Remus Lupin sat in the teacher's stand, sitting, as ever, as far away from Snape as possible. Although he had made all efforts to put their past rivalry behind them, Snape still refused to let bygones be bygones, and Snape had been determined to be as unpleasant to him as possible. Remus had found it easier to ignore Snape as much as he could and they mostly managed to keep out of each others way, despite Snape having to brew his monthly remedy.
Although Remus understood and successfully ignored Snape's obvious enmity with him, he could not ignore Snape's irrational hatred of Harry. Harry, no matter how much he looked like him, was not James, and it was unequivocally wrong of Snape to punish Harry for James' past actions, and he, who prided himself on the control he had over his emotions, often felt his anger boiling over when he witnessed Snape bullying Harry. He, therefore stood up for Harry whenever he could and had even covered up for Harry when he sneaked into Hogsmeade one time. He had at the time, however, made the same mistake as Snape when he expected Harry to act like James in response to his remonstration and ignore him. Harry had in fact looked contrite at his reckless actions and devastated at the suggestion that he was throwing his parents sacrifice away. Remus sometimes forgot how highly Harry valued his parents memories, although his Patronus lessons should have been a reminder. He had regretted his harsh words later, but knew that Harry wouldn't visit Hogsmeade again and, although he was relieved because it meant that Harry was safe, he couldn't help feeling sorry that he had helped crush the rebellious spirit that had so delighted him in James.
As the two teams prepared to start and the captains shook hands, Remus' mind once again turned to the mystery of Harry's Firebolt. Suspicion had, of course, immediately turned to Sirius Black, but once the broom had been declared free of any jinxes (Remus winced internally at what James' reaction would've been to the stripping down of a brand new, international standard broomstick) it had been ruled out. Sirius wanted to kill Harry, not help him win Quidditch matches, although a small rebellious voice which still refused to believe in Sirius' guilt told him it would be exactly the sort of thing Padfoot would do.
As far as he knew Harry had no living wizarding relatives, and from what he had heard of his muggle ones, the idea of them doing anything for Harry was laughable, never mind as extravagant a gesture as buying him a Firebolt. Dumbledore, although extremely fond of Harry, would never buy him a broomstick, and if the Weasleys could afford a Firebolt they would spend some of the gold on their own family's needs before buying other people Firebolts. No, whoever had bought Harry that Firebolt was a mystery and would remain so. Remus turned his attention back to the game, and he had to, although he was, and always had been, fairly ignorant on the matter of Quidditch, admire the Firebolt, which clearly outstripped any of the other brooms by far as it whizzed round the pitch.
Gryffindor seemed to be doing very well, which, Remus noted with a guilty sense of smug satisfaction, annoyed Snape greatly. Harry had spotted the Snitch a number of times but had, so far, failed to catch it. He wasn't worried though, he had heard Minerva speak with great pride of her young Seeker and Minerva didn't use that tone of voice often. Harry had to be pretty good. On the other hand, the young Ravenclaw Seeker was good, and Harry seemed to be more than a little distracted by her, Remus hoped it wouldn't lose him the game. Remus recalled one memorable occasion when James had almost lost a game because Lily had smiled at him. Sirius had teased him about it for a month that time.
A great excitement swept through the crowd as Harry dove for the Snitch again, and Remus couldn't help but get caught up in it. Harry's hand was outstretched and he nearly had it, Remus found himself leaning forward, willing Harry on. He happened to glance down, and Remus saw, to his dismay, a couple of Dementors walking onto the pitch, he looked back at Harry, and knew that Harry had seen them. He saw Harry's hand plunge into his robes and pull out his wand, his other hand still outstretched towards the Snitch. He saw Harry mouth the words and … Remus felt his heart stop. Out of Harry's wand had come a great galloping stag, magnificent and proud, with silver antlers held aloft and silver eyes that pierced him. Prongs. It charged down the, now obviously fake, Dementors. Remus took a huge gulp of air, and realised he had stopped breathing. He looked back at Harry to see if he realised, if he knew, but no, Harry's eyes weren't on the Patronus, which was now slowly fading, but on the Snitch, which he held triumphantly above his head as his team mates rushed to his side and he descended slowly to the ground.
People were flooding the pitch and Remus, still shaken, found himself among them. It was as if Gryffindor had won the cup already, there was cheering, shouting and calls for a party in the common room. He slowly made his way to Harry's side, feeling a swell of pride that he had managed to teach this thirteen year old, undoubtedly brilliant, wizard a spell that should be far too advanced for him. He leaned down so he was close to Harry's ear and he could speak without the others hearing them, because for some reason, he wanted Harry's Patronus to be their secret.
