Disclaimer: Joanne Kathleen Rowling, Oh how I adore thee, I'd never nick thy characters, Though may I please borrow a Weasley… Rough Translation: I don't own Harry Potter.
Note: This came after a guy I used to know when I was around five years old and he was around nineteen, called me "Miss" on the street, like I was a caomplete stranger. It got me thinking about how strange it must be for our favourite werewolf to hear Harry call him "Professor" Also, a lot of the interactions between 1993 and 1995 are straight from the book, just with a slightly different slant on them. Mainly because anything else would be a perversion of canon.
The first time Remus met him, Harry Potter was three days old.
Lily had wanted to show him off earlier than that, but James had flatly refused to let his wife go through that much stress so soon after childbirth. They took him to headquarters and showed him around to the Order Members. They'd even let Hagrid hold him, something which Sirius had thought inadvisable given Hagrid's tendency to forget his own strength. However the baby passed in and out of Hagrid's hand without injury. He had woken up, laughed a bit and played with Hagrid's beard, that was all.
When Sirius had held the boy, they had stared at each other for nearly four whole minutes, neither making a sound. It was almost like a silent conversation which the rest of the room were not privy to hear. After their silent exchange, both seemed much more serene than they had before.
And then it was Remus's turn. Remus was not used to being around children. He didn't like being around children, he was always terrified he would break them or something, but Harry was different. Harry looked up at him and giggled delightedly. Remus had looked down at him, terrified, but the baby seemed to be trying very hard to get him to relax. And so, after a moment, Remus let out a breath he'd been holding in and readjusted the blanket the baby was wrapped in.
As he did so, one tiny hand reached up and grabbed his finger. Remus had frozen instantly, unsure of how to react to this behaviour. To his side, Peter had laughed, clapped him on the back and declared that Harry liked him. Lily and James seemed to agree. But none of it mattered as he was looking down at the strange little creature that lay in his arms, gazing up at him with trust and curiosity.
They stayed that way for a while, just gazing at each other with Harry's hand wrapped firmly around Remus's index finger. It was nothing like Harry's exchange with Sirius, which had actually seemed to involve something other than blank awe on Sirius's part, but it was all Remus could muster.
When at last Harry yawned, James stepped in and gently bundled his son into his arms, announcing that even if the outing wasn't too much excitement for Harry it was definitely too much excitement for him, as he'd thought every single one of them were going to drop his son. Everyone had laughed, while James and Lily prepared to go home for the night. Remus had stared after them, thoroughly shaken.
Sirius had come up to him shortly after they left. "Incredible little guy, isn't he?" he commented affectionately.
"He was happy." Remus said. "He trusted everyone. Why did he do that?"
"Why wouldn't he?"
"We're at war." Remus said, feeling that this was the most obvious thing in the world.
Sirius laughed. "He doesn't know that Remus." he said. "He doesn't know. And if we're lucky, he never will."
Remus had nodded at the time, but it had still astounded him. It had astounded him how something so fragile and delicate could be so completely unaffected by the chaos that surrounded it. It had astounded him that something so objective and unbiased had trusted him so completely. And most of all it had astounded him that he could feel so completely humbled by something so tiny.
"Come on Harry. Say Sirius. Say Sirius. SIH-REE-US. Come on kid, I know you can do it. Sirius. Just three little syllables."
That was the first sentence Remus heard as he entered Lily and James's house one night in late June. He looked over to the source of the noise and saw Sirius crouched in front of the couch where a ten-month-old Harry Potter was sitting, looking completely bewildered. James was sitting in an armchair on the other side of the room, shaking his head, while Lily was nowhere to be seen.
"Sirius." James said patiently.
"Three pesky little syllables, that's all it is."
"That's right James. See Harry? Your idiot father can say it, why can't you? Come on. SIH. Say that part. SIH. Then REE. Then US. That's all it takes."
"It's really easy come on."
"Sirius if you don't stop tormenting my child, I swear to God I'm going to curse you." James announced sternly. "Hi Remus." he added, as the door swung shut, thereby announcing Remus's presence.
Remus moved slowly into the room, slightly alarmed by what he was witnessing. "James?" he asked slowly. "What on Earth is Sirius doing?"
James shook his head. "He's of the opinion that Harry is a genius." he said despairingly. "And that as such, he should be able to talk before he's a year old."
"Ah." Remus said, pretending to understand.
Sirius was scowling down at Harry who was scowling straight back up at him. "Why are you making this difficult?" Sirius demanded. "We both know you can do this. You're just being awkward."
Harry stopped scowling for a moment and seemed to raise his eyebrows. It was an expression his mother had patented many years ago. It was her 'oh really' look and it usually meant trouble.
Sure enough, a lamp went flying straight for Sirius's head from across the room. Sirius had to duck while James destroyed it in mid-air. For his part, Harry laughed loudly and clapped his hands together with glee.
Remus found himself laughing loudly along with a proud James. "I suppose he won't be forced, Sirius." Remus commented.
Sirius was trying very hard to look offended, but he seemed more amused than anything. "No. I don't suppose he will." Sirius agreed. "But don't pretend you don't wish he could say your name Moony." he added in an accusatory tone. "I know you do."
Remus shook his head. "Sirius, you're out of your mind. That child could call me Jemima for the rest of his life, and it wouldn't make a difference."
- - -
It was nearly a full month later when Remus was greeted at headquarters by a delighted Sirius and Peter, who both informed him that they were going to see Lily and James. "Er… why?" Remus queried.
"Because Harry is talking!" Peter said proudly.
Sirius nodded emphatically, grinning all the while, to show his agreement. "In the past twenty-four hours he has said the words Mum, Dad, Quidditch, blueberry, Dumbledore, Padfoot, Peter and Remus." Sirius announced, as though proclaiming that he himself had just been announced Master of the Universe.
Remus quirked a brow. "He's become quite verbal all of a sudden hasn't he?"
"Well he doesn't say them properly, you prat. But he's still a super-genius." Sirius said defensively.
"I thought it was just a plain old, bog-standard genius last month?" Remus asked, amused.
"Well he was. But he's been upgraded." Sirius said.
Peter was smiling as well. "Even though he doesn't say them properly you can still tell exactly what he's saying." he said. "Like when he says 'dad' it sounds more like 'dah', but you can tell."
"Mostly because he was pointing at James at the time." Sirius conceded. "But that in no way detracts from the enormity of the situation." he assured Remus seriously.
"And when he said 'Dumbledore', it did sound a bit more like 'Dumblore'." Peter continued. "And he didn't technically say 'Remus' so much as he said 'Ray-moose', but we're almost certain he was talking about you."
"That's a great comfort to me." Remus quipped.
Peter was looking contemplative. "And he didn't technically say 'blueberry' so much as he said 'boo-bree'. In fact we're not even sure what he was trying to say then because he was looking out the window at the time. He might not have been saying anything, if I'm being honest. OW!"
Sirius smacked him off the back of the head. "All right, all right, so the kid's got to work on his enunciation a bit. There's no need to rub it in Wormtail. Besides, he's still a super-genius." Sirius turned to face Remus. "And I'm absolutely positive that when he said Ray-moose, he was talking about you." he stated.
