Title: Harry Potter and the Werewolf of Azkaban
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters, settings or anything else from Harry Potter.
"Come on now, Mr Potter, wake up."
That was the first thing he heard. He couldn't open his eyes yet, and his body felt ice-cold and far too heavy to be made of nothing but mereflesh and bone. When he tried to speak, it came out slurred and slow, nearly incoherent.
"That's the spirit. Come on now, up you get."
"Uuhh..." Harry forced his eyes open, the light stinging them painfully after so long in the dark.
"There's a lad." It was Professor Fell, leaning over him. "D'you know where you are?"
"You're in the infirmary. We got you just in time. You're a very lucky young man, Mr Potter. Can you move at all?"
"Bit," said Harry, feeling his limbs gently. They began to move, the blood flowing sluggishly back to his fingers and toes. It stung, but it was good, because at least it reassured him that he was alive.
"Here you are, then," said Professor Fell, pushing a small chunk of chocolate into his hand. "There's more where that came from. Little bits at a time, now."
As the chocolate went down, the pins-and-needles stinging began to subside, and he felt warmer and more alive. After the fourth or fifth piece he was able to feebly push himself up into a sitting position, limp against his pillow.
"Where's everyone?" he asked.
"All here. All doing well. There's some worse than others."
"Ron and Hermione? And Sirius?"
"Your godfather's still unconscious. He tried to hold the Dementors off for a long time. Madame Pomfrey is with him. Miss Granger is coming round, and Mr Weasley's just had his arm set. You eat that now, and I'll be back in a moment." Harry watched her move off along the row of beds, to Hermione, who was lying deathly pale on her bed, eyes half-shut. Across the way, Ron was propped up against his pillows, white-faced but awake at least, and further along, there was a bed with the curtains drawn all around it; he supposed that must be Sirius'.
"You okay?" Ron called, weakly.
"Been better," Harry replied, startled to hear how thin his own voice was. "You?"
"Same. At least my arm's not broken any more," Ron said, lifting it up and letting it fall back onto the sheet again. "Wish I was strong enough to lift it, mind."
Harry offered him a weak grin, which Ron returned. They were both too tired to say any more. Harry had to wonder how close they had actually come to dying in the clutches of the Dementors, though he shivered at the thought of it, and at the memory of what he had heard when he was sinking into that icy blackness.
To take his mind off things, he watched Professor Fell leaning over Hermione, bringing her around. He watched as the strength seeped slowly back into her, until she could turn enough to meet Harry's eyes and smile, weary but awake. Professor Fell stayed with her long enough to make sure she was recovering well, then came back over to Harry.
"Where's Lupin, Professor?" Harry asked, while she fumbled with more chocolate. "Is he okay?"
"Hush. I can't talk to you about that. The Headmaster and the Minister-"
"What? But he's innocent! It's true...it is," Harry protested. "Where's Lupin? Where's Pettigrew?"
"Mr Potter, there are other people besides you in this infirmary."
"Where is he?"
"Eat this chocolate. Do you want to keep feeling the way you do? Then eat it."
"Only when you tell me where he is!"
"Harry." It was Dumbledore. He came and sat on the edge of Harry's bed. "Thank you very much, Professor. I'll make sure Harry eats his chocolate."
Professor Fell looked unhappy, but let it go. She moved away, and Dumbledore waited until she was out of earshot until he began to speak.
"Professor, he didn't do it!"
"Harry, I am a much older man than you, and I flatter myself that I am rather wiser, too-"
Dumbledore gave Harry a reproving look through his little half-moon spectacles, and Harry let out a long defeated sigh, consenting to listen to what the Headmaster had to say.
"As I said, Harry, I flatter myself that I am rather wiser than you. After all, I have had a much longer time than you to perfect it. And, as such, I have come to learn that certain things take time."
Harry frowned, confused, and made a movement as if to interrupt again, but was silenced by a very grave look from Dumbledore.
"Remus Lupin," Dumbledore went on,"has been the target of the hatred, disgust, and fear of the wizarding world for a very long time. He has been imprisoned in Azkaban, deemed a supporter of Lord Voldemort and guilty of a terrible crime, for nearly as long as you have been alive. Do you understand, Harry, that thirteen years cannot be done away with overnight?"
Harry shifted uncomfortably. "Does this mean that, after everything, he's going back to Azkaban?"
"He is already back in Azkaban. The Minister ordered it as soon as he was recaptured, after you were saved from the Dementors."
