Disclaimer: Characters and situations all belong to JK Rowlings, not me. Caius the raven belongs to Draqonelle, who has kindly allowed me to borrow him (Vesta McGonagall is hers too). She also owns the Remus-in-the-closet incident, Caligula Snape, and young Sirius's boggart. In addition, I got the name Polaris Black for Sirius's sister from someone else's fanfic, but I can't remember whose (her character, however, belongs entirely to me and Draqonelle).
Posted by: Elspeth (also known as L Squared)
Ships: Professor Sinistra and an adorable black dog, hopefully hints at a future Snape/McGonagall
Not All Scars are Visible,
"Why Magic and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Don't Mix."
Chapter One: In Which a Man and a Dog get on a Train.
Remus Lupin stepped through the barrier onto platform 9 and ¾, battered leather briefcase in hand. All around him was chaos. Stacks of luggage were being pushed carried, or levitated, owls and cats were running or flying around loose as their young owners scrambled to catch them, and children and their parents were saying goodbye.
"Puppy!" a little girl of three or four shouted enthusiastically, pointing excitedly at Padfoot, who was standing next to Remus wearing a collar and lead and a long-suffering expression. "Puppy!" she shrieked again, tugging on the robes of a rather harried-looking witch.
"Not now, dear."
"But, Mommy, a puppy!"
Padfoot was eyeing the four year old uneasily, nervous at having any attention directed towards himself. Remus reached down and ruffled one silky, floppy ear reassuringly, then gave Padfoot's lead a tug. "Come on, ickle puppy-kins. Let's go get on the Express."
Out of the corner of his eye, Remus caught a glimpse of bright red hair. He turned to get a better look, guessing that it was probably the Weasleys.
At that moment, Padfoot took off, yanking the lead out of Remus' hand and barreling across the platform toward the red-headed family (it was the Weasleys, with Harry right in the middle of them), knocking people out of the way as only an extremely large dog can. So much for his desire to be inconspicuous.
Harry looked up at the sound of loud, joyous barking only to be practically bowled over by the big, black dog as he bounced up delightedly, tail waving.
"Snuffles! What are you doing here? Eew, yuck! Stop! Don't lick me! Get down!"
"Aw, he's so cute," Ginny Weasley cooed, leaning over to give Padfoot a pat on the head. "Who's dog is he?"
"Mine, I'm afraid," Remus said as he strode toward the group, reaching down (although not very far down, Padfoot's head was nearly on a level with his hip) to get a firm grip on the dog's collar. "You hyperactive idiot, do you want the entire platform to notice you? Bad Snuffles! He's not very well trained yet," he apologized.
Padfoot favored him with a meaningful glare. I will get you for this, Moony, his eyes promised silently.
"Professor Lupin! What are you doing here? Are you going to be teaching at Hogwarts again?"
"Headmaster Dumbledore has convinced me to take the Defense Against the Dark Arts position again," Remus explained. "He suggested that I bring Snuffles here with me to help patrol the Hogwarts grounds."
Fred and George were regarding "Snuffles" with unabashed admiration.
"Merlin, that thing is huge!"
"Where'd you get it?"
"Is it trained to attack?"
"Can you set it on Snape?"
"Professor Lupin got him from the pound," Harry volunteered. "I saw him at the end of last year. He nearly bit the Minister of Magic."
"Why's he got a stupid name like "Snuffles"? I'd of called him "Killer."
Ron choked. "Um, not a good name, not really."
"Oh dear," Molly Weasley interjected. "This isn't that dog that was in the infirmary with Harry at the end of the…I mean, at the end of last year, is it? Are you sure you should be bringing him to Hogwarts?" She paused, regarding Padfoot more critically. "And what are you feeding him, anyway? He's far to thin." Ex-convict or not, as somebody close to Harry, Sirius clearly counted as an honorary Weasley, and thus as someone to be worried about and fussed over at every opportunity.
"Not my fault," Remus protested. "He must have spent half the summer running around wild; you can't keep him penned up or he goes nuts."
Padfoot favored him with another offended look as the group began straggling towards the express, luggage bobbing along merrily behind them.
Once all of the various trunks, bags, and owl cages had been installed on the train, Molly and Arthur said goodbye to their children, Molly giving everyone, especially Harry, a huge hug before stepping back down to the platform.
"I want you to be careful this year," she told Ron and Harry firmly. "I don't want anymore owls from Madam Pomfrey about broken bones or concussions. And you two," she turned to the twins, "I want to see a respectable number of NEWTs from you this year. I'm still disappointed with your OWLs. And I don't want to hear anymore about this joke shop business."
