A/N: Welcome to my latest story! Before you get started, I highly advise reading "Before Harry: The Marauders' Tale" and "The Potter Legacy: The Story of Lily and James." This story is the sequel to those two, and builds on the characters and situations in them.
For those who knew to expect this story, I'm sure you're excited to see that I'm posting long before I thought I could! Once I got started on the outline and this chapter, I became obsessed – and I couldn't wait to post!
This chapter and the next one are set before the bulk of the story (hence the dates to keep everything straight). The story is going to center on the Order years, but I wanted this chapter to sort of set everything up. I think that getting to know Harry all over again was important for my characters, which is why I've started this story where I did. I hope you agree that this is a necessary chapter.
With that said, I wish you happy reading! Thanks for your support, and for reading and reviewing!
I don't own Harry Potter or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The first scene of this chapter is based on the scene found on pages 82 – 86 of the American hardback edition.
So Many Years Gone
1 September 1993
Feeling a thousand eyes upon him, Remus Lupin walked quickly through King's Cross Station, pushing his trolley in front of him. He wondered if the other travelers were staring because of his shabby clothes or because of the ratty state of his luggage. He supposed that it didn't much matter. All he had to do was to get to the other side of the barrier. Once he was on the platform, no one would be staring – mainly because no one would be there so early.
A quick glance at the clock assured him that he still had plenty of time. It was only half past nine in the morning. While the station was full of commuters, he knew that his platform would be deserted. There was still over an hour before the train would leave. The students and their families wouldn't start arriving until after ten.
As he approached the barrier, a deep sense of dread filled him. What was he doing? How could he go back, even after all these years? He must have been a fool to accept the job offer at his old school.
But he did need the job and the money it would provide. Those two factors had influenced him greatly when he had accepted the position. He had given his word that he would be there, and he could never go back on his word. For someone like him, his personal honor was of the utmost importance. Taking a deep breath, he leaned on the barrier. Seconds later, he fell through onto Platform 9 and ¾.
The Hogwarts Express stood before him, looking as highly polished as he remembered. Even in his state of nervous tension, he couldn't stop the smile that spread across his face. This train held so many memories for him. Despite all the unknowns in his future, he knew that he truly was glad that he had accepted Dumbledore's offer and taken the teaching job. He suddenly couldn't wait to go back to Hogwarts. Even with all of the horrific post-graduation memories of his friends, he was sure that Hogwarts itself would remain untainted. It was a place of only happy memories, a place where he could smile as he thought back on his greatest friends as he remembered them best – children who wanted nothing more than to have fun as they grew up.
He climbed aboard the deserted train and dragged his luggage to the very last compartment. This was their compartment. Even after so many years, he couldn't consider sitting anywhere else.
After stowing his luggage, he took two items from his briefcase. He opened the paper he had brought from home, the Daily Prophet, and skimmed the front page. The Ministry was still looking for Sirius Black. Remus sighed as he refolded the paper. They weren't going to find Sirius, he was sure of that. If Black wanted to make himself invisible, there was no way anyone would be able to track him down, no matter how hard they tried.
Not for the first time, Remus wondered if he should go to the Ministry with what he knew – that Black was an unregistered Animagus. Once again, he dismissed the idea. Olivia Alexander knew as much as he did about Sirius's ability to transform at will, and she was an Auror. Surely, if she thought the information was pertinent, she would have given it to the Ministry.
Thinking of Olivia, he pulled out the second item he had taken from his briefcase. He took the parchment from its envelope so that he could read the letter that had arrived that morning. In the rush to leave his house, he had not yet had a chance to open it.
"Congratulations on the new job! I can't believe you'll be back at Hogwarts. I must admit, I'm really jealous. Dana and I haven't been able to talk about anything else since we got your owl yesterday. Dana told Laura, and she hasn't stopped asking if you'll get to teach Harry Potter. We said that you would, but I don't think she's going to rest until she hears it from you. Write her when you get a chance. Maybe then she'll leave her mother alone!"
Remus smiled, thinking of the excitement his news must have caused. He knew that Olivia and their friend Dana McKinley had as much love for Hogwarts as he did. And Laura, Dana's daughter, would be particularly interested in a teaching position, as she would be starting her second year at Beauxbatons the same day Remus started his new job.
The thought of Dana's Laura brought a smile to Remus's face. His goddaughter was, in his highly biased opinion, an extraordinarily little girl. The news that she wanted to hear about Harry Potter came as no surprise; he knew that she was quite enamored with the young hero. While such a crush was not all that unusual in any small witch, the infatuation was greater in Laura than most. Knowing that her mother had been close friends with Harry's parents made her feel as though she and Harry were friends. Remus thought of it with a pang, knowing that Dana and Lily Potter had had many conversations about what good friends their children would be. Now that Laura lived in France and Harry in England, such a friendship seemed impossible.
