Chapter 23:

"-So the guy walks up to his mum, his bloody mum, covered in his own excrement and still crying he says 'Mom, the stupid tour guide shot me in my arse and made me fall into the big bin of rubber snakes!' and she turns to him and slaps him upside the head!"

Harry was doubled over in laughter and at that point genuinely fell to the floor.

" 'Benjamin Fitzgerald Martin', she says, 'you watch your fucking language and change your pants right now, he told us that this could save our lives so you will refresh yourself and get back up on that rope swing this instant!'," Remus chuckled and looked off into the distance fondly, "That was the most fun I had ever had on that course. I mean I was mildly drunk at the time, I did mean to tag his arm, but really it was his fault for not using the loo beforehand like I told him to. Teenagers..."

Harry got to his knees, still trying to fend off laughter so he could get another breath, "By Ymir's bones! I can't believe you made a business where tourists PAID you to injure and humiliate them in the name of not dying in the jungle! Remus, can I be you when I grow up?"

The old wolf leaned over and mussed the boy's hair briefly, "I'll tell you now what I told your father when you were born, you can try, but in the end you're just not good looking enough."

Harry immediately morphed his face to match Remus', but with the careful addition of enough pigment to make him look like one of Knockturn Alley's ladies of the evening. Deep purple eye shadow met with bright red lipstick and slightly more rouge than would have been necessary to recreate a Weasley blush.

"What about now, sweet thing?"

It was enough to make the pair of them break down into laughter. It really had been a hell of a Christmas.

Amelia and Susan were in love with their presents, Hannah was still walking around with an odd gleam in her eye, Nym was handling her specially made piercings fondly, and Andi's gaze still flicked every few moments to the mass of chocolate on a cooling charm across the room from her. As he hugged Lord Stabbington to his side he could feel Luna's comforting presence at his side too.

Yep. Good Christmas.


"Lily and James, Lily and James... I know how much you want to know and how badly, but it's so hard to find a place to start."

"The beginning? How did they meet? What were their favorite foods and colors? I have their journals, though only dad was honest enough to call it a diary, but they only talk about what happened, and magic, and their lives, they don't talk about themselves, really. I mean who lists their favorite color and food all the time?"

"Hahaha! I'm surprised they didn't cover how they met in their journals, though maybe they wouldn't have. They met in our first class together. We all kinda rallied around Sirius, see his cousins were all still in school when he started, so there was a bit of a legitimate uproar around his sorting at the Slytherin table. It was so long ago, but I want to say we had charms first? Yes, charms, because the first day is the one where old Flitwick uses color changing charms to get all the firsties right into it."

"Dad's journal doesn't mention mum until about halfway through the year, and he kept going through overly poetic names, and there was even a page where he was writing her name in a bunch of different handwritings as 'Lily Potter'. It was really weird."

"That was James though, and that class was it for him. Flitwick gave us all the motion and incantation, as well as the bit of lecture, and then let us all loose. It was Sirius and James, Me and that hippogriff shit reject pile of," all of the ladies in the room harumphed at him, except Nym who looked like she was searching for a pen and paper, "Sorry, me and Peter. Your mum was with Alice, we had drawn all our own little lines by that time already, see? Now your dad and Sirius immediately start trying to change each other red and gold, Gryffindor pride, right? Now Sirius of course flubs the first spell he gets his grubby little hands on and manages to turn the entire room gold in an explosion that very nearly blinded your father. Lily of course takes exception to this, and marches right up to the little blighter and with the coldest voice I have ever heard to this very day demands the cad change her back. Now even then your da had the classic marauder spirit, he peeks over Sirius' shoulder and changes her hair back to bright red, even more vibrant than before, mind. As soon as he does it, her face began turning red too, now not part of the spell, just regular old anger burning through Sirius' charm work. She is about to explode and your dad just goes all cross eyed and says, 'Oh my goddess, it's an angel!' "

Harry just couldn't take it, he was in stitches again.

