THE MARAUDER'S MAP
Sirius never thought he could both hate and love a book so much at the same time. The look on James' face when he'd heard Lily's last words would forever haunt him until his dying day, but the euphoric feeling of getting to know every detail of Harry's life would never cease to make him smile. There was still a horrible, lingering silence as they were still slightly absorbing the last chapter, and none of them really believed it would actually get better at this point since Harry obviously seemed to attract dementors to himself. No, their best hope was for someone to teach Harry that spell already, most preferably Remus, so that Harry, or anyone, would never have to suffer like that again. Swallowing hard past a lump in his throat, Sirius began reading, wondering if his hoping for the best was a lost cause at this point.
Madam Pomfrey forced Harry to stay over the weekend,
"Doubt that was necessary," Remus rolled his eyes, knowing personally how overbearing the matron could be.
"I didn't mind though," Harry sighed, though when he didn't volunteer more no one pressed him.
but Harry didn't mind, to busy thinking of other things. He refused to let his now trashed broom actually be trashed, and he didn't care what anyone told him, it was like losing a friend.
"Felt that way about my first broom too," James nodded in understanding, remembering he'd kicked up a fuss when his dad had thought he'd outgrown his first toy broom and thrown it out.
Of course he had friends coming to visit, Hagrid for one bringing him some goofy yellow flowers that looked like cabbages,
"Never not grateful for that man," Lily murmured, forcefully brushing at her eyes to make sure too much emotion wouldn't continue trying to well up in her.
and Ginny, red in the face as she offered Harry a get-well card that screamed at him, which Harry had to force shut under a bowl.
"Daw, what a pleasant little gift," Sirius smirked lightly, which only increased when he saw how hard Harry was blushing.
"Was it like, a gag gift or something?" Remus asked curiously, "or was it really meant to sing shrilly and she thought you'd enjoy that?"
"Far as I know, it was supposed to be funny," Harry shrugged, looking very much like he wanted to change the subject no matter how much he was smiling at the attention Ginny gave him.
The Gryffindor team popped in and out, the next time with Wood who managed to tell Harry without sounding too insincere,
All four of them scowled heavily at that, still feeling that as team captain Wood really should put Harry's feelings into account about his mood in there. It even flitted across James' mind for a second Wood might consider taking Harry off the team, because if Wood saw Harry's fainting around dementors a danger to the game he really wouldn't put it past the boy. Of course he'd raise hell for that, but didn't bother to bring it up right then in hopes he was wrong.
that he wasn't blaming their loss on Harry.
"Good," Lily relaxed at once, more than happy Oliver wasn't going to make Harry feel worse.
Ron and Hermione were there all day, only leaving by force come curfew,
"Someone needs to get it through their head that they don't even need to leave then," Sirius smirked.
but even they weren't making him feel better, because Harry had yet to tell them what was really bothering him.
Any form of good mood was erased at once, because no one needed to ask that this was clearly why Harry didn't mind being in the hospital wing for the weekend. Harry surely wouldn't want to go around, even to his friends, talking about something that made all of them want to burst into tears, and it hadn't even technically happened to them.
He hadn't spoken of the Grim he'd seen that day in the stands to his two friends either,
Now that did surprise them, but Sirius quickly read out the reason before anyone could ask.
because he predicted their actions would be Ron freaking out and Hermione rolling her eyes.
"Err, yeah, I can see that," Remus nodded, ignoring the internal wince that he clearly hadn't made the effort to come see Harry up at the Hospital himself. He didn't care how sick he was, as many times as James had lost sleepless nights staying down there with him, he couldn't imagine how his future self worked out that this was okay.
It didn't help when he realized that this was the second time he'd seen that spectral image, and seconds after each he'd nearly died.
Sirius felt a horrible tightening in his gut when that came out. Honestly he'd never thought about it like that, but Harry was right. In fact, was his animagus actually more symbolic than he'd ever let those jokes be. After all, hadn't his best friend died as well... he'd been silent for too long, and maybe they noticed something of the growing misery that was starting to eat him alive, either way Remus had to give him a pretty hard poke to get his attention before demanding, "come on Sirius, can't be too upset about this, it's not like you did anything."
Sirius nodded too quickly, muttering, "right," before rushing on and ignoring James and Remus giving each other a look behind his back.
He was now honestly wondering if this was going to keep happening until he did die.
Sirius opened, then closed his mouth, undecided if he wanted to make a joke about that or vomit.
Harry gave him a pitying look, then blurted, "Sorry Sirius, I know how upsetting it is to you now, wish I could take it back."
Sirius managed a weak smile for his pup for trying, it did make him feel slightly better Harry very clearly didn't mean those things now, but it wasn't erasing how he was now stacking up how many people in his life were going to die, and if it could really link back to him?
Then there were the dementors.
"Course, can't forget about them for five seconds," James grumbled, rocking his son gently.
Harry felt a combination of terror and humiliation every time they crossed his mind. While everyone he'd ever met had agreed at there horrid existence, no one else he knew collapsed in their presence.
Despite Remus' explaining this to him, he still shifted his weight around in agitation at yet another thing that made him stand out like this. This time Remus left the reassurance to Lily, who by now quickly soothed him and reminded him that most likely she'd do more than faint if she had to hear something like that. Remus was too busy scowling and grumbling to himself he really should have stinking come and talked to Harry by now, never not agitated at how long or whatever reason was stopping this.
Then again, he didn't know anyone else who heard the echo of his mother's last moments.
"There's something I never want to read again," Sirius grumbled, hating that sentence nearly as much as he hated watching everyone else flinch because of it.
Harry had no doubt in his mind that's what he kept hearing, her final words churned repeatedly in his nightmare hours, then he'd wake with a start only to keep thinking about them.
Lily made a horrible choking noise, trying her very best to hold back a whimper of pain that her son was now forced to live her waking nightmare. She almost half wished her boy hadn't regained back this particular memory at all, but then reflected that would do more harm than good in the long run, because if ever he did come into contact with a dementor he wouldn't even be prepared for it.
