Author's Notes: Ahhh, finally a story where I haven't come up with a ginormous Mary-Sue. It's good to get away from that field. I suppose I have to thank Akalei – and you should too, if anybody actually reads this – because she basically forced me to write this story. At first I was a bit, erm, not happy about it at first, but I've thoroughly changed my mind after coming up with the plot. Except for one thing. This stupid, boring chapter took me about three weeks to write. I am not kidding. And it's only six pages long! I really do hate this chapter though – because it's the first one, naturally, and the first chapter always takes the longest to write, I guess. Well, enough boring talk. Onto the story! Well, actually, the disclaimer, but whatever.
Disclaimer: I, obviously, don't own anything you recognize. Anything you don't recognize, however… now, that's a different story! Hopefully you have never heard of Harry Potter before, because that would mean I own everything. But it would be kinda stupid to read Harry Potter fanfiction if you've never read the book, eh? =)
And finally, on to the story!
[CHAPTER ONE: AN OLD RAT AND AN OLD FRIEND]
"Harry? Harry? Come on, Potter, get up!"
Quite startled by the sharp pokes he was receiving in his arm, Harry Potter jerked awake from a blissful sleep. He found himself sitting in an uncomfortable chair in his cubicle at Auror headquarters and, by twisting his neck painfully to the side, also found his co-worker Ron Weasley nearly jumping up and down on the spot, holding something in both hands. Harry blinked for a minute, trying to wake up, and said groggily, "What happened?"
"What about him?"
"Tonks caught him! It's all over the papers – here, look for yourself!" With that, Ron thrust the Daily Prophet in front of Harry's face, and Harry grabbed it, hardly believing what he saw. Next to the article, there was a picture of a beaming Tonks – her hair was about shoulder-length and it looked to be blond this time – shaking hands with the Ministress of Magic, Astera Griffiths, and in the background was the form of two dementors hauling away a short, balding man with rat-like teeth, a man called Peter Pettigrew. Harry stared at the photograph and chuckled grimly. "Doesn't look so good, does he?" he muttered, referring to the terrified look on Pettigrew's face.
"Well, at least he doesn't look happy about it," said Ron with a sideways grin. Harry smiled, and his eyes drifted over to the article.
Peter Pettigrew – Alive and Arrested!
Peter Pettigrew, who was supposedly murdered 22 years ago by the notorious Sirius Black, was apprehended last night by Auror Nymphadora Tonks, writes Lydia Adams, Daily Prophet reporter.
Although one might question why Pettigrew was arrested – after all, we all thought Pettigrew died a hero's death all those years ago – Aurors have discovered recently that it was not Black who slayed those 12 Muggles, but Pettigrew as he cut off his own finger and blasted away half the street.
"Pettigrew faked his own death that night," said a childhood friend of both Black and Pettigrew, "because he wanted to escape the wrath of Sirius, and because he was a Death Eater."
Sighing, Harry read the rest of the article, which explained Sirius's innocence and Pettigrew's guilt, with mixed feelings. He was relieved that Pettigrew had been caught, there was no doubt about that… but he was also jealous of Tonks, for he wanted to be the one to catch Pettigrew and give him to the dementors. Along with that, he also felt angry at the Daily Prophet; there was hardly anything about Sirius in the article – it didn't even mention that he was dead! It had taken them eleven years – eleven! – to figure out that Sirius was innocent, and now it meant nothing, all because of Bellatrix Lestrange. Don't think about that, Harry thought quickly, and he forced all of the feelings except the good ones to the back of his mind.
"That's great," Harry said enthusiastically, "That Tonks caught him, I mean."
Ron scratched the back of his neck and looked down at the article sheepishly, and he said quietly, "Yeah, but I kind of wanted it to be us to catch him, since he was my rat and he was basically responsible for your parents' death."
"Among other things," Harry said darkly, and he frowned at the pathetic form of Wormtail in the photograph.
Harry knew that Ron was uncomfortable with the subject of Voldemort's return, even though Voldemort had been around ten years now, so he wasn't very surprised when Ron said, "Well, look on the positive side! At least he can't help You-Know-Who anymore."
