THE MATHIAS PROPHECY

Part 10

A RAT IN A TRAP

The first thing Harry saw when she opened her eyes was Ron's worried face looming down at her. It had snowed during the night, as Remus had predicted. Now the sun was out, glinting merrily off the fine white powder, and shining through the long windows lining the infirmary.

"Professor, Harry's awake!"

"You needn't shout, Ron. I'm sure Professor Lupin can see for himself," Hermione's voice came from the opposite side of the bed.

"It's about time you woke up sleepy head," Remus smiled.

Harry stretched lazily, "What time is it?"

"It's past eleven, Harry. You've been out cold," Ron replied.

"Dumbledore put a sleeping charm on me. It was a rough night," she explained gingerly testing her limbs. "How long have you both been here?"

"They showed up right after breakfast," Nurse Pomfrey answered as she came over to Harry's bedside, checking her pulse, "Professor Lupin told me to let them stay."

"Thanks," she grinned at Lupin.

"I thought they would cheer you up. Besides, I don't think either Poppy or I could have kept them out."

"We weren't going anywhere!" Ron nodded adamantly. "What happened last night, Harry? You scared the bejesus out of us."

"Ron's right, Harry, what did happen to you? One minute you were there with Pro…er…'Captain'," Hermione flashed the professor a quick grin, "then you were gone. Snape was really worried."

"Yeah, he was even almost nice to me; told me it wasn't my fault you disappeared."

"Did you tell them anything?" Harry asked eyeing Professor Lupin as she reached over to get her glasses off the nightstand, knocking her father's letter to the floor.

"What's this?" Ron asked snatching the envelope up from the floor where it had fallen by his feet. "You've got a letter. Do you know who sent it?"

"Yes, Ron, she knows who sent the letter," Professor Lupin quietly responded, watching Harry carefully. "I didn't say anything. I didn't believe it was my place to do so," he told her as Ron handed her back the envelope containing her father's letter.

"Harry, what's going on? You look like you've seen a ghost," Hermione's concern showed in her face.

"Harry, that letter, it's not bad news is it? Something hasn't happened to Snu…."

"No, Ron, he's okay. He'll be away for a few days though," she interrupted.

"That's a relief. Hermione thought she saw Mad Eye Moody and two other Aurors arrive early this morning, just as we were coming up."

Harry glanced at Lupin, who nodded before she replied, "She did. I told you it was a rough night, but some good came out of it."

"Harry, you've been talking in circles," Hermione tossed her head, "are you going to tell us what happened or not?"

"Of course I am," she took Hermione's hand giving it a quick squeeze.

"So…what's going on?" Ron demanded his face as red as his hair.

"Not so fast, Mr. Weasley," Madame Pomfrey retorted, "Miss Potter needs to get some food into her. The house elves have sent up this nice brunch on the Headmaster's orders."

"I can't eat all this!" Harry exclaimed looking at the huge platter of food.

"It's not just for you. Professor Lupin could use something too. He's not yet fully recovered from his ordeal either, not to mention your two friends…"

"Seems our Headmaster thinks of everything," Lupin laughed, quelling the nurse's tart response, as she just shook her head and walked away. "Help yourselves," he smiled snatching up a shrimp salad sandwich and a glass of pumpkin juice.

"Like my dad says, Dumbledore never seems to miss a thing," Ron said, digging into the food.

"Professor, what did Nurse Pomfrey mean, when she said you weren't fully recovered…recovered from what?" Hermione inquired as she helped herself to a hard-boiled egg and some salad, looking from Lupin to Harry and back again.

"Should we tell them, or keep them guessing in suspense?"

"I'll leave that up to you," Professor Lupin smiled, pleased to see she was grinning at him mischievously.

"Harry Potter…I know that look…" Hermione stamped her foot, her smile belying her anger.

"Well, I for one want to know what's in that mysterious letter," Ron stated, scooping some potato salad onto his plate, while Hermione shook her head wonderingly. She just couldn't believe he could eat so much and stay so thin.

"That's the one thing you aren't going to learn, not today anyway," Harry explained with a far away look in her eyes, her expression pensive.

"Why all the mystery? Who is the letter from?" Ron asked, puzzled by her response.

"My father, it was written last night, before he died."

"Harry," Hermione said gently, "your father died fifteen years ago."

"For me, last night was fifteen years ago. You see, time was turned back and went awry."

It was the first time Ron had ever stopped eating in mid bite. Hermione's mouth dropped open and Professor Lupin sat back waiting patiently. He knew Harry would tell them as much as she felt they should know.

Finally, Hermione found her voice, "The Prophecy? Harry…what…happened?"

"Well…I'll give you the quick abridged version. Then you can ask some questions, okay?"

"There's a quick version?" Ron was skeptical.

"Ron," Hermione hissed, "let Harry tell us what happened in her own way."

"Don't worry you two; you'll gradually get to know everything. It's just easier this way for now," Harry reassured them. "Last night I followed 'Captain' into the forest, looking for a missing pooch, where I chased off a Dementor, stunned a rat and watched a Deatheater wet his pants in fright after 'Captain' cornered him," Harry told them pretending to look innocent, but her green eyes were laughing.

"Now let me see if I have this straight," Hermione thought aloud, lowering her voice to prevent Madam Pomfrey from overhearing. "Snuffles went into the forest because Pettigrew was there, but so were a Dementor and another Deatheater. Then you stunned Pettigrew and 'Captain' cornered the other man scaring him so badly he peed in his pants?"

"Very good, Hermione," Lupin praised as if she were in class, his eyes laughing like Harry's.

"How did you get rid of the Dementor?" Ron posed the question, his eyes wide, sandwich still in mid air.

"Patronus spell, before he attacked the pooch, now his usual self, but he had been beaten up by the other Deatheater," Harry went on, as Lupin noted she seemed to be enjoying her little bit of intrigue and mischief.

"Whew…no wonder you're giving us the abridged version. You really had one heck of a night," Ron shook his head in amazement, turning back to his sandwich, "then what happened?"

"I sent the pooch for help while 'Captain' and I guarded the stunned rat and McNair."

"McNair! He was the other one?" Ron gasped wide-eyed.

"Yup, for awhile…"

"Harry, what aren't you telling us?" Hermione tilted her head, studying her friend.

Harry looked at the three of them as Lupin winked his consent before she continued, "A certain pale blonde Deatheater and evil Wizard showed up before the pooch returned with the Potion Master and Dumbledore."

"What?" Ron choked, spitting his food into a napkin, as Professor Lupin handed him a drink, "Lucius Malfoy and Voldemort?"

"Oh, honey, you're both lucky to be alive," Hermione hugged her friend, looking over at Lupin.

