"Harry, could you please stay after class?"
Professor Lupin stood next to Harry's desk as the class packed up and left. They had been learning about Hinkypunks that day, and the tank sat in the centre of Lupin's desk next to a copy of the day's newspaper and Lupin's class notes.
"In my office," Lupin said rather abruptly. Harry bit the inside of his lip and followed. He thought he knew what this might be about.
Lupin fixed them both tea, as was their custom, and Harry perched nervously in his usual chair. Lupin had brought the newspaper with him into his office, and it sat in the middle of the desk.
Calmly, Lupin set Harry's tea cup down in front of him and took his own seat. He pushed the newspaper toward Harry, who opened it to see the familiar headline. "Boy-Who-Lived Claims Convicted Criminal Was Never Convicted!!" Rita had decided during their first meeting that this headline had the most merit and had run with it.
"Harry," Lupin said, face impassive. "Could you please explain this?"
"It's true, sir. The Ministry -"
"I read the article, Harry." Lupin's voice was pained now, his gaze intent on Harry. "What did you intend to accomplish with this?"
Harry knew he was on shaky ground. Professor Lupin never mentioned Black. He went out of his way to avoid discussing the man, and now Harry had gone and thrown it in his face.
"Sir, I...what if it's true? What if he's innocent?"
Lupin closed his eyes. "Just because someone didn't get a trial doesn't mean they didn't commit the crime."
"But...it's still not right, is it?"
"I'll ask you again," Lupin said, his voice shaking slightly. "What did you hope to accomplish with this?"
Harry forced himself to not fidget. All his Slytherin motivations seemed heartless when faced with Professor Lupin's obvious distress and anger. "I want this to end, sir," he said softly.
"Innocent or not, if he's given a trial this will end."
"You have forced yourself into the middle of this situation, Harry," Lupin informed him. "What will you do if he is not innocent? If he breaks into Hogwarts again, if Dumbledore removes the Dementors from the grounds as you suggested? If he isn't innocent, your offer of a trial won't mean much to him. He didn't find you last time, but with this article it's like you're waving a flag and handing him directions!"
Harry flinched minutely. "But professor, what if he is innocent?"
Lupin breathed deeply for a minute before answering. "Harry, I have told you many stories about the four of us at Hogwarts, have I not?"
Harry nodded, and when it didn't look like Lupin was going to look up, he said, "Yes, you have."
"More than anyone, I want him to be innocent." Lupin finally met Harry's gaze, and Harry looked away at the pain he saw. "But Harry, you're a Slytherin. One thing I should think you would understand is that trust should never be given where it is not deserved."
"A toast, to Rita Skeeter," Draco declared, raising his mug of butterbeer. The rest of the group, made up of Harry's Slytherin friends and Hermione, followed suit, though Harry was slightly less enthusiastic than the rest. They were in the kitchens, having all met up directly after the last class of the day to celebrate.
"A toast to Hermione," Blaise said, "For being the sleuth that started it all."
Hermione smiled and nodded her head to all the raised glasses.
"A toast to the Ministry," she said, and when the rest of the group stared at her incredulously, she added, "The Archives Department is useful, anyway."
There was general laughter as everyone clinked their glasses together and drank.
"Are you all right, Harry?" Pansy asked, noticing his troubled expression. Harry nodded and looked down at his mug.
"I talked to Lupin after class today," he admitted. "He's not at all happy with me. He thinks we made a mistake."
Draco frowned. "What do you mean?"
Harry sighed and took a sip of his drink. "He doesn't think this'll make Black leave Hogwarts at all. He thinks it's going to encourage Black to come back here again, and he told me not to get my hopes up that he might be innocent."
The rest of them sat quietly for a moment, stumped. "Doesn't he want Black to have a trial?" Hermione asked finally. "Even if he did it, he deserves a trial."
"I know, I said that," Harry agreed. "But he thinks Black won't bother with a trial unless he's innocent."
"I suppose that makes sense," Pansy admitted. "He might not want to take the risk of being sent back to Azkaban if he knows he did it. I suppose we were just hoping he was Gryffindor enough to do it anyway."
Harry twisted the corner of his mouth upward. "Where are Dudley and Neville?"
Hermione shrugged. "They were trying to convince Ron to come along when I left. He's stopped blaming me for his rat, but he won't admit it. Does Lupin really think Black will think like that?"
