of the first year girls had a nightmare and Sarah had spent some time talking to the girl and calming her down.

Not wanting to start a yelling match in the middle of the night, Sarah returned to her room. She was going to have to think about what to do next. After realizing how badly she’d let Ginny Weasley down the year before, Sarah was trying to make sure she didn’t make the same mistake this year. She didn’t want to ignore one of the girls having a problem.

Hermione hurried down the corridor to Professor McGonagall’s office. She hoped the meeting wouldn’t take too long; she really had some revising to do. The door to the professor’s office was open, so Hermione knocked on the open door.

“Please, come in, Miss Granger.”

Hermione entered and sat down in one of the chairs across from the desk. Professor McGonagall had a folder open in the desk in front of her. She was looking through the documents.

“Miss Granger, I wanted to see how you are coping with your classes,” Professor McGonagall said.

Relaxing slightly, Hermione leaned forward in her chair. “I believe I’m doing very well. I have Os and Es in all of my classes.”

Professor McGonagall nodded. “I have reports from all of your professors indicating that you are at or near the top in all of your classes.”

Hermione beamed. Professor McGonagall turned her full attention to the young lady in front of her. “Have you been getting enough sleep?”

“Yes, I’ve been making sure to get at least six hours of sleep each night.”

Professor McGonagall frowned slightly. “I would like you to get at least eight hours a night. With the demands you are putting on your body, I don’t want you endangering your health.”

Hermione agreed. Professor McGonagall asked, “May I ask why you are discouraging Mr Potter from continuing in Arithmancy?”

“Did he complain to you?” Hermione asked in astonishment.

Professor McGonagall raised an eyebrow. Hermione blushed. “Sorry, Professor. I…I just didn’t want him to discover my secret. If he talks to Ron and they realize that I’m in two classes at the same time, my secret gets out. It’s not fair. I’ve been working really hard in all of my classes. Harry has never been interested in his classes and he was fine with taking Divination and Care of Magical Creatures until his godfather showed up. I thought that if I discouraged him a bit he would drop the class and my secret would be safe.”

“Excuse me?” Professor McGonagall’s voice was like ice. “You were given that Time-Turner because you have been an exemplary student and showed a keen interest in taking all of our electives. However, your schooling does not take precedence over another student’s studies. Mr Potter has shown a dramatic improvement in his schoolwork this year and I will not limit his options simply because you don’t want your secret exposed.”

“But he didn’t even plan on taking Arithmancy,” Hermione protested.

“He didn’t, but it was my suggestion he take it. I spoke to him over the Christmas holidays and he said he enjoyed the class except for you harping on him to quit the class.”

“I’m sorry,” Hermione said softly. “I didn’t want to explain what was happening.”

“Miss Granger, I’m concerned with what I’ve been hearing from your classmates and professors.”

“But I thought you said the professors said I was doing well,” Hermione protested in confusion.

“Scholastically you are doing well,” Professor McGonagall allowed, “however, that is not the only area of your education and schooling. You are becoming increasingly short tempered and impatient with your classmates and two of your professors have commented that you appear to be isolating yourself from your friends and classmates. That concerns me.”

“I’ve been really busy and I’ve had a lot of revising to do to,” Hermione explained, rather confused by the idea that her lack of socializing was getting her into trouble.

“Have you learned anything new in Muggle Studies?”

Hermione frowned. “New? Well, not exactly. It’s just fascinating to see how the wizarding world views Muggles.”

Professor McGonagall nodded. “I imagine it would be interesting, but I don’t see what value the class is adding. I would recommend that you drop Muggle Studies. One less class would lighten your load, but ideally I would like to see you drop another class as well — perhaps Divination or Care of Magical Creatures.”

“What?” Hermione was horrified at the thought of having to drop two classes. “No, Professor, I can do the work, honest I can.”

“I had serious doubts about this scheme when it was proposed and I’m even more concerned now. You are becoming short tempered, you’ve missed a few lessons, and you are isolating yourself from your friends. I don’t believe you’ve been eating properly nor getting enough exercise. I don’t believe that simply satisfying your curiosity is a good enough justification for continuing to use the Time-Turner. If you wish, you may continue to purchase the Muggle Study texts, although I don’t believe they will be useful to you. You may attempt to take the Muggle Study OWL if you wish, but I believe it would be best for you to drop Muggle Studies at this time.”

Hermione tried to come up with a suitable response, but couldn’t. She had to admit, Muggle Studies did tend to be a bit time consuming with all of the essays assigned. Frowning, she sighed. “Yes, Professor. I will drop Muggle Studies.”

“Good,” Professor McGonagall said. “I would prefer that you drop another course as well to bring you down to a more manageable number of classes, but I’m willing to allow you to continue with this course load for now. However, if I hear that you are continuing to harass Mr Potter, you will be dropped from Arithmancy without any other warning. Do you understand?”

Blushing, Hermione dropped her eyes. “Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry. I won’t bother Harry about it.”

“Thank you,” Professor McGonagall said in a satisfied tone.

Storming into the common room, Hermione’s eyes narrowed when she saw Harry sitting at one of the tables with Ginny. Angrily she strode over to him and without thinking what she was doing, she slugged him on the arm.

“How could you?” she asked angrily. He looked up at her in confusion. She glared at him. “I had to drop Muggle Studies because you were whining to Professor McGonagall.”

“What?” Harry looked up at her in confusion. He could see Ron coming over to see what was happening.

“You told Professor McGonagall that I was giving you a hard time about Arithmancy,” Hermione said angrily.

“She asked how I liked Arithmancy,” Harry replied. He looked up at her. “I don’t know why you don’t like me taking Arithmancy, but it is obvious you don’t. You keep asking me if I want to drop it or if I’m sure I want to continue. I thought you’d be happy that I’m putting time and effort into my studies, but you just complain about me taking Arithmancy and telling me it’s too difficult and I should drop it.”

“I’m concerned about you!” Hermione yelled. “Just because I’m concerned, there is no reason to complain to Professor McGonagall! I’ve
been working really hard all year and now I have to drop a class, not because I’m finding it difficult, but because of you. Arithmancy is one of my favourite classes! You better not complain to her again or she’ll make me drop it.”

“Then stop riding me about it,” Harry yelled back. “Professor McGonagall asked how I liked Arithmancy and I told her I liked it. Yes, I mentioned you trying to get me to drop it. It’s annoying, Hermione. I’m finally doing well in my classes and instead of being happy for me, you keep trying to get me to drop one of them.”

Hermione glared at him before stomping away. She brushed against Ron who had come over to see what the argument was about. Harry watched her go with a mixture of anger, indignation, and confusion. He honestly didn’t understand her attitude and he thought it was probably good that Professor McGonagall had made her drop Muggle Studies.

“What was that all about?” Ginny asked as she watched the older witch storm off.

“Merlin only knows,” Harry replied. “She’s been on my case about Arithmancy all year; asking if I’m going to drop it and that sort of rot. When Professor McGonagall asked me how Arithmancy was going I said it was fine except for Hermione’s attitude. I guess she decided to do something about it.”

“She’s been angry about most everything recently,” Ron said looked at the spot where Hermione had disappeared. Looking back at his sister and best friend, Ron cleared his throat. “Harry, Ginny…I’m sorry I’ve been such a prat.”

Harry tried to assess Ron’s sincerity. “Why did you get so mad that I want to be friends with Ginny?”

His ears reddening, Ron shrugged. “I’m not sure. I thought she was…not needed. You, me and Hermione have been friends since we started school. I didn’t want to share that friendship with Ginny. I thought she would make her own friends, not steal mine.”

“She didn’t ‘steal’ me,” Harry replied firmly. “I would be perfectly happy being friends with all three of you.”

“I’m sorry,” Ron said miserably.

“Does this mean you won’t be mean to Ginny or try to make her go away?”

“I won’t, I promise.”

Harry glanced over at Ginny who was watching her older brother wearily. She spoke up. “You won’t be tattling on me anymore? Writing letters to Mum hoping I’ll get in trouble?”

“I won’t.”

Ginny smiled and stood up and hugged her brother. Ron’s ears turned bright red, but he returned her hug. “I’m sorry, Ginny. I’ve been a huge prat to you.”

Looking up at her brother, she said, “I won’t deny that you’ve hurt my feelings, but you’re my brother. It will be okay.”

Back to index

Chapter 12: Chapter 12 First Dates and Easter Break

Author's Notes: Thanks again to Arnel for her wonderful job! I have never been to Brighton so hopefully what I've written makes sense :). Thanks again for all of the support for this story.

“You should have seen it,” Harry told Ginny excitedly as they sat down in front of the fireplace in the common room. “It was a stag, just like my dad’s Animagus form. It galloped around the room and scared the boggart back into the trunk; then it looked around and sort of bowed to me before disappearing.”

“That’s amazing,” Ginny replied sincerely as she set her books down. “I know that Bill can perform the Patronus Charm, but I don’t know if any of my other brothers can.”

“Professor McGonagall was very pleased. She had a house-elf bring us some tea and biscuits from the kitchen. It was really nice.”

“She is really nice,” Ginny agreed. “I actually enjoy my visits with her now.”

“I just hope I don’t need to use my Patronus against actual Dementors. The boggart is bad enough.”

“I’m glad those creatures are gone. I can’t imagine poor Sirius dealing with those things for so many years.”

Harry nodded. “He still has nightmares from time to time, but its better since he’s been freed. Professor McGonagall helped arrange some counselling for him and he says that it really helps. When Professor McGonagall started teaching us the Patronus Charm over Christmas, Sirius said it was the first time he’d been able to do the Charm since he was sent to Azkaban.”

“What is his Patronus?”

“The same as his Animagus, a large dog. Professor McGonagall’s is the same as her Animagus as well. She said it isn’t always the same, but the Patronus always takes the form of something we think of as strong or comforting.”

“Bill’s is a Sphinx. He didn’t learn the charm until he went to Egypt. I guess they sometimes have Lethifold attacks, so all Gringotts’ employees have to learn the Patronus Charm.” Glancing over at Harry, she added, “As you said, I hope you don’t have to use it against an actual Dementor.”

“Professor McGonagall talked to Professor Lupin and he’s going to give me extra credit. I wrote an essay on the Patronus Charm and its uses and he’s going to count it as an extra credit project. Of course Defence is my best subject, I wish I could earn extra credit in Potions.”

Ginny laughed. “I think no matter what you do you’ll never get extra credit in Potions.”

“Maybe next year,” Harry brightened at the thought.

“Sirius is really going to find a tutor so you don’t have to take Potions with Snape?”

Harry nodded. “He doesn’t like the way Snape treats me and he doesn’t think he’s a good teacher. My mum was really good in Potions. Sirius found me some of my mum’s old textbooks and she had all sorts of notes written in them. I read over some of them and even just the small changes I’ve tried have made a huge difference.”

Jumping up, he said, “I’ll be right back.”

A few minutes later, he returned from the boys’ dorms with a book in his hand. “This was my mum’s second year Potions’ book.”

Opening the book, he showed her the notes and helpful hints that had been written in it. “I think she went back later and wrote more notes in it. Sirius said she was thinking about writing her own Potions book, an introductory Potions book for Muggle-borns that explains how different ingredients interact and that sort of thing. She was really smart.”

Taking the book, Ginny flipped through to the Potion they were currently working on it class. Sure enough, there were notes written in the margin. “Are you sure you don’t mind me using it?”

“Of course not,” he laughed. “You are a Weasley and a Gryffindor; you can use all the help you can get in Snape’s class.”

“That’s true.” Glancing over at him she asked, “What are you doing next weekend?”

He shrugged. It was a Hogsmeade weekend, but he didn’t much fancy going down to the village. Ron mentioned that he’d talked Hermione into visiting the village and Harry knew she wouldn’t be happy with him around. She was still upset with him.

His eyes lit up. “Would you like to spend the day with me? I know we can’t go to the village, but we can have fun together.”

“That sounds great!” Ginny smiled.

“We could go flying.”

“I bet we could convince the house-elves to prepare us a picnic lunch,” she suggested shyly.

Harry watched the other third years head out to Hogsmeade, but unlike the first visit he didn’t feel left out at all. Ron couldn’t understand why Harry chose to stay behind, but Harry convinced him to go with Hermione and have fun.

Rummaging through his clothes, Harry found a long sleeved light grey shirt, a dark blue jumper, and jeans. He thought about wearing a nicer outfit, but figured for a picnic jeans and a t-shirt would be appropriate. He took the time to try and smooth down his hair, it didn’t work really well, but he thought he didn’t look bad.

Glancing at his watch, he realize it was time to meet Ginny. He hurried down to the common room and she was waiting by the fireplace. He smiled when he saw her. She was wearing a purple jumper with a black skirt and black tights.

“You look really nice,” he said with a smile.

“Thank you,” she said as her cheeks flushed. “Alicia helped me pick out an outfit for today. I talked to Tia. She knows where the hidden pond is and she will bring a picnic lunch to us in a few hours.”

“Great! I was thinking we could go fly,” he said as he glanced out the window. “Unless you think it’s too cold.”

“No, that would be great,” Ginny said.

“Brilliant! I’ll go get my broom.”

The two set out with Harry’s Firebolt slung over his shoulder. They chatted about classes. Ginny told Harry about her classes. “I wrote to Charlie and he thought I would do well in Care of Magical Creatures, but I also like the idea of Muggle Studies.”

“I looked through one of Hermione’s Muggle Studies books the other day. She’d left it on the table and I flipped through it. It doesn’t seem very up to date. The pictures of the cars and the fashions made me think it was written in the 1950s. It didn’t mention computers at all. I looked at the maps and they seemed wrong as well. It still had the Soviet Union.”

She frowned slightly. “But I didn’t understand any of those things you just mentioned. I mean I know about cars, but I’d like to understand things better. I’ve heard Sarah and Anwen talk about the cinema and shows they watch on the telly and I get lost. Sarah talked about having me over to their house this summer. I was both excited and scared. I’ve never been in a Muggle house before.”

“I can understand that,” Harry said. “The first time I was in your house…it was brilliant, but a bit overwhelming. There are still a lot of things I don’t understand. You probably already know more about magical creatures than I do. If you want you can look through my book and see what you think.”

Brightening, she nodded. “That sounds good. I bet I could always ask Hagrid if I don’t understand something. The one thing I want to do is learn about unicorns.”

“We haven’t done that yet,” Harry said. “I don’t think Hagrid finds them interesting enough.”

Laughing, the pair walked down to the Quidditch pitch. With it being a Hogsmeade weekend, none of the teams had practice, but Harry had spoken to Madam Hooch to make sure he and Ginny could use the pitch.

