A/N: Throughout the rest of the story, any dialogue – where Harry is present and conscious – belongs to the goddess, JKR. I can't compete with that brilliance – so yes, I am using her dialogue where needed as it is integral to the story being told. However, this is always from Crookshanks POV – so this will be his take on the happenings. I also do not own anything of this story - I'm only playing with the characters. She wrote it first - I'm just writing from a different angle.
Also, I need to always acknowledge my beta group - BeST - we are the best.
ANNEPENDRAGON: Thank you, and no - Sirius will never explain. That is a secret between him and Pye. If Sirius had been around when Harry found Lily's letter... maybe then. But this is a secret that will go to the grave - or rather, through the veil.
In addition, I want to thank everyone who has read this story, and hot cocoa to everyone who sent reviews; they are highly appreciated. Enjoy the end. And go ahead and read my other stories - more will be posted soon. This is the end of Crookshanks story - as far as I can tell.
Sirius hid in the little alcove behind the door right before it opened to reveal the two teens approaching with their wands out. Ron spluttered out an explanation but it wasn't fast enough as Sirius Expelliarmus-ed their wands to his hands.
Crooks shook his head to himself as he heard Sirius praise Harry for coming to the aid of his friend. Harry would not take his statement the way he intended it, and sure enough the boy looked like he was ready to tear Sirius from limb to limb. Ron attempted to rise from the floor in defense of his best friend, but Sirius urged him back down to get off of his leg; he didn't need to injure it any further.
"You'll have to kill all three of us!" the idiotic Gryffindor stated from his position on the dusty wood floor. Sirius looked at him with pity.
"There'll be only one murder here tonight," Sirius said, savouring the thought of finally killing the traitorous rodent.
"Why's that? Didn't care last time, did you? Didn't mind slaughtering all those muggles to get at Pettigrew…" Harry taunted. Sirius snapped his attention to his godson at that point, as did Crookshanks. The kid was definitely going off half-cocked. His voice rose as he argued with Sirius and then Hermione, ending in a shouted, "HE KILLED MY MUM AND DAD!"
In the next instant Harry broke free of his friend's restraining hands and lunged at Sirius, forcing his wand hand to point away from the teens, and then his right fist came around and slammed into Sirius's jaw, stunning him to fall back against the wall while Harry waded in, further hitting the man he mistakenly thought had ruined his life, tears streaming down his face in anger and frustration. Sirius' anger was quickly getting the best of him as well as he suffered Harry's tantrum and in a quick moment had gotten a hand around Harry's neck, choking him.
Crookshanks sprang off the bed and paced closer to the fight, wincing as Hermione's foot connected with Sirius' side and Ron threw himself on the convicts outstretched wand hand, causing the three wands to roll free. Harry attempted to make a grab for his wand but Crookshanks leapt onto his arm, all claws extended. He couldn't let Harry get hold of a wand – it would mean disaster for them all!
When Harry shook the cat off of his arm, Crooks ran for the wand. He would have had it, if Harry hadn't aimed a kick to his mid-section, forcing him to leap away with a snarl. Harry grabbed his wand and swung it around to aim point-blank at Sirius who was still spread-eagled on the floor.
"You killed my parents," Harry answered when Sirius asked if Harry was going to kill him.
"I don't deny it. But if you knew the whole story…" Sirius began, putting his hands up in a placating manner.
"You sold them to Voldemort, that's all I need to know," the teen stated flatly.
"You've got to listen to me," Sirius pleaded. "You'll regret it if you don't. … You don't understand…"
Crookshanks shook himself as he watched the confrontation between the two. Ron and Hermione hadn't moved from where they had landed during the fight, staring at their friend as he faced down his godfather.
"… You did that, …" he was murmuring accusatorily. "You did it."
Crookshanks decided something had to be done before Harry made a huge mistake. He ran across the room and jumped onto Sirius' chest, digging in his claws to show he wasn't moving, and that he considered Sirius a good friend and a good person. When Sirius told him to get off, he just turned to his friend with a look of I don't think so! Work with me on this, he pleaded with his eyes, which he then turned to stare down Harry.