"Really?" Remus said dubiously. "Well that's a relief."
As it later turned out, Harry had indeed been referring to Remus when he said Ray-moose. For the next three months every time he came within ten paces of the boy, he was greeted with delighted shouts of "Ray-moose! Ray-moose! Raaaay-moose!"
Lily told him once that he should be very proud of the greeting he received. Given the context of the conversation, he knew that he meant because he got two syllables while she only got one ("Ma!"). What Remus never admitted, not even to Lily, was that he actually was very proud of the greeting Harry gave him. Not because of his exclusive two-syllable status, but because every single time Harry saw him he was reminded of the fact that, no matter how much the rest of the world may hate and fear him, there was one human being who had trusted him completely since the first time he saw him.
Remus honestly hadn't intended to let himself be seen.
Dumbledore had politely requested that he give Arabella Figg a specially charmed cage she'd requested for her kneazles and that was all he'd intended to do. But as he'd left her home, he'd been searching for a nice quiet spot to Apparate out of and he'd seen him. Harry Potter. The-Boy-Who-Lived. His best friend's son. Sitting quietly on the pavement and playing with a stick.
Remus had started approaching before he'd even fully processed the idea.
"Hello." he greeted.
He didn't know what he'd been expecting. Maybe for the boy to look up and shout 'Ray-moose! Ray-moose! I knew you'd come! Can I come live with you and watch lots of Quidditch games like my dad used to at my age?' Whatever he was expecting, it wasn't for the small boy to look up at him blankly with startling green eyes behind sell-o-taped glasses. Nor was it for his blank expression to quickly segue to nervousness.
"Hello." the boy said suspiciously, in a soft and polite voice which Remus would never have associated with someone who looked so much like James. The boy didn't say anything else and just continued to stare up at him.
Okay, momentary set-back, Remus thought. "What's your name?" he asked stupidly. True, he already knew what it was, but he couldn't think of anything else to say.
The boy didn't say anything. He simply kept staring up at Remus with those untrusting eyes. It was strange for Remus to think of Harry not trusting him, strange and oddly hurtful. Not to mention a sharp contrast to the lively, animated child he'd been a mere five years earlier. This child was unspeakably skinny, pale and obviously unhappy. He was completely dwarfed by the trousers and t-shirt he wore. Up close, he bore hardly any resemblance to the Harry Potter, Remus knew. In fact, if it weren't for the lightning shaped scar and unruly black hair, he might've thought it was a different boy altogether. But no child could look that much like James without being related. No child could have those eyes without being Lily's son.
When it became obvious that Harry was not going to tell Remus his name, he thought of something else to say. "What are you doing out here all alone?" he asked, stooping down and sitting on the pavement next to Harry.
The boy looked up the street and pointed to a house with lots of balloons a ribbons attached to it while the noise of hyperactive children came from within while a group of parents were standing around outside. "My cousin is having a birthday party." he said. "My Aunt and Uncle said I wasn't allowed to stay. They said they didn't want anything strange to happen."
"Anything strange?" Remus asked. "Like what?"
Harry shrugged. "I don't know. Strange stuff. It happens all the time around me."
"Why do you think that is?" Remus asked.
"Uncle Vernon says I'm a freak." Harry informed him without emotion. Remus clenched his hand into a fist upon hearing this statement, but quickly released it before Harry could notice. "Aunt Petunia says it too. But I don't…" Harry cut himself off before he could finish talking.
"You don't what?" Remus encouraged.
Harry pointed over to the house with the stick again, this time gesturing specifically at a bony-looking blonde woman and a beefy man with a hideous moustache. "I think they look more like freaks than I do." he said quietly. So quietly in fact that Remus would have missed it had he been sitting any further away.
Remus nodded. "I agree with you." he said. "But best not tell them that."
The barest hint of a smile appeared on the boy's face. "No. Best not." he agreed.
They sat in a companionable silence for a minute or two, before Harry turned to him and said "I don't think I should be talking to you."
"Why ever not?" Remus asked, not entirely sure he'd want to hear the answer.
"You ask a lot of questions." Harry said simply. "You're not supposed to ask questions. It's the first rule."
"And you're a stranger. Dudley isn't supposed to talk to strangers, so I don't think I am either." he continued, saying this as though it was just the way things were and there wasn't anything either of them could do about it.
Feeling quite hurt and more than a little annoyed with Harry's Aunt and Uncle, Remus nodded. "Well, if you think that's best." he said, getting to his feet.
As he did so a small silver sickle fell out of his pocket. Harry's hand shot out and caught it with ease. Remus stared down at him in surprise. He clearly had his father's reflexes if not his father's self-assurance. He was examining the silver piece carefully. "This is a funny coin." he said. "Where did you get it?"
Unsure of what to tell him, Remus said "I thought you weren't supposed to ask questions?"
Harry paused. Then he nodded, gave the coin one last look over and clambered to his feet. "You're right. Here's your money sir." he said politely.
Remus took the coin and slipped it back into his pocket.
Harry looked up at him curiously for another moment. "Goodbye sir." he said at last, before turning and bolting in the opposite direction.
"Goodbye." Remus replied sadly.
Remus was honestly trying to get to sleep, he was. He got the impression he'd be needing it before he could teach at Hogwarts, particularly considering how exhausted he still was after his last transformation. But no matter what he tried, he simply couldn't relax enough. What if nobody liked his classes? What if he messed up during class? What if they found out he was a werewolf? What if everyone hated him? What if he saw Harry? What if Harry hated him? What if Sirius Black turned up and… Remus stopped that line of thought right there. No good could come of it.
He sighed and leant against the window of the Hogwarts Express. Most of the students were there now. Including a large family of red-haired individuals he recognised as the Weasleys. Everyone knew the Weasleys after all. Remus was going to let his eyes wander across the crowd, but they stopped abruptly on a head of unruly black hair. Habit of a lifetime, he supposed, that his eyes should immediately search out the Potter hair if and when they found themselves looking out over Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
He was standing a little way away from the crowd, talking to Arthur Weasley. Arthur was looking extremely anxious while Harry appeared to be trying to convince him or something or other.
Remus took a moment to survey the changes in the boy over the previous seven years. He was taller of course, and had a bit more meat on him though he was still extremely skinny. He looked a bit more sturdy though, definitely lean rather than fragile. His hair was still chaotic, but was shorter than it had been last time Remus had seen him. As though he was no longer trying to hide the striking scar upon his forehead. His glasses were gleaming and in one piece, rather than grimy and taped together. His clothes fit better too, and though one could hardly call them stylish or fashionable, this seemed to be due to lack of concern on his part rather than lack of money. True, if he now had access to his parents vault then the boy could certainly afford new clothes. And if he was associating with the Weasleys, Remus suspected Molly would be making absolutely certain his clothes fit better.
