Author's Note: Yes, I made up the Ravenclaw's name. I don't remember any male Ravenclaws except for Terry Boot, so please excuse the made-up character. He's only there for one dance, and then poof he's out of here!
About fifteen minutes later, Harry's contemplation was interrupted as he sensed somebody approaching him from the side. The person's magical signature seemed familiar—a bit wild and untamed, but at the same time calm, like a still pool of water. A bit of an oxymoron in itself, Harry thought mildly, trying to place it. The person wasn't in his view yet, so he couldn't find out that way.
"Harry?" The voice sounded very familiar, and Harry's eyes widened as he whirled around and stared directly into the concerned amber eyes of Remus Lupin.
Chapter Two: Home Sweet Home
Harry froze, staring at the last remaining Marauder, the last link he had to his parents…and to Sirius. Greedily, he took in the werewolf's pale, slender form, assuring himself that Remus Lupin was indeed alive and well. Or at least, as well as a werewolf could be only two days after the full moon.
"Professor Lupin?" he asked softly, afraid that speaking the man's name might break the trance they were both caught in and send one or both of them fleeing from the memories that had been awoken with their close proximity to each other.
The werewolf smiled tiredly. "It's Remus, Harry. I'm no longer your professor." Harry just nodded silently, still staring intently at the demure wizard in front of him. "You've grown quite a bit since I last saw you," Remus added uncomfortably, reminding them both that they hadn't seen each other since the end of Harry's fifth year, when Remus had come along and threatened the Dursleys.
"You look healthier," Harry noted, a part of him relieved that while the man was still pale, he wasn't sickly looking anymore. "I take it that Snape's new alterations to the Wolfsbane have helped?"
"Professor Snape," Remus corrected automatically. They stared at each other for a few heartbeats before Harry couldn't contain himself anymore and started giggling. Remus chuckled right along with him, and the tension that had enveloped them was broken.
Harry stood and wrapped Remus in a hug. "I'm glad to see you, Moony," he smiled. "It's been so long, and I've missed you." Remus assured Harry that he had missed him too, and had wanted to come see him several times, but Professor Dumbledore had kept him on several long missions that took up all his time and energy, so that when he had a small break, all he wanted to do was sleep.
"I take it that you'll be my new roommate?" Harry asked softly. At Remus' nod, he grinned widely. "I can't believe it! I wonder why Albus didn't tell me sooner?" Remus shot him a reprimanding look, and Harry smirked. "Don't worry about it, Pro--Remus," he corrected himself. "Albus gave me permission to use his first name in private company."
At that moment, the old coot decided to make his presence known. Judging by the twinkle in his eye, he was thrilled to see the two getting along so well. In truth, he had expected the blame to fly, although Harry would likely be the one to suffer the most for it.
"Ah, Harry, I see you've found your new roommate. I trust that you agree to this arrangement?" Harry rolled his eyes at Albus' playacting—he really didn't have a choice either way, and he knew it—but nodded nonetheless. The Headmaster clapped his hands together. "Good, good. In that case, I'll let you two get to know each other a little better while I mingle. The graduation and banquet start in half an hour."
With those parting words, Albus wandered off again, talking to students and parents every once in a while, his eccentric robes glittering oddly now and then when the lights caught the tiny flying snitches at a good angle. Harry and Remus just watched him in amusement.
Harry shook his head, laughing, "Don't get me wrong, I love that old man, but he's completely cracked." Remus obviously agreed with him, since his reprimanding glance was only half-hearted at best.
The two men shared a comfortable silence for the next half hour, knowing that they would have time after the celebration to discuss the serious stuff. For now, they'd just enjoy their time together, knowing that even if everybody else was gone, they still had each other.
As Dumbledore moved up towards the podium, the room fell silent, the students finding their seats. The tables had been rearranged so that they formed two rows. The former Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables had been combined for the students to sit at, sitting in alphabetical order rather than by House. The Slytherin and Ravenclaw tables were for the proud parents to sit at.
"Welcome to Hogwarts! Tonight, as I'm sure you all know, is a very special night indeed. A milestone for these students. This very moment, those young wizards and witches you see before you have completed seven years of schooling and become fully qualified members of the wizarding community. As we move forward this evening, please remember the years you have spent here, and the lessons learned during that time. As we walk into the future, let us walk with our heads held high, with pride in our accomplishments and determination in our gait."
Dumbledore's opening speech continued along these lines for a few more minutes, until he wrapped it up, imparting one last grain of wisdom. "No matter what we choose to do in the future, let us do it knowing that we believe fully in what we stand for."