Harry stared at him, slowly struggling internally with the decision as to whether or not he should kill both of them right there. The moments dragged on as he slowly raised his wand, aiming it at the spot under Crookshanks body: Sirius' heart. No one spoke, and the only sounds were Ron's laboured breathing.
Those were the only sounds, until they could hear someone running up the stairs. Hermione cried out where they were and that Sirius was there as well and the footsteps sped up. Sirius attempted to dislodge Crooks, but Harry threatened with his wand again and before he could let off any curse, the door crashed open revealing a panting Professor Lupin. Before anyone could move, the teacher had disarmed his student and had moved to stand near the two of them.
"Where is he, Sirius?" he panted.
Sirius slowly pointed at Ron's chest and Crookshanks followed the path with his eyes, growling as he noted that the squirming and squealing in the pocket were rising to a fever pitch.
"But why…" the professor began speaking, as if to himself as he looked between Sirius and Ron. "…unless he was the one… unless you switched… without telling me?" Sirius nodded as his past colleague came to the correct conclusion.
Harry queried his professor, but stopped mid-sentence with his jaw hanging down as he watched Lupin pull Sirius up from the floor, causing the Kneazle to fall to the floor with a thump, and embrace him as a long lost brother.
All hell broke loose as Hermione whirled on her professor, apparently coming to some conclusion that Remus tried to dissuade her of.
Hermione stamped her foot in anger as she turned to Harry. "NO! Harry don't trust him, he's been helping Black get into the castle, he wants you dead too – he's a werewolf!" she accused as she stared back at Lupin.
"Only one out of three, I'm afraid," he gently pointed out to her. "I have not been helping Sirius get into the castle, and I certainly don't want Harry dead… but I won't deny I am a werewolf."
Ron backed away, or at least tried to and failed, which caught Remus' attention. But when he turned to help, Ron spat out, "Get away from me, werewolf!"
Remus appeared saddened by his student's reaction, but he turned back to Hermione instead, quizzing her on when she had figured it out, and praising her on her cleverness at figuring out what none of the other children had deduced after being assigned Snape's essay on werewolves at the beginning of the year.
Sirius finally moved wearily over to the bed as Harry attempted to shout down his professor again. Crookshanks landed beside him and crawled into his friend's lap, purring madly. He could feel Paddy's contentment at all of the truth finally clearing the air, as he petted the Kneazle on his lap; and soon the ultimate truth would be revealed to Harry and Remus. They watched as Remus returned the wands to the children and began the explanation to Harry of what Remus had seen on the map that evening.
"I couldn't believe my eyes," Remus said while pacing in front of the teens. "I thought the map must be malfunctioning. How could he be with you? And then I saw another dot, moving fast toward you, labelled Sirius Black … I saw him collide with you; I watched as he pulled two of you into the Whomping Willow…"
"One of us!" Ron protested.
"No, Ron, two of you." He stopped in front of Ron. "Do you think I could have a look at the rat?" he asked politely.
Ron eyed him warily, but eventually pulled Scabbers from his pocket. Crookshanks stood up from his spot on Sirius' lap, hissing as the rat was brought to light.
"What's my rat got to do with anything?" Ron said, his fright showing through, still not handing over his pet quite yet.
"That's not a rat," Sirius pointed out helpfully.
"…of course he's a rat!" Ron protested, valiantly holding onto the wriggling rodent.
"No, he's not. He's a wizard," Lupin stated.
"An Animagus by the name of Peter Pettigrew," spat Sirius.
Once again, after a beat of time for the children to take in this information, voices raised in incredulity at this statement.
"Peter Pettigrew's dead!" Harry pointed out. "He killed him twelve years ago!" he shoved a finger in Sirius' direction where he sat on the bed.
