Chapter 2 of 21
The room was rundown, filthy and lit only by the fire in the fireplace. One person was sitting in an armchair in front of the fireplace while another knelt at the side of the chair. The man who was kneeling was wearing a black cloak that covered all of his features but his hands were visible. They were visibly shaking and there were only nine fingers total. It was clear for anyone who had read the 'Daily Prophet' that this man was Peter Pettigrew.
Growls and muttered ‘backstabbing traitor’ were heard.
Peter Pettigrew, also known as Wormtail because of his Animagus form (a rat) by his former friends, had been taken into custody by the Ministry only to somehow escape after the Black Trial had completed. No one knew how or if they did they weren't talking. Aurors were no searching for the escapee but had little success. Finding one rat with only four fingers on his left front paw was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Pettigrew's soft, fearful voice filled the room. "My Lord, there is a little more is you're still hungry," he said.
“Please tell me Peter did not go looking for Voldemort,” James begged.
“I am afraid he did,” Remus said with a grim expression.
The individual in the chair spoke but his voice didn't sound human. It was high-pitched and shockingly cold. "Not now," he hissed. "Move me closer, Wormtail." Wormtail did as he was told, moving the chair closer to the fire then knelt back down. "Where's Nagini?" the high-pitched man asked irritably.
“Who’s Nagini?” Lily asked.
“Some other Death Eater scumbag,” Sirius muttered.
"I—I'm not sure, my Lord," Wormtail answered nervously. "I think she's exploring. May I ask how long we are staying?"
"That remains to be seen," said the high-pitched voice. "We must wait for the Quidditch World Cup to pass. Every witch and wizard in the blasted Ministry of Magic will be watching for any unusual activity, double-checking everyone and everything. That is the way it must be."
"My Lord, must you use Harry Potter?"
“NOOOOOOOOOO!” four voices were heard.
“No don’t use my baby, leave him alone!” Lily begged.
Wormtail asked softly, almost fearfully. "He is well protected now at Hogwarts with the mutt and wolf as his guardians. Anyone else would be easier…"
“Oh thank you for the kind words Peter,” Sirius growled, “And to think we were your friends!”
"Easier, that is true but I have my reasons," the high-pitched voice said firmly. "It must be Harry Potter. I have plans that will work regardless of any protection that fool, Dumbledore, believes he has on the boy. With a little courage from you, Wormtail, everything will go as planned. Is that to much to ask from a coward like you?"
“I so very much hope so!” James said.
"My Lord!" Wormtail said in a panic. "I—I was the one who brought Bertha Jorkins to you! She was useful! She had information—"
“Oh, so betraying your friends wasn’t enough. You took some other poor victim to Voldemort,” Sirius hissed.
“Bertha Jorkins?” Remus asked, “Isn’t she that gossip that spread that rumor about you and the Giant squid?”
Sirius nodded with a scowl.
"—yes, she did but it was more of a stroke of luck than anything. Don't lie to me. You know what I do to those who lie. Her information was invaluable, that is true. You will be rewarded, Wormtail. There is a task you will be allowed to perform, a task many of my followers would give their right hand for but it must not be revealed yet. When the time comes you will be just as useful as Bertha Jorkins was."
“Why do I have the impression that Voldemort literally means give his right hand?” Remus asked.
“Because he probably does,” Lily said.
Pettigrew quivered in fear. "You….you are going to kill me too?" he asked in a hoarse voice.
"Why would I do that?" the high-pitched voice asked slyly. "Bertha was killed because it was necessary. We couldn't have her going back to the Ministry with what she had seen now could we? I am supposed to be dead and you have the entire Ministry of Magic hunting you. Modifying her memory was out of the question. Memory charms are breakable which would leave us back to our problem of being identified."
“And Voldemort wouldn’t have had his leisure morning killing,” James mumbled darkly.
Silence filled the room. The owner of the high-pitched voice must have been in deep thought because Pettigrew said nothing. He merely waited for 'his Lord' to speak again. "Patience, Wormtail," the high-pitched voice said distantly. "Once my faithful servant is in place at Hogwarts Harry Potter will be as good as mine.
“No,NO,NO! Moony and I won’t let you touch a hair of my godson’s hair do you hear me?” Sirius yelled.
Lily looked at him, “No he doesn’t.”