"I don't have much time to write now, but we do need to catch up properly. It's been forever since we all got together! I know that you won't be able to get away much anymore, but I need to be in the UK next week for a meeting at the Ministry. Dana already said that she has to work, but if you're free next Saturday, I'd love to meet up in Hogsmeade. What do you say? Can you make it?
"Congratulations again, Remus, and make sure that you cause some trouble at Hogwarts! Let me know if you'll be able to make it on Saturday.
Smiling even wider, Remus folded up the parchment and replaced it in its envelope. He would write to Olivia as soon as he got to Hogwarts to set up their meeting for Saturday. She was right; it had been over two months since they had gotten together, which was highly unusual. Since her move to France following James and Lily's deaths, he had gone to visit her and Dana, or they had visited him, at least once a month.
He put the newspaper and the letter away, and settled himself down in the corner, noticing for the first time how exhausted he was. The adrenaline he had felt that morning as he had rushed to the station finally faded away, leaving him with the after-affects of a night without sleep. While the night of the full moon was never a fun experience, his nerves about starting his new job had made this month's transformation particularly difficult to bear.
Taking advantage of the cool quiet of the empty train, he leaned his head against the window. It was only a moment before sleep claimed him.
Remus was awoken from his dreamless sleep by confused, scared voices. He dragged himself almost reluctantly back into wakefulness, only to see that the train was now dark. He frowned in confusion of his own. They were stopped, but they were nowhere near Hogsmeade Station. Apparently he was now sharing his compartment; the loud, jumbled voices of teenagers permeated the small room, making it almost impossible for him to concentrate.
"Quiet!" he said without thinking.
His companions fell silent at once. He muttered a spell, bringing blue flames to life in his hands. He held them out in front of him to illuminate the compartment, which he saw that he was now sharing with two girls and three boys – his students. Wanting to smile at the thought, he quickly realized that he had to take charge, to be their teacher. He had to discover what had happened, and to try to rectify the situation.
"Stay where you are," he cautioned, stepping around them to get to the door.
But the door opened before he could take more than a step toward it. The fire in his hands died out as the dementor entered their compartment.
Remus looked around wildly as the dementor drew in its raspy breath. Three of the children looked frightened, and the other two were both beginning to shake. He knew that it would only be a moment before they both passed out. He wondered what horrific experiences someone so young could have lived through.
Then the cold saturated his own being . . .
"Is this what I need to sign?" he asked dully.
"Yes," Dr. Hayward said. He cleared his throat. "Remus, I –"
"Don't," Remus interrupted. "I know. I wish things could have been different, too, but there's nothing we can do to change it. The least I can do is to let her go in peace." He looked down at his wife again. "She would have hated this. I can't keep her this way knowing that."
The doctor nodded, and handed him the clipboard. "We need your signature in three places. They're all marked with an x."
Remus nodded, and signed the forms without reading them. He gave the clipboard back to the doctor, who nodded again.
"I'll just get a nurse, and we'll take care of everything."
Remus shook his head, trying to banish the evil thoughts. Dementors always made him relive his wife's death; he knew enough not to let the memory pull him under.
"None of us is hiding Sirius Black under our cloaks. Go," he said to the dementor, trying to sound stronger than he felt as another memory took hold of him.
"James and Lily have died," Dumbledore said softly. "We have moved their bodies to St. Mungo's mortuary until funeral arrangements can be made . . . in light of all that has happened, I think it would be best if the two of you were the ones to make those arrangements."
"The two of us," Olivia repeated as though in a daze. "What about Sirius? Shouldn't he help us with that? They were his best friends, too."
"Sirius is in no position to assist with anything related to the Potter family," Dumbledore said a bit harshly.
"What are you trying to say?" Olivia asked.
Remus's eyes widened. "He was their Secret Keeper . . . no one could find them unless he told them how to . . ."
Dumbledore looked at Remus and nodded. "He led Voldemort to the Potters."
Any color that remained in Remus's face drained out of it; even his lips lost their color. He dropped his head into his hands.
"No, no, no, no, no," he moaned. "How could he do this? He was their best friend . . . their best friend . . ."
Remus shook his head again, and pulled his wand out of his pocket. They were not going to do this to him. They were not going to make him relive the past this way. He thought of his wedding day, focusing on the utter joy he had felt as he watched his Laura walk down the aisle toward him on her father's arm.
"Expecto patronum," he said, watching as the silvery mist shot out of his wand.