"Lupin was best friends with him for years, Hermione," Harry said. "He'd know better than we would, anyway."
"Would the Great Harry Potter like another butterbeer?"
Harry restrained himself from rolling his eyes and looked down at the house elf standing by the table. "No thank you, Dobby, I'm fine."
Dobby bowed. "Would any of the Great Harry Potter's friends like a butterbeer?"
"Hey, Dobby, remember me?" Draco asked from across the table, exasperated. "You know, your actual master? Why don't you get me another butterbeer?"
Dobby bowed to Harry again and trotted over to Draco. "Would Master Draco like a butterbeer?"
Draco rolled his eyes and said, "Yes, Dobby, I would like a butterbeer."
"Draco, you're not half done with the one you've got," Pansy pointed out, smirking. Draco huffed at her.
"That's hardly the point. Harry's stealing my house elf and I won't have it."
"I'm not stealing him!" Harry said, a touch indignant. "I don't need a house elf!"
"Yeah, it's not Potter's fault!"
"He's just got a certain-"
The door to the kitchens had opened, revealing Neville, Dudley and Ron, plus Ron's twin brothers. It had been the twins that had spoken, grinning.
"Though a house elf isn't really an animal," the one said thoughtfully, as they all pulled up chairs and sat.
"'House elf magnetism'..." The twins contemplated it.
"Doesn't sound quite right," one decided. "Sounds-"
"Perverted, if you ask us," said the other, whom Harry decided to arbitrarily call Fred.
"Hi guys," Neville said, sitting with Dudley next to Harry. Harry greeted them with a smile, ignoring Hermione's slightly scandalized response to the twins.
"Celebrating the article then?" Ron asked, avoiding Hermione's gaze. "Caused a bit of an uproar this morning at breakfast."
"It was rather awe-inspiring," George agreed.
"Most of the post we got looked to be on Harry's side," Blaise said smugly. "It doesn't matter if Black is innocent at this point. People are furious because Harry told them to be. The Ministry is going to have a lot on its plate because of us."
"What about the dementors?" Neville asked. Pansy smirked.
"They'll be gone by the end of the week."
The twins whistled. "Impressive," Fred said.
"That'll be nice," George agreed. "It's difficult to get anything done with those-"
"-things around. We've had to put off several shenanigans-"
"-and more than half of our tomfoolery."
"It's even put a damper on our high-jinks!"
"And you know how much we love those."
"Filch is going crazy wondering when we'll strike next." This was said with immense satisfaction.
"Almost makes it worth it..."
"Speaking of," Harry interrupted, remembering suddenly. "I'm going to have tea with Filch tomorrow."
The twins abruptly stopped talking and stared at him.
"Fraternizing with the enemy are you?" George asked curiously, accepting the butterbeer Dobby offered him.
Harry shrugged. "According to Lupin, he confiscated something that belonged to my father when he went to school here. Filch and I are friendly enough that he'll leave me alone in his office without thinking twice. I think I can get it back."
"What is it?" Everyone was looking at Harry with interest. Apparently he hadn't mentioned the Map to any of his friends yet.
"It's a map of Hogwarts," Harry explained. "Professor Lupin told me about it. He and my dad and a couple of their friends all made it in their sixth year, it shows all the secret passages and everything."
"That sounds useful," Pansy said thoughtfully. "Especially if you ever need to make a quick escape, with Black around and all."
"That's another thing," Harry explained animatedly. "It shows where everyone is in the castle. And according to Lupin, it can see through disguises and Invisibility Cloaks and everything."
There was a clunk as the twins dropped their mugs, spilling liquid all over the table.
They sat for a moment, goggling at Harry as butterbeer dripped off the table and into their laps. Dobby and two other house elves manoeuvred around them anxiously, cleaning it up as Draco jumped out of his seat and complained loudly about the new mess on his robes.
All three elves squealed with surprise when both twins shot up out of their chairs in the same moment and descended upon Harry, grinning widely and trading turns at speaking rapidly.
"Harry, dear boy, good friend-"
"-you never told us!"
"How could you keep something so important-"
"-from us old boy?"
"You're a son of a Marauder-"
"-A son of a Marauder!"
Neville and Blaise, who were sitting next to Harry, were unceremoniously dumped from their seats as Fred and George took their places, scooting closer to Harry and beaming at him.
"Which was your father then?"
Harry smiled a little. "James."
