Disclaimers and Notes: Good Gad, you get it by now!
It's been over a year since the last time I updated. I know. Hate me all you want for not posting anything until now, though know that I honestly am sorry. I really didn't expect to have no time whatsoever, and frankly I haven't been keeping track. I haven't written any fanfiction in a long time, and in a way the creative juices aren't flowing for this one anymore. I actually wanted to have this done 12 months ago last year during the holidays, and when I realized I couldn't make that deadline I became disappointed and held it of.
Honestly, it was a BIG pain finishing this off, only because I started loosing the "spark" after a while (heck, YEARS ago), and I didn't want to write just anything. Also the newer books really threw me off with their darker, more serious tones, and I didn't know how I could put that into this story before it was all said and done. I hope the ending is what you were hoping for…
Author: Lady Geuna
Sub Editor for this chapter: Kat Ishida (a.k.a. Kitty-chan)
This Chapter Rated: PG-13--just to be safe.
Recent Summary: Everything is drawing to a close. Sirius Black is free under court of law after his second official trial while Remus Lupin is recuperating after a near fatal incident with silver. Everyone else is slowly getting used to how suddenly "calm" life has become. With things going back to "normal," some often miss the fact that there are still many loose ends to be tied up, especially where the Potter's are concerned...
"..." - speech
'...' - thoughts
/.../ - with italics means a part of a flashback.
Epilogue: " Resolutions" Part 3 of 3
"Well, James always had this unconscious need to make an entrance. He was always a horrid showoff, and still is, apparently."
Remus Lupin, Fanfiction "Charmed Curses", Epilogue: Part 2: The Truth, by Lady Geuna
"You! It's YOU, but it can't be! IT CAN'T!!!"
He let out a barking, fearsome laugh as he stalked closer. "Remember my last, Petunia…"
In a matter of moments James loomed over his prey…
"You're dead!" Petunia shrieked, trying desperately to scramble away, but James stomped his foot down on the hem of his skirt before she could get far. When Petunia continued to struggle she lost her balance and fell back down to the floor. She began to sob wretchedly.
'How pathetic,' he thought,
James let out another barking laugh, loud and sharp, and it had the desired effect when Petunia let out a terrified squeak in response. "I was never dead to begin with, you twat!" James spat, then with a humorous tone he continued, "I simply became a bit lost, and it took quite some time to find my way home. Though I look rather well for my age now, don't I?" When Petunia nodded feverishly in response James smirked.
What he told her wasn't a complete lie, only a half-truth. For a Muggle like her, explaining the real situation would be pointless.
"You know, Petunia... of all the stories I've heard from Harry and his friends, there is one that really stood out for me..."
He took a step back, releasing the hem of Petunia's skirt, trusting that she wouldn't be so foolish as to try and run. He'd been correct. However she did scoot over to the nearest wall and press against it, as if trying to will herself to sink into it and disappear. Too bad for her Muggles were incapable of such things...
James fingered the tip of his wand as he began to slowly pace in front of the woman, glancing down at the unconscious Mr. Dursley who lay on the opposite side of the room.
"You know," James continued, dark eyes once again returning to the terrified woman cowering on the floor, "I've heard many things... many interesting things..." His eyes darted towards the hall meaningfully, making sure to do it in such a way that Petunia followed his gaze for just an instant. "That little cupboard beneath the stairs... that was it, wasn't it?"
Harry lived in there from the moment he was brought to the Dursley's as an infant to the day he realized his true destiny… In a cupboard like some creature, like some thing that had to be locked away…!
When Petunia didn't answer right away he swiftly pointed his ward toward her chest, eyes flashing with vicious intent.
"Y-YES!!! YES IT WAS!!! Oooh, please don't—"
"QUIET, you filthy Muggle! Did I say you could speak?" A small part of his felt guilty for using his abilities and power against someone weaker than him, against someone unable to defend themselves…
But at the same time these people had been punishing his boy emotionally—in every way a young boy can be punished if not physically—for a crime that Harry himself was not aware of.
"I'm sure you remember Hagrid, don't know?" James unknowingly found himself continuing in a lighter tone, however despite this Petunia's eyes still glazed over with barely repressed disgust, hatred and no small amount of fear. She was obviously recalling something she would much rather forget entirely.
With a colder tone James continued, "He told me about your first meeting… About the lies you spread about us… Lily and I—"
"DON'T!" Petunia's eyes darted around, her head snapping around as if she was expecting something to pop out of nowhere and attack her. "Don't SAY her name! Is SHE here, too!?"
"… Would it honestly be so much more terrifying if it was her instead of me…?"
"All of you WIZARDS, you're all wicked! WICKED CREATURES!!!"
"There are many wicked things in this world, Petunia Dursley," James hissed darkly, "and to take a look at one I suggest you look in the mirror."