The most obvious change was in his stance, however. He looked a great deal more sure of himself. The way he was standing indicated a type of confidence that Remus wouldn't have thought possible on someone so young. It wasn't traditional confidence either; it was a type of self-assuredness that even James had not acquired until he was around nineteen. It was the type of confidence which made it clear that, though he may not be at all sure of himself, he was absolutely certain he could deal with whatever came his way.
It wasn't all that surprising, given what Remus had been hearing about his activities. He'd heard that the famous Harry Potter had faced down Voldemort again, not to mention a Basilisk last year. And he was the youngest seeker in a century. Of course he'd also heard that Harry Potter was a Parseltongue, was suspected of being the heir to Slytherin and had driven a flying car to school the previous year.
Remus supposed he'd have to make up his own mind about the boy.
Just as Arthur said something which had clearly stunned Harry, a whistle blew, indicating that the train was about to move off. Harry clearly wanted to stay and discuss the point further, but Molly Weasley called over for them to hurry. Remus wondered what it could possibly be… he wondered if it had anything to do with Sirius.
The train had started to move, and with one last bemused look at Arthur, Harry bolted towards it. Someone must have opened a compartment door for him, as he leapt out of sight presumably onto the train. You certainly couldn't fault the boy on his speed.
The Hogwarts Express began curving round a corner, letting Remus see down the train and into the window Harry had just leapt into. It was almost as though fate had designed the event so that Remus could watch them. Harry made a gesture between himself, a red-haired boy who Remus presumed to be a Weasley, and a girl with bushy brown hair. The red-haired boy nodded and gestured for his little sister to go away. She turned huffily and did so. The troika set off, Remus assumed to look for a compartment.
They'd be lucky to find one, he knew. The train was packed tight. But his compartment wasn't.
He frowned in thought. He could pretend to be asleep. It was a bit dishonest and slightly unfair to the three teenagers, but Remus honestly didn't care. They wouldn't sit in the same compartment as him if they thought he could hear them, and for some reason he desperately wanted them to sit in the same compartment as him. If for no other reason than to let him assess Harry.
He quickly set about making himself appear to be in the middle of a deep sleep. It wasn't as though it was his first time pretending to be unconscious for information gathering purposes - he was a Marauder after all.
He managed it just in time as the door was slid open. "Who do you reckon he is?" a strange voice asked. Since it wasn't Harry's voice, nor a female one, he assumed it was the red-haired boy.
"Professor R. J. Lupin." the girl said promptly.
"How'd you know that?"
"It's on his case." the girl said. Judging by their voices, they'd taken the seats furthest from him, which was more or less expected but a little frustrating nonetheless. He had to strain to hear them.
Harry had yet to say a word. The red-haired boy and the girl exchanged a few words about how one good hex would probably finish him off (charming, he thought sarcastically) until finally the red-haired boy said, "Anyway… what were you going to tell us?"
"Oh, nothing much." Harry said blithely. "Just that… well… you know Sirius Black? The one who's escaped from Azkaban? Well… er… there are certain reasons to believe that he did so in order to come and finish me off."
A stunned silence followed these words. "What?" the girl said at last, sounding faintly hysterical.
Harry took a deep breath and explained everything he knew. Which was actually a surprising amount for someone so young. After he explained it all he had the dubious task of calming his two friends, who were named Ron and Hermione from what Remus had been able to deduce. He had sounded extremely nettled when Hermione implied that he went looking for trouble, which indicated to Remus that whatever he may be, Harry was not exactly like James. As if to drive this point home, it was revealed that Harry was not permitted to go into Hogsmeade. His only solution was to ask McGonagall, rather than 'sneak out, consequences be damned'.
To be perfectly honest, Remus was rather enjoying himself. Other than when Ron suggested he'd died (at which poin the would've dearly loved to spring up and give the boy a fright), the only point at which he was really tempted to 'wake up' was when the Malfoy boy entered the compartment. But Harry got rid of the little brat within two sentences.
Afterwards, Hermione had suggested that Harry and Ron 'try to get along with Malfoy this year'. A suggestion which had been met with outright disgust.
"Get along with him? Malfoy? You're joking!" Ron exclaimed.
"Well you're always getting into trouble because of him. School hasn't even started yet and you nearly attacked him in front of a teacher." she implored.
"Hermione, look at it this way," Harry said fairly. "Ron and I have nearly had a fight with Malfoy every single time we've taken the train to Hogwarts. It's tradition."
Ron had laughed at that, but Hermione didn't sound convinced. "You know what I mean. You remember in first year? He challenged you to that idiotic duel at midnight and then didn't turn up. You two could've been expelled for that if you'd been caught!"
"Excuse me, you were there as well." Harry pointed out.
"Yes but I was trying to stop you."
"You could have just reported us." Ron said. "Instead you came with."
"Despicable behaviour." Harry teased. "What would McGonagall have said if she'd found her favourite student out of bed? Tut tut."
"Oh shut up." Hermione snapped without heat.
"Besides," Ron said sanctimoniously. "If you care to remember it was you and Harry who went dragon smuggling in first year, not me."
Harry and Hermione simultaneously told him to shut up while Remus's mind reeled.
Dragon smuggling aside, Remus was pleasantly surprised by the three of them. While they didn't exactly seem to be a teacher's dream (indeed, from the sounds of things the three of them had probably shaved at least five years off McGonagall's life), they still managed to seem positively angelic in comparison to the their thirteen-year-old Marauder equivalents. In fact he was so comfortable, sitting listening to their relaxed banter, that he very nearly fell asleep for real.
This possibility was rudely dashed when the train started to slow down, well before it should have. Ron was apparently unaware of this fact, and seemed to be thinking with his stomach.
"We can't be there yet." said Hermione, sounding confused.
"So why are we stopping?" Ron asked. It was a fact Remus was slowly coming to terms with that Harry James Potter did not talk that much.
The engine noise slowly began to die away, and the pistons fell silent. Remus briefly debated ending his charade of being asleep, but instead decided to listen intently. He could probably gain more information that way anyhow.
The train finally stopped with sudden jolt. Distant thuds and bangs indicated that a fair portion of luggage had lurched out the racks all along the train. There was a noise like a candle being snuffed out, and even with his closed eyes Remus could tell that the train had been plunged into darkness. Even if he couldn't, he felt certain he would've deduced it from the melee that ensued.
"What's going on?"
"Ouch! Ron, that was my foot!"
"D'you think we've broken down?" Harry asked sceptically. Still untrusting, Remus noted. Though this time he had good reason.
"Dunno." was the general response.
Remus opened his eyes, fairly certain that no one could tell by that point. There was a squeaking sound by the window that drew his attention. Ron had cleared a patch off the window. "There's something moving out there." Ron said, sounding a little nervous about this fact. "I think people are coming aboard…"
I bet they are, Remus thought harshly. Bloody Ministry…
The compartment opened suddenly and an unknown figure came tumbling inside over by Harry. Remus's hand went immediately for his wand. Too many years at war he supposed, when the figure proved to be benign.
"Sorry!" the figure yelped. "D'you know what's going on? Ouch! Sorry!"
"Hullo Neville." Harry greeted pleasantly. From what little Remus could make out in the pitch black compartment, Harry had just helped the boy to his feet.