'Thanks Harry, I really hadn't figured that out the first time,' Sirius frowned down at the book, leaning casually against James when he felt his best friend shivering in disgust at that. James gave him a grateful look, while cuddling his son close to him for comfort, the only thing still keeping the pair of them going at this point was the constant mantra of 'we can fix this, we have to!'
Harry never got any proper rest those days, in a constant state of awake or dozing with that same thing going round his head, with nothing else to distract him.
"Yeah it's official, the hospital wing can do more damage than good," Remus scowled, knowing personally how dreading it could be to have nothing else to think about and so you linger on your thoughts like Harry was clearly doing now.
Which is why it was a relief to go back to the crowded corridors of the rest of the castle come Monday, where he didn't get a choice and had to find other things to do,
They all breathed a sigh of relief, more than happy if Harry never had to think of that again.
even if it did come at the price of Malfoy.
All five of them groaned at this, realizing that Malfoy's lame joke would only have doubled in credibility at that public event.
The Slytherin was exultant at Gryffindor's loss, and taken those false bandages off at last,
"There's the bright side," Remus rolled his eyes in disgust.
"Least now he couldn't force me to help with his potion ingredients anymore," Harry nodded.
only to use both arms now in his constant mockery of Harry falling from the air.
"Why hasn't anyone hexed this one yet?" Sirius scowled.
He now openly used their shared Potions class to do this as many times as he liked, and Ron finally lost it and chucked a crocodile heart right in his face.
"Thank you," James beamed.
"Ron's the best friend ever," Remus snickered.
It lost him fifty points from their house,
"Worth it," Harry chuckled, knowing he'd likely have done the same thing if Malfoy had turned on Ron like that.
and Ron was fuming that if Snape was in their DADA as well, he'd skip the class.
"One hundred percent agree," Lily nodded sagely, causing the boys to smirk all the more.
Hermione poked her head in first, but confirmed it was Lupin inside.
"Thank you," they all sighed in relief.
The man certainly looked like he'd been sick,
Remus really couldn't help the involuntary wince that caused, remembering quite well how his transformations had felt before his friends had helped him to cope while they were animals. No he didn't remember anything clearly, but the pain he'd suffered had been more than double before his friends had joined him. He was soon looking at twelve years of that solitude. He neglected bringing that up, deeming it his own problem to deal with.
having visibly lost weight over the weekend so his ragged clothing looked even worse than usual, accompanied by his dark rimmed eyes.
James and Sirius exchanged worried looks, not needing Remus to remind them of how sick he could feel around these times, but feeling a slight comfort that surely Sirius had been there for him this last time at least, so they declined saying anything either.
It didn't stop his usual smile upon seeing the class, where in by the time everyone had sat down they'd each had something to say about their substitute while Lupin had been gone.
"Poor Remus," Lily smiled lightly, "James and Sirius were right, most of your job seems to be listening to kids complain."
Remus hardly looked like he was upset, the opposite in fact as he was smiling widely that these kids seemed to like him well enough they felt they could openly complain like that at all.
One was shouting that Snape shouldn't have been allowed to give homework at all,
Remus still didn't think the likes of Snape should be defended, but he did say to Harry, "in any other case, that could be argued. Snape was being extreme, but a substitute has every right to give homework as any other teacher to make sure you were paying attention."
Harry grumbled something and rolled his eyes, and James and Sirius looked disgusted their friend was defending giving out any form of homework, but there really was no point in arguing it any further.
while someone else cried in outrage about the length of that assignment. Lupin was frowning as he asked why they didn't tell Snape they hadn't got that far yet,
"Can imagine why that would bother you," Lily agreed grimly.
and they agreed they had told but he hadn't cared, and someone else repeated it had been two whole rolls of parchment in length!
"Someone seems really indignant about that," James said mildly.
"Can't imagine why," Sirius grumbled.
Lupin couldn't help but smile as he glanced around the room, telling them he'd talk to Snape,
"I'd personally like to sit in on that conversation," Sirius said, perking up at once.
"Really Sirius, what do you think I'm going to do?" Remus rolled his eyes.
"Something more than talk," James answered, not bothering to hide his hope one bit.
Remus just rolled his eyes at the pair, not exactly in agreement, but unable to argue the point either. As of right now, he was feeling a bit more than talking was in order for what Snape had tried to do and would very dearly like to either hex him or at least take it up with Dumbledore, but he had no idea what his future self might be thinking. If his actions so far were an example, he may have even said that just to pacify them and not bring it up with anyone ever.
and promised they didn't have to do the assignment.
"Yes!" They all cheered. Remus personally thought his reasons might have been just slightly selfish in that decision, perhaps he should have shortened it rather than outright undermining Snape and saying they shouldn't do it, but there was nothing for it now.
Hermione was the only one who pouted that she'd already done hers.
"Why am I not surprised?" Lily snorted.
The rest of the class went on in the usual pleasant manner, as they studied hinkypunks. Lupin was explaining that they had a lantern built into their hand, and liked to lead people into fogs, and the hinkypunk chose that moment to face plant the glass teeth first.
They all gave appreciative chuckles of amusement for that good timing.
When they were dismissed though, Lupin called Harry back for a private word.
"Now what's this?" James leaned over eagerly, more than happy for any instance of Remus and Harry getting to talk some more. Sirius quickly elbowed him back out of the way so he could read.
Harry waited curiously, and Lupin began by saying he'd heard about Harry's game, while trying to cover up the hinkypunks cage,
"Bet you bout had a heart attack when you did," Lily murmured, noting he wasn't exactly looking at Harry as he spoke, which probably meant he was either upset or ashamed about not being there. They'd all noticed his laps in not going to see Harry in the hospital as well, but at this point it would have just been even more awkward if he had shown up then so they were trying not to take it as personally.
and if there was any way his broom was salvageable?
'Poor Remus' James thought sadly, knowing his friend would probably do anything to buy Harry another one right then.
