The next thing Zeph knew, he was waking up in a totally unfamiliar room - he could easily sense wherever he was in the old house where they all lived, by sound and smell. From the penetrating smell of antiseptic and the feeling of crisp sheets, he guessed it was probably the infirmary, and given the circumstances, the one at Hogwarts was the most likely. When he finally got around to cautiously opening his eyes just enough to see the bare minimum, the whiter than white appearance of the room confirmed his suspicions.
"Hey Zeph," Rocky said - he was sitting in a chair next to Zeph's bed, looking very comfortable - and Zeph looked at him warily out of the corner of his eye. "You awake yet?"

Zeph groaned quietly to himself, his friends were getting far too good at guessing when he was awake despite his pretenses which had always worked before - he'd hoped to get possibly another five minutes of peace, just enough for him to wake up properly, but that was unlikely.

He sighed, resigning himself to the inevitable as he sat up.
"Yeah, I think so. What have I missed?"
"Well," Rocky began. "We're in the Hogwarts infirmary at the moment, knowing you, you'd probably guessed that. They carried you in here when you keeled over in the middle of the field. It was a very dramatic introduction, I thought. Was it deliberate?"
"Sorry," Rocky said, feeling slightly embarrassed. While he or Cub might have done something like that, shy Zeph wouldn't and he shouldn't have suggested it. "All of us are here for now," Cub continued from Zeph's other side. "It was a convenient place to keep us all while they decide what to do. We're all joining Hogwarts too, 'cos there's no need for us to be secret any more. Dad's coming back too, because now Voldemort's dead, we don't need the new recruits."
"We'd probably better tell you who we've lost. I saw you with Harry Potter earlier, but the Lost Boys have . . ."
"Who?" Zeph demanded, not wanting to hear the answer but knowing that he must.
"Storm, Kent, Blaze and Peter," Rocky said at last when he realized that Cub couldn't say it.
"Peter?" Zeph said sadly, remembering the boy who'd been one of his first teachers and mentors among the older students. Serious Peter, who was always working hard and never indulging in pranks with Kent. Peter, who they'd all respected and befriended, from the youngest of them to the few boys that had left before Zeph had even arrived. "Damn Voldemort! And poor Blaze was only a kid - barely twelve. He'd only just started to learn. I should never have let him near the battle, its my fault that he died."

Neither of his friends knew quite how to reply to that one.
"It is not your fault," Wolf said firmly, appearing around the curtains surrounding Zeph's bed. "If it was anyone's fault, I'd share the blame equally with anyone else. He wasn't a child - none of you are, any more - he knew exactly what he was doing, it was his choice and he made it himself, just like the rest of you. Who knows, if he hadn't been there, we might have lost the battle, lost everything that he wanted to fight for."
"I suppose you're right," Zeph conceded.
"I know I am."
"But I still feel that it's my fault."
"I would think less of you if you didn't. You were his commander, and he looked to you for leadership. He died well however, just like Harry did, and he wouldn't have wanted you to wreck your life feeling guilty for him, so don't. Its like Harry said, Blaze's parents died a few years ago, and he'll be with them, even though they were Muggles. In death, all are equal."
"Yes Wolf."
"It's not Wolf now, Zeph, its Professor, remember?"
"Yes sir."
"You're too obedient for your own good, or is it just an act?" Lupin asked mock suspiciously.
"Neither," Zeph said seriously, not willing to be distracted. "When are they being buried?"
"They were wizards, so they were honorably cremated on the field of battle. Harry was the only one we brought back, because else no one would believe he was dead. I envy him, in some ways. . ."
"Harry Potter said not to mourn. I'm not going to, and neither should you," Zeph said firmly, determined that, since Harry had died so they could be safe and happy, they were going to be. "Um sir, what's your name? I know you're Mr Lupin, because Cub told me his name, but what's your first name please, if you don't mind me asking."
"I thought you might be," Zeph admitted. "Harry gave me a message for you. He said to tell you that he was going to be with Sirius and his parents again at last. It seemed like he felt sorry for you."
"Quite likely, he did. He understood people far better than they gave him credit for," Remus Lupin told him gently. "Harry is at peace now, at the end of a hard, torturous life when he saw many of his friends die fighting for him. He couldn't stand that any more than you can. But he's with James, Lily and Sirius now, and I have to wait until my time comes. They were my three best friends when I was younger, and they've all been gone a few years now, killed in the fighting. Harry never knew his parents, I'm glad he'll have the chance to now."

Zeph quickly decided that now would be a very good time to change the subject to something safer before the conversation got too emotional.
"So, do we have to do anything about joining Hogwarts?"
"You don't have to do anything, Zeph, you've done quite enough work already. I'm going now, and I'll sort everything out with the assistance of the other teachers." With that, the wizard left, as silently as he'd come. Rocky looked after him, then decided that it might be a good idea to answer Zeph's question slightly more fully than Remus had done.
"We get uh Sorted, I think its called, into the four houses. We're doing that this evening. There, now you know as much as the rest of us, Captain Zeph."
"Do you have to call me that?"
"Of course," Rocky replied, grinning at him.