"I wouldn't be," he told her, "if it weren't for Harry. She saved my life."

"No, Professor. We're both alive because of my father. He saved me so I could save you," she responded her eyes becoming moist.

"Harry, I don't understand. How could your father…" Hermione's voice trailed off.

"Do you mean to tell us…Bloody hell, Harry, what went on?"

"When Malfoy and Voldemort arrived Malfoy shot Professor Lupin with a Muggle hand gun. The bullet was silver. The wound itself wasn't lethal, but the silver almost killed him."

"Werewolves are highly allergic to silver. It's poison to them," Hermione recited.

"I know that, Hermione," Ron defended himself. "What did you do Harry?"

"Nothing, not then anyway. Voldemort hit me with the Cruciatus curse, twice."

"Twice? And you didn't pass out?" Ron asked awed.

"No, but I wasn't exactly standing either."

"How cone he didn't just try and kill you?"

"Harry…" Hermione interrupted, "he used a time turner didn't he? That's why the Prophecy says time turned back…"

"And went awry," Harry finished for her. "Yes, last night I was sent back in time fifteen years to the night my parents died. Dumbledore arrived too late to try and stop it," she didn't tell them that he probably wouldn't have anyway.

"Harry, you were really there? You met your Mum and Dad?" Ron was incredulous, all thoughts of food gone.

"Of course she did!" Hermione turned on him scathingly. "Oh, Harry, it must have been terrible. Wasn't there anything you could do to…to…"

"Change things? No, my father wouldn't let me. He knew about the Prophecy…believed in it. He believed in my ability to stop Voldemort, and got me out of the house so he wouldn't find a teenaged visitor at the Potter's and kill her too."

"How did you get back? Did the time shift recur?"

Yes, after…after it was over. I was sent back and found myself back in the forest. Voldemort, Malfoy, and McNair were gone. 'Snuffles' and Dumbledore caught Pettigrew before he could transform."

"How the hell did you help the Professor?" Ron demanded, sitting on the edge of his seat, totally absorbed in her story.

"I had done some homework in History of magic on old charms and healing, you remember the assignment?" she asked, and seeing them both nod she went on, "I just used one."

"Harry, if you're talking about the one the old Gypsy poem is based on you would need to be a Healer…" Hermione stared at her friend, eyes wide in amazement.

"Bloody hell, Harry, you never told us you were a Healer."

"Ron, it's in the Prophecy. Harry's saving Professor Lupin. I remember from when we all read it. Harry's hidden skill…it's healing."

"Yes, Hermione, Harry is a natural healer. Unskilled, but as you can see, still very capable," Professor Lupin enlightened them, "I owe her my life."

"You don't owe me anything. Friends don't owe friends for doing what's right."

"Harry, you sound like your parents. They would have said the same thing," Remus told her sadly.

"My father was a very brave and remarkable man, and my mother was a sweet and beautiful woman. Voldemort actually did me a favor. He gave me the opportunity to spend time with them, even though it was only for a short time," Harry commented softly.

Ron sat quietly with his friends and teacher for a minute, then looked at Harry. Picking up his glass, he raised it in salute, "To James and Lily Potter. I didn't have the opportunity to know them, but I do know their daughter. She is brave, true, and loyal and I am sure they are proud of her. They loved her so much they saved her life twice in the same night, as a baby and as a teenager. May God bless and keep them for this unselfish act of love."

Harry cried as Hermione hugged her; Professor Lupin raised his glass with Ron, and from the doorway, came the sound of clapping. It was Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape and Mad Eye Moody, who both nodding in agreement, accompanied him.

"Well said, Mr. Weasley well said indeed!" Dumbledore beamed, moving over to look at Harry. She was pale, but her eyes were clear. He sensed she was worried about Sirius so he gave her a wink and nod to reassure her, before coming to sit down beside her.

"How are you feeling, Child?'

"Better than last night," she replied wiping her eyes.

"Did you sleep well?"

"Professor, you and I both know you put a sleeping charm on me," she responded, tipping her forehead so they were both looking over their glasses at one another. "Now, since I know one of your favorite games is letting people think you're a bit daft, we both know otherwise. So why don't you just tell me what you are up to? I do not think you brought Professor Moody up to the infirmary to make sure I'm recovering; Professor Snape maybe…but not Moody."

This was greeted with a bellow of laughter from Mad-Eye Moody, while Snape wore his usual sardonic expression.

"Potter, you had spunk when I thought you were a boy, and I see you're just as gutsy as ever. You are one spirited little filly. How would you like a crack at Pettigrew?"

"What do you mean? That's your department; you're the Auror, not me."

"Pettigrew's a smart little bastard, and he won't talk. Keeps saying Black's trying to kill him and has been all along."

"That's a lie!" Harry shouted as Ron leaped to his feet, ready to defend her, while Hermione looked worried.

"Damn it girl, I know that, but I would rather not use Snape's Veritaserum to get his confession. He has valuable information we could use. If we can get it without drugging him it will look better."

"So what do you have in mind?" Harry asked intrigued.

"How would you like to question him yourself?"

Harry considered for a moment, and Dumbledore could see her mind working. "Professors, does Pettigrew know I survived Voldemort's plan last night?"

"No, Child, he believes you to be gone."

"Claims he was there because Black lured him into the forest. Says he's been watching you to keep you safe," Moody said casting his blue eye around the room.

"That nasty little rat," Hermione commented, "he's despicable."

"Hermione, it's more like he's a…"

"Fucking murdering bastard. Sorry Harry, but I didn't want you to sound unlady like," Ron grinned red faced, watching Dumbledore for his reaction.

"Mr. Weasley, please refrain from the colorful language in the future," the Headmaster told him firmly, but his eyes were twinkling.

"Yes, Sir."

"Headmaster, may I come along to question Peter? James and Lily were my friends. At one time so was he. I can tell when he is lying."

"Professor Lupin, do you think Peter has a guilty conscience?"

"He may, Harry, Peter was a weak man. That's why he went over to Voldemort."

"He's also afraid of his own shadow," Snape added scornfully, "if he thought Voldemort were displeased with him, he would be petrified."

"Hmm…Professors….Headmaster…"

"Harry," Dumbledore said sternly, but his eyes belied his voice, "you're up to something."

"I'm kind of hatching a plan," she answered slyly. "My father and Sirius would be proud. I think it meets their standards. I'll need some help though, and a lot will depend on Professor Snape."

"Oh, no…I know that look, Harry…" Hermione said throwing up her hands, "Let's hear it."

"Okay. Professor Lupin about how tall was my father?"

"A bit taller than myself, roughly six feet, why?"

