Summary: Harry asks Remus to tell him about his parents.
Timeframe: During PoA, the day after Harry finds out that Remus knew James.
Spoilers: For PoA. Minor ones for OotP (though you'd have to read it to realize).
Disclaimers: Hogwarts and all of its characters belong to JK Rowling, I'm only borrowing them to have a little fun and I promise to return them unharmed (well, at least mostly unharmed =0). I'm making no money from this and this is written for entertainment purposes only.
Feedback: Both positive feedback and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated and will be cherished!
Archive: Please ask first. =)
Author's Note: (1) I always thought it was kinda weird that Harry didn't ask Remus about James and Lily, this is my painfully out of character way of fixing that. (If you couldn't already tell, I'm not exactly pleased with the way this story turned out.) (2) This story takes place in the same timeline as "Changes Abound," but also stands alone. You can read "Changes Abound" on my website.
Padfoot. It was the only way. Sirius was turning into Padfoot and then sneaking into Hogwarts. As a man, he would be spotted and recaptured the instant he tried to set foot inside the castle. As a dog, however, it would be all too easy for him to slip past the Dementors. If he was seen by any member of the staff the worse that would happen was that he would be chased outside. After all, who would suspect a large, chocolate-eyed, lovable canine of being the notorious traitor Sirius Black?
No one. No one in their right mind would even consider that. Why? Because I was the only person left living that knew that Sirius was an Animagus. I had to tell Dumbledore. Harry's life was in danger. By not informing James and Lily of my suspicions regarding Sirius, I had missed my opportunity to save them. I would never forgive myself if I let Harry come to harm, especially not after everything he had already lost.
The question was…how would I tell Dumbledore? He was the one that had admitted me to Hogwarts when other headmasters would have balked at the idea. He was the one that had sought me out and offered me a position as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. He was the one that had defended me to Severus, who was still fighting my appointment as a professor here. He trusted me.
Telling him about Padfoot would mean telling him that I had known about three of my fellow students becoming Animagi illegally. Furthermore, it would mean admitting to having disregarded all the safety precautions the headmaster had set up for me by allowing them to release me from the shack during every full moon for nearly three years.
By telling Dumbledore about Padfoot, I would be proving Severus correct. While I most certainly was not in league with Sirius and was by no means helping him enter the castle, I was assisting by willful negligence. I knew how Sirius was eluding capture and was purposefully keeping that information to myself because I was afraid of losing the trust of one man. I was facilitating his goal of harming Harry.
I was such a coward! My fear of Dumbledore's reaction had kept me silent since Sirius' escape. I couldn't help it though. His approval and trust meant so much to me. I counted so few people among my friends that I could not bear to lose one of them. So, every time I had approached Dumbledore with the intention of revealing Sirius' secret, I had digressed. How pathetic. Harry's life was in danger and all I could think about was not forfeiting Dumbledore's high regard.
Perhaps I was tearing myself apart for no reason. Just because I knew of no other way for Sirius to enter Hogwarts undetected did not mean that one did not exist. Sirius had been in Voldemort's service for years. No doubt he had learned much of the Dark Arts. Things that even I, as a student of ways to defend myself against them, did not know. Surely, instead of taking up a form I knew of and was very familiar with, he was using dark magic to infiltrate Hogwarts. Yes, his being a skilled Animagus was not–
Startled, I tensed and jumped slightly. Rapidly turning, I saw that Harry was standing just inside the doorway to my chambers.
"I knocked but–"
"I was distracted," I interrupted, offering an apologetic smile. "Please, come in. Or, rather, come further in."
Harry smiled and ambled into the center of the room. His eyes were downcast but I was still, as always, struck by them. They were the first thing I had noticed about him. I had, of course, heard much about his scar and had been told by everyone who had ever known James how much Harry resembled him, but no one had ever mentioned his eyes. He had his mother's eyes; his father's face and his mother's eyes.
He was the perfect blend of his parents. While he had James' courage he had Lily's kind heart. He had a gift for getting himself into trouble but had not inherited the arrogance his father had possessed at the same age. He was as clever as James and as skilled and determined as Lily. As a wizard, he rivaled both of them in power.
At first, seeing and speaking with him had been more difficult than I had feared. In his eyes, I had seen Lily's cold, terrified body. His face had become James', pale and lifeless. In his voice, I had heard both of theirs, raised and panicked. Standing before him, I had seen only his parents' doom.
It had brought up some very painful memories, as had returning to Hogwarts. Yet after many sleepless nights and many hours of contemplation, I had found more of a sense of closure here than I had in the twelve years since the tragedy. Though I still didn't understand Sirius' betrayal and doubted that I ever would, I had, if not accepted the past, at least moved on from it. I would probably always wonder if I could have done something to save James and Lily but now I acknowledged the senselessness of feeling guilty for their deaths.
