Thanks so much for all the fabulous reviews, guys! I really, really appreciate them!
As for freeing Sirius, I promise that you'll find out what I'm going to do in that regard.
Thanks for the constructive criticism from one of my readers. I promise I will work on it!
Okay, please enjoy this next chapter!
Chapter 3: The Right Thing
It was early morning when Remus Lupin received the owl. He didn't usually get letters at this time of the morning, so he knew the news must be important. Still yawning, he gave it a treat, and watched it fly away back out the window.
When he opened the letter, he was not at all surprised to see that the message was from Albus Dumbledore. It read:
Please come to Hogwarts and to my office as soon as possible. There is much that we need to discuss. The password is chocolate frogs.
Something's wrong, Remus realized as he got up from his chair. Something must have happened last night.
He knew that the night before had been the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. Dread formed in the pit of his stomach - he knew Harry had taken part, along with the bright Hufflepuff he had taught the year previously, Cedric Diggory. What on Earth had occurred to cause Dumbledore to call him?
Quickly, he left his house and Apparated as close as he could get to Hogwarts. He then walked the rest of the way, a hundred thoughts buzzing through his head all the while. Was Harry hurt? Was he ... He couldn't even think of the alternative without fear clenching his heart.
Finally, but not quickly enough for him, he reached the doors of Hogwarts Castle. Nostalgia soared through him - just being here the year before had filled his heart with joy, but sadness at the same time. He couldn't have been more grateful to Albus Dumbledore for giving him the Defense position, yet the memories being in the school brought back - he'd had to fight not to collapse under the weight of them all.
Opening the doors, he walked into the castle. The wards let him in, because he knew Dumbledore had programmed them in a certain way as to let people he was expecting into the school. He made his way through the empty corridors and to Dumbledore's office.
"Chocolate frogs," he told the gargoyle, and then he walked onto the spiral staircase and let it guide him up to the office. Once he arrived, he knocked on the door.
"Come in," the soft voice of Albus Dumbledore called.
The dread in his stomach reaching its peak, Remus opened the door and walked inside. The office was just as he remembered it - the spindly instruments were still there, along with Fawkes who was sitting on his perch.
"Hello, Professor Dumbledore," Remus greeted as the old man beckoned for him to sit in the seat across from him. "I am here."
"Remus, I have told you before, please call me Albus," Dumbledore said as he smiled at the other man. Remus realized with more dread that the twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes was almost absent. "Lemon drop?"
"No thank you, Albus," Remus said as he clasped his hands together to stop them from shaking. "What has happened? What's wrong? Is Harry okay?"
"There has been an unfortunate occurance," said Dumbledore, sighing softly.
"Please tell me what's happened." Remus's heart was pounding now, expecting the worst.
And so Dumbledore told him everything, the expression on his face sad. He spoke of how Harry and Cedric had taken the cup at the same time, how they had been transported to a graveyard in Little Hangleton by Portkey, how Cedric had quickly been killed.
"Oh God," Remus whispered in horror, remembering the smart, young Hufflepuff. "Oh God, no. And Wormtail killed him on Voldemort's orders?" His face grew furious. "Bastard," he muttered under his breath.
Dumbledore then went on, explaining how Voldemort had used some of Harry's blood in his rebirthing ritual. Harry had been bound and gagged, and forced into giving it. Then, he spoke of the return of the Death Eaters, and Harry and Voldemort's duel, and the Priori Incantatem was explained.
"He saw them?" Remus said softly, all color having now left his face. "He saw Lily and James? They helped him?"
"Yes, along with Bertha Jorkins, Cedric, and a Muggle named Frank Bryce," Dumbledore answered, steepling his fingers on the desktop. "Harry escaped, bringing Cedric with him. He asked him to bring his body back."
"Oh, God." Remus put his head in his hands, completely horrified. "That poor, poor boy. He must be devastated. Where is he?"
"In the hospital wing," Dumbledore replied. "He spent the night there."
"Who is with him? Is he getting any support?" Remus asked, his entire body trembling.
"That is what I need to discuss with you as well," said Dumbledore, sighing again. He then launched into the tale of how Sirius had demanded to stay with Harry, even disobeying his order to contact Remus, stay with him, and help to gather the old crowd, meaning the members of the original Order of the Phoenix.
At this point, a war was going on in Remus's head. On the one hand, how could Sirius disobey the orders of the most powerful wizard in the world, the wizard who had saved their necks more times than they could count? How could he even think of doing that?
But the bigger part of him, the part that eventually won out, knew why Sirius had done what he did. He knew how much Sirius loved Harry, and how much his heart was bleeding for him. And Remus understood - despite his loyalty to Dumbledore, his gratitude towards the man for letting him attend Hogwarts at all, for allowing him the opportunity to make the friends he had made, he knew Sirius was right to have disobeyed him. Harry needed support, he needed adults there for him, who would understand the trauma he had just been through. At fourteen years old, he had seen someone being killed right in front of him. He had witnessed the return of the foulest wizard to ever walk the earth, and ... oh God ... he had seen his dead parents. That poor, poor child, Remus thought, and he clasped his hands together even tighter.
And he knew what he had to do. "I will help gather the old crowd," he said to Dumbledore, his voice shaking. "Please, let Sirius stay with Harry. It's what he needs right now."
And he hoped, as he stared at the old man with worry lines etched into his face, that he was doing the right thing. But as the seconds lengthened, and his heart beat painfully in his chest, each beat a cry of Harry's name, he grew more sure of the fact that he was.