"Would you say he was lanky like Ron?"

"Honey, you know he was. What are you up to?"

"Just everybody bear with me for a few minutes. Professor Moody, how do you think Peter will react when he finds out I'm alive?"

"I think it will scare the crap out of him."

"Now, how about if we can stimulate his guilty conscience?"

"The little rat should sing like a canary," Moody watched her with both eyes.

"That's exactly what I'm thinking. Professor Snape, is Pettigrew afraid of you?"

"Miss Potter, Pettigrew has always done his best to avoid me."

"What if he thought you were still working with Voldemort?" Harry inquired. She noted Moody casting his floating blue eye in Snape's direction, studying him suspiciously.

"He'd be terrified," Snape replied coolly, ignoring Moody.

"That's what I thought you'd say," Harry smiled coldly, her green eyes flashing.

"Now, one final question. Professor Snape do you have any Polyjuice Potion?"

"Miss Potter, Polyjuice takes several weeks to prepare. You're aware of that," Snape replied noncommittally.

"Professor Dumbledore," Harry pleaded, "It's important to my whole plan."

"It's all right, Severus, go ahead and answer. Harry is well aware of the rules regarding the use of Polyjuice. I believe they all are," Dumbledore remarked reminding them he was aware of their use of the potion to impersonate Crabbe and Goyle several years earlier.

"I could have some ready by this evening."

"Good, now here's my idea. I go in to talk to Peter with Remus and Professor Snape, but before I do Professor Snape has to subtly let Peter think he's working with Voldemort. That will help to keep him off balance. Make sure he's aware the Dark Lord is particularly displeased over last night's fiasco, but don't let him know I'm alive," Harry directed to Professor Snape, who arched his brow curiously, "he'll find out soon enough."

"I like it so far, Potter," Moody commented casting his eye about suspiciously, "What's the Polyjuice for?"

"Ah…that's the best part. Peter's nervous because he sees I'm still alive, Snape is there making him think Voldemort is not pleased with him, and here's his old friend Remus Lupin throwing questions at him and telling him how he shouldn't have betrayed James, and tried to kill me. So then…we scare the pants off him."

"How Harry?" Ron asked amazed at how her mind could plan these things.

"With the Polyjuice, you're going to wear my invisibility cloak to make yourself look like a ghost. You'll appear and disappear to make Peter believe he's seeing the real thing."

"Whose ghost am I going to be?"

"My father, but you'll need to wear those boots you had on at the Halloween Feast to make yourself taller since you're still shorter than Professor Lupin."

"Miss Potter, you've forgotten one thing," Snape informed her doubtfully. "In order for the Polyjuice to work you need either hair or nail clippings from the person you wish to impersonate. Your father is not here to supply us with either of them."

No, he's not, but as you have all so often pointed out I bear a remarkable resemblance to my father; and I am here."

"Wait a minute, I have some questions," Ron interrupted putting up his hands. "I'm not going to turn into a girl am I?"

"I can adjust the potion so that you won't, Mr. Weasley. What else do you wish to know?" Snape queried amused by his discomfiture.

"What about Harry's eyes? They're different from her father's."

"I think a small charm will help us with that," Dumbledore commented, looking at Harry with admiration.

"How about Ron's voice?" Hermione questioned, "and can I do something too?" she pouted.

"Ron can whisper. We will all pretend we don't see or hear him. That should create quite an effect on Pettigrew. Maybe Professor Dumbledore could possibly hide and levitate him up near the ceiling; he is supposed to be a ghost."

"I'll see what I can do, Child," Dumbledore informed her with a twinkle in his eye.

"Just don't levitate me without warning," Ron remarked nervously. "Do you have an extra pair of glasses, Harry?"

"There is an old pair in my room in the top drawer that I keep for emergencies. Hermione you can bring Crookshanks. This way if Pettigrew somehow manages to transform the cat can go after him."

"She'll also make an additional witness. Miss Granger has a remarkable memory for details."

"Thank you Professor Moody," Hermione smiled, glad she would be able to participate.

"Now, I would like to speak with Harry in private," Dumbledore stated. "Remus have you recovered sufficiently to perform that little chore we spoke of earlier?"

"Absolutely, I'll get started right away. Ron, Hermione, I will walk you both down to Gryffindor Tower. We can pick up Harry's cloak and the glasses on the way," Professor Lupin said amiably. "Harry will need to rest this afternoon anyway."

"Yes Sir. See you later, Harry," Hermione hugged her.

"Professor Lupin is right, Harry. You had a rough night last night and tonight you will have to face Pettigrew. So you try to rest while Hermione helps me practice being a ghost. Maybe Nearly Headless Nick will give me a few pointers," Ron laughed pretending to glide out of the room.

"Potter, you've definitely got your father's mind. Ever thought about law enforcement?" Professor Moody questioned.

"No thanks Professor," Harry smiled.

"You ready, Snape? I think you need to get working on the Polyjuice and rattling Pettigrew's nerves."

"Just as soon as I get a clip from Miss Potter's hair, "Snape informed him as he conjured up a scissors and clipped a lock of Harry's unruly hair.

"Professor Snape, Ron won't have my scar will he?"

"I can adjust for that, Miss Potter," Snape assured her.

"I don't suppose you need some help mixing it do you?" Harry asked hopefully, even a potions lesson was better than the afternoon in the infirmary.

"No, Child, you're not going to get up just yet. Severus will do just fine alone," Dumbledore chided gently, as Snape arched his brow in amusement, and then left the infirmary with Moody. "Now, I see you haven't read the letter your father wrote to you."

"I'm not ready. I think I want to wait until Sirius gets back, then we'll all read it together. Will you hold if for me until then?" she pleaded.

"I understand, Child," he replied, placing the letter in his robe. "I'm sorry I had to keep this information from you, but I couldn't go against your father's last wishes," Dumbledore informed her. Taking her into his arms, he hugged her warmly, as she rested her head on his chest.

"I know," Harry answered absently, stroking his long white beard, "it just hurt so much to actually be with them. I felt so powerless. I begged him to take my mother and go, but he wouldn't do it."

"He was a man who believed in his convictions. Your mother was the same way. They were true soul mates."

"Professor…"

"What's troubling you, Child?"

"I know how I stopped Voldemort. I remembered when I was with my father and I could hear my mother playing with…with...me," she forced herself to say the word. "I just don't understand how I could have been able to do it."

"Tell me," he said continuing to comfort her, as she toyed with his beard, twisting it in her fingers.