"You're no better than my sister! She was…"
"Lily did nothing to you," James snarled. "Nothing…! Oh yes, she told me all about you, Petunia. Not that she needed to. Looking into your beady little eyes I could tell right from the start what a hateful little devil you were. Jealous of Lily in every possible way. And to think she actually loved someone like you, if only that you were her sister!"
That sour look had returned to Petunia's face again. "I don't want the love of some disgusting—" She turned deadly pale as the wand moved a bit to the right, aimed directly for her heart...
"Watch what you say about my wife, Petunia... Or I might give you a serpent's tongue to match your words, and the skin to go with it, and there will be no going back after I have done it."
Petunia instantly slapped a hand over her mouth and squealed in fright, shaking her head wildly.
"Maybe I should anyway. Though I think that might be insulting the House of Slytherin. Even some of them may be too good for the likes of you."
It was like death itself, and he was right upon her, glaring with eyes full of fire and hatred so fierce it was almost tangible…
The most horrible thing was that such a feat could be possible for a creature like him. And as terrified as Petunia was, the ability to disappear into the floor was beyond her mortal abilities.
For a short moment, as she had felt many times before in her life, she wished she could be special like her sister had been.
"No, that fate is too good for you," the man said. "I think I have something much better in mind…"
Petunia lost the will the scream as James Potter once again adjusted the aim of his wand.
Her life was over…!
Then, suddenly, there was a flurry of dark cloth, a shout.
There was another man, dressed in a long black coat. In an instant he was upon James, his own arms wrapped firmly over the other man's, keeping them pinned.
For a fleeting moment Petunia though she was saved… until James began shouting…
"Let go of me, Sirius!"
… and she realized just who the man was…
The two men were struggling, and Petunia realized that they must be fighting over who would finish her.
They were all there to end her life!
Unable to take anymore, Petunia fainted right there on the carpet.
"James, get a hold of yourself!" Sirius wouldn't let go, even as James struggled to get his arms free. "Think about what your doing!"
"Merlin, Sirius, get off me! I wasn't about to do anything harmful!"
Sirius paused, though kept a firm grip on his friend. "What were you doing then…?"
James turned his head around as far as he could and only just managed to look Sirius in the eye. "A simple hex, Sirius! Something temporary, like turning her into a goose! We did the same thing in school!"
At this point Sirius grip because slack and James easily shoved him off, glaring. Sirius only shook his head a little, as if to clear his head. "You were going to…?"
"A goose, Sirius. An animal, at least just for a little while." He rolled his shoulders, adjusting the now tight jacket he wore on his shoulders. "Perhaps I would tell her she would be hunted as game for a holiday supper… What did you think I was about to do?"
"Merlin, James," Sirius screamed, outraged. He punched James soundly in the arm, angry for reasons he couldn't truly describe. "I know you love theatrics but this is ridiculous! Insane! I thought you were about to kill someone! YOU IDIOT!"
James clutched his arm, face twisted in an expression of discomfort, pain, and perhaps some glimmer of embarrassment.
Sirius took a deep breath on continued, his voice slightly shaking with suppressed emotion. "You could be arrested for assault and harassment of Muggles, and you know it! This isn't Hogwarts, James. We aren't children. Dumbledore wouldn't be able to keep us from being punished—"
"I injured no one," James interrupted. "Not directly… And for Vernon it was self-defense. No truth potion could make me say otherwise!"
"There are still harassment charges to deal with."
"Lucky, then, that we have time to alter their memories before they have a chance to say anything." He leveled Sirius with a dark look. "And don't lie to me or yourself, Sirius. You would have done the same damn thing if you were in my position… Don't lecture me about being reckless and endangering others. Snape—"
"I remember!" Sirius hated having his old mistakes rubbed in his face. "Now enough of this… Harry is waiting for you outside… Remus is waiting with him. I didn't want him coming in and seeing any of your handiwork." James gave his a soar look but didn't respond. "I had a feeling you would go overboard somehow, and I was right."
"You always knew me best," James muttered, eyes scanning the room before landing on Sirius again. Then he sighed. "I am sorry, Sirius… we should alter their memories now and leave before something goes wrong."
Suddenly something about the situation struck Sirius as funny, and he found himself chuckling quietly as he moved to check on Dudley. "This feels like one of our old pranks…"
James shot him a look, but a slow smile found its way onto his face. "It does… But maybe that isn't such a good thing." He took out his wand and approached Petunia. "It would probably be a good idea to move them when we are done."
James began working on Petunia's memories just as Sirius began to work on Dudley's.
Silence… and then...
"You know what would be one hell of a prank, Sirius?"
Sirius paused in what he was doing to look at James questioningly. "What?"
James first response was a wolfish grin.
A minute later after a short explanation Sirius was grinning back.
Remus entered the room just as Sirius and James were finishing what looked like a Memory Charm on Mr. Dursley.
