Disclaimer: For the very last time, I do not own Harry Potter.
Harry Potter and the Sand of Time
Chapter 27: Harvest Moon
The room was deserted, save for a cat and an owl, neither of which Harry recognised. In an attempt to hide his slightly watery eyes from Remus, Harry knelt down and started stroking the cat. He stopped after half a minute when he sensed that the feline was slightly uneasy at his attentions.
'Are you all right, Harry?' Harry looked up at Remus.
'Yeah, I suppose so. It...It's just a bit... you know...'
'I know.' Remus's own voice was slightly unsteady and Harry knew that he too was feeling emotional at leaving behind those he had cared about for ever. He turned to the cat once again, this time scratching under its chin.
'Gerroff!' The cat did not appreciate it. But then it was no longer a cat, having suddenly transformed into a rather large red headed boy who stood looking down at Harry, a distinct air of smugness about him. As Harry was still trying to assimilate the fact that his friend Ron had managed to become an animagus during the year he'd been away, the tawny owl flew down from its perch and landed on the floor beside Harry. After Ron's surprise it was not quite so much of a shock when the owl transformed in an instant into his other best friend, Hermione.
'Wow!' It was all Harry could manage to say.
'It's so good to have you back at last, Harry. We've missed you so much! And exams are nest week, so you're just in time...'
'Hold on.' Harry stopped Hermione's flow. 'Term's already finished. I came back just at the start of the feast.'
Here, Remus stepped in to clarify matters.
'Harry, you left two weeks into the summer holidays and arrived in the past at the start of term. We thought it best that you return before the end of term here to minimise the discrepancy in times. However, you will not be going back to Hogwarts till next term. You missed most of your last summer break so are getting an extra long one this year to compensate. Don't look so horrified, Hermione. Harry has taken all of his exams and passed already. He doesn't need to repeat the experience.'
'So how did you two manage to...'
Ron interrupted Harry's question. It seemed he was bursting to explain.
'McGonagall offered to teach us after Professor Lupin told us about your er, accident. And she said we'll be allowed to stay with you in the Room of Requirement next year sometimes. But she won't let us out in the grounds. Ginny wanted to learn too but McGonagall wouldn't hear of it. Said she needed to concentrate on her O.W.L.s. Can't blame her, I suppose. I mean we had just about no free time at all this year. '
'Well she did say she'd teach Ginny next year if Harry would like her to become an animagus too,' said Hermione. 'And you won't believe this, Harry. We're not registered! Dumbledore said it could be a useful secret. Can you imagine McGonagall agreeing to something illegal like that? We wanted to start spending full moons with you right away but she said we have to wait. But she wouldn't say why.'
'Because there are other things to sort out,' said Remus calmly. 'For a start, Professor McGonagall will be supervising Harry and me to see if it is safe for us to spend full moons together. Both with and without the Wolfsbane Potion. Now, as Harry missed his meal due to his disgraceful behaviour I suggest we eat.' And he indicated the table where an appetising meal was waiting.
'What did you do, mate?' asked Ron. Harry laughed. 'Tell you later,' he said. He picked up a chicken leg but before it reached his mouth he looked from Ron to Hermione before saying with feeling,
'It's good to be back with you guys.'
Ten years later...
Remus had been quite right all those years ago, thought Harry. By the time he defeated Voldemort the fact that he was a werewolf was public knowledge. And if a werewolf could defeat the darkest wizard of all time then they deserved to be well treated. It didn't hurt either that Remus had played a large part in helping Harry to bring down Voldemort. So there were now special werewolf sanctuaries in forests in five locations in Britain where werewolves could go during the full moon and roam to their hearts content since ordinary humans were strictly banned during the dangerous times. The ban was enforced by special enchantments which automatically expelled humans from the area two days before the full moon. Animagi could enter the forests but would be ejected if they changed back to human form.
Also, the Ministry of magic had passed laws making it illegal to refuse to employ werewolves because of their condition. Werewolves in employment had the choice of taking full moons as part of their holidays or they could have them as extra time off with a corresponding pay cut. A ministry fund supplied Wolfsbane free of charge to any werewolf who wanted it. There were harsh penalties for any werewolf who bit someone or who failed to take precautions but Harry thought this perfectly reasonable given the measures taken to make such an event easily preventable.
Harry's last year at school had been hard, studying for his N.E.W.T.s and coping with full moons. Certainly, the Wolfsbane which Snape made for him and Remus helped a lot. And it was good to have the company of Ron and Hermione in their animagus forms for part of each full moon. But things got tougher round about the middle of the year when news leaked out somehow about his condition. In spite of support from all his friends he'd grown depressed and had stopped eating properly.
That had been a big mistake, Harry remembered ruefully. He'd fainted as the bell rang at the end of Defence which Remus had returned to teach. His guardian had quickly ascertained the cause of Harry's weakness and had not been amused. There had followed a long and stern lecture on his promise to his father that Harry would look after himself. Then Remus had informed Harry that for the next two days he would sit beside him at the staff table for every meal. And he would only be allowed to go back to sitting at the Gryffindor table after that if he was eating satisfactorily. Harry had protested, promising to start eating again but Remus had refused to give in.
The embarrassment of sitting with the teachers like a naughty little boy had taken Harry's mind off his depression and he'd made sure to escape the torture as soon as possible by eating plenty. It had also been the last time he'd let himself in for Remus's individual form of discipline.
Eventually the exams were over and Harry had got the top grades he required to train as an auror. Of course, at that time it seemed unlikely he would ever be allowed to be one. But during the summer he had killed Voldemort and things had begun to change.
On his eighteenth birthday he was still recovering from the battle. But his friends held a small party for him in Grimmauld place, the highlight of which was Ginny showing off her newly acquired talent of changing into a fox.
Ginny. He was married to her now and they had two wonderful children; Orion James and Margaret Lily. At this very moment she was taking them to Remus and Tonks's house. Tonight Tonks would be looking after them along with her and Remus's small son Romulus and Ron and Hermione's two, Flora and Wulfric. With the help of Molly Weasley of course. Because tonight was special. It wasn't going to be just any old full moon. The skies were clear and when the moon rose it would be an enormous, bright yellow Harvest Moon which would light the skies above the forest for many hours. And there was nothing a werewolf liked better than to roam the forest on such a night. He looked across to where Remus was sitting on the log beside them.
'They won't be long,' said the older wolf reassuringly. Remember they can only apparate to the edge. Then they have to change to enter the sanctuary.'
'I know,' replied Harry. I was just thinking about the first time I was able to do this. It was the best present I ever had.' He was referring to that last full moon he'd had in the past.
'Well now you can have your fun every month,' Remus told them. 'And talking about fun, here they come.'
Harry looked up and saw the cat and fox running towards them, the owl flying overhead. He greeted them enthusiastically, then, like Remus turned his eyes towards the horizon and waited impatiently for the moon to rise. And it seemed to him for a second that in the distance he could see the ghostly silver shadows of a large dog and a magnificent stag, though when he blinked they were gone.
So there we are. Finished. A last humungous thanks to all you reviewers. There will be a new completely different story sometime, but be warned. The Evil Muse will be back. Bye for now,