For the first time in twelve years, I felt sadness when thinking of them, not pain. My anger at Sirius' actions had faded to bitterness, a bitterness I was not working to lose. He had been my friend and forgetting my disgust at his actions would be like forgetting what he had become. That I would not do, no matter how much I might want to remember the boy who had been my closest friend, not the madman who had turned murderer.
Shaking my head, I forced those thoughts away. Harry was standing silently in front of me, looking awkward and nervous. "Please, sit down," I gestured towards the comfortable sofa that lined the far wall of my living area.
"Would you like something to drink? Or some chocolate, perhaps?" I offered as Harry took a seat.
"No, thanks." Finally, he met my curious gaze. I read uneasiness in his eyes but nothing that would tell me why he had come here. "I'm sorry for bothering you."
Moving to sit beside him, I responded, "Don't worry about it, you're not bothering me. Harry," I paused, "Are you quite well? Is something wrong?"
Immediately, he shook his head. "No, nothing's wrong…not exactly. I just…er… Yesterday was the first time I ever heard my father. I can't stop thinking about it." Abruptly, his cheeks flushed and he lowered his head. Embarrassed, he was trying to hide the fact that his eyes were shimmering with unshed tears.
Instinctively, I reached forward to touch his shoulder. Then I almost pulled back. I cared for him very deeply but I was only his teacher, not his friend. I didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable, especially when he was remembering something that was undoubtedly very difficult for him. Harry didn't seem to mind though, so I thought better of it and left my hand where it was.
"I can hear him telling my mum to run. I can hear my mum screaming my name," he kept his voice very low but I could hear how it broke. "It's the only memory I have of them," he faltered and I felt a slight shudder wrack his slender frame. "I wish it wasn't…but it is."
I found myself shaking my head at the injustice of it all. I had been James' friend. Not his best friend but his friend nonetheless. We had cared for each other very much but I had meant nothing to him compared to Sirius. Still, I had spent a great deal of time with him. I had known him very well. I had known both James and Lily very well. But Harry, their son, had no memory of them, except for the one that told of their murder. It was just…unfair.
"You said you knew my father?" Harry asked more loudly.
"You said you and he were friends?"
Again, I nodded.
"I can't change the fact that I don't have any other memories of them but… Maybe you could tell me about them? That way, when I think of them I won't have to think of how they died…" His voice trailed off into a nervous, faltering silence.
I was not surprised at his request. After all, I had been thinking of talking to Harry about his parents ever since Dumbledore offered me the teaching position. What I had not, unfortunately, thought about was what to tell him. There were so many memories, so many to choose from. Which ones would Harry want to hear? Obviously, they would all mean something to him but which ones would be special?
Harry mistook my lack of an immediate response for unwillingness to comply with his request and started to rise. "Look, I'm sorry to bother you. I'll leave."
"No, no," I assured him quickly, "Please, sit down."
Uncertainly, Harry sank back onto the sofa and looked at me expectantly.
"I'm sorry. I was simply wondering where to begin. There's really just…" I sighed, searching for the words. "There's just so much to tell."
"Tell me whatever you'd like," he urged, managing to look excited and distressed at the same time. "I barely know anything about them."
He barely knew anything about them. It wasn't surprising but it pained me to hear it. It was tragic that he didn't remember them, but to be expected. That he barely knew anything about them though… Why hadn't Dumbledore told him?
"Ah, yes." I covered up my silence by pretending to have been thinking about what to relate. "James was crazy for Lily from the very first moment he saw her," I smiled wistfully, remembering the lovesick look that had immediately glazed his eyes upon catching sight of his future wife. "He always denied it – in fact, he might not have even realized it at first – but it was plain for everyone else to see."
Harry barely nodded, eyes distant. I knew he was picturing what I was recounting, adding this new information to the hazed picture he had of them.
"He did a really decent job of ignoring her for the first two years but then, just after the Christmas holidays third year, he started trying to…er…get her attention. He would show off during Quidditch games and try to answer all the questions the teachers asked during the classes they had together. For a while there, he was rather like Hermione," I chuckled at the memory. "In fact, there came a point where our Potions teacher told him to give it a rest so that someone else could participate for a change."
Harry tried to smile but it barely touched his lips. While he enjoyed hearing about his parents, it was a joy mixed with regret and sadness. "That does sound like Hermione. I think that Snape…er… Professor Snape just ignores her now."