The fact that it required two of them to do it made Remus feel a bit uneasy. As did the state of the room… Had they gotten into some kind of brawl? James had assured them that he wouldn't get violent!
"What's going on here?" Harry asked from Remus' side.
Remus gave Harry a reassuring smile. "Nothing to worry about, they are just making sure the Dursley's don't remember this encounter."
"SOME of this encounter," James corrected, standing up as he finished what he was doing, tucking his wand away in one smooth motion. "I certainly don't want them forgetting everything about this evening."
Sirius stood as well, shaking his head. "When you think about it, it's not like they can do much, anyway. From what Harry's told us they would be too embarrassed to tell anyone anything about what happened. We he removed memories of any sort of violence…"
Remus shook his head and took his wand from his pocket, pointing it toward the large dent in the wall above Mr. Dursley's unconscious body. "Reparo!" In moments the hole had repaired itself. Harry began following in his example and started rearranging furniture that had been moved. It would do none of them any good if they left behind a regular Muggle-esque crime scene.
When they were done James quietly asked Harry to have a chat with him, and the two disappeared upstairs. The two probably needed the time alone, especially after all this…
Remus took the time to give the Dursley's a once over, checking or any possible physical injuring his two idiot friends might have missed. He then turned to Sirius, hands on his hips, eyes narrowed. He needed answers.
"What did you really just do to them?"
"Don't play games with me, Sirius," Remus said peevishly. This was just like the old days, when James and Sirius would keep their little secrets about a new prank or passageway for the Marauder's Map or some bit of Slytherin gossip. Remus and Peter would always be the last to know. Though he wasn't always terribly interested, it didn't really matter.. Sometimes it hurt to feel left out. "I know both of you can use Obliviate, and I'm certain it doesn't take two of you to fix whatever happened today. It only takes one person to alter a few minutes of memory, easily. Two people if it is something far more complex. So tell me, what did you do?"
"Calm down," Sirius said quickly, looking toward the hallways to check that Harry and James were still upstairs. Then in a low whisper he said, "We don't want Harry knowing right away, alright? We didn't plan any of it, but we think it might be for the best. I'll tell you everything as soon as I can… Maybe we should run on to your place, eh? I can tell you there, and I wouldn't mind a spot of tea as well."
Remus at first wasn't so sure how to take this response. Maybe it wasn't what he thought it was? They would have told him, after all, had it been something planned. After all, this wasn't the same hotheaded Sirius that had stayed with him for a few weeks during the summer… The change seemed almost… unnatural. But perhaps it was a good change nonetheless…?
Feeling a little embarrassed for speaking so harshly in the first place, Remus gave Sirius the most apologetic expression he could muster. "At least tell me if it's something very bad… it isn't very bad, is it…?"
"Nothing too serious…" The man flashed Remus a winning smile… it was looking so much closer to that same smile he had had before everything… "Nothing they don't deserve, either."
Remus founded himself only able to nod in response.
"Where is this… thing… again?"
"Hang on a minute! I'm trying to remember…"
Hermione sighed, continuing to follow her friend even as he wandered aimlessly though the seventh floor of Hogwarts. Of course there was no one to notice them, but she still felt silly wandering along the same halls over and over again.
Perhaps she should have gone home for the holidays after all…? The reason why both she and Ron had stayed was presently missing… Where was Harry anyway…?
"I wonder where Harry ran off to all of a sudden," Hermione commented quietly, a finger pressed to her chin as she thought. "It's not like him to simply run off for no reason—at least not without telling us first."
"Maybe he decided to go somewhere with his dad," Ron mumbled, half of his attention still elsewhere.
"I seriously doubt it," Hermione said. "We talked to Harry and his father, we know they are both staying here for the holidays… I'm surprised your parents let you stay."
"Yeah, well, there were special circumstances, you know?"
Well that was true. Hermione remembered also that Ginny had thrown a fit when she was told she couldn't stay while Ron could. She was sure Fred and George would have wanted to stay too, if only so they could be a little nearer to their "heroes".
Hermione felt almost sorry for Mr. Potter, Sirius and Lupin...
"You know," she said cautiously, "it is getting rather late. Perhaps you can show me this tomorrow—"
"Hang on a minute," Ron practically shouted, spinning around to face her. "Don't say it like that! Makes me think maybe I shouldn't even bother trying—"
"Alright, Ronald! Goodness, I had no idea it meant so much to you!"
"Well now you do," Ron huffed, looking around. "This should be the right spot… Why do these stupid hallways look the same!?"
"Can you remember any distinguishing land markers," Hermione asked, trying to be helpful even though she had no clue what he was looking for now. At first it seemed like he was trying to find a location, a door maybe, now she wasn't so sure. "Are there any tapestries that stand out?"
But Ron seemed to be focusing hard now his eyes squinted in concentration, mumbling "tapestries" to himself. Then his eyes landed on a silly looking tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy, who was apparently trying to teach ballet to a bunch of trolls. "This should be it…" He then began walked back and forth.