"So the whole classroom is utterly silent watching all of this go on, even Flitwick is up on his pile of mundane phone books (though where he got his Essex county phonebooks is beyond me) and we're all just staring at the three of them. Then your mom proved why she was worth her charms mastery and managed a pair of perfectly executed wordless stinging hexes to both James and Sirius' foreheads. Gave the pair of them welts so bad they looked like unicorns by lunch. But James caught the bug then and there, later that week he swore to the rest of us that he'd marry that girl or die trying, and you know what? We believed him."

" 'Oh my goddess'? Really? And she managed stinging hexes her first day?"

"Yep! I don't know what to tell you cub. For all his bluster and courage, your dad was a bit of an effeminate bloke. Though he'd be killing me for telling you. Your mom really wore the pants in the family, though it may have been because by the time they were married she just couldn't get enough of James in a kilt. The whole Scottish highlander thing really worked for her I guess, she used to get this gleam in her eye whenever she saw him in a kilt. Always unhealthy that was, at least as Sirius and I figured it. Though who it was unhealthy for..."

"I did not need to know that, Moony."

"And I don't need to be drunk right now, cub. But we all have to make do, don't we?"

"Git."

"Child."

"I am a child!"

"Shut it pipsqueak."

"Oh I'll pipsqueak you, you good for nothing werewolf son of a-"

Their lunch conversation turned into yet another duel between them, and while normally Harry was skilled enough to keep up with him, it appeared that Remus Lupin with five celebratory New Year's mimosas in him was something of a savant.

Amelia activated the dueling ward she kept between the rest of the family and the part of the table that she made Harry and Remus sit on after the Second Battle of the Spilled Orange Juice, wherein Harry's favorite Weird Sisters tee shirt was stained after Moony's assertion that Rage Against the Machine was better, and Lupin was transfigured into a particularly fetching chinchilla.

She didn't think she had seen Harry ever quite this active, or ever smiling quite this much.

She and Andi finally managed to track down Remus just a bit after they sent all the little ones off to Hogwarts, and after sending two other unanswered invites to tea, just to get some face time with the werewolf mercenary, the finally met him in mid-October. They wanted Harry to have a living connection to his birth family as much as he did, but any parent would be worried about their kid associating with a man the CIA once referred to as 'either the greatest anti-Soviet asset America never had, or a dangerous nationalist vigilante'. Their fears didn't last much past the first biscuit though.

Lupin had shown up on the seventeenth with no problems, and he came in to their parlor dressed in an old patched up black jacket and jeans. His face had seen quite a few miles since either of them had seen him after Hogwarts, but it was undeniable that he still had a bit of his old swagger and charm.

It only took a few prying questions to figure out where his loyalty lied, and after Remus first broke the topic of possibly getting their help to find James and Lily's son again, they each had a feeling they found Harry his connection.

He took the news about Sirius and Peter like a bullet. His stoicism marred by the tears coursing silently down his face as he found out about his one-time brother spending the last twelve years in hell. They had done what they could for him though. James and Lily's will was enough proof for him, and the ladies were devastated to find out their hearts could break further when they saw how he almost lost his composure again seeing the handwriting of two of his greatest friends. James and Lily expressed their love for him and left him the apartment James had bought for them when they had first moved out after Hogwarts.

He came back the next day and got updated on the entire legal minefield that was releasing Sirius. They couldn't get the case heard on the floor of the Wizengamot without the Chief Warlock rescinding his order to seal. They couldn't go around him without passing through a veil of laws the bloody goblins had been spending a year and a half trying to pierce. They couldn't bring their charges against the chief warlock to get a new one because he was Albus BLOODY Dumbledore, the man physically, magically, and philosophically couldn't lose a case he did not intend to lose. He even got Severus Snape out of Azkaban after the BLOODY BUGGERING DARK LORD DIED AND-

Tensions were high. Remus threatened to dip back into to his 'Mad Russian Supply', whatever that was.

They agreed to meet up every weekend from then until Christmas. Remus wanted to know more about his 'cub', and they wanted to know more about him. All joking aside, Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service had a file on him, a source of concern to any decent parent.