His Patronus, a silvery unicorn, hit the dementor square in the chest, driving it away. The lights in the compartment came on again, and he looked around at his young charges.
"Are you all right?" he asked. "Is everyone all right?"
Two of the boys and one of the girls were already on their feet, jumping to the aid of the third boy, who was lying on the floor. Remus couldn't see his face around his friends, but was certain that he had passed out. He looked around for the other girl, who was curled up in a ball in a corner, shaking uncontrollably. He thought that she could use her friends' help as much as the one on the floor. He reached up for his suitcase, and pulled out a large chocolate bar, knowing that it would bring some warmth back to the children.
The boy on the floor had managed to come around; he was starting to ask his friends what had happened. Remus stepped forward to give him a piece of chocolate, but stopped short as he recognized the young man's face.
"James," he whispered so low that none of them could hear it. "No – it can't be . . ."
As understanding hit, him he felt as though he had been slapped across the face. It wasn't James Potter sitting in front of him, it was his son – it was Harry . . .
In order to delay in the moment in which he would have to think about it, he began breaking the chocolate in his hands. Harry looked up at him with Lily's green eyes, and Remus's breath caught in his throat. If someone had asked him twelve years ago to describe the thirteen-year-old Harry, he would have laughingly said that he would look like James with Lily's eyes – given his appearance as a baby, it would have made sense. But now that he was actually seeing this older Harry, he could barely believe his eyes. How could he look so much like his father? How could his eyes be exact replicas of those of his mother?
He passed the chocolate to all the children without realizing what he was doing. After commanding them to eat, he gave some flimsy excuse to leave the compartment.
Once outside, he leaned up against the wall, taking deep breaths. He remembered his conversation with Dumbledore only two days before, when the headmaster had officially offered him the job. His one word of caution had been that Harry would be one of Remus's students. Remus's eyes had lit up; he could hardly wait to be a part of his friends' son's life again.
"You must be careful, Remus," Dumbledore had cautioned. "Remember, Harry does not know you. I know that you were close to him when he was a baby, but he has not seen you, or even heard your name, in twelve years. He will not remember you, or know how special you were to his parents and to him. Do not expect him to respond to you instantly. And do not show favoritism toward him."
"How can I not?" Remus had protested. "He's James and Lily's son, Dumbledore!"
"I know that. And I know better than anyone how easy it is to love him, to want to hold him close and defend him from the world. But, Remus, in his eyes, you are just another teacher – the third in your subject area that he has studied with. He may have already learned not to get attached to his defense professors, fearing that he will not see them again after one year with them."
"I understand what you're trying to say, Dumbledore. I won't push him, and I won't tell him about my friendship with James and Lily," Remus had promised.
Now, standing only feet away from Harry on the train, Remus wondered if he would be able to keep his word.
7 September 1993
Remus finished marking the last of his fifth year essays, writing a bold A on the last one. He rubbed his eyes as he pushed his chair back from his desk. His students were terribly behind. He had, of course, expected this when he had learned that Gilderoy Lockhart had been their last teacher, but had hoped that they would be a bit more advanced than they were. He was working them far harder than he wanted to in an effort to be sure that they would be ready for their exams – particularly his O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. students.
He glanced at the clock and jumped out of his seat. He had to meet Olivia in Hogsmeade in less than thirty minutes. How could he have let the time get away from him?
After hurrying to get ready, he rushed down the corridors to leave the school. As he walked, he greeted the students he saw in the halls, quizzing himself mentally to see if he could match names with the faces that walked past him. He remembered more than half of their names, which he considered a pretty good record, given that they had only been in school for a week.
"Professor Lupin, do you have a moment?"
Remus stopped dead in his tracks as he always had when hearing that voice. He turned to see Professor McGonagall coming toward him. He nodded in response to her query. Even though he did not have the time to meet with her, he knew that he could never refuse a request from his former teacher.
She opened the door to her office and ushered him in ahead of her, as she had done during his schooldays. The old feeling of nervousness overtook him; he was reminded of the first time she had given him detention, for wandering the halls with his friends after curfew. She closed the door behind them, and smiled at him.
"I won't keep you long," she promised. "I just wanted to ask how your first week of school has gone."
"Oh," Remus said, his nerves disappearing. "It's gone quite well."
"You're not having any problems with the students?"
"Well, the Slytherins can be a bit of a challenge," he admitted with a smile. "But I'm afraid that my Gryffindor allegiances might be causing me some trouble there."
She nodded. "I know that Severus has the same problems. He has a tendency to favor the Slytherins, despite the number of times that I have told him that he must treat them all equally." She gave him the severe look he remembered so well from his days as a student. "I hope you're not guilty of the same thing."