That is the way it must be." There was a faint hissing noise. "I think I hear Nagini," he said then started hissing.
A few moments later a large snake that was almost twelve feet long entered from the next room, hissing back at the man with the high-pitched voice who hissed back. It was almost like they understood each other. It was almost like the man could speak whatever strange language snakes spoke. Pettigrew remained where he was kneeling but it was clear the sight of the snake and man hissing at each other was making him nervous…well, more nervous that he was already.
"According to Nagini there is an old Muggle standing in the next room, listening to everything," the man with the high-pitched voice said in english as the snake curled up on the rug near the chair.
“OH, NO! Run muggle run!” James yelled.
RUN! Don't let him see you!
“Who’s saying that?” Remus asked.
“No idea,” Lily answered.
Pettigrew jumped to his feet and hurried over to the door and pushed it open to reveal an old man with a walking stick, staring at Pettigrew in alarm. It was clear the man had a bad leg and therefore would not be able to go anywhere in a hurry. Grabbing the man by the arm, Pettigrew pulled him into the room so they were facing the back of the chair.
"How much did you hear, Muggle?" the high-pitched voice asked curiously.
"What are you calling me?" the old man asked boldly.
"A Muggle, meaning you are not a wizard therefore no one of importance," the high-pitched voice said coolly.
“Just because he isn’t a wizard doesn’t mean he is not important,” Sirius snapped.
“For Voldemort it does,” Remus said grimly.
"You speak nonsense," the old man said, his voice firm. "I've heard enough to go to the police. You've committed murder and you are planning more! When my family finds out I'm gone they'll go to the police for me."
"You have no family, Frank Bryce," the hidden man said quietly. "You live alone on these grounds. You should know better than to lie to Lord Voldemort, Muggle. Turn my chair around, Wormtail so I can face this Muggle who dares stand in my way."
“How does he know that?” James asked. Shrugs was all he got.
NO! Run while you still can! He'll kill you!
“Who keeps yelling?” Remus asked bewildered.
Pettigrew let out a whimper but did as he was told. He slowly tuned the chair until it was facing the old man who instantly dropped his walking stick and let out a loud scream. Voldemort raised his wand, pointing it at the screaming man. Words were muttered followed by a flash of green light erupting from the wand. The screaming stopped abruptly as Frank Bryce crumpled to the floor.
NO! PLEASE NO!
He was dead.
In his room at Hogwarts, Harry Potter finally awoke from his horrid dream, breathing heavily, drenched with sweat and his lightening bolt shaped scar on his forehead was burning.
“Harry dreamt all this? Why?” James asked.
“But then it’s ok. It’s just a dream. Voldemort isn’t planning anything and no one died,” Sirius said relieved.
“I don’t know,” Remus said biting his lips.
It took a moment for Harry to realize he was being held in place and looked up to see the blurry faces of Sirius and Remus. His started to shake as he stared at his guardians fearfully. This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening.
Sirius and Remus slowly released the teenager. "You were screaming in you sleep, Harry," Sirius said worriedly. "We've been trying to wake you for the past five minutes. Do you want to talk about it?"
Harry closed his eyes and felt a tear fall down his cheek. How could he tell them? How can I not? "It—it was Voldemort," Harry said, his voice as shaky as his body, "and Pettigrew. Voldemort killed a woman named Bertha Jorkins after he got some information from her. He just killed a Muggle named Frank Bryce. He's putting someone here to get to me—"
Sirius instantly pulled Harry into his arms while Remus ran out of the room. "Its okay, Pronglet," he said softly as he started to rock Harry back and forth in an effort to comfort the teen. "It was just a dream—"
“Exactly. Just a dream,” Sirius repeated trying to calm himself and the others, “No need to worry.”
"—but my scar hurts," Harry interrupted. The pain was slowly going away but it still hurt which was something Harry hadn't felt in years. "It only happened when Voldemort was at Hogwarts during my first year. I know he's not here so why does it hurt like this?"
“Oh, no,” Lily said desperately, “that does not sound good.”
Sirius remained silent as he held his godson. Harry didn't like the silence. Sirius always seemed to have an answer for everything even if the answer was 'Let's ask Moony'. To Harry, his guardians had all of the answers.
“Well he certainly overestimates us a bit,” Sirius said.
