A/N: Same disclaimer as before: Look back to the first chapter.
Sorry for taking awhile to upload this! I ended up getting slammed with a bunch of hours at work, so fun stuff got up on hold sadly. Anyhow, Sirius decided he wanted to make an appearance into the story finally. Yay!
Harry was right in his prediction. Those little terrors escaped the night that Albus decided to have dinner in the Great Hall for the castle's occupants the next day. Along with Harry, Remus, Albus and Poppy, the others included Minerva, Sprout, Flitwick, and much to his distaste to being dragged out of his dungeons, was Snape. At first everything seemed to be going alright, other than Snape shooting the patented Death Glare at Harry and Remus for just daring to breathe. But then, out of nowhere, a stuffed rat jumped up and landed on the table, scuttling through the food, promptly being chased by the rest of the animal crew, with the exception of a stag that had attached itself to Severus' lap.
"POTTER!!!!" Snape bellowed, clearly disgruntled at the stuffed stag pawing at his lap.
The boy put on his most innocent face he could muster up and said with a straight face, "There are no Potters here, Professor Snape."
"Have you lost what little wits you had, boy?" He glared, his eyes seething with annoyance.
"No, sir. I believe the name you meant to say is, 'LUPIN!!!'"
Snape just goggled at them before ripping the stag from his lap and depositing it on to Flitwick's head and departed from the table in a brisk manner.
"That was worthy of the Marauder's name," his father said proudly, hardly able to hold back the roaring laughter he was trying to contain.
McGonagall pursed her lips in disapproval at his behavior, "It's disrespectful to lie to your elders, Mr. Potter."
Harry smiled, ready for the bomb to drop, "But Professor, I wasn't lying. There are no Potters here."
"What's all this nonsense about?" She huffed, clearly not enjoying being out of the loop.
"Now that's not entirely true, Harry. You're still a Potter, even after the potion wears off. I've already explained this to you."
"Potions? Headmaster, are they addled in the mind?" Sprout queried, thinking that perhaps both Harry and Remus had been confunded.
Albus smiled serenely, "Well, I guess young Harry has made his decision about what route he will be taking this fall. However, this is best answered by these two here."
Harry smiled widely, "You see Professor, James Potter did help raise me, but I've discovered I have a living furball as my father."
For the first time since he'd met her, Remus saw McGonagall gapping at them with her mouth frozen in shock. "B-but…" she spluttered, incapable of speech.
"I will not go into the specifics, but yes, it's true. We found out last week, quite as a surprise, that Harry is my biological son," he explained and ruffled Harry's hair.
"But he looks exactly like…James…" Flitwick protested, but realized that Harry did indeed look unnaturally like James Potter. "I'm going to assume that this potion is some variety of an appearance changer?"
"Well then….I suppose congratulations are in order for Mr. Potter…Mr. Lupin….whoever, and my condolences for you, Remus, as I'm sure you'll have many more grey hairs before your time," Minerva said.
"Hey!" Harry protested.
"You do seem to attract a lot of trouble…" Flitwick piped up.
Harry sat back in his chair and sulked.
The next couple of days were fairly uneventful, other than Remus prying information about what happened his first two years at Hogwarts. Harry remained stubborn about avoiding the issue, and subtly changed the topic when it was brought up. Remus caught it, but still didn't press- it wasn't worth risking their fragile bond over. Sooner or later Harry would be able to confide in him, but he knew these things would take time, especially considering his upbringing by the Dursley's.
Things were able to change again as an owl flew into the room and dropped a letter on Remus' head. The man scowled, not appreciating the new mail delivery conspiracy against him, but opened the letter curiously.
'Dear Mr. Moony, and Mr. Moony Jr.
I understand that you most likely believe I am guilty of that October scandal, but I would like you to hear my side of the story. If you grant me this, I am currently staying at our old haunt. Like I said, I know you probably don't believe me, nor would I expect you to, but I want a chance to explain, especially to one who deserves to know the truth. I do not ask that you come alone, but I do ask that you bring someone with an open mind at least.
Remus folded up the letter, pondering his next action. He already so desperately wanted to believe his old friend, but knew better than to jump into this blindly. It didn't take him long to decide that the headmaster would be the best choice. If Sirius was guilty, then surely he'd be no match for the older wizard. He also decided that Harry most certainly would not be coming along. If it was all a trap to get at Harry-….
"Since when do owls drop letters on people's heads?" Harry asked, breaking Remus out of his train of thought.
"Since apparently I've grown a bull's-eye on the top of my head with the words 'Drop Stuff Here' on it," he grumbled.
