|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: 18697; Chapter Total: 1742
Awards: View Trophy Room
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!”
Hermion e 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.
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.
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?”
“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.
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.”
“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.
“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?”
“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.
“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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