"Voldemort, Ron. His name is Voldemort. It's not hard very to pronounce, really. It's only got three syllables, which shouldn't be that difficult for you." Harry grinned at the look on Ron's face as he said this; it was the kind of glare that Harry had only seen on the faces of Hermione Granger and Minerva McGonagall before. Must be taking private glaring lessons from Hermione, Harry thought mischievously, and then he said aloud, "Let's go show Hermione, shall we? I daresay she'll be ecstatic over this little bit of news."
Ron grimaced at the thought of traveling two floors down to visit Hermione, but nodded his head nonetheless. "One question before we go, though," he said to Harry, who was just beginning to get out his chair, "Why didn't Voldemort" - Ron shuddered – "pick something less terrifying, like Baldymort or something? Then I would have no complaints over saying his name." Ron picked up the newspaper reproachfully, and Harry laughed heartily as they left Auror Headquarters, passing many fellow Aurors and Auror trainees talking about Tonks and Pettigrew as they went.
Despite their young age, Harry and Ron were perhaps two of the best Aurors the Ministry had ever recruited. The two friends were accepted into training immediately after they graduated, and finished with the three-year training two and a half years ago. They passed each stage of the training with flying colors, but only because they spent many nights studying curses, counter curses, jinxes, Dark wizards, and potions… Ron thought that they spent more time studying to be an Auror than they ever did at Hogwarts, and Harry thoroughly agreed with him.
However, while Harry and Ron went on to become Aurors, Hermione Granger had taken another path altogether. Her choice career was an author, but Hermione didn't have time for writing with her current occupation. She had, in her own words, "taken S.P.E.W. a bit further" and convinced the Ministress (through a long and boring process) to start a House-elf Division next to the Beast, Being, and Spirit Divisions in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Now, because of Hermione, house-elves were treated much better than they had in years past: they were paid (12 Knuts was minimum wage) and they received weekends and alternate Wednesdays off, along with a week-long vacation in July.
Hermione was bent over her desk, scribbling away on a piece of parchment and muttering to herself, when Harry knocked lightly on her door. Without even looking up, she yelled, "Come in!" Her golden brown hair – no longer bushy, but permanently straightened by magic - was pulled back in a loose bun at the nape of her neck and various locks were artfully covering her eyes. Her fairly large office was very organized, almost too organized for the Head of a division. There were pictures of various house-elves all over the wall; Harry recognized one to be his old friend Dobby, who saw Harry come in and pointed wildly to his many pairs of socks covering his tiny feet. Harry and Ron exchanged grins, and Harry poked his head inside the door and whispered teasingly, "Are we interrupting anything important, Miss Granger? If we are, we'll just be on our way…"
At the sound of Harry's voice, Hermione's head snapped up. Her countenance was shocked at first, but then she relaxed and smiled at her friends. "Yes, as a matter of fact, you are," she replied bossily, her eyes gleaming, "but I guess it can wait a few moments." She lowered her quill, stood up gracefully, and walked in front of her desk as Harry and Ron came into her office.
"So what brings you two down to Level Four of the Ministry of Magic? I'm sure it's not to inquire on how much money the average house-elf makes a year."
Ron showed Hermione the Daily Prophet somewhat awkwardly – ever since he and Hermione broke up the year before, he had been oddly uneasy around her, while Hermione retained her natural poise – and Harry said with a smile, "Tonks caught Wormtail."
"What?" Hermione exclaimed breathlessly, and she snatched the newspaper out of Ron's hand and disappeared behind it so she could read. "You're kidding!"
"Nah, we're not," Ron said cheerfully, and Harry rolled his eyes and looked back at Dobby's portrait, which waved.
As her chocolate brown eyes moved back and forth across the paper, she murmured, "Well, that's odd… I always thought you and Harry would be the ones to catch him…"
"You know, that's exactly what I said earlier…"
Harry glanced lazily at Ron and Hermione, fully aware that he was no longer included in the discussion, although it had just started. That was what would usually happen when he and Ron would visit Hermione: Harry would begin the conversation, Ron and Hermione would talk for ages, Harry wouldn't get a word in until he decided to leave, and even then they barely noticed him. He supposed they couldn't very well help it – after all, it was completely obvious that they still liked each other even though they broke up, just as it was when they were in school. By now, Harry had completely tuned out of the little chat and was no longer aware of anything they were saying, and he began to get angry.