Harry snickered before asking if the letter was of any interest since he seemed to get lost in his thoughts and wasn't responding at all.
"Oh, umm, well, the letter came from Sirius Black. He asked me to give him a chance to explain what happened that night."
"You're going to, right?"
"Of course, but I'm thinking about the best way to go about doing this in case it's a trap. I'm thinking that Headmaster Dumbledore would be the best choice to take along."
"So, when do we go?"
Remus raised an eyebrow, "I am going to contact Albus now, you, however, shall be staying here where it's safe."
"But it was my idea that he might be innocent in the first place! And he's also my godfather! Don't I deserve to know the truth too?" Harry argued.
Remus pulled Harry over to him and kneeled down so he was looking him in the eye, "Harry, I understand you want to help Sirius, but we can't be sure that he's to be trusted yet. If I took you along, that would show people that I am not responsible enough to take care of your safekeeping. Now that I found you, I don't ever want to lose you. If he's guilty, then I'll have spared you from having to meet a lunatic, but if he's innocent, you'll meet him soon enough, alright Pup?"
Harry relented with a nod, but that still didn't mean that he liked being left behind, "Okay, I get it."
"But before I go, I want to find someone for you to stay with while I go. I know you're too old for a babysitter, but I don't like the idea of leaving you by yourself if it's a plot."
Harry scowled at the mention of a babysitter, but didn't say anything- he realized he wasn't going to change the man's mind. "How about Hagrid?"
"Unfortunately Hagrid is off on an extended errand right now. Flitwick has also gone into town. I guess that leaves Minerva, Sprout, Madam Dragon or Snape. But I'm going to assume that the last two are automatically nixed."
"Professor McGonagall," Harry answered, realizing she might have an answer to a question he thought up.
"Excellent, we should head off now. I think you should bring Rudi with you if you're going to stay with Minerva," he said with a mischievous glint in his eye.
Harry's eyes got wide as he realized what his father meant. "Rudi!" he called, and the long-legged pup came running full force into the room. "Hey girl, what do you say to accompanying me to visit with Professor McGonagall? We can see if she's much of a dog person, or if she just prefers cats." The dog wagged her tail in approval.
"Alright, let's be off," the man said and motioned for both pups to follow him. A few minutes later found Harry and Rudi in Minerva's quarters, while Remus headed to find Albus.
"So, Mr…." she trailed off, unsure of what to call him.
Harry felt his face turn bright red, "I don't know either, Professor."
Minerva looked down at him sympathetically, "My apologizes, Harry. I know this must be difficult for you."
"Yes Professor, I mean, my real dad is nice and it's great to have a living father, but it's just a lot of changes," he mumbled, not really sure why he was telling his strict head of house this.
To her credit, she smiled and tried to help, "I understand Harry. With this comes a lot of changes, and no doubt a lot of awkward questions, but no doubt a lot of good will come from it. You're already away from those….muggles," she said with such distaste that Harry was surprised. "I never agreed with Albus about him leaving you there, even if they were your only remaining family at that time. But Remus is a good man, even with his small problem…" she trailed off, realizing in horror that he might not have told Harry yet.
Harry noticed and decided to spare her, "It's okay Professor, he told me about his furry little problem already."
"Oh good. It wouldn't do to keep something like that from his son."
"Professor, I do have a question that I thought you could help me with. My dad gave me a book about werewolves so I could understand them better and I came across a passage saying that Animagi aren't capable of acquiring the werewolf virus while in animal form. But what about if they are human at the time? Would it still affect them? If so, how would that impact their Animagus form?"
McGonagall just gapped at him, wondering where he thought up this question from.
"And, is there any reason why a werewolf could not elect to become an Animagus?"
"Where does this stem from?"
"I read that the werewolf's change is painful because of the resistance to the change. But if a werewolf were to become an Animagus, where he willingly changed to an animal, would the transformation remain painful?"
The Transfiguration Professor was gobsmacked, "Those, Harry, are questions that I do not know the answer to, but I am now intrigued and will inquire within the Transfiguration field. I take it you want to know because of your father, no?"
Harry frowned, unsure if they planned to tell all the professors about his condition, "Ah, yea."
"Like I said, I don't have an answer now, but I will inquire to some colleagues of mine. Excellent question you have posed! You are starting to show that intelligence that your parents are known for."
Harry smiled brilliantly at that; usually he was compared to James' looks and propensity for trouble, and his mother's eyes, but that was all. This was a nice change. For the next couple of hours, she told him about his parents, all of them, when they were students, as well as giving him some insight as to what they would be covering that upcoming year. Harry, for his part, tormented his Professor by having Rudi chase her around in cat form. It seemed to do the trick and kept Harry's mind off of what his father was doing right now.