"I meant to," Sirius growled, "but little Peter got the better of me… not this time, though!" He made a grab for Scabbers, knocking Crookshanks off of his lap and landing on Ron's bad leg, causing him to howl in pain as he attempted to hold Scabbers out of the way of the maniac.
Lupin grabbed his friend, chastising him and reminding him that he couldn't kill Peter yet, without explaining to Harry. Sirius chomped at the bit, wanting to kill the rodent now, but Lupin pleaded with him, holding his thrashing friend away from the squealing rat.
"They've – got – a – right – to – know – everything!" the teacher said, clearly out of breath from restraining his still powerful friend. "Ron's kept him as a pet! There are some parts of it even I don't understand," he said to his friend's face. "You owe Harry the truth, Sirius!"
Ron still tried to insist that his rat was just a rat, and Harry chimed in with the fact that there were witnesses to the fight between Sirius and Peter all those years ago. Hermione tried to state that if Peter were an Animagus, he would have been in the registry.
Sirius was clearly growing impatient. He wanted this over with now, but Lupin insisted that the story be told. So, the Animagus sat back down on the bed, with Crookshanks settling in beside him as Lupin told the tale of how the marauders had learned to become Animagi to accompany him during his transformations and make it easier for him. Sirius carolled in periodically with salient points.
Crookshanks narrowed his eyes towards the door at one point during the tale, when the door creaked ominously and a scent of potions came drifting towards his nose. Well, if someone was nearby, they would reveal themselves soon enough. He kept one eye on the doorway, and focused the rest of his attention on the story.
Lupin explained all the way to their fifth year when Sirius pulled the trick on Snape, nearly getting him killed by exposing him to Remus in werewolf form, when Professor Snape revealed himself from under the invisibility cloak Harry had left near the tree, causing everyone to groan in exasperation.
"Two more for Azkaban tonight," he declared. And in the next moment he had Lupin encased in cords that had sprung from his wand. Crookshanks hissed from the bed as Sirius attempted to spring to his friend's rescue, only to be brought up short by Snape's black wand pointing in his face.
"Give me a reason. Give me a reason to do it, and I swear I will," the dark man whispered menacingly.
"Professor Snape – it – it wouldn't hurt to hear what they've got to say, w – would it?" Hermione tried. But he squashed her down with a glare and pointed out they were out of bounds as it was, she didn't need to make it worse. Then he turned back to Sirius.
"Vengeance is very sweet. How I hoped I would be the one to catch you…" His voice dripped with the venom he felt for the man standing in front of him. And when Sirius suggested he would go quietly, as long as they took the rat to the castle as well, Snape dismissed that notion immediately.
"All I have to do is call the dementors once we get out of the Willow. They'll be pleased to see you, Black… pleased enough to give you a little kiss, I daresay…" His evil grin on top of this suggestion was enough to drain all colour from Sirius' face. Crookshanks hopped off the bed and went to stand behind his friend, leaning against his shins and lending him support. He could feel Paddy's fear permeating the room.
They stood that way as Snape made to hustle everyone out of the room, but Harry was having none of that. He wanted an explanation as to why Remus and Sirius insisted the rat was Peter Pettigrew and Snape was blocking this from happening. In a moment Harry had moved to block the exit from the room, incensing his teacher even further. Crooks leapt back on the bed to get a better view of the arguments.
"GET OUT OF THE WAY, POTTER!" Snape screamed. Crookshanks stared incredulously as the man lost all sense of propriety, moving his wand to point it at the teen, but three Expelliarmus spells bashed into the professor, knocking him off his feet and slamming him into the wall where he slid to the floor unconscious. His wand shot through the air and landed on the bed next to the Kneazle, who placed a paw over it to keep it safe.
As Hermione moaned quietly in the corner, "We attacked a teacher. … Oh, we're going to be in so much trouble!" Sirius untied Lupin and they attempted to convince Ron to let them have the rat, but Ron still wasn't convinced.