Harry said no, he'd asked, and Lupin sighed.
Remus scowled and grumbled something, still personally blaming himself for whatever that stupid tree continued to do to Harry.
He told Harry that the Whomping Willow had been planted the same year he'd arrived,
"And what a coincidence," Sirius snickered.
and that students used to play a game about trying to get nearest its trunk until one boy nearly lost an eye and it was then marked as forbidden.
"Wasn't Peter the one who dared him to do that?" Sirius chuckled in remembrance.
"It was before we knew what was under it," James defended their friend, "then we thought it was just for show, or advanced Herbology."
Lupin knew that brute of a tree quite well, and accepted Harry's broom had no chance. Harry had to build himself up for a moment before asking if he'd heard about the rest, like the dementors.
This time Remus forcefully ignored the feeling that kept cropping up whenever it mentioned how awkward these talks between them were.
Lupin agreed, he'd seen how angry Dumbledore had been over it all.
"Oh I'm sure that was a sight," Lily said without any amusement.
He explained that without their usual supply of their prisoners, they were getting hungry, then confirmed this was what made Harry fall? Harry agreed, then blurted out before he could think about it, why it happened like that to him? Was he-
"Thank you!" They all burst out in relief, knowing it would have driven them all that much crazier if Harry had continued to sit on this.
Lupin cut him off at once, saying it was not because Harry was weak before Harry had even finished.
"Probably had that written all over my face," Harry sighed, having been thinking on that all weekend.
He told Harry that because of some things that had happened to him, he had a more adverse reaction than others.
"What a friendly little reminder, I thank you," Sirius rolled his eyes without any humor.
Lupin quickly explained that dementors were manifests of the worst parts of society, they reveled in anything to do with the horrors of your life.
"Put a few more horrible details in there why don't you, you were doing so well," James smirked.
Even Muggles had been known to sense them nearby, though they couldn't see them,
Harry cocked his head to the side, wondering why on earth that particular sentence should seem familiar to him. Surely he'd never been around both dementors and muggles at the same time, right?
but they did affect them as they would drain away every last drop of happiness.
Sirius' mood, already taking a downturn whenever these monsters were mentioned, continued sinking all the lower as the longer this went on the more vivid imaginations came to mind of what exactly he had to look forward to in the near future. The opposite of pleasant to think about, but he ignored his friend's attempts at comfort and kept reading loudly in hopes to get this over with.
If the dementor could get away with it, it would feed off of you and your magic until you were left with nothing, soulless.
James had to swallow back a bit of bile at that phrasing. He, much like his best friend, getting cold all over at the thought of Sirius or Harry being forced in there company for too long.
It was beginning to occur to Lily for the first time that Sirius may not have gone and tried to steal a wand at any point, because was he even able to still have magic after such exposure? Surely turning into a dog, which seemed to have helped enough for him to escape, had helped to retain his magic as well? Could it have gone even farther, as this must be the reason he hadn't lost his mind like every other had. She wanted to offer the suggestion to her boys, but they looked so miserable at this constant topic she decided she'd try pointing it out later if, and hopefully never, Sirius' mindset came back into question.
Then he reminded that the worst things that had happened to Harry just made him a little more tempting to them, he had nothing to be ashamed of.
"Thank you Remus," Lily grinned at him, "high time someone said that to him."
Harry grinned over at him and repeated that thanks, causing Remus to blush and mutter about how it wasn't that big of a deal even if he did agree with them.
Harry couldn't meet his eyes as he did admit what he heard, his mother being killed by Voldemort.
"Bet I just loved that one," Remus went from red to sallow faster than a traffic light changing.
Lupin jerked, his arm coming forward like he wanted to grab Harry's shoulder in comfort, but the motion quickly died before he started.
All five of them winced in pain at that, hating this near constant reminder now at just how close Remus and Harry weren't. This should have been a time where Harry could have sought comfort in him, and instead Remus still felt too insecure to do much more than stand there. It was both infuriating and depressing all at the same time.
They stood in silence for a moment before Harry grumbled about why they had to come to the game.
"I can think of a few reasons," Sirius sighed, not exactly happy for this change in subject, it was hardly better than the last one.
Lupin said that the roar of emotions from the stands was like a feast calling to them, they couldn't have helped themselves.
"Yeah, that was the main one," Remus nodded in agreement, meaning Sirius, and ignoring James and Sirius snickering that he'd just agreed with himself.
Harry came to the conclusion how horrible Azkaban must be.
"You've no idea how right you are," James huffed, curling his lip up in disgust at the thought.
Lupin nodded in agreement at that, telling that it was in a fortress way out at sea, but that wasn't what kept the people there. No, it was the dementors feeding off of them, trapping them inside their own worst memories. Most went mad in weeks.
"I swear, this really does just keep getting better," Sirius snarled.
Harry pointed out that Black had gotten out, and then Lupin jerked so hard his briefcase clattered to the floor, and he hustled to pick it up.
"Just as subtle as ever my friend," Sirius said, releasing a bark like laughter for that. Remus' random display of clumsiness and inability to hide what he'd been thinking in that moment almost bringing a good mood back to the room.
Lupin gave a shifty agreement, saying how odd that was, considering dementors were known to drain the magical power right out of someone.
"All true," James smirked, "though of course, no one's tested one little theory in particular."
"You're all just so proud of that, aren't you?" Lily asked indulgently, suddenly realizing the boys would have worked this out on their own by now anyways, and this could be why they were so adamant about knowing Sirius' mind set. Maybe Sirius still needed it pointed out though, or perhaps he'd come up with some counter argument in his own head they needed to knock away.
Harry reminded that Lupin had made that dementor on the train go away.
"Glad you remember that," Remus chirped, brightening at once. If Harry really came to him now, asked for his help with this, perhaps Dumbledore wouldn't say no to both of them?