The clapping was thunderous, and the Headmaster bowed before moving a few steps to his left so that the four Heads of House could come up beside him. One by one, the students' names were called, as they stood and moved onto the raised platform to receive their diplomas, awards, and any extra honors that may have been bestowed upon them.
Gryffindor Quidditch players got an additional trophy for holding the Quidditch Cup for all seven years. Hermione won an award for highest grades in her class, and Ron won a trophy for 'Services to the School'. Of course, those services mostly involved keeping Harry Potter sane and alive, but nobody was stupid enough to actually point that out.
When Harry Potter's name was called, the room fell silent. The teenager glided smoothly up the steps and onto the podium, remaining composed and confident as he accepted his diploma from the Headmaster, as well as a certificate from his Head of House for being the third highest in his class, which surprised everybody except for Harry and his friends. After all, in his sixth and seventh years, Harry's scores had rivaled Hermione's, and his grades hadn't been poor before that, although you'd never know if you talked to Snape. Harry was just grateful to not be receiving an award for being the Boy-Who-Lived. That would've just ruined his whole evening.
After the awards had been given, food appeared on the tables, and the students and parents were left to mingle as they ate. The Slytherins and Ravenclaws moved over to the parents' table, while the parents of Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs moved over towards the student table. As Remus sat beside Harry, the emerald-eyed teen winked at his two best friends, who relaxed and grinned back at him.
At Remus' curious stare, Harry explained. "They didn't know that we had already spoken before now, and weren't sure how we'd react to each other. I was just letting them know that everything's all right." Remus nodded and smiled warmly at him. Harry searched his face intently for any remaining signs of anger or blame, but could find only pride and sincerity. He relaxed and turned to his food, satisfied that Remus didn't blame him for Sirius' death, and that he truly cared for Harry, even if they hadn't spoken in years.
Harry relaxed for the rest of the meal, chatting with his classmates and with Remus, although they both avoided talking about where they'd be living, or mentioning anything that could be linked back to the Order. Remus' story was that Dumbledore had sent him a letter informing him of Harry's graduation, and since he was close to Hogwarts anyhow, he decided to drop by and say hello. After all, Harry needed some family with him during this special occasion, even if that family happened to be a werewolf.
Near the end of dinner, Harry was talking to Remus about the NEWTs he had just finished taking when he noticed the Weasley twins slip something into the man's drink. Fred and George caught him looking and winked, and Harry held back a grin. He didn't recognize the small pill that had been dropped into the drink where it disintegrated, but that didn't matter. The twins might be pranksters, but they weren't cruel. They wouldn't do anything that would hurt Remus.
A few moments later, Remus sipped the tainted pumpkin juice, and the three young wizards watched with bated breath to see what would happen. The tawny-haired wizard noticed them watching a few seconds too late, and his eyes widened as he seemed to disappear.
Harry, used to this sort of thing from the Weasley twins, glanced down, grinning. Then he blinked and looked again. His face broke out into a bright smile as he reached down and picked up the small bundle of fur. "How long does this last?" he asked Fred delightedly, cuddling the wolf pup to his chest.
"We aren't sure," Fred replied. George nodded his head in agreement, and Harry chuckled. Since the twins weren't worried—they looked rather smug, truth be told—Harry figured that the product had done what it was supposed to, and now it was just up to the timing. Of course, since it was apparently their first trial with the newest prank, it probably wouldn't wear off for a while yet.
By now, of course, the other students had noticed the small cuddly wolf cub cradled protectively against Harry's chest. Squeals promptly rose up from the girls, and laughter from the boys, as they reached for the trembling pup. In response, Harry held him even tighter and shook his head. "It's one of the twins' newest pranks. I'm not letting you have him, not knowing when he'll return to normal."
After that, the grasping hands died down, but Harry was still getting jealous glares. Chuckling, he loosened his grip minutely on the small pup, holding him firmly under his front paws and lifting him so that they were eye to eye. "Hey there, Moony. I must admit, you're rather adorable like this, you know." It was true; the tiny wolf cub sported a shiny sable coat that rubbed like velvet along Harry's skin. It was a rather pleasant feeling, overall.
The wolf growled at him, but Harry just smiled warmly and brought him closer in a hug. "I rather think I like you like this. Besides, you should be thanking me, Moony. After all, how embarrassing would it be for you, a former professor, to revert back to human while sitting on one of the girls' lap?"
The miniature Moony whimpered lightly at this and tucked his tiny head firmly under Harry's chin, snuggling close to him. Moony yawned, flashing tiny little teeth, before closing his eyes and settling down. Coos of adoration swept the table as the other students watched the pup's actions and noticed how protective Harry was of his little charge.