"That was quite some Patronus," Harry span round and grinned at him, his pride evident on his face,
"The Dementors didn't affect me at all," he told Remus, flushed with success, "I didn't feel a thing,"
"That would be because they – er -" Remus didn't want to take anything away from Harry's achievement, and producing a corporal Patronus was still a great achievement, even if there were no real Dementors. It was even more impressive considering Harry had been in flight, and still managed to catch the Snitch, "weren't Dementors," he told Harry, "come and see," he led Harry to the side of the pitch and he was glad that the news that he hadn't actually battled any real Dementors hadn't dampened Harry's euphoria. Remus gave Harry a sly smile, "You gave Mr Malfoy quite a fright," Harry gave a shout of laughter at seeing his rival crumpled in a heap on the ground. He laughed even more when Minerva started shouting at them. It takes a lot to get Minerva truly angry, but when she is it is quite a sight to see. Remus melted into the background as Ron, and the rest of the Quidditch team caught up with Harry, joined in laughing at Malfoy and then proceeded to the party in the Gryffindor common room, which he was sure would go on far into the night.
Remus made his slow, winding way back to his study, lost in his memories. The four of them, James, Peter, himself and, he blanched slightly, Sirius. Remus shook his head angrily, he was determined to enjoy his memories of Sirius because he was convinced that, at that time at least, Sirius was a true friend and true Marauder. He wouldn't let what Sirius became ruin his only happy childhood memories. Remus grinned, at that time, that place, he was a king, the Marauders were kings. Even though James and Sirius were they only two really 'cool' ones and the ringleaders of their little group, it didn't make him any less of a friend, and they were always ready to remind that, especially when he was depressed about his 'furry little problem'. He remembered his absolute wonder when, instead of abandoning him, as everybody else had, his friends accepted him and didn't treat him any differently. Then, even more than that they, his true friends were determined to make his tortuous transformations infinitely more bearable by becoming animagi. Remus thought back to the match and was convinced, although he wasn't superstitious, that Prongs had ridden again and was still looking out for him, and for Harry, after all these years.
Remus had, of course, wondered what form Harry's Patronus would take, but he never would have thought that he would see Prongs again. There was no way Harry could know what his Patronus meant, and he doubted whether he even saw what it was he had been concentrating so hard on catching the Snitch, but Remus couldn't help hoping that Harry would know, even if that meant
revealing his big secret, or his furry little problem. Harry was more than a student to him, and he suspected he was more than a teacher to Harry, or at least, he hoped he was, but whether Harry knew it or not, whether he cared or not, Harry awoke something of the old Marauder in Remus and Remus couldn't help but enjoy it.
High up in the stands and safely out of sight (this time), a bear sized black dog watched the Quidditch, and one player in particular. Harry James Potter. Sirius loved that way the name sounded, and said it over and over again in his mind, which had a strange calming effect. If Sirius still had a human face it would have had a fond smile on it. Amongst the insanity in his mind, He's at Hogwarts, there was Harry, reminding him that there was something still worth living for, worth fighting for, and he didn't even know it. Sirius' thoughts darkened as he reminded himself that Harry thought him a ruthless killer, the man who betrayed his parents and that, if Harry had the chance, he would no doubt attempt to seek revenge. Once Peter is caught, Sirius assured himself, once Peter is caught and brought to justice, once the rat's neck is wrung, all will be well. Harry will know me for what I truly am and I can be a proper Godfather to him.
Sirius felt a peculiar kind of pride as he watched Harry riding the Firebolt that he had bought Harry. Harry soared above the rest of the Quidditch players, showing spectacular skill. Sirius had known that suspicion would immediately fall on him as the sender of the Firebolt, although not for the right reason, and had known that the Firebolt would have been taken away from Harry in order to be checked for jinxes. Sirius had hoped that Harry would have been given his broom back in time for the next match and he was delighted to see Harry riding it now. Sirius chuckled internally at what his family would have said to the family wealth being used to buy broomsticks for the boy who had defeated Voldemort. They probably would've shouted a lot, he thought, shouted about 'The Most Ancient and Noble and Deluded House of Black' probably. He didn't know, he had stopped listening after a while.