"Say Pettigrew could turn into a rat," the boy pointed out. "How's he," he indicated Sirius, "supposed to know which one he is after if he was locked up in Azkaban?" he said to the room in general, but looking at Sirius.
"You know, Sirius, that's a fair question. How did you find out where he was?" Lupin enquired, clearly intrigued by the answer to this as well.
Sirius pulled the old clipping from the previous years Prophet out of his robes that showed Ron in Egypt with the Rat perched on his shoulder, clearly missing a toe.
"Of course, so simple… so brilliant … he cut it off himself?" Lupin asked Sirius.
Sirius nodded. "Just before he transformed. When I cornered him, he yelled for the whole street to hear that I'd betrayed Lily and James. Then, before I could curse him, he blew apart the street with the wand behind his back, killed everyone within twenty feet of himself – and sped down into the sewer with the other rats…"
Crookshanks gave a low growl as he eyed the rat trembling in Ron's hands. He was looking forward to Wormy being exposed for who he was. His ears came forward, though, as he heard the boy accusing him of scaring the rat.
Sirius turned to his friend and petted him. Crookshanks leaned into the stroke, closing his eyes in contentment, and purring loudly. "Crookshanks you call him?... This cat isn't mad. He's the most intelligent of his kind I've ever met…" He gazed down at the Kneazle, praising him some more to the stunned room. Crookshanks basked in the glow of the acknowledgement of his brilliance.
"But Peter got wind of what was going on and ran for it…" Sirius was explaining to the students. "… Peter had left blood on the sheets… I suppose he bit himself… Well, faking his own death had worked once…"
Harry jumped on this, still convinced that Sirius was the one to blame for the broken charm on his home. Exasperated at the teens inability to listen to reason, Remus tried to explain that it was the other way around, but Harry didn't listen – letting his anger fuel his words and blind his reasoning.
"HE WAS THEIR SECRET-KEEPER! HE SAID SO BEFORE YOU TURNED UP. HE SAID HE KILLED THEM!"
Sirius was trembling and his voice broke as he explained to Harry. "… I as good as killed them. I persuaded Lily and James to change to Peter at the last moment, persuaded them to use him as a Secret-Keeper instead of me. … I'm to blame, I know it. …The night they died…" He choked as he explained that horrible night to his godson, telling him how he had found their bodies in the ruined house, and his sense of overwhelming guilt that he had been the one to convince them to use Wormtail in his place.
"Enough of this, there's one certain way to prove what really happened," Lupin stated quite firmly. "Ron, give me that rat."
Ron obeyed his teacher, albeit reluctantly, and handed the thrashing animal over to the professor. Sirius snatched Snape's wand from under Crookshanks paw, giving him another congratulatory pat, and then Sirius and Lupin levelled their wands on the squealing animal and after a count of three, let loose with the spell that forced the Animagus to reveal himself in his human form.
The children watched, stunned, as the rat quickly grew and transformed into a trembling little man, who looked all around him with rheumy eyes. Crookshanks reared back on the bed, bottlebrush tail puffed out, ears laid back against his skull, and the fiercest expression of hate on his face as he hissed and spat at the finally revealed traitor.
He wasn't much to look at – having lost a lot of weight since he had betrayed all his friends – he was dirty and balding, his clothes hanging off his withered frame, with a distinctly ratty look to his features. His Animagus form, and his marauder nickname, fitting him quite well.
Crookshanks settled himself back down on the bed, keeping an eye at all times on the man as he attempted to plead to Lupin and Sirius that he hadn't betrayed the Potters, petitioning to Harry and to Ron that he really was a good man. Hadn't he been a good pet? How could he be bad when he had lived in their dorm all this time and not done anything to Harry?
"You sold Lily and James to Voldemort," Sirius finally accused after watching the little man scramble across the floor from one person to another trying to gain their protection, and their pity, to no avail. "Do you deny it?"
Faced with the overwhelming evidence of his betrayal, Peter Pettigrew burst into tears, bawling his eyes at as he cowered on the floor.