"Remus, what brings you here today?" Albus inquired, genuinely curious about the man's presence.
"This came for me today," and handed over the note.
"I take it that you would like me to accompany you on this endeavor?" he asked after reading it.
"Yes, and if we could persuade Severus to allow us a vial of Veritaserum…"
"No need, I have a vial of it that I keep in my own personal stores."
"If we can go now, that would be good. I've already arranged for Harry to stay with Minerva for the time being."
"Certainly my boy. Now, let's go see if a certain prankster is indeed innocent for a change."
The two headed towards the Shrieking Shack, and with each step, Remus' anxiety seemed to escalate. He was anxious to know what happened that night and was desperately hoping his friend was innocent. Soon enough they came to the Whomping Willow, where Albus immobilized it and they walked down, now alert and on guard at the prospect of a trap. They came to the room Remus knew well- the one he used to transform for years.
"Hello Moony, Headmaster," came a rasping voice, and the two turned and saw a gaunt figure of a man. Remus almost choked at the sight of his long time best friend looking like a walking skeleton.
"Hello again, Mister Black. Please know I do this as a precautionary. Incarcerous!" and ropes sprang from his wand and bound the Animagus. Sirius didn't struggle against the ropes and gazed complacently at the two. "Now, you requested that we come to hear your side of the story, which was so conveniently forgotten all those years ago."
Sirius looked over at Remus, who just nodded as he was having a difficult time making his voice work properly. "I want to thank you for giving me a chance to explain, especially with all the overwhelming evidence against me. But I would never purposely hurt James, nor Lily! They were my family. I was never the Potter's Secret-Keeper." The two stared. "I was convinced that I would be a give away and targeted for the information, so I convinced them to use Wormtail instead, thinking no one would ever suspect him. We made it seem like this so that Voldemort would go after me anyhow, lulling him away from the real Secret-Keeper. Little did any of us know that Wormtail was actually the spy."
"What?!" A strangled cry came from Remus.
"Pettigrew betrayed them, and when I found out what happened, I snapped and went after him. I had no idea he had that trap set up to frame me."
"How did you escape from Azkaban?" Albus pressed.
Sirius looked guilty at this, "I…am an Animagus. It's why I survived so long in that hellhole. When I changed, the Dementors couldn't feed off me as much as they could as a human. I lost so much weight that one night when they brought me my dinner, I slipped right past them."
"Should I assume you did this to help Mister Lupin with his transformations at Hogwarts?"
Once again, the man looked guilty and nodded.
"What prompted you to escape now?"
"I saw a picture of the dirty rat in the Daily Prophet I got from Fudge on his yearly visit. Knowing the traitor was alive, I wanted revenge for what he did to me and my family."
"Why did you contact us now, instead of going after him?"
"When I got a letter from Lily and James telling me about Harry, I knew my plans needed to change. Harry is more important than my own personal revenge."
"Padfoot….you've grown up…" Remus said hoarsely.
"I most certainly have not!" He huffed, not amused by being called an adult, "I've just learned what's more important."
"Mister Black, would you be willing to submit to Veritaserum?"
He wrinkled his nose in distaste, but nodded in approval. Albus took out the potion and doused the Animagus with it.
"Alright, let's begin." Albus stated after he saw Sirius' expression glaze over. "Were you the Potter's Secret-Keeper?"
"Did you know that Peter Pettigrew had turned to Voldemort?"
"Did you have no ill intentions towards the Potters when you asked to switch Secret-Keepers?"
"Did you kill any of those muggles that you were accused of that night?"
"What were your intentions when you broke out of Azkaban?"
"To get revenge on that demented bastard for what he did."
"What are your intentions now?"
"To be there for Harry and try to clear my name so that I don't have to be on the run and help take care of him."
Albus nodded in approval and administered the antidote, having heard enough, as well as unbinding him. Remus ran over and grabbed him in a bear hug, racking sobs pouring from his eyes.
"I'm so sorry, Padfoot. I should have known you'd never do something like that. I just never thought that Wormtail would have been capable of that. I wish I could go back and find a way to make this right."
Sirius held on desperately to his old friend, overwhelmed at the knowledge he had someone who believed him. "I could never blame you, Moony. The evidence was all against me if one looked at it. The rat certainly knew how to cover his tracks…"
Albus cleared his throat, "I don't know about you two gentlemen, but I for one would like to be back in time for dinner."
