Woo! I finished it! Would you believe I actually started working on this as soon as I uploaded the last chapter? And it's been a month. But at least it hasn't been three years… haha. Every time I tried to work on it, I had to do something else. Anyway, enjoy!
Hopefully this works, last time there was issues on here...
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters and this is not a way for me to criticize the books. It's just how I believe the characters would react if they read the Harry Potter books.
In This Chapter: Remus and Sirius read about Harry's detention in the forbidden forest and McGonagall taking away fifty points from Harry, Hermione, and Neville. This causes the whole school to turn on the three (besides Ron of course). What really interests them is Harry's run in with centaurs and Voldemort himself!
"So, Harry," Fred and George came up to him, Ron and Hermione in the common room, it was Fred who was speaking. "Where do you reckon we should have our reading party tonight? My thoughts lead to the room of requirement-"
"But I thought it'd just be easier to have it here and tell anyone who isn't a part of our party to bug off." George said.
Hermione twisted her lips. "I mean, would you really be able to keep people out of here? It is the common room... you know... for everyone..."
"Hermione," Fred shook his head. "Come on, it's us. Of course we can keep people out."
Harry shrugged. "Here's fine. What time is it happening again?"
"Seven thirty!" the twins said together.
"On the dot," Fred said.
"Don't be late!" George finished.
Harry realized something, "Oh... Being late isn't the issue. It's leaving early. I just remembered I have a meeting at eight..."
"What? Are you pulling my leg, Potter?" Fred asked.
"If you're trying to avoid it or get out of it, we can just-" George started.
"Hey," Ron cut in. "He really does have a meeting, a very important one, too."
Hermione nodded. "He made it a week ago, long before you two even had the idea for your reading party."
Fred and George looked disappointed. George said, "Harry, you're kind of our guest of honor..."
Harry sighed. "How about this, move it back an hour. Eight thirty, read chapter fifteen without me, and I'll try to be back for the last two chapters." Fred tapped his chin and looked at George, who shrugged. Harry said, "It's the best I can do."
"Well alright, alright." Fred said. "After we read chapter fifteen, we'll give you a... twenty minute grace period. If you're not back by then, we start on the next chapter without you."
Harry shrugged. "Whatever feels right."
George looked at Fred. "Guess we gotta put the word out. Book reading, now at eight thirty."
Hermione watched them leave with a thoughtful look. "That's pretty late to start a reading party considering it's a school night. Ron, you can't put off your homework anymore."
"Alright, alright, I'll do it now!" Ron grumbled. "Why aren't you on Harry about this?"
"Because you said just twenty minutes ago that you haven't done your potion's homework and I'm sure Harry has." Hermione turns to him. "Haven't you, Harry?"
Harry cringed. "I'll get started on mine, too."
Hermione sighed. "The both of you, honestly..."
While many Gryffindor students were making plans for reading chapter fifteen that evening, two former Gryffindor students were just about to start on it.
The books were a curse and a blessing. Sirius and Remus couldn't think of anything better than to be able to have the ability to see the school years that they missed. At the same time, it was a painful reminder of what they lost. They tried to focus on the positive, though the Christmas chapter with the Mirror of Erised proved to be the most difficult one. That was saying something, considering the early stuff with the Dursleys was no walk in the park either.
Remus knew it was worse for Sirius. He held so much guilt and regret about the last fourteen years. He knew the books were bringing feelings up. Neither of them knew at all how troubled Harry's early years were, and that includes the school year, which was supposed to be easier. That being said, there was a nostalgia to reading as well. Harry had so much of his parents in him, there were times it was like reading about James and Lily.
Sirius whistled and ran a hand through his hair. "Let me tell you something, Remus, we've had our fair few adventures, but we didn't ever have any with a dragon."
"Truthfully, Harry's had more excitement in his year than we had in our whole run." Remus said.
Sirius scoffed, "I wouldn't go that far, he hasn't even stepped foot inside of the forest yet."
"I'd be surprised if he doesn't at least once." Remus said.
"I'd be a bit disappointed," Sirius muttered. "Almost as disappointed as I was that he and Hermione forgot the cloak!"
"Yes, you've bored that topic to death and I'm ready to move on. One more chapter and then break for lunch?" Remus asked. "And then we can finish it after."
"Sure, sure," Sirius said. "I'd like to see what McGonagall does. Hopefully she's not too hard on them."
"I can't believe how hard on them she was," Sirius muttered right when Remus had finished the last line of the chapter. "Merlin, you'd have thought they blew up an entire wing of the school. It was beyond overkill."
"At least you know Harry's been in the forest at least once," Remus joked.