"Sirius, Sirius, what could I have done? The Dark Lord… you have no idea… he has weapons you can't imagine… I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus and James. I never meant it to happen. … He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named forced me…"
"DON'T LIE! YOU'D BEEN PASSING INFORMATION TO HIM FOR A YEAR BEFORE LILY AND JAMES DIED! YOU WERE HIS SPY!" Sirius blasted his wrath into his former ally's face. Crooks cringed a bit at the evidence of his friend's anger, as did the children. Lupin, however, did not move from where he steadfastly stood with his wand held firmly on the coward.
"You don't understand! He would have killed me, Sirius!" the little man pleaded.
"THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED," bellowed Sirius, his face reddening in the rising moonlight filtering through the clapboards. "DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS. AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!"
But when Remus and Sirius would have killed their former friend, Harry stopped them. Crookshanks sank back in frustration from the expectant pose he had assumed when he thought he would finally get to see the rodent get his due.
"Harry," Sirius explained through clenched teeth, "this piece of vermin is the reason you have no parents. This cringing bit of filth would have seen you die too, without turning a hair. You heard him. His own stinking skin meant more to him than your whole family."
"I know. We'll take him up to the castle. We'll hand him over to the dementors. …He can go to Azkaban… but don't kill him," Harry stated, giving a disgusted look at the man on the dusty floor.
Crookshanks cringed as Peter grovelled at Harry's feet thanking him profusely, but was satisfied when Harry pulled away from the man's grabbing hands. The traitor wasn't worthy of touching his boy, not after all the trouble he had caused.
"I'm not doing this for you," Harry declared, "I'm doing it because – I don't reckon my dad would've wanted them to become killers – just for you."
Harry moved out of the way as Lupin used the same spell on Peter that Snape had just used on him moments before, trussing the traitor up like the pig he had become.
Sirius kept Snape's wand trained on Peter as Remus splinted Ron's broken leg and helped the boy up. Ron wanly gave his thanks and limped over to become one of the two guards attached to his former pet. Lupin joined him after levitating Snape's body, head lolling unconscious on his neck. Sirius then conjured some chains that linked Lupin and Ron to Peter.
Crookshanks, seeing that everyone was ready to go, jumped lightly off the bed and with his tail high in the air, like a majorette's baton, led the motley crew back down the creaking stairs and into the tunnel. He snickered to himself as he heard Professor Snape's head bump repeatedly into the knobbly ceiling, scattering dirt clods and hitting exposed roots as they moved their way slowly along the twisty path. He was going to have a truly nasty headache when he finally woke up!
Eventually they made their way to the exit through the Whomping Willow and Crookshanks opened the way, prancing delightedly out into the clean fresh air of the summer evening.
The group made their way slowly across the silvering grounds towards the castle, clouds scudding across the sky and casting dark flowing shadows across the parkland. A huge dark cloud finally pulled away from the moon, and its brilliant visage brightened up the landscape and caused Lupin to bring the group to a halt as he stared, wide-eyed and terrified at the one mistress who ruled his life absolutely.
Crookshanks, suddenly aware that something was wrong behind him, turned around and saw a frightful sight: Remus' whole body began to shake as Sirius pleaded with Harry and Hermione to run. As Lupin began to undergo the fearful and terrible transformation from man to werewolf, Crookshanks backed up, so frightened he didn't make a sound. Suddenly the werewolf finished his transformation and in a feat of inhuman strength, snarled and howled as he broke free from the shackles that had connected him to Peter with a thunderous snap of broken and twisted metal.
Sirius melted into his Animagus form and leapt from Harry's side to drag Remus away from the children by his neck. Everyone was watching the snarling animals that were locked jaw to jaw, ripping and tearing at each other as Remus smelled the fresh humans nearby, bloodlust coursing through his body urging him to turn them into new werewolves, or ravage their bodies until death – whichever happened first, and Sirius used all the strength in his huge canine body to wrestle his friend away from the innocents.