Hermione realized he was now walking back on forth along a section of blank wall. Coming to a complete stop she simply watch him, confused. What was he doing!? "Ron, are you sure you're alright?"
"Now I just have to think really hard. I need a room were I can practice a new spell…"
Hermione didn't know what Ron was going on about, but all of a sudden a door that wasn't there before… was…
What on earth is going on now…?
"Ah-HA," Ron cheered, rushing toward the door and flinging it wide open. "I knew it had to be around here!" He hurried inside and Hermione only hesitated a moment before following, curiosity getting the best of her.
It was a wide room that was lit dimly, and as hard as she tried she couldn't find the source of the light. A lovely smell filled the air…
She couldn't make it out too clearly, but there was something on the walls. Not waiting to ask, Hermione took her wand from her pocket and pointed it upward. "Lumos!"
In an instant everything was clear as day, even the strangely twisted expression on Ron's face.
The walls were covered with flowers… She could now see that the ceiling was so high she could hardly make out the ceiling in her wand light.
It was beautiful…
She had barely let out a single utterance before he grabbed her hand and was pulling her back toward to door. "Okay you've seen it—it's not that great let's go." His face was bright red.
"Hang on a moment!" Hermione cried, using her free hand to grasp him by the sleeve of his sweater. With strength some would call surprising she dragged him back to the middle of the room. "I haven't gotten a good look yet!" Keeping a firm grip on his sleeve she continued to observe Ron's handiwork.
The spell was obviously nowhere near perfect. Some of the flowers were already wilted, and others no more than green buds. Many of them appeared brown in color, or had peculiar patterns that should not be found in nature. The scent they gave off was peculiar, like no flowers she had smelt before, though she wouldn't call it an unattractive smell, only strange.
But the effect was powerful still.
"I-I didn't want to wait until Christmas to show you," Ron said nervously. "I didn't know if I could get it right again if I tried, so I waited it out. Then some of the flowers started to die, and, well… I figured I had to show you before I cleaned up my mess…"
Slowly letting go of Ron's sleeve Hermione stepped closer to the wall, looking upwards. There was tiny hint of light that filtered through from somewhere above, its color slightly red compared to the clean white glow of her spell. She guessed that it was natural light being cast by the setting sun. They were nowhere near any windows, she knew. Natural sunlight shouldn't be able to reach them here… but where was 'here'? Where they in a different part of the castle?
"How on earth did you find this place?"
Ron was rubbing the back on his neck, a little half-smile on his face. "Well, Fred and George said if I really needed somewhere to work, then to go to the seventh floor. Of course I thought they were just messing with me. And, well, strange thing is, I was just thinking how much I just needed a nice looking spot somewhere... Needed to practice the spell, you know? Then I was wandering around and… well… it just sort of showed up, full of all sorts of things! And when I started coming back, I began to think that maybe I could use a room that was a little more empty and… and this room showed up the next time…" (1)
"Just showed up? I think I heard of this place once…"
"But yeah," Ron said, "it was kind of worth it. Learned something new, right? Don't think I did too well on my other assignment, though. Thought for a while that maybe I could somehow use this instead, but then I'd have to show them this room, and… well…"
"You mean... you failed to complete your assignment because you were busy doing this...?"
He looked so embarrassed that Hermione wasn't sure how to feel at all. "Ron... that is the sweetest more beautiful thing anyone has ever done for me... even if you severely need to get your priorities in check." She blushed shamefully as Ron winced, obviously unsure whether to take that as a complement or an insult. Of course Hermione had meant it as both...
"That's a weird way of putting it…"
"It is beautiful," she said hastily before he might get upset. "I really am thankful, Ron. This is... it's beautiful."
Ron gave a small though reluctant smile. "It really wasn't all that bad in the end, besides the part of making them thornless… Have thorns, by the way. If you prick yourself you might get a green rash…"
Ah, it would figure that the spell would have some more vicious flaws… but still. "Though truly, it is brilliant! You see what you can do when you really apply yourself?"
She jumped a little as his hand shyly brushed against her own.
"With the right motivation, eh, 'Mione...?"
Her stomach suddenly flipped a little, and she felt like it was time for her O.W.L.s already... She didn't think it could be like this at all… a small part of her thought that maybe Ron had some help with this because he was so…
But asking that would probably break the moment.
She gave a silent nod, smiled softly, and carefully grasped his hand with her own.
Help or not, it had taken him bloody long enough…
The next day, the Dursley's
They awoke at the dinning room table, which had been strange. Abnormal, even.
Mr. Dursley had a splitting headache, and after a while stared with bemused wonderment at the clean, orderly state of his house. Something told him it was all strange, but he couldn't remember why…
He remembered James Potter visiting them last night, what an awful shock it had been for all of them. People weren't supposed to come back from the dead, even that horrible magic folk.