"No, I do my best not to show favoritism," Remus replied, thinking of his promise to Dumbledore before the beginning of the year. He grinned. "They all get the same amount of homework, and they all receive and lose the same amount of House points."
"Good," she said. "Are you having any other troubles, then?"
"Well, I'm spending far more time catching them up with where they should be than I had intended."
"Ah," she said with a nod, "I was afraid that you would find them behind. Knowledgeable though he may have been about his books, Gilderoy did not provide them with the education that they deserved. Do you think you'll be able to bring them up to O.W.L and N.E.W.T. standards by the end of the year?"
"I'll do my best," Remus promised.
She nodded. "That's all we can ask of you. Do you have any other problems? Have you found anything too difficult?"
"No, not at all. I'm enjoying teaching."
She smiled. "I always have, too. If there's anything else you'd like to discuss, Remus, remember that my door is always open to you."
He smiled. "Thank you, Professor."
"Remus, please," she smiled. "It's Minerva."
Remus smiled, thinking that there was no way in the world that he would ever be able to call this woman by her first name. He closed the door behind him as he left her office, and took off at a quick pace for Hogsmeade.
Olivia was already seated in the Three Broomsticks when Remus entered the pub. She smiled when she saw him, and waved him over. Smiling in greeting, he crossed the room to join her.
"Hello, Liv," he smiled, leaning down to kiss her cheek. "I'm sorry I'm late. McGonagall caught me on my way out – I have to tell you, I felt far more like one of her students than anything else."
Olivia laughed. "Forgiven. I'm almost impressed that you got away from her without detention."
Remus smiled. "So, tell me, how have you been?"
"Terribly busy, I'm sorry to say," she replied. She grinned at him. "But I don't have any news nearly as exciting as yours! Remus! You're a teacher!"
"I'm a teacher," he grinned. "Can you believe it?"
"Of course I can," she said loyally. "I'm sure you're a brilliant teacher. There's no one out there who knows more about defense than you do. Who better to teach the young witches and wizards of the UK?"
"You're going a bit far," he laughed. "But I am having fun."
"Are you, really? I never thought of our teachers as fun-loving individuals." She laughed. "McGonagall certainly didn't have fun on a daily basis."
"I think she does," Remus replied. "If she didn't like it, I don't think she would have spent this long doing it." He smiled. "She really does care about the students."
"Yeah, in a scary way," Olivia giggled.
"She can be scary," Remus laughed. "But she cares."
"She does," Olivia finally agreed. "But as for the others . . . are you really sure they're having fun in their work?"
"Did you ever pay attention in Charms?" Remus asked incredulously. "Flitwick adores teaching! You can tell just by watching him. He loves his students and his subject area, and he loves sharing all he knows. Haven't you ever seen the way his face just lights up when his students grasp a new concept?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right," Olivia mused. "I remember how he used to look at Lily, like nothing could ever give him greater joy than watching her charm a teacup to dance." She grinned. "Then again, she was his favorite. Always the star student."
"Yeah, she was," Remus agreed.
"Do you have a favorite student?"
"After one week?"
Olivia laughed. "Oh, I see how it is. You want to wait to see who will be the brightest before you pick a favorite."
"Pretty much," Remus grinned. "No use picking a favorite only to find out that he can't even banish a boggart."
"You're teaching them about boggarts?"
"The third years," Remus nodded. "That's when we learned it, right?"
"I guess," Olivia said uncertainly. "To be honest, Remus, I just don't remember. It's been too long."
"Yeah, it's been forever."
"Now, now, let's not go that far," she laughed. "We're not ancient yet, Remus."
"Compared to them, we are."
"They're also eleven years old. When they were born, we were already adults."
Remus smiled. "They aren't all eleven. The third years are thirteen. We were only about twenty or twenty-one when they were born."
Olivia nodded with a smile. "I suppose we were just barely adults then." Her eyes grew wide with realization. "Remus . . ."
"The third years . . . born when we were twenty . . . Remus, is Harry one of your students?"
"Yes," he said quietly.
"Oh, my – oh, Remus – I didn't think about it . . . I know Laura was talking Dana's ear off about you teaching Harry, but I never really thought that you would –"
Remus laughed. "What, did you think he'd be taking defense from someone else?"
"No, I just didn't think . . . I don't know what I thought." She leaned forward eagerly. "What's he like, Remus? Tell me about him."
"I don't know him very well yet," Remus said slowly.
"Tell me all that you can." She looked up at him with tears beginning to pool in her eyes. "This is Harry, Remus. It's James and Lily's little boy. Please, you have to tell me something. I can't get this close to him without knowing about him."
