|SIYE Time:21:58 on 20th January 2018|
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: 20957; Chapter Total: 1832
Awards: View Trophy Room
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.
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.”
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