Neville? Neville Longbottom perhaps? Remus hoped not. An involuntary stroll down Memory Lane was one thing. Being beaten over the head with a paving slab from Memory Lane was quite another.
"Harry? Is that you? What's happening?" Neville asked.
"No idea. Sit down."
A loud hiss and a yelp of pain indicated that Neville had attempted to sit on a cat and that his attempt had been far from successful. "I'm going to go and ask the driver what's going on." Hermione stated, getting up and apparently moving towards the door. It was the first course of action anyone had suggested taking, but it was not what Remus would have advised.
The compartment door slid open once again. A thud and two squeals of pain indicated that this too had proved unsuccessful. "Who's that?" Hermione demanded.
"Who's that?" the other voice shot back.
Remus had no clue who Ginny was, but judging by the lack of curses flying he was guessing that she wasn't particularly horrific. He had trouble caring however, since he was well aware of just who had the authority to stop the Hogwarts Express in its tracks. He was also aware that the people who had that authority rarely exercised it for their own use, preferring to send others to do their bidding.
"What are you doing?" Hermione asked.
"I was looking for Ron-" Ginny said apologetically.
There were noises from outside. Noises confirming all Remus's suspicions. But he couldn't hear clearly, he couldn't be certain, there was too much noise.
"Come in and sit down-"
"Not here! I'm here!"
"Quiet!" Remus snapped at last. His voice was hoarse. Lack of use, probably. Fortunately no one seemed at all inclined to contradict his wishes, meaning he had time to listen more closely outside. There was no noise, and no indication of life at all. There was, however, a soft swish of material both from outside and from the corridor. This could not be good.
He lit a salubrious fire in his hands, knowing that such a fire was one of the few lights those creatures could not extinguish. The light illuminated the compartment, and everyone in it. This confirmed that Neville was unquestionably Neville Longbottom and indicated that Ginny was Ron's little sister from earlier. Fascinating though he may have found these facts on another day, Remus had more important things to worry about.
"Stay where you are." he ordered, getting to his feet and heading to the door. He knew that he was probably too late to stop the creatures from getting on the train, but what little he still owed Lily and James absolutely forbade him from doing nothing and letting those abominations near Harry. But it was not to be.
His blood ran cold as the door began to slide slowly and deliberately open.
The Dementor stood there in the open doorway, almost as though it were striking a pose for dramatic effect. Remus stood perfectly still and attempted to control his emotions. He didn't claim to be doing a very good job of it, but he'd be damned if he wasn't trying. He cast a quick glance around the compartment and saw all five students gaping at it in horror. They'd probably never seen once before.
Harry, unlike the others who just stared, seemed to be trying to size the creature up. He was clearly looking for details, if not actively feeling out weak spots. Somewhere out there James was probably glowing with pride.
But then the creature drew in a long rattling breath. And Harry's best efforts to find a weak spot went immediately to waste. He went completely rigid, and the colour drained from his face. An expression of deepest anguish crossed his face, and he made a move as though he were trying to leap towards something. Or someone.
The move failed and he crumpled to the floor, completely limp and seemingly unconscious.
Behind him, Remus heard Hermione scream "Harry!" Ron was immediately on the floor next to his friend, trying to shake him awake. Neville Longbottom was shaking from head to toe, his eyes closed as he apparently tried to block something from his mind. Ginny Weasley looked like a dear caught in headlights. She had pulled her legs up onto the seat and was curled in the fetal position, apparently on the brink of tears.
Anger suddenly replaced any feelings of dread that the loathsome creature before him could possibly incite. He stepped protectively between the Dementor and Harry's lifeless body. "None of us is hiding Sirius Black under our cloaks." he growled. "Go."
The Dementor didn't move. Remus concentrated on his happy memory. The first one that came to mind, probably due to his proximity to the boy behind him, was when a tiny, loving, trusting creature had reached up and grabbed his finger, refusing to let go. The moment he had realised that no matter how bad the war may get, or how many people may die, there was always hope in the souls of children like Harry Potter. "Expecto Patronum." he hissed. His patronus, (a wolf, shockingly enough) sped out the end of his wand.
The Dementor turned and fled. Remus slammed the door shut again.
He turned back to face the compartment. Harry was still sprawled out on the floor, looking pale and clammy. His eyes were obviously moving behind his eyelids, giving him a faintly manic look. Hermione was knelt on the floor next to him, taking his pulse and feeling his forehead, while Ron was being a bit more direct about matters.
"Harry! Harry! Harry, mate, wake up!" he exclaimed, sounding a little panicked. "What happened to him?" he asked Hermione. Remus thought it an indicator of the three teen's relationship that he would ask Hermione rather than the teacher that was standing right there. "Is he having a fit or something? Did that thing do something to him?"
"I don't know." Hermione said, sounding horrified. "Harry? Harry! Can you hear us?"
Over in the corner, Ginny let out a small, shuddering sob and dropped her head into her hands. Neville had his eyes closed and was breathing heavily. As always, when dealing with Dementors, Remus knew there was nothing he could say to comfort any of them.
"Step back." he said in the kindest voice he could to Ron and Hermione. "Give him some air."
Both their heads shot up immediately. "Are you daft?" Ron demanded angrily. "He just blacked out."
"Something's wrong with him Professor. We need a doctor or something." Hermione shrieked.
"I know exactly what's wrong with him, and exactly what he needs." Remus said equitably. "Now step back."
Remus knew perfectly well that the only reason either of them did so was because they had no other immediate solutions to the situation and not because he was a teacher or an adult. If anything, those two facts seemed to make Ron Weasley trust him less. Both stood on the opposite of Harry, looking down at him with obvious concern.
The lights came on once again, indicating that the Dementors' occupation of the train was at an end. Harry's eyes stopped moving and he looked slightly more at ease. A minute or two passed before the train started to move once again.
Tension in the compartment was still high, as all eyes were on the boy on the floor. When at last he awoke, Ron and Hermione swooped down on him so quickly that Remus couldn't have stopped them if he'd wanted to.
Harry immediately moved to push his glasses back up his face. He looked around himself, apparently confused. He went to get up. Ron and Hermione each grabbed an arm and hauled him back into his seat without question or hesitation. Indeed, they seemed so comfortable with the move that Remus genuinely wondered how often Harry was knocked unconscious.
"Are you okay?" Ron asked him nervously.
"Yeah." Harry responded automatically. Remus watched as his eyes flickered quickly around the compartment and towards the door, assessing the situation. He also noticed that Harry had shifted position in his seat to give him easy access to his wand. "What happened?" he asked. Nay, demanded. "Where's that - that thing? Who screamed?"
Remus decided to add to the list of Things I've Learnt About Harry Potter. Item number thirty-seven; does not ask after himself even after finding self knocked unconscious by soulless evil prison guards. Interesting.
"No one screamed." Ron said, sounding even more nervous.
Remus moved quickly and quietly over to his briefcase and proceeded to extract a large bar of chocolate. Behind him, he could picture Harry looking around the room in total confusion. "But… I heard screaming…" the boy said helplessly.