"My mother…when she fell…she…dropped her …wand. I…picked it…up. She had been playing with…me…trying to teach me…to…to say…Abra Cadabra," she stammered, "I…it came out wrong…you know how babies talk. It was garbled. I said Avadra Kedavra, just as he…I was a baby…it shouldn't have worked," Harry's green eyes were round and confused, and sought his blue ones for consolation and clarification.

"Harry, you're very powerful. One day, you will be as strong as I am, if not more so. I knew it when you were born. I felt it. Our children can often do things without realizing it. I believe that is what happened that night. Something inside you sensed the danger, and your power was projected through your mother's wand. It worked for you because you were a part of her, an extension of sorts. Do you understand?"

"Yes, I think so," she yawned. She sensed he was slowly charming her again, but she didn't mind. He was warm and comforting. "Professor…"

"Hmm…?"

"Where are my parents buried?"

"They're in a little cemetery not far from here. Would you like me to take you?"

"Can Sirius come?"

"Of course, I don't think he's ever been there, either. He has been unable to go for fear of being caught."

"Then we'll go after he's cleared and I've read the letter," Harry sighed. The sound of his heartbeat and the charm were lulling her off to sleep, but she was fighting him now.

"Child, you need to rest. The healing spell and fighting the Cruciatus curses drained your power. It will take time to restore it."

"I know…is Sirius safe?"

"Sh…I can't say where he is, but yes, he's safe. Remus is sending him a message right now. He was still very worried about you when he left," Dumbledore whispered.

She sensed he was telling her the truth, but had one more thing she needed to tell him, "I love you, Professor, as if you were my actual grandfather."

"I love you too, Harry. I could not love you more than if you were my own granddaughter. I'll be here for you as long as you need me," the old man spoke quietly, cradling her in his arms.

"Then plan on living at least another hundred years," she mumbled, giving in to his will.

Harry slept through until dinnertime; when Nurse Pomfrey gently tapped her awake. "Miss Potter, Harry, it's time to get up."

"Oh, I don't want to go to class," she mumbled, her mind still fogged with sleep. Rolling over, she mumbled, "Hermione go away."

"Come on, Harry, it's Poppy," the kindly old nurse laughed. "It's time for dinner."

"Dinner?" Harry questioned opening her eyes in confusion. Groping for her glasses, she sat up, and focused on the nurse, taking in the dinner tray on her overbed table. "Nurse Pomfrey, how long was I asleep?"

"About four hours, dear. Did you sleep well?"

"Like I was charmed," Harry grinned, shaking her head.

"Headmaster's specialty," Nurse Pomfrey laughed, "he prefers it to sleeping potions, and you do need to rest. He knows if you could you would be up and trying to do more than you should right now."

"If I rest much more I'll need Prince Charming to come and wake me with a kiss."

"Could I have the job, Princess?" Remus Lupin spoke from the door of the infirmary.

"Hmm…," she smiled, "interesting notion. Prince Charming disguised as a wolf in sheep's clothing."

"Baa…"

"Nah…the howl is more your style," Harry teased, as he sat down beside her.

"The moon is waning, but if you like I might manage one more howl."

"No, that's quite all right. The one I heard last night in the forest was quite enough."

"Did I really howl? I don't always remember."

"Just before you charged out of the forest towards McNair."

"I'm sorry if I frightened you," Remus apologized concernedly.

"Actually, Professor, at that point it was the greatest sound I ever heard," she beamed.

"Then I'm glad to have been of service. Now, are you ready for tonight?"

"Ah, yes…Operation Pettigrew. Just tell me where and when."

"I'm to bring you down to the dungeon where we'll all meet after you've eaten and refreshed yourself. I believe Hermione brought up some clean clothes for you," he added looking at the nurse.

"They're right here, Professor, along with this envelope from the Creevey boy," she told them indicating the chair beside her desk.

"Oh good," Harry said with delight as she attempted to stand. Her legs gave out and Remus grabbed her to keep her from falling.

"It's all right, Harry," he calmly reassured her, "you're just very weak."

"This is what happens when you expel such a large amount of energy at once," Poppy explained. "If you were a trained Healer you would have known how to adjust your energy levels while working on the Professor. As it is, the spell was also dangerous, and you were already in a weakened condition. You'll be fine in a few days, but NO MAGIC, and plenty of rest," she directed sternly.

"Yes, ma'am," Harry responded contritely as Poppy placed her clothes by the bed and handed her the envelope Colin had left.

"What's in that envelope that you were so anxious to get it?" Remus asked curiously. "A love letter, perhaps?"

"No!" she flushed embarrassed. "Professor you know Colin is a camera bug. It's a picture from the feast," she explained tearing open the envelope excitedly. Smiling at the contents inside, she showed Remus the photograph.

"Is that me?" he asked astonished.

"It sure is," she told him studying the picture. Ron and Hermione were on either side of her. Remus was sitting at her feet, ears pricked, and alert. Like all wizard pictures, the figures were moving. "I told you that you were nice and fluffy."

"You know, I have never really seen what I looked like when I changed. I always wondered."

"Well, I think you're a very handsome Alpha male wolf. I want you to have this picture."

"Harry, I couldn't. You keep it for your album."

"No, Remus, I had it taken for you. The next time someone says you're a monster just because you get a little hairy with the full moon you show them this!" Harry laughed, adamantly placing the picture in his hand.

"A little hairy, huh?"

"Well, have you ever seen what Muggles think a werewolf looks like?"

"Once, in an old Muggle film. Something like a hairy man with a wolf's nose and teeth, with claws on their hands.

"That's about right," Harry rolled her eyes.

"Now, my dear little witch," Lupin said pushing the dinner tray in her direction, "eat your dinner; you barely ate anything at lunch. The Headmaster says you're to finish everything or he won't let you come and we will use the Veritaserum instead."

"He didn't say that! Did he?"

"Ahem…" Dumbledore cleared his voice from the door, looking at her over his half moon spectacles. Harry had not seen him enter, but knew he had ways to appear invisible. "I not only said it, Child, I meant it."

"Oh, all right," she pouted, "but it had better be something good," she told them taking the lid off the plate. "Pizza!" she exclaimed with delight.

"And to go with it…" Remus chuckled, waving his wand, "one cola."

"Now, Child, eat your dinner. If things go well tonight and I see that you're not too exhausted, I think a little trip to Hogsmeade is in order for tomorrow," Dumbledore beamed, his blue eyes twinkling, "you've been studying hard, and deserve a treat."
"I don't suppose I get to go with my friends?"

"No, Harry, but you can meet them in town," Professor Lupin assured her, "it's too dangerous for you to go unaccompanied, especially after what's happened."

"As much as I hate to admit it, you're both right," she said munching on the pizza.