"What?" Harry was nearly shouting. Dumbledore made a motion for Harry to stay calm, but Harry ignored it. "You can't do that, it's not fair, he's innocent!"
"Harry, Harry," Dumbledore said. "If you continue to raise your voice, Madam Pomfrey will have me removed from her Infirmary, and you will have a longer wait to hear the rest of the story."
Reluctantly, Harry subsided.
"Thank you. Now, as I said, Remus Lupin is back in Azkaban. But it is not forever. You may be interested to know that the Minister and I, armed with Veritaserum and Aurors experienced in extracting the truth from Death Eaters, have been talking with our friend Mr Pettigrew, who was delivered into my office by that wonderful creature, Crookshanks. As it happens, we have enough evidence to re-open Remus' case, and there will be a very large, very public, very fair trial, and I am very confident that Remus Lupin will be a free man within a few months." Dumbledore smiled, eyes twinkling, at Harry's dumbfounded expression. "Chocolate?" he said, blithely.
"That's," said Harry, searching for a suitable adjective, and failing. "A few months is still a long time, though, isn't it?"
"I imagine that in comparison to thirteen years," said Dumbledore, "a month or so is something of a heartbeat."
Harry sank back in relief against his pillows. Dumbledore offered him a smile and a reminder to keep eating the prescribed chocolate, and began to stand up.
"Professor," Harry said. "How did you know where to find us?"
"A little bird told Professor Fell," said Dumbledore. "A little Pureblood Slytherin bird, whose name I've quite forgotten."
"Malfoy?" cried Harry, incredulous. "How did he know that?"
"However the information was gleaned, our little bird saved your life tonight, Harry, and that's something that should not be taken lightly."
"Malfoy," Harry snarled, having barely heard Dumbledore's warning. "I'll bet he knew, I bet he knew all along that Pettigrew was the one who did it, I bet..." Dumbledore sighed; childhood rivalries and enmities were not overcome so easily, he supposed, and thought of Professor Snape and Sirius Black.
"Goodnight, Harry," he said. Harry nodded a weak goodbye, waited until Dumbledore had left, and then let himself go limp against his pillows, eyes slipping shut and then he was sinking down into warm, welcome sleep.
Harry had to spend most of the next day in bed too, but by the evening Madam Pomfrey and Professor Fell relented, and he, Hermione and Ron were allowed back to Gryffindor Tower. Sirius railed against his confinement but Madam Pomfrey was unshakeable, and he had to reconcile himself to another night of sleeping potions and medicinal chocolate.
"I'll never look at another piece of blasted chocolate once I'm out of here," he said, as Harry went to bid him goodnight. "She's spoiled me for life."
"It'll teach you to keep out of trouble," Madam Pomfrey shot back. "Thirty years old and no better than when he was a boy. Oh, I remember young Sirius Black, never moved but he was up here with hair growing out of goodness-knows-where or with a snout for a nose or a great shaggy tail on his- well," she sniffed, "you catch my drift."
"I put spice into your life," Sirius teased. "You'd have been lost without me."
"I'd have had fewer grey hairs without you."
"But you look so dignified with a few silver strands," said Sirius, flashing his most charming of smiles. Madam Pomfrey bustled off, grumbling, cheeks ever-so-slightly flushed. "She adores me, really," he whispered to Harry, conspiratorially.
"Did Dumbledore tell you about Lupin?" Harry asked.
"Hmm. Good news for poor old Remus. It'd be even better if they got their acts together and just let him out now. Damned beaurocracy."
"Sirius," Harry said. "Lupin is Moony, isn't he?"
Sirius looked at Harry strangely. "Where did you hear that?"
"Fred and George gave me a map - the Marauder's Map - by Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. Lupin was Moony, and I think Peter was Wormtail, and you were Padfoot, and-"
"Your dad was Prongs."
"Yeah. Lupin sent me a picture, and it had those names on the back. I worked out Moony, because of the werewolf thing, but I couldn't work out the others."
"Hang on, reverse a bit, when did Remus send you this picture?"
"At Christmas. He wrote to me before then, too, and I met him once in Hogsmeade, but can we sort of forget about that and get back to you being a dog?"
"Letters! Pictures! Meetings! If this whole thing had worked out a bit differently I'd be wringing your sneaky little neck, providing someone else hadn't snapped it for me."
"How can you turn into a dog?" Harry asked, valiantly attempting to change the subject.
Sirius sighed, then chuckled. "Fine, fine, we'll forget about it. I can turn into a dog becuase I'm an unregistered Animagus. So's Peter, and so was your dad. We did it for Remus, to keep him company on the full moon."