Sirius was also pleased to see Remus on the far side of the pitch in the teacher's box. He longed to bound over to his old friend, but knew he had to remain hidden. Alone. Remus looked almost healthy, which was good, for Remus. Out of habit he worked out the time until Full Moon and was pleased to note that it was a full two weeks. Sirius supposed that Snape was making him Wolfsbane Potion and felt a sudden burning jealousy that even Snape was friendlier with Moony than he was. Sirius watched Snape as he sat on the opposite side of the box to Remus, not watching the game, but glaring at Remus with a familiar look of complete loathing, only pausing to shoot the same look at Harry when he flew past. Sirius felt almost pleased that Remus and Snape had retained their animosity and protective of Harry. He could understand why Snape hated James and the rest of the Marauders but what had Harry ever done to Snape except be his father's son? Harry couldn't exactly help that, not that he should try. It was as bad those muggles he lived with hating him because he was a wizard. Although he supposed that if Snape hated Harry, Harry had to be good kid. Any enemy of Snape's was his friend. He felt a thrill that Harry was continuing the Marauder tradition of hating Snape and giving him hell.
Sirius was drawn back to the game when Harry saw the Snitch. He watched Harry shoot into a dive, and, if he wasn't ultimately loyal to James he would have to say that Harry was a better flyer than James, so he settled for saying that Harry was as good as James. Sirius longed for the day he would be able to tell Harry that he had watched him play Quidditch, that he was as good as James, that he was his Godfather, that he loved him. Sirius settled for admiring Harry from afar. He had too. Any closer and he would be taken to the Dementors, and given the kiss.
Sirius turned to watch Harry's friends in the stands, and he felt his hackles rise involuntary. The Weasley boy. Pettigrew. He's at Hogwarts. The boy had the rat, the traitor. Sirius felt desperate, he couldn't get to him from here but he could see him. He was so close. Sirius forced himself to calm down, just because Pettigrew was living with the boy as a rat did not make him guilty of any crime. He was probably a very good friend to Harry, had probably got up to all sorts of trouble with him, besides the Weasleys were a good family. Apart from the fact that they were harbouring the man who had betrayed James, Lily and Harry to Voldemort he was sure they were wonderful.
Sirius forced himself to look at Harry's other friend, the girl sitting by the Weasley boy. Hermione Granger, if he had heard right earlier. Sirius checked through the list of pure blood families that had been instilled in him from birth. Weasley was all right of course, those lot were the biggest family of blood traitors the wizarding world had ever known and his family had hated them, which immediately endeared them to him. He didn't recognise the name Granger, which meant that either she was muggle born, or some half blood family he hadn't been taught about. Sirius felt very proud of Harry for making friends with people his family would disapprove of.
Sirius looked down at the pitch and saw a group of Dementors gliding onto it. He panicked, I'm innocent, before realising that they weren't affecting him at all, which meant they couldn't be real Dementors, then why? He looked back at the Quidditch players, back at Harry and saw a brief look of panic cross his face and realised that they, whoever they were, were trying to sabotage Harry. Sirius was fully prepared to charge onto the pitch when he saw Harry pull out his wand and … Prongs. He stood stock still, his hair standing on end, not even breathing. Sirius watched the ghost of his old friend race around the pitch, triumphant once more. He looked back at Harry, his eyes were firmly on the Snitch that was now grasped in his hand, his eyes glittering and his face ecstatic. Did he realise what he had just done? Obviously not. If only.
James, he thought, staring straight at the stag, wishing that he could speak to James this one last time, to get across one last message, James, I will look after your son even if they kill me for it. I promise. The stag stopped, the fake Dementors defeated and lying in a tangled heap. It turned towards Sirius and it's silver eyes seemed a little hazel as it looked straight at Sirius.
Thank you. Sirius heard the words as if they'd been whispered in his ear and he started forward but the stag was already fading away.
Sirius sat back and watched as the triumphant Griffindors slowly descended to the ground, the the pitch was flooded with cheering students and Remus, his face was shining with pride, despite looking shaken. Sirius realised that Moony had seen Prongs too and for a brief moment it felt like the Marauders were whole again. Sirius watched as Remus leant down towards Harry and whispered something in his ear, before leading him towards the fake Dementors. Remus must have taught Harry how to produce the Patronus. Sirius remembered Remus helping the rest of the Marauders how to master the tricky spell in their seventh year, and Harry had managed it when he was only thirteen. Sirius stood in awe of the brilliant boy that was presented before him, well, he was James and Lily's son, how could he be anything other than outstanding?
They had always joked that Moony was born a teacher, he remembered, and here was the proof, he was a great teacher to the best student and it was obvious that Remus and Harry had a great relationship. For one wild, guilty moment Sirius felt insanely jealous of Remus for it. He wanted Harry to be his, but, he reminded himself, as he often did, that would come with time, once his name was cleared and the rat was dead, or worse.
As the players made their way inside, looking like they were going to a celebration party, Sirius slipped away, back into the forest, back to his lonely hunt, back to his demented dreams which led him ever closer to insanity, but he had a new hope to keep him going. The Marauders would ride again.