Harry Potter and the Time of Good Intentions

(or: The Last Temptation of Harry Potter)

Chapter Twenty-One

My Other Life


Roger Davies glared at Harry malevolently. Both gripped their wands tightly. "Thanks to your stupid idea of taking students into the forest on a suicide mission, my brother is dead!" he said through gritted teeth. He extended his wand arm. "So help me, I'm going to hex you until—"

"Aaaargh!" Ron suddenly screamed, launching himself at Davies from his infirmary bed. Harry could never understand just how he arrived across the large room so quickly; it seemed that he blinked and Ron was there, with Davies pinned against the wall, his wand on the floor. Ron held Roger Davies up so he was a good foot-and-a-half above the floor, his large hands around Davies' upper arms. Harry hoped he wouldn't change his mind about this and put his hands around Davies' throat—but it wasn't for Davies' sake that he thought this. Swallowing, Harry realized Ron could probably snap Roger's neck like a twig if he wanted to. He'd had a blanket draped loosely around his shoulders when he'd been in bed, but the blanket fell when he sprang across the room, and now he stood in his pajama trousers (too short, as usual), muscles rippling across his back. Harry could also see the scars on his left arm and neck, which were healing remarkably fast. Ron looked frighteningly powerful and ruthless; Harry ran to his side with his wand still in his hand, and when he looked in Ron's eyes he could see that red glint again.

Suddenly, Lupin cried, "Ron! Put him down!" as he strode across the room to stand on the other side of the young werewolf.

Ron glared at him, a truculent expression contorting his features. Without answering, Ron turned back to Davies and reluctantly lowered him to the floor. This, Harry thought, is going to be as bad as house-training Dunkirk. All the same, he was grateful for Ron putting some fear into Davies. He made a personal mental note not to hack off his best friend ever again. Ron backed up from Davies after putting him down, slowly removing his hands from his arms. The former Ravenclaw was the color of parchment. He put his hands on his upper arms, wincing, and surveyed Ron nervously, through narrowed eyes, looking much less likely to hex anyone than he had when he'd first entered. Ron, on the other hand, was still glowering.

"It isn't Harry's fault your traitorous brother is dead!" Ron spat. "Evan turned on me and Cho when we were doing reconnaissance. He tried to hex and curse us, he left the rest of us to deal with dark wizards and giant spiders, and then he put the Cruciatus Curse on Harry! So maybe you should be glad he's dead, because if he weren't, he'd either be going to Azkaban or getting the Dementor's Kiss!"

Roger's face, if it was possible, grew even paler. "He—he what? You're mad!"

Harry shook his head. "Cho can verify all of this. And others saw him curse me, too. It's true."

Roger Davies swallowed. He looked down, then up. "Do—do my parents have to know?" he asked Harry, his voice suddenly hoarse. He did not look like someone who'd been Head Boy. Harry wondered again about his memory of Roger and Alicia at the village school. It suddenly struck him how very odd it was, since Roger and Alicia had never got on well when he was Head Boy and she was Head Girl. He didn't remember a time when Alicia wasn't rolling her eyes at everything Roger said, and when Alicia stepped in and took over prefects' meetings, sometimes Roger looked angry enough to spit. Plus he'd been with Fleur Delacour, of all people; Ron hadn't been the only other Hogwarts boy gaping at her when she'd been at Hogwarts. Not that Alicia's appeal was totally lost on Harry; he'd been amazed that the Draco in his other life had resisted the half-naked Alicia in his bed, and Harry had once responded to her kissing him, briefly. But Harry thought that most young men would choose Fleur over Alicia in a heartbeat, for even though Alicia was very pretty, Fleur was positively other-worldly. What was Roger playing at?

Harry considered Roger Davies' request before answering. "Your parents should know what he did. Otherwise they'll expect some kind of huge tribute for him. And I don't feel like dealing with your parents trying to hex me like you almost did when I'm the one who was on the receiving end of an Unforgivable Curse. I'm not going to praise someone as a hero who was a traitor. That's not going to happen. And if Dumbledore asks us to all stand and drink to him—I'll stay in my seat, and I'll ask everyone else in Gryffindor to do the same."

Harry brought his face very close to Roger's and let him see that Ron's anger was just part of what he had to fear if he started trouble because of his brother's death. Davies swallowed once more, looking back and forth between the two of them, starting to seem less agreeable again, but obviously not interested in having Ron's hands back on him.

"I'm going to see Dumbledore," he said tersely, his mouth barely opening. He slammed the door behind him.

As he left, Ron called after him, "Yeah, you do that! See how far you get hexing him!"

Ron, Harry and Lupin stood looking at each other awkwardly. Lupin put his hand on Ron's shoulder; Ron was almost a head taller than his teacher.

"You can't do that Ron," he said gently but firmly, as one would to a small child. Harry saw that Ron had the good grace to hang his head—but then he lifted it, looking rebellious again.

"He was going after Harry. Was I supposed to let him?"

"Ron," Harry said, "have I ever let Roger Davies best me at dueling?" He smiled at his best friend, who smiled back, reluctantly admitting this with his silence. Lupin nodded at them both.

"Harry can take care of himself, Ron. You know that. And we both understand that your intentions were good. Harry's your best friend. He—"

"—saved my life," Ron finished, staring at Harry. After an awkward pause, Ron said quietly, glancing nervously over his shoulder in Hermione's direction first, "Look, Harry. I owe you so much. I—I never should have said what I did back in August. I think—I think if you do it with a lot of I'm sorries and groveling Hermione will take you back. Do it. I know you care about her. I do. And I can't—"

Harry shook his head. "Weren't you the one telling me that she's not property? You can't just hand her back to me Ron. She doesn't belong to either one of us. She's her own person. She'll decide what she wants to do. But personally—I think she wants to be with you."

"Not anymore."

"How do you know? Did she say that?"

"No, but any sensible woman wouldn't want to be with me. And Hermione is nothing if not sensible."

Harry sighed. "Let's give it some time. Maybe you should have a cooling-off period while you adjust to, um, the changes you're going to experience. It's probably not the best time for starting a relationship. But she'll wait for you, I think." He paused before saying, "She's been waiting for you since September, you great twit. Well—she's probably been waiting for you since the Yule Ball in fourth year, but in September—"

He frowned at Harry. "What?"

Harry sighed. "What part don't you get? The twit part or the waiting-for-you-since-September part? You know, when you asked her to tell you that she didn't love you and she couldn't?"

Ron's jaw dropped. "How do you know about that? She wouldn't have told you—"

Harry rolled his eyes. "You seem to have forgotten that I have an Invisibility Cloak. I witnessed it."

Ron stepped back and stopped using a soft voice. Harry berated himself, thinking, Way not to hack off a werewolf. "You what?" Ron practically squeaked. He was livid.

Harry still kept his voice low so others wouldn't hear; however, Lupin's proximity meant he heard everything just fine. "I wasn't trying to spy on you. I wondered where you were so I checked my map. I saw you were both in the common room so I decided you were both okay and in for the night. But then I noticed that Ginny was wandering around the castle and it looked like Filch was going to catch her, so I went to get her with my Invisibility Cloak so she wouldn't be caught." Harry omitted the information about Draco Malfoy and Mariah Kirkner being in the Trophy Room. "When I came down to the common room wearing my cloak and I saw that the pair of you had fallen asleep at one of the tables, I was hoping I could sneak out without you waking up, but unfortunately, that didn't happen. Then I had to wait for you both to leave the common room so you wouldn't know I was going out the portrait hole."

"But—but you were going to help Ginny. Why wouldn't you want us to know that?"

"Er—" Harry stalled, trying desperately to think of a plausible lie. He took entirely too long, though, and Ron's eyes opened wide in understanding.

"You didn't just see Ginny on the map, did you? You saw her with Malfoy, I'll bet!" Ron hissed through his teeth, turning to glare in the direction of the slumbering blond boy near his sister.

"It's—it's not what you think, Ron," Harry said quickly. He could actually tell the truth now—most of it. That made it easier. "Listen—she was planning to meet him, yes. But Filch kept making it hard for her to reach their meeting place, and Malfoy headed back down to the dungeons after the time they were supposed to meet came and went. She didn't have any way of knowing he'd gone back, and I was afraid Filch was about to catch her, so I went and fetched her back to Gryffindor Tower."

Ron frowned at him again. "And you didn't bother telling me about this. Nice one, Harry. This was in September."

Harry threw up his hands. "Ron—nothing happened. They never met up. You don't know they were meeting to do anything other than—other than talk." Harry almost believed that they'd really been planning to meet, he'd been talking about it so convincingly to Ron. Now he remembered that Draco Malfoy had been meeting Mariah Kirkner, that Ginny had accidentally found the note. He glanced at the bed in which Mariah was sleeping, noticing that her hands on the top of the blanket no longer had their fingerless gloves, and they looked fine. He moved his eyes back to Ron, who looked like he knew Harry wasn't telling him the whole truth. But then—Harry didn't know the whole truth either, and he didn't want Ron putting Draco Malfoy up against the wall the way he'd just done with Davies. Well, I kind of do want Ron doing that, but I shouldn't want it (and Ron shouldn't do it).

"How do you know they haven't met some other night since then? It's been months!"

Harry sighed. "All right, I don't know. What was I supposed to do, spend all night every night staring at the map to see if she was leaving Gryffindor Tower and he was leaving Slytherin House? I got into enough trouble because I wasn't sleeping last summer—" he started to say, then actually bit his tongue to stop himself saying more.

"What trouble?" Ron wanted to know. Harry's tongue was sore and his mouth was a thin line. He looked at the floor. When he looked up, Lupin was squeezing Ron's shoulder still, and he looked like he was doing it hard enough to make Ron wince. He realized suddenly that Lupin must be very strong and muscular under the tattered robes. He remembered the way the tailored suit Harry had bought him for Dudley's funeral had hung on his body, making him look very dapper, but Harry hadn't suspected the power that hid beneath the costume. He remembered thinking that Remus Lupin had resembled a hairy accountant.

"Never mind," Harry said, hoping Ron would drop it. "It's just a good idea to get a full night's sleep, and I can't spend every night babysitting Ginny. She's a big girl."

Lupin finally got Ron's attention. "Ron—get back into bed. I have a lot of things to talk to you about. First thing—you need to remember how strong you are now. You can break delicate objects and hurt people without meaning to. You have to relate physically to the world in a completely different way. Over the years I've bought some books about martial arts that I can lend you. I never wanted to train formally, because I was afraid of hurting others, but I learned a lot of techniques for clearing my mind and controlling my physical reactions to the world. It's very calming, like a kind of meditation. We can train together because we're of comparable strength. And it's also good for learning to control your temper."

Harry frowned at him. "You never seem like you have trouble with that."

Remus Lupin raised one eyebrow and said placidly. "Werewolves have terrible tempers, whether or not they're in their wolf form. We're much more volatile than the average human, and you, Ron, were already more volatile than most people," he said, nodding at the tall redhead. "You two may think I don't have a temper, but that's because of the techniques I mentioned. I've worked for years at controlling myself. I don't just try to do that when I take the Wolfsbane Potion. It's a constant, daily struggle. Every moment of every day I work to stay in control, to not let my inner wolf rule me. You'll have to learn that too, Ron. It won't be easy. Please let me help you."

Ron looked sadly at the older man. "You've done this all your life?"

Lupin shook his head. "I didn't learn about some of these techniques until after I was out of school. And when I was in school, well—Sirius was such a hothead, anyone else around him seemed like a milquetoast by comparison." He smiled and the boys smiled back at him. Harry was amazed, listening to Lupin. He always seemed so even-tempered, so easy-going. That this was a façade he'd cultivated carefully over the years and struggled to maintain daily was a shock to Harry.

Ron returned to his bed and Harry sat on a chair between his bed and Hermione's. Hermione rolled over in her sleep and was facing them now, her hair falling over her face slightly. Suddenly, her eyes opened. She closed them, then opened them again, then leaped from her bed, throwing her arms around Harry.

"Harry! You're all right! Oh, I thought—"

He held her tightly for a moment; she had never seemed so small and vulnerable, and yet he knew she was tough as nails. He thought of what might have happened if he hadn't caught her when she was falling from the tree…

Then he held her away from him, at arm's length, leaning in briefly to kiss her brow. "I'm fine. Even well-fed. Lupin and I had breakfast at a Muggle pub on the other side of the forest. We had a good talk." He looked across Ron's bed at his teacher, who had gone back to looking grim. Harry separated completely from Hermione and led her to Ron's bed. She sat on the edge, looking at him uncertainly.


He sat up against the pillows, on top of the blankets. There seemed to be much more red hair on his chest and arms than the day before, and his beard needed a trim. Hermione found his hand and laced her fingers in his. "You know I'm here for you. And that—I want to help you." She gazed at him like she was trying to memorize him. Then Harry had a thought, and brightened considerably.

"Hermione! You should help Snape make the Wolfsbane Potion, so you can learn to do it too!"

Hermione frowned. "I don't know. I mean, Professor MacDermid has been trying to do it all year."

Ron laughed; Harry was glad to hear it. "That's MacDermid. You're Hermione Granger. Of course you can learn to do it!"

"I'll have you know," came a cold voice from across the room, "that that is my uncle you are disparaging." They all turned in surprise to see Severus Snape sitting up, his long black hair contrasting with his white hospital smock. "And when it comes to disparaging my uncle—" he went on, a thinly-veiled threat behind his words "—I am the sole person permitted to do it." Harry tried not to grin. He was back! And the same as ever—minus the amputated fingers. Harry looked at the bandages on Snape's hands, trying not to think about it.

"Is it true, Remus, that my uncle has failed to make a proper draught of Wolfsbane Potion?"

Lupin nodded. "I'm afraid so, Severus."

Then Snape looked levelly at Harry, and Harry caught his breath, it was so like the last time he'd seen his stepfather, at Dover.

"And is it true, Potter, that you are the one who led the students in the Dueling Club into the forest to retrieve me and Mr. Malfoy?"

"Yes, sir," he said quietly. "The teachers weren't available. And Draco Malfoy had already gone into the for—"

"Well the bloody letter said to come alone!" Malfoy snapped, pulling himself up in his bed. Harry turned to him. The other boy was paler than usual and looked as if he hadn't slept for a week, though he'd just woken. Harry smiled ruefully.

"Good morning to you too, Malfoy."

Draco Malfoy grimaced. "And Granger—did you have to set the whole bloody forest on fire?"

Hermione groaned and closed her eyes. "I was aiming for a small tree that wasn't near any others. It would have gone out after a little while without spreading the fire to other trees. Then Wormtail swooped at me while I was doing the spell, and I wound up hitting this huge dried-up old tree. Do you think I planned to burn the forest down?"

Harry smiled at her. "Well, I did wonder, but that makes a lot more sense."

Then Ginny woke and joined the conversation, and Harry found it very difficult to stop looking at her. When he finally succeeded he met Snape's gaze, which looked very knowing. He saw Snape move his eyes back to Ginny and raise his eyebrows questioningly. Harry remembered that he had heard him speaking to Ginny in the forest, saying the same thing James Potter had said to Lily Evans. He drew his lips into a line and stood, addressing Ron, Hermione and Lupin.

"I should probably go to see Dumbledore, find out what kind of stink Davies is going to raise."