"No, no!" Fred said, exasperated. "Which was he?"
"Or was he Padfoot or Prongs? Come on Harry!"
Harry blinked. Lupin had mentioned nicknames, but hadn't elaborated much.
"I know that Professor Lupin was Moony," he offered. The twins shot up from their chairs excitedly.
"Professor Lupin was Moony!" crowed one of the twins. They had begun pacing, and as they were wearing identical uniforms, Harry had lost track of his naming convention. He decided that this one was George, and moved on. "That old dog!"
"Trying to scold us for the Goo Incident when he was one of the masterminds behind the Gouda Catastrophe of '77!"
Harry blinked. "He never mentioned that one." Fred glanced at him, grinning.
"Then we'll just have to tell you all about it," he said promptly, taking his pilfered seat again. The other one followed suit and leaned forward, eyes bright.
"It began at lunch one drowsy May afternoon," he began, before Harry interrupted him.
"Wait, how do you know?" Harry asked. The twins grinned.
"Our oldest brother, Bill, went to Hogwarts a couple years after the Marauders," Fred explained. "He went to school with people who went to school with them, and he heard all the stories."
"They were bedtimes stories for us when Bill came home for holidays," George said, grinning. "The Marauders are legendary rulebreakers, after all. Bill thought we'd enjoy them."
Harry smiled as Ron snorted and spoke up. "I remember, you tried to recreate the cheese thing in Mum's kitchen once." He glanced at Harry. "They were in trouble for three months after that. I don't even know how they got hold of Mum's wand in the first place."
"Sticky fingers, ickle Ronnie," George said with a sneaky grin. "She should have known better by then to give one of us a hug when she couldn't see the other."
"I used to do something similar to my mother," Pansy said, smirking. "Only she was usually so shocked that I wanted a hug that I didn't need an accomplice."
"My mother always used to leave her wand lying around when I was little," Draco said thoughtfully, having been cleaned up by Dobby. "I think she did it on purpose, actually. I went through a phase where I loved the colour blue, and every time I stole her wand I turned everything in the manor turquoise, including my father. She always hid me in the kitchens afterward so I wouldn't get in trouble."
"So what happened at lunch?" Harry asked, still grinning at the image of a turquoise Lucius Malfoy. The twins, who had been laughing themselves sick at the idea, settled down and got back to the story at Harry's question.
"Well, there was Gouda on the menu," they began. "And Wormtail loved that type of cheese, apparently. So naturally they needed more...."
Dinner came and went in the kitchens as the twins regaled them all with stories of Harry's father and his friends. By the time they left, Harry had heard about the Gouda Catastrophe of '77, which involved, obviously, a lot of Gouda, the Great Hall, and several mice. He had also heard about the time when they coated McGonagall's desk with catnip, among other things. The twins pulled him aside one last time out in the corridor, and shooed the rest of the group away. Dudley, Neville and Ron left with waves and grins, though Draco, Pansy and Blaise waited for Harry's nod before going. Hermione stayed for a moment to reassure Harry that Lupin would get past his upset and squeezed his hand before leaving Harry alone with the twins.
"We were thinking," George said, and the twins had a short staring contest before Fred continued.
"We have something of yours," he said. "And we want to pass it on to you."
"We have faith that you'll keep the oath of the Marauders," George added.
"The oath?" Harry asked, confused. The twins shook their heads at him in unison.
"Harry, Harry, Harry."
"You have so much to learn about your legacy."
"That's what we're for, I suppose." Fred reached into his pocket and pulled out a thick sheaf of paper. "And to think it didn't even occur to us that there might be a next generation of Marauders."
"I'm the only one," Harry said, eyeing the parchment with interest. "Is that what I think it is?"
"Yes it is," George said proudly. "The Marauders' Map." Fred presented it to him with a flourish and a bow.
"It's yours, mate. Never forget the oath."
Harry nodded, eyes glued to the parchment. "Yes, but what's the oath?"
