"Let Winterlight Come"
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TEASER: [Of Western Stars universe] With neutral's authorization and approval to play in her universe. Harry leaves Moor House for his first year at Hogwarts.
TIME LINE/CATEGORY: Set in neutral's Of Western Stars universe. The story arch is as follows:
Of Western Starsby neutral
Clawtracks of a Starby neutral
Let Winterlight Comeby fyre
Half of Dueling Rangeby neutral
Good Intentionsby neutral
A link to neutral's stories can be found in my favorite authors' section on ff.net as well as a link to her own website and her email address.
RATING: PGish Violence, some language, mentions of abuse.
DISCLAIMER: No major plot lines, characters, setting, or major events alluded to in this story are mine in any way. Some of the words are pulled straight from the movies or from JRK novels for the sake of continuity and are NOT mine. The background information and history that differs from JRK books belongs to neutral. No money is being made off this story. Please ask author before reproducing or posting anywhere else.
SPECIAL THANKS TO: neutral who without her permission, her encouragement, her constant source of inspiration and writing this would not have been possible.
NOTES: I wrote this piece with neutral's permission to play in her universe and with her wonderful characters. Every chapter, idea, plot, and take on characters in the universe was discussed and approved by neutral before posting. I apologize in advance for the grammar and spelling mistakes that got by me. Some of the odd sentence structure is purposeful for effect, even if it violates basic principles of grammar. Just go with it.
CHAPTER I: A Letter to Three Wizards
It started with a letter.
This was in no way an unexpected event. While Owl Post to Moor House was a fairly rare event due to the sheer number of wards on the unplottable estate, it was by no means impossible. For certain owls from certain people the wards allowed access. Post was delivered in the early morning into the waiting basket by the kitchen window. Later on when various members of the household finally came down for breakfast (or lunch), the letters would be noticed and opened.
This particular letter however, was expected-- more than expected it was dreaded.
Dreaded so much that it produced a miracle.
Sirius Black was up before dawn.
Sirius Black was up before dawn, dressed, alert, and standing next to the empty basket for post watching the lightening sky.
Remus paused at the kitchen door, blinking several times to ensure he was in fact awake.
"Sirius--?" the werewolf asked tentatively.
Remus hurried forward to stare out the window, trying to figure out what his friend was looking for. He was impatiently batted away by a free hand.
"Padfoot, what in Merlin's name are you doing? Is something wrong with the wards?" Lupin drew his wand from his robe pocket unconsciously, his voice rising. "Did Dumbledore send a message? What is going on!?" he demanded.
"Owl," Sirius muttered lowly.
"Owl? Owl? What owl? Let me see." Remus made a grab for the omnioculars.
"No! Moony, stop!"
The next few moments led to a brief yet totally humiliating schoolyard tug of war that ended with a very surprised Remus on the floor and Padfoot still scanning the skies. Sirius hadn't even stopped to laugh, tease, or gloat over his victory.
This was serious, Moony realized. Pun intended.
Just before he was going to resort to drastic measures like ice down the back of Black's robes there was a distant hoot that broke the moment of mischief.
"Ah-HA! I knew you'd come!" Sirius crowed. "Just couldn't resist could you? Oh, noooo! Not wanted, not wanted at all, but still!-- You just had to come, just had to invade and intrude, and bother . . ." He set down his omnioculars and drawing his own wand he pointed it intently at the silent flyer heading straight for the window.
"Padfoot! Sirius!" Lupin yelled trying to get his friend's attention. He grabbed onto Black's wand arm and yanked it and him completely around and away from the window. "It's just an owl! If the owl got though the wards it's from someone we know, therefore it need not be summarily exploded in mid-flight. Sirius! Are you listening?"
Before Sirius could answer there was the flutter of near silent wings and a letter dropped in the post basket.
If the owl expected a treat or even a drink of water it was sadly mistaken.
With a howl of "NOOOO!" Sirius dived for the letter, not even bothering to drag his arm free of his friend's grasp. Remus, forgetting to let go was pulled along for the ride.