Lupin came with him to the door of the infirmary. "Actually, we should probably both see him." They bade the others goodbye, Harry giving Snape a small smile and a nod, which, to his surprise, was returned.

It was so strange to be back in the castle. When they were in the corridor outside the infirmary, Harry turned to his professor. "Will—will it do much good for you and Ron to have the potion? Since you weren't taking it during the entire week before the full moon?"

Lupin looked perplexed. "I honestly don't know. One thing I want to talk to the headmaster about is where we'll spend the night. I don't think we want to go back to the forest, frankly."

Harry thought furiously. "What about—what about the dungeons? We can all be locked in a cell together."

"What do you mean 'we?'"

Harry swallowed, trying to seem braver than he felt. "Do you think I'm going to let my best friend go through this alone? I can maintain my griffin form fine now. I've been fully trained for a year-and-a-half, and I accompanied you before, in the Shrieking Shack. Bloody hell, the first time I flew it was an emergency, and I had no idea whether I'd be able to do it. Hermione and I could have plunged to our deaths, or we could have broken every bone in our bodies, at the very least. Then we probably would have wished we were dead. I didn't know I'd be using my Animagus training for this when I started studying with McGonagall, but I'm glad that I can do this for Ron. You can't talk me out of it."

Lupin's mouth was very thin. "I can see that. Well, I reckon it's not up to me. We'll see what the headmaster has to say." He started to move away, but Harry put his hand on his arm to stop him.

"Professor—" he began, then hesitated. "There's—there's something else I'm worried about. When it comes to Ron. He—he seemed so depressed. Have you—have you ever heard of a werewolf who—um—who—"

Lupin looked at the door nervously. "Harry, I really think we should go up to see the headmaster."

"—who committed suicide?" Harry finally finished, his voice very soft. Lupin sighed.

"Harry, this isn't the place to discuss this."

"But I'm worried! I've never seen him like this. And he's so strong now. It would be hell to disarm him. Not take his wand from him, but take a different sort of weapon from him. I—I didn't save his life just to have him go into a depression and take it himself."

Lupin's frown deepened. "Harry!" he said sharply. "Let's take this upstairs. Now." But it was too late. The infirmary door swung open and Ron stood there. Lupin sighed. "Did I forget to mention, Harry, that Ron has hearing that is far more acute than the average human's?" He tried to sound casual, but Harry felt himself reddening as Ron glowered at him.

"I'm—I'm sorry Ron. But I am worried."

Ron had looked cross when he'd first opened the door, but now he looked at Harry's face and relented. "I—I know Harry. And yes; I'm depressed as hell. I won't lie to you; I feel bloody suicidal. But—but saying that—I don't know. Maybe it helps. Admitting it. And knowing that my best friend would never let me do that."

"Best friends," Harry corrected him. "That's the last thing in the world Hermione wants either."

Ron nodded, grimacing ruefully. "I heard what you said, Harry. About not letting me go through this alone. I just want you to know—I appreciate it."

Harry gave him a small smile. "What can I say? You're stuck with me, mate."

Ron grinned at him and Harry grinned back. It was wonderful to see Ron do that; the smile didn't stop with his mouth, but went to his eyes as well, the way it did when Ron really meant a smile.

"Anyway—I kind of already knew about the hearing. I could hear everything Pomfrey was saying to Dumbledore in her office last night, and everything he was saying to McGonagall out here in the corridor, as well." He looked at Lupin with a lopsided conspiratorial smile. "Didn't you ever tell your head-of-house or headmaster about that when you were a student? Or did you just find it convenient for the adults not to know how well you could hear?"

Harry noted that Lupin reddened slightly. "I—I preferred not to discuss the things that make me different when I could help it. My sense of smell is also very acute—as is yours, now. And if I went into a pitch-black closet, I could also see all of the objects in it with perfect clarity. Night-vision. However—it only extends to objects. I wouldn't be able to read words on paper or parchment, or in books. Not unless they were raised, unless they had some sort of shape." His eyes twinkled mischievously. "Didn't you ever wonder how I knew that Miss Brown and Miss Patil were having conversations about their astrological charts when they were supposed to be listening to my lectures?"

Harry's jaw dropped. "That's not fair! At least we knew about Moody's eye!" Ron laughed.

"Just try to keep secrets from me now, Harry," he said with a wink, looking much more cheerful. Harry laughed too.

"All right, all right. You have a lie-down. I'll be back." Ron nodded at them both and returned to the infirmary.


After Lupin gave the password to the gargoyle and they rode up the rising spiral stairs, they knocked on the headmaster's door and were immediately admitted.

"Ah, Remus and Harry. There you are. Do come in. Mr. Davies has departed." He did not rise but sat at his desk, his fingertips together. He stared at his hands in seeming fascination. Harry saw that the former headmasters were dozing in their frames as usual as he and Lupin sat in the chairs before the desk. The fireplace was dark. Fawkes wasn't on his perch; Harry assumed that he had flown out of one of the windows, which were open to the spring breezes.

They sat in awkward silence for a few minutes. Dumbledore didn't seem the least bit interested in asking where they were all night and the early part of the morning. He did not immediately sack Lupin for biting Ron. He simply sat quietly, deep in thought. Finally, the headmaster stood and went to one of the open windows expectantly. Fawkes flew in, a parchment in his beak. Dumbledore took it and gave him a strip of meat from a bowl near the window. He sat at his desk, unrolling the parchment and peering through his spectacles to read it, nodding and murmuring, "Mmm…" as he read. When he'd finished he rolled up the parchment and looked at Harry and Remus Lupin over his spectacles.

"It is happening all over again. Twenty years ago we had a devil of a time with Imperius, and we are again having a great deal of trouble with it. Blaise Zabini and the other Slytherins who duped the professors into entering the Slytherin common room claim to have been cursed. They are at the Ministry, being questioned by Eustace Bean. Viktor Krum's wand was recovered by Aurors who combed through the site of the confrontation, and through Priori Incantatem it was found to have performed the Imperius Curse the last thing before his death. And in this transcript I have of an interview with Peter Pettigrew at the Ministry last night, he says that Krum was friendly with Zabini and performed the curse on him to assure that the teachers would be unable to come to the forest. Now, Zabini's wand also revealed that he performed Imperius, but if he was under Imperius when he did it, he is blameless. And though we have only a small amount of evidence to that effect at the moment, if a jury believes it is enough evidence, he will go free. The other Slytherins who were helping him performed spells to stun and bind their teachers, but no Unforgivable Curses. And since it seems that they were under Imperius, cast by Zabini, it is possible that they will be exonerated as well, after further investigation. Certainly I will not take house points from any student who was magically compelled to attack teachers."

He sighed. "Now, Professor Flitwick...it seems that the potion was given to him by none other than our Head Girl, Cho Chang. He's right as rain now. He says she came to him with it, saying it was a cheering potion she was working on, and would he mind testing it for her."

Harry frowned. "But—but Flitwick is the most cheerful person I know. Who'd notice any difference?"

Dumbledore laughed. "Well, Professor Flitwick, being a naturally cheerful person, as you noted, wanted to help, of course. He's her head-of-house. She's the Head Girl. It never occurred to him that she would ever do anything untoward. And it wasn't a dangerous potion, merely a harmless sleeping draught. I talked to Miss Chang last night, after we returned to the castle, and she remembers nothing of this. Pettigrew confirmed, however, that Krum put her under Imperius to give Flitwick the potion, and he also put a complicated memory charm on her, as well. It is contingent upon the execution of a task. When the task is completed, all memory of it is lost. So, if we are to believe Pettigrew, neither Miss Chang nor Mr. Zabini are remotely responsible for their actions."

Harry frowned. "I suppose Evan Davies was under Imperius too? Wouldn't that be convenient."

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "That is the interesting part. According to Pettigrew, he had no knowledge of a member of the Dueling Club being a Death Eater. In fact, he says that as far as he knows, the only student at the school who currently has the Dark Mark is Draco Malfoy. We checked Zabini—no mark. None of the other Slytherins have it either. Of course, with Evan Davies…" Dumbledore cleared his throat. "The—the body is so severely burned, it is impossible to tell whether his arm ever bore the mark. But Pettigrew insists that if Evan Davies was a Death Eater, it was being kept from him. It is possible that he was a Death Eater sympathizer, someone who would have been easy to recruit had he been asked. Perhaps what he did in the forest was his way of volunteering for the cause, you might say."

Harry stood, pacing, deep in thought. Then he remembered something. "He seemed fine until he went off with Cho and Ron to do reconnaissance. He stayed separate from the other Ravenclaws before that. Is it possible that Viktor also told her to put Imperius on Evan when he put Imperius on her? And then the memory charm wiped out that memory as well, as soon as she put the curse on him?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "I don't know, Harry. If she did, it will be difficult to find out, since she performed subsequent spells. It's much more complicated to get a wand to give up more than the last spell it performed—you saw what it took for that to happen with Voldemort's wand, two years ago." Harry nodded, remembering the ghostly sights and sounds emanating from the wand that was locked with his in that golden web of light. "Pettigrew said only that Krum put Imperius on Miss Chang to give the potion to Professor Flitwick and on Zabini to take the other teachers prisoner. He didn't say anything about putting Imperius on Miss Chang to get her to put Imperius on another student in her house."

Harry's head was spinning. "So—was Evan Davies under a spell or wasn't he?"

Dumbledore threw up his hands. "We may never know. Certainly, his behavior seemed odd and erratic. He's never attacked you before, has he Harry?"

Harry shook his head. "I always liked Evan. A lot more than his brother, in fact. Now Roger Davies was always—" Harry stopped, and he felt the blood drain from his face. "What if—what if his own brother did it? To—to make Evan his agent! To do the things he couldn't do because he's out of school now? After all, he was being recruited by Lucius Malfoy last year. Just because Percy didn't need to follow up on his recruitment after Malfoy went to prison, what's to say that Roger didn't decide he wanted to be a Death Eater?" Harry swallowed, thinking of Alicia and Fleur.

"Hm. We can look into that." He sighed. "But at the moment, given Evan's behavior, and the fact that we have no evidence to suggest he was under a spell, I think we have to conclude that he was acting of his own volition, that his sympathies were with the Death Eaters, regardless of whether he'd been formally recruited and was known to be sympathetic by Voldemort or anyone else working for him. I would like to believe that he wasn't to blame for his actions, but at this time there's absolutely no basis for that hypothesis."

Harry remembered seeing Evan Davies dancing in the fire; he would see it in his nightmares for the rest of his life. Would it be more comforting to think that Evan died a Death Eater sympathizer, or that he was being controlled by his brother, or someone else? "So—will there be a tribute to Evan at the leaving feast or not?" he asked between clenched teeth.

Dumbledore's mouth was very thin. "We have time to decide that. How would you feel if there was, Harry?" Harry met the headmaster's gaze, feeling very confused.

"I—told Roger Davies that if you asked us all to stand and raise our goblets to him, I'd stay in my seat," he said softly.

Dumbledore nodded. "I know. He told me." The old man sighed wearily. "As much as I've managed to ignore it over the years, at times—and especially at times like this—my job is fraught with politics, Harry. Ambrose Davies is very influential in the Ministry. His conduct has always been beyond reproach. Eve Davies is a diligent member of the Hogwarts board of governors and a tireless fund-raiser for St. Mungo's. The Davies family have never been known to socialize with dark wizards. They have always been in favor of Muggle-born students attending the school. You may or may not be aware of the current debate on the board about possibly banning Muggle-born witches and wizards from attending Hogwarts, something Durmstrang did years ago. Eve has been very outspoken about what a wrong-headed idea that is." He sighed again. "I dread telling Eve and Ambrose of the circumstances of Evan's death. Roger will be telling them first, to soften the blow, but eventually I will have to face them. Their son was in my care."

Harry swallowed. How would he do it, if he had to? How did one tell grieving parents that their son had turned away from every good ideal that they held dear, and that doing so led directly to his death? "I—I had no idea, sir."

"So, I will ask you again, Harry. If we do pay tribute to Evan Davies at the leaving feast, will you join in?"

Harry swallowed and looked at the tired old man before him. "I will do as you ask, Professor. If you say to stand and raise my goblet, I'll stand and raise my goblet," he said quietly.

Dumbledore smiled ruefully. "I appreciate that you don't want to pay tribute to someone who attacked you the way Evan did, who turned on you and the other students. But remember, Harry, that even if Evan did the wrong thing through a conscious and deliberate choice, that means we have to mourn the boy he was before he made that choice. He wasn't just the boy who attacked Ron Weasley and put the Cruciatus Curse on you. At some point in his life, Evan Davies was still untouched by whatever forces led to his death. At that time he was a good person and a good son. That person is worth mourning as much as Cedric Diggory."

Harry heard a quiet sob beside him and was shocked to see that Lupin had covered his face with his hands and his shoulders were shaking again. The werewolf had been very quiet so far. Dumbledore took out a handkerchief and handed it across the desk to Lupin, whispering, "You haven't had much to say, Remus," as if the man weren't sobbing noisily now.

Lupin took the handkerchief and wiped his face with it. Harry was surprised, but then he realized that he shouldn't have been. Had Dumbledore been trying to convince him he wasn't a bad person for what he'd done to Ron? Harry didn't know whether there was another motive to the headmaster's speech. Remus Lupin was collecting himself, folding the damp handkerchief neatly on his lap before raising his eyes to Dumbledore.

"What's to happen to me, Albus? The Ministry already came for Peter and the Slytherin students; when are they coming for me?"

The headmaster looked at him kindly. "The Ministry does not know yet that there is any cause for concern. They do not know you bit Ron Weasley."

Remus furrowed his brows and shook his head. "Snape didn't tell them? I thought surely—"

"No. No one else has told them either, to the best of my knowledge. Which isn't to say it isn't possible." He sighed. "And after all, Mr. Weasley is going to have to register himself as a werewolf. He will be asked where and when he was bitten, for the registry. They like to keep track of these things, in case there is an unregistered werewolf they should know about or a registered werewolf who has done the biting."

Harry swallowed. "And what if they decide that Professor Lupin was the one who bit Ron, based on where and when he says it happened? What will happen to him then?"

"Well—Ron will be encouraged to bring charges against him. Since werewolves fall under the Creatures Division, if Remus loses the trial—"

Harry frowned, then remembered the last "creature" he knew of who went on trial—Buckbeak. And when he lost, the sentence was—

"No!" he cried. "They can't! He was doing everything he could to avoid—"

"Harry, Harry, settle down. I said that Ron will be encouraged to bring charges. He is of age, so it is his decision, not his parents'. However, most of the time, no matter how irate a new werewolf is, the fact that he or she is a werewolf now gives them a degree of empathy for their attacker. The Ministry hasn't held a werewolf trial in many years. If no charges are pressed, there is a large fine payable to the Ministry and both the original werewolf and the newly-bitten one must provide satisfactory evidence of how they plan to prevent themselves from attacking others each month. That is all. The Ministry even has facilities for werewolves to turn themselves in before the full moon. Voluntary incarceration, just to be safe. Not many take advantage of it, but it is an option."

"You mean those underground cells at the Ministry?" Harry shuddered, remembering; it seemed a step away from an internment camp. The two professors looked at him strangely, and he remembered that they didn't know he had first-hand knowledge of them, even though Dumbledore knew about the time change. "I mean—"

"Albus," Lupin said urgently. "No matter what Ron decides—I cannot in good conscience continue teaching here. Has—has Pettigrew acknowledged killing those Muggles? Has he cleared Sirius?"