Together the two flew for a while on his Firebolt. Harry had to admit he like having her pressed up against him, but it was also a bit embarrassing especially after the talk he’d had with Sirius over Christmas. He generously allowed her to fly it by herself while he watched from the ground. As he watched her, he hoped she would be able to make the team. It would be amazing to be on the Quidditch team together. Unfortunately, the only opening next year would be Keeper and she wanted to be a Chaser.

By early afternoon, they were cold and hungry. As they walked from the pitch to the secluded grove, Harry kept glancing over at her. She looked so pretty with her pink cheeks and bright smile. The impulse to reach out and grab her hand was strong, but he hesitated. What if she didn’t want him to?

Pushing aside the bushes, Harry let Ginny walk ahead of him into the grove. As promised, Tia had left a large picnic basket. Reaching into the basket Harry pulled out a warm blanket and spread it on the ground.

“Oh, this is nice,” Ginny said with a smile as she sat down on the warm blanket. Tia had thoughtfully included a second warm blanket which Ginny used to wrap around her shoulders.

Digging into the basket, Harry unearthed a large vacuum flask of warm butterbeer with warm mugs. There was a plate of sandwiches and crisps. As a treat, at the bottom of the basket was a large plate of chocolate dipped fruit — strawberries, apple slices, bananas, and, Harry’s favourite, pineapple.

To Harry’s mind it was a perfect day. He thought about his conversation with Sirius and he knew he had to speak up.

“Ginny, I just wanted to say that you’ve been a brilliant friend this year. You’ve believed me and supported me and it’s meant so much to me. I…I really like you, Ginny. I was wondering if you would be my girlfriend?”

He waited anxiously. Ginny was looking at him with wide eyes. When she didn’t answer right away, he wondered if he shouldn’t have said anything. Just when he was about to say something, she smiled and threw her arms around his neck. “Yes, I would love to be your girlfriend.”

Happily, Harry leaned down and gently pressed his lips against hers. It was a sweet and gentle kiss and to Harry’s way of thinking it was perfect. The rest of the afternoon flew by in a happy daze.

The new couple shared a meal and talked about whatever came into their minds. Harry enjoyed the sweet kisses they shared. On the walk back to the castle, Harry boldly reached out and took her hand. All in all it was a perfect day.

As spring wore on, Ron was spending more time with Harry and Ginny and repairing his friendships with them. Harry was happy to have his friend back, he wasn’t sure if Ron would ever go back to being his best mate, but they had a lot of fun together.

Ron was amazingly tolerant of Harry’s new relationship with Ginny. While they hadn’t done anything more than hold hands and share some kisses, to Harry it was an amazing difference. He would walk her to classes and on some days he was able to wait outside her classroom to walk back to the common room with her.

The Quidditch team was happy to allow Ginny to watch their practices. Oliver made her an assistant of sorts. She helped schedule practices and came to every practice, just like a regular member of the team. Ginny was good at catching errors and figuring out ways to correct them. Sometimes after the regularly scheduled practices, the Chasers would invite Ginny to practice with them.

Hermione was busier than ever and Harry never saw her without a book in her hand. She had commandeered one of the tables in the corner of the common room and every night she was buried behind a stack of books. Harry had tried talking to her, but she just snapped at him if he tried. She rarely sat with anyone in classes anymore and both Harry and Ron were worried about her.

The week before Easter break, Harry returned from Arithmancy and found all of the third year Gryffindors talking about Hermione storming out of Divination. It was the talk of the common room.

“What happened?” Harry asked.

“You should have seen it, mate,” Ron laughed. “Trelawney was fluttering about, twittering about what we should be seeing in the crystal balls. Lavender and Parvati were eating it up, but the rest of us…I mean, I didn’t see anything in it. Trelawney claimed to see the grim again and mentioned you. That seemed to set Hermione off. She actually talked back to a teacher!”


“I know. Trelawney was really mad and said something about how Hermione wasn’t well suited for Divination and something about her being ‘mundane’. Hermione just yelled at her that she quit. She gathered up her things and stomped out of class.”

“Wow, I never would have thought Hermione would do that.”

“I know.”

“Wait. When was your class?”

“Just now,” Ron replied.

“But…she was just with me in Arithmancy. She disappeared like she’s been doing right after class, but she was in class the whole time,” Harry said as the pair made their way over to their favourite place in front of the fireplace.

Ron looked at him in confusion. “When is your Arithmancy class?”

“Tuesdays and Thursdays at nine in the morning.”

“That’s when we have Divination.”

“How can she be in two places at once?”

“I have no idea,” Ron said. “We need to talk to her.”

“I’ve tried,” Harry protested. “She always just snaps at me. Since Professor McGonagall talked to her, Hermione has been furious with me. I don’t know why. I wasn’t trying to make trouble for her or anything.”

“I’m worried about her,” Ron said looking around. For once Hermione wasn’t in the common room. “I bet she’s in the library.”

“I’m sure she is,” Harry agreed. “Do you want to go talk to her?”

Before they could decide on a course of action, Hermione slammed into the common room, obviously upset. She glared at the boys relaxing by the fire and hurried up to her dorm room.

“Maybe over the Easter break we can talk to her,” Ron said slouching back down in his chair.

“I’m not going to be here, mate,” Harry said. “Sirius asked me to come home for the break.”

“Lucky,” Ron said. “I wish I could have a break. Wouldn’t it be nice if Hermione and I could come with you?”

“And Ginny,” Harry added a bit crossly.

Ron waved his hand. “She’s fine. She’s making other friends now.”

Harry shook his head as Ron pulled out his homework. While Ron was better about including Ginny, it was clear he’d prefer not to have her around if he could avoid it.

Due to the lower number of students leaving for the break, Harry left from Professor McGonagall’s office Floo and arrived at the Leaky Cauldron in London. Stumbling, he arrived in the almost empty pub. Sirius was waiting for him with a big smile on his face.


“Sirius!” Harry was pulled into a strong embrace.

“I’m so glad to see you, kiddo!”

Blushing slightly, Harry smiled. “Me, too.” Looking around the pub, he asked, “Are we staying here in London?”

“No, we’re staying in Brighton. I thought we could take the Knight Bus there. We’re staying in a Muggle hotel.”

“Okay,” Harry said. “I’ve never been on a proper British seaside holiday.”

“My mum took me and my brother there when we were kids. We had the best time. My mum hated it, but we loved it. I think you will as well.”

Grabbing his bag from the table where he’d dropped it, Sirius guided Harry out to the street. With a wave of his wand, he hailed the Knight Bus. It only took them only thirty minutes to arrive at the hotel in Brighton.

Sirius had chosen a boutique style hotel that had themed rooms. The room he’d chosen had an art deco theme with a view of the water. The hotel was a lot of fun and Sirius snuck Hadrian in with them — hidden from the Muggles of course. They had fun walking Hadrian along the beach. Using a wand made cleaning up after the puppy much easier than it was for the Muggles.

On their first full day in Brighton, Sirius snapped Hadrian’s collar and leash on the puppy along with a charm so the Muggles wouldn’t notice him. Together they all headed down to the Brighton Pier. Sirius paid for two wristbands so they could ride the rides.
Harry’s eyes lit up when he saw everything the pier had to offer. “This looks brilliant!”

“I thought you would like it,” Sirius laughed. “Those rides look like a lot of fun.”

Laughing, Harry pulled Sirius towards the queue for one of the roller coasters. The two watched the coaster as they waited. It was great fun watching the puppy react to everything going on around him and no one noticing him.

“How do they do that without magic?” Sirius whispered.

“I have no idea,” Harry replied as another car went careening down the hill. People were screaming and holding their hands in the air. “I can’t wait.”

The thrill rides turned out to be their favourite rides. They rode them over and over while Hadrian waited below barking and wagging his tail. Sirius secured him with his leash and an extra sticking charm. He continued the charms so the dog wasn’t noticed by the Muggles.

After spending several hours riding the rides, they walked around to see what else they could find. They decided to walk down to the beach which Hadrian much appreciated.

“Are you hungry, kiddo?” Sirius asked as he waited for Hadrian to relieve himself. Harry looked around while Sirius discretely Vanished Hadrian’s mess.

“How about some fish and chips? We are at the beach so it seems like the thing to eat. It smells really good.”

“Excellent,” Sirius replied. Soon they were eating while leaning against the railings looking out over the water. Hadrian was eating the sausage that Sirius had purchased for him. Harry was updating Sirius on everything that had happened since Christmas.
“How could Hermione be in two classes at one time?”

Sirius frowned. “There are some duplicating charms, but they wouldn’t work for the entire year. The only way that makes sense is a Time-Turner. That’s an hour reversal device that can send you back up to five or six hours in time — I don’t know what advances may have been made in the past decade. I can’t imagine why they would allow a teenager to have one. Messing with time is never a good thing.”

“So she could go back and redo an hour and go to two or even three classes that are at the same time?”

Sirius nodded. “If she was really taking all of the classes, she would have needed something like that. I don’t know why they would let her do that. I guess that’s why she didn’t like you taking Arithmancy because she didn’t want you to figure out what was going on.”

Harry’s eyes widened. “That’s why Professor McGonagall made her drop Muggle Studies.”

“She shouldn’t need to take that,” Sirius laughed. “I’m certain it is several decades behind the time. That’s what Lily told me. One of her roommates took the class and Lily thought it was ridiculous. I can’t imagine it’s improved much over the years.”

“Ron’s going to try to talk to her over the break,” Harry said.

“She’s still not talking to you?”

Harry shook his head. “I’ve tried to apologize, but she won’t listen. I never meant to make trouble for her.”

Sirius frowned. “You didn’t do anything wrong. She shouldn’t have been trying to make you drop Arithmancy. I imagine she’s simply overwhelmed. Even with a Time-Turner, I can’t imagine she has enough time for everything.”

Glancing over at the younger wizard, he asked, “How are things with Ginny?”

Harry smiled. “Good. We had a great time flying together. She’s really good. She wants to be a professional Quidditch player when she grows up — I think she could be. When she was working with the elves, she got to know them really well and they prepared a picnic lunch for us. We went back to the place you showed us. It was great.”

“So did you ask her to be your girlfriend?”

Blushing, Harry couldn’t help but smile. “I did. She said yes.”

Sirius cheered for him. Harry had been writing to him about Ginny all term and he’d encouraged Harry to ask her out. Harry had enough things in his life that weren’t normal, so Sirius really wanted him to have a fun, normal Hogwarts experience.

Gesturing towards the games, Sirius asked, “Do you want to try to win her something?”

Fifteen minutes later, Harry found himself the proud owner of a stuffed dolphin. Not wanting Ron to feel left out, he won a funny looking stuffed green alien for him and after thinking it over he won a small teddy bear for Hermione. He didn’t think she would be impressed, but hopefully she would appreciate the thought.

They wandered through the arcade, but he wasn't that interested in the arcade games. That was probably a good thing because when he and Sirius walked through, some of the machines started malfunctioning. "Dudley always used to talk about these games," Harry said dismissively explaining his disinterest. "Anything he liked can't be that much fun."

After buying a bag of hot doughnuts, Harry said, “I want to ride the carousel. I know if won’t be exciting, but I always wanted to ride one.”

Mounting their horses, Sirius said, “You’ve actually ridden a carousel before.”


“Before your parents went into hiding, we took you to the zoo in London one time. They had a carousel and we all rode it. I’m pretty sure Remus took pictures. Lily rode with you. It was a lot of fun.”

“I wonder if he still has the pictures,” Harry said as the music started.

“Probably,” Sirius replied. “Ask him when you are back at school.”

The rest of the week was as fun as the first day. They took a kayaking class and went kayaking in the sea. One day Sirius rented bicycles and they rode around the town. Harry had learned to ride a bicycle the previous summer and he was happy to have another chance to do it. Bikes were a great way to explore the town. Hadrian ran alongside them until he became tired, than Sirius conjured a basket for the puppy to ride in.

Harry even managed to fit in some studying. He felt fairly confident about his exams. Over the past few months, he’d become more proficient at Transfiguration. Even after he managed to perform the Patronus, he continued to meet with Professor McGonagall from time to time. After hearing that his father was gifted in Transfiguration, he’d asked for extra help. He particularly enjoyed Ancient Runes. Sirius made a game of it and gave Harry a new puzzle in runes to solve each morning and reviewed it with him at night.

Neither of them noticed they were being observed during their week. As they were staying in a Muggle establishment, they didn’t see any copies of the Daily Prophet with pictures from their holiday. At Albus Dumbledore’s request, his brother Abe spent the week in Brighton just in case he was needed.

Ron determinedly made his way to the table in the back of the library. As he’d expected, the table was overflowing with books. He really didn’t understand why Hermione studied so hard, she was very clever and knew most of the information even before class. Why did she study so much harder than the rest of them? Percy said that she might be studying because she didn’t have a lot of friends and Ron reckoned that he probably knew what he was talking about.

“Hi, Hermione.”

She looked up, startled to see someone. Ron was glad to notice that she didn’t look as haggard and tired as she had a few weeks ago.
“Hi, Ron.”

“Are you okay? Harry and I have been worried about you.”

She scoffed. “That’s why he’s here with you?”

“Give him a break Hermione. He’s not even here right now.”

“I noticed he’s goofing off with his godfather. They’ve had their picture in the paper enough this week. I can’t believe he left for the week, he should have stayed here to prepare for his exams.”

Ron shrugged. “He looks like he’s having fun. Besides, he’s doing really well in his classes.” He watched her for a minute. “Why are you so mad at him? I know he’s tried to apologize to you.”

“He almost got me kicked out of Arithmancy! Why did he have to go complaining? I’ve been working really hard all year and he almost ruined it for me.”

“He didn’t do it on purpose. Professor McGonagall asked him how Arithmancy was going and he answered. He didn’t realize she was going to say something to you.”

Hermione glared at him for a minute before she sighed. “I just hate that we’ve been at odds most of the year. He doesn’t seem like he wants to be friends with us anymore.”

“Of course he does,” Ron protested. “If he didn’t why would he keep apologizing?”

When she didn’t say anything, Ron added, “He misses you. He told me that the other day.”

“I miss both of you,” she admitted. To Ron’s horror, he could see tears in her eyes. She quickly wiped them away. “I’m sorry I’ve been so horrible. I…I’ve been so stressed with all of my classes and I don’t think I’ve handled it the way I should have.”

“How have you been getting to all of your classes?” Ron burst out. “Harry and I figured out that you’ve been in Arithmancy and Divination at the same time.”

Shaking her head, she said, “I’m sorry. I’m not supposed to tell anyone.”

Disappointed, but entirely surprised Ron said, “Do you want to go get some lunch?”