Severus Snape looked down on his kingdom and wept.

From his seat at the height of the noonday sun, he watched as his children, all of his furry niffler children, killed, maimed, and sacrificed in his name. Born of his flesh and blood, he created them all, from their wide spade like hands to their inquisitive and ever twitching noses.

From his blood he created the sea, from his bones the mountains, and from his flesh did he make the earth. He prepared all forms of nice small insects and lizards for his children, as well as only the finest in bushes of mint, sage, and lavender for them all. He spread the wealth of this sustenance across the world he made for them.

Then, when he made for his children a place to live and food to eat, he went back through the world and peppered every part of it with rubies, and sapphire, and diamonds, and gold. All of the most shiny and attractive things the mind could possibly conceive of did he make and spread for the glory of his children.

He gave of his life so they could live and be content, but such was not the way of things. The small hairy beings were not content to live an idyllic life of foraging for grub and the collection of glinting shininess. No.

His children began worshiping him, which he appreciated, but when they began their worship of him some stood among them and claimed to have spoken with him. They claimed to know his will. These nifflers directed others in the construction of great pyramids and ziggurats that they claimed would glorify him. They said that as he sacrificed of his body to create their world, so too should they sacrifice in honor of what he gave. They, in the great cycles of the calendar they devised, began massive ceremonies of live niffler sacrifice. They took of their small hordes of jewels and precious metals and threw away their favorites to present a sacrifice to him, and they began making war amongst themselves over the proper forms of worship to him.

Snape sat upon his throne in the noonday sun and despaired.

From his right, a form took shape from the mists, and so came to be his old friend, the Russian commando. Turning to his friend and his guide Snape lamented, "I gave them everything of myself, look on the glory I created for them! But they sacrifice their great bearded lizards in my name; they pull the hearts from their fellow's bodies in the hope that their sacrifice drives me to greater power! They kill the unwilling, and they steal and destroy those who would rather not give of the adorable shinies I left them in the world! What am I to do when my children turn on each other so? I wished only to forge for them a world of peace, that they may live, and love, and discover pretty baubles in the depths of the earth I made for them?"

The battle hardened Russian looked on his charge, and seeing his desperation said, "Look at your children. Your work is not enough. Will never be enough. Thy have own minds, they have own will to follow. If sacrifice bothers you, do something. Show little ones error of their way. See here," the Russian said, directing Snape's attention to an island ruled by a mad priest, "Look at priest. He makes ready the next sacrifice he will make, he raise boy here to one day die. He does not see error in his ways, he never will. You may do as you have done, nothing. Or maybe you act. Maybe you show old priest error of his way, no? Is for you to decide, but think on it."

And so Severus Snape did. He looked on all of the land and sea he had made for his children. He looked into their dens and tunnels and he looked into the highest reaches of the structures they had made. Then, after much contemplation, he acted.


"You ever thought about becoming an animagus like your folks?"

"Wait, Lily was an animagus? My birth-mum was also one? Well poo now I have to."

"Yeah, now this one I know why she never wrote down. I bet it was the same thing with your dad, Sirius, and," it was tough for the man, but he managed to choke out the name without cursing, "Petigrew."

"Marauder's honor?"

"Something like that. Looking back, we really were kinda like a street gang. I mean we had all of these secrets of our own, we had rivals we fought constantly, hell, we all lived out of the same apartment block for a while, at least until they went into hiding. We really should have been punished for a lot of the stuff we used to do, but it was war time."

"What do you mean?"

"Well setting aside what I now recognize would have been sexual harassment with the panty raids, we really used to go hard on those Slytherins. In our defense their parents were more often than not actively attempting to kill ours, but still. Take Snape, yeah?"

"I'd been meaning to ask about him..."