"He has. After Davies left, I spoke to Fudge." He nodded at the now-dark fireplace. "He was not happy, but with a full confession in hand, there's not much he can do. Later today, Sirius will officially be declared innocent of the crimes for which he was imprisoned. There is to be a press conference at the Ministry. All of the foreign and domestic wizarding press have been alerted and should be there. Sirius can finally stop running."

Lupin smiled. "Good. So, then; you've got my replacement."

Dumbledore shook his head. "He thought you would do that. He's already said he'd refuse if it meant displacing you. I don't want you to leave, Remus, any more than Sirius wants to take your job."

Lupin swallowed. "I'm sorry, Albus. I just can't stay. I'm sorry if that leaves you in the lurch again, but—I just can't."

The old man nodded. "I understand. In the meantime, we have to work out what to do with you and Mr. Weasley for the next two nights."

"I've already thought of something, sir," Harry said hurriedly. "There's the dungeons. You could lock the three of us in after they take some potion, and—"

He frowned. "The three of you?" Harry explained his plan, and the headmaster was silent for a few minutes, considering this. Finally, he nodded. "Very well. But understand, Harry, taking just one dose of the potion instead of the recommended week's worth may have unpredictable consequences. And being confined with one werewolf—which you've done—is vastly different than being locked up with two. Are you certain about this?"

Harry nodded. "Ron is my best friend."

Dumbledore stood. "Well, that's how Sirius feels as well, of course. He may also wish to join you, and then it will be four. I know of a rather large dungeon that will be appropriate. I can have the elves begin to prepare it."

Harry and Lupin rose, preparing to go, when he remembered something else. "Oh, sir! The elves! Weren't they fantastic?" He grinned at the headmaster.

"Yes, Harry. In fact, Dobby is waiting to see you. Perhaps you should go to the kitchens and find him." He paused. "Your opinion means a great deal to him. He and the other elves were exemplary in their performance. The Slytherins who took the teachers prisoner were subdued very quickly. You made good use of your forces, Harry, both human and otherwise. You showed initiative and leadership far beyond your years, and I am very proud of you." His eyes twinkled at Harry, and Harry managed to forget how wretched he'd felt earlier at the thought of defying Dumbledore over Evan Davies' tribute.

"Thank you, sir."

"I also think—that the other members of the Dueling Club performed quite, quite well. Perhaps it's time for a few more people to be inducted into the Order of the Phoenix, eh Harry?"

Harry grinned. "Sounds perfect." Harry was about to ask where the other giants were, when he remembered—he already knew. They had gone north to the isolated island where the Hairy McBoons lived. They had grown weary of waiting around in the Forbidden Forest with nothing to do and since they had nothing to fear from the transfigured erstwhile Scotsmen, they were able to coexist peacefully with the strange orange five-footed creatures. Harry remembered seeing one of them when his stepfather had had them study boggarts in his other life. And then he remembered that Fridwulfa had stayed at Hogwarts to be near Hagrid, while Orst had stayed to be near Fridwulfa.

Harry was going to ask what was to become of Fridwulfa, but he decided not to. If she was going to be penalized for contributing to Evan Davies' death, the headmaster would have said. Harry guessed, though, that she and Orst would be traveling north to join the other giants on the tiny island. Hagrid would no longer have his mum nearby. He decided that he should definitely not say anything; Dumbledore took his responsibility for Hagrid very seriously, even after all these years, and he probably didn't want to think about Hagrid losing his mother again.

As he was turning to go he had yet another thought. "Snape!" he said suddenly. They stared at him again. "Hasn't he wanted the Dark Arts job for years? He could do it and his uncle could continue doing Potions!" He remembered that his stepfather was a very good Dark Arts teacher. But Dumbledore shook his head.

"Where do people get the idea that Severus wants the Dark Arts job?" Harry remembered one of the Weasleys saying this at his Sorting. "No; Severus has never particularly wanted that job. And I'm rather anxious to have him back in the Potions Dungeon." His eyes twinkled mischievously at Harry. "Perhaps Professor MacDermid's 'fan club' might pay some attention to their potions studies again, eh?" Harry grinned and Lupin gave a feeble smile as well.

Harry left the headmaster's office feeling lighter than he had in ages. Lupin left him to return to his private quarters, to bathe and change into fresh robes. After visiting the elves in the kitchens, and having a slew of them all over him, patting him on the back and pumping his hand, while Dobby exclaimed squeakily the whole time, Harry realized he hadn't yet had a shower himself, so he went to the prefects' bathroom. Afterward, he returned to Gryffindor Tower. It was so strange to walk into the common room after everything he'd been through. Had it only been twenty-four hours earlier that he'd last been in here? It felt like a lifetime. He half-expected everything to look different, but at the same time, he was comforted by the sameness, by the unchanging nature of the place. He went to his dorm, changed his clothes and took out his map. When he activated it he saw that Snape, Hermione and Ginny were in the Apothecary in the hospital wing. Ron's name was on one of the beds still, but most of the other beds had been vacated. Draco Malfoy was no longer in the infirmary, nor Mariah Kirkner. Parvati was still there, but Tony and Ruth were gone as well, plus Millicent Bulstrode and the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, including the Head Boy and Girl, Liam and Cho. He put the map away and left for the hospital wing.

Though he'd seen their names in the same room on the map, they hadn't been so close together then. When he opened the infirmary door, Parvati was in the chair beside Ron's bed, holding his hand, while Ron spoke softly. Harry swallowed. He couldn't, he thought. He wouldn't. Would he? He cleared his throat and approached the bed. Ron looked up, nonplused, but Parvati jumped up guiltily and went to the door of the infirmary, leaving without a word.

"Um—I've seen Dumbledore," he told them, hoping Parvati would get Ron out of her system once and for all. Wasn't his saying Hermione's name enough to put her off?

Ron swallowed. "What did he say?"

Harry took the chair Parvati had vacated, quietly telling his best friend about the werewolf registry, and that there would only be a trial if he pressed charges. "Which you're not going to do, yeah?" he said pointedly.

Ron nodded. "Right. No charges." He lay back and closed his eyes wearily, then opened them again. "How're they coming with the potion?" Harry shrugged.

"Dunno. How come Ginny's in there too?"

"Her idea. I'm her brother. She's got good at potions. If my own sister can make it—well, that'd be rather convenient, don't you think?"

Harry nodded. Jamie would have done it, if the same thing had happened to me, he thought. "She's probably not doing it because it's convenient, Ron. She's your sister and she loves you."

Harry remembered Jamie again, very vividly, letting him put his head on her lap and singing to him. Sometimes there was nothing quite so comforting as a sister. And here Ron was with two sisters he knew nothing about.

"Ron," he said suddenly, not giving himself time to mentally talk himself out of it. "There's something I have to tell you. But first, you have to promise not to go ballistic."

Ron laughed. "That's a brilliant way to start off any piece of news. What is it?"

"Do you promise?"

Ron took a deep breath through his nose and surveyed Harry thoughtfully for a half-minute. "Yeah. Okay."

"Well, last year when we were in your dad's office at the Ministry, I noticed those pictures of the little girls—"

"You mean our cousins?"

Harry drew his lips into a line. "They're not cousins, Ron. When we were at the Burrow later in the summer, Hermione found their pictures in an album in Ginny's room, and we asked your mum about them. Ron—they're your older sisters."

Ron's jaw dropped. "What?"

So Harry explained the kidnapping of Peggy and Annie Weasley, and his suspicion that it had been done with the Tempus Fugit charm. Ron sat very still, staring into space. When Harry was done, he looked at his best friend, wondering whether it was really wise to spring this on him when he'd just become a werewolf. Though his parents should have been the ones to tell him, Harry also knew, and he couldn't stand keeping it from his best friend any longer.

Ron stood and paced aimlessly, looking like a rage was building inside him. Finally, he approached the wall where the door to the corridor was, suddenly punching the wall with all his might. The stones held, Harry was relieved to see, and Ron's hand seemed fine, but the candle stands on the bedside tables rattled and the chandelier overhead swayed as if in a gentle breeze.

"Ron! You promised not to be cross!"

Ron whirled on him. "I thought you mean with you. And I'm not. Cross with you, I mean. I'm cross with—"

Harry swallowed. "Your parents?" Ron nodded, biting his lip so hard it was bleeding. "And Ginny?" Ron shook his head.

"Nah. I mean, yes she could have told me, but—she found out because she was in the Chamber of Secrets. And she was the girl Mum finally wanted."

Harry shook his head. "Ron, your parents are proud of you."

He threw up his hands. "Well, being a werewolf will bring that to a screeching halt, won't it?"

Harry tried to get him to sit, leading him back to his bed. "You really think that? Because I can't imagine them not being supportive. Come on, Ron, you know them."

"Or thought I did. How could they not tell me I have two older sisters? If they stopped being proud of me or loving me because I'm a werewolf, how would I know? They're rather good liars, it turns out."

"Ron! Cut it out! I didn't tell you to make you hate your parents. I told you to—to tell you that I want to help you find them!"

Ron frowned. "Find them? I thought you said the entire Ministry was looking for them when they disappeared. How do you expect to find them almost twenty years later?"

Harry clamped his mouth shut, thinking for a minute before answering. "I have some leads the Ministry didn't have back then. Do you trust me?"

Ron nodded. "You know I do, Harry. All right. Maybe this will help me take my mind off other things…"

Harry put his hand on Ron's shoulder. "I'm here for you, Ron. And so is Hermione. Lean on us, depend on us. That's what friends are for."

Ron eyes glistened with tears. He swiped at them angrily with the backs of his hands before smiling at his best friend.

"I know, Harry. I know."


Harry spent much of the afternoon with Ron playing Exploding Snap and wizarding chess. Ginny or Hermione occasionally reported on the progress with the potion. When Ginny did this Harry found it very hard not to gaze longingly at her. When Hermione came into the infirmary, she was clearly finding it difficult not to gaze longingly at Ron (still without a shirt). Harry sighed, thinking of how he'd been when Ginny was in the room. Everything was at sixes and sevens, it seemed.

He returned to the infirmary after eating dinner in the Great Hall. Sundown was thirty minutes away and the moon would rise forty-eight minutes after that, already full. Ron sat on the edge of his bed, wearing his school robes over a button-down white shirt, jeans and old brown shoes that should have been thrown out a year earlier. His knuckles were very white from gripping the edge of the mattress and he stared at the floor, looking apprehensive. Harry walked toward him.

"It's me, Ron," he said, since he hadn't looked up yet. When he did Harry saw both the fear and resolve in his dark blue eyes.

"I know. You have a distinctive rhythm when you walk upstairs. For one thing, you skip every other step, usually. And you tap the rhythm of that tune on the handrail as you go."

"What tune?"

"You know—that music box Hermione gave you plays it."

Harry hadn't been aware of playing the rhythm of Suogon as he came up the stairs. "You could hear that?" Ron nodded, looking miserable, as if he were able to spontaneously grow a daisy from the top of his head or execute other party tricks that he thought made him seem like a freak. Harry looked around the room; Parvati was gone. Ron was the only one left. "Come on. Let's see how the potion's coming."

They went to Madam Pomfrey's office, which was empty. Going through to the Apothecary, they found Snape, Hermione, Ginny, Lupin and Duncan MacDermid standing over a cauldron hovering over a greenish-blue fire, with occasional flashes of magenta. Snape used a ladle to transfer a steaming liquid into a large stone goblet, which he handed to Lupin. Ginny had been standing with another goblet at the ready, but now she thrust the goblet at Hermione and threw her arms around her brother.

Ron held her, his cheek on his hair, looking like he might cry. His emotions all seemed on edge since he was bitten; he was like an icicle suspended over stone. The slightest vibration could send the icicle crashing down, where it would shatter into uncountable and infinitesimally small shards. He also looked like the most comforting thing in the world right now was to have a sister who loved him and cared about him as much as Ginny. Harry felt his heart contract, thinking again about Jamie, and remembering seeing Ginny and Jamie together when he'd held his basilisk amulet. He wished the Ginny in this life could have known his sister.

Ginny brushed Ron's hair out of his face. "Was your hair so long this morning?" Ron held it out from his head appraisingly, peering at it out of the corner of his eye.

"Perhaps not. I've already trimmed my beard twice today."

Lupin nodded at him, but it was Snape who said, "It's bad today because of the moon. It will be tomorrow, too. Most of the month you'll see normal hair growth." Ron seemed to appreciate how straightforward and businesslike Snape was being. He still had bandages on his hands while he worked, Harry noticed. When Snape handed him a steaming goblet, Ron nodded back at him.

"Thanks." Harry remembered all the times when they were younger when Ron insisted that Snape was clearly evil and out to get all Gryffindors, especially Harry. The thought almost made him want to laugh now. As Remus Lupin downed his potion, Ron looked uncertainly into his and then up at the Potions Master.

"Go on, Weasley. You don't want to wait too long."

Ron sniffed at the goblet and made a face. "Having a really good sense of smell is not an advantage right now."

Harry smiled. "Just be glad you're nowhere near Seamus's socks."

That made them laugh while Ron downed the contents of the goblet quickly, his Adam's apple bobbing. He handed the goblet back to Snape, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He and Lupin both looked slightly green after consuming the potion, but they quickly recovered their equilibrium. Ron looked around the room with narrowed eyes.

"How am I supposed to—to feel after taking it? How do we know it's working?"

"We don't know, Weasley. Not about this. It's supposed to be taken for a week before the full moon. Neither of you has been doing that—and in any case, you weren't a werewolf a week before the full moon."

You weren't a werewolf. Ron looked up at Snape, swallowing. It was as if hearing it from Snape made it real.

You weren't a werewolf. But you are now.

Harry looked at Lupin. "When is Sirius coming?"

Lupin checked his watch. "The press conference at the Ministry was scheduled for six. He should be in the Leaky Cauldron in about ten to fifteen minutes so he can take the Floo Network to Hogsmeade. The headmaster is meeting him with a broom so he can get here quickly. I'd say we can expect him in about twenty minutes."

"Cutting it a bit close, isn't he?" Snape grumbled. Lupin shrugged.

"He knows we can't wait for him. If he's too late, he won't be with us. That's all there is to it." Harry swallowed. Then he'd be by himself with two werewolves, unable to safely transfigure himself into a human until the moon set. Though he'd done it before to keep an eye on Lupin, including the previous evening, and he'd proposed this to Dumbledore, he'd been looking forward to having Sirius's company during the night as well, another animal who was used to doing a werewolf-watch, a companion who wouldn't be a danger to Harry's life if he couldn't maintain his Animagus form. He hadn't had a problem maintaining his griffin form for some time; the one thing that had ever made him change at a bad time was when he was flying over Northamptonshire and Voldemort had summoned the Death Eaters, sending blinding pain through his Dark Mark. He had no Dark Mark in this life, but he had a scar. What if Voldemort did something that made his scar hurt? Could I spontaneously transfigure back into a human from the pain?