They hadn't bothered to call the police. After all, how could they possibly say? That there was a dead man walking around who hated them?
As he cleaned himself up and got ready for a day of hard work Mr. Dursley began feeling like something off… like something was terribly wrong, but he couldn't remember what it could be. Memories of his parents were much clearer in his mind, however. Proud, respectable people. Very normal, but not…
These memories seemed so fresh now, Mr. Dursley was uncertain as to why he was remembering them so clearly now.
He remembered how much they hated James, Lily and Harry Potter. He remembered why.
But then he remembered… other things…
Remembered that his own parents were Wizards.
Remembered that his Grandparents were Wizards.
He had somehow forgotten, though he didn't know how. He couldn't clearly remember any point in time where any of them had actually used magic, but he… somehow he…
His blood was just as dirty and that boy's…
It made him feel acquire, unclean. Perhaps he had always felt that way?
Why had the boy been treated in such a way…? Then maybe, he should hate himself in the same way…
He was dirty, just like his parents. He could never tell his family, oh no… they could never know the truth…
But as he said goodbye to his family they looked… nervous. Uncomfortable… watching him…
Did they know?
Petunia didn't look her husband in the eye when he left that morning. She could barely stand to look at her son, either.
What had she been thinking when they married? Vernon's parents had been Wizards… Unclear, horrible Wizards. That means Vernon could be one as well. Even their son… What if signs showed later in life? Why had she ignored it all until now? She was a fool.
She didn't have a choice. Vernon provided for her, after all. And perhaps if she kept Dudley close… kept him away from Vernon maybe he wouldn't turn out like Harry had.
At this point all she could do was hope… (2)
Hogsmead, Remus' home, Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve found Sirius in Remus' new living room. The two sat in mismatched armchairs that were not a foot apart and both men held warm cups of tea.
The room was small, cramped, and perhaps the ceiling was a little low, but it was comfortable enough. Or at least, that is what Remus told him. Even now their feet just barely touched the base of the hearth. The bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen were just as small.
Sirius asked if perhaps Remus would want to look for someplace with more space… But Remus would smile in that pleasant manner of his and tell Sirius that he was used to small spaces anyway, and wouldn't know what to do with that much room.
Sirius considered such talk melancholy, but he didn't push the issue.
Initially he had come to explain what he and Sirius had done to the Dursley's… It had been tricky to alter their memories in such a way, he they had done it. Remus hadn't approved, saying it was a cruel thing for them to do.
But Sirius promised Remus that they would undo what they had done… someday. After the Dursley's had a chance to get a taste of their own medicine… to see what it feels like to be different.
But for Sirius, there was something else to talk about… Sirius knew that Remus had been hurt by his words that day at the train station, and he hated himself for it. What made it worse was that Remus felt sorry for him, when he should be angry and thinking of himself.
"We all make mistakes," Remus had said. "Sometimes we feel it hard to move on from them, but sometimes we have to."
Remus always seemed to understand… or maybe it was that Remus was willing to accept things where Sirius wasn't.
Sometimes he wished he had a little less Black in him…
After that they sat in silence. Neither of them felt a pressing need to speak from the start, finding each others company more than enough. That was, until Remus broke the silence,
"You know," Remus spoke quietly. "You've never actually told me how your classes were going…"
Sirius smirked, welcoming the conversation, though perhaps not the subject matter… "Horribly."
Remus laughed. "Is that all you can say? ... And Severus?"
"Ugly and greasy as ever."
Remus smiled brilliantly. "Ah, good... Nothing out of the ordinary, then!"
"Stuff it, you. You know I can't stand this job."
"Well you have nothing to complain about right now, you're on holiday."
"You know," Remus began again carefully, trying to keep the smile from his voice, "I assumed you would enjoy such a job. Working with young, bright children..."
"Well you thought wrong. And they aren't very bright at all… And if you haven't noticed, over the last few years I haven't exactly become a people person. You're much better suited for the job, anyway."
Remus frowned slightly. Of course, Sirius wouldn't feel comfortable around people right away, but surely this was helping him. Remus enjoyed every bit of time he spent with other people. After all, something in his heart told him these happy times wouldn't last forever… so Remus savored ever moment he got, while he could… "I'm sorry... But I'm sure it'll all turn around."
"You know what would really make me feel better…?"
Remus rolled his eyes. "We're not burning Grimmauld Place down, Padfoot."
Sirius laughed. "Oh, please, I wouldn't burn the whole thing down, what sort of man do you think I am? After all, it's been put to good, hasn't it?"
"Well, that's good to—"
"But there is nothing wrong with ritualistically burning certain items. Like that painting of mother? Don't you ever find it just a little more than annoying? And that blasted House Elf doesn't do anything—"
"You are not burning Kreacher," Remus gasped in horror. "How could you consider doing something so cruel!?"