With a watery laugh, Hermione agreed.

“What do you think?” Sirius asked.

Harry looked around in amazement. “This is for us?”

Sirius nodded. “We are only about twenty miles from Godric’s Hollow and we aren’t that far from Devon either.”

“This place is huge!”

Sirius laughed. “It is an old wizarding estate. The estate agent told me it was originally built in the 1650s. Over the past several years the house has been extensively remodelled and the grounds have been rehabilitated. There are six bedrooms and eight bathrooms. We have our pick of rooms. Do you want to see?”

“Of course!”

The stately manor home had ivy growing up the walls with a multitude of windows and a bowed window overlooking the large ten acre park. Sirius led Harry into the large, refurbished reception hall with a grand staircase leading up to the first floor. They explored the ground floor. There was a large kitchen with breakfast room as well as a formal dining room, all of which overlooked the grounds. A drawing room with large French doors that opened out onto a patio was next to the library.

Upstairs, Sirius showed him the large master bedroom which had an ensuite as well as a large walk-in wardrobe. The room he’d chosen for Harry was almost as large and had its own bathroom.

“I thought you could use this room for a sitting room or someplace to entertain your friends. There are plenty of rooms if you want someone to come over and spend some time here.”

“This is brilliant,” Harry said is amazement. Looking out of his bedroom window, he caught sight of something down the hill. “What is that?”

Sirius laughed. “There is a pool as well as a Quidditch pitch. Actually there is a stable as well, but I don’t know how to ride a horse so it’s empty. All of the latest wizarding gadgets have been incorporated. We can receive the WWN in any room in the house. The cold cupboards are huge and there is an additional cold cupboard out in the pool house.”

“We can afford a house this big?”

“Yes, we can,” Sirius laughed. “This is about how big your grandparent’s house was. After they died, your father sold the old manor home. He and your mum had moved into their cottage and they loved it there.”

Hadrian was running around following them. He was barking happily as he explored the new house.

Harry smiled. This was a home — better than Hogwarts or the Burrow, this was a home that was purchased with him in mind. “We can make it safe?”

“I’ve already contacted the goblins,” he explained. “Gringotts provides amazing wards to those who can pay for them and we can pay for them. They are better than the wards my father had. For now we will have Muggle-Repelling Charms on them, but hopefully sometime in the future we will be able to get rid of them. I’ve started furnishing it and I’m hoping by the time we are able to use it this summer it will be all ready for us.”


“Are you sure you want to do this?” Sirius asked.

Harry nodded. Taking a deep breath, Sirius led the way into town. It was a warm spring day and there were children playing in a playpark. Spring daffodils and tulips could be seen in the flower gardens as they passed neat little cottages. Unlike Little Whinging where every house seemed to be the same, these cottages varied in look and colours.

“It’s really nice here,” Harry commented as they turned onto High Street. The pub on the corner seemed to be busy and several shops were open. Harry stopped in front of a shop that had a large Easter display with all sorts of chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, and all sorts of sweets.

Looking over at his godfather, Harry said, “I bet they had an Easter egg hunt here. It looks like the sort of town that would do that. Aunt Petunia never allowed coloured eggs in her house. She would go overboard and buy Dudley this huge basket with treats, but no coloured

“My mum wasn’t one for colouring eggs either. One year Lily organized an Easter egg hunt at Hogwarts. She talked the elves into providing the boiled eggs and colours. We had a great time.” Sirius shook his head. “I’d forgotten all about that.”

As they walked down the street, Harry could see the church at one end of the town square. He could tell it was an old church and he swallowed when he saw the graveyard stretched out behind it. Crossing the town square, Harry gasped when the war memorial changed to a statue of his parents holding him as a baby. His mother was sitting down holding him, while his father was standing over them.
Harry stared in fascination at this representation of him without his infamous scar. His mother was so pretty. A stifled sob next to him made him turn and look at his godfather. The pain on Sirius’ face was hard to see. Harry reached out and pulled the wizard into a hug. He could feel Sirius’ shoulders shake and Harry felt tears burning in his eyes.

He missed his parents in an abstract sort of way, but he’d never known them. Sirius had known and loved his parents. Harry realized how much Sirius missed them, but this really brought it home to him.

After a few minutes, Sirius pulled away. “I’m sorry, kiddo. I didn’t mean to fall apart. I always loved that picture and I didn’t realize they’d done this.”

“It’s a bit strange to see yourself in a statue,” Harry said as he gazed up.

“I can imagine. You look good, kiddo. You were always an adorable baby. I think you took after me. Your father had this crazy idea that you looked like him, but I think you’re more like me.”

Harry laughed. With a wink, Sirius slung his arm over Harry’s shoulder and led the way to the graveyard. Harry could tell right away it was an older graveyard. The pair made their way through the tombstones, stopping to read a few. Harry spotted an Abbott and wondered if they were related to his classmate, Hannah. Sirius pointed out the graves of Dumbledore’s mother and sister.

“I didn’t realize Dumbledore was from Godric’s Hollow.”

Sirius nodded. His eyes lit on a very old grave that was very worn away. “This is one of your ancestors — his name is Ignotus Peverell. I don’t remember much about him, but James always stopped by this grave.”

They continued on looking for his parents’ grave. It was Sirius who found them.

“They’re here.”

The tombstone was bright white with his parents’ names and dates. Sirius felt to his knees in front of James’ name. Harry couldn’t tear his gaze from his mother’s name. The unfairness of it all washed over him. This was the closest he could ever remember being to his parents. He didn’t even try to stop the tears he could feel falling down his face.

He could hear Sirius talking to his father. Could he talk to them too? Quietly at first, he started talking to his mother. Telling her how much he missed her. He told her all about getting to know Sirius and how wonderful this year had been. Falling silent, he sat cross legged next to the gravesite. With a shaking hand he reached out and traced his mother’s name.

“I think we should leave them some flowers, don’t you?”

Harry looked up startled; he hadn’t noticed Sirius standing up. Taking his hand, he stood. “Okay, what kind?”

“What are your favourite kind of flowers?”

Harry shrugged. “I like cheerful, colourful flowers like tulips.”

With a wave of his wand, Sirius conjured up a basket of brightly coloured tulips. Harry smiled. Waving his wand again, Sirius conjured up a bouquet of white lilies. “Your mum always liked lilies.”

Leaving the graveyard behind, Sirius steered him back towards the pub. “I hope you don’t mind, but I don’t think I’m up to seeing your former house today.”

“I don’t know if I am either,” Harry admitted. “Is much left?”

Sirius nodded. “Most of the house is fine. Your nursery was in the back of the house and that blew up — I think the roof was blown off on that corner. This summer we can come back and see what is left of your parents’ house. We also need to visit your family vault. Most of their belongings would have been sent to their vault after their deaths.”

“I’d like that.”

Remus Lupin sighed as he looked at the pictures of Harry and Sirius on the front page of the paper. This year really wasn’t going at all how he’d planned. When Albus first approached him, he imagined slowly getting to know James’ and Lily’s son over the course of the year. He would reveal that he knew them and Harry would be thrilled to hear stories about his parents. Sirius’ escape changed all of that.

He still wasn’t sure how he felt about everything that happened. He’d spent over a decade furious with Sirius and mourning Peter along with James and Lily. Looking back, it didn’t make sense that Sirius would betray his best friend. Sirius would have died before betraying James and Remus should have known that.

While he’d never been able to come up with a reason for Sirius to betray James, he could definitely understand why Peter would. James and Sirius had bonded instantly on the train. They were closer than brothers. Slowly, they included the other two boys, but Remus knew that James didn’t view Remus or Peter as he did Sirius, the same with Sirius. James and Sirius were brothers in all but blood, the others were simply good friends.

James and Sirius were first born sons of wealthy pure-blood families. They didn’t want for anything. Remus’ family had endured being shunned after he’d been bitten, so money was always an issue. Peter was a half-blood whose pure-blood mother lived in a tiny house eking out a small existence after her Muggle husband left her. The two of them had bonded in a much different way than James and Sirius.

Peter had often seen himself as a lesser wizard than the others. Remus studied hard and managed to scrape together good grades, but Peter’s grades were mediocre at best. James and Sirius didn’t seem to try very hard and they were at the top of the class. They often didn’t realize what a struggle it was for Peter to keep up with them. It came so easily to them; they didn’t understand it wasn’t the same for everyone.

When Remus found out they were Animagi, he was most impressed with Peter. James was a natural at Transfiguration and Sirius wasn’t far behind. Peter had to put in a lot of hard work to keep up with the others, especially in their OWL year.

Remus knew how Peter felt slighted by Sirius at times. Sirius wasn’t always the most patient with Peter. If they hadn’t been roommates, Remus doubted they would have ever been friends. He’d tried to point out to Sirius that he needed to be kinder to Peter, but Sirius hadn’t paid him any attention. If he had, would things have turned out differently?

While he couldn’t see why Sirius would turn to Voldemort, he could understand Peter’s motivations or at least what he imagined his motivations to be. Peter was always looking for someone bigger and stronger to protect him. James and Sirius had shifted their focus to Lily and eventually Harry. Peter needed someone who would help him. So while Remus was angry that Peter would betray James and Lily, he also understood in a way. Could they have helped Peter?

Picking up the paper, he studied the picture of Sirius and Harry on the beach. They were laughing about something and at the end of the pictures Sirius wrapped his arm around Harry’s shoulders as they walked off. Remus felt that spark of jealousy he’d always worked to supress around Sirius. Things just came so easily to the man.

When Dumbledore approached him to teach this year, Remus had thought he might strike up a friendship with young Harry. Over the years he’d wondered how the boy was doing, but he’d felt satisfied that Harry was where he needed to be. It surprised him that Sirius assumed he’d try to obtain custody of Harry after James and Lily died. While Remus loved Harry, he wasn’t ready or willing to assume a parenting role. He much preferred the role of teacher or mentor. He’d hoped to spend time with Harry and develop a mentoring relationship with him. He’d share stories about Harry’s parents and Harry would be happy to know him.

Sirius wrecked those plans. When Harry had come to him at the beginning of the school year, Remus hadn’t been ready yet. It took a while to overcome a lifetime of pushing people away. He wanted to talk to the boy, but as soon as Harry mentioned his summer with Black he let his temper take over. He wished he’d taken the time to listen to the Harry. He’d missed out on that opportunity to know Harry better.

In the months since, Harry was cordial, but he didn’t seek to know Remus on a deeper level. He knew Harry had spent Christmas with Sirius and now Easter break as well. Obviously, Harry didn’t need Remus. Sirius had easily stepped into the parenting role. It made Remus feel a bit guilty. Should he have tried harder? Remus had taken Dumbledore at his word that Harry was better off at his relatives’ house. He hadn’t checked up on the boy because honestly, he was a child. There would be time to become better acquainted when the boy was older. Remus didn’t know how to interact with a toddler or school age child so he’d put the boy out of his mind. Sirius never had any doubts that he had a place in Harry’s life. He didn’t care that the boy had relatives to look after him.

It shamed him a bit to see Sirius’ actions. That is what James would have done for any of their children. Remus wondered again if he should try to form a relationship with Harry. Would Harry even care? Would he want a broken down werewolf when he had Sirius?

Wanting to escape his thoughts, he decided to head down to Hogsmeade for the day. He ran into Minerva in the Entrance Hall.

“Good morning, Remus.”

“Good morning, Minerva. I’m going into town for a few hours. Do you need anything?”

She smiled. “No thank you. Have a good time.”

Nodding, Remus headed to the gate and was soon on his way to the village. He’d always loved Hogsmeade. It reminded him of his youth. Hogwarts really was the best time of his life and he missed it desperately.

Arriving in the village, he wandered around recalling the escapades of the past. He wandered down High Street looking in windows. Stopping at Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop, he picked up a new black quill and some ink. He walked through Zonko’s Joke Shop, admiring some of their newer items. Whilst he might not look the part, he definitely enjoyed the pranks they’d played at school. He spent quite a bit of time wandering around the new bookshop, The Book Worm, and made several purchases. It was nice having disposable income for once.

He decided to wander over by the Shrieking Shack. It looked much different from the outside. The Wolfsbane Potion was amazing; he could now turn into a wolf and simply stay in his office no threat to anyone. He wished that option had been around when he was a boy. How would it have changed his relationship with his friends? Without the bonding experience of becoming Animagi and running with Moony, would their friendship have been the same?

Remus was so caught up in his thoughts of the past that he didn’t hear the almost silent footfalls behind him.


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Chapter 13: Chapter 13 Pettigrew's Revenge

Author's Notes: Thanks to Arnel! One more chapter :)

Sirius and Harry wandered around Hogsmeade, neither of them wanting the week to end. Sirius was telling Harry stories of his trips to town whilst he was in school.

“Madam Puddifoot’s is definitely a place you should skip,” Sirius laughed as he gestured down an alley towards what appeared to be a tea shop. “It always has these tacky decorations — flying cherubs at Valentines, leaping leprechauns for St Patrick’s Day, that sort of thing. I think one Halloween she had sparkling black cats made of glitter roaming the shop and everyone who went there ended up covered in black glitter. It’s mostly a couples place.”

Harry wrinkled his nose. “I’ve never heard of it before.”

“You dad thought it would be the perfect place to take your mum. It was close to Christmas during our last year. There were all of these reindeer flying around and snow would fall from the ceiling.”

“Why would you want snow inside a building?”

Sirius laughed. “That was your mum’s first question. It was a disaster. They left before they were even served. Prongs said it was a nightmare.”

“Okay, no dates at Madam Puddifoots’s,” Harry laughed.

After stopping at Honeydukes to stock up on some chocolate, they headed up towards the school. It was a nice afternoon, perfect walking weather.

“Is that Moony?” Sirius said when they caught sight of a figure up ahead. Harry looked up the road.

“I think so. I wonder what he’s doing.”

Sirius shrugged. “Moony!”

Remus turned and waited for the two to catch up to him. “Sirius, Harry! It’s great to see you.”

“I was hoping I would run into you,” Sirius said enthusiastically. “I was going to see if you wanted to go to dinner tonight.”

“That would be great,” Remus said. He looked between the pair. “It looks like the two of you had a great time. I thought you weren’t supposed to be back until tomorrow.”

Sirius laughed as Harry blushed. Gesturing towards his godson, Sirius said, “Lover boy here wanted to get back and spend the day with his girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend?” Remus asked curiously.

“Ginny Weasley,” Harry said as his face started returning to a normal colour.

“I’m sure she will be happy to see you,” Remus said.

The three started walking back up to the castle. “What were you doing in town?” Sirius asked.

