The sun rose on a new morning and Harry Potter was already wide awake. He rubbed his eyes to get rid of sleep, and then looked in horror at the pile of work that Hermione had given to him.
It wasn't even schoolwork, or homework, so he didn't see why he had to do it. That was the downside of having Hermione for a friend. She would make you study even if you were hanging upside down on a cliff or about to be slashed to bits by a dragon you tried to kill.
"Harry, are you up yet?"
Hermione's voice sounded through the walls of the little cottage. Lupin was outside. He was hunting. Harry knew that. Lupin had always been good with spears, ever since he was little.
According to Sirius Black.
Sirius had been Lupin's best friend when they were at school. Harry's father, who was called James Potter, hated his mother at the time. Lily Evans always stuck up for Severus Snape.
Snivellus Snape, as James liked to call him.
Harry had seen the way events unfolded in Snape's Pensieve, a silver orb that held every memory a person wanted to be kept secret. Harry had invaded this Pensieve and witnessed some of Snape's worst memories to date. One of Snape's worst ones was having to teach him, Harry Potter, the only wizard who'd ever survived the killing curse.
Wizards and witches were afraid to speak the name of the dark wizard who had murdered his parents and tried to kill him.
That was where Sirius Black came in. When Harry was born, Lily and James had appointed him as Godfather, and then he betrayed them.
Well, ever since the first time he got into Hogsmeade Village undetected, Harry had known that to be the truth. Then he learned the real truth, which was…a very clever Animagus named Peter Pettigrew, who was pretending to be Ron's pet rat Scabbers, had in fact sold Harry's parents to Lord Voldemort and then cut off his finger and pretended to be dead.
So it would look like Sirius Black had betrayed them, when in fact he was coming to try and rescue them before they died. Peter had also killed thirteen people with a single curse before transforming into a rat and scuttling down a sewer to hide. That was where Percy Weasley found him, in the body of a rat, and took him home to be a special pet.
Sirius Black was blamed and locked in Azkaban. Harry, with the help of Hermione Granger, eventually helped to clear his name.
But this was the present, and Harry knew he couldn't change the past. He wanted to forget how unfortunate and unpleasant his life had been, and move on. It was hard, though.
Hermione ran into his room, breathless. "Oh, I've been looking everywhere for you. Lupin wants to show you something he caught in the woods. He asked me to find you ages ago."
Harry shoved his work under his bedcovers, to hide it from Hermione. He felt very guilty doing this, and decided to tell her the truth. "I haven't done the work you gave me."
"Ron hasn't either," Hermione laughed.
"Why did you give it to us?" Harry asked her. "I mean, why spoil the holidays by giving your best friends work?"
Hermione said nothing in response. Harry waited a few seconds. "Harry, Lupin is waiting for you."
"Oh," Harry whispered.
He left Hermione, bemused but fine, in his bedroom and hurried downstairs. The cottage kitchen felt lovely and warm.
Lupin spotted him from outside, waved, and dug up a slab of dirt. Harry pinched a crumpet off the breakfast table, which was all ready and waiting for them to eat their share.
He ran outside.
The grass was all frozen.
Harry stopped and stared. Why was the grass frozen in springtime? It wasn't that cold.
"Lovely day," Lupin shouted to him, waving once more. "Come and look at this. It's a potato."
"I know," he said.
"I grew it myself, which is quite a miracle don't you think?" Lupin yelled. "I am so sorry to have to make my voice loud. Can you hear me all right? I've lost my ears a bit now."
"I think you might have lost your hearing in one ear," Harry called back. "Not your ears themselves, otherwise you'd have nothing to hear with. Check they are both securely in place."
Lupin felt his ears. "All present and correct."
"Good," Harry said. "Now, why did you call me out here just to look at a potato? Yeah, I know it's the first one you've even grown in your first ever vegetable patch. Not my sort of thing I'm afraid."
Lupin's face fell. "Oh. Well, I tried to make you happy. I suppose there's nothing else I can do now."
"We could have your potato for dinner, maybe," Harry said. "Cut it into slices to make chips and then have four small portions with cauliflower, carrots and beans. How about that?"
"Sounds good," Lupin said.