Harry tried to put this out of his mind as they prepared to go. He noticed Duncan MacDermid examining the dregs of the potion from the goblets, as if that would tell him where he'd gone wrong in making the potion. Hermione and Ginny were coming, as well as Snape, but MacDermid did not. It seemed like a very long walk to their dungeon. By Harry's watch, it was just after sunset when they reached their destination. Snape and Lupin together took down the heavy wooden bar that was laced through enormous iron brackets; Snape took out a ring of keys and unlocked three locks in the heavy metal door, finally pushing it into the cell. This dungeon had been chosen because of the extra security the door offered (there was also no window in the door). Inside were two piles of hay in the corners farthest from the door, and a single narrow barred window of leaded glass high on the wall. A trough of water sat beside the wall nearest the door. Harry looked around, swallowing; he was starting to think his cell at the Ministry had been luxurious.

The sun had set ten minutes earlier; in just over thirty the moon would rise. Where's Sirius? Harry wondered. Soon it'll be too late.

Hermione threw herself at Ron with a sob, making him fall back from the impact, banging his head on the stone wall. He put his arms around her hesitantly and Harry remembered him doing the same thing when they were younger, when Hermione had unexpectedly thrown herself at him. At the time, Harry had thought Ron was just not expecting her sudden emotional outburst. Now he knew that Ron had been taken aback by that hug because he already had feelings for her and was afraid to show it.

Harry swallowed, watching them for a moment before turning away. He raised his eyebrows at Ginny and Snape, hoping he wouldn't actually have to say aloud, Come on, give them some privacy. But they understood and also turned away. After a few moments Harry heard something that made him think Ron might have changed his mind about not letting Hermione near him now that he was a werewolf. There were definite kissing noises, rustling and sighing. Harry felt himself redden, trying not to think about the way she kissed.

He turned, despite his resolve not to, when he heard pounding footsteps; Sirius was running flat-out down the torch-lit corridor. He stopped a few feet away, bending over to try to catch his breath. When he stood and saw Ron and Hermione, his eyes might have fallen from their sockets.

"What the hell?" he said softly. Harry couldn't help turning around all the way now; they were still connected, her arms twined around his neck, his hands on her back pressing her to him. His hair seemed to have grown even in the time it had taken for them to walk down from the hospital wing; then Harry glanced at Lupin and saw that his had also, and his nails as well, which were quite claw-like. Realizing that people were looking at him and Hermione, Ron turned bright red and pulled back from her. Tears ran down her face as she stared at him. Then Harry had his breath taken away when she suddenly flung herself at him, clasping him tightly but briefly and kissing him on the cheek quickly. She put her fist to her mouth to stifle another sob and ran down the corridor toward the stairs, knocking Sirius out of her way as she passed him. He watched her go before turning back to Ron, his eyes still very wide, jaw open in disbelief.

Harry didn't feel like explaining. Ginny also looked like she wanted to bawl, but was making a great effort to keep her emotions in hand. She stepped toward her brother and embraced him again, less frantically than in the Apothecary, and kissed his cheek. Then, to Harry's surprise, she turned to him and put her arms around his neck in an almost business-like manner before kissing him quickly on the mouth.

"Thank you for staying with him, Harry," she whispered, her lips still very close to his. "You'll—you'll make certain he doesn't hurt himself? Or you?"

Harry nodded, feeling suddenly the awesome responsibility being laid upon him. He was doing this for his best friend, for Ron, but also for Ginny, and for Hermione, and all of the Weasleys, even the lost sisters who didn't know anything about their real family. As Ginny left, Sirius gazed at him with his brow furrowed; Harry didn't think there was a way to adequately explain anything in front of Ron and Lupin before they had to worry about more pressing, life-and-death concerns (hopefully more life than death this evening).

"Remus," Snape said, his voice shaking just a bit as he saw that his colleague was looking more and more unstable. "May I borrow your wand? Mine is—is lost. Pettigrew. I will need it to properly lock you up." Lupin nodded and withdrew his wand for the one man among them who had the most cause to fear werewolves. Harry wondered why he didn't ask Sirius, but then he remembered that Sirius probably didn't have a wand yet. Now that he wasn't a fugitive, he could walk into Ollivander's with his head held high and buy himself a new one. Harry smiled to himself at the thought.

Ron seemed to have had a similar thought, because he took out his wand and handed it to Sirius. "Here," he said. "Since you don't have one. In case of emergency."

"Actually," Lupin said raspily, gazing at his best friend from sunken eyesockets, "speaking of emergencies—did you bring the revolver? And the bullets?"

Sirius shook his head. "This isn't the warehouse, Remus, with those flimsy Muggle walls and doors. This is much more secure. I'm sure the locks will hold, and the bar, and Severus no doubt knows some very effective locking charms." He nodded at his old nemesis, who nodded back; he looked like he wanted to get this over with. Remus Lupin looked disgruntled, as if he thought his friend was taking a terrible chance not to have the gun with the silver bullets handy, but he didn't say anything more.

Finally, the four of them stepped through the doorway; Sirius and Lupin started to push the heavy door closed, but Lupin's face broke out in a sweat and he had to sit down, so Harry helped Sirius finish closing the door. As he did, he saw Snape's face for a moment in the opening, an expression of concern and doubt there, before the metal door slammed shut and they heard the three keys turned in the locks, followed by the enormous bar being put through the metal supports again. (Snape must be using a levitation charm now, Harry thought.)

They were alone, the four of them. Then suddenly, Harry turned to Sirius; he'd had the thought that Sirius could buy a wand now, but it had only been a thought. In the midst of their preparations and precautions, the fact that there was something to celebrate had been lost. "You're free!" he exclaimed, grinning, throwing himself at him. Sirius hugged him firmly, slapping his back in return, before they both stepped back from each other, looked at their surroundings, and simultaneously laughed uproariously. Lupin and Ron looked at each other, merriment in their eyes, and soon they too couldn't resist laughing at the irony that on his first night as a free man, Sirius Black had volunteered to be locked in a dungeon.

When the laughter subsided, Lupin wiped the tears from his eyes and checked his watch. "Moonrise in five minutes," he said quietly. Harry and Sirius sat against the wall near the door. Harry watched Ron, who looked twitchy and nervous, sitting near one of the piles of hay. After just a few minutes, he rose and began pacing, flexing his hands as they swung by his sides. His red beard was significantly longer then when they'd entered. Harry looked at Remus Lupin, who was also sporting a beard now, when he normally appeared clean-shaven or as if he had only a slight stubble. He must use his wand to shave constantly throughout the day, Harry thought.

As moonrise drew nearer, Lupin and Ron looked worse and worse, and Harry began to see a red light in their eyes. He looked at Sirius for some guidance. Finally, his godfather nodded.

"We should change, Harry." And with that, Harry was no longer looking at Sirius Black, but a large bear-like black dog which he had once been foolish enough to think was a Grim. He executed his own change, and soon he was seeing far better than he had been; the dim light was no problem for his griffin's eyes. He settled down beside Sirius, his front paws neatly arranged before him, looking back and forth between the two men, his teacher and his best friend, who would soon become animals against their wills, unlike Animagi. It felt like a very long wait, but when it happened, it was quite sudden. They both cried out; first they went rigid, then an uncontrollable shaking seized them. Heads and bodies elongated and a dreadful snarling that sounded like a cross between an animal noise and a human scream came from them both, though Ron was definitely louder, being unused to the transformation. Shoulders hunched and hands curled into paws with long claws. Harry and Sirius saw before them two wolves with ragged grey coats and glowing red eyes, slavering mouths with tongues hanging out, hungry mouths with no food in sight, as the only acceptable food for them this night would be a human being.

Don't change back, Harry reminded himself. No matter how much the scar hurts, if it hurts, don't change back.

He thought Ron's fur looked slightly reddish where the moonlight hit it, but it was hard to tell; colors didn't look quite the same to him when he was a griffin. The two wolves paced nervously, sometimes glancing at the dog and what seemed to be a lion, other times eyeing each other warily and snarling threateningly. Harry felt his own hide quivering nervously as he also paced, his large padded paws silent on the stone flags. He felt like a wire stretched to its breaking point; he'd never been so tense.

Do something, he thought.

Then one of them did; Lupin leapt through the air, jaws open, claws extended, as he attacked Sirius. Harry emitted a deafening ROAR in response to this assault, which echoed off the stone walls with a force and volume for which he was unprepared. The reddish wolf also chose this moment to leap, and Harry reared up on his hind legs, teeth bared and claws at the ready, roaring again, his animal instincts vibrating through every hair on his hide, as he met the attack by his best friend.


Harry heard voices. He was still in griffin form, and at first it had been difficult to differentiate the low murmurs from his own constantly-purring motor. He opened one eye a crack and saw that it was Ron and Lupin, sitting against a wall. Sirius was curled on the hay, human again. Ron had his wand (he must have slipped it out of Sirius's pocket) and was shaving. It looked like Lupin had already used it to shave himself. Then Lupin took the wand from him and cut Ron's hair for him. Ron had some scars on his face and looked like the bridge of his nose had been broken. (Did I do that? Harry wondered.) Lupin was bloodied as well, yet even as Harry looked, it seemed that his and Ron's wounds were spontaneously healing. The night was a blur to Harry; there had been so much tumbling and fighting, occasional détentes and then violent resurgences…

Harry didn't let on that he was awake. He was still very tired. The dungeon reminded him a great deal of Azkaban, where he had never been anxious to revert to his human form because of the effect the dementors had on him as a human. There were no dementors here, but he still felt better in his griffin form.

When Ron and Lupin had finished their morning grooming, Ron put the wand away. He rested his forearms on his raised knees and stared into space, looking far older than Harry had ever seen him. When Ron grinned, it was still possible to see the twelve-year-old who had helped Harry keep the Philosopher's Stone from Voldemort that could make the Elixir of Life. At other times he could have been twenty-something. Usually he seemed about his age, somewhere between fifteen and nineteen. Now he seemed world-weary, defeated, and Harry noticed something that hadn't been there when the sun had gone down the previous evening: a single lock of grey hair growing from the widow's peak above Ron's freckled brow, contrasting with his bright red hair. Harry had always wondered why Lupin already had some scattered grey in his light brown hair, when Sirius and Snape, with their black hair, betrayed no such sign of age yet. Now he knew; it was the mark of the wolf.

"She wanted to be with me last night, but McGonagall said she isn't ready yet. If she changed back because she was startled or frightened—well, that would be worse than bad."

Lupin nodded. "It took Sirius and the others years."

"When can we start the training you mentioned?" Ron asked him quietly.

"We can start tomorrow. We still have tonight's full moon to get through. But later today we can do some exercises I've used to help me treat objects more carefully. I conjured a number of very delicate glasses, ones so thin they would break when most humans touched them. You will have to learn to pick them up without breaking them. Then, when you have mastered that with things that are even more fragile than most items you will come across on a daily basis, you will know that you are not in danger of accidentally smashing the world to bits simply by sitting at a friend's table to eat."

Ron tried to smile. "Brilliant. This will probably take a while. I wasn't any good at that before." Lupin smiled ruefully.

"I know this seems difficult, Ron. I won't lie to you—there are some things that are going to be particularly difficult for you because you are still a teenager—" Lupin hesitated for a moment before hurrying on; "—with raging hormones—"

Ron grimaced. "Brilliant. As if I don't have enough problems with that." He paused. "You do know that Harry and Hermione aren't together anymore?" Lupin nodded. "We—we weren't sneaking around, precisely. Hermione and I. We sort of—sort of admitted how we felt about each other and decided that we could wait to be together, since Harry seemed to—to need her so much—" He looked at his hands. "Or at least I admitted how I felt. She didn't admit it until just before—before you bit me. Harry had already broken up with her. He—he knew about us, it turns out. He was also hacked off at me for a while because of something I said about the two of them last summer."

"Yes; you mentioned something about that in the infirmary. What was it?"

Ron shook his head. "It was stupid. I'd rather not say. Anyway, I've been going out of my mind for months, waiting for her or Harry to come to their senses and break up. There were times I thought I might be happy just with a kiss now and then. But I reckon—once we got started, it might have been rather difficult to stop—"

Lupin sighed. "That's nothing compared to how it will be for you now during the twenty-four hours directly preceding the full moon. It was definitely far worse for me when I was a teenager than it is now."

Ron frowned. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that when I was thirteen, I discovered that during that twenty-four-hour period, suddenly everything—" He paused again and blushed. "Everything aroused me. You name it. Watching paint dry could do it. Looking at grass growing. Even that poor girl—actually I should say woman—who was killed by Voldemort a few years back, Bertha Jorkins. Even—" He paused again, dropping his voice and looking like he expected Ron to erupt at any moment. "Even other boys," he finally said, eyeing Ron to see what his reaction would be.

"I see," Ron said. It was silent for a long time. Finally Ron asked him, "So did you?"

"Did I what?"

Ron's ears turned pink. "What I mean is, when you felt this way, what did you do about it?"

Lupin nodded. "Usually I just suffered. Especially at thirteen and fourteen, below the wizarding age of consent. It was pure torture. Then when I was fifteen, I found myself with a—a friend one night before the full moon. A friend who could tell I was feeling very, very aroused. A friend who, it turned out, was not averse to helping me with my little problem. Until I disappeared for three nights running after that. And until I couldn't respond to the words 'I love you,' with the same three words. It wasn't that I didn't feel them, it was just that—I didn't think I had any right—"

Harry was glad to see, through his slit of an eye opening, that Ron didn't flinch or move away from Lupin upon hearing about this 'friend' who had helped Remus. Who was it? Harry wondered.

"I tried to stop it happening. I went down to the common room that night on purpose, so I wouldn't be in the dormitory with my mates. I did not want to attack my best friends just because I was feeling this way. This—friend lived in a different dorm. I told my friend under no uncertain terms to leave me alone—I didn't trust myself. I'd done some research; an alarming number of people on the werewolf registry have been charged with rape over the years, rapes that occurred on the day before the full moon. I—I did not want that to happen. But my friend insisted on staying, and then one thing led to another—"

He sighed. "When I disappeared for three nights and wouldn't tell her where I'd gone, she became distant. The same thing happened the following month. And the month after that, and after that. In between times I adored her from afar, even as I felt I had an obligation to keep her at a distance. She became very frustrated with me. And then," Lupin continued after another pause, "—she started going out with another boy, and I thought surely she'd stop helping me. When she didn't, I felt so guilty. I mean, I didn't particularly like him, but I felt terrible about sleeping with his girlfriend. The problem was, no matter high-minded I was at other times, if she caught me out when it was the day before the full moon, I was helpless to reason. I was just a bundle of hormones and animal instincts."

"Oh," Ron said. "It was a girl."

Lupin smiled. "Yes, in this case it was a girl. Although—when I was out of school, I increasingly found myself in male company the day before the full moon. Eventually I worked out that I'm bisexual, because I wasn't only attracted to men before the full moon. And I wasn't only attracted to women before the full moon."

"So—being attracted to both men and women before the full moon has nothing to do with you being a werewolf?"

"It has everything to do with how I feel at that time. I told you, even people I wouldn't normally find attractive are fair game to me then. That's why I was confused for so long. You could see how easy it would be to confuse my sexual feelings at that time with the sexual feelings I have in general? Especially when that's when I feel the most stimulated? I had a hell of a time working out who I really am."

"I see," Ron said slowly, not sounding like he saw at all.

"Ron, I've heard of heterosexual male werewolves who'll sleep with men, but only just before the full moon, and gay male werewolves who'll sleep with women, but only just before the full moon. I'm telling you, at that time of month, it doesn't matter whether you're oriented toward middle-aged accountants with receding hairlines and buck teeth or Nordic blonde models. You'll want to shag anything that moves."