“Every kid thinks their parents know everything,” James said.
Burying his face in his godfather's chest, Harry just held on tightly, not even hearing Remus return with company.
"Sirius?" Remus asked softly.
"His scar is hurting," Sirius said as he looked over his shoulder at Remus, his eyes silently begging the werewolf to dampen his fears. "Please tell me this isn't what I think it is."
“What? What do you think this is Padfoot?” James asked shaking Sirius.
“Don’t know James!”
A gentle hand rested on Harry's shoulder forcing Harry to look up and see Professor Dumbledore looking down at him sympathetically. Their eyes met and for a long moment, nothing was said as they stared at each other. When Dumbledore finally broke the eye lock, Harry buried his face back in Sirius' chest, wanting nothing more than to forget everything he had just seen.
"Dumbledore?" Remus prompted. "It's more than just a nightmare, isn't it?"
"It is difficult to say at this point," answered Professor Dumbledore, the usual pleasant tone absent from his voice. "I know the last thing you want is to relieve what you have witnessed, Harry, but in the chance that it is true, we need to know. Can you do that for us?"
“No! Why don’t you leave my baby be! He just had a traumatic experience!” James yelled.
“But if Voldemort is plotting against Harry it’s better if Dumbledore knows so they can do something,” Remus said.
“Ok,” James shrugged.
Relaying his nightmare was honestly the last thing Harry wanted to do but how could he refuse when asked that way? Pulling himself out of the arms of his godfather, Harry looked up at Professor Dumbledore and nodded then started retelling what he had witnessed. Remus had pulled up chairs for Dumbledore and himself while Sirius remained sitting on the bed, facing Harry. Both Sirius and Remus appeared ready to jump in the moment Harry started having trouble but that time never came.
Once Harry had told the three wizards everything he could remember, Professor Dumbledore thanked Harry and urged him to try and get some sleep. That was easier said than done. Harry was still shaken up and ended up retreating to the sofa in the common room with Remus who insisted he was wide awake and sent Sirius to bed.
Since Harry could barely keep his eyes open by the time the reached the sofa, Remus covered him with a blanket and ushered Harry to lie down with the teen's head resting on the werewolf's leg. Gazing into the dying fire, Remus didn't even notice when Harry had drifted off to sleep. All he knew was that Albus Dumbledore believed Harry's dream was more than a simple nightmare.
“I don’t like this one bit,” Lily said biting her lip.
The sound of soft voices slowly pulled Harry out of his slumber. The first voice sounded like Sirius while the second sounded remarkably like Mrs. Weasley. Not wanting to wake up yet, Harry let out a groan as he rolled over, pulling his blanket over his head earning a chuckle from someone nearby. His head was resting on something firm but not hard which was odd. His pillow was usually so soft.
“Well, my leg is definitely harder then a pillow,” Remus said and Sirius poked his leg to test it. Remus swatted Sirius’ hand away.
A gentle hand started rubbing his back, pulling him further out of his grogginess. Harry groaned again in protest, curling into a ball underneath the blanket. For some reason he felt exhausted like he had been awake the entire night. It was then Harry remembered having a nightmare although the details were a little sketchy. It had been about Voldemort and Pettigrew but that was really all Harry could remember.
"Come on Harry," Remus said gently. "It's time to get up. Don't you want breakfast?"
“That always works with me,” Sirius said.
“We know,” three voices chorused.
Harry pulled his blanket off of his head and looked up at a blurry Remus with his tired eyes for a moment before closing his eyes again. "Too tired," he mumbled as he pulled the blanket tightly around his body. Normally the food threat worked on Sirius but Harry never ate much, a lingering affect of his years with the Dursleys which Sirius had a habit of scowling at. According to Sirius, Hedwig (Harry's owl) ate more than Harry did.
All of them were scowling too.
"Let him sleep, Moony," Sirius said from the fireplace. "Not everyone rises at dawn like you do and after last night Harry deserves to sleep in."
"Last night?" Mrs. Weasley's voice asked quickly. "What happened last night?"
Sirius let out a sigh. He knew Harry probably didn't want everyone knowing about what happened but there was no way Mrs. Weasley was going to back off now. She was probably just as protective of Harry as both Marauders were. "Just a nightmare, Molly," he said nonchalantly then grinned. "Harry's fine. Remus has seemed to forgotten teenagers need sleep in his old age."
