Through the blinding, bright light, Harry saw someone with an outstretched wand. The glowing stag was radiating comfort and peace and, dare he say, love. The figure looked like him in a way, looked like him, but it couldn't be. He was here, not there. But, there was no one else that matched the way he looked. No one at Hogwarts or in Little Whining. Well, it could be one person. Harry hadn't ever seen him in person, but he knew of him. They all said he looked like his father, except for his mother's eyes. So if it wasn't him, then…
"Dad?" He moaned to the rapidly fleeing dementor swarm, eyes closing from the stress of the night.
Harry turned back to Hermione. "Well, that's that. Let's grab Buckbeak and find Sirius." She nods mutely, brain still in shock at the spell he cast.
"Buckbeak!" Harry calls into some bushes. "Beaky!" Hermione swats his arm.
"Harry, there's a werewolf here. Do not go shouting into the woods. I'd rather not be killed, or turned. My parents would be horrified." She scolds.
"Right. Sorry. Here Bucky!" He whispers, voice substantially lower. They keep descending the slope.
"Hey, here's the track from the Weasleys Angelina." He comments as they pass a dried set of tire tracks. Hermione stops in place.
"Er, right you were asleep. So you know Ron and I missed the train last year, right?" At her nod he continues. "So we borrowed the Weasleys car and flew here. Crashed into the Whomping Willow. The car apparently was peeved at us and chucked us out. Then it drove off. So later, we went searching for Aragog, and-"
"Aragog?" Hermione interrupts.
"Hagrid's acromantula friend. Anyway, we went searching for him to find answers on what was petrifying the students. He wasn't helpful and sicced his brood on us. Said that he had them spare Hagrid due to their friendship, but all others were fair game. So we were running from the spiders-" Harry continues.
"Running? Aren't they just spiders? You could've stepped on them."
"You do know how big acromantulas are, don't you?" He asks.
"No, how big?"
"Well, Aragog was about the size of a semi, and his brood ranged from regular to pony sized."
Hermione gasps, "And you went looking for them?"
"Hagrid trusted them, so yeah. We didn't think they would attack! Anyway, we ran and the car found us. It took us back to Hagrid's hut and threw us out again. Ron and I owe it our lives. And a detention, come to think of it." He finished.
"That's crazy. I thought first year was dangerous, but my lord, Harry! You need to take more care of yourself." Hermione admonished.
"So says the girl prancing about in the forbidden forest with a werewolf on the loose, looking for a 'bloodthirsty and murderous' hippogriff." Harry shoots back with a grin.
"A bloodthirsty and murderous hippogriff we just found. Come on Harry, let's go save Sirius!" She says cheerfully. Suddenly, the beast in question rears up, whirling to the other side of the tree it was lounging under. A pair of yellow eyes gleams out of the darkness. A low growl that the pair feels reverberating in their sternums comes through the clearing. Professor Lupin circles into the light of the moon. His flank is scratched and small bits mar his front. The wounds seem to have only irritated him more. His eyes lock onto Harry's as a strand of saliva droops from his fangs.
"Hermione, get behind me." Harry orders, drawing his wand. He knows it's futile, but there's little other hope. Maybe an overpowered stinging hex or an extra bright Lumos could drive it off. Or, perhaps he could pull a Ron and levitate it out of the way. She scrambles behind him, painfully aware that she is actually larger than him. She files this away for later, deciding that now is not the time to discuss his home life. If they survive, she vows to come back to this.
Harry determinedly takes a step forward. "Lumos!" He shouts, the tip of his wand lighting up brighter than his Patronus had been. The clearing is thrown into stark relief, the shadows bending away from the light, trees shining white or black, all color seemingly cast out of existence. Lupin howls in pain, rearing up away from the light, but swiping blindly. Harry is hit by the blow, wand flying form his fingers, jacket shredded from Lupin's claws. Blood wells up from the scratches. He yelps in pain. "Harry!"
Lupin barks in pleasure at the brightness-that-hurts going away. His prey is defenseless in front of him, two warm bodies. He can taste their fear, their smell. They should be enough to satisfy him this night. Maybe he'll need one more. For some reason, he feels like there should be three. In the face of his great triumph, a pair of wings billow open in front of the downed prey. Talons lash out at him, catching his muzzle. The rip-tear feeling comes again, bringing the pain with it. A beast rears up in front, a fellow hunter. So he strayed into their territory, their hunting grounds. Not knowing if this creature is solitary or a pack hunter like himself, the wolf howls and retreats to less abusive territory.
Buckbeak turns back to the two-legs that he liked and the one who fed him. He liked these two. They gave him ferrets and respect. They were his; no beast was going to take them. He sniffed at the one who smelled like food hopefully.
Hermione crouched next to Harry, inspecting his arm.
"Hermione, am I going to change now? When will the first be? Oh god, what will the Dursleys do? Uncle Vernon will kill me when he hears!" Harry says.