Remus shrugged. “I hadn’t been to the village in a while. I just felt like visiting.”

“I warned Harry off of Madam Puddifoot’s,” Sirius laughed.

The two older wizards laughed at the memories. “There are several new shops,” Remus said.

Harry walked ahead of the other two giving them the chance to talk. He turned a curve in the road and was yanked off the path and into the woods. “Incarcerous! Silencio!”

Thick, black ropes wrapped around him. Harry tried to scream, but was unable to due to the Silencing Spell. He glared at the short, plump man standing over him. It was Peter Pettigrew. He tried squirming against the ropes, but they were too tight. Pettigrew grabbed Harry’s wand and threw it further into the woods.

He heard his godfather approach. “Harry?”

When he didn’t answer, he heard Sirius ask, “Do you see Harry?”

Harry watched as Pettigrew snuck around so he would be behind Sirius. Pettigrew yelled, “Crucio!”

To Harry’s horror, he heard his godfather yelling in pain. What kind of curse was that? Surely Remus would help, right? The spell was finally released and Harry could hear Sirius panting. He must be in incredible pain. Sirius weakly called out, “Remus?”

Pettigrew laughed. “Your werewolf can’t help you now.”

“Reducto! Reducto!”

Harry tried to yell even as Sirius screamed in pain. Tears of frustration welled up in Harry’s eyes. He knew what that spell could do. Pettigrew could kill Sirius!

The rat was laughing now. What the hell was Remus doing? Why wasn’t he helping?


Sirius’ screams seemed to go on forever. Harry tried as hard as he could to escape, but Pettigrew had bound him tightly. The charm must have been lifted because the screams faded away. Next Harry heard Pettigrew yelled out, “Stupefy!”

“Take Black and dump him in the Shrieking Shack. That should be poetic justice,” Pettigrew laughed. “Don’t forget to snap his wand.”

There was no response, but Harry could hear spells being cast. Remus was helping him! How could that be? Why?

Pettigrew reappeared and grabbed Harry’s arm. A nauseating trip later, they arrived in a small cottage. The traitorous rat glared at him with hatred in his eyes.

A quick cutting curse caused the ropes to fall away. Harry now found he could move, but he was numb from being bound so tightly. He sat up and tried rubbing some feeling into his legs. Looking around the cottage, he could see it was neatly kept, but not as oppressively clean as his aunt and uncle’s house. There was a bad, metallic like smell that he couldn’t identify, but he didn’t like it. To his surprise, he could see a television set in the other room. Was this a Muggle house?

Continuing to look around, his eyes widened in horror when he saw a thick trail of blood leading into another room. Craning his neck, he paled when he saw a pair of legs lying motionless on the floor. The metallic smell suddenly made sense, he could smell the blood. Gagging, he retched and vomited on the floor. Laughing, Pettigrew cleaned it up.

Pettigrew followed his gaze and laughed even harder. “Don’t worry, that is just the Muggle scum my worthless mother allowed to live here. She never did have proper respect for her pure-blood background.”

Swallowing his bile, Harry sat glaring at the man who’d betrayed his parents and Sirius. He didn’t think his father had ever really known Pettigrew. He asked, “How did you get out of prison?”

“I still have friends,” Pettigrew boasted. “They bribed a guard to ‘forget’ to put me in a cell with Anti-Animagus charms. The Dark Lord still has many followers, but they hide in plain sight awaiting the return of our Master.”

Harry struggled to stand up as his captor paced in front of him. Pettigrew didn’t stop him, but he was keeping a close eye on him.
“How did you defeat the Dark Lord?”

“Perhaps he wasn’t as powerful as you thought,” Harry said.

“He was. He was the most powerful wizard in the world. I’ve heard bits of conversations,” Pettigrew mused. “Is it true Lily’s sacrifice enabled you to survive?”

Using the back of a couch, Harry managed to pull himself to his feet. Immediately he wished he hadn’t done so. The couch had been blocking a huge puddle of blood with drag marks leading to the body he could see. “That’s what Professor Dumbledore told me.”

“So it wasn’t really you after all. I should have killed you when I had the chance all those years ago. Then you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to stop the Dark Lord over the past two years. Stupid boy!”

Losing his temper Pettigrew yelled, “Crucio!”

Excruciating pain like thousands of burning knives stabbing him at the same time filled him. It was the worst pain Harry had ever experienced in his life. Pettigrew lifted the curse before casting it again. The third time he reapplied the curse, Harry passed out.

Sirius came to in extreme pain. His legs were broken, his head was pounding from waking on his own from the Stunner, and his whole body ached from the Cruciatus Curse. His first thought was for Harry — where was he? Was he okay? How the hell had Pettigrew escaped and why the hell had Remus helped him?

Looking around, he realized he was in the Shrieking Shack. Someone had just dumped him on the cellar floor near the tunnel that led to the Whomping Willow. Taking inventory of his body, Sirius realized that he wouldn’t be able to stand or use his legs in any real way. Rolling over onto his stomach, Sirius painfully used his arms to pull himself forward. The nature of the tunnel actually helped him as he used the roots and rocks in the walls of the tunnel to pull himself forward. He could feel his shirt becoming shredded and torn to pieces as he continued. Once his shirt was torn, his chest became bloodied and torn, but he kept going.

It took an excruciatingly long time to pull himself out of the tunnel. He’d had to stop several times to rest. He thought he may have blacked out once or twice from the pain, but he really wasn’t sure. As he reached the end of the tunnel, he peered out cautiously. It must have taken him much longer than he thought because it was already dark outside. Rolling over on his back, Sirius scanned the tree trunk for the knot he needed. Hefting a rock he’d grabbed for this purpose, Sirius threw it at the knot to stop the tree.

He missed. Cursing, he felt around for another rock. It took him four times to hit the knot. With the tree frozen, Sirius pulled himself forward as quickly as possible. He did not want to be caught by the branches.

Behind him, he heard the dreaded rustling sound of the tree awakening. He froze and pushed himself further down into the ground. If he wasn’t touching the tree, he should be able to continue to crawl away. It wouldn’t attack unless its trunk or branches were touched.
His fingers were bleeding and he thought several of his nails had been pulled out. He could feel scrapes and cuts running down his whole body. He cursed his body for being so weak. Harry was with Pettigrew and no one knew. Merlin knows what his plans were. He had to help Harry.

When he felt he was far enough away from the tree, he lay still for a minute. Drawing up all of his magic, he transformed into Padfoot. The pain took his breath away. After a moment, he howled. He kept up the howling and barking until he heard someone nearing him. He prayed it wasn’t Remus.

To his relief, it was Minerva. “Sirius?!”

Pulling her wand, she cast a Patronus and sent several messages as Padfoot painfully transformed back into Sirius. “Peter Pettigrew has Harry.”

Without any question, she sent another Patronus. “I’ve sent for Albus, Poppy, and Amelia.”

“Remus helped Peter.”

Minerva’s eyes widened, but she simply nodded. Hagrid approached from the direction of his hut. “Professor? I heard a dog. It sounded like it were hurt.”

Quickly Minerva explained what happened. Looking at Sirius, she asked, “Where did this happen?”

“On the road leading up from Hogsmeade. You know where it curves? Pettigrew was waiting in the trees on the right hand side. I was talking to Remus and Harry was walking ahead of us.”

At Minerva’s direction, Hagrid hurried out to the spot Sirius indicated to see what he could discover. The school matron arrived. In short order, she had him on a stretcher which she floated up to the hospital wing. As she began scanning him with her wand, the door burst open and Albus, Madam Bones, and Kingsley Shacklebolt rushed in.

“Thank Merlin! Harry is missing.” Sirius told them.

“What happened?” Auror Shacklebolt asked urgently.

Sirius recounted the events leading up Harry’s capture. Auror Shacklebolt took notes while Dumbledore sent for Remus.

When Remus arrived in the hospital wing, he was surprised at the sight that met him. Sirius was lying in bed in obvious pain and glaring at him. “What happened?”

“Mr Lupin,” Amelia began, “Can you tell me the last time you saw Mr Black?”

Frowning, Remus tried to recall. “I remember seeing him earlier, but…I can’t recall what happened.”

“How did you get back to the castle?”

“I…I don’t know.”

Auror Shacklebolt spoke up. “Werewolves are especially susceptible to the Imperius.”

“What?” Remus paled. “What happened?”

“I ran into you and our old friend Peter,” Sirius bit off angrily. “Peter took Harry and you dumped me in the Shrieking Shack after letting good old Peter torture me.”

“Peter? I don’t remember running into Peter.”

Amelia asked, “What did you do in town?”

“I walked up and down High Street looking in the shops. I stopped in Honeydukes, Zonko’s, Scrivenshaft’s, and the Book Worm. I decided to walk up to the Shrieking Shack.” Remus looked up. “I don’t remember what happened next. The next thing I knew I was in the castle.”

Looking at the faces around him, he sank bonelessly into a chair. “Merlin, what have I done?”

“The Imperious is hard to fight,” Dumbledore said soothingly. "Because you are used to the wolf taking over your mind every month, it is much harder for you to fight someone else taking over your mind."

“How the hell did Peter get out?” Sirius demanded. He’d deal with his emotions about Remus later.

“It appears he was placed in a cell that didn’t have Anti-Animagus charms,” Madam Bones said as she looked up from the parchment in front of her. It was an Auror’s automatically updating parchment so she could learn what was going on from her colleagues back in London or anywhere in the country.

“That couldn’t have been an accident,” Minerva said.

“No, but we don’t know who helped him. We have eyes on the alleged former Death Eaters that we know about, but unfortunately there are so many we don’t know about. Malfoy is dining with the Minister tonight — I doubt that is a coincidence,” Madam Bones explained.

Another Auror raced into the room. “Kingsley, Pettigrew’s mother is dead. She was killed earlier today. Her body was found at her home. It looks like Pettigrew was there.”

“Damn, he must have killed her once he escaped,” Shacklebolt swore. “She was a nice woman. I interviewed her after we arrested him.”

“Was there any indication where he might go?” Madame Bones asked the second Auror who was identified as Auror Williamson.

“There was nothing at the scene,” Williamson replied.

“I believe she had a lake home,” Shacklebolt said. “She inherited it from her father and rented it out to earn money.”

“Shit! His lake house. Peter was always grousing that his mother was letting others live there. He asked James to help him buy it, but his mother refused to sell it,” Sirius explained.

“Do you remember where it might be?” Auror Shacklebolt pressed.

Frustrated, Sirius shook his head.

“Why would he kill his mother?” Sirius asked. “If he killed her…would he -”

“Harry would do him no good dead,” Dumbledore reassured him when he couldn’t finish his sentence. “I don’t know if his mother would have stopped him or he needed something from her.”

“Do you think he is under orders to capture Harry or is it just revenge?” Minerva asked.

Before anyone could answer, a buzzing noise sounded from Sirius’s jacket from where it was piled on the bedside table. Ignoring the pain in his legs, he leapt for the garment and began pawing through the pockets. He came up with a mirror.


“Padfoot.” Harry’s voice was very weak.

“Where are you, kiddo?”

With a faint cough, Harry said, “I’m not sure.”

Auror Shacklebolt spoke up. “Harry, it’s Kingsley Shacklebolt. We are searching for you. What kind of room or house are you in, can you tell?”

“Pettigrew said it was his mother’s house. I’m in a small bedroom, but he made all the doors and windows so I can’t open them. He killed someone here. There is a dead body downstairs and lots of blood." Harry shuddered at the thought. “It was horrid. Peter said he was a Muggle and something about his mother letting the man live here.”

“Where is Peter now?” Sirius asked urgently.

Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. He kept using some horrible curse on me until I passed out. When I woke up in this room, he was gone. I don’t hear him anywhere.”

“Can you see out the window?” Auror Shacklebolt asked.

They could hear movement and after a moment Harry said, “Yes. It’s on a lake. I don’t think the house is very big. I see a dock, but no boat.”

“Are there other houses around?”

“I can’t see any.”

Auror Shacklebolt withdrew slightly to consult with the other Aurors. Dumbledore was attempting to scry for Harry using the connection of the mirrors. Sirius ignored the others and turned his attention back to Harry.

“It’s just me now, kiddo.” Sirius could see bruises on Harry’s face as well as tear tracks. “What did he do?”

“He used a horrible curse. It hurt so badly.”

“The Cruciatus? Crucio?”

“Yes, that’s the one. He said I ruined his plans and he was really, really angry. He said he has friends who helped him escape. Are you okay? I thought…I thought he killed you.” Harry’s voice cracked.

“I’m fine,” Sirius reassured him. “I’m at Hogwarts and Madam Pomfrey had me fixed up in no time.”

Dumbledore called out. “I’ve got him!”

Turning back to the mirror, Sirius said, “Harry, we’ve figured out where you are. Auror Shacklebolt and some other Aurors will be coming to get you. I wish I could, but I can’t yet.”

“Are they going to bring me to you?”

Sirius met Shacklebolt’s eyes over the mirror and he nodded. “They are, kiddo. They will bring you to Hogwarts.”

“Why did Remus help him? I thought he would help you.”

Sirius watched as Harry leaned against the wall. He was concerned about Harry’s breathing. “He was put under the Imperius Curse. It is a curse that can make you do things you don’t want to do.”

“So he didn’t want to hurt you?”

“No, he didn’t want to hurt either of us.”

Harry turned and looked around the room. “I think they are here. What if it’s Pettigrew?”

“Is there something you can hide behind?”

Nodding, Harry scrambled behind a large couch. Sirius stayed quiet so as not to alarm Harry. He could tell Harry was scared and didn’t want to make things worse. He wanted to be there for his godson, it was so frustrating that he couldn’t go with them. A loud crash sounded and he watched Harry duck and curl into a small ball. To his relief after just a few minutes he heard the Auror’s deep voice.

Almost an hour later, Sirius was watching Harry sleeping. Poppy confirmed Harry had been exposed to the Cruciatus repeatedly. His throat was red and inflamed from the yelling and he had bruises about his face and neck from Pettigrew hitting him and rope burns from being restrained.


The older wizard woke instantly and looked around. He could see Harry’s big green eyes looking over at him. “I’m right here, kiddo. Are
you okay?”

Harry nodded. Sirius frowned, he didn’t seem okay. Sitting up, Sirius leaned over to look at him. Poppy had moved Harry’s bed closer to his and he could tell Harry was hurting. With a touch of his wand on the bedrails, he called Poppy. She arrived just a moment later and after looking at the two of them, brought each of them a pain potion.

“This should help,” Poppy said with a smile. Gently she helped Harry sit up enough to drink the potion. He winced as he moved. “It will take a while for the pain to leave. The Cruciatus is a nasty curse and unfortunately it affects younger people more.” After helping him to drink some water, she helped him lay back down. She gently brushed Harry’s hair back from his face.