Sirius ignored him. "They were caught being out at like one am, which is apparently the worst thing a student can ever do, so as a punishment, McGonagall sends them out an hour after curfew to go galloping around in the forbidden forest until dawn?"
"It wasn't until dawn," Remus muttered.
"Filch said he was picking them up at dawn," Sirius said.
"He was definitely trying to scare them." Remus said. When Sirius glared at him, he held up his hands. "But you're absolutely right, Sirius. And either way, eleven is pretty late for a detention. We must have done a million worse things when we were at Hogwarts and we never got something like this."
"Well," Sirius scoffed. "Apparently we're not as memorable as I thought. What did McGonagall say?" he flipped through the chapter for a second before letting out an 'ah ha' and pointing on the page. "'Four students out of bed in one night! I've never heard of such a thing before!'" Sirius looked at Remus with an expression of disbelief. "Never? Not once in even the last twenty years?"
Remus breathed out a laugh, "Oh, you know how teachers are. Especially in the first year. They exaggerate so you feel bad about it and never do it again. But honestly, I think McGonagall panicked. She was not seeing Harry at that moment, she was seeing James."
Sirius pursed his lips and nodded. "Yeah, you're right. She saw Harry sneaking around out of bed and thought it was gonna be another seven years of rule breaking and pranks and went WAY overboard trying to stray him off that path."
"Yeah, extremely so. I mean even the points she took away, fifty points each?" Remus shook his head. "Not that I care all too much about the point system, but plenty of people do especially when you're younger. She was obviously trying to set everyone against them."
"Yeah and it worked a charm, didn't it? God, teenagers are so fickle, all the time everyone would love us one day and hate us the next. I do not miss that. Look at how easily they all turned against him? At least Ron was there, good friend." Sirius said.
Remus nodded, looking out at nothing for a moment, lost in his mind. He wondered what it must have felt to Harry to be turned on by nearly everyone like that. After living his entire life with no one on his side, no allies, no friends, to be back in that place... It couldn't have been easy. In fact, now that he thought about it, Harry, Hermione, and Neville were probably the three Gryffindors that would be most emotionally affected by this. Hermione seemed to have a hard time making friends, and Neville spent much of his time being picked on and messed with. They certainly didn't need the whole school turning their backs on them.
Thinking about how it affected the three to the point of Neville crying in bed, Hermione's excitement for school going away, and Harry even wanting to quit quidditch just to stay out of the way, Remus definitely thought the punishment was too harsh. He wondered if, when she read this back, McGonagall had regrets.
"I feel like they could have done one or the other," Remus finally said. "Like, if she were gonna take away all of those points, she could have forgone the detention. Seems like that was punishment enough.
"And what did the detention do anyway besides put them in danger? And piss me off..." Sirius said. There was a part of him that thinks if James and Lily were around, or even if Sirius were around at that time, they wouldn't have pulled a stunt like that. He'd hope Harry would write to him so he could come in, wand blazing, putting a stop to it immediately. Though, from what he's read, it isn't really Harry's nature to go to someone, but maybe that was because of how he grew up.
Remus shook his head. "I don't get why the punishment for doing something forbidden is to go somewhere forbidden at a time that you're forbidden to be out of your rooms. And why split the group up in the forest?"
Sirius threw his hands up. "Why in the name of Merlin did Hagrid split them up? I'm sure he's comfy in the forest but, as we saw, literally anything could have stumbled across them. Why not at least take Harry and Hermione with him when he went to search for Neville and Malfoy instead of leaving them there. And the groups were pretty far from each other too, since it kind of took Hagrid a while to get to them and get back."
"I didn't even think about that." Remus frowned.
"I mean, you send kids to Hogwarts thinking that the safety of the kids is their number one priority, right?" Sirius asked. "But then they do things like this."
"Well Hagrid did say there's nothing in the forest that would hurt them while they're with him or Fang." Remus pointed out.
Sirius waved him off. "I was dubious about that from the beginning. Because the forest is chock full of creatures, and as friendly as Hagrid is with them, most of them don't blindly listen to him. But even if that were the case, the whole point of this is that there's an odd thing happening. Unicorns are being hurt, which is strange because nothing in the forest would do that. Right?"
"Right..." Remus answered hesitantly.
"Meaning there's something in the forest that shouldn't be in there. So, I ask, why is it their first response to take four first years out to investigate this?" Sirius was looking at Remus almost as if he were the one who did this. "And I'm sorry, no offence to Hagrid because we all know he can kick ass, but what could he do against a fully realized wizard?"
"He didn't specifically know it was a wizard when he went out there," Remus defended. "And wand or no wand, we know a crossbow could do some serious damage."
"Why are you defending this?" Sirius accused.