"Harry, did you sleep through Snape's entire lecture? Only werewolf saliva can infect. You're fine. Thank god. Now, what was I saying about crazy?" She cuffed the back of his head before hugging him. "That's for saving me and risking your life. And not in that order." She felt Buckbeak's, er, beak prodding her back. She stood up, raising her hands, showing the hippogriff that she didn't have any more food for it.
"Harry, I feel bad, he saved us and I can't thank him."
"Help me find my wand; I think I can find one of Hagrid's traps. Wait, got it." He stands up quickly before stumbling to a tree.
"Harry!" Hermione calls out in alarm.
"I'm fine, just stood up too fast." He replies, tucking his wand in his pocket. She sighs and walks over, tearing off the ripped sleeve of his jacket.
"Reparo, Scourgify." She cast, making the sleeve whole and cleaning it of debris. She wraps it around his scratches, tying it in a knot over the wound. "That'll do until we're back at Pomphrey's. And it's no surprise about your condition. Magical exhaustion AND blood loss. To anyone else, it'd be a shock you're walking."
"Well, the chores've got to be done, right?" He says cryptically. "Thank you Buckbeak." He calls, bowing to the birdhorse. "Or is it a horsebird? Semantics." He decides. "There's a trap over there, Hermione." He calls, focusing a moment with a muttered Lumos. The light comes out narrower, as a beam pointed at a line hanging from a branch.
"Just out of curiosity, how did you?" Hermione asks as she retrieves the dead rodent.
"I've been practicing magic with Professor Lupin during my breaks. He's taught me some tricks on intent." Harry replies.
She cuffs his head, "Magical Exhaustion," and feds the ferret to Buckbeak. "So, how did you do this again?"
"Bow, then er… Figure it out." At her dirty look he continues. "Hagrid just kinda plopped me on him last time. I'm not sure how to mount. Come to think, Hagrid probably doesn't either with his size and all."
"Boys." Hermione huffs, bowing to Buckbeak. When he bows back she approaches him, stroking his beak. "You're just a wonderful hippogriff. You don't know the mounting procedure though, do you?" To her surprise, it seems he does. Buckbeak bends even lower, to where she can brace off a nearby tree and sling a leg over him. "Come on harry, it's not hard."
With much more care, harry repeats the process, shuffling onto Buckbeak's back.
"Now to the north tower. " He says, prodding the hippogriffs sides with his worn trainers. The birdhorse wheels upwards before galloping and leaping into the air.
Their arrival at the north tower happens without notice, as well as bursting his cell door. Hermione's subtle Alohomora attracted as much notice as it did first year, rather than the blast that Harry's Bombarda would have caused. However, Sirius was yet to move.
"Sirius? We've come to rescue you! Sirius?" Harrys chipper call swiftly descends to worry. Hermione's hands climb to cover her mouth, trying to muffle the "No…"
"Siri?" Harry is on his knees by Sirius body now, clumsily feeling for a pulse or something. "Hermione. Hermione, he's- he's cold. There's no heartbeat. Hermione he's, he's, he's dead. He was going to let me stay with him instead of the Dursleys and he's dead. He's dead. Hermione he's dead!" Harry is in full hysteria, tears sliding on his cheeks, nose running; it falls to her to keep them safe.
"Harry." She calls softly, gently. "Harry there's nothing we can do."
"But- but I made sure they didn't kiss him. I watched the dementors flee. They didn't get his soul." He protests.
"Harry, the dementors kiss doesn't kill a person, it only takes their soul. If he had been kissed, the body would still be alive." She says gently.
"So you're saying that he- that someone?"
"Maybe. We don't know. We didn't see them take him in. We don't know harry. We don't." The ominous sound of tolling bells suddenly boomed.
"Harry, quick- we've got to be in the infirmary before the bells are over." She cries out. "Buckbeak, you're free now. You can go wherever you want to, but you can't stay here. Go. Be free, and be safe." She pleads, pressing a hand to his side. He noses her shoulder. "No, you can't stay. Forgive me." She slaps his flank roughly. He cries out in shock, turning and launching from the tower. "I'm so sorry. C'mon Harry. We have to be at the infirmary."
The final bell tolls as she drags a shell-shocked Harry through the doors. Ron is thankfully asleep and Dumbledore is nowhere to be seen.
"Harry, you have to lay down on your cot." She guides him to his cot and gently pushes him down.
"Miss Granger?" Madame Pomphrey's tone is sharp, and comforting.
"Harry was thrashing about. I- I woke him up, but he turned to this. I think it may be that the adrenaline is wearing off. Also, his arm is torn open. I just noticed it now. Lupin had bound it before…" She trailed off.
"Oh, my poor dear. Rest. I'll handle this." Madame Pomphrey guides her to her own cot and gently pushes her down. "A calming draught?"
"Yes please." "Anything to end this night."