Ron made a face. "Brilliant. That'll make it easy to take it slow with Hermione."

Lupin shrugged. "So we'll make sure you avoid her that day. For one thing, until you've gone through some training with me, you could seriously injure anyone with whom you have sexual relations. You almost put Roger Davies through a stone wall, and you weren't exactly trying to seduce him." Ron guffawed and Lupin laughed as well, but he stopped himself, glancing at Sirius' sleeping form.

"Control can be achieved," he went on, "with a great deal of concentration and self-discipline. I started working out ways of dealing with it when my friend stopped helping me, when she found out I was a werewolf."

Ron frowned. "Oh. When she—when she started helping you, she didn't know?"

Lupin shook his head. "That's why she was upset with me for not being able to say those three little words. Although, like I said, I did actually feel that way about her. She was wonderful and beautiful and brilliant, and I felt completely unworthy of her, so I purposefully did not say what I knew she wanted to hear, and I refused to tell her where I went when I disappeared each month on the three nights following our sleeping together. Unfortunately, when she started seeing that other boy, she eventually asked him to find out where I and my other friends were going on the nights when the moon was full."

Harry gasped, raising his head. He opened his eyes wide and let himself change into his human form. He lay on the dungeon floor, looking at the amazed Ron Weasley and Remus Lupin.

"It was my mum!" Harry suddenly cried hoarsely. Lupin stared, swallowing. Harry remembered Sirius Black's disembodied head in Severus Snape's office fireplace, saying, You know, we were all in love with her. Even though I—went with other girls. Even Peter, although he wouldn't have admitted it. I could see it when he looked at her. Remus, too. And James, naturally.

His mother. It was all falling into place now. At the age of sixteen, when Severus Snape had confessed his love for her aided by the courage afforded him by the Eutharsos Potion, she hadn't been an inexperienced little girl. She'd been sleeping with Remus Lupin once a month for a year, waiting for him to tell her he loved her, and to confess to his monthly activities. When he'd been in the Pensieve he'd heard her say, How dare you take that—that courage potion and then kiss me! Is that what it takes for a boy to tell me he cares about me and kiss me? And all this time he'd thought it was the kiss his mother had been looking for, someone to notice that she wasn't just a clever, talented witch who was likely on the path to being Head Girl. It was the I love you she was looking for. Harry had been focusing on the wrong thing all this time. That was partly because she'd complained about being treated like a disembodied brain—that was probably in reference to Snape and the other boys she knew. She'd wanted to hear the words of caring, the verbal declaration of love to match the physical one, from Remus Lupin.

Harry thought about his other life, about the way she'd had Lupin move in with them, before the Longbottoms came to take him away. Had she continued to help relieve him once a month? Did her husband know about it? He might have done; it might have been something else he was referring to besides his near-death experience, when he told Frank Longbottom that he of all people was one of the most unlikely protectors of this particular werewolf that could be found. And yet—he did protect him, until it was no longer possible. For his wife's sake. Perhaps she decided that Remus didn't feel worthy of her because of his lycanthropy, and she finally accepted that that was how he felt. Harry was very confused. His mother was proving to be an more complex person than he'd previously thought, even after he'd known her better in his other life, even after he'd came to terms with her affair with Sirius and the reasons for her making him think he'd performed poorly on his O.W.L.s.

Remus Lupin looked at him, very sad and guilty. Harry sat back on his haunches, calmer now. "Why—" he choked. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"

Remus grimaced. "Oh, Harry—can you think of a good way to tell you something like that?" Ron snorted for a moment, then sobered when he saw the look on Harry's face.

"No," Harry admitted. "I reckon I can't."

Ron was very red and Sirius sat up now.

"I reckon," Sirius said at last, "it would do no good to pretend I didn't hear any of that?"

Ron started to laugh and stifled it once more. Harry pictured his mother in his mind when she was young, arguing with Lucius Malfoy at the Christmas party, her eyes flashing; herding the children through Diagon Alley, shopping for their school things, making Christmas biscuits in the large kitchen at Hog's End or decorating the house for the holidays…

Then he remembered seeing her again with his father, relaxing by the fire in the cottage in Godric's Hollow, the cozy scene he'd witnessed twice now. "You didn't—she didn't—help you after she was—after she was with my father?"

Remus opened his eyes wide and abruptly cried, "No! No, Harry. I—I was very happy for them when they found each other. I had been making her unhappy for years, because I couldn't be what she wanted me to be, and then she jumped at the chance to be with that other boy because he told her how he felt about her, but—" He sighed. "I think she was still waiting for me to say it. Waiting for me to show that I was jealous of the other boy—which I was. Incredibly jealous. Finally, she started pressuring James and Sirius to tell her what we were doing every month. She and James had been like sister and brother, and she was very cross with him for keeping this from her. I heard them rowing about it; he kept telling her that it wasn't his secret to tell. In the long run, I think she was crosser with him for not telling than she was with me. She seemed to think that he, of all people, would be honest with her."

I thought we were friends, his mother had said to his father, when they'd had the confrontation in the corridor outside the common room, the one he and Hermione had seen in Snape's Pensieve. Friends. But, he remembered, she had seemed to mean much more by that word than mere "friends." Something bothered Harry.

"So, you didn't continue to sleep with my mother once she was the girlfriend of one of your best mates, but when she was Severus Snape's girlfriend, she was fair game?"

Lupin dropped his jaw. "You know about Snape?"

Harry nodded. "Ron knows too." Ron swallowed and looked at Lupin, smiling feebly and shrugging.

"I forgot I knew. Honestly." Then he turned to Harry. "Are you saying you're upset about Lupin carrying on with your mother when they were in school, but you're okay about Snape?"

"At least he wasn't carrying on with someone he knew was someone else's girlfriend—" he started to say. And how was that any different from you and Ginny in the forest and in the Astronomy Tower? his brain replied. Well, for a start, we didn't shag, he rationalized. You would have, his brain argued back, given the opportunity.

Harry shook his head to silence that accusatory voice. He'd accepted that Ginny was Draco Malfoy's girlfriend. He had. He'd gone into the forest to save that git's life. It was different. It was completely different.

And yet—somehow he couldn't maintain his enthusiasm for attacking Remus Lupin. In the back of his mind he knew he hadn't been much better, declaring his love for Ginny multiple times during the year (when he was technically still with Hermione) and that if he had slept with her, he wouldn't have an excuse like being a werewolf.

He looked at his professor grimly, then stood and put his hand out to the older man. Lupin took his hand and Harry helped him stand. Lupin's grip was very strong, but Harry gave as good as he got. "I'll get over it," he told him tersely.

Lupin nodded, holding out his hand to Ron to help him stand. Sirius was also on his feet. The four of them looked around aimlessly. "Well," Ron said, frowning, "when can we get the hell out of here? I'm starving." He sniffed and looked appraisingly at the other three. "And I think showers or baths are in order."

Harry hit Ron with the back of his hand, laughing and Lupin gave his shoulder a squeeze. "Ron," he said, raising one eyebrow. "I know you can smell, er, a lot of things you couldn't before, but you have to restrain yourself from commenting."

Ron grimaced. "So. I have to learn how werewolves pick up delicate objects, how werewolves keep themselves from shagging anything and everything, and on top of that I have to learn werewolf etiquette?"

Harry laughed. "Actually, we'd settle for you learning any kind of etiquette."

Harry leaped lithely across the cell while Lupin quickly caught Ron around the waist before he could reach Harry, but all four of them were laughing. A moment later they heard a sound in the corridor that encouraged them; the bar was being drawn back and keys turned in the locks. The door creaked slowly open, revealing Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore, looking rather amazed to find the occupants of the cell laughing.

Snape raised his eyebrows and looked back and forth between them. "We're in high spirits this morning, aren't we?" he said icily.

Sirius Black smiled sunnily. "Good morning, Severus. Lovely day, isn't it?" They looked at each other again, unable to stifle their laughter, and Snape turned away, shaking his head; they were clearly hopeless. Harry didn't say anything to him; he wanted to talk to him very badly, missing the way he had been able to discuss anything with his stepfather in his other life, missing the Severus Snape who hadn't completely lost his sense of humor, but instead he followed Ron and the others out of the dungeon, sprinting up the stairs to the prefects' bathroom, succeeding, for once, in convincing Ron to use it also. He felt bad about avoiding Snape; he had to find time to talk to him eventually. But the time simply hadn't arrived.


The last night of the full moon passed much like the previous night. In the morning, Dumbledore and Snape let them out again and Ron and Harry showered and returned to their dorm for fresh clothes.

Sirius and Ron went to the Ministry of Magic to formally register as an Animagus and werewolf respectively, and Ron stayed the weekend at the Burrow, breaking the news to the rest of the family and explaining why he wasn't pressing charges against Lupin; no one tried to change his mind. Lessons resumed, as the end of term was near. No one mentioned Evan Davies, though some of the Ravenclaws wore black armbands under their robes.

Harry was remembering more and more of his sixth year in this life and felt confident that he would pass his examinations. MacDermid would finish the term as the Potions Master, but during lessons, Harry could see Snape through the open office door, bustling around, putting things back the way he preferred them. Harry smiled when he saw this, knowing how particular Severus Snape was about his office. Duncan MacDermid grimaced and tried to ignore his sometimes noisy nephew, which was particularly difficult when Snape muttered oaths as he worked.

Harry, Ron and Hermione had settled into being "just friends" again. Hermione had looked very concerned about Ron after his first night as a werewolf, but Ron talked to Ginny about the "cooling-off" period and Ginny spoke to Hermione, who reluctantly agreed. She didn't give Ron the same sort of send-off on his second "wolf-night," as Ron had already started to call it. Ron and Harry each received identical hugs and cheek-kisses from Hermione and Ginny, as if Harry and Ron each had two sisters.

Now that he had been back in this life for a little while, Harry was starting to feel some of the other life slipping away from him, so he began to spend time alone in the dormitory, when he could, putting memories into his Pensieve. Evidently, he'd followed up on the suggestion he'd given himself on the first of September; Sirius had helped him acquire a Pensieve for his own use, which had sat in a box under his bed for months, untouched.

The first time he took out the large stone bowl, he wished he could read the runes written around the edge. Then he looked at them again and realized he could read them; his Ancient Runes lessons in his other life popped into his head and he ran his fingers over the characters, muttering the translation under his breath:

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.

How odd, thought Harry, that the runes of the Pensieve should say this. After a moment, he realized with a shock that he'd read Sanskrit. Then he saw that there were Nordic runes, and he could read these, too. They said exactly the same thing. He turned the bowl; the ancient Greek characters said the same thing, so he assumed that the Chinese pictograms communicated the same message. He hadn't taken seventh-year Ancient Runes in his other life, when he would have received a rudimentary knowledge of how to read these.

He checked the instructions, which were in English. He sat before the bowl, trying to be as calm as possible. He put his wand near his head and chose a thought, a memory, to preserve. Placing his wand against his temple, he lowered his wand to the bowl and a silvery thread connected his temple to his wand. The thread dipped and the strange material sank into the empty bowl. He swirled the contents slightly with his wand, even as the thought continued to flow from his mind. Then, with a plop! the silver strand fell from him and the complete thought was in the Pensieve. There being only one thought, one memory in the bowl, Harry had to bend over to see the shallow puddle he'd created. He put his wand in it again, stirring, until it seemed that he was looking through the lens of a camera mounted on the ceiling of a room. Just as when he'd been looking into Dumbledore's Pensieve, it was slightly disorienting to peer into a rectilinear room through a round opening. The room was very familiar: his bedroom at Hog's End. He could see a small boy with very messy black hair sitting in a rather large bed. Harry smiled. It works!

He put his wand to his temple again after he had decided on another memory. Day after day, the contents of the Pensieve grew. He went about his daily routine, running, going to lessons, spending time with Ron and Hermione (both boys tried to avoid being alone with her) and preparing for the final Quidditch match of the year, between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Still, he made certain that he found time each day to use the Pensieve.

On the day before the match, Harry put a memory in the Pensieve of the Quidditch match that had led to his being appointed the Slytherin captain in his other life. He was looking for some inspiration. Ron had been running them ragged during practices, having, it seemed, no limit to his stamina now. At the end of three hours of flying, he was still as energetic as ever, while everyone else was positively wilting. Still, the training seemed to be paying off. Ginny was able to keep everything out of the goals (as long as it wasn't a Quaffle fired off by her brother); Dean and Neville were terrors with their Bludger bats, and the combination of Ron, Tony and Katie working with the Quaffle was a very strong one. Harry, of course, was still Seeker. He cast his mind back to the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw matches they'd already played. They had won three-hundred and ten to nothing and two-hundred and thirty to nothing. Not only were they undefeated, no one had scored on them, and that was before Ron was a werewolf.

Harry smiled to himself as he donned his Quidditch kit in the changing rooms. He glanced at Ron. Ron was looking very powerful indeed. He'd been going on daily runs since September and Harry had noticed Hermione and Annika stealing looks at him more than once when he'd removed his shirt to exercise during the warm weather. The wolf in him had taken it up a notch, and now when he removed his shirt to exercise, all three girls who were not his sister gawped at him, and even Ginny opened her eyes wide in surprise. Draco Malfoy, Harry noted, did not seem to appreciate Mariah Kirkner noticing Ron. She positively purred at him whenever she ran into him after that. Annika had never been subtle about her attraction to him, ever since she'd started pursuing him at Ruth Pelta's bat mitzvah the previous summer, and, if possible, now that he was stronger and more muscular, she brought "not subtle" to a new low (or a new high—Harry hadn't decided). Hermione was very cold to Annika and Mariah. Ginny rolled her eyes at the three of them.

Ron was a demon with the Quaffle, sending it hurtling through the goals too fast to see when they were practicing. Sometimes during practice Harry would swap with Ginny and play Keeper while she played Seeker. He and Ginny both had about the same success rate at stopping the Quaffles hurled by Ron (one in ten).

On the day of the match, Harry finished his preparations and stepped into the meeting room where Ron was going to talk to them. He looked around before sinking onto one of the couches, feeling as if he'd received a kind of psychic shock. It was the first time he'd been in the room since fixing the timelines. This is where Ginny and I—

He turned his head, startled to find her sitting beside him on the couch. Suddenly he saw her in his mind's eye, not in her Quidditch kit but standing under the shower, the water running over her body; then he saw her lying on top of him, her skin kissing his…

He swallowed and felt a warmth move up from his neck. But he couldn't look away from her. In any life, Ginny's eyes were still Ginny's eyes, and he felt himself drowning in them now as he remembered her, and as he remembered the pain in his gut when he found out that there was never going to be a child, their child, the palpable feeling of loss, as if he'd held their child in his arms and had it yanked away from him…


He jerked his head up. Ron glowered at him. "Are you okay? How do you expect to find the Snitch if you let your mind wander? Do I need to put Ginny on Seeker and you on Keeper?"

Harry glanced furtively at her for a moment, then thought of Draco Malfoy playing Seeker for Slytherin.

"No," he said in a firm, clear voice. "I'm ready." He looked Ron in the eye. His best friend nodded.

"Good. Let's go!"