Lupin agreed there is a charm to be used, but it was so advanced most wizards didn't even learn it, and the more dementors there were, the harder it was. Harry paid that last part no mind, asking at once if Lupin would teach him.
"Yes!" The room cheered, more than happy at this turn of events.
Lupin tried to say no, saying he wasn't an expert by any means,
"You don't have to pretend," Sirius scoffed, "you know plenty to get him going, don't have to write a book on the subject."
but Harry was being insistent, saying he couldn't let that happen to him again at the next match. Lupin was still hesitant,
'Why am I hesitating' Remus wanted to ground out in frustration. Was he really so afraid of getting close to Harry, he'd leave him dry like this? Surely not? The others must be thinking along the same lines, but no one said anything until they got Remus' real answer.
but something of Harry's expression finally led him to relent he'd try and help.
James and Sirius were nearly bouncing in place with happiness. 'Try and help?' Please, Remus would get Harry through this just fine. Sure there were horrible complications and questions, like how for instance they were actually going to be practicing this, but the point was, Harry was finally going to get the help he needed!
He told Harry it would have to wait until after break though, he'd chosen a very bad time to be ill.
"Chose," James rolled his eyes, as if Remus ever chose when it was a full moon.
"That's not so bad," Lily said eagerly, "Harry shouldn't have another run in with them any time soon anyways."
"Why so long though?" Harry asked, knowing he'd rather get started on these sooner rather than later, but so grateful at the time he hadn't questioned his professor. He had no qualms asking Remus now.
Remus didn't really look happy about answering, still kicking himself for trying so hard to push this off as he said, "I'd need Dumbledore's permission to set this up, plus if I'm counting the timing right holidays are right about to start and you wouldn't want to do this during Christmas anyways."
Harry nodded back in agreement with all of that.
With the promise of an anti-dementor defense, the fact that he'd never have to hear his mother die again,
"I'll admit that's rather promising," James muttered, trying to force down his shudder of disgust at that sentence existing.
and when Ravenclaw beat Hufflepuff, Harry's mood went right up for a while.
"Just what we needed," Sirius laughed out right.
The way the points stacked up, Gryffindor was right back in the running, and practices continued with Wood leading in a manic way,
"Oh I really missed this," Lily rolled her eyes.
working them hard. Harry was relieved to see no other dementor in sight.
"Let's hope it stays that way," Remus agreed.
Christmas was fast approaching now,
The four of them refused to give in to their wince of pain this time. Harry had yet to have a really good holiday, so far marred by horrible memories, but this year was sure to be different. It felt too much like tempting fate though, so none of them voiced this hope aloud.
and the castle showed it. Flitwick had been seen letting faires loose in his classroom.
"Love the castle this time of year," Lily beamed.
All of the students were bubbling about the coming holiday, while Ron and Hermione had chosen to stay behind at school with Harry, giving him all sorts of excuses that Harry didn't buy, but still thanked the company.
"I never get tired of hearing your friends lame excuses," Sirius snickered, he always came right out and stated why he stayed behind at the castle.
There was also set to be one more Hogsmeade trip before the holidays started,
Harry refused to let his mood head back south now that it was clear everyone was looking forward to a good holiday, so he refrained from mentioning just how upset this trip already made him feel. Surely he was just upset because he got left behind again, right?
and Hermione was happy she could do all of her Christmas shopping.
"You mean you haven't already?" James mock shook his head in scolding.
Harry of course was the only one not happy about this, and instead asked Wood for a copy of Which Broomstick so he could go about looking into a replacement model for his broom.
"Now there's a good way to spend your day," Sirius beamed, "I'd have probably stayed behind out of the cold just to do that to."
During normal practice he'd been using one of the school brooms, a Shooting Star, which was very old and not nearly up to speed. He knew he needed a newer one.
"Ergh, yeah, I can completely see you spending money on this very important matter," James said in a completely serious tone of voice.
Lily made sure he could see her rolling her eyes at him, but didn't protest this either. Harry was still on the team, he did need his own broom, even if the longer this went on the more she grew to hate this sport and everything about it.
The day of the trip Harry saw his friends off and made to go back to the dormitory, but was called off to the side of a one-eyed witch statue with a hump, by the twins.
Remus and James leaned over at once, trying to pry the book away from Sirius so they could see if this was really happening. Sirius was having none of it, and eagerly elbowed the pair back out of the way so he could read what he hoped was happening.
Harry asked why they weren't in town already,
"Because they're about to show you something really important," James breathed, wriggling in place so much in excitement Sirius had to nudge him again to get him to stop so that he could concentrate.
and Fred told that they would soon enough, but they wanted to give Harry an early present first, while pulling him inside a nearby vacant classroom.
Lily had a fairly good idea what the twins were about to show Harry just from her boys' reactions, but she looked just as puzzled as the others now. Why not simply show Harry the secret passageway and be gone? Why drag him into an empty classroom? Guess the twins were just being paranoid and didn't want anyone to overhear them giving him instructions.
Then Fred pulled a plain old yellow squared parchment out, that was blank.
Sirius nearly passed out from excitement.
"They didn't! Please tell me that they did!" James nearly squealed in excitement.
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Remus tried to soothe, the impact lost as he looked nearly as excited as the other two at what this could mean.
"What's all this?" Harry finally demanded when it became clear they were understanding something he didn't.
"Remember I once mentioned we made a map of the school?" James asked eagerly.
Harry had to rake his brain for a moment before remembering this had come up back when he'd found the Chamber. At the time, he'd very dearly wanted to remember something important about this, and he now had a delighted feeling this may have been it. After nodding eagerly, Harry was now nearly as excited to find out if this was the same bit of parchment or not.
Lily smiled lightly at them all. She knew of the Marauders Map of course, and she honestly couldn't come up with a good reason why Harry shouldn't have it.
Harry had the suspicion that the twins were leading him into one of their usual jokes.
"Please, not now," Remus muttered.
Fred began to explain that it would be a pain to give this up, but had decided it would do more good in Harry's hands as he had a need for it.