"Then I shall see you both later. Moody and I need to go over the final details to ensure Harry's safety," Dumbledore winked, giving Harry a peck on the cheek, before exiting the infirmary.

"Remus, am I really in that much danger from Pettigrew?"

"Peter is bound right now, but there is always a chance he could get loose," he began, choosing his words carefully. "Remember, he's loyal to Voldemort, and right now your magic isn't working. Now, I'll be armed with my wand, as will Ron and Hermione, just for added safety."

"What about the others?"

"Albus and Moody with have theirs too, and will be in the room with us, but we won't be able to see them. The other two Aurors will be guarding the door. The important thing to remember is that Peter is tricky. He killed thirteen people with a single curse."

"Yeah, and Sirius got blamed for it! If I had my way I'd chain him to the wall and let the Dementors have him, only slowly," Harry remarked bitterly.

"Harry, I've never seen you like this," Remus studied her worriedly, "it's not like you."

"Oh, Remus …I'm sorry. I think it is just that reality-hit home harder than expected last night. That man downstairs cost me my parents. Then he framed Sirius for the murder. Yesterday he almost got you killed and set a Dementor on Sirius, not to mention handing me over to Voldemort. I just can't understand how he could have been your friend."

"He wasn't always like that, something inside him changed, he's weak and afraid. Voldemort protects him and makes him feel powerful."

"Shouldn't a person's friends make him feel safe? What happened to him?"

"Princess…I doubt even Dumbledore could answer that question," Remus patted her hand sympathetically. "Now finish that pizza before the Headmaster has my head and you don't get to try your plan."

"Yes, Captain," she saluted as he smiled.

Harry and Lupin talked about school while she finished her meal. He was pleased to learn that she was enjoying her advanced tutoring sessions and liked them better than her actual classes. What really surprised him though, was her astute knowledge of various subjects. He discovered that like Hermione, she liked to read, but unlike her friend, she would only read about the specific item of interest, not the entire book. She also liked History, and found it a shame Professor Binns was so boring. She was glad she had done the report for class that enabled her to save his life.

After she had finished her meal, he excused himself to use the men's room while Nurse Pomfrey helped her into the shower, as she was still very unsteady. Feeling thoroughly refreshed, she dressed in jeans, a sweater, and sneakers, since it was Saturday. Hermione had anticipated for the evening and brought up her hooded Gryffindor robe to go over her clothes. Nurse Pomfrey then helped her to style her hair and add a dash of blush to her cheeks, as she was still rather pale. When they returned to the ward, Remus was waiting patiently.

"Feel better?" he asked cheerfully.

"There's nothing like a nice hot shower to perk you up."

"Just keep an arm around her, Professor. She's still quite unsteady and needs to go slowly," Poppy instructed him.

"All right, Poppy. Come on, Harry, let's see if maybe we can get Peter to talk."

"Sounds good to me!" Harry agreed emphatically, allowing him to place his arm around her waist. As they headed out of the infirmary, she looked up at him before speaking, "Just watch out for students, we look a little too friendly," she warned knowing the gossip that could ensue.

"Don't worry," he laughed, "we're taking a short cut." Leading her down the hall, he went over to one of the hidden panels; opening it, he helped her to enter. "Lumos," Remus said as the door swung shut behind them. "Remember this one?"

"I believe it comes out at the end of the hall near Snape's office. It's one of Filch's favorites. Sh…listen…"

"Meeoowww…"

"Mrs. Norris," they laughed in unison.

"Does this mean we'll both get detention?" Harry teased as they moved through the narrow tunnel, descending downwards into the darkness.

"Sorry, Mr. Filch is expecting us. Mrs. Norris is on rat patrol along with Crookshanks."

"Then Peter had better not try and change form, or he could find himself on the menu," she smirked as the glow of the light emanating from Lupin's wand caught the reflection of the cat's eyes.

They walked through the rest of the tunnel in silence until the light caught Filch waiting at the end of the passage with Mrs. Norris. He startled Harry, as she did not expect to see him in the passageway itself, and she jumped. She would have lost her balance if Professor Lupin had not had his arm tightly around her waist. She nodded gratefully as he steadied her, and they approached the dour caretaker.

"Professor, Miss Potter," he nodded in greeting; "The Headmaster and Professor Snape are expecting ya in Snape's office with the others," his gravelly voice instructed them, his features sour.

"Thank you, Mr. Filch," Lupin replied as they exited the tunnel and the caretaker went on his rounds.

"That man gives me the whim whams," Harry commented.

"Whim whams?"

"It's a Muggle expression. It means the creeps."

"He's harmless. He's just angry at the world. You are aware he's a Squib?" he questioned, and seeing Harry nod he went on, "it must be hard on him; his whole family has shut him out. If it weren't for Dumbledore I don't know what he would have done."

"He doesn't have to be so nasty. Your family wasn't exactly all hugs and kisses when you became a werewolf, and you're not like that."

"It's his job to keep snoopy students out of trouble," he told her ignoring the remark about his family. The topic was still painful, and he did not want to go into his personal life with her just now.

"Well, Moony, I'll remember to tell Padfoot to hide the Marauders Map more carefully," she smiled, noticing his discomfort, as they entered Snape's office, and he squeezed her hand in understanding. She had no desire to cause him any further discomfort over his being a werewolf than he already felt.

"Ah, Potter and Lupin have arrived," Moody, barked.

"Sit, Child," Dumbledore directed, "how are you feeling?"

"Wobbly, but manageable," she winked, knowing better than to lie, taking the seat he offered.

Hermione was sitting holding Crookshanks, who was purring contentedly on her lap. Ron was at Professor Snape's desk and the other two Aurors were over by the door. Harry didn't know them, and they were introduced to her as Martin Wood, and Tom Clancy. She wondered idly if wood was any relation to Oliver Wood, a former Gryffindor and Quidditch Captain. Oliver had graduated a few years earlier. Professor Snape was busy stirring a glass of dark liquid, resembling ink.

"The Polyjuice is ready, Headmaster."

"Good," Moody answered before Dumbledore could respond. "Potter, Dumbledore and I will follow you and Lupin in. We will be hidden by Albus' charm. Weasley, do you have the invisibility cloak ready?" He inquired brusquely, looking at Ron with his brown eye, while his blue eye watched Snape.

"Yes, Sir," Ron slipped the cloak on halfway, demonstrating his readiness, leaving only his torso and head visible.

"When Potter starts talking about her father you start to play ghost, in the meantime you stay invisible. Miss Granger, you walk in with him behind Potter and Lupin. Make sure the cat stays in Pettigrew's line of vision at all times."

"Yes, Professor Moody."