Turning, she was Sirius’ anxious face. “He will be okay.”

“It really affects younger people more?”

“I hate that we even know that, but yes, the effects last longer with those under twenty. Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon, he will be fine. If he wakes up again, just let me know. How are your legs?”

He shook his head. “The Skele-Gro is working. I can feel the tingling and stabbing up and down my legs.”

“Take your potion.”

Obediently he drank it down. Poppy pulled his blanket up over him as his eyes fluttered shut. She stood there a few more minutes and watched them fall asleep. Casting a few charms, she checked their vital signs and checked for signs of infection before casting the spell to empty their bladders. Setting a few monitoring charms, she went back to bed.

Harry woke up slowly a few hours later. There was something warm and soft in front of him, he reached out and realized it was a dog. Opening his eyes, he saw his godfather sleeping in dog form in front of him. While a smile, he wrapped his arms around the dog and buried his fingers in Padfoot’s fur before closing his eyes. He wasn’t exactly tired, but he wasn’t entirely sure he was ready to wake up either.

“Here Harry.”

Opening his eyes again, he saw Poppy holding a potion vial in front of him. “This is a muscle relaxer. It helps combat the effects of the curse you were under.”

Harry drank the potion and lay back down. Padfoot snuggled against him. “How is he?”

“Sirius?” Poppy asked. When Harry nodded she said, “He’s doing much better. Both of his legs were broken and…well, he crawled out of the Shrieking Shack with two broken legs to get help.”

Gasping Harry looked down at his godfather. Even in dog form he could see the scrapes and raw-looking skin on his chest and stomach.
“Don’t worry. He’s doing well. Everything is healing well and he has no signs of infection. You can leave tomorrow, but he will have to stay
a few more days just to be safe. Are you hungry?”

“A little.”

“How about some tea and toast?”

Considering it for a minute Harry agreed. “What time is it?”

“Almost seven,” she replied as an elf carrying a tray of tea and toast appeared. Poppy helped Harry sit up on the edge of the bed so as
not to dislodge the sleeping dog. She smiled, “He was so worried about you. After you woke up last night he didn’t want you sleeping alone so he joined you.”

He could feel his face burning, but he smiled. That sounded just like Sirius. Madam Pomfrey headed for her office and Harry fixed his tea and buttered some toast. He munched on the toast and his thoughts wondered over the previous day. He’d never really thought of
Pettigrew as scary before, but when he’d been cursing him…Harry was willing to admit he had been scared.

The door of the hospital wing was pushed open and Harry felt a momentary thrill of fear until he saw a familiar red head. He smiled as Ginny rushed over and hugged him. Harry relaxed in her arms and she leaned back and kissed him briefly.

“Harry! Are you okay?”

“I’m better,” Harry hedged as she sat down in the chair next to his bed. She poured herself a cup of tea and the two munched on toast
and whispered softly about their week. Harry was happy she didn’t push for details about what happened.

“We got you some gifts,” he said with a smile. “I’m sure Sirius will find them later.”

When a frown crossed his face, she asked, “What is it?”

“My wand,” he said. “P-Pettigrew took it and threw it into the woods.”

“I bet Hagrid can find it,” she said confidently.

“I hope so. I don’t feel right without my wand.” Glancing over at his godfather, he added, “I don’t think Padfoot has one either. Either Pettigrew or Remus snapped it.”

She looked up startled. “Remus? You mean Professor Lupin helped him? Why would he do that?”

Looking unhappy, he nodded. “Sirius said Professor Lupin helped him because of some kind of curse — the Imperius Curse. It makes you do things you don’t want to do.”

“I’ve heard of that,” Ginny said. “The Death Eaters used it a lot in the first war.” She frowned. “My dad says that it is a horrible curse. It’s really hard to fight it and it can make people do horrible things. Some of the Death Eaters claimed they were under the Imperius, but my dad doesn’t think so.”

“Do you think Remus was lying?” Harry whispered.

“I don’t think so,” Ginny said after a minute. “He’s never done anything to hurt you before and he seemed really happy that Sirius was actually innocent. He wouldn’t be happy if he agreed with Pettigrew, right?”

Relaxing a bit, Harry agreed. “I hate to think he’s out there somewhere.”

Her eyes widened. “He escaped?”

“He wasn’t in the cabin when they found me,” Harry explained.

“There are Aurors guarding the doors,” Ginny said. “Professor McGonagall came and told me what happened last night. She said that there were lots of protective charms on the hospital. The only Animagi allowed in the wing are her and Padfoot. If Pettigrew tries to sneak in, he’ll be trapped.”

“That makes me feel a lot better.” He tried to stifle a yawn, but Ginny saw it.

“Lay down, you should get some more sleep. I’ll come back later.”

Nodding, he lay back down and wrapped an arm around the sleeping dog. Ginny pulled the sheets up over them and dropped a kiss on his forehead. Harry smiled and closed his eyes. Ginny settle back into the chair to watch over him for a while.

When Professor McGonagall had come to tell her what had happened the previous day, it had been horrifying. She’d seen Sirius and his injuries sounded awful. She’d heard the Aurors talking about how Sirius had dragged himself out of a tunnel with two broken legs over roots, branches, and rocks. He’d also been put under the Cruciatus Curse. He obviously loved Harry very much.

Her thoughts turned to Peter Pettigrew. It was hard to believe that someone who had spent a decade hiding in her family’s house could be so evil. Tears welled up in her eyes as she thought of everything Harry had been through. It just wasn’t fair.

Hermione made her way down to breakfast. She was feeling much more like herself now that she’d dropped two of her classes. It had really touched her that Ron was so concerned about her. During her darkest period a few months ago she’d been certain the only reason he and Harry were friends with her was because she would help them in school. She wished she could have told him about her Time-Turner, but she knew she couldn’t. When she’d been given the Time-Turner, she’d signed a contract. If someone discovered it she could explain, but she couldn’t just explain it herself.

Her thoughts turned to her other friend. She hated being at odds with Harry. Now that she was getting more sleep and wasn’t feeling quite so stressed, she could admit that she probably hadn’t been entirely fair to him. She just hated the feeling that so much had changed between them.

Evaluating her behaviour, she could admit that she probably shouldn’t have pushed Cho on him. At first she’d thought Harry really was interested in her, but she would admit she kept it up to push Ginny away.

That was another thing she felt badly about. Maybe she hadn’t really given Ginny a chance. She and Harry seemed to be great friends and were always together. Hermione could admit she felt a bit jealous. She’d been there for Harry for two years and he was happy to drop her to be with Ginny. ‘He wanted to be friends with all of you,’ an annoying little voice reminded her.

The entrance of the mail owls distracted her from her rather unwelcome thoughts. An owl landed in front of her and she removed her Daily Prophet. As she unrolled the paper, she gasped.

The headline read, ‘Pettigrew Escapes! Potter Kidnapped!’

With a shaking hand, she unfurled the paper. She quickly scanned the story and sighed in relief when she saw that he and Sirius were safely in the hospital wing. Slowly, she went back and re-read the story, taking in the details this time. By the time she finished, Ron had joined her.

“Did you see this?” she asked anxiously.

Sleepily he took the paper. The headline woke him up quickly. “What?!”

Hermione quickly summarized the article for him. “We should go see him.”

“Let me eat first, Hermione,” Ron protested.

Reluctantly, Hermione agreed. While Ron ate, she read and re-read the article until she could practically recite it by heart. Her thoughts from earlier came back to her. Had she been too harsh with him? Would he see her now? Was it too late for their friendship?

Finally Ron was finished with his breakfast. The two hurried up to the hospital wing only to find they were denied entry by a pair of Aurors.

“But we’re friends of his,” Hermione argued. “Please can’t we see him?”

“I’m sorry,” one of the men said. “No visitors.”

As they were leaving, they ran into Professor McGonagall approaching from the other direction.

“Professor, how is Harry?” Hermione burst out.

“He is recovering, Miss Granger.”

“We tried to visit, but they wouldn’t let us in.”

Professor McGonagall gave her a studied look. “Mr Potter is recovering from his experience yesterday. Obviously, it was very traumatic and the Aurors are concerned for his safety.”

“Pettigrew wasn’t captured?” Ron spoke up for the first time.

“Unfortunately not,” the older witch said with a sigh. “He wasn’t there when the Aurors found Harry. They are still searching for him.”

“He can’t break into the hospital wing can he? Like as a rat?”

“Good question, Mr Weasley. No, we’ve placed charms so that any Animagi other than me or Mr Black will be captured.”

“Can you tell Harry we wanted to visit? We’ll see him later.”

Favouring him with a rare smile Professor McGonagall said, “I will relay the message.”

“Sirius, I am so sorry,” Remus said. He could hardly stand to look in Sirius’ eyes, but he forced himself to do so. “I don’t really remember anything after walking up to the Shack.”

Sirius warred with telling him where he could shove his apology and accepting it. He sighed. “I know it’s hard to resist the Imperius.”

Flushing Remus dropped his gaze. “They tell me that as a werewolf, I am so used to my mind being taken over by the wolf I have very little protection against the Imperius. I never would have thought…”

“I know, Moony,” Sirius said. “Even when he was standing there, it was hard to believe. I saw that damned tattoo on his arm. I just can’t figure out why.”

Looking up, Sirius said, “Sit down, Moony. It’s hard looking up at you.”

Dropping into the chair next to him he said, “I think he wanted someone to protect him.”

“What are you talking about? He had us.”

“You know Peter, he was never very confident. You and James, your focus had shifted to Lily and Harry.”

Sirius stiffened. “So you’re saying this is our fault?”

“No, no! It is his fault. He didn’t feel confident enough in himself and his friends,” Remus explained. “You know Peter. He always felt like he wasn’t good enough.”

“He was our friend, we would have helped him,” Sirius said.

“I know, Padfoot. I think he looked at what he would have done. Obviously, he wouldn’t have put his life on the line for us so he couldn’t imagine we would do the same for him.” Looking over Remus continued, “I hate this distance that has grown between us. I’m sorry I didn’t react to the news of your innocence well. I…It was so much information all at once. I couldn’t process it immediately. You know me; it takes me a while to wrap my head around things. I’m very sorry.”

“I understand, Moony,” Sirius said with an easy smile. “The thing you have to remember now is that it is not just me anymore. Harry
takes priority. He…he was in the worst type of home. Harry has been hurt and confused by your distance.”

“I know and I am sorry. You rescued him. I get that,” Remus said earnestly. “He loves you very much, I can tell from hearing him talk about you. I realize he comes first. I just want the chance to get to know him better and make it up to you.”

“Remus…I want to apologize for what I did in school. Whilst I was in Azkaban, I relived all of my worst experiences. A lot were from that night - finding James and Lily, giving Harry to Hagrid, watching those Muggles die — but I also had to relive giving Snape that note and almost letting him reach you. You have every reason to distrust me, so I don’t blame you. I was so upset at Snape. He was following us around and telling me how my brother was going to be a Death Eater. I was so angry at him, but I swear Moony, I never thought he would actually go down the tunnel. I am so thankful that James reached him before you did.”

Remus’ eyes shot up surprised that Sirius was bringing up what up until Halloween 1981 had been the darkest period in Marauder history. He’d been crushed that Sirius would treat his life so lightly. James had been furious beyond words and Sirius was effectively banished from their group for a period of time. Sirius tried to apologize numerous times and eventually James relented, followed by the others.

“I…Thank you. That was one of the scariest mornings of my life, waking to find I’d almost killed or turned another student. I couldn’t figure out why you’d done it. They would have put me down like a wild animal.”

Sirius frowned as he stared over at the window. “I was young and stupid. I was angry at Snape — he was so good at riling everyone up and pretending to be the victim. He wouldn’t hesitate to indulge in a spot of Muggle torture and then tell Lily how much he hated that his housemates were torturing Muggles. He always acted as though the Marauders were always picking on him — which in fairness we did from time to time, but it was usually in retaliation for something he’d done. There is no good excuse, but I was fed up with him. I really, really didn’t think he would go all the way down the tunnel.”

“I believe you,” Remus said. He honestly did. Sirius might be thoughtless at times and he could be arrogant, but he wouldn’t purposefully hurt one of his friends. “How about we start over?”

With a smile Sirius held out his hand. “Hi, I’m Sirius Black.”

Laughing Remus shook his hand. “Remus Lupin. Tell me about your holiday. It looks like the two of you had fun.”

Before he could say anything, the sound of barking sounded through the room. Looking up the two wizards saw Harry and Ginny bringing Hadrian into the room. Hedwig flew in behind them. The puppy made a bee line for Sirius’ bed and jumped onto it while the owl settled on the headboard of Harry’s bed.

“Who is this?” Remus asked.

“What are you doing here?” Harry asked angrily.

“Harry, it’s okay. We’ve talked,” Sirius tried to calm his irate godson.

Harry turned his angry gaze at his professor. “Why did you hurt Sirius?”

“I wasn’t strong enough,” Remus answered sadly. “I am very sorry.”

Harry looked between his godfather and professor. While he knew Sirius was hoping to rekindle his friendship with Remus, Harry wasn’t quite so sure.

“You didn’t believe me in the autumn that he was innocent and now you’ve let Pettigrew hurt him. How am I supposed to believe you?”

“I am very sorry I didn’t give you the chance to explain,” Remus said earnestly. “I honestly thought Sirius had fooled you over the summer. I should have known better. Sirius has always loved you and he would never do anything to hurt you. Sirius and I have agreed to start over. I’d like that opportunity with you as well.”

Remus could see the emotions warring in the young wizard’s face. He couldn’t entirely blame him.

“I guess,” Harry said. Ignoring his professor, he turned to Sirius. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m much better. How did you get Hadrian?”

“Professor McGonagall went to get him. I guess she discovered you had a room at the Leaky Cauldron and she knew he would be with us. She’s not too happy with you. I guess she had to clean up a mess,” Harry said laughing.

Sirius laughed as he rubbed the dog behind his ears. “Oops.”

“Oops, indeed.”

The group turned to see Professor McGonagall behind the young couple. Sirius stared at her until the corners of her mouth turned up. She finally laughed. “Hadrian is sweet for a dog. I guess I can’t blame you for not being there for him.” At Sirius’ look she laughed again.

“What did you think I was going to do? It’s not like I can assign you detention anymore.”

Sirius looked around as the rest of them burst out laughing. He finally joined them. “I guess that’s true, but when you look at me like that I start having flashbacks. I’m quite certain there are some things for which I never received detentions.”

“Of that I have no doubt.”