"He would burn me first," Sirius hissed back. "I can read it in his evil, beady eyes that he's out to get me! If the house were on fire he's rescue that bloody painting before he'd give me a second thought."
Remus sighed. "You know perfectly well that poor creature is bound to your family. I doubt it could harm you even if it wanted to."
"Oh, it wants to," Sirius said with all the convection in the world. "And believe me, I know how crafty that little bugger can be. Maybe he can't kill me, but he can certainly do it indirectly."
Remus sighed and did his best to change the subject. It was the holidays, after all, and not a time to worry about death and hatred. "And after you've settled things with you family home, what would you want to do the most?"
Sirius sighed almost dreamily, the lines of tension quickly disappearing from his face. "I already did what I dreamt of most…"
Sirius smirked knowingly. "I walked through the archway of the Great Hall a free man… Even though I hadn't been anticipating that I would also be a professor at the time as well..."
"Considering I am perhaps enjoying it just a little bit now… though just a bit... I can give and take house points now."
Remus smirked then. "It's no surprise to me," Remus murmured humorously. "You're going to end up like Snape…"
Sirius watched Remus wince at the scathing look he received.
"What I meant," Remus began again, "is that Snape is known as a bully when it come to anyone but his house, and with a grudge of sorts against Gryffindor." He laughed, eyes sparkling merrily. "I don't think anyone saw you coming, a bully sided with Gryffindor and the bane of all that is Slytherin. Next thing we know you'll be competing with Snape over who can take the most house points from the opposing team. Neither Gryffindor nor Slytherin will win the house cup for many years to come."
"That's not funny at all, Remus."
"I wasn't aware I was trying to be funny," he said with a wide grin on his face.
"Laugh it up, Moony. I'm still not too old to make you regret your words the old fashioned way…"
"Seriously though," Remus said, trying to keep the conversation on track. "Sirius… I know you will ultimately grow to either love or hate your position… but you will need to consider what you will do next year…"
"… What do you mean…?"
"You know perfectly well no Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher has ever lasted very long." Remus paused for a long moment, then sighed. "I tried going back, and in such a short time look what happened to me…"
"Coincidence?" Remus met his gaze with a knitted brow. "Perhaps it was all a coincidence, but what if it isn't? The last professor… Dorrey or whatever his name was… Maybe it was a good thing he left before anything terrible could happen to him."
"Then the end of next term will be my last," Sirius said with a sense of finality, though deep inside the words… hurt… just a little. "And since I won't be there the whole year, perhaps I will avoid any serious injury?"
"You could die," Remus said bluntly. "It has happened, Sirius."
For some reason these words had a very powerful effect on Sirius. He could feel the blood rush from his face very suddenly and a weight seemed to form in the pit of his stomach… This was peculiar, considering he was no stranger to near death experiences and he had spent half his life running from people who wanted him death and six feet under.
Maybe it was because he had so much more to loose now…
Remus must have picked up on his discomfort, and was quick to add, "But we aren't blind to the danger, at least. If we keep our eyes open, always be on guard, things should be fine. Our futures will no doubt be filled with all sorts of dangers, given who we are, who we know… We will be cautious, and after that we can only hope for the best."
"Yes…" Sirius offered a smile. "You're right…" After all, there had been no hope before, at least none that he could see.
"So," Remus asked teasingly, "perhaps this is a bit late to be asking, but considering all the shops are open late in Hogsmead, what shall I get you for Christmas?"
In this place, his father hadn't come back to him.
In this place, there had been the worst possible outcome imaginable.
There was a battle going on, all around him. There was shouting, there was blood, and there was chaos and flashing lights darkness.
Sirius fought against a dark figure, moving wildly, wands flashing, eyes wild.
There was a flash of red, and suddenly Sirius was falling with agonizing slowness…
His heart felt it was being squeeze, his eyes burned…
He willed his body to move, to do something to stop this, because this wasn't what his world was supposed to be like…
A moment later, Sirius' body had disappeared altogether, and something else inside of his disappeared along with him…
Harry's eyes shaped open and at the same time he took in a sharp breath.
His gazed darted around the room, and his hand racked through his disheveled hair.
It had been a dream. (3)
A dark dream… Even now his heart was still pounding…
It took him a few moments to realize that someone was calling his name. He was reaching for his glasses even as his heard his father come into the dormitory.
"Harry! Harry wake up! Everyone is already downstairs."
"What…?" He rubbed his eyes, confused, even as his bed curtain was pulled open. Had he forgotten something? "What is it?"
James Potter grinned down at him. "It's Christmas!"
Hogwarts, Christmas Morning
Remus flipped through the book Hermione had just given him. It discussed the concept interdependence between Wizards and Muggles. "Thank you, Hermione, I look forward to reading it."
"I went and marked a few quotes I found particularly interesting," Hermione went on excitedly, hands opening the book for him and pointing at a few passages. "She really can write some of the most moving quotes."