"Then let's get on with it. I don't think I need to tell you kids that this is a dangerous game, and that Pettigrew can't be trusted. If anything goes wrong, you let the adults handle it. Is that clear?" They all nodded in assent as he swung his blue eye towards each of them. "Snape, give young Weasley the Polyjuice."

"Headmaster?" Snape questioned, looking over at Dumbledore.

"Go ahead, Severus."

"Mr. Weasley," he said handing the liquid to Ron, "if you feel nauseous use the sink over by the last work station."

"One ghost to go," Ron quipped, saluting Harry with a grin. He then chugged the inky liquid and ran for the sink about thirty seconds later.

Professor Dumbledore followed Ron, as Snape looked on amused. Harry wondered if he made sure the Polyjuice was as foul tasting as when they had used it previously, without permission, to ensure no further experimentation. As soon as Ron recovered, Dumbledore performed the charm to his eyes, so they would appear brown instead of green, then spoke quietly, "Harry, brace yourself." He then gently turned Ron to face where they all sat at the table.

Harry immediately stiffened, and Lupin took her hand. "Ron?" she asked stunned, unable to say anything further.

"It's me, sorry for the pun, but you and Professor Lupin look like you've seen a ghost," he remarked with concern.

"We have," she replied simultaneously with Remus, and they smiled uncomfortably at each other.

Professor Snape's expression was passive, but his eyes were glittering wildly in the torch light. He handed Ron a mirror. Harry had the distinct impression Snape was enjoying Professor Lupin's discomfort, but when he glanced at her she thought she detected a flicker of regret.

"Wow, Harry…I've seen pictures of your dad, but this is uncanny," Ron told her studying his reflection. "Are you going to be okay with this?'

"How's your acting?" she asked and they all relaxed.

"Let's get on with it then. Albus, are you ready?" Moody questioned.

"Whenever Harry is."

"Let's go," she smiled, standing slowly.

She hoped he didn't realize how nervous and weak she actually felt, but as they left the room and walked towards the part of the dungeon where Pettigrew was being held prisoner Dumbledore's soft voice came from behind her.

"I'll stop it if it gets to be too much for you."

Reaching Pettigrew's cell, the Aurors unlocked the door, one standing outside, and the other entering before them. "You have visitors, Pettigrew."

Snape entered first, followed by Professor Lupin and Harry. Harry had made sure to put the hood up on her robe and kept her head down, looking at the floor. Hermione followed Harry in, and she could sense Ron's presence beneath the cloak. She did not see Dumbledore or Moody, as they were hidden by Dumbledore's invisibility charm. Once they were inside the Auror who had been introduced as Tom Clancy closed the door and locked them inside with Pettigrew.

There was a large rectangular table in the room and Snape, Lupin, Harry, and Hermione all took seats around it. Pettigrew was seated on a chair facing them, his hands and feet bound and shackled, with both physical and magical bonds. If he attempted to transform the shackles would shrink with him, preventing him from an easy escape. Snape glared at Pettigrew with an unwavering stare and leaned his chair back on two legs, resting against the wall.

"Good evening, Peter, it's been a while," Lupin stated quietly.

"Remus," he breathed, "you've got to help me," Pettigrew begged, his beady little eyes glittering feverishly, "please believe me, I'm innocent."

"Are you, Peter? You certainly don't act like it."

"Remus, I haven't done anything. I was hiding in the forest to protect Harry. It was the least I could do for James. Remus, you were there when Sirius attacked me…he's mad, Remus. He gave Harry to Lord Voldemort."

"Why would Black give Miss Potter to Lord Voldemort?" Snape questioned without moving, his eyes boring into Peter.

"You know…uh…Voldemort wants her dead, Black, he's in league with him. Sirius Black betrayed her parents. You know that. He wants me dead so I can't testify against him."

"I didn't know you had testified against him in the first place," Lupin persisted, "if I recall correctly Sirius was sent directly to Azkaban without a trial."

"He killed all those people in the street and he tried to kill me. I tried to tell you that three years ago, when he came to try and kill Harry, but you wouldn't listen. Now he's given Lord Voldemort James and Lily's only child. The poor girl," Peter turned his head pretending to wipe a tear on his shoulder, "the Dark Lord has probably killed her by now."

It was the opening Harry was waiting for. She very slowly looked up, dropping the hood from her head, exposing her face in the dim light. Pettigrew blanched.

"Good evening, Peter," she said as if he were an old friend, "as you can see, I'm very much alive." Resting her elbow on the table she calmly placed her chin in her palm, smiling coldly. "What were you saying about the Dark Lord?"

"He…he had you…" Peter looked desperately at Snape, who glared at him. Peter took it as a warning not to betray Voldemort. "You escaped…sweet child…Sirius Black has failed."

"Actually, what were you doing in the forest last night? I was at a Halloween Feast." Harry wanted to see if he would acknowledge McNair's presence.

"We were protecting you! The Dark Lord was coming to get you!"

"Oh…so you weren't alone and you were guarding me for the Dark Lord."

"Yes…you had to be protected."

"I see…you were guarding me for the Dark Lord just like you guarded my parents."

"Yes, yes…of course," Pettigrew stammered, not realizing she was twisting his words so he would implicate himself.

"So you were their Secret Keeper?"

"Yes…I mean no…it was Sirius Black. Remus you have to believe me, Harry doesn't know what she's talking about, Black has her convinced that he's innocent. Can't you see how he's using her?"

Snape made a subtle shift in position, and Pettigrew jumped, looking at him fearfully.

"Then you didn't betray them fifteen years ago, or try to hand her over to Voldemort last night?"

"No, of course not!"

"Then why did you think he had her?"

"Because he was coming."

"How did you know that?"

"Uh…McNair…he told me…"

"McNair?" Lupin questioned. "You were with a known follower of Voldemort?"

"What! I didn't know…" Peter lied, "he said he worked for the Ministry."

"Lots of people work at the Ministry, that doesn't necessarily make them honest," Snape smiled evilly, glaring at Pettigrew.

"Okay, this man, you said his name was McNair?" Harry asked innocently, "The two of you were guarding me, why?"

"I told you, the Dark Lord was coming. He wanted to kill you."

"Peter, Voldemort has been trying to kill me on and off since I was a baby. Why would he try again last night?"

"McNair, he said it was the night your parents died."

"You know, for someone who professes to have been such a good friend, you would think they would remember my folks died on Halloween."

"I wasn't there."

"You couldn't have been too far away, or Sirius Black couldn't have tracked you down."

"I tracked him down…I found him…if your father were here he would tell you," Pettigrew said licking his lips nervously.