“I AM NOT OLD!” Remus cried.
“That’s not what the book said; grey hair,” Sirius said smirking.
“You are older then me!” Remus countered outraged.
“Which doesn’t mean you are not old!” Sirius said back.
"Old age!" Remus cried then looked at the fireplace and smiled. "You'll have to excuse us, Molly. We look forward to seeing your family at the World Cup." He saw Mrs. Weasley bite back a smile and with a pop she was gone from the fireplace. Remus then turned his attention to Sirius as he pried himself out from under Harry's head and stood up. "Mr. Moony would like to remind Mr. Padfoot that he is treading on dangerous territory. Mr. Moony wasn't the one who sat on his arse for twelve years."
“Uh, oh,” James said his eyes twinkling.
Sirius' eyes narrowed as he stood up. "Mr. Padfoot would like to remind Mr. Moony that while he was gallivanting around France, Mr. Padfoot was training to take down anyone who dare oppose him," he countered. "Do you dare, Mr. Moony?"
“One galleon on Remus,” Lily said.
“I accept the bet,” James said.
“Hey, no betting! Besides, I can take Moony any day of the week,” Sirius said confidently.
“Yeah, right!” Remus sniggered.
“Wanna bet too?” Sirius said through narrowed eyes.
“OK! Same as Lily.”
Remus took a step towards Sirius. "Oh, I dare, Mr. Padfoot," he said firmly. "Wands then?"
"Count on it," Sirius said as he took a step towards Remus, pulling out his wand and twirling it between his fingers. "When I win, Harry is allowed to sleep as long as he wants today and every day for the remainder of the summer."
“If you win Padfoot, if. And that is highly unlikely,” Remus said.
"If you win, Padfoot, and that is a very big if," Remus corrected. "If I win, you get to have the talk with Harry, agreed?"
“Hey, no fair! That is Moony talk,” Sirius cried.
“What’s the matter Padfoot? Afraid you’ll lose?” Remus teased.
“In your dreams.”
Sirius scowled. That was clearly the last thing Sirius wanted to do and Remus knew it. This was considered a Remus conversation, at least in Sirius' mind. "Now that is just cruel, Moony," he said, "but I agree."
Without another word, Sirius and Remus left for their duel. Knowing that he wouldn't be able to fall asleep now, Harry emerged from the blanket and retreated to his room to change clothes. He had learned quickly that there were times when Sirius and Remus needed to be their old selves without him to remind them how much had changed. That was why Harry questioned his guardians from time to time if they were happy with this arrangement. It seemed like they would be so much happier without having to worry about him.
“No we wouldn’t. Prongs! Tell your son to stop doubting!” Sirius cried.
“It’s those stupid muggles that made him feel like that,” James growled, “If I get my hands on them,” and he was twisting a napkin.
Once he had changed clothes and cleaned up, Harry left the 'Marauder Quarters', as Sirius had called it and strolled down the hallways until he reached a window where he could see his guardians clearly. They were in the middle of the courtyard, dueling and laughing. Harry had to smile at the sight. It was nice to see them so relaxed like normal people.
"A galleon for your thoughts, Harry?" the pleasant voice of Professor Dumbledore said from behind.
Harry turned around quickly to see Dumbledore smiling at him and shrugged his shoulders as he turned back around to watch his guardians again. "They're happy," he said softly. "Without me to worry about they would be happy like this all the time."
“No, we wouldn’t, we would be miserable without our little Pronglet,” Sirius said, “Tell him Dumbledore.”
Dumbledore stepped forward so he was standing on Harry's left. "Possibly," he said thoughtfully. "Did you ever consider that you are the reason they are so happy? Remus Lupin was a distant and guarded individual before you entered his life a second time. In a matter of weeks that barrier he had placed around himself had already started to crumble. You did that Harry. He needed you as much as you needed him."
“Yes, see! I needed you. You said so yourself in the other book. When you had Padfoot caged!”
“Do we need to remember that,” Sirius said glumly.
Dumbledore was silent for a moment before continuing. "Sirius Black, on the other hand, has always acted impulsively. He went after Peter, escaped Azkaban and rescued you from you uncle. The Sirius I know now is cautious because of you. He thinks before he acts
“Never thought the day would come,” Lily said dryly. Sirius scowled while James and Remus tried to muffle their laughter.
because he has to consider someone other than himself for a change. Everything he does now will affect you since he is responsible for you."