"Thank Merlin to whatever made them decide that," Sirius said fervently.
Harry asked why he'd need some old parchment.
James pressed his hand over his heart as if Harry had just mortally struck him, causing the others to snicker at his theatrics. He didn't carry on long however, to eager to see Fred and George really show Harry what was going on.
George was more than happy to show Harry otherwise, first explaining that they'd come across this in their first year, young and innocent.
All of them snorted, knowing these types of twins were hardly ever innocent.
Harry snorted. He doubted whether Fred and George had ever been innocent.
"So glad you agree," Remus smirked.
George admitted a mite more innocent than they were now at any rate, when Filch came across them. Fred butted in they'd just been letting off a few dungbombs and the man seemed rather cross about it all,
"I just can't imagine why," Lily pointed out with heavy sarcasm.
while George explained they'd been taken down to his lair, and Fred added that they'd seen his cabinet labeled Confiscated and Highly Dangerous.
"I love these twins," Sirius was smirking so wide his face was likely to get stuck that way soon, not that he seemed to care.
"Why was it marked Highly Dangerous?" Lily asked curiously. "What exactly did Filch think it was?"
"That's just it," James gave her a Cheshire grin that would have made any kid in school take several wary steps back. Lily did no such thing, but instead raised a brow at her husband, who decided to go on in more normal tones. "We never told him what it did. For some odd reason he assumed the worst of us and threw it in that cabinet."
"Bless those twins," Remus snickered, dearly wishing he had sat in on them trying to get it to work.
Harry could feel himself starting to laugh as Fred explained his twin had set off yet another dung bomb as a distraction while he filched it. George tried to defend it wasn't really that bad,
"Doesn't sound bad to me at all actually," Sirius cackled.
since they were sure Filch didn't even know what it was.
"He's got that part right," James agreed.
When Harry asked what exactly it was, Fred praised that this fine bit of paper had taught them more than any teacher they'd ever met.
Lily couldn't help but roll her eyes at that one, dearly wanting to smack Sirius for how pompous he truly sounded in that moment.
Harry called them out one last time that he was being punked,
"Not possible at this point, they've said too much," Remus shook his head eagerly.
and George just gave an evil grin as he tapped the parchment with his wand and said 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.'
"How would they have even worked out such a specific code?" Lily asked in wonder.
"We gave that thing some heavy enchantments, we'll not deny that," Remus answered fairly, not wanting just any old person to walk across it and pick it up to use.
"But we also made sure that, if someone else did come along for it for any reason, it wouldn't be totally inaccessible," James continued eagerly. "You see, if you sort of play around with the wording, and the closer you get to the correct phrasing, the more properly the map will work."
"We might have even set them in the right direction," Sirius added on, thinking of the nifty little trick they'd added in for security against someone they didn't like setting it off. The charm used to insult the attempter could also be reversed to help the user if the map deemed them worthy, and there was no doubt in their mind the twins were worthy.*
Spreading out from his wand as if an invisible hand were drawing them were ink lines appearing, and they were forming the words ' Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs: Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers are proud to present THE MARAUDER'S MAP.'
"You lot are so full of yourselves," Lily sighed in a long suffering voice.
None of them seemed to hear her, they were too busy explaining to Harry any and every detail that came to mind about their proudest object to date they'd ever created as a group, and the odds that it had landed in their soul heirs lap. Harry seemed to almost be stalling he was asking for all sorts of details, but none of them really grew suspicious until he ran out and Sirius made to keep reading. Harry bit at his lip, still looking excited he'd discovered this wondrous object, but still wary for some odd reason he didn't seem to want to be sharing. Surely he was just nervous about his first time using this, yes?
Harry really didn't want to admit that, the longer this went on, something really bad was about to happen after he got this map.
Not only that, but when Harry unfolded the square, the lines kept creeping out, spiraling and twisting every which way to form the castle and surrounding grounds. The best part, it also had little dots with names attached, describing where every person in said castle was at that time.
"I thought Hogwarts was unplottable though," Lily said shrewdly. James had only ever told her about the map after they'd left school, so she'd never seen it first hand, or really appreciated like she was in that moment just how much work must have gone into such a project.
"Magically unplottable," Sirius corrected. "You can't use a charm to just create it like you can normal plans for a building. It's why it's designed how we did, by hand."
"How come the twins never would have spotted Voldemort with Quirrell back in first year?" Harry probed thinking back on that time and how surely the twins would have picked out that name.
"Well first of all, his name would have shown up as Tom Riddle, not Voldemort," James shrugged, "so they wouldn't think anything of it at all to randomly spot a student being told off in his office or anything when they spotted it."
"Also, he might not have shown up at all, because he didn't even technically have his own body," Sirius added on. "Of course we've never tested that theory,"
"And here's hoping it never comes up," Remus added in with a remembered shiver of disgust.
"But it makes sense," Sirius finished.
In detail were seven lines that led straight off of the map, and as Harry followed one...Fred pointed it out for him stating they went right into Hogsmeade. He admitted that Filch knew about four of them,
"Damn," all three boys scowled, wondering how on earth he'd figured those out since they'd left. In all fairness, he could have known about them before they did and they'd just never caught him at it, but it still wasn't pleasant to find out.
and the one behind a mirror had caved in,
"Rats," Sirius scowled with a snap of his fingers, "that was one of my favorites."
"Course the one with the mirror would be yours," Lily snipped.
plus the one under the Whomping Willow was never used since you couldn't get past that tree,
"Oh yeah," James didn't even try to muffle his chuckles, "no one ever uses that one, no one at all!"
"Guess they never figured out how to work the tree then," Sirius snickered.
Remus was personally glad they hadn't, as he would rather the twins hadn't met a rather unfortunate event this particular year, but said nothing out loud.
but their personal favorite was the one that went into the Honeydukes cellar,
"My personal favorite," James smacked his lips in appreciation.
"James-" Lily began in a threatening tone of voice, hating to think he was now encouraging their son to steal.