Both of them hit the counter's edge with bruising force, knocking the wind out of them, sending them tumbling to the kitchen floor, but not before Sirius had the letter firm in hand.
Amid the tangle of limbs and wands and robes, Remus, gasping for air caught sight of the familiar emerald ink and spidery hand.
Mr. H. Potter
Bedroom on the Second Floor
East Wing, Moor House
"It's Harry's Hogwarts letter!" the werewolf said with a relieved laugh. Straightening himself out he got to his knees and reached for the letter. "And you were going to shoot the owl out of the sky. Ha! I didn't realize it was coming today."
Padfoot, however, was not smiling nor was he going to let Moony touch the letter.
"Padfoot," Remus said slowly with a growing sense of unease "that's Harry's letter."
"I know that," Sirius said with a snort, fingers carefully gripping either side of it with enough force to stretch out the envelope to near tearing.
Remus' amber eyes widened. Sirius knew. Sirius knew the letter was coming and he was going to BLAST the owl out of the sky. Oh, no. Oh, no no no no no.
Cautiously, as if speaking to a wild animal he held out his hand and spoke soothingly. "Padfoot, why don't you give me Harry's letter? You don't want to tear it. It's the first letter Harry's ever had; he'll be so excited to open it. Won't that be fun to watch? Just . . . give me the letter, Padfoot."
Sirius shook his head, scowling he scrambled to his feet.
"Sirius . . ." Moony said warningly.
"No! He doesn't have to go if he doesn't want to! For Merlin's sake, he's only six years ol--"
"Nearly eleven! Harry. Is. Nearly. Eleven. Years. Old. Sirius!" Feeling the need to tear at his hair, Moony restrained himself and stood trying to speak calmly. "Anyway, isn't this Harry's decision? Harry gets to decide, isn't that what you said? I thought that going to school, actually meeting children his own age, and going out into the world was important. Think of how much fun he'll have. Remember our Hogwarts years?"
"Yes! Yes I do remember. Do you, Moony? All those crazy, dangerous stunts we pulled? All the near death experiences in the Forbidden Forest we told Harry about? Taunting Slytherins? Infirmary visits!?" Padfoot exclaimed waving the letter around for emphasis.
Rational, be rational and calm, Moony prompted himself. "Hogwarts is one of the safest places in the whole wizarding world, Padfoot! Besides, Harry is a very mature, level headed, responsible boy. With the staff and Albus looking after him what could possibly go wrong?"
"DON'T SAY THAT!" Sirius howled. "Have you lost your MIND?! Now you've JINXED it!"
Seeing that now the letter was in mortal danger, Lupin abandoned all pretense of reasoning and lunged.
Harry padded downstairs, readjusting his glasses as he went. His godfather and Moony were already awake and kicking. The noise had woken him and he had decided to venture down and see what was going on.
"STOP! STOP! Don't you DARE, SIRIUS!"
"Mister Padfoot-- Ug! --would like to tell Mister Moony to-- oof! --to BUGGER OFF!"
"If you rip that-- ow!"
"I'll hex you if you-- ack! PADFOOT!"
"ARG! Stoppit, Moony! Just let me . . . No, no, no! No tickling, no tickling!"
"I swear I will! I swear I'll-- I'll . . . GET OUT FROM UNDER THERE!"
Peering around the kitchen door Harry was surprised to see that the usual verbal teasing had degenerated into a wrestling match on the kitchen floor. Padfoot was halfway under the kitchen table trying to reach something stuck between the table legs while Moony was trying to yank him out. He'd never seen the two Marauders get like this without one or both of them in their animal forms.
Catching sight of the parchment Harry simply held out his hand and envelope flew into his grasp. In the sudden deathly silence that filled the kitchen Harry noted the Hogwarts seal on the back and flipped it over to determine which of his guardians it belonged to.
He nearly dropped the letter when he saw the name across the front.
"Me?" He squeaked in surprise. Harry looked anxiously at his godfather. "There's a letter for me? Did I-- Did I do something . . ."