When the teams appeared on the pitch, brooms in hand, the crowd roared deafeningly. Harry grinned at the person nearest him, who turned out to be Tony Perugia. Tony glanced into the stands and—Harry thought—caught Ruth Pelta's eye. Then he grinned at Harry again. Harry felt the excitement in his stomach as the crowd slowly settled down. In the middle of the pitch, Ron and Draco Malfoy shook hands grimly before fifteen broomsticks rose into the air as Madam Hooch blew her whistle. The match began.

Harry was still getting the hang of his new broom, which Sirius had purchased with money from Harry's Gringott's vault. It was a Firebolt Excelsior, and sometimes it was a little too responsive. It felt like a large, strong dog on a thin, weak leash. Harry was never quite certain where he was going to end up when he was riding it.

He flew in circles near the Gryffindor goals, where Ginny also hovered, bored to tears. Ron had just scored again, followed in quick succession by a goal from Tony, another from Ron, then Katie.

Harry grinned at her. "Well, the three of them certainly make your job easy," he said lightly. Ginny raised one eyebrow and spoke to him with a chill in her voice.

"Are you implying that I couldn't stop a Slytherin attempt to score?"

"And it's Gryffindor ONE HUNDRED, Slytherin NOTHING!" cried Seamus Finnigan hoarsely.

"Certainly not!" he countered quickly. "I was complimenting our Chasers, not insulting you." Suddenly, her scowl was replaced by a sunny grin.

"Oh, Harry! Can't you take a joke?" she laughed. He smiled back at her.

"Of course I can." He remembered how she'd looked at him when they'd been sitting on the couch before the game. He knew why he was looking at her, but why had she been looking at him?

"So," he said, trying to sound light again, "how's everything with you and Malfoy?"


She colored suddenly and glanced at the Slytherin Seeker with undisguised ardor. "Oh," she said dreamily, "we're just fine."

Harry swallowed and felt his stomach clench. Get over her, he commanded himself. They're together. They're a couple.

"Oi! Harry!" she cried suddenly, pointing. Seamus was announcing another ten points for Gryffindor as Harry dove toward the Snitch, near the ground at the edge of the middle of the pitch. He reached out and plucked it from the air, then held it up, grinning at the screaming crowd, and all the while, never feeling emptier inside.


A few days before the match, Ron and Lupin had begun taking the Wolfsbane Potion in preparation for the full moon. During the day before the full moon, Dumbledore excused Ron from lessons and Harry locked him into Fluffy's old lair with a food supply, candles and a dose of Wolfsbane Potion, but no wand, so he couldn't attempt to break the locking charm Harry put on the door.

After lessons that day, Harry felt at loose ends. He didn't want to spend time with Hermione, and when he changed his mind, he discovered that she wasn't available, having gone to McGonagall's office for some reason. He sat on his bed in the empty dorm feeling at loose ends, when finally, he decided to get out his Pensieve and add to it. But when he pulled it out, he put his wand into it, swirling the contents until he saw Severus Snape, standing in the front hall of their house, standing toe-to-toe with Frank Longbottom. Harry's heart swelled with pride, looking down at him.

He missed his dad.

After some hesitation, he decided to finally do it. If he didn't do it before the end of term, he'd never get up the courage. He picked up the Pensieve and carefully carried it down the spiral stairs and through the common room. No one paid him any mind, and after he left the common room he continued down the many stairs to the dungeons.

Professor MacDermid was not present when Harry entered the classroom. He went through to the office, whose door was slightly ajar. Harry pushed it open with his elbow, not bothering to ask permission to enter. Snape sat at the desk, leaning over a drawer, sorting through files. He jerked his head up when Harry entered.

Harry put the Pensieve on the desk with a thunk before sitting in the chair by the fire and looking at Severus Snape. Snape looked at the Pensieve briefly; the act of moving it had made the silvery-white liquid slosh about, and before sitting, Harry glimpsed some wispy human figures drifting through its viscous depths, and knew his professor had seen them, too. His eyes met Harry's again but he remained silent. Harry ached to see how sunken his eyes were and wondered how the man had sustained himself during the long months when he was held prisoner and tortured by Peter Pettigrew and Viktor Krum.

Finally, Snape pulled open a drawer and took out a small glass. Opening another drawer, he produced a whiskey bottle. His uncle hadn't disturbed it during his tenure, evidently. He didn't make a move to share with Harry this time; there was no second glass. After he drained the glass and gasped softly, pulling his lips back from his teeth briefly, he looked at the silent, obviously-distressed boy before him and said, "Why are you here, Potter? And why did you bring that?"

Harry swallowed; he was suddenly remembering so much, things he hadn't put in the Pensieve, little things from his childhood in Hogsmeade, or that simple camaraderie he'd experienced in his other life when he and his dad were playing chess in the Dark Arts office, or when he'd come into his dorm after that marathon Quidditch match and told Harry that the Slytherin team had chosen him to be their new captain.

"I've missed you," he choked out finally, blinking back his tears. Snape was clearly alarmed by the display of emotion. The older man sat silent, contemplating his empty glass.

"I am your teacher," he stated, as if Harry had forgotten this, "and I have been away. I—I have missed teaching." He behaved as if this was an admission of monumental proportions.

"It's not as a teacher I've missed you," Harry said, then realized that that sounded very odd. There was some more awkward silence between them before Harry finally said, "It's as my dad that I've missed you." Snape's eyes opened very wide then, but he didn't speak. "Let me explain," Harry said as soon as he saw that reaction. He explained about the not-sleeping during the previous summer, due to the dreams brought on by his scar; he explained about Voldemort talking to him using the Tempus Fugit spell at King's Cross, about the clock Portkey, about performing the Tempus Bonae Voluntatis spell…

Severus Snape bounded from his chair; Harry sank back into his, thinking he was going to physically attack him. "You did what?"

Harry gazed up at him, a feeling of deep shame coming over him. "Dumbledore knows. I told him in October. Except that I only knew that I'd done it then. I didn't remember the other life until the fourteenth of May, which is when I fixed the timelines.

"I—I just wanted to save my mother. And sister. And—and it worked. When I woke up—I had this other life that I'd lived for over fifteen years. My mum hadn't died. We lived in a house in Hogsmeade. I had a sister called Jamie. Two little brothers who were twins…"

Snape frowned and sat again, perplexed. "Little brothers?"

Harry nodded. "My mum had remarried. My little brothers were Stuart and Simon—" Harry paused, uncertain. Then, he plunged on quickly before he could lose his nerve. "Snape."

The older man frowned. "I know students do it all the time, but it is more appropriate to call a professor 'Professor' to his face, not just use his surname—"

"No. I meant—my brothers were called Stuart Snape and Simon Snape. You were my stepfather. You married my mother. I said I missed you because—because you raised me. You're the only father I've ever known."

Snape's eyes goggled at Harry and he tried to pour another drink with a shaking hand, sloshing the smelly alcohol onto his desk. He ignored the mess and brought the glass to his lips with what he'd managed to get in it, draining it once more and then looking at the Pensieve out of the corner of his eye.

"Why should I believe you?" he said suddenly. "If you had a life like that, with your mother and—and a family, why did you change everything back?"

Harry frowned. "Because it was wrong. But I couldn't see how wrong until—until it went all wrong for me."

Snape looked at him through narrowed eyes. "What do you mean?"

"What—how it went wrong for me, or the rest of the world? It's hard to know where to start. Voldemort didn't fall, for a start. That's bad enough. The school banned Muggle-born students when I was about seven or eight." Harry ran through some of the differences in the wizarding world, then the Muggle world.

"And none of that was enough? You needed your own life to be a disaster before you deigned to do anything?" Harry squirmed, feeling properly chastised. "How did your life go wrong? What happened to make you do the right thing?" Snape looked genuinely curious.

Harry hesitated. How could he tell this man that he'd contributed to the death of the woman he'd loved? One thing Harry had not put into the Pensieve was his mother's death in the cave. He cleared his throat. "Well, for a start, in order to fix things, I had to escape from Azkaban."

"Azkaban!" Snape breathed out the word as if it was the most profane utterance in the English language. "You went to prison? Why?"

Harry looked down. "I—I don't want to talk about it." He looked up and was surprised to find sympathy in his professor's face. "Please."

Considering this for a few moments, Snape finally closed his eyes and nodded.

"And even though everything went to hell," Harry went on, "and I knew it was the right thing to change it back if I could, it was so hard—so hard not to have a family any more. Except—by the time I fixed it, you were just about the only family I had left."

Now Snape actually looked distressed, in spite of himself. "Did they—did they all turn their backs on you because of—what you did to get sent to prison?" The idea clearly appalled him. He was no fan of Sirius Black's when he'd encountered him in the Shrieking Shack in Harry's third year, but he would naturally expect the family of the convicted to stand by him.

"They weren't around to turn their backs on me," he said quietly. "They were all dead." Harry didn't feel like explaining Simon's fate to his erstwhile father; it was simpler to think of him as dead. And now he would never be born, nor his twin.

Snape stood again, pacing the floor and shaking his head. "I do not believe this. You—lived another life. For fifteen years. And then you changed the timelines back." He glanced at the Pensieve on the desk. "And you put your memories from that other life in there?"

"Some of them. I know—I know you never married and had children. Not that you still couldn't. But—" Harry felt bashful of this suddenly. "I thought you should know—you were a good dad. The only dad I ever knew. For some reason I—I thought I'd show you that, but now I can see it was a bad idea—"

He went to the desk and started to pick up the Pensieve, but Snape put his hand on his arm. Harry stared at the hand, then up at his professor. The hand was removed and Severus Snape cleared his throat, trying to look as if he were glancing carelessly toward the Pensieve when he seemed quite intent in making out the human figures floating past.

"What—what is in it?"

Harry thought about this. "A holiday by the seaside. You and the twins spent most of the time on the beach under a canopy we erected to protect the three of you from the sun." Harry saw him frowning, then explained, "Stu and Si had Porphyria, too. And Draco was with us, visiting." Now Snape's eyebrows flew up in surprise. Harry drew his mouth into a line. "We were best mates from when we were very small. You continued to spy for Dumbledore and you and Mum were friends with the Malfoys, as cover."

Snape looked toward the Pensieve again. "What else?"

Harry thought. "Well—Stuart's funeral. The graveyard, in Dunoon. Just a short bit." His eyes started to water again as he thought about it. "And you and me and the twins practicing Quidditch at home. And—and one night from when I was wee and Mum was still expecting the twins—" He stopped; Snape twisted his mouth in amusement when Harry let the "wee" slip. Harry grimaced. "Well, do you want to see or not? You seem to believe me now—if you want further proof, it's right here," he said, nodding at the large stone bowl.

Snape leaned over it, frowning. "Only true memories can be put in a Pensieve, not fantasies or dreams," he stated, as if to reassure himself.

"That's right," Harry confirmed. "Although, of course, memories are still biased. It's how I experienced those events. It's not completely objective, like things being captured on film." He stopped and began to explain, "Film is—"

"I know what film is, Potter," Snape shot back with a scowl. "I may live in the wizarding world, but I am not an ignoramus with no knowledge of Muggle entertainments."

Harry nodded down at the Pensieve again. "So—?"

Snape looked like he was getting up his nerve, looking into the bowl again. He nodded, almost imperceptibly. They each took out their wands. Harry went first, bending over, touching the surface with his wand, stirring the contents until he saw a sunny beach; a pretty red-haired woman reclining on a canvas chaise longue was wearing a deep blue one-piece bathing outfit, her face protected from the sun by a large floppy hat and sunglasses, while a dark-haired boy and girl worked nearby on a sand castle.

Harry bent over, putting his nose to the liquid surface, feeling his stomach jolt within him as he tumbled into the Pensieve. A moment later, he landed on the sand near the red-haired woman, and then, without warning, Severus Snape seemed to fall out of the sky and onto the sand beside him.

He squinted and looked alarmed at being in such bright sunlight, but Harry quickly reassured him, "You can't be hurt by this sun. It's just a memory." The older man nodded, as if he felt a trifle foolish for panicking, however briefly. He looked around at the other people populating the beach, then back at Lily Evans, who was about twenty-eight at the time, and as beautiful as Harry remembered her. She was reading a novel while she relaxed in the sun, her two eldest children playing in the sand nearby.

Snape knelt near Lily, peering at her novel, trying to fathom her expression. Harry also watched her, wondering again whether children, when they're growing up, ever take the time to really look at their parents and imprint them on their memories against the day when they no longer have them…

But Snape, fascinated, had moved to the boy and girl working on the sand castle. At the age of eight, Harry was a thin, wiry-looking child with James Potter's characteristic messy black hair and his mother's green eyes, which were as yet unobscured by glasses. Unlike the boy who had grown up with the Dursleys, he wasn't pale and sickly-looking from living under the stairs and being fed next-to-nothing; while this boy was on the thin side, he was clearly in good health and had acquired a tan from being on the beach.

His sister was six, with thin but sturdy-looking arms and legs protruding from her violently pink bathing outfit, ornamented by extraneous ruffles around the leg openings and on the shoulder straps. Her dark hair was pulled into two braids and her eyes were as green as her brother's. She was tanned also, with freckles scattered across her nose. Wet sand clung to their legs as they worked; they were pouring water into the moat they'd dug around their castle.

"Wanna go swimming?" young Harry asked Jamie suddenly in a high, piping voice that nearly made Snape guffaw. He looked at his teacher, frowning.

"I was only eight." He knew he sounded defensive.

"Did I say anything?" Snape said, his eyebrows raised. Now Harry wanted to laugh; it was almost like when he'd talked to his stepfather in his old life, when they could joke with each other and tell each other anything and everything.

Jamie shrugged and said, "Sure. Do you think Dad's done with Draco? Maybe he'd like to come, too."

"Let's go see."

They followed the children under the open-sided canopy where the twenty-eight-year-old Severus Snape was sheltered from the sun, along with his twin sons. The four-year-olds were digging in the cool, shaded sand, sifting it through a metal pail that had perforations for just that purpose. Their father was using his wand to discreetly mend a small cut on Draco Malfoy's shin. The small, thin blond boy had telltale streaks on his cheeks from tears running down his face. He was as tan as young Harry and Jamie, save for the small white scar that betrayed the healed wound on his leg.

"Can Draco come in the water yet, Dad?" Harry asked his stepfather. His stepfather didn't look up from his task, but continued concentrating on what he was doing. After a half-minute, he looked up and smiled at his stepson.

"That should do it. No salt water can get in now. Mind where you step. You don't want me to have to fix a cut from another sharp shell." He turned to young Harry. "Why don't you ask your mother to go with you?"

Harry smiled brilliantly at his stepfather. "Right!" The three of them ran back to Lily Evans.

"Mum!" Harry cried. "Come in the water with us!"

"Please please please please…" Jamie began chanting immediately in a sing-song voice. Her mother laughed and took off her sunglasses.

"All right, all right. Tell you what, you three start down, I'll follow."

The children turned and ran toward the water hand in hand, Jamie between the two boys, the sun glinting off their hair, their legs long and thin and athletic. Harry caught his breath, watching them. They were such beautiful children; they had no idea how they looked to others, how it was possible for one of them, nine years later, to feel tears prickle against his eyelids just from seeing his younger self and his sister and best friend run toward the sea holding hands and laughing innocently.