He waved her off at once and said, "please Lily, I left them money, give me some credit."
the entrance to which just so happens to be in that one-eyed witch's hump in front of this door. George mock wiped a tear away at the praise he owed the Messers so much,
"No thanks is needed really," Sirius smirked, his eyes lighting up proving otherwise. "We're more than happy to help."
and George agreed they had done themselves proud helping out future miscreants.
"Imagine their delight when they find out one of them's a teacher this year," James pointed out, causing a whole new round of laughter for all of them.
Then George turned all business, telling Harry that he had to be sure to clean the map when he was done by telling it 'mischief managed' otherwise anyone could look at it. Then Fred mock scolded Harry as he warned he'd better behave himself, giving a fair impression of Percy while he was at it.
"Can't imagine why they'd practice that," Remus snickered.
"Oh I'm sure he'll get right on that," James beamed with pride.
Then George called out he'd see Harry in Honeydukes, and they left.
All of the boys looked deliriously happy now, more so than they had in a long time. Harry had not only just inherited the Map they'd spent countless hours poring over, but he also happened to be in possession of the Cloak as well! Mix in Ron and Hermione's thinking, and the three of them could have a next set of troublemakers brewing.
They were in such a good mood, they didn't notice Lily giving Harry a very worried look. The longer this went on, the more Harry kept rubbing at his temple, a sure sign something was about to happen. This should be a good memory for Harry, why did he seem to continue to sink into himself and give Sirius a furtive look when he thought his godfather wasn't watching. Harry was trying his best to push those feelings away, but Lily couldn't help but continue to feel antsy as Sirius continued.
Harry couldn't help but hesitate though as he stared at the map, remembering something Mr. Weasley had said only last year about how you should never trust something if you couldn't see where it kept its brain.
"Sound advice," James nodded seriously, "but this is an exception to that rule. Be wary of magical items you don't know the source of-"
"-but in this case," Sirius cut him off before James' 'daddy mode' could ruin all of his fun, "there's no danger in sight, so you're fine pup."
Harry gave them both reassuring smiles, feeling rather sure he had held onto this map and nearly positive at this point his feelings were correct and he'd traveled into Hogsmeade this day. This didn't seem to make him feel any better though.
"Good of you to be cautious though," Lily still praised him, at least for a moment taking that look away.
Then he reminded himself that Fred and George had been using this for how long, it's not like he wanted to go out stealing and hurting people, and nothing had happened to the twins.
"Atta boy, there's using sound logic," Remus beamed.
"Can't say we never used it for all of those purposes and more," Sirius muttered in amusement.
Harry took another look at the map, then he hopped to it, folding it up inside his robes and going outside the door again to a thankfully empty corridor.
"Course there's not," James rolled his eyes, "you just checked the map. Surely you would have seen someone coming."
"Best not to act too suspicious with that on you," Sirius agreed sagely in what he clearly thought was giving his sound advice voice, "don't want the wrong teachers, or Filch, to catch that on you without a good reason yet."
Harry looked at the statue and wondered what he had to do to open it.
The three present Marauders grinned at one another, then James threw Lily an obvious look, clearly saying 'see, we thought this through.'
Lily didn't quite understand yet, and couldn't deny she was curious how they had worked this into the map.
With nothing else for it, he glanced back at the map and saw his own little dot, with its own tiny wand tapping on the hump and a word bubble appearing with the spell Dissendium.
"Handy," Lily said in equal amounts of amusement, surprise, and admittedly rather impressed.
"So glad you agree," James' smirk only increased at his wife's praise.
Harry repeated this, and the statue's hump opened wide enough to allow a small person.
"It expands," Remus told him quickly when Harry looked like he was fixing to ask.
Harry climbed inside, made sure it closed behind him, then slid down into a dirt path that led out of sight. Harry marked off the map with the proper spell, before heading off.
The boys couldn't help it, they were still bouncing around in absolute pleasure. This was better than any of them could have hoped for! Not only was Harry getting into Hogsmeade as he so rightly deserved, but the means by which he was doing it couldn't be better!
It seemed to take hours,
"Sometimes it feels like it," Sirius agreed, "other times it feels like you blinked and you're hitting your head on the end."
"How far is it really?" Lily asked curiously.
"Don't know," James shrugged, "never actually counted. Since it's a direct line to Honeydukes, I'd say it might be a shorter walk then the path down into Hogsmeade, but not by much."
but the idea of Hogsmeade kept his feet moving.
"Best motivation there is," Remus agreed.
The tunnel seemed to come to an end with a set of stairs, but after climbing over two hundred he lost count and instead smacked his head against something.
"I did that nearly every time," Sirius agreed as Harry rubbed his head in remembrance, "never could remember how far up that thing was."
He pushed, and found it to be a trapdoor. Moving it to the side, he poked his head into a cellar, which was filled with dozens of boxes, and when he put the trapdoor back, it blended right into the floor.
"Just better hope you find it again," James pointed out, "we tried our best to leave some kind of mark the shopkeepers wouldn't notice the first few times so we could."
Then a door opened, and a woman's voice called out something about Jelly Slugs.
Lily crinkled up her nose in disgust, she hated that candy in particular.
Harry jumped out of sight as a man came down the stairs,
"Which is a benefit of bringing the cloak along with the map," Remus pointed out.
and watched as said man turned this way and that looting through his stuff. Harry snuck behind him, went up the stairs, and found himself inside the sweet shop proper.
"My little Marauder Junior," James cooed fondly to the napping child in his lap, causing Harry next to his mother to beam with pride while Lily felt like smacking her husband for no more reason then calling her son that. She supposed it was vaguely better than Bambi,** which Remus had tried to get going for a while, not that either James or Sirius had understood that reference. Then she winced in self pain as that parallel was suddenly all too real to her son.
The shop was small, and packed. Harry began wriggling his way through people, eyeing the shelves as he realized even Dudley would go wild for this place.
"There's a yuletide thought!" Sirius beamed.