"I'm..." Remus started. He wasn't really trying to defend them. Maybe he didn't like it when people were overly critical of Hogwarts. He didn't think he'd be able to go to any school, but Hogwarts took him despite his condition. All of his best memories were there. Sure, Sirius' concerns are justified, but he knew there were two sides to every story and he couldn't help but try to see the other side. "I'm just playing devil's advocate."
"Well quit it, would you? You're annoying me," Sirius huffed. "I mean, can't you see how irresponsible all of this is?"
"Sure," Remus began. "But, well, someone could say it's irresponsible to let a werewolf teach at a school with a bunch of kids. Or even be a student in class learning with other kids."
Sirius looked at him with a frowned up face. "That's not fair, you know it's not the same thing."
"I'm just saying I don't know." Remus said. "I try to trust the process a bit. Yes, it's a very odd detention, stranger than any detention I've ever served. And I've served some weird ones." He sighed. "But maybe there's more to the story. I mean for all the forest is, if you're with someone who knows it, it's not nearly as dangerous as its reputation."
Sirius twisted his lips. He thought Remus was playing dirty, using his werewolf guilt against him like this. Maybe he did have some points though. But still, why the forest? Hagrid was right about the school's way of punishment being something useful and not just lines, but what was useful about them being in the forest? Still, if Sirius had to choose one person for his godson and friends to go in the forest with, besides Dumbledore, he'd choose Hagrid. Even before himself.
"I get your point," Sirius eventually said. "I mean, the forest is plenty dangerous, but if you know how to deal with it, it's... almost harmless. Kind of like werewolves, huh?"
Remus gave him a small smile. "Yeah, kind of. They certainly had plenty to say about werewolves in this chapter."
Sirius huffed, apparently unable to be irritated about something. "What was all that nonsense they were spewing about werewolves being out there? Was it even a full moon? They're just continuing harmful stereotypes. I expect it from the kids, but Hagrid? You'd think he of all people would know better."
"You'd be surprised," Remus said. "Sometimes it's the people who you'd think would understand that are most critical. He might have just been trying to scare Malfoy, though."
"Well yeah, but what about when Harry asked if he thought werewolves were hurting unicorns and his answer was 'not fast enough'? I mean what kind of answer is that?" Sirius asked. "Werewolves don't go after unicorns at all."
"Well..." Remus gave an abashed smile. "Mostly because werewolves... aren't fast enough. I mean on full moons, werewolves aren't exactly picky."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "But again, was it a full moon? If this has been a persistent issue it couldn't be a werewolf, they'd only attack on a full moon."
Wanting to change the subject, Remus says, "Can we actually talk about Harry having his first run in with Voldemort since he was eleven. Does anyone besides Harry, Hermione, and Ron know that's what happened? Do you think Malfoy ever realized who was in front of him?"
Sirius thought about it and snorted. "He must be shitting himself if he's reading about it now. He was close to dying."
"Well," Remus shrugged. "Could Voldemort have actually killed him? He wasn't exactly at his full power."
Sirius shrugged. "Maybe not. Speaking of Voldemort, was he in the school? You know, talking to Quirrell in the beginning of the chapter?"
Remus frowned. "I was trying to figure that out. I mean clearly Quirrell was communicating with him in some way. You don't think those dark marks double as communication devices do you?"
"Well I doubt Quirrell has the mark, Dumbledore would catch that. But I wouldn't put it past Voldemort to figure out how to make it so you could talk through the marks." Sirius said. "Like those things you and Lily used to talk about. Talkie Walkies."
Remus chuckled. "Yeah, exactly like those. But on your arm."
Sirius stroked his chin. "If that's not what Voldemort was doing it's kind of a sick invention, don't you think?"
"Why don't you work on that," Remus said with a fond smile. Then he got a pensive look on his face. "What did you think about what the centaurs were on about?"
Sirius shrugged. "Who knows. I remember the first time I met a centaur. They're kind of assholes."
"Mars is bright tonight," Remus muttered to himself.
"I mean, I just assumed it means there's a battle coming. Mars is sort of the planetary symbol for war, conflict, that sort of thing. So... Big battle or war coming. But we knew that, didn't we? I mean, it's what we're here planning and preparing for."
Remus hummed. "But what does he mean by unusually bright? What exactly is it foreboding? That a war is coming soon? That Voldemort would return?"
"Maybe, I mean he does about three years later." Sirius said.
"Or that Harry and Voldemort were meeting again that night for the first time in ten years," Remus suggested. "You think Mars is still bright or it was just a thing for that night?"
"Hey," Sirius held up his arms. "I just live here. I don't know anything about anything either."
Remus waved him off. "I'm just musing, really. I mean, they kept saying 'tonight'. Which leads me to think it does have something to do with Harry and Voldemort's close encounter."