"She doesn't know we'll be setting up a mail order catalog as soon as we get to Hogwarts," Remus heard Fred whisper to Harry. "Zonko's has already agreed to order three dozen canary creams."
"I want you to promise me you'll stay on the grounds this year," Arthur Weasley added. "No more secret trips to the forbidden forest or Hogsmeade. The Missing Wizards department has had ten disappearances this month, nearly triple last year's total."
"Yeah, of course. We promise," Ron said, in exactly the same tone Remus himself had once used to protest that he and James had no intention of planting anymore booby traps in the girls' dormitory. He vowed on the spot to keep a close eye on Harry and his friends this year.
Once the Express had pulled out of the station, Harry and Ron found Hermione reading a book in an empty compartment, and dragged Remus and the still securely leashed Padfoot inside, closing the door firmly behind them.
"Professor Lupin." Hermione jumped to her feet, dropping the book—"Studying for the OWLs: Prepare for the Tests that will Determine your Future Jobs, Academic Career, and Place in Life"—back onto the seat. "You're back! Are you going to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts again? "
"Yes. The school governors really wanted a top-flight auror or ex-auror, someone like Arabella Figg or Vesta McGonagall, but they were all too busy. Plus, it gives Snuffles here an excuse to be near Hogwarts," Remus sat down in one of the padded seats, next to the window, leaning down as he made his last comment to ruffle Padfoot's ears.
After a quick glance toward the closed door, the big black dog shimmered and was replaced by Sirius Black, seated cross-legged at Remus's feet, still with the collar around his neck.
"Will you stop putting yourself down!" he said in an exasperated tone. "You'd make at least as good an auror as Arabella, probably better. I went to see her this summer," he explained to Harry and the others. "I'm not sure how much of her 'senile old bat' routine is an act. All those cats." He shuddered. "I think a couple of them left scars." He pointed to the end of his nose, where two parallel scratches could still be faintly seen. "Oh, and Moony, leave my ears alone, will you. And stop tugging on that stupid leash. I swear, you're getting some sort of twisted kick out of this."
"You're the one who wanted a leather collar."
"Yeah, but I wanted one with spikes on it, not something with a cutesy little brass name plate."
"The one with the spikes made you look like a junkyard dog from an American movie."
Remus realized that the three teenagers were staring at Sirius and himself in something almost like surprise. They had never seen the two of them together in any kind of relaxed situation, he realized, only that horrible scene in the Shrieking Shack.
"You sound like me and Ron," Harry said.
Sirius smiled, one of those rare youthful grins that seemed to drop decades from his face, though not from his eyes. "You've never really seen Moony and me together when we're not trying to kill somebody, have you?"
"I shouldn't have stopped you two, that time in the Shrieking Shack. I should have let you kill Wormtail."
"No, you were right." Remus reassured him hastily. "They would have sent me to Azkaban and Sirius straight to the dementors if we'd gone ahead with it."
"Nothing that little shit has done is in any way your fault," Sirius said, grey-blue eyes fixed intently on Harry's green ones. "Don't feel guilty about it. And anyway, as soon as I get my teeth around him, the situation will be rectified. I'll shake him back and forth until his little rodent spine snaps."
Hermione looked slightly shocked at this graphic threat, but Ron grinned in an evil fashion reminiscent of the twins at their worst. Sirius shook himself in a very canine-like manner and resumed speaking, his tone softer this time.
"Speaking of rodents, how'd you make out this summer? I've seen that so-called family of yours—your bloody horror of a cousin threw a rock at me when I went to see Arabella. They did treat you okay, didn't they? I mean, you went through some rough things last school year."
"Of course. I'm fine. You don't need to worry about me." Harry surveyed Sirius, who was still sitting on the floor, back against the seat, in a critical, very adult manner. "Are you okay? Ron's mom was right, you look really dreadful—though your hair's much better really, clean," he added. "It looks kind of like Bill Weasley's, only black instead of red."
"I'm s'pposed to worry about you; it's my job as a semi-parental figure. I also get to nag you about your marks and embarrass you in public."
Remus, meanwhile, gave Harry, who was obviously nearly as concerned about his Godfather as Sirius was about him, a reassuring wink. "I'm sure the house elves will have lots of kibble for him at Hogwarts."
"Like Hell. The day you feed me dogfood is the day your pumpkin juice gets laced with silver nitrate."
Next up, Chapter Two: In Which Lupin Teaches The Fourth-years about Boggarts and Snape and McGonagall have a Civil Conversation.
Stay tuned and learn Colin Creevy's boggart and Professor Sinistra's first name! Plus, there will be angst.