I smiled. Severus did not like Harry. By extension, he did not like Ron or Hermione either. "Of course, James failed miserably at gaining your mother's favor. See, she didn't care much for Quidditch and far from sounding intelligent in class, he just came off as a know-it-all. Fortunately for all of his friends," I continued, purposefully avoiding any mention of Sirius as I wasn't sure how much Harry knew about him, "he grew out of that phase."
"By the time fifth year came around, he was trying to openly flirt with her. He even asked her to go to Hogsmeade with him a few times but she always rebuffed him." Catching Harry's surprised look, I tried to explain. "Your mother wasn't very fond of James in the beginning. She didn't like that he misbehaved so much and thought he was rather–" I stopped short of saying 'arrogant'. "Overconfident of his charms.
"I remember that one of the times he asked her out she said, 'As lovely as that doesn't sound, James, I'm afraid I'm going to have to refuse because an evening in detention isn't my idea of romantic.'"
"Was he really always getting into that much trouble?" Harry cut in quietly, pensively.
I laughed. "You have no idea. He probably spent more time in detention that Fred and George Weasley." Harry's lips finally tweaked into a small smile. "After a while, James got the brilliant idea that maybe he could make Lily jealous. So he took quite a few different girls to Hogsmeade and made sure she noticed. This, of course, didn't work. It probably only made her think that he had never really liked her in the first place.
"Truth be told, at that point I didn't think James stood a chance. Slowly, though, things started to change. He stopped trying to impress her. Instead of trying to charm her, he tried behaving…normally. He made a point of learning more about her, the things she liked and disliked, and gave her the opportunity to learn about him. When she realized he wasn't as…juvenile as he had always seemed, they started to spend more time together.
"I will never forget the first time they kissed. James had just caught the Snitch, winning Gryffindor the Quidditch Cup. He was so happy that instead of joining the rest of his celebrating teammates, he flew into the stands, where Lily was sitting with her friends." I was grinning now, I couldn't help it. James had babbled on endlessly about that day so many times that Sirius, Peter, and I had thought he had forgotten how to talk about anything else. "He just…hopped off of his broom, swept her into his arms, and kissed her."
Harry gaped. "Right there, in front of the whole school?"
I nodded. "That wasn't what surprised me, however. What surprised me was that she didn't slap him…she actually kissed him back. From that moment on, they were inseparable." From seventh year to the day they were killed, they had stayed together.
I heard the familiar footfalls just in time to look up and see Severus sweep into my room. Practically glaring at Harry and me, he approached the couch and said, "As much as I hate to break up this little...get together, Professor Dumbledore has sent me to bring you to the staff meeting that you seem to have forgotten."
Staff meeting! I immediately rose to my feet. I had entirely forgotten about the staff meeting! First, I had lost track of time thinking of Sirius and then Harry had asked me about his parents. The meeting hadn't even crossed my mind.
"How kind of you to inform me, Severus," I addressed him pleasantly, tactfully ignoring his murderous glower. "Please tell the good Professor Dumbledore that I will be there shortly."
Virtually scowling, Severus nodded tersely and left.
I turned back to Harry, who had already risen to his feet. "I'm sorry, Harry. I really do have to be going now."
"That's all right," he assured me with half a smile but I could see how disappointed he was. "I'm sorry that I distracted you."
"Not at all, I enjoyed talking to you and staff meetings are generally rather…dull anyway." They hadn't been so tedious as of late, though. No, instead of reviewing new policies we had spent a great deal of time discussing the imminent threat of Sirius Black and the Dementors, especially where Harry was concerned. The meetings seemed to provide a scheduled opportunity for me to torment myself in regards to whether I should tell Dumbledore about Padfoot.
Harry nodded, obviously lost in thought as he considered what he had just learned about his parents.
Together, we left my rooms. For a few minutes we walked side by side, a comfortable silence hanging between us. When we reached the turn off that would take Harry back to the Gryffindor common room, I stopped to say goodbye.
"I will see you in class tomorrow, Harry," I said to him, "Enjoy the rest of the evening and have a good night."
"And you as well," he returned, smiling though his slightly lowered gaze were still quite melancholy. Then he shook his head and surprised me by placing a hand on my shoulder. "Thank you, Professor," he whispered earnestly.
"You're more than welcome, Harry," I assured him. "Please feel free to stop by for more stories any time you'd like."
Gratitude flooded his saddened eyes. "I will. Thanks." Sighing, he turned and began walking down the corridor.
Watching until he reached the end of the hallway, I smiled. I did not know whether he actually planned to take me up on my offer but I fervently hoped he would. There were countless tales to be told and now that I had overcome my inability to see past the night of James' and Lily's murder, I found that I more than enjoyed remembering them.