He snapped the chocolate bar into pieces, and pretended not to notice when everyone in the compartment jumped. He also conveniently missed the fact that Harry's hand had twitched for his wand. He automatically assigned Harry the biggest piece of chocolate, without any thought on the matter, and began handing out chocolate to the others. "Here," he said, holding out the piece of chocolate to Harry. "Eat it. It'll help."
Harry took the chocolate but didn't eat it. "What was that thing?" he asked Remus in a firm tone which clearly expected an answer.
Remus wondered how much he should tell him. He also wondered how much he actually knew. Remus had no idea, for example, exactly who was to blame for setting a pack of soul suckers onto a train occupied by school children. He intended to find out though. He answered Harry quickly, politely and as simply as possible. He then made his excuses and headed up to the front of the train.
He had a quick and fruitless conversation with the driver, who said simply that he had received a sealed letter, signed by the Minster of Magic himself, which ordered him to stop the train at once. He had done so and then 'those hideous brutes' had come on. He also said they'd be there in fifteen minutes.
Remus had once again made his excuses and left.
He stopped in a quiet area of the train to gather his thoughts. Harry. James's son. Lily's son. The-Boy-Who-Lived. The boy who apparently knew and liked Neville Longbottom and had two best friend who were fiercely loyal to him… It was going to be a tough year, Remus realised. For how could he ever look at Harry without seeing his mother and father?
When his mind began to wander and Remus found himself pondering just who it was Harry had heard screaming, he realised that he'd better be getting back to the compartment.
He walked in and saw Harry looked forlorn, contemplative and completely disinterested in his chocolate. "I haven't poisoned that chocolate, you know…" he said, smiling slightly.
Harry looked more surprised at the comment than he did embarrassed, but he took a small, apologetic bite all the same.
Remus slid the door shut behind him and moved over to the seat he had previously been occupying. "The driver says we'll be there in ten minutes." he said, estimating that he'd spent about five minutes outside lost in thought. "Are you all right Harry?" he asked, unable to help himself.
"Fine." Harry said unconvincingly.
They didn't talk much after that. Everyone seemed to be trying to pull themselves together before they got to Hogwarts. Ron and Hermione were exchanging the occasional dubious look over Harry's head, a fact which he was obviously aware of and irritated by but didn't comment on.
When at last the train pulled into Hogsmeade station, the five teens seemed hesitant to leave to say the least. Remus hung back, not especially wanting to get stuck in the throng of students and knowing that there would be at least one empty one which he could claim for his own. The children trickled out of the compartment slowly, muttering comments like 'see you at dinner' and 'all right, Neville?' as they went.
Harry lingered for a while also, looking uncomfortable. When Ron and Hermione had also left the compartment, he turned to look at Remus.
"Thank you, Professor." he said uncomfortably. "For, ah… you know." he gestured vaguely.
Remus nodded, not trusting himself to speak properly.
Harry nodded as well. He then turned sharply and went after Ron and Hermione, catching up to them with ease.
Well, Remus thought to himself as he watched the boy go, at least it's better than "Sir."
He was already packed, for the most part. He was not ashamed to admit that it was causing him a great deal of sadness to leave that office, as he'd become very comfortable there. He had come to look forward to his classes and to hearing his students perspective on things. The position as Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor was unequivocally the best job he'd ever had, and it pained him to have to leave it behind.
Still, there certain things he could take with him, even after resigning. And he wasn't talking Grindylows. He knew the truth about what had happened to Lily and James. After nearly thirteen years of believing he knew, it was a little startling to try and adjust to the new version of events, but Remus was absolutely certain that when it sank in he would feel better for it.
Remus's other recompense was a tad more tangible that concepts such as truth and justice. Indeed, his other recompense appeared to be hurtling down corridors towards him with little regard for the safety of other students if the Marauder's Map was anything to go by.
He smiled to himself and opened his office door before continuing to pack away his things.
Sure enough, Harry appeared in the doorway moments later. The boy paused, his eyes darting around the room to take everything in. He was apparently less than thrilled with what he saw.
"I saw you coming." Remus said, pointing at the Marauder's Map on the table and smiling.
"I just saw Hagrid." Harry told him in a faintly accusatory tone. "And he said you'd resigned. It's not true, is it?" he demanded.
Remus tried to keep all emotion out of his voice when he responded. "I'm afraid it is." he said simply.
He began purposefully sorting through the contents of his desk drawer. He didn't especially want to look at Harry as he said this, mainly because he feared that the boy would somehow be possessed by James, smack him off the back of the head and inform him he was being a prat. True, James would have probably done something ludicrous like permanently handcuff himself to Remus and refuse to have them removed until he agreed to stay. Something James had actually done on one occasion, but that wasn't the time to think about such things. Fortunately for Remus, Harry was a tad more restrained. Rather than reach for his wand, he just glared.
"Why?" he demanded angrily. A thought then appeared to occur to him. "The Ministry of Magic don't think you were helping Sirius, do they?"
Remus crossed the room quickly to close the door. He didn't know precisely what Harry had done to grant Sirius his freedom, but Remus was completely certain that he was responsible for it. It was therefore imperative that he close the door before the conversation could continue, since one trait which Harry did seem to have inherited from his father was a complete failure to understand when one should lower their voice.
The door closed with a loud click and Remus turned back to face Harry. "No." he assured him. "Professor Dumbledore managed to convince Fudge that I was trying to save your lives." He sighed as he thought of the real reason he was leaving. "That was the final straw for Severus. I think the loss of the Order of Merlin hit him hard." Though God knew why, since in Remus's extensive experience with Severus Snape, the man had not once shown anything but contempt for the Ministry. "So he - er - accidentally let slip that I am a werewolf this morning at breakfast." Remus explained.
Harry looked incredulous. "You're not leaving just because of that!" he cried in horror. His expression communicated quite clearly that this was one of the stupidest things he'd ever heard. Harry didn't seem to think that it could possibly matter to anyone.
If only he knew, Remus thought to himself. If only he knew how much fear and hatred such a simple condition could elicit. He felt a wry smile twist itself onto his face before he could stop it. "This time tomorrow the owls will start arriving from parents - they will not want a werewolf teaching their children, Harry." he explained. "And after last night, I see their point." Remus admitted. "I could have bitten any of you… that must never happen again." He couldn't live with himself if it happened again.
Harry looked far from convinced. "You're the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher we've ever had!" he exclaimed loudly. "Don't go!"
Remus shook his head, but didn't speak. Partly because he knew that if he did speak he would probably babble incoherently. Instead he said one thing which he thought he had to say before he left. He looked up to where Harry appeared to be frantically going over arguments in his head.
"From what the Headmaster told me this morning," Which, admittedly, wasn't as much as I'd have liked, Remus thought bitterly. "You saved a lot of lives last night, Harry. If I'm proud of anything, it's how much you've learned." he told him. Unable to contain his curiosity, he added. "Tell me about your Patronus."
Harry looked momentarily taken aback. "How d'you know about that?" he asked.