Hastily both men extricated themselves from under the table, bumping heads and elbows as they hurried. Sirius slid to his knees before his godson, placing two comforting hands on the boy's thin shoulders. "You've done nothing wrong, Harry," he said feverently. "Nothing."
Moony smoothed back the child's messy hair and smiled. "It's good news. Why don't you open it?"
Harry looked at his godfather for confirmation. A long moment passed which was filled with a warning growl from the werewolf. Sirius forced a half smile and nodded.
Carefully, Harry broke the seal and pulled out two pieces of parchment.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted
at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please
find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no
later than July 31.
"It's my Hogwarts letter," Harry breathed, green eyes glowing with excitement. "I got accepted. I really got accepted."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Of course you got accepted. You've been down on the list since before you were born. Forget to accept my godson?" Sirius ruffled the black hair fondly. "They wouldn't dare."
Harry smiled and held out the letter to show to his guardians.
"Well since the owl is still here, we should send your reply right off," Moony said.
For an instant, Harry looked prepared to do just that when suddenly a pensive look came down over his features. He ducked his head, his fringe falling into his eyes and fingered the letter cautiously. Sirius opened his mouth, ready no doubt with assurances that Harry need not go, need never leave Moor House when Remus shot him a death glare that would make evil wizards cringe and back off.
Crouching down beside the boy, Remus placed a hand on his small back. "Harry, this is your home, it always will be. We would be happy if you stay or if you chose to go. We never want to be rid of you. I'm sure even if you tried, Padfoot here," he said nudging Sirius with an elbow "would hunt you down and I'd be right beside him. But your parents went to Hogwarts, we," he continued glancing over at his friend to ensure that he was not scowling or disagreeing for the moment "went to Hogwarts and it was wonderful. I made some of the best friends in my whole life while I was there. I learned so much. There was Quidditch and dueling and spells and a huge library and so many magical creatures and objects. It was absolutely brilliant. There's a whole wizarding world like that, out there. And you need to see it to believe it. But that doesn't me we don't want you around. We always want you around, no matter what you choose. Do you understand, Harry?"
There was a long moment of quite. Both Remus and Sirius held their breath before Harry, at last, nodded carefully.
Letting out a relieved sigh that the horrible doubt had passed for his godson, Padfoot brushed the boy's fringe away from his eyes and lifted his chin so that Harry was no longer looking at the floor.
"Let's see the list, huh?" Sirius said taking the second sheet from Harry's hand. He stood, stroking his chin as he perused the contents of the paper. "Hmmm. Cauldron, books, robes and such, potions supplies, scale, telescope, wand. Owl, toad, or cat. Yuck, cats," he said with a shudder, watching out of the corner of his eye as the familiar reaction to cats was greeted by a grin from his godson. "No broom," he continued absently and then blinked and backed up. "No broom? No broom? That's, that's . . ."
"Sensible," suggested Remus.
"Inhuman," Sirius contradicted firmly. "Harry not allowed to fly or play Quidditch for a whole year?"
"First years don't get to play Quidditch, Padfoot. Why would I need my broom?" Harry asked.
"Yes, well . . ." Sirius cleared his throat, ignoring the smirking look from the werewolf who took the opportunity to mouth the word mature at him. "Anyway. Books. Tons of books. I like books as much as the next person, but there's nothing really interesting in the whole lot. Have to supplement that with some more challenging and interesting books when we go and get these."
"I have lots of books already," Harry reminded his godfather, touching the corner of the parchment as he stood on tiptoe to try and read the list. Sirius handed the list back to his godson who peered at it curiously. "I have the Standard Book of Spells series, and I think I have the potion text. Transfiguration, history, theory . . . I've got those too."
"Well then, we only need to get the new ones, unless you want a completely new set of books."
Harry began shaking his head at his godfather's words. The boy always found it embarrassing to have anything bought for him even after years of both of his guardians trying to spoil him rotten. (Not that Remus admitted it of course; Sirius on the other hand was very proud of the fact that he would buy Harry a small country if he only asked.)