He was tired of being left out. He had received so much attention during the past twelve years of his life that he was used to being included in almost everything. Although he would never admit it out loud, there were times when Harry liked being the center of attention, times like when he won a Quidditch match for Gryffindor in his school days or when he put a particularly dangerous Death Eater in Azkaban. And because he received so much attention, so much adoration from people he had never heard of, Harry subconsciously expected that his friends to do the same.
Of course, as soon as he thought that, standing in Hermione's office, he felt instantly guilty for ever thinking such a thing. That was the sort of thought that he expected someone like Draco Malfoy to think… And while Harry was brooding over the unpleasant subject of Draco Malfoy, the latter just walked past Hermione's office, glancing to his right for just a split second, saw Harry staring at him, and grinned slyly. As soon as Malfoy swaggered past the door, Harry stole a look at Hermione and Ron, but they were still talking. Harry was sure they had forgotten he was there, which suited him fine at the moment. If they had temporarily forgotten he existed, then Harry might be able to sneak out of Hermione's office without them ever even detecting…
Harry coughed. Neither of his friends noticed.
He coughed again. Nothing.
"Well, since you two are so absorbed in your own little world, I might as well go see what Malfoy's up to, eh?" Harry muttered, more to himself than to Ron and Hermione. Seeing as both of them ignored him completely, Harry silently slipped through the oak door and into the long corridor of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures just in time to see Malfoy do the exact same thing across the hall and five doors down from him. But before Harry could even get a good look at the plaque next to the door into which Malfoy disappeared, he heard the distinctive sound of poorly-oiled hinges as a door opened slowly behind him. Voices wafted through the partially opened door, but Harry couldn't tell who it was that was talking.
Harry turned around automatically to see who was coming out of the door behind him. It was slightly ajar, with a hand placed on the frame and the hand's owner blocking everything inside the door. The man was wearing simple black robes that went down to his ankles and he was carrying a brown travel bag in his other hand. His light brown hair had several light gray streaks in it, reminding Harry a bit of the "high-lights" all the Muggle women had these days, but he knew that this man did not have these splashes of gray amongst the brown by choice. In fact, Harry even knew why this man had graying hair, because his travel bag was embossed with a name, which happened to be Remus J. Lupin.
Lupin turned around, fumbling with something in his bag, and jumped at the sight of Harry. "Hello, Harry! Didn't see you standing there." He looked around the hallway and then curiously turned his gaze back to the young man in front of him. "What are you doing down here?"
"I might ask you the same thing," Harry said with a grin.
"Oh, I was just filling out some papers at Werewolves Support Services, because of those new laws the Ministress made," Lupin said nonchalantly, and he continued to shuffle things in his bag.
"What new laws?"
Lupin looked up at Harry and smiled. "Don't worry, Harry, they're not bad," Lupin said, smiling, "I just had to fill out some forms saying that I wasn't going to attack any students once a month, that's all."
"Students?" Harry said, puzzled.
"I'm teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts again, didn't you know?"
Harry just stared.
"Guess not," Lupin muttered, the corners of his mouth twitching, and he went back to his bag.
Harry said nothing for a moment, astounded, but then he burst out, "Well, that's great that they're letting you teach again, but don't you know its half-way through September?"
"Yes, I'm aware of that, and so is Dumbledore," Lupin answered. "All that means is that the students will be a bit behind this semester in this particular class and they will have to work harder to catch up."
"I don't envy them at all," Harry muttered, smirking.
"Neither do I Harry, but unfortunately, I'm their teacher," said Lupin. "So, what are you doing down here, anyway?"
Harry glimpsed at Hermione's office and saw that she and Ron were still talking, and Harry said a bit bitterly, "Well, I was visiting Hermione with Ron, but I doubt they even –" Harry stopped in the middle of this sentence and glanced at Lupin, who was still smiling. Instead of continuing, Harry coughed and muttered quietly, "I was just visiting Hermione with Ron – you know, to tell her about Wormtail and all."
"Oh yes, wonderful news to be sure," Lupin said with a grim smile. "D'you know that that Adams girl interviewed me for the article? Of course, I told her not to keep my name out of it so nobody would judge me by my old school friends –"
"Wouldn't they have already done that with Sirius?" Harry said softly.
"Nobody interviewed me about him," Lupin replied.
Harry said nothing in return but merely nodded politely.