"If my father were here, he'd be very angry," Harry accented each word, and Ron picked up his cue instantly. Harry's back was towards Ron, and she kept talking, pretending to be oblivious to his presence. "You betrayed him and framed Sirius Black for the murder. Last night you let Voldemort send me back in time to try and kill me with them, but my father was too smart for him. He told me you were the Secret Keeper," Harry lied. "It's in the Prophecy."

Harry couldn't see Ron, but she could feel his emotions…anger…fear…joy…he was pacing and Dumbledore had levitated him so that he was shaking his head and pointing an accusatory finger at Pettigrew. The torchlights were flickering wildly and Harry could feel Moody enjoying the spectacle. Then she heard a cold rasping whisper…

"Peter, why? You killed me, Peter…Lily and me. You wanted to kill Harry…They blamed Sirius….Peter, the hour of reckoning has arrived …" Crookshanks took that moment to growl and spit, arching his back. Hermione had accidentally leaned on his hind leg, but the effect was perfect. Peter Pettigrew screamed in terror.

"I did it," he confessed. "James, I couldn't help it…The Dark Lord…he said he would give me power…keep me safe…no one would laugh at me anymore. He promised me anything if I gave him Harry…" Pettigrew, still bound, had toppled the chair and was on his knees, attempting to transform. Crookshanks immediately leaped onto his back, digging his claws into him, as Peter screamed in pain trying to throw the cat off. Hermione grabbed Crookshanks just as Snape moved fluidly across the room and righted Pettigrew. "Snape…don't kill me…you know…The Dark Lord's power. Please…Remus…keep Severus away…you don't know…he'll kill me…" Pettigrew gasped, his chest heaving in terror.

Ron had now disappeared back beneath the invisibility cloak. Remus nodded to Snape, who released Pettigrew. Hermione had reseated herself and was stroking Crookshanks to calm him down. Remus had taken Harry's hand beneath the table in a show of support and admiration.

"Pettigrew….PETTIGREW!" Harry repeated forcefully, when he didn't answer immediately. "I want a full written confession of every thing you've been involved in from my parents murder and your framing Sirius Black to the events of last night."

"I…can't…Snape…" he said looking at the Potions Master and cringing, "you don't know him…"

"Either I get what I want now, or I will leave you alone in here with him. I also want a list of known supporters of Lord Voldemort. Is that clear?" Harry stated taking advantage of the situation.

"Professor Snape…he'll kill me…he's working for Voldemort…"

"Occasionally. He also works for Dumbledore…and sometimes he works for me. Snape is a Slytherin. He's smart, cunning, and ambitious. He works with whomever will meet his needs to achieve his current goals. In this case it's me."

"But…"

"Listen to me, Pettigrew," Harry glared, taking out a small vial she had secreted in the pocket of her jeans beneath her robe, and placing it on the table. "This bottle contains a very slow acting and painfully lethal poison. You either give me what I want, or I will instruct Professor Snape to force it down your throat," Harry threatened, as she squeezed Lupin's hand beneath the table for support.

"Remus, surely you wouldn't allow…"

"Do as she says and you may live to see Azkaban," Lupin informed him callously as Harry gave his hand another squeeze.

"Your father…"

"My father is dead, and thanks to the likes of you his soul can't rest," Harry spat at Pettigrew, and Ron reappeared on cue. This time he pointed his wand menacingly at Pettigrew.

"Mr. Pettigrew, is something wrong?" Hermione asked innocently. "You keep looking up at the ceiling…"

"The ghost…James…can't you see him?" Lupin stared at the spectre of Ron.

Harry and Lupin looked at each other, and then looked towards Ron before turning back to Pettigrew.

"You're daft."

"Peter, there's no one else here," Lupin placated him; "perhaps you have a guilty conscience."

"I have no patience for his games. He's pretending so he can get off on an insanity plea and go to St. Mungo's instead of Azkaban where he belongs," Harry yelled angrily. "Snape, give him the poison," she said tossing the vial to Snape. He caught it in one hand, and advanced on Pettigrew as Harry continued, "I may not get the confession, but at least I can have the satisfaction of avenging my parents death."

"Noooo…" He screamed terrified. "Give me a parchment and a quill. I'll tell all I know. Just don't…kill me…" Pettigrew begged, crying, looking from Snape to Lupin.

"Here, Peter, start writing," Remus waved his wand and a parchment and quill magically appeared in front of him. The Auror came over and unbound one of his hands so he could write, and stood directly over him, wand at the ready, to prevent his attempting to escape. Snape sat watching him, playing with the vial of fluid.

Pettigrew wrote frantically for over an hour. He confessed to a variety of crimes, betraying the Potters, and framing Sirius for the murders, posing as Scabbers the rat as an unregistered animagus for twelve years, to watch Harry until Voldemort's return. He also swore to participating in various other crimes including helping Voldemort to return, murdering and torturing Muggles and other Wizards, and attempting to capture Harry for Voldemort on Halloween.

He finally listed the names of Voldemort's current followers. He didn't know them all, only the inner circle, and a few of the new ones he had helped to recruit. Harry recognized some, including Crabbe, Goyle, and Malfoy. One name though, stood out among the rest, and made her take notice. It was Minister Fudge. Pettigrew told them they had deliberately put the Dark Mark on his inner thigh, rather than his arm, to prevent anyone from seeing it, especially his old friend, Dumbledore. His position as head of the Ministry had helped to prevent captives from being questioned by the Aurors. Fudge would have the Dementors perform the 'Kiss of Death' before they could talk. He had believed the same would have been done to him, except Dumbledore and the Order were holding him since he and Fudge were not currently on good terms.

The confession was witnessed by the two Aurors, Dumbledore, Professor Moody, and Professor Snape. Harry, Remus, Hermione, and Ron did not sign. Remus because he felt his testimony may be questioned since he was a werewolf, and Harry and Hermione since they were minors, and Ron was not only a minor, he had played ghost, and was not officially there. Moody and Dumbledore felt it was wise to keep it that way.

Pettigrew had been given a sleeping potion before being apparated with the two Aurors to another secret location within the Order. Pending further investigation, and to prevent Voldemort's allies from finding him, he would be kept hidden to prevent his being killed or having the 'Kiss of Death' applied by the Dementors. They were all seated in Snape's office, and Moody was preparing to leave to meet them, but he wanted to speak with Harry first.

"Potter, you've got talent. When you have finished your training here at Hogwarts, if you would like a job as an Auror, it's yours."

"Thank you, Professor Moody, but I don't think that's what I'd like to do."

"Well, just keep it in mind. Albus," he turned to Dumbledore, "I'll be in touch, and will get things started on the investigations, and clearing Sirius Black."

"You will take the utmost caution," Dumbledore warned.