Thus, no one paid attention as Pettigrew made a bid for freedom. Crookshanks began to run back towards the frightened group, as Peter dived for Lupin's wand, forcing Ron to fall and Hermione screamed as she witnessed Peters escape. But before he could complete his leap for Peter's hand, the traitor had stunned Ron and then turned the wand on Crookshanks himself, grinning in self-satisfied vengeance as he stunned the Kneazle. Crooks snarled as the spell rushed towards him, and blackness took over as he fell to the ground in an unconscious heap of orange fur.
It was hours before Crooks awoke again. He discovered quite later that Snape had found him on the grounds when he had awoken after Lupin's change. Tucking him into the stretcher with Ron, he had gone to search for the remaining children and Sirius, discovering them by the lake when he saw the dementors forced away from the area by a powerful patronus charm.
Crookshanks awoke in the infirmary, stretched out next to his mistress who was sound asleep – the air whistling slightly as she breathed through her open mouth. He rolled over and assumed a seated position looking around at the two boys who were also sound asleep, snores periodically breaking the peaceful quiet of the early morning.
His rising apparently had signalled some alarm in the Medi-witches office as she came briskly out onto the ward, starched white apron and cap firmly in place, despite the early hour, just as he had begun his morning ablutions.
"Oh, it's you!" she whispered as she noticed him. "Well, I see you are suffering no ill effects from your escapades last night," she humpfed her way over to Hermione's bed, taking a wand reading as she approached.
"Yes, I can safely say you are completely recovered. Now, can I interest you in some breakfast? Perhaps a nice kipper and some cold water? Ah, that got your interest, didn't it," she said as his ears perked up at the offer and he stopped in mid-wash to eye her with pure feline adoration.
"Well, come along then, let's let these students get a little bit more sleep, shall we?" She chivvied him off the hospital bed and led him into her office where she conjured a plate, placed a bit of leftover fish onto it for him, then placed a cup on the floor, filling it with ice-cold water from her wand. He dug into the repast with relish, periodically licking bits of fish flesh off of his whiskers.
As the day progressed, the trio soon awoke and were able to leave the infirmary as soon as Madam Pomfrey determined that Ron's leg was healed. Crookshanks followed them back to the common room where he curled up on Hermione's lap and purred himself to sleep.
He was content; he had learned – from listening to the three of them talk amongst themselves – that Sirius had escaped capture by flying away on Buckbeak, whom Harry and Hermione had saved by using her timeturner. So, his friend had escaped – but so had the rat. That was the most unsatisfying bit of all.
Well, there was nothing for it; he would have to keep an eye out to make sure Wormtail never got back onto Hogwarts' grounds.
Crookshanks had suffered being put back into his wicker basket for the train ride back to London. He had let his displeasure be known by attempting to plant his feet outside the opening and refusing to move, but Hermione had just huffed in an annoyed way, picked him up and pushed him inside onto the jumper she had placed in there, quickly buckling the straps before he could push his way back out.
Hermione had let him loose as soon as the train had picked up speed, and they had settled into their compartment. He was just as surprised as they were when a tiny owl had shown up outside their window, tumbling like a snitch in the strong winds generated by the speeding train. Harry lowered the window and caught the little piece of fluff, raising the window again and freeing the bird of his letter, letting it fly erratically around the room.
Crookshanks sat up with interest, watching the animal dart hither and yon, obviously pleased with itself. His eyes gleamed in the cabin lights, and Ron, noticing this, snatched the bird safely out of the air.
Ron was quite surprised when he discovered that Sirius meant for him to have the flighty owl, but he had learned his lesson: he held the owl out for Crookshanks to approve.
"What do'you reckon?" he enquired of the Kneazle sitting across from him. "Definitely an owl?"
Crookshanks took a sniff to verify that this was indeed just an owl and, looking back at the redhead, purred in satisfaction.
"Good enough for me!" he declared as he settled back in his seat, happily looking over his new pet who was nibbling on his thumb.