Remus nodded, knowing how she felt. "He's James, Liv. The first time I saw him, I thought he was James. I mean, I knew he couldn't be, but . . . I can't believe how much he looks like him."
"Really. Here, do something for me. Close your eyes."
She looked at him as though he had gone insane, but did as he requested.
"Good," he said. "Now, think of James as a third year. Do you remember what he looked like then?"
"Yes," she said, keeping her eyes closed.
"Good. Now, picture Lily's eyes instead of James's. Can you do that?"
"Yes," she said again.
Her eyes flew open. "He's James with Lily's eyes?"
She smiled. "I guess I could have told myself that. I mean, he always was James with Lily's eyes. James's mum was saying that from the day that Harry was born."
Remus nodded with a smile. "It's one thing to know it in your head, but it's another to actually see it. It almost knocked me flat the first time I saw him."
"I can imagine," she agreed. "Is his personality like James's?"
"Sort of," Remus said. "He plays Quidditch – Seeker for Gryffindor's team. From what McGonagall told me, he started playing when he was a first year."
"Wow," Olivia breathed. "Can you imagine what James would have said when he read that letter from his little first year son?"
Remus grinned. "He would have gone insane."
"He must be good, if he started first year."
"So I've been told," Remus agreed. "The season hasn't started yet, so I don't have any firsthand accounts to give you."
"So, he looks like James with Lily's eyes, and he plays Quidditch," she summarized. "What else? Tell me more."
"Well, he's a fairly good student from what I've seen," Remus said. "He doesn't slack off as much as James, but he doesn't devote all his time to studying like Lily. He's pretty much in between them in that respect. He has a couple of friends that I see him with all the time – both Gryffindor third years. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger."
Olivia nodded. "I've met the Weasley family. Nice people. They have seven children, I think. Well – maybe 'children' isn't the right word for the oldest ones, but you get my point."
Remus nodded. "The oldest one at Hogwarts, Percy, is Head Boy." He smiled. "Bit pompous, if you ask me. He's nothing like James was as Head Boy."
"Stop digressing and tell me about Harry."
Remus shrugged helplessly. "I honestly don't have much to tell you, Liv. I've only had his class twice. I just don't know much about him yet."
"But you've talked to him outside of class, I'm sure."
"I've greeted him in the corridors, but that's about it."
Olivia's eyes widened in surprise. "But surely you're going to talk to him. You have to tell him who you are, Remus!"
"No," he said quietly.
"No?" she repeated in shock. "What do you mean? You have to tell him!"
"No, I don't, and I'm not going to. I promised Dumbledore that I wouldn't get too close."
"Why would Dumbledore make you promise something like that?"
"He said something about Harry not remembering me."
"So? You can get to know him now."
"Yes, but right now, when I look at him, I see James and Lily. I don't see Harry. I have to get to know him as Harry, not as my best friends' son. And to do that, I have to make sure that he just sees me as a teacher, not as a replacement for the family he's lost. I want him to be himself around me, so we can get to know each other in the proper perspective our relationship has now."
"'The proper perspective' . . . Remus Lupin, you're being ridiculous, and you know it."
He shook his head. "I don't think so, Liv. Dumbledore's right. I can't go rushing in to tell Harry about his past, thinking that he'll love me as the 'Uncle Remus' he knew as a baby. It would change the way we'd relate to one another. And the other students would accuse me of playing favorites, which wouldn't do him any good, either." He smiled slightly. "And, besides, you know how this job works. It's jinxed. I'll only have it for a year, and then I'll be gone."
"You don't really believe that. I know you want to keep this job. You wouldn't have taken it if you truly thought it was jinxed."
"But what if it is true? What if I do tell him, and then, less than a year later, I disappear from his life again? No, Liv, I'm not going to put him through that. From what I can see, he's come to terms with his parents being gone and with not knowing much about his past. He's happy as he is. I want to let him continue that way, and just remain the teacher who cares about him."
"You're never going to be happy with that," Olivia said, shaking her head. "There's no way you're going to be able to spend a year this close to Harry without telling him who you are. You want the relationship you're supposed to have with him, Remus, I know you do."
"Of course I do," he said fiercely. "Do you think I'm happy about doing this? Do you think I'm keeping my distance because of anything that I want? Of course not! I'm doing this for Harry, Liv, not for me. He comes first. He always has, and he always will."
Olivia exhaled slowly. "I know what you're trying to do and why you're trying to do it," she said softly. "I just hope you can."
Remus looked off into space for a moment. "So do I, Olivia," he said in a low voice. "So do I."