Glancing up at the Head Table, Harry caught Albus' twinkling gaze. The old mage nodded to him in acknowledgment and rose to his feet. "Now that we have all filled our tummies," he started, and Harry stifled at laugh at the childish term, "let us dance and enjoy ourselves. Miss Granger? Mister Clingamer? If you would be so kind as to lead us," he gestured for them to move forward.
Harry gave Hermione an encouraging wink and thumbs-up as she walked past. Ron just grinned at her, his eyes sparkling. It wasn't often that one got to see an embarrassed Hermione.
Harry and Ron watched in contentment as Hermione moved gracefully with M-whatshisname around the dance floor. Harry glanced down at the small wolf cub that had settled in his lap, his head tucked under tiny paws and dozing contentedly. Knowing the twins and their test products, this would likely last well into the night. Hopefully, Dumbledore would get them where they were supposed to be before the night ended, as Remus likely wouldn't be able to.
As Hermione's dance with the Head Boy ended, the music started up again. This time, Ron got up and took Hermione's hand, leading her back onto the dance floor. He had finally grown into his body, and after some casual dance lessons from Harry, who was about as tall and slender as Hermione, he moved smoothly across the floor.
Harry was content to watch the happy couples dancing, sometimes slowly together, and sometimes doing fast-paced twirling and writhing when the beat picked up. Holding onto Moony, Harry glanced to his right as the Headmaster approached. "Albus," he greeted cordially, and the older man smiled down at him.
"I see the Weasley twins have provided you with an adorable companion for the night," he murmured, reaching down to scratch behind Moony's ears, which caused the wolf to whuff in contentment and nuzzle into the aged hand. "Adorable, indeed," was his verdict. Standing, he looked at Harry. "I know it's a bit early, but perhaps you'd like to leave now, my boy?" he offered, and Harry smiled gratefully. He knew that if he waited until tomorrow, the newspapers would be all over him. Besides, he had already said his good-byes to those who were important to him, since he hadn't known exactly when he was to leave.
Standing, Harry followed the Headmaster to his office. Turning to the right, Albus moved through a door that hadn't been there moments earlier. Following him through it, Harry found himself in front of a large fireplace—Albus' private floo.
"I wish you all the happiness in the world, Harry. I expect that I'll see you soon, as I'll be dropping by for a visit. And, of course, you'll be here at Hogwarts quite a bit over the next few months." Harry just nodded silently, allowing the older wizard to hug him tightly, the wolf cub safe in his arms.
Stepping back, Albus gestured for Harry to take the floo powder. Glancing into the opaque jar, the teenaged wizard laughed—the powder was a brilliant purple, with sparkles of gold shimmering throughout, moving occasionally to look like shooting stars. Trust Albus to have eccentric floo powder.
Still grinning, Harry thanked his mentor one last time before following his instructions and throwing a pinch of powder into the flames, which turned into a brilliant riot of colors that nearly blinded him. "Flame Grove!" he called out, and then disappeared in a prism burst of fire.
Tumbling out of the fireplace at his destination, Harry held the wolf cub protectively cuddled against his chest before glancing around cautiously. Moony let out a small yip and wagged his tail—which in turn caused his entire body to wriggle—indicating that they had indeed arrived where they were supposed to.
"Hmmm….I wonder why it's called Flame Grove?" Harry mused, staring out the window of the cottage to take in his surroundings. Moony barked at him again, and Harry smiled down at him. "Yes, well, I suppose you probably know, don't you? You can explain it to me after you've turned back. For now, though, let's get ready for bed, shall we? I'm exhausted."
Quickly, he took a tour of the small cottage, noting the location of the bathroom, the master bedroom, guest room, kitchen, and the sitting room. Wandering back to his room, Harry stretched languidly, deciding to keep Moony with him tonight. The man could always leave after he had reverted back to human form.
Deciding to forgo a shower tonight, Harry used a thorough cleaning charm that would last until morning. Stripping out of his graduation outfit, Harry slipped under the covers in only his boxers, the young wolf cub tucked tightly against his chest. "Sorry, Moony," he whispered. "I know this might be a bit embarrassing for you, but I'm afraid that you'll get lost in that big bed of yours. Please, feel free to leave once the prank wears off."
Moony licked his face in acquiescence and Harry smiled, stroking softly along the wolf's pelt and eliciting a near-purr in response. "G'night, Moony," he murmured sleepily, drifting off, the wolf cub burrowing tighter into his chest.