Lily Evans took off her hat and laid it carefully on the chair with her book and sunglasses, then took off her sand shoes and placed them meticulously under the chair. Her hair was already pulled into a long braid down her back. As she walked decorously down to the sea, Harry watched the Severus Snape beside him follow her hungrily with his eyes. When she reached the water, however, she left her decorum behind to play with the children. They had leapt recklessly into the waves when they'd reached the water's edge, and now Jamie was rubbing her eyes and whimpering about salt water in them, so her mother picked her up and carried her piggy-back, stepping through the thigh-high (for her) water with the girl's thin, tanned legs wrapped around her waist and the wiry arms clasped about her neck. Harry and Draco were splashing each other, laughing hysterically, and every so often, Lily bent her knees, getting Jamie wet, making her squeal with delight.

The sun moved behind some clouds and the beach became very grey. Rather than this putting a damper on the day's activities, however, it simply meant that more people could participate. "Dad!" Harry yelled from the water. "Bring the twins! The sun's gone in!"

They saw the younger Severus Snape raise his hand and wave at his stepson, then hold out his hands for the four-year-olds, who looked very eager to get out from under the canopy and into the water. Their father was pale and thin but muscular, with what appeared to be a tattoo on his left forearm. His hair was long, pulled into a pony tail at the nape of his neck, but he was clean-shaven. He grinned, which emphasized his high cheekbones and made him look like a very different person than the tortured man standing beside Harry, observing a life he had never known, a life where he frolicked in the sea with his wife and children, a life where he had children. The seven of them splashed in the water with abandon, and finally, they saw Severus Snape snake his arms around his wife's waist and press his lips to her neck. She smiled knowingly at him and blushed through her tan, while the children, noticing that the adults had a semi-private moment, put a stop to that almost instantly by starting the splashing again. This time, Jamie was going at it as adamantly as her brothers and Draco Malfoy.

They were all laughing hysterically, and Harry remembered that on that day, his face had actually hurt from laughing so hard and so long. He looked at his professor; the sad expression he wore made Harry wonder whether this had been a good idea.

"Do you—do you want to go, sir?" he asked softly. Snape turned his head sharply.


Harry furrowed his brow slightly. The older man turned back to watching the family that wasn't his making their way back to the blankets and canopy. The twins were attached to their father, one small thin boy on each hip, while Jamie was on her mother's back again, her head resting on her mother's shoulder; the six-year-old looked like she might need a nap. Harry and Draco had some shells in their hands that they'd found; they were examining them and arguing about what creatures used to live in the delicate creations.

But in spite of Snape's insistence that he didn't want to go, suddenly they had no choice, as grey swirling fog surrounded them. When their feet were on solid ground again, Harry recognized the memory he'd put in the Pensieve of his stepfather practicing Quidditch with his sons and stepson while Jamie looked on. They were flying above the field beside their house, none of them old enough for Hogwarts yet. Harry was closest, being now about ten years old.

"You trained me to be a Keeper," he told his teacher quietly as they watched. "I was made the Slytherin captain when I was a fourth year, youngest one ever."

Now Snape stared at Harry. "Slytherin?"

Harry nodded. "When I started Hogwarts after living with the Dursleys all my life, Hagrid told me that every dark witch or wizard had come from Slytherin. When I put the hat on, it wanted to put me in Slytherin, but I didn't want to be there because of what he'd told me, so I was put in Gryffindor. But in my other life, Draco was my best friend, and he was already in Slytherin, and my stepfather was head-of-house. The hat there gave me a choice, too, and that time I chose Slytherin."

He glanced up at the older man placidly. He'd never before seen Severus Snape at a loss for words. They both turned back to the Quidditch practice, which wasn't an extraordinary event, just a nice, typical one, a father and his children.

Soon they were surrounded by swirling fog again. This time they were in a graveyard on a cold winter's day, and the sound of a lone piper playing Amazing Grace cut the air painfully. There was a small procession of mourners and a coffin being carried on the shoulders of Simon Snape, Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter, Severus Snape, Duncan MacDermid and Sirius Black. Lily Evans and Jamie Potter walked hand in hand, each in black with lengths of tartan around their shoulders; MacGregor for the daughter, in honor of her father, Campbell for the mother, in honor of her second husband.

"My son," Harry heard him say softly beside him as they watched. It took Harry a moment to realize that he meant the son he could see, Simon, not Stuart. He was gazing at his son as the boy carried his twin's coffin and Harry was startled to see how very much like his father Simon looked, even at the age of twelve. When Jamie stepped forward to sing, Snape shook his head in amazement. "That girl…"

"You were a good dad to her," he said firmly, above the singing. He explained how he'd been on hand for her birth, how he and Lily Evans had become close again after that, how he'd always thought of Jamie as his own daughter. "When you heard that Draco was her boyfriend, you had a fit."

Snape frowned. "But he was your friend. Why should that upset me?"

Harry hemmed and hawed a bit. "Well—in my other life, Draco Malfoy had a bit of a reputation with girls."

Snape nodded now. "I see. Well. I was right to have a fit, then. She was—" His voice caught. "My daughter."

Harry could hear the tears in his voice, but the swirling greyness overcame them again and they stood in Harry's bedroom in Hog's End in Hogsmeade. He was small again, smaller than in the first memory. He wasn't quite four years old, sitting in the middle of a bed far too large for him and crying, "Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!" as if terrified to his core. At length someone opened the door and magicked the candles to life, shedding a golden glow on a room any small boy would have loved, with both Muggle and wizarding toys on the shelves, a rug designed to look like a map of Hogsmeade, complete with tracks for the Hogwarts Express, and a bookcase full of books that looked well-loved and much-read. A younger Severus Snape went to the bed and sat nervously; he hadn't been a stepfather for very long and the boy had been calling for his mother, not the man she'd married.

"Where's Mummy?" the small boy demanded. The man smoothed down the unruly black hair springing messily over the boy's head, but the cowlick in the back shot up again stubbornly.

"Mummy's not feeling well. The babies are kicking her quite a lot. It's very uncomfortable for her. With two of them, she doesn't get much rest from it."

Little Harry settled back against his pillows, his vivid green eyes clouded by what looked like jealousy. "She's having boys?" he asked softly.

His stepfather nodded. "That's what the midwife says. Twin boys. You and Jamie will have two little brothers to play with." He tried to sound upbeat, since it was evident that the black-haired boy wasn't thrilled with this development. Suddenly he lifted his eyes to the man sitting beside him, glistening with tears.

"Well, then you'll have some boys of your own," he said thickly before hiccoughing loudly and sniffing even more loudly. The older man frowned before looking understanding and concerned.

"Harry—you don't think—I mean, when the babies are born—you don't think—"

Helplessly, he looked down at the boy who was certain he was about to be abandoned, and suddenly little Harry found himself being embraced by his mother's new husband, who looked mortified that he could have made the boy feel unwanted.

"Harry, it doesn't matter about the babies. Yes, they'll be my sons. But—but you know that you'll always be my boy, don't you?"

He looked at Harry earnestly. Harry's lip trembled as he looked back up at his stepfather. "I will?" his little voice piped.

Severus Snape laughed. "Of course you will! I'm your dad now, remember?"

Harry smiled through his tears, nodding and clearly trying to look brave.

"So, are you all right? I told your mum I'd give her a little foot-rub to take her mind off the babies kicking."

"Can I—can I say goodnight to Mummy?"

"Again?" But a second later, his stepfather relented. "All right, come on." He picked up the small boy easily and carried him out of the room. Harry and his teacher followed the young man carrying the boy, going down the corridor to a large comfortable bedroom with a wide bed holding a very pregnant and cross-looking Lily Evans. She did not look happy to see Harry.

"Harry! You should be asleep by now! Severus, you should have left him in his bed."

Her husband smiled ruefully. "Now, Lily, he was crying out for you and just wanted to say goodnight. I knew you weren't feeling able to go to him, so I brought him to you."

Harry wriggled out of his grasp and crawled onto the bed, putting his arms around his mother's neck and kissing her cheek. "Goodnight, Mummy. I promise I'll stay in bed after this."

She lost her sternness at the contrite tone in his voice, smiling indulgently and putting her arms around him, kissing him thoroughly on his brow, each check and the tip of his nose.

"Good night my little lion cub," she whispered as he grinned back at her before his stepfather collected him and carried him out of the room on his hip again. Harry and Snape were forced to follow. Back in Harry's room the small boy was tucked into bed with what looked like a stuffed Eeyore and his stepfather stood in the doorway gazing at him for a moment before leaving.

Harry put his hand to his professor's elbow and said simply, "Come on."

Harry felt himself rising, rising and turning a somersault in the air until he was landing clumsily back in the office of the Potions Master, stumbling only for a moment. Snape landed beside him with no awkwardness at all. The older man wouldn't look at him, walking around the desk. He sat, staring into the fire. Harry didn't move, waiting for instructions. At last the man lifted his head and said quietly. "I think you should take that back to your dormitory." He nodded at the Pensieve. That was all. Harry saw Snape swallow and look into the flames again. He wasn't going to talk about it right now—if ever. Harry nodded, picked up the Pensieve and left.


Ron and Lupin didn't require company during the full moon this time, but Sirius and Harry opted to stay with them anyway. In contrast to the previous month, having taken the potion during the entire previous week, they were docile and calm, like rather large shaggy dogs, and lay down on the floor of the cell to have a nice sleep. Harry almost didn't see the point of remaining in his griffin form overnight, but he did anyway, waiting until he saw Ron and Lupin in human form in the morning to change back.

The final prefects' meeting was held. When Harry and Hermione arrived, they were surprised to find all of the other prefects looking like they'd already been there for a while. The moment they entered, the others stood and applauded. Harry and Hermione looked at each other, baffled. Cho walked over to them, very solemn-looking, and hugged Harry, saying softly, "You two have been elected Head Boy and Girl by a unanimous vote. The meeting actually started fifteen minutes ago." Then she hugged Hermione and whispered to her. Hermione backed up and put her hand over her mouth, looking both shocked (Harry didn't know why) and thrilled. She beamed at Harry and he smiled back at her, feeling empty inside again. Ron should be Head Boy, he thought. But unlike the Ron in his other life, for whom that was a possibility, this Ron hadn't been a prefect for two years, like Harry. And in the current climate, no one was going to elect a Slytherin, even if Draco Malfoy had ten Death Eater relatives he could put in prison. Harry looked at Malfoy, sitting between Mariah Kirkner and Millicent Bulstrode. He was clapping as earnestly as anyone else, looking at Harry without a hint of irony. The only thing left was for the teachers to weigh in, and it seemed unlikely that they would choose someone other than Harry and Hermione. As such, it wouldn't be official until the letters were sent out with the other new prefect appointments, but to all intents and purposes, Harry and Hermione were the new Head Boy and Girl.

Harry looked at Hermione; he was happy for her. It was the logical outcome of her years of hard work and the times she'd bravely leaped into the breach to help him. But he remembered a year ago that he'd thought, during the previous election, that if he and Hermione were elected, it would be like his parents, who were also Head Boy and Girl...

Ron was clearly finding it very hard not to react strongly to Hermione's honor when they returned to the common room. He grinned at her and picked her up and twirled her, but they really looked like they wanted a few moments alone, which they could not afford to do if they were going to maintain the we're-just-friends stand. Instead, they backed up from each other awkwardly, looking a little flushed, and Harry felt dreadful. They should at least be able to celebrate this with a little snogging, he thought. But the three of them stood together uncomfortably for a few moments before Ginny and Tony returned to the common room. Tony hugged Hermione and pumped Harry's hand. Ginny also hugged Harry briefly and he forced himself to let her go afterward.

The fifth years took their O.W.L.s and Ginny got twelve, like Percy and Bill. She was thrilled and immediately owled her parents, sending them the letter she'd received. Then she raced over to the Slytherin table to tell Draco Malfoy, and the two of them went running from the Great Hall, presumably to celebrate. Harry swallowed, watching them. He wandered aimlessly up and down corridors and staircases afterward, finally sitting on some steps that seemed to lead nowhere. He idly fingered his basilisk amulet, then desperately wrapped his hand around it, feeling lost…

He closed his eyes and saw Ginny in his mind's eye. She seemed to be in one of the greenhouses, on some robes that had been thrown carelessly on the tile floor. And she wasn't alone. She was in Draco Malfoy's arms. Harry could see the dragon tattoo that covered his back, shoulders and upper arms, as his shirt was off. They were kissing deeply, and then Ginny backed up from him, looking at him intently. Her eyes were dark with passion as her fingers began to unbutton her blouse…

Not him. Draco isn't the one unbuttoning her blouse. She is.

Harry clutched the amulet convulsively as she slipped the blouse from her shoulders. Draco Malfoy descended hungrily on her neck and moved his mouth down as she threw her head back and closed her eyes…

With a jerk, Harry ripped the amulet from his neck, breaking the chain. He dropped the amulet in his lap, tears rolling down his face. Then he picked it up by the chain, as if touching the amulet again would burn him, as it had burned Lupin. He walked back to Gryffindor Tower holding the amulet like this, ignoring puzzled looks from people he saw on the way. When he was back in his dorm he opened his trunk and lowered the amulet into it, letting it fall beside the other amulet, which Ginny hadn't let him give her at Christmas. Closing the trunk, he felt as if he were truly closing the door on a chapter of his life. Well, he thought, now I know. He knew how Ginny felt all those years when she'd been yearning after him with no response. Perhaps it was his comeuppance. Perhaps he deserved it. But knowing that didn't make it any easier.

He got through the exams the professors had set for the sixth-year students, though his heart wasn't in it. The Dueling Exhibition they were going to have had been canceled, because of the previous month's incidents in the forest, and before they knew it, they were packed for the train and preparing to go to the Great Hall for the leaving feast.

This year there was no mystery and it was no contest. Gryffindor, in addition to winning the Quidditch Cup, had far and away the most house points and had won the House Cup without contest. The hall was draped in red and gold and Harry's heart swelled to see it, realizing that after this, he would have only one more leaving feast, his last. After everyone had eaten, Dumbledore stood to speak.

"Congratulations to all of you for your fine performance on your examinations. In spite of numerous distractions both within these walls and without, you have all executed your scholarly tasks admirably." He twinkled at them all, and yet, he seemed more subdued than in the past. "Sadly, some of you have suffered losses which will change your lives forever, but you should know that you always have a family here, that you are always welcome here. Nothing will ever change that." Harry saw him look kindly at Jules Quinn, newly orphaned, and he also saw him glance at a crying third-year Hufflepuff girl and a fourth-year Ravenclaw boy. The Death Eaters had been busy.

"One loss suffered by Ravenclaw House shall not be ignored: Evan Davies." He paused, and the silence in the hall was complete; no one moved a muscle. "Many of you have probably heard," he went on, "that Evan turned on his fellow students, that he attacked your Head Girl, Cho Chang, as well as Ron Weasley and Harry Potter. Sadly, I must say that these things are true. Before his death, Evan did evidently do these things of his own volition, and died before he had the opportunity to atone for these deeds, before he could see the error of his ways and return to us as a prodigal." Harry thought he had never looked older. His voice seemed very tired.

"The boy most of you knew was not this boy. He played Quidditch, he served his house as a prefect, he performed well academically. He was a good brother and a good son," he added, nodding, and Harry turned, seeing Roger Davies standing near the door of the hall. "We mourn that boy, for it is he whom we lost. A great man said, It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways. Evan's mind, sadly, lured him to evil ways. We must all fight this war in our own minds, we must resist the lure of evil. Unfortunately, Evan did not. Let us remember for a moment the Evan Davies we all knew." The hall was silent again as some students bowed their heads; some of the Ravenclaw girls cried quietly. But Dumbledore, Harry was pleased to see, did not ask the students to drink to Evan's memory, to say his name. He remembered Moody urging them to fight the darkness within. Clearly, Evan Davies had lost that fight.