"What else could have driven the Dementors back?" Remus pointed out.
"Oh. Right." Harry said. "Well… I don't… I mean it's not… It's a bit complex." he admitted.
Remus smiled. "Well you were certainly patient enough with my story last night." he said. "It seems only fair that I should be patient with yours."
Harry looked less than thrilled with this statement, but acquiesced all the same. And, indeed, it proved to be quite a complex story. When he got the part about conjuring a Patronus while using a time-turner, it took every bit of self-restraint Remus possessed not to grab his shoulders and shake him, while ranting about the dangers of interfering with the timeline. Once the full situation had been explained, however, he fully agreed with Harry's actions. In fact, he was nothing short of awed that a boy of thirteen could be so self-reliant.
He finished his story, looking faintly embarrassed. Remus was unable to fathom what he could possibly feel embarrassed about. If James had done what Harry had just claimed to have done, and driven off a veritable army of Dementors, he would have spoken of nothing else for days. But still Harry had avoided the question which Remus had most dearly wanted to know in the first place.
"You didn't tell me what form your Patronus took." he commented.
Harry looked even more embarrassed.
Remus felt compelled to continue and explain his interest in the matter. "The form a Patronus takes is just as indicative of personality as an Animagus form. It is a very personal thing."
Harry frowned for a moment. "Which begs the question, weren't you lot at all suspicious when Pettigrew turned into a rat?"
Remus chuckled. "Don't insult rats Harry, they're surprisingly resilient." he said. "In a lot of folklore they symbolise a number of admirable qualities. Besides, it was Peter's birth sign in the Chinese Zodiac." Harry looked rather disbelieving but Remus didn't feel particularly inclined to continue down that road. "You are avoiding the question Harry." he commented.
Harry looked embarrassed again. For a moment Remus felt certain the boy was about to admit he had tadpole Patronus or something, but at last Harry admitted it. "Stag." he said quietly. So quietly Remus feared he had misheard.
"A stag. My Patronus took the form of a stag."
Of course it did, Remus thought with affection. "I'm curious," he asked. "As to why admitting this fact caused you such discomfort?"
Harry ran his fingers through his hair. Not in a manner reminiscent of James in the least, but rather in a manner reminiscent of someone who just wanted something to do with their hands. "Well… I thought that… well on the map it was Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. It doesn't take a genius to figure out which was which, so I figured… and I mean it just seemed so…" he gestured helplessly.
Remus understood. He felt foolish at having a Patronus so closely related to the father he never knew. But at the same time, Remus suspected that he wanted to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that he actually had some connection to James. "Yes, your father was always a stag when he transformed," Remus told him. "You guessed right… that's why we called him Prongs."
He turned and picked up the last few books in his desk, tossing them into his case and giving Harry a moment to process everything. His eyes fell onto the map. He supposed it was time to take care of that little task as well.
"Here - I brought this from Shrieking Shack," he said, handing the Invisibility Cloak to a visibly grateful Harry. Remus could only assume that the cloak held great sentimental value for him. Either that or it just made his life a hell of a lot easier. "And…" Remus hesitated. What he was about to do would also make Harry's life a hell of a lot easier over the following years if he kept up his current track record. On one level, Remus sort of hoped that Harry would never need the map again, but on another he knew that was too much to hope for. He picked up the map and held it out for Harry.
"I am no longer your teacher, so I don't feel guilty about giving you this back as well. It's no use to me, and I daresay you, Ron and Hermione will find uses for it." he said.
Remus had been expecting Harry to respond with surprise, gratitude, or possibly confusion. But, as usual with this boy, he took a more unpredictable approach. He grinned mischievously. "You told me Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs would've wanted to lure me out of school… you said they'd have thought it was funny." he said. His tone was teasing, his eyes were glittering and for a moment Remus really wondered if James had possessed him.
"And so we would have done." Remus admitted, closing his case. "I have no hesitation in saying that James would have been highly disappointed if his son had never found any of the secret passages out of the castle."
And it was true. Though Remus also suspected that James would have been a great deal happier if his son stuck to more traditional methods of rule-breaking, such as pranking that Malfoy child, than say going after Basilisks and thwarting Lord Voldemort in his first year. Certainly, James would have been proud. But at the same time, Remus was absolutely positive he would've suffered a few heart attacks at the thought.
There was a knock at the door. With a deftness that suggested Harry was sued to hiding things from adults, he shoved the Marauder's Map and the Invisibility Cloak into his pocket, before turning to face the door.
It was Dumbledore. "Your carriage is at the gates Remus." he said soberly.
"Thank you, Headmaster." he acknowledged. Remus turned back and picked up his case, as well as the empty Grindylow tank.
Harry was looking up at him with the same accusatory expression he had worn upon first entering the room. "Well - goodbye, Harry." he said with an affectionate smile. "It has been a real pleasure teaching you. I fell sure we'll meet again some time." he turned to the door where Dumbledore waited looking earnest. Not wanting to face any drawn out goodbyes, Remus said, "Headmaster, there is no need to see me to the gates, I can manage…"
"Goodbye, then, Remus." Dumbledore said simply.
Remus gave a quick nod and fleeting smile in Harry's direction, before speeding out the door.
As he made his way down to the carriage, Remus couldn't help but be grateful for the time he'd had with Harry. On some level he felt that he should be regretting ever coming to Hogwarts again, just for the danger he had placed Harry and, indeed, everyone else in. But he couldn't manage it.
He had gotten to know James and Lily's son. He liked him, he respected him, and he felt certain that the boy was destined for great things. More to the point, he'd developed a relationship with him. A relationship where Harry felt confident enough to grin mischievously and tease him, something Remus really couldn't see him doing with McGonagall…
Remus found himself standing, quite suddenly, in the middle of a truly hideous kitchen. It was clean enough, in fact it was positively gleaming. But everything from the cream-coloured cabinets, to the green linoleum, to the pink rose pattern on the tiles, made him long for a scrubbed oak table. But, alas, it was not to be.
"Oh God, it's horrible here isn't it?" Nymphadora muttered under her breath. "If I didn't respect Harry Potter before, I've certainly got to give him credit for living in this place and not going stark raving mad."
Remus wondered if she knew how like her mother and her cousin she sounded when she started criticising her surroundings.
They'd Apparated to Privet Drive (noiselessly, with the help of a muffling spell). What with an unauthorised Portkey was strictly out of the question, and most other methods of transportation not being possible in a heavily populated muggle area. Taking off on a broomstick was one thing, it was quick and didn't attract too much attention. Landing on a broomstick was something else entirely.
Remus wasn't entirely sure why he was there. Out of all of them he was probably the least experienced at clandestine movement of human beings. Clandestine movement of Butterbeer; there he had some expertise. But this was a whole different ball game. Actually this was a whole different league. Hell, this was a whole different sport.
Sirius had been the one to suggest that Remus go. He'd said that Remus would be the only one of the lot whom Harry recognised and trusted, since he certainly wasn't going to be trusting Mad-Eye Moody with his life anytime soon.
The rest of the Advanced Guard was looking around with emotions ranging from curiosity to outright distaste.