The door opened again and Hagrid entered the room. “Sirius! Harry!”

Grinning, Harry hugged his largest friend. “Hi, Hagrid.”

Gently returning the hug, Hagrid asked, “How are yeh doin’? I was so worried when Professor McGonagall tol’ me what happened.”

“I’m good now,” Harry said.

Apparently deciding he’d had enough with being ignored, Hadrian started barking. “Hello. Who’s this?”

Harry lifted the puppy off the bed and took him over to Hagrid. “This is our dog, Hadrian.”

“He’s a beaut! Cute little guy.” Hagrid said with a smile as he petted him. Hagrid was able to easily hold him in one arm. Hadrian barked
happily, wagging his tail while he licked Hagrid’s hands. He apparently recognized an animal lover when he saw one.

“Hagrid, do you think Hadrian can stay with you for a while?” Sirius asked. “I’m afraid it will be a few days before I’m up and about.”

“Of course,” Hagrid was with a smile. “I think me an’ Hadrian will be great friends.”

Sirius was looking over at his godson. “I think you better lie down.”

Wrinkling his nose, Harry did as he was told. Truth be told he was a bit tired from just walking down the corridor. Madam Pomfrey had allowed him to go for a short walk in the corridors and Ginny had joined him. When he lay down, Ginny sat down in the bed next to him.

“I fergot,” Hagrid said. Reaching into his massive coat, he dug around in one of the pockets before coming up with a wand. “I found this out in the woods.”

“My wand!” Harry exclaimed excitedly. He gave it a wave and was happy to see gold and red sparks fly out. “Thank you, Hagrid! I hate not having one.”

“I’ll take this little guy out ter me hut. Fang will be thrilled ter have a playmate.” Hadrian happily went with Hagrid.

“I shall be going as well,” Professor McGonagall said.

Remus and Sirius continued to talk and Harry fell asleep listening to the sound of their voices.

“I am so sorry,” Hermione said as she wound down her apology to Harry.

Harry looked between his first friends. “So everyone is okay with being friends with both me and Ginny?”

Both Ron and Hermione nodded.

“You realize that Ginny and I are dating, right?”

Hermione’s eyes widened. Somehow she had missed that development. Glancing over at Ron she was surprised to see he wasn’t upset about it. “I didn’t know that, but I think that’s great.”

"She's going to be spending time with us and I don't want to hear anymore complaining about it," Harry warned.

Hermione nervously agreed.

“Are you using a Time-Turner to go to all of your classes?” Harry asked.

Her eyes bugged out and Ron looked astonished. “How did you know?”

“I asked Sirius how you could go to three classes at the same time and that was what he came up with.”

She sighed, reached into her robes and pulled out what looked like a necklace with three interlocking rings and in the centre was an hourglass. Giving Ron an apologetic look she explained, “I’m only allowed to confirm if someone has already figured it out. That’s why I couldn’t tell you.”

“But you’ve dropped several classes, right? You don’t need all that craziness.”

“I have. I’m really sorry I gave you a hard time about Arithmancy. I didn’t want my secret to get out because they might have made me drop a class or two.”

Harry frowned. “So while you were yelling at me for keeping secrets, you were doing the same thing.”

She faltered. “I…I guess so. I didn’t really think of it like that. I couldn’t tell you because I would have had to give the Time-Turner back.”

Harry stared at her for a minute. He wanted to rage at her. They’d both yelled at him for keeping secrets when he was trying to save someone’s life, not take classes. Taking a deep breath, he said, “I think we should try harder to stay friends.”

She nodded. “Absolutely.”

He leaned back against the sofa in the common room. He’d been discharged from the hospital wing earlier that day, but he was tired now.

“How long will Sirius be in hospital?” Ron asked.

“A couple more days,” Harry said. “He was hurt pretty badly. Madam Pomfrey wants to make sure none of his wounds become infected.”

“Ginny told me about his wounds,” Ron commented. “They sounded bad.”

“They were. Both of his legs were broken, he had lots of scrapes and wounds on his stomach and chest, and he’d been put under the

Hermione’s eyes widened. “That’s one of the Unforgivable Curses. I’ve read about those. Using one of those earns you a life sentence in Azkaban!”

“It should,” Harry shuddered. “It is awful. He kept putting it on me over and over again until I passed out.”

Tears welled in her eyes. “Oh, Harry!”

“I don’t even want to think about what might have happened if I hadn’t had my mirror on me.”

“What kind of mirror is that?” she asked.

“I don’t know if there is a name for them. They are two way mirrors. My dad and Sirius used them to communicate. He gave it to me during the Christmas holidays. I’ve used it to talk to him sometimes. I’m really glad that I had my mirror on me. Pettigrew didn’t search me other than throwing my wand away.”

“You don’t have your wand?” Ron asked horrified.

“Hagrid found it for me,” Harry said happily. “Luckily, he didn’t break mine. He snapped Sirius’ and he’s going to have to get a new one.”

“What happened?” Hermione burst out.

“I thought you read the newspaper article,” Harry said. “I read it. It explained everything that happened. Pettigrew caught me on the way back from Hogsmeade and kidnapped me.”

“But how did he catch you?”

“I really don’t want to talk about it right now,” Harry said.

“Are you going to be able to play in the Hufflepuff match?” Ron asked changing the subject.

While Hermione glared at him, Harry smiled gratefully. “I can’t wait. Oliver has been going nuts. The Hufflepuff Seeker, Cedric Diggory, is in his sixth year. He’s really good, but I think I can beat him. Ravenclaw absolutely flattened Hufflepuff, but Slytherin had some problems with them. As we beat Slytherin, I think we can beat Hufflepuff. I hope we can — Oliver deserves to win the Quidditch Cup!”

The three spent some time reconnecting. Hermione was a bit more cautious than normal and Harry was a bit more polite than normal, but at least they were all talking.

Back to index

Chapter 14: Chapter 14 End of the Year

Author's Notes: Thanks again to Arnel for all of her hard work! Thanks for the reviews - I really appreciated it.

** the prophecy is slightly modified from the prophecy found in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban p 296 - 297 the electronic version.

Ginny waved to Sirius as she made her way into the stands for the last Quidditch match of the season. If Gryffindor won, they would win the cup; otherwise, it went to Ravenclaw. As Gryffindor had won their other two matches, she didn’t think they would have a problem with Hufflepuff. Ron saw her climbing up the steps and waved her over. She happily joined him. Over the past month their relationship had improved dramatically.

Her roommates, Sarah and Anwen, followed. The three of them were all decked out in Gryffindor colours. Sarah had painted their faces with red and gold and they all had red and gold ribbons in their hair. Of course, all of Gryffindor were wearing their red house shirts with the stylized lion on the front.

“I can’t wait to try out for the team,” Ginny said as the surveyed the pitch. “I won’t be able to until my fifth year, but the Chasers said they wanted to me train with them as a relief Chaser.”

“That’s a great idea,” Ron said. “Charlie said they used to have relief players, but Oliver doesn’t like them for some reason.”

Ginny eyed her older brother for a minute. “Would you be interested in trying out for the team?”

His red ears immediately gave him away. “Maybe.”

Glancing at his sister, he said, “What do you think of that idea?”

“I think it would be great,” Ginny said supportively. “What position?”

“I’d love to try out for Keeper. That’s what I’ve always played at home.” He sighed. “I don’t know how Fred and George would react. You know them.”

“They love Quidditch,” Ginny reminded him. “I don’t think they’d give you too hard of a time.”

“Maybe,” he mumbled. He brightened as Hermione climbed the steps. She was in a much better mood these days and was making an effort to get to know Ginny.

“Hello,” Hermione said to the siblings. Looking at Ginny she said, “Wow, you are certainly showing house spirit.”

Ginny laughed. “It seemed like a good idea.”

Madam Hooch walked out onto the pitch, stopping most of the chatter in the stands. Captain Cedric Diggory led his team out in Hufflepuff’s yellow Quidditch robes and shook hands with Oliver. When Madam Hooch gave the word, Harry launched his Firebolt into the air. Unlike Malfoy and Cho, Cedric didn’t follow Harry around the pitch, but circled around looking for the Snitch on his own.
The weather was beautiful, the opposite of the first Quidditch match of the year. Glancing over, Harry could see Sirius in the stands. He waved before returning his attention to the match.

Gryffindor was doing well. The Chasers soon had the score up by fifty points. Harry listened with half an ear to Lee Jordan’s commentating while he searched for the Snitch. He rolled, avoiding a Bludger, and circled the pitch once again. It was then he saw it fluttering above the Hufflepuff hoops.

He rocketed toward the Snitch with Cedric Diggory in hot pursuit. The Snitch seemed to realize it was being hunted and dropped sharply. Harry dove and thanks to the superior handling of his Firebolt was able to leave Cedric behind. He grabbed the Snitch and heard Lee erupt in cheers. They’d won the cup!!

As Harry landed with the Snitch in hand the rest of the team landed next to him. Harry found himself engulfed in hugs from all of the team. Oliver was nearly in tears he was so happy. “We’ve won the cup!”

Tears of joy fell as the team flew over to the stands where Professor Dumbledore was waiting with the Quidditch cup. Professor McGonagall was in tears herself when Oliver handed her the cup.

The team was borne off on the shoulders of their housemates. They headed up to the castle for a huge party.

Harry entered the common room still wearing his Quidditch robes. He spotted Ginny and she ran over and kissed him. “Congratulations!”

Hermione and Ron joined them with huge smiles on their face. The twins had arranged for food and drink to be brought up to the common room. The partying lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Harry was so happy. They’d won the Quidditch Cup and he could celebrate with his friends. It was an amazing night.

“You were excellent in that match,” Sirius said with a proud smile as he and Hadrian walked with Harry to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.

Harry blushed slightly, but he was becoming used to receiving complements from Sirius. “Thank you. The Firebolt is amazing!”

“You’re very welcome. I will admit the Firebolt is an amazing broom, but it takes an excellent flyer to make the broom look good.”
Slinging his arm over Harry’s shoulder, he hugged him. “I’m going to miss you, kiddo. It’s been nice staying at Hogwarts.”

Harry just looked at him.

Sirius shrugged. “Okay, it’s been nice staying at Hogwarts once I got over my horrid injuries. How’s that?”

Laughing Harry agreed. “I’m just glad you didn’t have any lasting effects.”

Knocking on the open classroom door, Sirius steered Harry into the room. Moony looked up with a welcoming smile. Over the past few weeks he’d slowly started opening up around Harry and renewing his friendship with Sirius.

“I think it’s working,” Remus said.

“What’s this?” Harry asked.

“You’ve heard me talk about the Marauder’s Map, right?”

Harry nodded. He’d heard all about the map that the Marauders had created whilst they were at school. They’d lost it during their last year when the caretaker caught Wormtail using it.

“This is the new and improved Marauder’s Map,” Sirius said proudly.

Remus gestured towards the map on his desk. “This map isn’t activated by a password because it will be in Dumbledore’s office.”

Harry stared in fascination at the map. There were dots with labels all over the map. Looking in the classroom they were standing, the labels read ‘Harry Potter, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin.’ Harry’s name was highlighted in crimson while Remus’ name was in black and Sirius’ name was orange.

“What do the colours mean?” Harry asked.

“Students will show up in their house colours - crimson for Gryffindor, yellow for Hufflepuff, blue for Ravenclaw and green for Slytherin. Staff members show up in black. Invited guests show up in orange. Uninvited guests will show up in bright purple,” Remus explained.

“How do you know?” Harry asked.

“We had a friend come onto the grounds without Dumbledore’s permission. They lit up bright purple and notified both Dumbledore and McGonagall. Actually, it is keyed to the Headmaster and deputy headmistress,” Sirius said.

Harry nodded.

Remus touched his wand to the map. “Find Harry Potter.”

A light surrounded Harry’s name, his colour changed to bright white and started blinking.

“Find Peter Pettigrew.”

Along the margin of the map, a message showed up. “No Peter Pettigrew found.”

“So we would know if Pettigrew shows up?”


“Do you think he will?”

“I’m honestly not sure,” Sirius said. “I don’t know what he wants with you. If he wanted to harm you…well, he could have killed both of us on the road. I don’t know why he didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he didn’t, but I know my Death Eater cousin, Bellatrix, wouldn’t have hesitated. She would have killed both of us and then killed Moony for helping. Even though most of my family became or supported Death Eaters, I still don’t understand how they think.”

Looking uncomfortable, Remus said, “I’ve spoken with Dumbledore about this several times. I know he’s told you that he doesn’t think
Voldemort is gone for good. He’s wondering if Peter is looking for a way to find Voldemort.”

“What does that have to do with me?” Harry asked.

“We’re not entirely sure,” Remus admitted. “It could be a simple matter of revenge or giving you to Voldemort. As far as Dumbledore can discover, rumours have him in Albania. We don’t know if Peter has gone looking for him or not.

“They arrested Mary Li. She is the Ministry worker who arranged for Peter to be in that cell. She received a large deposit in her vault the day before he escaped. We suspect Malfoy is behind the payment, but we don’t have any proof.”

“What about this summer?” Harry asked anxiously.

Sirius smiled. “I asked the goblins to make sure to add unknown Animagi warnings in the wards. They will be done with the house soon. I still want to spend some time at the beach house and that has plenty of protections. Professor Dumbledore is working on a reusable Portkey that you can wear so you can always get to safety.”

“Wear? Like clothes?”

“No, I was thinking more like a ring or other type of jewellery. I know your father’s family ring should be in his vault. That would make a good Portkey and no one would think twice if you wore your family ring.”

Harry nodded. Sirius had explained that many heirs wore their family rings. Once Harry started looking around, he noticed several people wearing either family rings or their family insignia. Neville had his family’s insignia on his cloak. Ernie McMillan and Terry Boot wore their family rings as did Susan Bones. Terry had talked to Harry quite a bit about family and their obligations. His father had been teaching him since he was little. Neville had been taught by his grandmother, but he was very shy about volunteering any information.
Remus and Harry walked Sirius down to the Entrance Hall. Harry was sad to see Sirius go after so many weeks of being able to see him on a daily basis.

“I will keep in touch,” Sirius said as he hugged Harry. “I expect to see Hedwig at least once a week.”

Harry laughed as he hugged him back. “I promise.”

“It’s almost curfew,” Michael Corner said regretfully.

Harry glanced at his watch and was surprised to see the other boy was right. The two of them along with Terry Boot were in the library working on an Ancient Runes project. They were translating a phrase and identifying which culture to which the runes belonged. Harry found it was fun working with students from other houses. Hermione was taking Ancient Runes, but she didn’t like to work in the study groups that Harry had become a part of whilst they weren’t talking.