When it seemed that the silence had stretched on long enough, Dumbledore resumed speaking. He smiled and clapped his hands together once, then turned to look at Severus Snape. "We have, of course, some things to celebrate. There is the return of your Potions Master and head of Slytherin House, Professor Snape." Snape nodded, his lip curled. Cheering erupted from the Slytherin table, and then Harry, looking straight at Snape, stood and starting clapping slowly. Hermione also stood, clapping. The Slytherins—including Zabini and Crabbe and Goyle, who had been cleared of taking the professors prisoner—looked shocked, as all of the students in the hall joined them, and the other teachers too, until everyone present was standing and applauding the return to Hogwarts of Severus Snape.

Snape looked around the Great Hall in shock. The sound of the applause was deafening, bouncing off the stone walls and floor, and Harry actually thought he saw the Potions Master flick away a single rogue tear from one eye. He, of all people, had never expected such a tribute.

When the applause finally died, Dumbledore continued speaking. "I have another bit of happy news. Because the Death Eater Peter Pettigrew was finally apprehended and he confessed to staging his own apparent murder, my good friend, Sirius Black—" The students gasped. "— is now a free man." He waved his hand toward the anteroom, whose door opened. Sirius stepped into the Great Hall, causing another gasp to ripple through the collected students. He had a new short haircut and a broad grin, striding toward the head table to take an empty seat beside the headmaster. Dumbledore shook his hand, grinning, before turning back to the students as Sirius sat.

"Sadly, Professor Lupin," he nodded at the werewolf, seated on the other side of Sirius, "finds that he is unable to continue to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, and we will miss him, but he will not be a stranger to Hogwarts," he added, looking at Lupin and smiling. He did not mention Lupin biting Ron. "To take his place, we are privileged to have a person whom some of you know, Ms. Arabella Figg, who also happens to be the sister of another former professor, Alastor Moody." He smiled at Harry and Draco Malfoy. Harry's jaw dropped. Mrs. Figg! He remembered what it was like to be taught by her brother, and what it was like to live with her. Seventh year should be interesting, he thought.

"Finally," he went on, "we must acknowledge that there are some people without whom Professor Snape would not have been recovered, Peter Pettigrew would not have been captured and Sirius Black would not have been cleared. Those people are the members of the Hogwarts Dueling Club, led by the captain, Harry Potter. Now, what most of you do not know is that last year, I created an honor I have called the Order of the Phoenix. I awarded this honor to the students who helped to apprehend another Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy, and I ask those students to come forward now and to display the emblem of the Order." Harry took his Order of the Phoenix badge from his robe pocket and attached it to the front of his robes, just below his prefect badge, understanding now why Dumbledore had asked him to bring this to the leaving feast. Hermione, Ginny and Ron did the same at the Gryffindor table before getting up and moving toward the front, and Harry saw that Draco Malfoy had done the same. The five of them stood before Dumbledore, facing the other students, as the headmaster continued speaking.

"I am very proud of all of the members of the Dueling Club, and it seems only right and fitting for all of you to likewise be inducted into the Order of the Phoenix, for your exemplary work in fighting dark wizards and resisting the lure of the darkness that dwells in each of us. As I call your name, please come forward and join the other members of the Order."

He pulled a scroll from his pocket and unrolled it. "Susan Bones," he called, and Susan stood at the Hufflepuff table, shaking her hair into her face shyly before coming forward hesitantly to stand beside Ginny, who turned to grin at her. "Millicent Bulstrode, Cho Chang…" As they made their way to the front, Harry looked at Cho. He wasn't sure he could ever make things right with her. First he was responsible for Cedric's death, and now he had put her together with the heir of Voldemort and he had died as well.

"Justin Finch-Fletchley, Mariah Kirkner…" Harry noticed that Mariah was not shy about accepting acknowledgment for her role in retrieving Snape. She walked with her head held high (after giving some of the other Slytherins a withering look). "Ernest MacMillan, Parvati Patil, Anthony Perugia, Ruth Pelta, and Liam Quirke."

When they were all standing at the front, facing their fellow students, with a wave of Dumbledore's hand, the ten new members of the Order of the Phoenix found that they had the same badges pinned to their robes that the original five members bore, and with another wave of his hand, the remaining students in the Great Hall rose to their feet as one, stamping and cheering and clapping, and Harry turned to see Ginny and Draco Malfoy smiling at each other, turning slightly red, and the other members of the Dueling Club also showed signs of being simultaneously pleased and bashful as the racket continued, and the professors joined them in a more orderly fashion, standing and clapping enthusiastically but politely. Harry turned his head and caught Snape's eye, nodding at him. Snape gave him a very small smile and nodded back, and Harry turned once more to the crowd of students before him, cheering on their champions in the Order of the Phoenix.


It was stranger than strange to be boarding the Hogwarts Express again. Harry found himself staring out the window during much of the trip, mostly to avoid looking at Draco Malfoy and Ginny sitting opposite him, looking deliriously happy. Hermione sat beside them, also looking out the window, petting Crookshanks, as Ginny was petting Mackenzie; Hermione also seemed like she was trying to ignore their happiness. Ron sat beside Harry, his own silver-striped cat Argent on his lap as he read. Harry leaned over once and saw that it was a book about martial arts, with detailed illustrations of a man doing what looked like a complicated dance, rather than practicing moves that would injure an opponent. Harry looked up at Ron, at the lone grey lock of hair on his brow, and sighed at the injustices of the world.

Suddenly, Ginny looked at her brother in amazement. "Oi! Ron!"

Ron looked up from what he was reading, frowning. "What, Ginny?"

"I just thought of something; you'll have to be very careful about your cat from now on."

Ron looked down at the small sleeping feline, frowning, then back up at his sister. "Why?"

Ginny smiled mischievously at him. "Because of the name you gave her. Did you completely forget what it means?"

Now Hermione opened her eyes wide too. "That's—that's just—if I didn't completely disbelieve all forms of Divination except for Arithmancy—"

Finally, Harry got it. Ron's cat's name meant "silver" in Latin. Ron made a face at Hermione and his sister.

"Get a grip. It's just a name."

Shaking his head, he went back to reading. Harry looked down at the cat suspiciously, wondering, wondering…

When they reached King's Cross they hauled their trunks onto the platform amidst the hubbub of families welcoming their children home. Hermione ran to her mother and father and Mrs. Weasley embraced Ginny and then Ron with a worried look that Harry hadn't seen on her face before Ron had become a werewolf. His father put his hand on his youngest son's shoulder, looking grim, and Ron smiled at him, but looked like he was forcing it a bit.

Ginny turned back to hug and kiss her boyfriend goodbye, and Harry saw them whispering to each other softly and smiling. Then she separated from him and followed her parents. She raised her hand to Harry, but didn't come to him as she had the previous year; no goodbye kiss for him. He swallowed the lump that had developed in his throat when he'd been watching them, then decided to just get it over with and stepped toward her boyfriend after she had disappeared through the barrier with her parents and brother.

"Malfoy! Er—Draco. I—I have to talk to you."

The other boy stopped and looked at him, surprised. He nodded. "Okay, Potter." Harry remembered that they'd never really got the hang of using their first names, even after working together the previous summer. Once they were back at Hogwarts, it seemed natural to go back to their surnames. Harry remembered the boy who was his best friend in his other life, the boy he had always called "Draco" and who had always called him "Harry," and wondered whether they would have anything approaching that in this life.

"I—I have something I want to give you, Malfoy."

Harry withdrew the two basilisk amulets from his robe pocket and held them out to him by the silver-colored chains. Malfoy didn't touch them but looked at Harry with narrowed eyes.

"What's this about, then?"

Harry hesitated. "I—I happened to come across another amulet like the one Ginny gave me. But—but then I realized that I had no one to give the other one to. I would have given it to Ginny, since she survived the basilisk in the Chamber, but—but that seemed too much like a 'couple' sort of thing to do," he lied. "We're—we're not a couple," he said with a catch in his voice. "But you and Ginny are. You two should have them. Here," he said, thrusting them at the other boy again, who reached out and took the chains. He looked up at Harry.

"Are you sure? I mean—one of these was a present. You're not supposed to give presents back."

Harry looked down. "I'm sure. Take them. Give her one of them." He looked up at the other boy. "But if you ever," he said in a low shaking voice, "ever hurt her in any way, you will have me to answer to."

Draco Malfoy took in this threat, oddly delivered by someone who had just given him a gift, and swallowed, hesitating only a moment before putting both amulets in his robe pocket. Then he blinked up at Harry and suddenly, it was as if a different person was standing before him.

"So," Harry said with a smile, "are you ready for another summer of gardening?" He had switched into holiday mode, and Draco Malfoy smiled back uncertainly. Harry could see that he was disconcerting the other boy by switching gears so abruptly, but he had to; he had to put out of his mind what he'd seen when he'd last grasped the amulet, had to forget what it was Draco Malfoy and Ginny were doing in the greenhouse.

The Slytherin boy nodded. "All set. Except now—now I have to spend the summer with my professor. Can you believe it? Nanny Bella teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts?"

Harry shrugged. "Well, she's Moody's sister. Should be interesting. I'm only going to be working with you until the end of July, though. After my birthday, I'm going to stay with Sirius. I would go now, but he's just getting settled back in with his family, so the Dursleys are letting me stay with them for a little while."

Draco Malfoy grinned now. "I can't wait for my birthday. Once I'm of-age, I won't have to worry about doing magic out of school. And I already know how to Apparate, so I can apply for my license and take my test." Harry thought he looked thoroughly recovered from Harry's threat and the surprise of the gift.

Harry laughed. "We should all be very, very afraid. You could pop up anywhere now."

The other boy laughed too. "And I will!"

Harry watched him turn toward the barrier and disappear. He looked at the empty platform, hearing the echo of the voices, feeling the rightness of being back in this life again and yet always, at the back of his mind, remembering a different world, a world which was very wrong, but which had some things in it he would never know here.

Pulling his trunk behind him and carrying Hedwig's cage in his other hand, he approached the barrier, bracing himself to see the Dursleys again and return to his life in Surrey.


Things were the same as ever at number four, Privet Drive. After dinner, Harry evaded Dunkirk and went for a walk, his feet taking him unerringly toward the village graveyard. He paused for a moment at Dudley's grave, then walked up the rising ground to his parents' gravestone as the sun dipped lower in the sky, gilding the orderly little houses in the village and the trees scattered here and there in the graveyard, planted to shelter the resting places of loved ones. When he reached it he knelt with a fatigue of the soul, as if a great weight were pushing him to the ground. He stared at his parents' names on the granite, knowing he was kneeling over their bodies. He remembered again seeing them sitting by the fire in their cottage, after they'd put their baby to bed—their last peaceful moments before the world was changed forever. That was something, at least. He had had the chance to see them like that, just living their lives normally. A young family at home. But then it occurred to him that he was kneeling over someone else's grave too, someone whose name wasn't on the marker.

In about a month he would be seventeen. He was as excited about this as Draco Malfoy, though he hadn't let on. However, he wasn't there yet; if anyone noticed he was doing this, he would have another black mark on his record, though the first one was five years ago, and it was Dobby, not he, who had really done the hovering charm in his house (though Dobby would probably admit that now). No one had ever held against him that he'd inflated his Aunt Marge, so that didn't count. It would be worth it, he felt. It would be absolutely worth anything they wanted to do to punish him for doing magic out of school.

He took his wand from his pocket and aimed it at the stone, carving carefully, surely, humming the tune of the Kaddish Ruth had taught him, though he couldn't bring himself to pronounce the words. When he was done at last he sat back, staring at his handiwork, waiting for the tears which did not come. Perhaps he was cried out; he'd mourned her already, plus too many other people to count, though he was only sixteen. Until the previous September, he hadn't even known she'd almost existed, that she'd been snuffed out at the same time as his mother.

He reached out and traced the letters with his fingers; the stone was still slightly warm from the magic that had created the carving. The letters were clear and neat, and he wondered briefly whether anyone would think it odd (or even notice) that the marker that had formerly memorialized James Potter and Lily Evans Potter now bore a third name:




He remembered her then, conjuring up in his brain every memory he could, trying to make her real to him, wishing she'd lived in this world so he could talk to someone about her. He remembered being beside her when Remus Lupin was taken away by the Longbottoms; he remembered the previous year in their lives, and their other years at Hogwarts; he remembered the look on her face when he went to the castle at the beginning of his first year, leaving her with only the twins for company. There were other times he remembered her looking even sadder: Stuart's funeral, a few times when she saw Draco paying attention to some other girl and she was pretending it didn't matter to her, and most of all, on her fifteenth birthday, watching her brother being arrested for killing their mother.

He shook himself, trying to rid himself of the negative images. Instead, he concentrated on what he'd seen in the Pensieve, the holiday at the seaside, and that was better, that was a comfort. In the years to come, he knew that he would never forget that image, that it was burned into his brain. He would make that his touchstone, the thing that could bring him back to himself and center him.

He rose and left the graveyard, walking slowly back toward Privet Drive as the sky began to darken. Le temps du loup, he remembered Hermione saying. Twilight. The time of the wolf. Yes; the rest of Ron's life would be the time of the wolf now. It was hard to focus on good things when there were so many bad things that seemed overwhelming in their magnitude and difficulty, but at least Ron's best friend was already an Animagus. For the rest of his life, when he changed into a wolf, whether or not he had Wolfsbane Potion, Ron would have his best friend by his side to accompany him, to walk under the moon with him. He understood now his father's and Sirius' motivation for becoming Animagi. He felt he understood his father as never before. He hadn't thought about him much since talking to his ghost in the Quidditch changing rooms, but he thought of him being with his mother again now, the way he was supposed to be before Harry changed time, and now he thought of Jamie being with them too, and that helped him feel a little better about missing his sister.

Before he went in the house, he stood with his head thrown back, gazing at the sapphire sky and remembering again the image from the Pensieve, the bright summer day on the beach. That was far better, he thought, than having the basilisk amulet to calm him. He had chosen to give the amulet and its twin away, but it just as easily could have been lost, or stolen. No one could take this memory away from him, ever.

In a world which only he remembered he would forever see the three children holding hands and running, the tangle of thin, tanned arms and legs, the sun glinting off the two black heads and the one nearly white one; he would ever hear the echo of their high-pitched laughter and feel their youthful naïveté and confidence like a fist around his heart as they launched themselves fearlessly toward the indifferent wrath of the mighty sea.

~ ~ THE END ~ ~


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What to read next? The sequel, of course! (On this site.)

Harry Potter and the Triangle Prophecy

(Sequel to Harry Potter & the Time of Good Intentions) Harry's 7th and final year of school. In a time of uncertainty, the Muggle world has found a source of comfort and stability. Only Harry suspects that it isn't safe. Wizards are more concerned about themselves than Muggles since Voldemort's return, but are only Muggles at risk? Will anyone listen to Harry?


For all of the juicy Psychic Serpent Trilogy backstory, check out the prequel (on this site!) featuring the Marauders, Lily, Snape, the Weasleys, the Malfoys, and MORE!

The Lost Generation