"Merlin." Nymphadora whispered, looking at a pink Commemorative Plate on the wall. "What on Earth is that for?" she asked, reaching up to touch it. Remus didn't see exactly how it happened, he just heard the loud crash as the plate hit the floor. Nymphadora cringed. "Sorry." she mouthed, turning pink with embarrassment and quickly repairing the plate.
Remus smiled at her. He gestured for the Advance Guard to move out into the hallway. Remembering a few things he'd heard about Harry's living conditions from Ron and Hermione over the summer, he cast a handy little spell to unlock all the doors in the house. A loud click followed by the sound of a door creaking open confirmed Remus's suspicions. Though he chose to be annoyed about that at a later date.
Every single member of the Advance Guard was staring at the point at the top of the stairs, awaiting Harry's arrival. "Oh, is he ever coming down?" Elphias Doge wheezed huffily.
"He probably thinks we were sent by You-Know-Who to kill him in his bed." Nymphadora said fairly.
"Why ever would he think that?" Hestia Jones asked, sounding rather horrified.
"If you were him, wouldn't you?" Kingsley commented.
"Too right I would." Mad-Eye Moody agreed.
Remus refrained from comment throughout. He was too busy smiling at the fact that Harry could move so silently. For he was almost certainly moving, and Remus could not hear a noise from upstairs. Indeed he appeared at the top of the stairs a moment later, wand poised to fire off any of a number of curses.
He'd grown since last time Remus had seen him. His hair was as unruly as ever, however he'd apparently caught a bit of sun over the summer as he no-longer looked extraordinarily pale. Remus was willing to bet good money that this was due to him roaming around outside all summer, rather than due to a fabulous Caribbean Cruise or something like that. Harry also looked as though he had now firmly settled on the 'man' side of adolescence rather than the 'boy' side.
Remus realised that his view of the Advance Guard probably wasn't good enough to merit lowering his wand. But whether Harry was waiting for definitive proof that they weren't there to kill him or was merely cautious when it came to firing off spells, he did not throw out any jinxes.
"Lower your wand, boy, before you take someone's eye out." Alastor growled.
A look of recognition briefly appeared on Harry's face, but he certainly did not lower his wand. Remus would have been disappointed if he did. "Professor Moody?" Harry asked, sounding uncertain but far from nervous.
"I don't know so much about 'Professor'," Alastor commented. "never got round to much teaching, did I? Get down here, we hand to see you properly."
Harry lowered his wand a fraction of an inch, but that was about it. Indeed, he wore a highly sceptical expression which suggested that he was still of the overwhelming opinion that they were about to try and kill him. Remus could almost see the cogs moving in his mind as he assessed the situation. Unusually for Harry, his eyes did not dart around to take in information. But Remus supposed he knew the area well, could see everyone downstairs from his vantage point, and knew well enough to know that if there were more people in hiding then he wouldn't see them until it was too late. Remus had the fleeting thought it would actually be interesting to see Harry face off against eight fully-trained wizards. Perhaps the thing that would make it most interesting was the fact that, nine times out of ten, Remus's bets would be on Harry. Deciding to avert such an outcome, despite his curiosity, Remus took a small step forward.
"It's all right Harry. We've come to take you away." he said.
Remus was impossibly pleased when Harry's dark expression cleared, merely at the sound of his voice. The boy looked simultaneously hopeful and dubious at the thought that Remus was there. As a result, Remus was unable to prevent the broad grin that settled on his face. "P-professor Lupin?" he said, actually sounding nervous this time. "Is that you?"
Nymphadora once again demonstrated why she was the youngest member of the Order, when she alone showed common sense by saying "Why are we all standing around in the dark?" and illuminating her wand.
Harry blinked a few times to adjust to the light and then looked at Remus. He gave a sort of half-smile before going back to looking astounded at the assortment of people that just turned up in his hallway.
"Oooh, he looks just like I thought he would." Nymphadora said in amazement as she held her wand up a bit higher to get a better look at him. She seemed to realise she was being a bit rude as she quickly changed the topic with a heartfelt, "Wotcher Harry!"
"Yeah, I see what you mean Remus." Kingsley said in his ever-mellifluous tone. "He looks exactly like James."
"Except the eyes." Elphias wheezed. "Lily's eyes."
Remus attempted to exchange an apologetic look with Harry. He didn't like seeing the boy gawked at like a zoo animal. However Harry was rather preoccupied with sizing up every single member of the Advance Guard. Remus wondered if he did this with everyone he met, which in turn led to him wondering if Harry actively thought 'I could beat you if it really came down to it' or 'you might just be better than me in a duel' when he looked at people. He didn't think Harry could consciously be so macabre, but on some level the thought must be there.
His concern for Harry's emotional well-being was quickly replaced with concern for his physical well-being as Alastor squinted suspiciously at him. "Are you quite sure it's him, Lupin?" he growled. "It'd be a nice lookout if we bring back some Death Eater impersonating him. We ought to ask him something only the real Potter would know. Unless anyone brought any Veritaserum?" he asked, looking around hopefully.
Harry wore an expression which quite clearly indicated that he was quite insulted at having his identity question by someone who'd spent a good deal of the previous year unconscious in a box. He opened his mouth as if he were going to respond, something which Remus sincerely did not wish to occur. "Harry, what form does you Patronus take?" he asked quickly.
"A stag." Harry said, sounding a bit unsure of himself and slightly annoyed at the same time.
"That's him, Mad-Eye." Remus said confidently.
Looking remarkably self-conscious, Harry descended the stairs. He was glancing between the Order members, all of whom were staring at him with rapt interest. Well, all except the trained Aurors, who were alternating between staring at him with rapt interest and checking the perimeter. They were a paranoid breed, Aurors; forever searching for some unseen foe and constantly assessing their situation for any possible dangers. It would probably be the perfect career for Harry, now that he thought about it.
As he approached the bottom step, Harry lowered his wand completely and stowed it away in the back pocket of his jeans. "Don't put your wand in there, boy!" roared Alastor. "With if it ignited? Better wizards than you have lost buttocks you know!"
Harry didn't seem to know quite what to say to this. He just stood and gaped.
Nymphadora took a more academic approach. "Who do you know who's lost a buttock?" she asked curiously. The other Order Members looked interested as well.
Remus shook his head and glanced towards a thoroughly bemused Harry. It was going to be an incredibly long evening.
Still. At least Harry was pleased to see him…
Perhaps it was the war, perhaps it was Nymphadora, or perhaps it was the fact that Remus could not, in good conscience, allow himself happy thoughts while he roamed with those feral beasts who fought in Voldemort's name. Whatever it was, Harry did not play a particularly central role in Remus's thought process for nearly five whole years after they met in Privet Drive. He would think about what Harry had to go through, he would think about what Harry had done, he would think about how Harry was doing and, occasionally, he would think about the unfairness of it all and wish Harry a better life.
But rarely did he think about Harry as a person in that time.