Packing up their bags, Terry asked, “Would you like to join us for Gobstones tomorrow?”

“Sure,” Harry replied. They made arrangements to meet the next day. Harry found Gobstones to be much preferable to losing to Ron in
wizard’s chess all of the time.

He returned to the common room to find Ginny waiting for him. He sat down next to her and kissed her on the cheek.

She smiled. “How was your study group?”

Taking her hand, he smiled. “It was fun. I really like Ancient Runes.”

“It does look interesting. Those puzzles Sirius made for you over the Easter holidays were fun. Sarah and Anwen are taking Ancient Runes and Arithmancy as well. Freya and Rowena are taking Divination so I’m glad I’m not taking that.”

“I’m so glad I stayed away from that this year,” Harry said. “It sounds like the Divination professor has been predicting my death all year. I can only imagine what she’d be like if I was actually in class.”

She laughed. “Maybe if you’d taken the class she would have picked on someone else. Professor McGonagall told me she predicts someone’s death every year and no one has died yet.”

“With my luck she’d still pick on me.”

“Have you heard from Padfoot?” she asked changing the subject.


The young couple turned to see Fred and George behind them staring at them in amazement. Harry nodded uncertainly.

Fred leaned over the couch. “Padfoot as in Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs?”

Harry looked at him in confusion before nodding. “Padfoot is my godfather, Sirius Black.”

The twins rounded the couch and stood before them. George reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded old parchment.
Harry’s eyes lit up when he realized what that must be. “Is that the Marauder’s Map?”

Nodding George handed it to Harry who touched his wand to the parchment and said, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

He watched eagerly as lines appeared on the map. Large green letters declared: Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers are proud to present The Marauder’s Map.

Ginny gasped as she looked it over. “Where did you two get this?”

Fred grinned. “Filch’s office. We found it in a drawer labelled Confiscated and Highly Dangerous.”

“Do you know who the other Marauders are?” George asked eagerly. “We’ve been trying to find out who they are for the past five years.”

“Moony is your Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” Harry laughed.

The identical shocked faces in front of them caused Harry and Ginny to start laughing.

“Professor Lupin?”

Harry nodded. “Prongs was my father.”

“What about Wormtail?” Fred asked eagerly.

“Peter Pettigrew,” Harry spat out angrily.

The twins looked horrified. One of the brilliant Marauders was a traitor?

“He doesn’t count,” Harry said.

Exchanging a look with his twin, Fred said, “This belongs to you more than it belongs to us. We’ve already memorized it.”

“Are you sure?” Harry was thrilled to have this piece of his father’s legacy. He looked over the map with a smile.

“This really is brilliant,” Ginny said with a smile.

“What is this?” came a voice from behind them. “Is that a map of the school? Where did you get that?”

Harry turned to see Hermione glaring at the twins. Fred held up his hands. “We didn’t create it. We just liberated it from Filch’s office.”

“You need to turn that in,” Hermione said.

“No, I don’t,” Harry said, irritated that she would jump to that conclusion. “Professor Dumbledore has one of his own. He doesn’t need mine.”

“Professor Dumbledore has one?” George asked.

“Padfoot and Moony made a new one,” Harry explained. “To make sure Wormtail doesn’t slip into the school.”

“But this is too dangerous to leave lying around,” Hermione argued. “If you lost it, it would let people know where you are.”

Ron had joined them and was avidly gazing at the map. Fred quickly explained what the map was and who the Marauders were.

“My father and godfather created this map,” Harry said firmly. “I’m keeping it.”

While he could see Hermione didn’t agree, he was happy that she stopped arguing. She was now looking at the map. “This is some amazing magic. They did this whilst they were in school?”

Harry nodded.

“Your dad must have been brilliant,” Ron said as he looked at the map.

“He was,” Harry confirmed. “It took them several years to find all of the charms needed to create it.” He grinned. “They used it so they could prank people without getting caught.”

Hermione rolled his eyes, but the Weasleys all thought it was a perfectly rational explanation. After deactivating the map and carefully refolding it, Harry told his friends some of his godfather’s stories about pranks the Marauders had pulled in school.

The weather was amazing and Harry was enjoying a free afternoon with Ginny. They’d had another picnic in their favourite spot and they were sitting talking.

“Do you know what next Sunday is?”

Harry’s mind started racing — next Sunday? He knew her birthday wasn’t until August and they had started dating in the beginning of February so it wasn’t any kind of anniversary. He frowned. What was special about May the twenty-ninth? All of a sudden it dawned on him.

“The Chamber.”

She nodded. “I was wondering…”

When she fell silent, Harry prodded. “What is it?”

Blinking back tears, Ginny asked, “Will you tell me what happened? Right now I only remember a little of what happened. I wanted to ask you before, but…I didn’t want to bring it up.”

Reaching out Harry took Ginny’s hand. “What do you remember?”

“Bits and pieces, really. I remember I didn’t want to write in the diary, but it was like I couldn’t help myself. I kept losing time. I’d all of a sudden ‘wake up’ and not know how I got where I was or what I’d been doing.

“That day…I found myself in the Chamber of Secrets. I recognized it in a strange sort of way. I remember looking around and seeing him — Tom. At first I was happy to see him. I really thought he was my friend, but he was awful. He said how much of a bore I was.”
Tears were falling now as she recounted how he made fun of her and told her how he’d used her. Harry listened helplessly.
“He told me that he was going to kill you and it would be my fault.”

Harry pulled her into his arms. “It wasn’t your fault! Tom was really good at saying bad things. Remember what Hagrid said? He fooled a lot of people.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have anything to be sorry about,” he reassured her. “I’m sorry we weren’t there for you. Tom seemed nice. When I wrote in the diary he acted like he was nice and trying to be helpful, but all he was doing was blaming Hagrid. I thought he just made a mistake, I didn’t know he was lying on purpose.”

He handed her a handkerchief and watched her anxiously. He really wished he could make her feel better. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

“Even knowing it was my fault?” she asked in a small voice.

“It wasn’t your fault!” Harry said, “but even knowing you’d opened the Chamber of Secrets and released the basilisk I would have still
gone down there. When I heard you were down there…it was awful. I remember thinking it was the worst day of my life. Ron and the rest of your brothers were devastated. Finally, Ron suggested we go talk to Lockhart and tell him what we knew — that it was a basilisk that had been sneaking around the pipes and that the last time the Chamber had been opened Myrtle had died.

“Lockhart was packing to do a runner. We made him come with us and we questioned Myrtle and discovered where the entry to the Chamber was located. Ron and I slid down the tunnel and forced Lockhart to come with us.”

“How did Lockhart lose his memory?”

“He attacked Ron and tried to Obliviate him, but remember how Ron’s wand was broken? It backfired and Obliviated Lockhart. Unfortunately, it also triggered the cave-in. I was trapped on one side and Ron on the other.”

Holding her hand tightly, Harry described his run-in with Tom Riddle and the basilisk. He talked about Fawkes’ role is saving his life and helping them escape from the Chamber of Secrets. Tears welled up in Ginny’s eyes and Harry wrapped his arms around her, letting her cry. He stroked his hand down her back and dropped gentle kisses on the top of her head.

When she pulled away, he handed her a second handkerchief. “I would go down there again to rescue you.”

“Would you take me down there?”

His eyes widened. He could see the determination in her eyes as well as a touch of fear that he might refuse.

Nodding, he agreed. “If you think it would help.”

“I think we should take someone with use. What do you think of asking Professor McGonagall to go down with us?”

Biting his lip, Harry squashed his initial impulse to say they could do it themselves. Sirius had been encouraging him to ask for help.

Looking into Ginny’s eyes, he found he couldn’t refuse her. “Okay, we will ask her.”

The twenty-ninth of May fell on a Sunday. After picking at their food, Harry and Ginny went up to Gryffindor Tower so Harry could retrieve his Firebolt. They met Professor McGonagall outside Myrtle’s bathroom. She carried her broom and a school broom for Ginny to use.

The messages Ginny had been forced to write on the wall had been painted over several times, but in the right light some of the words still showed through. She shuddered slightly. “I don’t remember writing the first message. I remember waking covered in red paint and feathers. I’d just killed Hagrid’s roosters. It seemed like a dream to me, I couldn’t imagine how it could be real. Why would I kill roosters? The second message I remember. I was trying to fight him, but I’d put so much of myself into that damn diary that I so weak.”

Reaching over, Harry squeezed her hand and smiled at her supportively.

“Ginny, are you certain this is what you wish to do?”

Ginny startled slightly at Professor McGonagall’s use of her first name, but she nodded firmly. “I have nightmares and it doesn’t make sense. I’d like to see it.”

“Very well,” she replied.

Harry led the way into the bathroom and over the disused sink. He found the etched snake and stared at it for a minute before hissing, “Open.”

The sink moved away to reveal the large pipe. Looking at the other two, he explained, “It’s a really long pipe. Unfortunately, it is really dirty and slimy.”

Professor McGonagall peered into the darkness before raising her wand and casting several spells.

“What did you do?” Harry asked curiously.

“Those are some advanced cleaning spells,” she explained. “I don’t know if it will work the whole way down, but it might.”

Nodding Harry jumping into the darkness. This time he found the steep, twisty slide much more enjoyable. He knew where he was going and he knew there wasn’t going to be a basilisk at the end. He could hear Ginny squealing right behind him. There was a slightly thump as they hit the sides of the pipe.

As he came to the end of the pipe, he slid out and slipped in the muck. He’d just stood up when Ginny exited followed by Professor McGonagall. Harry admired how Professor McGonagall managed not to fall.

Looking at the two students, she took out her wand and said, “Scourgify!”

“Thank you, Professor,” Ginny said as she looked down at her now clean jeans.

“Yes, thanks,” Harry added.

She nodded and cast a spell that lit the torches that lined the corridor. Together the three of them set off down the tunnel. Ginny made a face as she crunched a small skull under her foot.

Turning the corner, Professor McGonagall gasped at the cave in. The cracks in the roof of the tunnel seemed worse to Harry than they had the previous year.

“Step back,” Professor McGonagall said.

Harry and Ginny took a few steps back. The professor took a deep breath and began casting spells. The students watched in fascination as a support structure reinforced the ceiling before the cracks repaired themselves and the rocks were moved aside. The bright green snake skin was torn in pieces and scattered around the corridor.

Ginny looked a little pale, so Harry reached out and took her hand. She smiled at the contact. The group continued on down the twisting tunnel until they came to the solid appearing wall with the entwined snakes.

“This is the entrance,” Harry said a touch nervously.

After taking a deep breath, Ginny nodded. “Okay, open it.”

“Open,” Harry hissed.

The wall slid open and Professor McGonagall gestured for them to stay back. She cast the spell to light the torches. “There is nothing else alive down here.”

Harry led them into the Chamber. “I was so scared when I walked in here. I didn’t know any cool spells to light the torches — actually, I never even realized there were torches up on the walls. There was an odd greenish gloom and I couldn’t see too far in front of me.”

“I took a guess,” Professor McGonagall admitted. “Many of the oldest parts of the castle still have torches on the walls. I hoped it would be the same down here.”

As they made their way through the forest of stone pillars, Ginny said, “I have vague memories of being in here. I must have been here several times, but I really only remember the last time clearly. I think I’m kind of glad about that.”

Ginny and Professor McGonagall both gasped as they saw the large basilisk corpse lying against the far wall of the Chamber. The older witch raised a shaky hand to her mouth. “Merlin, Harry. That thing is huge.”

Harry nodded as he looked over the corpse. “If Fawkes hadn’t shown up with Gryffindor’s sword, I don’t know what I would have done. He blinded it, which helped. Of course he also cried into my wound and healed me.”

“I didn’t realize you were bitten by the basilisk,” Professor McGonagall said softly.

Rubbing the spot near his elbow, Harry nodded. “Luckily Fawkes healed it for me, I don’t even have a scar. It was horrible, I could feel the venom running through me and I knew I was dying and suddenly I was feeling better.”

Walking over he picked up the fang from the floor. “I don’t know what made me think of it, but I stabbed the diary with this. There was a shriek and ink poured from the diary. Tom was yelling and then he disappeared. That’s when Ginny woke up.”

“I was so scared,” Ginny admitted. “I was trying to figure out what happened. The last thing I remembered was Tom coming out of the diary.”

She surprised Harry by walking around the basilisk and running her hand down the side. “I’m so thankful that no one was killed.”

“I am amazing no one was killed seeing this in person,” Professor McGonagall said. Looking at Harry, she said, “I think you should bring Hagrid down here. He will be able to harvest the body. Basilisk venom and the skin can be useful and Hagrid has the contacts to sell them.”

Ginny looked up from the basilisk. “Do you think we could have some boots made? My brother Charlie always goes on about dragon skin boots, I think basilisk skin boots would be cool.”

“They would be,” Harry agreed.

“I am certain Hagrid can have them made,” Professor McGonagall said. “I will ask him to look around the Chamber to ensure there are no more surprises down here.”

Ginny’s eyes widened. She hadn’t even thought about that. She nodded. “Professor, did you know about the basilisk?”

Sighing, she shook her head. “I had an idea that it might be a basilisk or a gorgon — those are the creatures most likely to Petrify their victims. I didn’t know about the roosters until much later. That would have tipped the scale towards basilisk. The Chamber of Secrets was such a myth that I didn’t think it was real. I certainly never would have thought to look in the girl’s bathroom.

“When I started school, Myrtle’s death four years earlier was legendary. There were so many rumours about her demise, but I never thought to ask how she died. I didn’t connect her with Tom Riddle. Of course at that time, I didn’t know anything about Tom Riddle. He left Hogwarts two years before I started and didn’t rise as Voldemort until years later.”

“Did Professor Dumbledore know about the basilisk? He knew about the roosters and he knew about Myrtle,” Ginny asked.

“He never told me he suspected a basilisk,” Professor McGonagall said after thinking it over. “He did have the pipes searched, so maybe he had an idea what we were looking for, but we had no idea where to look. We searched the school multiple times and didn’t find a thing.”

Gesturing around her, she said, “This Chamber is so far under the school, I doubt any of our sensing spells would have reached it. I feel very badly that we were unable to help you. I’ve wondered if we should have closed the school and brought in someone else to search the school — some sort of wizarding trapper.”

The older witch watched as Ginny thought about what she’d said. “Would you like to speak to Professor Dumbledore?”

“I don’t know,” Ginny sighed. “I wish he would have figured this out, but I guess he was doing the best he could. The Chamber could only be opened by a Parselmouth.”

Walking around the basilisk, she looked around. “Thank you for coming down here with me. I do feel a lot better. In my nightmares, the basilisk is still moving around down here.”