Harry let out a sigh and turned around so his back was facing the grounds. "That's what I mean," he said in frustration. "He has to worry about me. I—I just want them to be happy." His gaze fell to the floor as he rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "They shouldn't have to worry about me having nightmares…I…I just feel like I'm taking advantage of them," Harry clarified. "They do so much for me—"
“No! They do what normal parents do!” James cried strangling his napkin, “Not that you would know what that is.”
"—do they?" Professor Dumbledore inquired. "Harry, they do what guardians usually do, they care. Your aunt and uncle deprived you of knowing that and for my part, I am deeply sorry. That sort of upbringing is not normal. What you have with your guardians is. It will take time to adjust, Harry. Have you talked to Sirius and Remus about this?"
Harry nodded. "They think I'm mad," he said softly.
“Yes we do!” Sirius said crossing his arms.
Professor Dumbledore let out a chuckle. "I doubt that," he said pleasantly. "They probably don't understand what you're feeling is perfectly normal for children who have been in your situation. You have grown up to believe you are unimportant so it is only natural for you to consider Sirius and Remus' feelings before your own. Let them be the adults, Harry. Let them take on the responsibility. Allow yourself to act your age for once…within reason of course. I can assure you the staff could certainly live without some of the pranks your godfather would like to pull but a little humor wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing."
“I think we should start strategizing,” James said, “Dumbledore just said he wants humor.” Lily huffed.
"I'll let Sirius know," Harry said quietly. He knew Dumbledore had a point about the way he had been raised but how could he act like a normal fourteen-year-old when this was normal for him? This was who he was.
It was nearly lunch time when a happy Sirius and a scowling Remus found Harry in the library.
“YES! Pay up,” Sirius said happily and James extended his hand to Lily. Lily and Remus paid up very disgruntled
Harry didn't have to ask who won and just listened as Sirius started talking excitedly about the Quidditch World Cup that they would be attending tomorrow.
“Quidditch World Cup! I wanna go!” James said drooling. The other three groaned.
Apparently Sirius had been given premium seats from the Ministry in an attempt to apologize for imprisoning him for twelve years. Sirius accepted the trio of tickets and demanded to know who was going to be in the spectator's box with them. As it turned out, they would be with the Weasley family, the Malfoy family
All of them groaned.
along with a few others from different countries.
The game tomorrow would be Bulgaria facing Ireland and according to Sirius, Bulgaria had a fantastic Seeker named Viktor Krum. Noticing Sirius' tone, Harry could take the hint. He knew Sirius was telling him this so Harry could take some pointers from Krum for his future Quidditch games. All of the members of both teams would be flying on Firebolt brooms just like Harry's (which had been a gift from Sirius last Christmas) so Harry knew the game was going to be extremely fast-paced.
James hugged Sirius and said, “Are you going to give me a Firebolt too Paddy?”
“They haven’t invented them yet Prongs!” Sirius said patting James head.
They left early the following morning for the match dressed in muggle attire by the means of a portkey, a mode of transportation that tended to make Harry a little uneasy with the abrupt tug he felt behind his navel. Despite the early hour, Harry was wide awake. He had been too excited to get much sleep the night before and knew he would probably be paying for it later. How could anyone sleep the night before the Quidditch World Cup?
“Impossible! I couldn’t sleep now and I am not even there!” James said exited. Lily mumbled “Quidditch nut”.
They arrived just beyond the first collection of tents and dropped their portkey into the large box with others that had already been used. With a hand on each shoulder, Harry let Sirius and Remus direct him to where they needed to go. Neither of them said a word which made Harry feel a little nervous. They only time they were quiet was when they were in protective mode. It was almost like they were expecting something to jump out and take Harry away which was ridiculous. Who would do anything with so many people around?
“Actually, that would be a great opportunity. With so many people it would be very easy to go unnoticed,” Remus said.
“MOONY! DON’T RUIN THE QUIDDITCH CUP EXPERIENCE!” James bellowed.