Maybe it had even been a deliberate decision on his part, albeit one he was unaware of. After all, Remus could fight side-by-side with the Chosen One without hesitation. Fighting side-by-side with the baby who had once disarmed him so completely just by grabbing his finger… well it was a bit too much for Remus to deal with on top of everything else.
However his days of not thinking about Harry as a person had just come to an abrupt end. Mainly because he was attending Harry's twentieth birthday party.
Or, more accurately, he was taking cover from Harry's twentieth birthday party. The event was being held at Number 12 Grimmauld Place, despite Harry's numerous and vehement objections. It seemed that most of the Wizarding world had showed up, invitation or not, also against Harry's numerous and vehement objections. It seemed that the Chosen One, or Man-Who-Lived, or whatever they were calling him now, was rather adverse to the idea of a party in his name when he had not actively earned it by winning a Quidditch trophy or defeating a certain Dark Lord. Harry seemed downright mortified by the entire affair.
Not that a tiny thing like that was going to stop eager revellers from eating, drinking and generally being merry in Harry's home. Even the Weird Sisters had showed up to provide the music, that was how big a deal it was. Social event of the season.
Remus had even heard a rumour that Celestina Warbeck was going to sing Happy Birthday to Harry, ala Marilyn Munroe, but on that particular note Harry had put his foot down. He had made it abundantly clear to everyone that if anyone sang anything specifically at Harry then he was landing the unsuspecting songster in Saint Mungo's.
As amusing as Remus found the entire affair in theory, in person he found it all quite exhausting.
At the earliest possible opportunity, he had slipped away from the party (which had somehow spread over the first three floors of the house) and had gone all the way to the top of the house and into the room which had once housed Buckbeak. He had taken a few bottles of Butterbeer with him, taken up residence on the floor, and had basically prayed that the festivities didn't spread that far. He'd even left the lights out, so that the room was lit only by the streetlamps outside. He really wasn't in the mood.
Apparently, he wasn't the only one.
The door to the top bedroom swung open, creaking a bit as it did so. A shadowy figure entered the room silently and closed the door firmly behind him before sagging against the wood at his back.
"Finally." the figure muttered. "I thought I'd never get out."
Remus recognised the voice instantly. "You know, it's not polite to leave your own party." he commented serenely.
Harry didn't jump, though Remus was certain that his hand had gone for his wand in the darkness. "Hi Professor Lupin." he greeted. "Lumen Umbra."
A soft glow appeared in the room. It didn't seem to be coming from the air itself rather than one defined source. While it was not nearly enough to make their presence immediately obvious to anyone outside the room, it was enough to illuminate both occupants. Remus raised an eyebrow, impressed. "Isn't this the spell they use on Quidditch stadiums?" he asked.
Harry shrugged and came over to sit on the floorboards beside Remus. "I have it on good authority that it is an illumination charm which transform the proportional energy that exists inside a room or enclosure and transforms it into light energy which appears to emanate from the air itself." he recited in an oddly textbook manner.
Remus raised an eyebrow at him.
Harry smiled. "Trainee Aurors got stuck on Quidditch Final duty last month. I had to do something to amuse myself." he explained.
"Ah." Remus acknowledged. He handed the young man a bottle of Butterbeer and they sat comfortably, not feeling the need to say anything in particular.
Remus took the time to survey Harry, as he so often did. His eyes were the first thing to catch his attention. Though they were, physically, exactly the same as they had been when he was a babe arms, there was an indefinable difference about them. They seemed more subdued, as though there was an awful lot more going on behind them. When it came to the aspects of personal appearance he could actually alter, Harry's messy hair was as chaotic as ever, but he didn't seem to care, and his black, wire-framed glasses suited his face a lot more than his old ones did.
Physically, he was definitely classed as lean now rather than skinny. But then Remus supposed that was what Auror training did to a person. His face still held the faintly Peter-Pan like appearance that had consistently made people under-estimate his father and would probably continue to service Harry in the same way. Assuming of course that the person underestimating him didn't understand what the scar on his forehead signified. After all, no one could knowingly underestimate THE Harry Potter in this day and age. He moved more confidently, his voice was deeper, and he looked…
Like a man, Remus realised. A fully-grown, perfectly confident, capable and irrepressible man. It was quite jarring.
"What?" Harry asked, brows raised. "You look like I've just sprouted horns."
Remus shook his head, a small smile settling on his lips. "No. Not at all. I was just thinking."
Harry rolled his eyes (Remus would've pointed out that James used to do the exact same thing whenever he heard something he didn't agree with, but he feared he would be cursed if he did). "You have no idea how many people have come up to me tonight about him. And my mother. 'Oh your parents would be so proud. You look just like your father you know. Of course he'd settled down by your age.'" Harry mocked, shaking his head. "It's bizarre."
Remus chuckled lightly. "Well, if it makes you feel any better, I wasn't thinking about how proud he'd be of you."
"No. I was thinking about how he was terrified at one point that you'd never learn to talk." Remus said impassively.
Harry stared at him. "Er… what?" he asked, utterly bewildered.
A nostalgic expression settled on Remus's face. "You were nine… no, ten months old." he recounted. "Sirius had been trying to teach you how to say his name and James had got annoyed with him. So had you as a matter of fact, you got irritated and tried to smash a lamp off his head." Harry looked alarmed. "It was entirely justified, believe me." he assured him. "It wasn't long before Sirius gave up, but he did it in a slightly… er, dramatic manner."
"He pretended to burst into tears and weep about how dreadful your life would be as a mute wizard attending Hogwarts." Remus explained.
Harry raised an eyebrow.
Remus shrugged. "He was a great deal more amusing before Azkaban, what can I say? Besides, he had to Disapparate pretty quickly after that because he had guard duty for the Order. James just sat quietly looking at you for about twenty minutes and then turned to me and asked me exactly how traumatic, on a scale of one to ten, it would be to go to Hogwarts without being able to talk."
Harry sniggered quietly. "Would've kept me out of a lot of detentions with Snape at any rate." he commented.
Remus sniggered along with him.
They once again lapsed into silence, each sipping their Butterbeer and ruminating privately in the dimly lit room. They'd been completely still for around five minutes when a silvery-white figure came bursting into the room.
Both men whipped out their wands and aimed, but stopped when they saw what it was. Harry groaned. "Hermione." he muttered.
Remus looked at the Patronus. "It's an otter." he commented.
"It is." Harry agreed. "And I'd just like to take a moment to point out that none of my friends have rat Patronuses." he said, clambering to his feet. "Anyway, she'll want me downstairs. They've probably lost the piñata or something, and want to use me as a substitute." he said sarcastically.
"If you loathe this party so much, why did you let them throw it?" Remus asked curiously.
"Because it's not about me, is it?" Harry sighed as moved towards the door. "It's about them having an excuse to throw a party."
Remus supposed he could see the logic in that.
"Anyway." Harry continued, opening the door. "I'm not going down there alone. Come on Remus."
Remus froze and looked at him.
"Something wrong?" Harry asked.
"You… you called me Remus." he said in surprise.
Harry looked confused. "Er… is that a problem?"
Getting to his feet also, Remus smiled. "No. No not at all, Harry."