Just then, the infirmary door opened and the bed curtains drew back with a swish, supposedly from a flick of a wand, since they saw Dumbledore come in, looking sad.
"All awake now?" he asked solemnly. "It's almost time for you to be getting up and ready for the Sorting. You're lucky you've all arrived in the autumn, so there won't be too much work for you to have to catch up on. Now, you're all down on the registers with your proper names, and I'd like you to spend the next few minutes trying to remember them. I realize this will be a change for you, but the security is no longer necessary, and you can't expect teachers to call you such things as Brat, can you?"
"Depends on how much trouble you're in," Rocky muttered to Zeph. Dumbledore's eyes flicked over to them, twinkling, although he'd spoken so quietly that even Zeph had had problems hearing.
"Zephyrinus, a word please."

Zeph pushed himself out of bed, scowling at the sound of the unaccustomed name, one that he'd never been called before to the best of his knowledge.
"Are you feeling okay sir?" he asked, remembering the condition the headmaster had been in when they brought him back to Hogwarts.
"Oh yes, perfectly all right thank you. You look much better yourself. Now, I need to know exactly what Harry did to you to give you that scar."
"Well, I'd gone over to check if he was alive or dead. Ronald Weasley objected, because he didn't know me, and Harry looked at me. I couldn't look away. Then he stopped, and said that I would never do anything against his beliefs and told me to kneel down, because he couldn't reach otherwise, and hold his hand to my forehead. I did that but I didn't know why he wanted me to. Then he held his wand, my wand actually - his was broken - in his other hand and said 'Zephyrinus Potter ist filius meus', or at least, it was something like that, the words might be wrong."
"I believe it might have been Zephyrinus Potter filius meus ist," Dumbledore suggested. "In this case, the word order would be quite important."
"Probably," Zeph agreed. "Well, it must have been some sort of charm, because I felt something coming into me through his hand. Then he said 'carry on my work, cousin, and don't mourn because I'm about to see my parents and Sirius again. Hex those two if they start crying. Zephyrinus, I think you'll be having fun in Defense lessons this year.' He was talking about Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger when he said 'those two', but I think he meant it for everyone else too. Then he died."
"Thank you. Tell me, are you a Parselmouth, Zephyrinus?"
"Me? No sir, I'd have told you if I was. Wolf checked me when I was small."

A black snake shot out of the end of Dumbledore's wand and flew through the air towards Zeph, landing on the floor just in front of him and slithering on. He did what any ordinary person would do under these circumstances: he panicked.
"STOP!" he yelled, why he didn't know. The snake stopped with a start, and Dumbledore casually waved his wand. It vanished in a puff of smoke.
"I thought so," he said smugly. "I believe Harry has transferred his magical power into you, and one of the powers he has, given to him by Voldemort years ago, is that of a Parselmouth. He recognized something in you today that was like him, and he made you his heir."
"Me!?!" Zeph asked incredulously. "But he only saw me for about a minute!"
"That is so, but Harry learned through much hard work to be a skilled Legiliments - that would be how he learned your name and why he was so certain of your character. I'm curious myself as to what he discovered that you yourself don't know. . . He has paid you a high compliment, and I expect you to live up to it. I also have a certain suspicion that, being Harry, he gave you some of his knowledge as well, so don't be surprised at what you know. Now we'll go on to the next issue. You're a problem."
"You know far more than a wizard of your age should know for a good few years yet. It would be ridiculous for me to put you in with students your age - you'd sleep through the lessons - but equally odd to put you with those who are your ability, but so much older than you. You seem to have been working on NEWT courses in almost every subject! The choice is up to you. You must decide whether to be placed in a class by your age or by your ability."

Zeph thought carefully about it for a moment.
"If I chose ability, would I still be able to see Rocky?"
"That would be young Richard Andrews? Yes, I should think so, especially if you're in the same house."
"Then ability please."
"Excellent. I'll see you later at the feast. Please warn your compeers not to be worried about the surname they are given by the Sorting Hat. To be a strong enough wizard to need to be taken in by Lupin, usually, but not always, means that you're the offshoot of a wizarding family. The law at the moment is that such a child may, if they so choose, take the name of that family. I have especial suspicions about your identity Zephyrinus, but I won't say a word."
"Please, sir."
"No Zephyrinus, I'm not telling you anything along these lines that is purely guesswork on my part, with very little solid evidence."
"Okay. Well, thanks for the warning, anyway. I'll tell the others, or at least, I'll try to. I'm not sure if they'll listen to me - I am only fourteen."
"Oh, I think they will, young Zephyrinus," Dumbledore said softly, watching his departing back. "You're their commander now in far more than name, just as I intended you to be."