As they walked, Harry could see people stopping whatever they were doing and staring before they started to whisper to each other. Occasionally Harry could hear them mutter "Sirius Black!" or "look its Harry Potter!" which made Harry groan in annoyance. Why did people have to be so rude? Harry felt Sirius tighten his grip and knew Sirius felt the same way.
“Must be dead annoying,” Lily grunted.
“Especially for Sirius,” Remus said.
“Why?” Sirius asked.
“Well, because not everyone will believe you are innocent and they will be giving you dirty looks and be suspicious,” Remus explained.
They reached the edge of the wood at the top of the field to see several redheads surrounding a fire that just started in front of two shabby two-man tents. Harry broke into a grin at the sight. He could clearly make out Mr. Weasley and the twins, Fred and George who were two years older than Harry. There was no sign of Harry's best friends, Ron and Hermione, or the youngest of the Weasley children, Ginny.
Remus leaned over so his mouth was by Harry's ear. "Remember what we talked about, Harry," he whispered. "I know we can trust the Weasleys but there are too many around that could hear. If people found out where the-boy-who-lived was staying and what he was doing they may want the same treatment for their children."
“But Harry is there because Dumbledore requested Moony’s and Padfoot’s assistance. He’s not there because he is getting special treatment,” James protested.
“People won’t care. They never look deeper on things. They’ll just see that Te-Boy-Who-Lives is allowed to stay at Hogwarts and do magic and their kids are not,” Lily said grimly.
Harry nodded in response. He knew there were special circumstances allowing him to stay at Hogwarts this summer and also knew no one was supposed to know there were special circumstances. Whatever the reason Dumbledore needed Sirius and Remus to help, Harry wasn't going to be the one to divulge the information. He had to prove that he could be trusted.
Fred and George were the first to notice the three newcomers. "Hey Harry!" shouted Fred as he quickly stood up along with his brother. "Hey Professor Lupin!" Both of them looked at Sirius nervously as if they were at a loss for words…for once.
“Why are they nervous about me?”
“Well, because until the other day you were a deranged lunatic convicted murderer. They haven’t got used to the idea of you not being a murderer,” Remus explained. Lily and James muffled their laughter. Sirius narrowed his eyes not understanding why they were laughing until:
“Moony! I am not a deranged lunatic!”
It struck Harry as strange at first that Fred and George were still addressing Remus as 'Professor Lupin'. Didn't they know Remus had resigned from the teaching position he held last term? Noticing the apprehensive looks the twins were giving Sirius, Harry decided to take on the roll as mediator. The last thing he wanted with his family and the Weasleys was tension. "Fred, George, I don't think you've met my godfather," Harry said brightly. "Sirius Black."
Sirius nodded at the two then glanced over at Mr. Weasley who was standing up to join his sons. Mr. Weasely was slightly taller than Sirius and had flaming red hair just like his wife and all of their children. It was deemed a Weasley trait making them easy to pick out in a crowd. "Arthur," Sirius said with a smile. "You seem to be missing a few."
Arthur smiled back. "Ron, Hermione and Ginny are fetching some water," he said cheerfully. "They should be back any moment. So will you three be spending the night or are you going to head back after the game?"
“The game,” James mumbled dreamily.
Remus gently pushed Harry towards Fred and George. "Why don't you three find the rest of the group?" he proposed. "You have ten minutes before we come looking for you."
Knowing better than to protest, Harry just nodded then left with the twins. The moment they were out of ear shot, George stepped in front of Harry, blocking his path. "All right, oh honorary brother," he said with a suspicious look in his eyes. "We want all of the details of one Sirius Black. Don't leave anything out."
“He is quite annoying. He mumbles in his sleep,” James said.
“That’s when he’s not snoring, of course,” Remus added. They received murderous glares from Sirius.
Harry instantly grew nervous. Why did they want to know? Did they think Sirius was like the Dursleys? Did they honestly think Sirius would ever do anything to hurt him? "Er—what do you mean?" asked Harry. "Sirius and Remus are great. Sirius is my godfather and Remus is like an uncle to me…a good uncle. They would never—"
“Yes, we would never ever hurt our Pronglet!” Sirius cried and Remus nodded fervently.
"Whoa Harry," Fred said quickly as he moved to George's side. "We never meant that they would harm you. We both know Professor Lupin would never let anything happen to you and from what Ron's told us, Mr. Black is just as protective if not worse. We're just curious. He was in Azkaban for twelve years. How did he keep his mind with the Dementors there?"