"Yeah, so to get the weirdness out of the way, he used to really have a thing for your mum," retching, "yeah, I know. Anyway, James hated that. So naturally we backed up our man and we spent a LOT of time pranking him. The issue was we were all pranksters, so we often went off on our own and did things. I'm sure you know the trouble of combining unknown or poorly researched effects though, and that's most of what pranking is. So about halfway through fifth year, Snape did something or other, privately called your dad a mudblood lover or something, and so we all set out on him.

I pulled my notes together and worked out a way to use a potion to ink color changing runes on a parchment in such a way that if I could get them into contact with skin they would constantly change a person's hair color until that fellow found and disabled the runes. Your dad knew that Snape like to billow his cloak, I'm sure you know the way, so he set about his notes and made a custom charm designed to mimic all the symptoms of uncontrollable gas, as in butt cheeks flapping, air rushing out, the whole thing, but only to Snape, no one else could see, hear, or feel it. Sirius, ever the consummate six year old, brewed himself up a potion that actually induced uncontrollable gas. Now to this day I don't know how he did it, but using a bit of the weird stuff they put in time turners, he actually managed to make an everlasting elixir out of the brew."

"Gods above."

Remus smiled widely, "Oh yes, you can see where this is going now. So by accident we all hit him the same day. Sirius switched the contents of a vial with his morning pumpkin juice, James nailed him just after our morning transfiguration, and I managed to slip him the parchment during a manufactured altercation just after lunch. Now we didn't see him for the rest of the day. The next day he doesn't come down to breakfast, he misses potions, and no one sees him for lunch. Dinner though.

We finally saw him at dinner and by the Banded Eyed God, did we mess him up. James' work interacted with the elixir to come to a weird form of permanence, Sirius' complemented and changed James', and mine? Well. You ever wonder why his hair looks so damn greasy all the time? The contact potion I used for the runes mixed with Sirius' handiwork, and," hehehe, "Well, there's no easy way to say it," Remus' story was now actively impeded by his mile wide grin, "He began to fart from his hair. Uncontrollably."

Harry had to close his eyes and try to find his center because if he didn't in a big goddamn hurry he might break a rib from laughing. Remus was openly giggling like a schoolgirl, to the point where he couldn't get another word out. By sheer happenstance, Andi walked by the room the two were in and recognized their dire straits. A few flicks of her wand and the two were under an emotion suppressant designed for use with accidents involving cheering charms. A nod and four thumbs up later, she left on her way.

In a perfect deadpan Harry continued, "So what ended up happening?"

"Well, the everlasting elixir is called that for a reason. It doesn't go away, but thankfully for Snape it mutated when it met with James' charms. He doesn't produce any odor, thanks be, but in the style of James' charm, he constantly feels like he is undergoing the effects of the same. No one else sees or feels it other than the wind, but to his ears and body, he is constantly farting. Constantly. It's why the cape billows. And he began greasing his hair so much because if he let it go, his hair would constantly stand up and wave from the amount of air passing through it. To this very day he continues to fart from his scalp."

"Well."

"Yeah."

"You really should be in jail."

"There is a pretty good reason why the time dust or whatever it is is so rigorously controlled."

"But..."

"Yeah."

...

...

"In our defense, he had tried to severely injure if not murder us on multiple occasions. Really it's kind of Dumbledore's fault for letting a bunch of armed teenagers go so far."

"I want to laugh but I can't feel any amusement. I'm kinda glad because I think I may die from this when the charm breaks."

"Keep Andi around then."

"Good plan. Since we can't feel anything, wanna go unnerve the girls by watching cartoons without emotions?"

With tears of pride breaking through the block placed on him, Remus put a hand on Harry's shoulder, "Yes cub, yes I do."


As Harry and his friends and Family all line up in front of the horrendous crimson of the Hogwarts express, eyes watered for a reason beyond the normal wizarding lack of design sense.

Remus was the best Christmas present anyone could have possibly gotten a twelve year old multi-millionaire. Harry actively didn't want to go back to school, and not just because while everyone had been having fun there was still some kind of murder beast on the prowl, the castle was a huge and inquisitive pervert, and he would have to watch Ron Weasley eat.