"Harry froze up, you notice that?" Sirius asked. "He's not usually the type."
"Well until that moment he hasn't really been in genuine danger, huh?" Remus shrugged. "Better than Malfoy's reaction of screaming bloody murder and alerting every creature in the forest to exactly where they were."
"The whole detention probably would have gone a lot smoother if he wasn't even there," Sirius said. "I mean, scaring Neville in the middle of a forest? He didn't think maybe that wasn't the time or the place for that?"
"And maybe if it was just Harry, Hermione, and Neville, Hagrid wouldn't have felt the need to split them up." Remus said. "And Harry wouldn't have needed saving from the centaur."
"Good on him for that, the Firenze fella," Sirius said. "He's alright. And I'm not the biggest centaur fan. Cause, like I said, assholes. Plus, Hagrid's right, impossible to get a straight answer out of them."
"Maybe for them, the answers they give are straight answers." Remus suggested.
"No... because Firenze said they're not to get into human affairs or whatever, so they could probably be clear if they wanted to." Sirius said. "Which brings me to this point, I think Firenze is the only one making any sense. I don't understand when creatures decide they don't want to concern themselves in wizard affairs. This kind of thing affects everyone, doesn't matter the species."
"Obviously it was decided ages ago within the centaurs." Remus said. "But I agree, I mean that's one of the biggest issues not only with creatures, but with wizards, too. Everyone's so stuck in what was decided years ago that they don't look at what makes sense in the present. When you think about it, the tensions between muggles and wizards comes from centuries earlier when witches and wizards were being burned for being different. But obviously we've moved past that, yet prejudices remain."
"Well, more people should be like Firenze. Have minds of their own, not just follow what they've been told their whole lives." Sirius said, nose flaring in anger.
"Well," Remus shrugged. "Not everyone is as brave as you."
Sirius looked at him for a second before giving him a small smile. "No I suppose not." Remus smiled back. "Hey, you reckon if McGonagall knew there was an actual dragon involved, she would have been less harsh on the punishment? I mean, they really were just helping out a friend."
"I think she might have been. I also think the whole school wouldn't have been so hard on them if they knew, too." Remus said. "Take Fred and George, for example, like Ron said, they lose points all the time. No one cares because there's usually something epic and entertaining attached to it."
"Right," Sirius nodded. "Everyone just thinks a couple of first years were screwing around."
"Maybe they should have just been honest, then," Remus shrugged. "Rather than try to come up with excuses."
Harry chuckled, "Yeah Harry did try to think of a way to get out of trouble, didn't he?" Sirius puffed out his chest. "That's my Godson, it's not over until it's over!"
"It was over. That's why he couldn't come up with anything, they were caught. It was done." Remus said. "What would you have said if you were caught out of bed past curfew?"
Sirius shrugged. "Sleep walking?"
Remus stared at him before laughing. "This is why James did all the talking for us."
Sirius laughed too, "Yeah, yeah, I guess. I wouldn't have left the cloak at the top of the Astrology tower in the first place."
"Yes, Sirius, I get it. But don't give yourself too much credit. Remember the time you and James spent the whole day looking for the cloak and your Herbology textbook and your homework?"
Sirius chuckled. "We redid the whole assignment, only to find our homework and the textbook under the cloak in the corner of the room."
"And you were both sixteen at the time," Remus said fondly. They sat in the warm memory for a moment, as they often did when they thought about James. Finally Remus clapped his hands. "Onto the next chapter, then?"
"But... Lunch," Sirius pouted. "You said we'd break for lunch."
"Oh, right. Right. Well then lunch, and then onto the next." Remus said.
Sirius nodded. "Sure. Hopefully this one doesn't make me so angry."
"They all make you angry," Remus said. He started to get up, then took a second to think. "Hey, question. All that stuff about unicorn blood making your life cursed as soon as you drink it... Do you think since Voldemort drank it, he doomed himself to lose? A cursed life doesn't leave much room for winning a war, you know."
Sirius thought about this for a moment before saying, "Let's hope so. And maybe he'll bring some of his shitty followers down with him."
Hope you liked that. It's not super long so I feel like it shouldn't have even taken me that long, but I am pretty busy. Next chapter, reading party! Who do you think will be involved? Who do you want to be involved? I can't wait to start on it… But be prepared to wait another month.
Your reviews and comments and everything were amazing! They made me so excited. Let me tell you, updating a story that's been abandoned for a while is scary. You think no one will care because it's been so long, or that people will just be mad, that no one will even want to reread, all kinds of all stuff. But you all were so kind, it literally lit up my day every new comment I got. I'd love if you would keep them coming, no pressure but it did really push me to get this chapter done. Not that you can tell since… It took so long. Okay, that's all!