Harry just shrugged. He really didn't think it was his place to talk about Sirius' past like this. "Sirius doesn't like to talk about that much," he said honestly.
“Who would?” Lily said.
“Oh, Lily! You agree with our son! How cute!”
"Sirius is lots of fun. He keeps trying to make me pull a prank on Snape—"
Lily huffed. The boys laughed.
"What?" Fred asked in surprise.
"A prank?" George asked then grinned before glancing over at his brother. "Today could be an interesting day after all, Forge. Pointers from the only man to ever escape Azkaban would be priceless."
Fred returned the grin. "I agree," he said then looked at Harry, smiling brightly. "You have been most helpful, Harry."
“I love those two,” James said happy. Sirius nodded in agreement.
Harry looked past Fred and George to see Ron, Hermione and Ginny carrying a kettle and a couple of saucepans of water. He held back a sigh of relief. He knew the twins meant well but he didn't like being cornered and forced to answer questions, especially questions he wasn't supposed to answer. He hated lying but he really didn't have much of a choice.
"You made it!" Ron said happily as he tried to walk without spilling any water. "You won't believe the people we've seen. Is the fire started yet?"
"Once Dad got over the fascination with the matches,"
“What’s so fascinating about matches?” Lily asked.
“Well they light up in fire just like that,” James said snapping his fingers, “no words, no wand.” Lily looked at him and then started laughing. James was quite put out by this.
George answered then looked back at their campsite. "C'mon. Professor Lupin will be coming to find us if we're not back soon."
"Professor Lupin is here?" Hermione asked eagerly. "Maybe we can go over notes for classes."
Harry shifted his weight nervously. "Er—I thought you all knew," he said uncomfortably. "Remus resigned after everyone found out about his other side. He's not a teacher anymore."
Hermione stared at Harry, her eyes wide. Clearly she hadn't heard. "He what?" she asked in shock. "Harry, he's the best teacher we've ever had! How could he resign? Who cares if he's a werewolf.
“Good Hermione!” Sirius cried.
It's not like he would ever hurt any of us!"
“Exactly!” James bellowed.
Harry rubbed his eyes under his glasses as they started to walk back to the Weasley campsite. This was certainly going to be interesting. Hermione was a Muggle-born and didn't have the prejudices that those who had been raised by witches and wizards had. Remus had explained everything after Harry had accidentally found out.
Remus mumbled incoherent words that sounded like ‘Snivellus’, ‘greasy git’ and ‘going to pay’.
Most people saw werewolves as nothing more than dark creatures who would rather kill you than look at you.
“BOOOOOOO!” James and Sirius cried.
Harry had a hard time believing that. Remus was such a pacifist. He would never hurt anyone.
There were three more redheads when they returned.
“THREE MORE! How many kids do the Weasleys have?” Lily asked astonished.
“Apparently, quite a lot,” James said.
Percy, who was two years older than Fred and George had recently graduated from Hogwarts, seemed to be the intellectual one of the younger five. He had been a prefect and Head Boy which had embarrassed his younger brothers to no end. They all thought Percy was wound too tight.
Standing to Percy's left was a redhead who was built like the twins, short and stocky unlike Percy and Ron who were long and gangly. His face seemed to have so many freckles that it could be mistaken for a tan. He had muscular arms, one of which housed a burn that had a soft shine to it. The redhead standing to his left was tall with long hair that was tied back in a ponytail. He wore and earring resembling a fang and looked like he had just returned from a rock concert; not exactly the image Harry had in his head for any of the Weasley children.
“Cool!” James breathed.
"You're back!" Mr. Weasley exclaimed as he motioned for Harry to come over. Once Harry did, Mr. Weasley put his hands on Harry's shoulders and turned him to the three readheads. "Harry, I don't believe you've met Charlie," he said positioning Harry to directly face the redhead in the middle, "my second oldest and Bill, my oldest. Charlie works in Romania and Bill works in Egypt."
"Pleased to meet you," Harry said politely. "Ron talks about you two all the time."
Bill and Charlie smiled. "Is that so?" asked Bill in amazement. "We've heard an awful lot about you too. Actually, Ron couldn't seem to shut up. I think we know more about you than you do."
