|SIYE Time:22:05 on 25th September 2017|
The Road not Taken
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Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Sirius Black
Warnings: Mild Language, Violence/Physical Abuse
Story is Complete
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.
Hitcount: Story Total: 18698; Chapter Total: 1476
Awards: View Trophy Room
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.”
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
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.
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?”
“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.”
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.
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