"And my dad-?"
"He was a stag. Hence, Prongs. We all thought it was a great laugh, to go running about the grounds with a werewolf in tow." Sirius shook his head. "How we never got caught I'll never know. We were stupid, and unbelievably lucky. Closest we ever got to disaster was Snape."
"Snape found out that Remus was a werewolf. He went down to the Willow, nearly got his head bit off. It was only your dad stopped him."
"Snape knew Remus was a werewolf?"
"Yeah, he did. Dumbledore swore him to secrecy."
Harry was thoughtful for a moment. "Sirius, earlier in the year he made me help him brew this potion. 'Wolfsbane', it was called. Does that mean anything to you?"
"It's an experimental potion, designed to let werewolves keep their minds when they change." He frowned."That's interesting, mind. Maybe they were sending it over to Azkaban. A werewolf at the full moon is something not even the Dementors want to handle. No mind, no human emotions for them to feed off. They wouldn't be able to control it at all."
Harry said nothing, but the seed of an idea budded in his mind, that he carried around with him until he would have the chance to ask Lupin himself.
The end of term was drawing near. Harry faced it with mingled regret and relief. The year certainly had been...eventful.
One thing that had not changed, even despite what Dumbledore had told him, was the hatred between Harry and Draco Malfoy. Draco continued to sneer at Harry, and never missed an opportunity to jeer and insult. To Harry, Draco was the sneaking rat who had known Pettigrew was an agent of Voldemort, who had known that it was he who had betrayed Harry's parents, and had never done anything about it. He'd saved Harry's life, but how? Hermione had it on good authority from a Slytherin in her Ancient Runes class that Draco had told Professor Fell that Lupin was on the grounds, not Pettigrew. So he'd still been willing to send an innocent man to prison for the rest of his life.
Only one puzzle remained: who had told McGonagall where to find Harry and Lupin at that final, fateful meeting in Hogsmeade?
"I did it," said Hermione, tearful and repentant one night in the empty Gryffindor common room. "Harry, we didn't know he was innocent, we couldn't have known."
"I was in on it," said Ron, glancing anxiously between Hermione and Harry. "But as it turned out, it was for the best, wasn't it? Eh, Harry?"
Harry managed to look angry and unforgiving for roughly ten seconds before relenting. Ron was right, after all, it had been for the best, and they'd only done it out of concern, anyway. He forgave them gladly, and the last few days of term passed in a kind of sunny, happy haze. Ron had even conceded that perhaps Crookshanks might have been right, and wasn't such a bad sort after all.
At last, the day came when they stood amid the bustling crowd on Platform 9¾.
"Oh, Harry!" Molly Weasley enclosed him in a suffocating hug as she caught sight of him, standing off to one side of the station, surrounded by Weasleys. "I'm so glad you're alright!"
"You know, Mum, I was kidnapped by a werewolf too," said Ron, teasing. "I even broke my arm."
"We were abducted by aliens," said Fred.
"It was awful," said George.
"Probes and things."
"We'll never be the same again."
"Traumatised." The twins nodded together, solemnly. Mrs Weasley swatted them sharply, but she was laughing, too, and hugged all her children tightly.
"You've got everything, right?" she said, counting children and suitcases. "Well, come on then. Harry, dear, do come and stay with us over the holidays, won't you? We'll sort something out with the Dursleys for you."
"Oh, I don't think there'll be any need of that, Molly," came a voice from close by. Harry looked - it was Sirius, grinning. "Since Harry's going to be spending the summer with me."
Harry felt as though someone had poured molten sunlight straight into his stomach, roughly the way he had felt when Hagrid had kicked open the door of the miserable little hut by the sea, and told him he was a wizard.
"Really?" he said. "I mean - really?"
"Absolutely." Sirius looked like he was positively twitching with excitement, nearly quivering like a - Harry nearly laughed - like a dog wagging its tail and wriggling for joy.
"This," Harry declared, "is going to be the best summer ever!"
A/N: Okay, you can breathe a sigh of relief because it's all over! This is the end, my friends! I hope it doesn't disappoint. Sorry for not keeping my word and getting it finished sooner but, you know, Christmas and exams and things. RL sucks.
Anyway, thank you all for your lovely comments. I never expected even a fraction of the feedback I received for this story, which began as the product of a bored afternoon's attempts at amusement, and which I never expected anyone would read, let alone enjoy! Thank you very much!
(I couldn't resist a little twinking of old Dumbledore's eye, when he talks to Harry in the Infirmary. Call it a tribute to JKR!)