"I know that Sirius scribbled notes all over his old textbooks, not to mention the unflattering caricatures of rival house members," Remus put in with amusement.
"No," Harry said hurriedly. "I like having his books. The notes don't bother me."
"They might be different from the more current editions though, Harry," Padfoot warned slightly put out he wasn't going to be able to buy out Flourish and Blotts for the boy, getting him the best of everything.
"Actually, Padfoot, they've cut out a lot of the more offensive and difficult magic altogether. We live in different times now."
That was certainly true. Both Remus and Sirius had tried in vain to shield Harry from the past-- Voldemort, Death Eaters and the like. Events just after Harry's ninth birthday had dragged the three of them into a war zone where Harry had performed on a field of battle better than most Aurors. Neither of the adult wizards liked to think of the magic and curses Harry was forced to use in protecting his family. It had taken many months to recover the boy's spark; even now something had irrevocably changed in the child. For all his innocence and sheltered existence from society and other wizards, Harry had seen and fought as a soldier in a world gone mad.
Shaking dark thoughts, Moony continued. "You'll be well ahead of the game, Harry, even if you weren't on . . . what? Fourth year books now?"
"Seventh," Harry corrected as he tried to pull his attention away from the magical letter. The silence of his guardians finally caused him to raise his head and he colored slightly under their shocked expressions. "Well, I'm on seventh in theory," he added anxiously. "I don't know about in practice really. I mean, I don't even have a wand yet."
"Seventh, huh?" Sirius said proudly with a smile. "Who needs Hogwarts?"
Remus shot the Animagus a death glare. He was getting in some good practice with those this morning.
"Do you want me to stay?" Harry asked.
Silence once again filled the kitchen. Remus cursed internally; he'd hoped Harry wouldn't ask that question. Everything now hinged on Sirius' answer. Moony knew with the same certainly that the sun would rise and set, that the moon would wax and wane, that whatever Sirius wanted, Harry would do. Harry was so grateful to his godfather, so thankful that he thought it was his job to give back anything and everything to the man. No matter how hard they had both tried to convince Harry that it was the other way around, that they owed him, they had never truly succeeded.
Sirius reached out and smoothed his godson's unruly hair away from his large eyes. "I want you to see where we all met," he replied softly. "I want you to see where your mum and dad and Moony and me went to school. I want you to play Quidditch, make friends, play pranks, and then send us owls home. I want you home for Christmas and Easter and summer with lots of stories for me and this old man here."
Remus scowled at his friend. "You're the one living vicariously through Harry, not me." He looked back at the boy, his expression softening. "Well, Harry?"
Green eyes met amber growing dazed for a long moment, seeing something far distant.
"Harry?" Sirius asked quietly turning the boy's cheek so that their eyes met, though if Harry actually saw his godfather Remus would be very much surprised.
The werewolf held his breath and waited for Harry to speak. It had been months since Harry had last had a dream that was a premonition while awake or asleep; practicing magic stopped the outbursts of raw clairvoyant power.
Blinking green eyes, Harry's expression cleared. He met his godfather's gaze squarely. "I need to go," Harry said with a certainty that was unnerving. "It's . . . important to go."
Pasting on a bright strained smile Sirius nodded in agreement. "Well that settles that; you're going to Hogwarts."
Remus breathed an audible sigh of relief. Thank Merlin that was over.
"Of course," Padfoot added cheerfully as he steered his godson towards the dining room and breakfast "if it gets dangerous or you don't like it or anything happens we'll come along and bring you right back home with us where it's safe."
Moony's shoulders sank upon hearing that pronouncement and he refrained from yanking his hair out in frustration. One step forward, two steps back. Gods, this was going to be one hell of a year.
From atop the Icing Box the school owl hooted for attention. Scrambling for parchment, quill, and ink Remus sent back Harry's acceptance before Sirius found some way to dispose of the creature by accident or something.