There was every treat imaginable, and the narration gave plenty of detail for each,
"Sirius, you're drooling," Remus pointed out candidly.
Sirius ignored him and proceeded to read out every treat in this place with so much eagerness, it caused the rest of them to continue chuckling.
"Are you quite done now," James snickered, "or would you like to stop for a moment and collect yourself before you eat the book."
Sirius stuck his tongue out at him, not regretting a thing.
Then he caught sight of Ron and Hermione under a specially marked sign that said Unusual, which was called for when he saw them looking at blood flavored lollipops.
"Why?" Lily asked in disbelief.
"To say they'd tried one I suppose," Remus shrugged, "I've tried everything in there once, either out of personal curiosity or on a dare."
Hermione was telling Ron that Harry wouldn't like them.
"Aw," Lily's disgust at the idea of trying half the things in that shop switched to pleasure at once, if still a bit confused as to why Harry's friends thought he'd like those at all.
Then Ron offered some Cockroach Cluster,
"Definitely not," Harry smirked, knowing Ron had been joking, but laughing all the same at the squidged up way his mom's face went at that suggestion.
and Harry told him that was a definite not. Ron nearly dropped the jar.
Every boy gave an appreciative chuckle at that, this was a light and minor prank to what Harry could have done to his friends when they didn't know he was behind them.
Hermione was hardly any better, spluttering her shock of how he'd gotten there.
"Magic," Sirius said in a goofy tone of voice, before reading eagerly. He wanted to know how quickly Harry was going to tell his friends about this new possession.
Ron was eyeing his friend with envy as he asked how he apparated there.
"Wow, Ron can be really dense sometimes, can't he," Remus rolled his eyes at that suggestion.
Harry laughed and quickly explained about the Marauders Map.
"Not surprised," James shrugged, he'd have personally found it even odder if Harry hadn't told his friends about this as soon as he could.
Ron was outraged as he demanded why his own brothers hadn't given that to him first.
Sirius opened, then closed his mouth as he cocked his head to the side in thought on that one.
"He's actually got a point," Lily agreed fairly. "If they were going to pass it on, why to Harry and not Ron?"
James snapped his fingers and said, "guess by the time they decided to give it up, Ron was already gone, so they just passed it to Harry cause he was there. I'm sure if they'd caught Ron in time, they would have just given it to him, knowing he'd loan it to Harry for this."
That didn't really line up with what Fred and George had said about giving it to Harry specially, but it really was the best answer any of them could come up with.
Hermione though pointed out Harry certainly wasn't going to keep it at all,
"Of course he is," Remus said right back, the idea far more then ludicrous to him. "What else would he do with it?"
Sirius read out the next line as if he'd just had his heart ripped out.
and of course he was going to turn it into a teacher.
"Is she mad?" Lily balked. "Exactly why would he do that? He's not doing anything wrong by having it."
"You know it's bonkers when Lily agrees with us," James nodded in total agreement.
Both Harry and Ron told her she was mad! Harry quickly said that if he did do this, it would get Fred and George into trouble for stealing it in the first place.
"And we wouldn't want to get the twins into trouble," Sirius rolled his eyes, knowing that wasn't exactly Hermione's greatest concern, but still unable to understand her stance against their map.
Hermione was just as insistent, pointing out Black. What if he was using one of those secret passages to get into Hogwarts, the teachers should be aware of this.
"Now that's fair," Remus nodded in understanding, giving Sirius a sideways look.
"And most likely true," Sirius agreed. Personally, if given the option, he would have been using the Mirror secret entrance as it was the most out of the way one, but even then he had full confidence he could use the Honeydukes one with ease to get in and out of the castle.
Harry quickly pointed out that Black couldn't be doing this, as Filch knew about four of them at least,
"And they could reckon wrong," James said without any real hope, knowing the twins probably would know something like this first hand.
and the other three weren't of any use, like the Whomping Willow.
"Plus it only leads to the Shack, so that's not the most useful thing to getting in the school," Sirius nodded.
Besides, the one he just came through, you wouldn't even know it was there if you didn't have foreknowledge.
Sirius couldn't help a wane smile at that. Of course he knew where that was, he'd been using it for years. He could have snuck in there blindfolded.
Then Harry did consider, what if he did? Ron though, gestured to a sign hanging inside the shop, which said by order of the Ministry:
"Oh here we go," Sirius ground out in frustration, knowing he was going to hate anything coming from them for quite some time.
The customers should be aware that the dementors patrolled Hogsmeade after sunset.
At this point the little shivers of disgust they all felt upon the mention of those things went almost unnoticed in the room.
The ministry set this up to keep the residents safe, and the dementors would be taken away as soon as Black was caught.
"Poor people, having to deal with that the rest of their lives," James said with utter conviction, knowing he'd rather die all over again then find out Sirius ever wound up back in there.
It ended with a Merry Christmas.
"And a happy holidays to you to," Remus crinkled his nose in disgust.
Ron happily explained there was no way Black could be getting in past that.
'Shouldn't be too much of a challenge to be honest' Sirius mentally thought, rather confident enough in himself to believe that, though still unsure as to why he would sneak in the school at all. Yes he was positive he'd want to see Harry, get a chance to talk to him as soon as possible, but his actions on Halloween still disturbed him more then he wanted to admit.
Then he also pointed out that as the owners of Honeydukes lived on premises, they'd surely hear someone breaking in to use said secret entrance.
James cleared his throat and put a very obvious shifty look on his face. His friends knew what that meant. After exchanging wary looks, Harry and Lily decided they just didn't want to know what these boys might have come up with to get past that type of thing.
Hermione still tried to protest,
"Have I mentioned how much of a killjoy she's been recently," Sirius rolled his eyes in agitation, perhaps a bit more than he meant to as he was still rather caught on his own thoughts.