"Right, right," Ron said, taking her by the arm. "Don't start blithering on about it until he's done reading it."
Remus smiled when she only protested a little before going over to sit with him by the fire. The two really made an odd couple…
Sighing contently, he looked down toward the packages that had yet to be unwrapped. One was to Harry from Sirius. He knew there was a magic mirror in that package. Sirius had put in a lot of extra thought into it.
"I had to get it replaced," Sirius explained to him. "It wouldn't do anymore if it just worked on me."
Remus nodded his understanding. "On the other hand, I doubt James will be going very far…"
"You can't be too careful," Sirius said with a grin. "And don't forget yourself in all this."
"Of course. The three of us. We are a package deal, in a way…"
Remus tried to suppress his grin then, fingering once again the new cloak Sirius had picked out for him. Surely he didn't need to go that far, he was still thankful. Remus had only been able to afford giving them all silly gag gifts from the local stores in Hogsmeade.
Actually, the only two that hadn't unwarped any gifts that evening had been Harry and James…
"Where are those two, anyway?"
Two figures sat close together in the fifth year boy dormitory. The taller of the two sat with a photo album in his lap. James remembered most of the pictures in the album, since I was the one that had taken many of them himself. Harry was showing him a number of new additions to the book.
"And what's this one?" James pointed toward a picture of Bill and Charlie Weasley behind the Burrow, two pieces of furniture floating between them. They laughed and waved at James and Harry as their younger bothers Fred and George darted around in the background. "That looks like Charlie I think... and Bill Weasley."
Harry blinked up to him. "You know him?"
James laughed. "Knew him, yes, though not well. He was a fellow Gryffindor, after all, back in school, a few years younger than the rest of us." James shook his head, and wistfully he said, "It's amazing how much you remember things like they happened just yesterday..." He turned a page to find Lily and himself... they smiled up at James and Harry, waving much as the pictures of the Weasley's did. James sighed. "Amazing..."
Harry stared at the picture, and after a while he frowned. "I really wish I had known her..."
"So do I."
"What was... What was she like-I mean, if you want to talk about it, but if you don't..."
James smiled sadly. "She was kind... Quite a temper when she needed one," Harry cracked a smile to this, "I can tell you honestly that she really couldn't stand me at first, and believe me, I brought most of that upon myself." He winced. "And she was protective. She was always very protective, even of her sister, even if Petunia didn't respond in kind... and annoyed your mother to no end."
Harry made a face. "Who in their right mind would be nice to someone who hated the ground they walked on," he asked bitterly.
James smirked. "I never said she was always nice to her sister. Lily pulled a few numbers on that girl that she'll never forget... Now as I was saying, yes, Lily could be horribly protective. But usually when it was needed the most..."
/"I want you to protect our son. I know you can. You're strong--stronger than me, stronger thananyone I've ever known. You always have been, Lily."/
"That night..." He leaned back, crossing his arms across his chest as he thought back. It seemed a lot harder now, to remember. Not just because it was painful, but also because he didn't allow the pain to have control over his life anymore. After all, look at what it had done...
He wasn't sure how to feel anymore.
Seeing that he had his son's full attention, the boy's eyes wide with expectation and curiosity, James continued on gladly. "That night, on Halloween, Lily promised me something."
Harry's eyes became even more focused, silently asking him to continue, and he did.
"She promised to protect you, no matter what happens... You know, your mum would protect you no matter what, right?"
And they both felt the oddest sensation of deja vu...
"So you see... I'm sad that she's gone... That I can't hear her voice anymore," if only in his dreams, "but I am proud of her." Harry didn't say anything, but had turned his head to stare at his mother's picture again, his inky hair hiding his eyes. "I'm so proud of her... She kept her promise and I'm proud, like I'm proud of you, Harry."
Harry's shoulders jumped then, but he allowed no sound to come out. "I miss her," he said thickly, "I don't really know her, but I miss her..." He sniffed, rubbing at the corners of his eyes under his glasses. "Wish I could know her like I know you..."
James stared at him for a while, then back to the photo... He had to say something to make Harry understand like he now understood...
"Harry... You have to see that... That Lily and I... we—... she was someone who was willing to die for what she believed in, and she wasn't afraid. Most people who opposed Voldemort weren't like her..."
Harry shook his head rapidly. "I remember hearing her... Screaming... She wanted Voldemort to kill her instead of me..." The edge of his mouth quivered a little, his breathing a bit labored. "Mum did it... The Killing Curse didn't work because of her..." James wrapped an arm around Harry's shoulders as the boy sniffled again. This time the boy took off his glasses and whipped his eyes with his shirt sleeve. Harry smiled at him shakily. "Should I get over it, then...?"
James felt shocked for a moment before saying, "No! Of course not-"
"Then why don't you feel as bad as you used to...? I-I mean, I'm not saying you don't care, it's just..." He sighed heavily, whipping his face again, though a bit harder this time as though angry with himself. James wasn't angry with him though. If anything he understood.