“It is definitely dead,” Harry said.

The three headed out of the chamber and back down the tunnel. When they arrived at the head of the pipe, they mounted their brooms and flew up the pipe. Once they arrived in the bathroom the sink moved to close the entrance once again.

Ginny shyly reached out and hugged Professor McGonagall. “Thank you for coming with me.”

“You are very welcome,” Professor McGonagall replied gently as she returned the embrace. “I wish I could have helped you more last year.”

“You’ve helped me so much this year,” Ginny said. “Me and Harry both.”

Harry nodded his agreement.

“It looks like a cauldron,” Harry said.

Ron snorted. “That’s what you said about the last cloud.”

The two were lying on their backs near the lake looking up at the clouds. Hermione was in the library studying for exams which started next week, but neither of the boys could be bothered to study on a day like today. It was a beautiful day out — warm, but not hot with a nice breeze.

“Okay, what do you see?” Harry challenged him.

“A hawk,” Ron said firmly as he pointed to the cloud.

Harry squinted. “I guess. Oh, look at that one. It looks like a lion. The holes in the cloud make the eyes.”

“I’ll give you that one,” Ron agreed. “If you took Divination you’d be better at seeing things in the clouds.”

Harry rolled onto his side to look at his friend. “How does Divination help you?”

“We have to read tea leaves,” Ron said with a roll of his eyes. “It’s awful. You have to gulp down this awful, hot tea and when there is just a bit left you need to swirl it three times with your left hand, dump it into your saucer, then you can read it once the tea has drained away.”

Harry laughed. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

“Nope,” Ron replied. “It’s horrid looking at these clumpy bits of tea and trying to figure out what it means. Of course that’s better than interpreting our dreams or predicting the future.”

“I am so glad I’m not taking that class. Why don’t you drop it next year? You could change into a class you might be able to use.”

“I don’t know,” Ron said. “I mean I’m not learning anything, but I don’t want to start over with the new third years.” He shuddered. “Can you imagine how much Malfoy would make fun of me?”

“You’re going to limit your opportunities because of what Malfoy thinks?”

“I don’t want to be stuck doing homework all the time like you and Hermione,” Ron replied stubbornly. “I reckon I’d complain about the other classes too. Besides, I don’t want to do anything with Ancient Runes or Arithmancy. Charlie took Divination and Care of Magical Creatures.”

“Okay,” Harry raised his hands in surrender. “It just seems like a pointless class.”

“So’s History,” Ron replied.

“That’s true.”

“There you two are!”

Harry and Ron sat up quickly as Hermione stormed up to them. “I thought you were revising.”

“We’re taking a break, Hermione,” Harry said. “You should join us.”

“I need to review Ancient Runes,” she replied stubbornly.

“Take a break with us and I’ll study with you later,” Harry said.

Hermione sat down next to them. “Okay, I’ll take a break. I just want to do well.”

“How will you not?” Harry laughed. “Hermione, you have studied more than anyone in our year.”

She frowned. “I just want to do well.”

“You will,” Ron reassured her. Changing the subject, Ron looked over at Harry. “Has Sirius made any progress in finding you a Potions tutor?”

“Yes! He’s actually hired someone. His name is Sam Kapur. He’s a Potions master who was working for an apothecary in Manchester. I can’t remember exactly how Sirius met him, but he struck up a conversation with him and ended up hiring him.”

“A Potions master was working for an apothecary?” Hermione asked sceptically. “Why?”

Harry shrugged. “He just moved here from India three years ago and had trouble finding a potions job. Sirius checked him out and made sure he actually has a mastery.”

“Why don’t you just stay in class?” Hermione asked. “I know you don’t like Professor Snape, but he knows a lot.”

“I notice you don’t say he’s a good teacher, because he’s not,” Harry replied.

“But finding a tutor? That seems to disrespectful to Professor Dumbledore,” Hermione said uneasily. “He obviously thinks Professor Snape is doing a good job and I know he wants you to continue in the class.”

“Professor Dumbledore seems to want Snape here for reasons that have nothing to do with teaching,” Harry replied. “Malfoy could have seriously injured me and he received a detention. He wasn’t kicked off the team or anything meaningful. He had detention with Snape. Does that seem fair to you?”

“No, but…”

“Harry’s right,” Ron spoke up. “Snape’s a greasy git and horrid to all of us, but he’s awful to Harry - taking away points for no reason, failing him for things that aren’t his fault. If he can drop Snape’s class, he should.”

“Please don’t get angry with me, it just seems that since you’ve met Sirius you don’t care what Professor Dumbledore thinks,” Hermione said in a rush. “You plan to drop out of Professor Snape’s class and you’ve moved out of your aunt and uncle’s house. Didn’t you say Professor Dumbledore placed you there for a reason?”

Harry felt a rush of anger at her questions, but he took a deep breath. Hermione always asked a lot of questions, that was how she processed information. It annoyed him, but he really wanted to keep their friendship on track.

“Sirius spent twelve years in Azkaban in part because Professor Dumbledore wouldn’t help him. The headmaster didn’t notice Quirrell had Voldemort sticking out of the back of his head or figure out where the Chamber of Secrets was located. Sirius didn’t want me to come back to Hogwarts this year. He gave me all sorts of options, but I wanted to come back.”

She sighed. “I guess I can see that. Sirius does have some valid grievances against Professor Dumbledore. It’s just so much has changed. I’ll miss you in Potions.”

Harry shrugged. “I won’t miss that class. Snape doesn’t teach, he humiliates and intimidates students and he is so biased in favour of Slytherins it isn’t even funny.”

“How will it work?” Hermione asked curiously.

“Sam will be moving into our house this summer. Sirius is having a potions lab created and letting Sam stock it. From what Sirius has told me, Sam wants to review some of the basics with me — common ingredients, how to prepare ingredients, and how different ingredients interact with each other — that sort of thing. He’s going to test me on some of the potions we should have mastered by now and go from there. I’m actually looking forward to it.”

“Ginny told me that your mum was good in potions,” Ron said.

Harry nodded. “She wanted to write a potions book aimed at Muggle-borns. Sirius had all of her old books; she’s written lots of notes in the margins and added helpful hints. Ginny’s grade has come up since she started using my mum’s old book. My grade hasn’t risen much, but that’s to be expected.”

Ron nodded supportively. “The greasy git wouldn’t give you a good grade no matter what.”

Shaking her head, Hermione said, “We should go back to revising.”

“Why don’t we raid the kitchen first?” Harry asked. “I’m sure we can talk them into giving us a snack and then we can study in the common room.”

A touch reluctantly, Hermione agreed and the three were soon sitting in the common room snacking on eclairs and tea while revising.
Harry challenged Hermione to puzzle out the newest Ancient Runes phrases that Sirius had sent him to help him revise. While she wasn’t entirely certain it counted as revising, she did enjoy the challenge.

Several days later, exams had started. Harry was pleasantly surprised to find they weren’t as stressful as the previous years. He’d been keeping up on his reading and practical work. Sirius had given him some tips for revising for exams and Harry found they worked. He’d tried sharing them with his friends, but only Ginny listened. Ron wasn’t interested and Hermione thought it sounded like taking a lot of short cuts.

He was a bit worried about Hermione. She insisted on taking exams in all of the subjects so she would receive credit for those classes even if she didn’t plan to continue them. Seeing as she didn’t want his advice, he decided to just stay out of her way.

Walking along the mostly empty corridor, he almost groaned out loud when he saw Professor Trelawney walking his direction. Briefly, he wondered if turning and running the opposite direction would be too much, but called on his Gryffindor courage to keep walking. He’d run into her a few times and she always tried to convince him to take Divination.

“Mr Potter!”

“Good afternoon, Professor,” Harry said politely.

“I hope you will consider picking up Divination next year. I believe it will help you immensely,” she said earnestly.

“I will consider it,” Harry lied hoping to end this conversation.

She smiled. As he was watching, she went rigid. Her eyes were focused and unseeing. In a harsh voice she said, “It will happen tonight. The Dark Lord lies alone and friendless, abandoned by his followers. His servant has been chained these twelve years. Tonight, before midnight... the servant will escape and set out to rejoin his master. The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant's aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was. Tonight... before midnight... the servant... will set out... to rejoin... his master...”**

Harry stared at her in horror. She blinked and smiled at him absently.

“Professor, what was all that? About the servant and the Dark Lord?”

“The Dark Lord?! I didn’t say anything like that,” Trelawney gasped. As she walked away, she shook her head as if denying she’d said anything like that.

Later that night, Harry pulled his curtains around him and pulling out his mirror, called Sirius. He explained what Professor Trelawney had said.

Sirius frowned. “Her voice sounded strange?”

Harry nodded. “It was really harsh, not like her normal voice.”

“I hate to say this, but it sounds like a real prophecy.”

“What? I thought…I thought prophecies weren’t real.”

Sirius sighed. “Some of them are. There are a lot of phonies like Trelawney, but her great-great-grandmother, Cassandra, was a celebrated Seer. In the Ministry, there is a Hall of Prophecy that contains all of the prophecies made. Would you be willing to talk to one of the Unspeakables this summer?”

“Of course,” Harry replied. “Do you think it is important?”

“If it talks about Voldemort and one of his servants I don’t really want to take a chance,” Sirius explained. “The way it describes the servant, it sounds to me like it is talking about Peter. He hid as a rat for twelve years.”

“You think he’s setting out to find Voldemort tonight?”

“I wouldn’t put it past him. He is always looking for someone stronger and more powerful to take care of him. He probably doesn’t feel comfortable using his rat disguise right now.”

Seeing the look on Harry’s face, Sirius hastened to reassure him. “Don’t worry. We will be very careful. We are going to have a brilliant summer.”

Harry relaxed as the Hogwarts Express started leaving the station. Ginny was sitting by his side with Ron and Hermione were sitting across from them.

“What are you doing this summer?” Ginny asked Hermione tentatively. The girls were still working on establishing their friendship.

“My parents have arranged a trip to Germany,” Hermione said excitedly. “I really can’t wait. We will be seeing Berlin, Munich, Bavaria and ending with a Rhine river cruise.”

“Will you be back by the beginning of August?” Ron asked anxiously. “Dad is going to try to get Quidditch World Cup tickets. It’s the first time the finals have been in England for over thirty years. I asked him to try to get tickets for the two of you as well.”

“You don’t need to worry about me,” Harry said, “I told Sirius and he’s already arranged for tickets for us.” He grinned. “The Ministry is very anxious to make things right with Sirius so they gave us tickets.”

“Brilliant!” Ron replied.

Hermione rolled her eyes, but smiled. “I will be back by the end of July. It sounds like fun.”

“You’ve given that thing back, right?” Ron asked. “You will have a calmer schedule next year?”

She nodded. “I definitely bit off more than I could chew. I think I will take Professor McGonagall’s advice and continue to purchase the books for Muggle Studies and take the Muggle Studies OWL.”

Ron shook his head, scandalized by the thought of taking a test you weren’t required to take. Hermione started interrogating Ginny about the classes she was taking next year while Harry and Ron started a chess game.

Harry had just lost his third game when Michael and Terry came to visit. Ron seemed a bit put out, but Hermione and Ginny welcomed them.

“Did you hear?” Michael asked. “This morning Snape accidentally let it slip to his Slytherins that Professor Lupin is a werewolf!”


“Lupin was a werewolf?” Ron asked horrified. He looked at Harry. “Did you know that?”

Harry nodded. Hermione rolled her eyes. “It wasn’t that difficult to figure out, Ron.”

Michael spoke up. “Snape’s werewolf lecture tipped us off. Terry tracked the full moon and Professor Lupin’s absences which verified it for us.”

Hermione’s eyes widened. Harry wasn’t sure if she was impressed or upset that she wasn’t the only one who figured it out.

“Why would Dumbledore hire a werewolf?” Ron demanded.

“He took Wolfsbane the whole year,” Harry explained. “That way he simply turns into a regular wolf. He sleeps in his office. That’s why my dad, Sirius, and Peter became Animagi.”

He explained how Professor Dumbledore allowed Remus to attend Hogwarts and the real purpose of the Whomping Willow and the Shrieking Shack. He described how Remus’ three best friends became Animagi to keep Moony company. “They would run in the forest with him during the full moon.”

Hermione gasped. “That was so dangerous!”

“Maybe, but no one was hurt,” Harry pointed out.

“Why would Snape tell everyone?” Terry asked.

“The reason Snape hates me so much is because I look like my father. He hated my dad and all of his friends. I bet Sirius complaining about his teaching and pulling me out of Potions made some trouble for Snape. I bet that’s why he did it,” Harry guessed.

“I believe it,” Michael said. “We’ve all heard how awful he is to you. I’m glad your godfather found a decent tutor for you.”

“We were taught by a werewolf all year?” Ron was horrified and not side-tracked by Michael’s comments.

“He’s still a person,” Harry said a bit irritated. “Yes, he turns into a monster once a month, but he’s still a good person the rest of the year.”

“I was shocked when I first found out,” Ginny admitted. Gesturing between herself and her brother, she said, “We were brought up
hearing stories about how horrible and scary werewolves are and there are so many laws restricting what werewolves are allowed to do. After meeting Professor Lupin, I realized how silly it is to judge someone for something they can’t control. He’s a nice man and very smart.”

“I agree,” Terry said. “I was horrified at first because I’d heard all of the same things, but he’s a brilliant teacher. Certainly he’s the best Defence teacher we’ve had.”

“That he is,” Ron agreed after thinking it over. “Ginny’s right, he’s nothing like I thought a werewolf would be. Maybe more people need to meet one and realize they are just people.”

The group spent the rest of the trip talking and laughing. Harry was happy to see his group of friends expanding beyond just Ron and Hermione. He was also happy that his two oldest friends were accepting of his other friends. He glanced over at his girlfriend. Other than Sirius, he was most thankful for both his friendship and relationship with her.

When they arrived at King’s Cross Station, Harry was thrilled that there were no Dursleys in sight. He couldn’t wait to go to his new home with Sirius. He said goodbye to Ron, Hermione, Terry, and Michael.

“I’ll miss you,” Ginny said.

Harry couldn’t help but smile. Reaching out he hugged her and briefly kissed her, mindful of her parents and older brothers standing not too far away. “I’ll miss you. Sirius said that he’ll talk to your parents about you visiting. We’ll definitely see each other at the Quidditch World Cup.”

Ginny grinned. “That sounds wonderful.” Looking at Hedwig she said, “I hope to see you a lot this summer.”

The beautiful white owl hooted in agreement. Harry laughed. “You will.”

After another quick kiss, Harry headed over to Sirius. For once, he was looking forward to his summer holidays.

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