Amelia and Andi had grown pretty fond of the old wolf themselves, setting aside how happy his stories and dueling skill made Harry, he was a decent and well-traveled fellow on his own. Everyone had separately extracted promises from the man that he would stick around, at least until they could spend more time together during the summer. The skills he had picked up when he went walkabout could be applied to almost everyone's interests. Frankly the man was like a magical MacGyver, which given his mild propensity towards violence and major propensity towards mayhem made him a terrifying man and an awesome uncle.

No one had seen Luna yet, but Neville and Dowager Longbottom met them on just the other side of the gate. A bit deeper inside the magical station they had found Hermione sitting atop her trunk with a dainty air and a book in hand. No one could spot Luna, but it was recognized that she would reappear in her own unique way soon enough.

Hugs were spread around, and tears were had. Harry had never felt closer to his family, Amelia or his birth parents. It was hard to let go when you have something like that. He just had his first real Christmas, and yeah, maybe blowing the rough equivalent of twenty thousand galleons on a Christmas wasn't a great idea, but he'd be damned if it wasn't one of the finest times he had ever had in his entire life. Though given some of his memories that bar wasn't super high to start out with.

Before he got onto the train, Remus took him aside and leaned next to his ear, "Hinin-Yaku Ryuu Bu, remember it kiddo," and then leaning back out he gave his cub one last hug, "You're an amazing kid, you've done me proud, and I know with absolute certainty that James and Lils would feel the same. Just keep it up."

Harry smiled like only metamorph could, and returned the hug with vigor, "Thanks Moony."

Remus ruffled the young Punk's hair a bit, and with a loving smile at Amelia and Andi, Harry leapt up onto the train and made his way to the friend's compartment. By the time he sat down he had processed all that the old were had told him, and his brain was picking over the first thing.

"Hinin-Yaku Ryuu Bu... Hinin-Yaku Ryuu Bu... I thinks it's an incantation, but I have no idea what, it doesn't sound like it's from any romantic or western tradition..."

Susan chimed in, saying, "What're you mumbling about?"

"It's something Remus told me just before he let me go on to the train, he said Hinin-Yaku Ryuu Bu, and he told me to remember it, like it's supposed to mean something to me. I mean it sounds like an incantation, but what could it be?"

Nym and Hannah perked up into the discussion, while Neville continued paging through the latest quibbler, mild grin firmly entrenched on his face.

"Well it's not latin... I'd say we just try it out on something, but this is Remus we're talking about. Moony of the marauders."

"I don't know," Hannah began, "He was always nice to us, i don't think he would just give Harry an unknown spell that could hurt any of us. He'd have to know we'd try it, or at least that Harry and Nym over here would."

Nym looked hurt, but Harry nodded along, "Well, to Tartarus with it, Hinin Yaku Ryuu Bu!"

With a flick Harry cast the unknown spell at the floor of the compartment near the door, figuring it would do the least damage there. The spell cast as just a dim white light that impacted the ground and seemed to make the floor shine slightly.

"Well that's kind of a downer, he gave you a floor polishing spell?" Nym said with disbelief in her voice, "I thought better of the Marauders."

As if on cue the door was flung open and Draco Malfoy took a step into the compartment, his mouth open and invariably set on making an ass of himself. Unfortunately for him, all he got out was "Pott- EEEEIEIEE!" as his first step landed flat in the middle of the shining region of the floor.

Malfoy flung out his arms to try and stop himself, be he had entered with too much vigor for anything to work. In a move that would make a meth addicted quintaped seem graceful, the boy flopped back and impacted the floor directly with his head, knocking himself clean out. Crabbe and Goyle stepped in and with a glance at one another, Crabbe tugged on his forelocks saying, "Pardon guv'nors."

He and Goyle each grabbed a leg and dragged their nominal leader out into the hall and parts beyond.

As soon as they were clear Luna popped up in the doorway, her trunk shuffling on tiny animated legs behind her.

"Harry, why did you knock Malfoy out with the Japanese combination lube/contraception charm?"