Harry didn't know what to say. He knew Bill was joking around but it had been an annoyance of his ever since he entered the wizarding world that everyone knew more about his life than he did. Remus and Sirius had helped fill in the cracks when it came to his parents and his time with them but it still stung. Why did everyone think his life was their business?
The next thing Harry knew he had been grabbed by Sirius and pulled away from the Weasleys.
“SIRIUS! STOP MANHANDELING MY SON!” James cried.
It took a moment for Harry to figure out that several individuals coming towards Mr. Weasley. The one leading the group was certainly the most noticeable with his yellow and black stripped Quidditch robes. His nose looked like it had been hit by a Bludger at least once, short blond hair and blue eyes.
"Why hello Arthur!" the man said with a smile to Mr. Weasley. "What a day! Perfect weather and the turnout…unbelievable."
"Ludo!" Arthur said happily. "The man of the hour!" He looked around at his children. "Everyone, Ludo Bagman is the reason we have such good tickets."
“Ludo Bagman! My son is meeting Ludo Bagman!” James said delighted.
“Who’s Ludo Bagman?” Lily asked.
“Who’s Ludo Bagman!” James cried horrified, “Just the best beater ever!”
He returned his gaze to Bagman. "My sons: Percy, Charlie, Bill, George, Fred and Ron, my daughter: Ginny, Ron's friends, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter. Standing with Harry are his guardians, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black."
Bagman's eyes went wide at the mention of Harry's name and quickly focused on the scar on Harry's forehead. He then looked over at Sirius and Remus who were looking at Bagman as if daring him to continue to stare at their charge. "Sirius Black," Bagman said uncomfortably. "Your story is almost as legendary as your charge's. How did you manage to escape from Azkaban?"
Sirius wrapped an arm around Harry's shoulders. Harry had heard the entire story how Sirius used his Animagus form to escape. Apparently, the Dementors didn't affect someone as much as long as they were in their animal form. "If you knew, Bagman, everyone would find out," Sirius said evenly. "I don't think we need everyone finding that little tidbit out, do we?"
"Now, now Sirius," Remus warned. "I'm sure Ludo didn't mean anything by it."
“I love when Moony does that. He sounds like he is scolding you but he is actually scolding the other person.” Sirius said.
"No, not at all," Bagman said quickly and returned his attention to Mr. Weasley. "You certainly have quite a crowd, Arthur. We'll catch you later. Good day." Bagman left as quickly as he could without looking like he was fleeing for his life.
A moment later a wizard appeared at their fireside with a crack. The man was dressed in a suit and tie, had straight and short grey hair, and a thin toothbrush moustache. Sirius' grip on Harry tightened as he quietly growled at the man. Harry just watched the man glare at Sirius as he continued walking past them, apparently in some sort of hurry.
"Sirius," Remus warned again. "Remember we're all on the same side. Whatever Crouch did to you in the past should stay in the past. There's nothing we can do about it now."
"Er—what did he do?" Percy asked hesitantly.
"He sent me to Azkaban without a trial," Sirius said bitterly. "To him I was nothing of importance so my rights didn't matter."
The boys all growled.
Remus put a hand on his friend's shoulder, once again serving as the voice of reason. "But you were proven innocent, Sirius," he reminded calmly. "Today isn't the day to focus on past mistakes. Let the kids have their fun. The World Cup doesn't happen every day."
Sirius let out a frustrated sigh. Of course Remus was right. Releasing Harry from his hold, Sirius turned the teen around so they were face to face. "I'm sorry, kiddo," he said sincerely. "Old wounds are the hardest to mend."
Harry nodded and wrapped his arms around Sirius. If anyone knew anything about old wounds it was Harry and Remus. Perhaps that was why the three of them got along so well. They all understood each other better than anyone else. "It's okay," Harry said softly. "I understand."
“That and they complement each other,” Lily said.
“How so?” Sirius asked.
“Well, you’re a jokester and Remus brings out the, pardon the pun, serious part that you have hidden very deep down. Remus is usually serious and you bring out a more relaxed part of him. Harry is more like Remus so he identifies with him but he needs you to lighten him up. That’s why you work well now too except it’s the other way around with James, he identifies with you and needs Remus to keep him grounded.”
The three boys nodded satisfied. She described them perfectly.