"He's getting a fair trial, though, Pettigrew," Lupin said, sighing as if he wished it were otherwise. "Doesn't have a chance, of course, so I don't know why the Ministry's even going to bother. I daresay you'll be wanted to attend, Harry."
Again, Harry said nothing, and he frowned darkly. Lupin, sensing his unwillingness to talk about Pettigrew, changed the subject back to his teaching. Harry barely said anything during this part of their conversation, but he learned many things about the Hogwarts Lupin was returning to. He learned that both his least favorite professors, Severus Snape and Sybill Trelawney, were still teaching the same subjects, as was Professor Binns, the only ghostly professor at Hogwarts. Since Professor McGonagall was killed by a Death Eater four years ago, her replacement was a middle-aged woman named Athena Redgrove, whose brother, named Adonis Williams, taught Astronomy. Professors Flitwick and Sprout had retired soon after Harry graduated, but later on Harry couldn't have remembered their replacements' names if his life depended on it.
They talked about the new and old professors for a few minutes, but soon enough the subject turned to the students. Harry didn't know anybody at Hogwarts; the first years who had just entered the school as Harry was about to leave it were seventh years now, and Harry didn't know anything about them except for their names. Lupin, however, knew two out of the entire student body, and he only knew them because they were his sister's children. "Kerenza's a fifth year and Hayden's a seventh year," Lupin explained. "They're not in the same houses, though – she's in Gryffindor and he's in Ravenclaw. According to their older brothers, Kerenza and her friend Paige Mackenzie are known as the female Weasley twins of their time."
Harry chuckled and said," I wonder if Fred and George know that…"
"Oh they do, don't worry," Lupin said, "Rowan and Kieran – their older brothers, by the way – are good friends with the Weasley twins, as they're twins themselves, and they get free gags from Fred and George to give to Kerenza for holidays and such."
"Hang on, "Harry said before Lupin could continue, "Are you talking about Rowan and Kieran Crane?"
Lupin nodded. "Do you know them?"
"Ron and I have given them tips for their Auror training is all," Harry replied, a bit surprised. "You wouldn't think that they would be friends with Fred and George. They're very serious."
"I think they're only like that to annoy their older sister, Demetra –"
"You know, she hates being called that," said a female voice from behind them. Harry turned around and saw that Ron and Hermione had finally stopped talking to each other and were exiting Hermione's office. Ron was slightly pink, and Harry guessed that it was because he knew that he and Hermione had left out Harry yet again. With the arrival of Lupin, Harry discovered that he didn't care so much anymore, so he smiled at Ron knowingly, and Ron smiled back, looking relieved. "She's prefers Demi."
"Afternoon Ron, Hermione," Lupin said cheerfully. He turned to Hermione. "And yes, I am aware of that, but I prefer her real name, and she knows it."
"Who?" Ron asked, either very curious or very confused.
"Lupin's niece, Demi Crane," Hermione told him with her I-know-so-much-more-than-you tone. "She works over there in the Spirit Division." Hermione pointed at the door where Draco Malfoy had disappeared, and Harry now saw that the plaque read, "SPIRIT DIVISION: For the haunting and the haunted only."
"She's the head of the Spirit Division," Lupin pointed out a bit defensively.
"Oh, really?" said Hermione, astonished. "I've had lunch with her a few times, and I never knew that –"
"She's not proud of it," Lupin added. "I have no idea why, but she's not."
Ron sniffed. "Well, that's not on," he said disapprovingly."
"Tell her that," Lupin muttered, and he gazed at his watch and jumped. "Merlin's beard, I was supposed to be at Hogwarts ten minutes ago!" He said goodbye to Ron and Hermione, and they went back into her office. Harry, however, held him back a minute before he left.
"You will be at Pettigrew's trial, won't you?" Harry asked him nervously.
Lupin stared into Harry's bright green eyes and answered solemnly, "Of course I will. There is nothing I'd like more at this point than to see him in jail, where he belongs. Peter Pettigrew does not deserve to live after all that he has done, but the best we can do is put him in Azkaban."
Harry swallowed and nodded, and Lupin left without another word.
Author's Notes Numba Two: Right, now that you've gotten this far through that terrible chapter, review and tell me that it was terrible. Of course, if you think otherwise, you can say that too, but whatever floats your boat, dearie.