"Dumbledore told me something once," James said, almost a whisper. "He said that 'How long you mourn does not equal to how much you loved them'. Lily wants us to me happy. She wouldn't want us to hurt for her sake." Unfortunately James felt his own eyes misting over, and his disdainfully brushed them off before Harry looked up at him. He carefully closed the photo album after the people within in the pictures gave them one last wave and smile and set it aside.
Harry wiggled out of James' grasp and placed his glasses on his nightstand. Harry then turned his body so he sat back on the pillows with his legs drawn up, crossing his arms under his head as he leaned back. James in turn layback with his legs swung over the edge of the bed, folding his hands over his stomach.
This was one of those moments that he and Harry had become used to. Those moments of (thankfully) comfortable silence in which nothing is said and they both simply stare off into space until one of them says something. Sometimes they would simply drift off to sleep...
James thought of these moments and remembered his days in Hogwarts, when he and Sirius would flop themselves on their beds and say nothing. Sometimes they would be silently plotting their next prank, other times they were simply bored out of their minds, wanting something to do other than homework. Peter wouldn't say a word to them when they were like this… Remus would sometimes come and snap them out of it. He would tell them that they should try for a passing grade in whatever class they were slacking in…
It was five minutes later when James sat up and looked to Harry, seeing that his son's breathing was steady, his eyes closed. He smirked. "Don't fall sleep on me now."
"Hm?" Harry didn't open his eyes, but moved his head slightly toward the sound of James' voice, indicating that he was still at least partially awake.
"Christmas isn't over yet, you silly boy! Not over at all! We haven't even gone downstairs."
Harry grunted, rolling over. "Really, you'd think I should be more childish about that sort of thing." His voice was taunting, playfully so, and it succeeded in getting James' undivided attention.
"Come on, don't make me wake you up like I used to wake up Sirius for classes..."
"How did you—" Harry was cut off as the pillow that he was laying on was yanked out from under him and Harry suddenly found himself being smothered by it. With a startled yelp he rolled to the side, thankfully out of James' grip but unluckily right off the bed and onto the floor with a sudden THUD. Harry, his hair even more messy and wild than usual, starred up in shock at his father as the man laughed his head off. "What the bloody hell was that for!?"
James managed to stop laughing for a moment, the pillow still in hand. "You were about to ask me to show you how I did it, so I thought it best to cut to the chase. Mind you I could have done much worse, but I thought I should have pity on you this one time."
Growling Harry got to his feet and grabbed another pillow from Ron's bed. "I was going to ask for you to tell me, not show me." He took a swipe at his father, but James dodged out of the way.
"Now that's enough, young man," he bellowed proudly with the most adult and parental voice he could manage, the same voice his father used when he got in trouble at school. "YOU WILL RESPECT YOUR ELDERS!" This seemed to stun Harry for a moment so he could shove the pillow into the boy's face again, causing him to flop back onto the bed. "But right now, I'll forgive you until I can think of a proper punishment. Though flogging seems to be a good idea, hm?"
"That isn't fair!" Harry yelled, trying to get himself coordinated. He fumbled for his glasses on the nightstand. "I can't even see!"
At that moment Ron entered the room wearing a Muggle baseball cap and a set of new fluffy earmuffs, gifts from his father and mother. He looked somewhat miffed at the scene before him. "Where have you two been? You aren't in trouble are you, Harr— … what are you two doing?!"
James took the opportunity to rush out of the room, laughing to himself, his weapon (the pillow) tucked safely under his arm.
"Grab him, Ron!" Harry yelled, still fumbling with his glasses but took the opportunity to throw the pillow in the direction of his father. It missed completely, however, and instead smacked Ron right in the face, knocking him backward. The redhead went down with a howl of surprise.
Even as James rushed down the stairway laughing he could hear Sirius calling out from downstairs, asking what was going on.
He knew ultimately that all this happiness couldn't last forever, not now, when I war was undoubtedly about to begin.
But happiness was always a thing to fight for.
(1) Fred and George once found the Room of Requirement when hiding from Filch, where it turned into a broom closet. When Fred and George gave this advice to Ron, they were doing it as a bit of a joke, expecting Ron to also find a broom closet. Ron never told them, however it turned out to be so much more…
(2) Sirius and James used memory charms to alter the Dursley's memories. To be more specific, they altered Vernon and Dudley's memories so that they believe they were closely related to Wizards (thus their blood is impure), and Petunia remembers this as well. Vernon and Dudley are humiliated by this knowledge and Petunia is disgusted.
(3) Harry's dream, as you might have noticed, is that of Sirius' "death" in the 5th book. Whether or not this is an actual vision or only a dream I cannot say. This is a "what if", after all. Perhaps Sirius is still destined to fall behind the veiling one day? Perhaps it would be the curse of the DADA position that will get him in the end?