Both Marauders had the decency to look sheepish as Albus reminded them of the time, "Of course, Headmaster. I'm sure that Minerva has about had enough of Rudi chasing her around."
Albus chuckled heartily, "She never was fond of dogs, that's for sure. Mister Black, I believe it would be best if you were to have Glamour charms in place."
"I suppose that makes sense. I'd rather not be confined to one room."
"That does mean you'll need a legitimate reason for being in the room with Harry and I."
Albus' eyes twinkled merrily, "Friends of professors are not permitted to remain during the semester, but significant others are."
Sirius' eyes popped out of his head, trying to comprehend what Albus just said. "But Remus and I aren't together!"
"Yes, but Remus and Celeste Dubh are," Albus explained patiently.
"Wha-a?" Sirius stuttered.
At this point, Remus was laughing uncontrollably. "It means, my dear Padfoot, that you will be posing as my girlfriend."
Sirius did what any sensible male would do at this point, and promptly fainted.
"He took that better than I expected him to," Albus chuckled and waved his wand, performing a complex appearance charm attuned to a copper ring he pulled out of his pocket. "I imagine that Mister Black would be more comfortable looking like himself in the company of you and Harry, so having him put on this ring will give him a new appearance." He slipped the ring onto Sirius' finger and watched as his black hair turned to a soft blond, eyes went from grey to blue, distinct bumps appeared on his chest, and his entire body took on a much more feminine charm.
Remus was still laughing at his friend's predicament, "Well, he looks surprisingly like a woman I imagine he would normally chase."
"That," Albus grinned mischievously, "was the idea."
Remus howled in laughter again and revived his 'new girlfriend.'
"I just had the most bizarre nightmare. You both…." He trailed off, noticing the change in his voice and looked down, only to shriek. "Please tell me this isn't permanent!" he moaned.
"Of course not, Miss Dubh," Albus said pleasantly as he received a death glare. "The charm is tied to that ring on your finger. You just need to be wearing it for the charms to be active. Now, I believe that it is time that we head back to the castle before Minerva ends up in a tree."
The other two agreed and followed along, although, awkwardly in Sirius' case.
The two friends rescued Harry from Minerva, who was about to hex Harry from Rudi chasing her around, and went back to their quarters. Harry wanted to know who this Celeste Dubh was, but figured Remus would explain shortly. The majestic stag came to the front and let them in, making Sirius long for his Marauder brother.
"Umm, ok, so you went to meet Sirius Black and came back with some woman named Celeste Dubh. And this makes sense how?" Harry asked, thinking his father had clearly lost it.
"Harry, you were right about Sirius being innocent from what he was accused of. However, we do not have sufficient proof for him to be pardoned by the Ministry yet. We decided that for his protection, and ability to remain here once the school year began, that Sirius would temporarily be disguised as my girlfriend."
Harry snickered, "So does that mean I'm supposed to call you Mommy Padfoot?"
Sirius glared and hastily removed the ring, reverting to his skeletal appearance, which made Harry cringe at the sight, "Try that again and we'll see how you like looking like Lily for a week."
Harry blanched, "Sirius is good too!"
"Smart boy, must get that from your real dad," Sirius chuckled. He took in Harry, getting to see him for the first time in twelve years. "I know it's just the potion Lily wrote about, but you look so much like James," his voice thick with emotions. "I wish I could've been there for you growing up- James made me your godfather incase anything happened to him. It's my duty to help protect you…at least, I think it is," he looked questioningly at Remus.
"Of course, you daft mutt! I wouldn't take away your title as his godfather," Remus smiled, although wanted to slap Sirius for his idiotic thought.
"Thank you," his eyes said more than mere words could express.
"Now how about dinner? I would prefer to see you look like a human rather than an animated skeleton," Remus quipped, letting Sirius know he wasn't joking.
"Does he get to be subjected to Madam Dragon?" Harry grinned, hoping for someone else to fill the healer's time.
"Oh, I think that will be a great idea tomorrow, Harry. Thank you for mentioning it," Remus smirked while Sirius went white.
"Not the Dragon!!"
"Oh yes, Madam Dragon. But for now, eat! Both of you!"
Harry and Sirius shared a look before setting into the food that Mindy brought. After eating, Sirius took advantage of a real bathroom and cleaned up for the first time since he could remember, and passed out from utter exhaustion on a bed that virtually came out of nowhere, feeling safe for the first time in ages.
A/N: So yay! Our favorite convict is back in action...*snickers* Although, looking like he does now, he might end up with a different type of action that he normally gets, haha! Anyhow, if you have any thoughts on pairings, speak now or forever hold your piece!!!
As usual, read and review please!!!!