The twins gave him a secret smile. Fred glanced around the silent corridor, checking for eavesdroppers, before joining his twin in placing his wand tip to the parchment and reciting in a low voice, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
The Map opened up new doors for Harry that he had never even dreamed of. After thanking the twins profusely and memorizing a few more tips about the Map, he made his way down to the dungeons, avidly watching himself move on the Map. When he got to the blank wall that was the entrance to the Slytherin common room, he grinned to see that it was marked off as 'Snake Territory'. Pansy, Draco and Blaise were all waiting for him in the common room, though Harry found to his (slightly guilty) satisfaction that the Maruaders had never really delved further into Slytherin territory than the common room; the delineations of the dormitories were vague, though that didn't stop the Map from identifying anyone. His other three roommates were grouped in an area that was almost certainly Harry's dormitory. Harry's eyes trailed back to the entrance and noted that Adrian Pucey was approaching. Harry wiped the Map clean with the incantation the twins had told him, before placing it very carefully in his pocket and going inside.
"What did they want, Harry?" Blaise asked when he neared their grouping of chairs.
"They had the Map, didn't they?" Draco asked, watching Harry expectantly. "Say that they had the Map, and say they gave it to you. I've got a bet going with Pansy."
"I think they know where the Map is, or want to help you steal it from Filch," Pansy said, lounging in her chair.
Harry glanced around at the other students in the common room and said, "Theo, Vince and Greg are all in the dorm, but your roomates are gone, Pansy. Can we go to your room to talk about this?"
Blaise laughed and Draco grinned smugly at Pansy, who swatted Harry on the arm.
"That is incredibly creepy, you know," she said matter-of-factly, and stood up "Lets go. You three had better have your wits about you on the way, though. There are certain...protections on our part of the dungeons against the likes of you."
Draco scoffed. "What I don't understand is why we don't get the same protection from nymphomanical females like yourself."
Pansy stepped into the hallway of the girls dorm and gave him a level look. "Just for that, you're not getting any forewarnings. And Slytherin must have known boys like you were going to end up in his house. Merlin knows you need all the help you can get, Draco."
Blaise and Harry laughed at Draco, hovering outside the door that separated the girl's hallway from the common room.
"Have fun," Pansy said, waggling her fingers at them as she walked safely down the hall and stepped through the third door on the right.
"Alright, Harry, you go first," Blaise said, pushing at Harry's arm. Harry eyed him incredulously.
"What do you take me for?" he asked. "I vote we send Draco first."
Draco made a sound of betrayal and glared at Harry.
"I second that," Blaise added quickly. He grinned at Draco when the glare was turned on him. "I'm certainly not going first."
Draco changed tactics and fixed Harry with a helpless expression that involved big eyes and a trembling lower lip. Harry furrowed his brow and began to reconsider, but Blaise stepped between them.
"Harry, don't fall for it," he warned, deliberately blocking Draco from view. "Beneath that puppy dog stare is a vicious, conniving bulldog. Always remember that."
Draco began protesting from behind Blaise's back. "I take offense to that, Blaise!"
"You were supposed to," Blaise shot over his shoulder, smirking. "You've been outvoted, Draco. Off you go."
Draco grumbled under his breath and Blaise finally stepped out Harry's view in time for Harry to see Draco take a deep breath and step through the doorway. He immediately yelped and dodged several flagstones that were aimed at his head. Harry crossed his fingers for Draco as he took several more careful steps.
"I feel like I should have a tethering line," Draco said conversationally. "You know, just in case."
"Just keep going," Blaise called cheerfully. "You'll get there eventually."
Draco took another step, and a mist appeared directly in front of him.
"I don't like the look of that," Harry called worriedly.
"I'm almost there," Draco announced. "I'm going to dive through it and try to land in her room. She left the door open."
"Because that's not an incredibly stupid idea," Blaise muttered. "Harry, do me a favour and never be as much of a Gryffindor as Draco."
"Draco, darling, what's taking you so long?" Pansy called innocently from the room. Draco took a deep breath and stepped forward.
"Draco, duck!" Harry yelled, and Draco dropped to the ground just as a blast of fire roasted the air at about chest level.
"Holy shit!" Draco yelled from the floor. "What was that?!"
"Just go, Draco!" Blaise urged, eyes wide. "Get to Pansy's room!"
Draco shifted into a crouching position and made a diving leap through the mist, landing with his body halfway through Pansy's door. There was a flash of metal and Draco scrambled out of the way just in time, missing the razor sharp blade that sliced a groove in the floor where his torso had just been.
Harry and Blaise stood stock still for a moment, staring at the doorway.
"Hey, Draco, I changed my mind," Harry called tentatively. "I think we could just go to our room and put up a silencing charm."
There was silence from Pansy's room.
"Good luck getting out, Draco," Pansy snickered eventually.