"Never fear," Moody growled, letting his blue eye rove around the room suspiciously. "I have no desire to spend anymore time locked in that trunk," he snorted. "Thanks to this little lady, I was rescued that time and now she's helped to put us one step ahead of Voldemort. We'll move swiftly on this, but with caution. There are a lot of important people on that list."

"Very well, I will see you at our next meeting of the Order. Should you need me sooner, you know where and how to contact me," Dumbledore said nodding, and Harry had the impression it was not in the usual manner.

"Take care, gentlemen, children," Moody said curtly and then left the castle. He apparated as soon as he was outside of the building as the charms on Hogwarts prevented his doing so from within.

"Ron, Hermione," Dumbledore smiled warmly, "you both did beautifully."

"Thank you, Headmaster," Hermione smiled, exchanging glances with Ron.

"We were happy to help Harry," Ron agreed. "Besides, I've decided to become an actor!"

"Ah…Ron," Harry grinned, "don't let your mum hear you say that. She wants you in the ministry with your father and brother, Percy."

"Not once this scandal breaks."

"Mr. Weasley, it would be prudent not to discuss what's happened here tonight, even amongst each other," Professor Snape warned them.

"I understand, Professors."

"I knew you would," Dumbledore asserted, "as does Hermione," he nodded in her direction, and she didn't miss the warning in his eyes. "Now both of you head up to Gryffindor Tower. We'll see that Harry gets up to her room."

"Yes, Sir," Ron answered for them both, turning to Harry. "We changed your password for you today."

"What is it?'

"Padfoot, Moony, and Prongs," he stated anxiously looking from her to Professor Lupin.

"Hmm…Padfoot, Moony, and Prongs," she shook her head, "never heard of them," she responded as they all laughed.

"Next week you might try Potion Master," Hermione chimed in.

"Miss Granger," Snape eyed her sardonically, "don't press your luck."

"Good night, Hermione. Good night, Ron," Harry smiled, shaking her head.

"Good night, Harry. See you tomorrow." Ron called over his shoulder as Hermione led the way out of the dungeon towards the stairs.

Once they were gone, Dumbledore turned to her, his blue eyes serious. "You made a powerful ally in Moody, Harry. He's impressed with you, always has been."

"Albus is right, Harry," Remus agreed, "It's not easy to impress Mad-Eye Moody."

"I'll keep that in mind," Harry yawned, tiredly. Even though she had been sleeping so much she still felt exhausted, and knew it was from her energy drain as they had told her.

"Child, you did a wonderful thing tonight. You may not realize this, but a lot of lives may be spared thanks to Pettigrew's confession."

"I'm glad. I'm worried about Ron and Hermione's families though. If Voldemort finds out…" she shuddered at the thought of what he would do to them all.

"Don't worry, the Order will see to Hermione's parents safety and I know the Weasleys will be protected. Now, I believe Severus wants a few words with you before you go up to bed," Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled mischievously.

"Miss Potter, do you know the chance you took telling Pettigrew I was working for you?"

"I actually told him the truth. Severus Snape…free agent. One time Deatheater, sometimes a spy, and tonight showing off his many sides," Harry smirked melodramatically. "I knew you'd play along without any problems."

"Like giving him the poison?" Snape arched his brow.

"Absolutely. I knew the coward would freak out when I tossed you that vial."

"Child, it isn't really poison, is it?'

"Harry, you wouldn't…" Remus began, but she cut him off.

"Professor Snape," Harry mimicked him, putting her arms across her chest, "suppose you tell me."

Dumbledore and Lupin both laughed, as Snape slowly opened the vial and sniffed the contents.

"Ambergris, alcohol, water, and a coloring agent," he said matter of factly, "it's your perfume."

"Yup, I slipped it into my pocket after my shower. Hermione sent it up to the infirmary with my clothes. In the end it came in handy," she explained happily.

"Well, Child, I think it's time you went up to bed. Severus will accompany you with us. He will also go with you into Hogsmeade tomorrow." Dumbledore held up his hand at the question in her eyes. "Remus has to do another errand for me, so Severus will accompany you instead."

"Unless of course, Miss Potter prefers to wait and go another time."

"Not a prayer," she shook her head impishly at Snape, "you have a habit of getting out of finishing a shopping trip with me."

"Then, Miss Potter, I suggest you let us accompany you upstairs. You're still very weak and need to rest adequately if you wish to regain your powers any time soon," Snape informed her knowingly, as Remus helped her to stand.

They accompanied her to her room, where she uttered her new password, as Remus grinned. Ron and Hermione had obviously been there as her cloak and extra glasses were lying neatly on the bed. She changed quickly in the bathroom and slipped into bed.

"Good night, Child. Have a good time tomorrow."

"Princess, if I should happen to run across a black dog in my travels, do you want me to relay a message?" Harry's face immediately lit up. Remus knew where Sirius was and might see him.

"Yes, tell him puppy prongs said to behave and get home ASAP, but to watch out for the dog catchers, and that a certain rat has been caught in a trap."

"Puppy Prongs, huh?" Remus smiled. "I like that," he winked, as Dumbledore shook his head. Snape looked impassive, but Harry sensed a pang of what…jealousy sadness…? She wasn't sure due to her tired state.

Remus and Dumbledore departed, but Snape settled himself in the chair by her fire.

"You're on guard duty?"

"For awhile."

"I don't suppose you'll tell me why?"

"We don't believe Voldemort is aware of your survival, but you're in a weakened condition and very vulnerable. The Headmaster doesn't want you left alone. It's a precautionary measure."

"You don't think Malfoy notified his father?"

"No, Draco would not have been aware of Voldemort's plan. His father is not foolish enough to have told him that kind of information."

"I see. I suppose you told Dumbledore that I should not go into Hogsmeade either."

"I did."

"Then we won't. I have homework to catch up on anyway."

"Why the sudden change of heart?"

"I respect your judgment when it comes to Voldemort. While I agree with Dumbledore that it would be safe enough, especially if I don't go alone, why rock the boat?" Harry smiled at him.

Raising his left brow, he gave her one of his rare smiles. Lowering the lamps, he quietly spoke, "Good night, Harry."

"Good night, Severus," Harry yawned, curling up and closing her eyes.

Dozing off to sleep, she knew that it would be a few weeks until Sirius was exonerated. Soon though, she would at least have her Godfather permanently in her life. For the first time in a long while her future held the promise of happiness. She still had the rest of the Prophecy to deal with, but nothing much was in it until the spring. By then, she would be healed and ready. Her allies were the people she loved best; Dumbledore, Sirius, Remus, Snape, Ron, and Hermione. With them beside her, she knew she would prevail.

25