Harry wanted to get angry at him for picking on his friend so much this year, but he was still unable to shake this bad feeling that something awful was about to happen. Something about Sirius perhaps? Did he have a run in with him? Shouldn't that be a good thing? Before he could let his mind continue straying around and building up a resounding headache, he chose to say nothing in fear it would come out more snappish then he meant.
reminding that Harry wasn't supposed to be out here at all.
"Oh for the love of-" Lily threw her hands in the air in frustration. How could Hermione really be arguing that one? Harry deserved to be out of the castle as much as anyone else. How could Hermione really still be trying to preach that rule to him, especially after everything they'd done in the past two years over other things?
What if Black showed up now?
"Then I would jump for joy," Remus rolled his eyes, though he would personally find it an odd coincidence if Sirius did chose that day to make another appearance. How would he know the Hogsmeade days of the students, as he obviously wasn't keeping himself well enough informed to even know the Gryffindor password.
Ron laughed that off, saying it was so crowded around here there was no way Harry could be picked out. Hermione still didn't look pleased, and Harry teased her that she was going to turn him in. She agreed she wouldn't,
"Glad there's that at least," James nodded.
"Would have really lost some faith in Hermione if she had," Sirius nodded in agreement.
and Ron took that as permission to start leading Harry around the shop and properly showing off the treats. He found some Acid Pops, and recounted the time Fred gave him one, which put a hole in his tongue.
"Merlin, where did he even get a hold of that?" Lily asked in shock.
"Probably one of their older brothers, like Bill or Charlie, and he took it from him as a joke but then passed it along to Ron or something," Sirius shrugged.
"Boys lucky to still have a tongue," James snickered.
He fondly remembered when their mum had found out and smacked said brother with the broom. Then he thought about it for a moment, and asked whether Fred would eat some Cockroach Cluster if Ron tried to pass them off as nuts.
This erased any trace of foul mood in the room at Hermione's expense, knowing full well that was more than appropriate payback, though personally thinking the twins were smart enough not to fall for that.
After that they left, and Harry's friends began showing him the rest of the village, while Harry shivered in the cold December breeze, not having brought a proper jacket.
Lily's maternal instincts kicked in at once upon hearing her little HareBear was cold, but recognized it would be pointless to scold him for not thinking this far ahead as this was a rather spur of the moment foray.
Hermione offered to take him up to the Shrieking Shack,
"That could have some fun potential," James snickered.
but then Ron said the Three Broomsticks was closer, and warmer, so they went in there instead.
Harry had been acting odd ever since the arrival of the map, now he was getting downright fidgety. He somehow knew his first trip into the Three Broomsticks was supposed to mean something monumental to him, something bad his mind helpfully supplied. He couldn't stop his eyes flickering over to Sirius, a horrible feeling building up in his gut as his mind continued very forcefully trying to tell him something about his Godfather. By now though, he was trying his very hardest to discipline his mind, and not let those memories surface. The book would provide, slowly yet surely. Whatever bad thing he thought was fixing to happen, he was sure his family could calm his mood yet again.
They went inside to find the matron a very pretty woman.
Sirius couldn't help but snicker, knowing personally Madam Rosmerta had been many Hogwarts' youth's first crush, and that was during his age. By Harry's description, she'd clearly aged with beauty.
Ron pointed her out as Madam Rosmerta, then offered to go fetch their drinks while taking on some color.
"And the trend continues," Remus agreed verbally with Sirius' knowing look. Harry looked at the pair, unsure exactly what they were being so giggly about, but considering he was holding back vomit he didn't pluck up to ask them.
Harry and Hermione began edging around, taking a seat next to a Christmas tree by the fireplace.
"Bit of a hazard to put that tree next to the fireplace," James said randomly as he glanced at his watch, and noting how late it was getting. They should probably have dinner after this chapter.
"It's probably fireproofed, unless some idiots I can think of would set it alight on purpose," Lily said pointedly, which all three boys studiously ignored.
Ron came back and handed them all some Butterbeer, but before they could begin enjoying it the door opened again, and Harry coughed on his drink.
"Well this can't be good," they all muttered, wondering what force on earth was causing Harry that kind of reaction now. Couldn't their boy have one good and peaceful day?
It was McGonagall,
"Yeah, I can see why you reacted now," James scowled, mentally grumbling at the world for the timing of this nonsense. Couldn't Harry have just one day where he could kick back and enjoy himself.
Flitwick, Hagrid, and Fudge.
"Oh for the love of Merlin," Sirius scowled in outrage, previously not even thinking it could get worse, and hating how wrong he was.
None of the others could think of a thing to say to this, Sirius' hatred of the Ministry and its leader during this time was completely understood and rather paralleled by everyone else in the room for what had been done to him. For him to arrive now just seemed to give them that extra kick of annoyance no one needed.
Ron and Hermione reacted faster than Harry, each grabbing him and forcing him under the table.
"Hopefully that'll work, being in the corner and all," Remus huffed, beginning to grimace in agitation of just how wrong this could go so quickly.
Harry could only spot their feet now, which stopped briefly at the bar, before heading for them.
"Oh for the love of Merlin!" James repeated in exasperation letting his head fall back against the couch in disbelief. They just had to pick the corner his son was hiding in didn't they!
Hermione further hid the lot of them by moving the Christmas tree in front of their table.
"Thank Merlin for Hermione," Lily grumbled, more than pleased at this small distraction that would keep Harry even more out of sight. Of course if she was caught doing this, it would arise suspicions and Harry could be caught all the sooner, so she was now dearly hoping no one saw her doing this.
Harry could easily make out the sights of four chairs being moved around and people sitting down.
Remus was still muttering under his breath about the odds and chances of this mess, now Harry was stuck there until they moved. This was hardly his free day he'd so desperately been needing, but kept it quiet enough to himself so that Sirius could keep going. Not that he really looked like he wanted to. They were probably just going to sit around and talk about paperwork and boringness, his name might be mentioned, but that would only be even more annoying.
A pair of heels walked up, and Harry heard an unfamiliar woman's voice announcing drinks, starting with a gillywater for McGonagall,
"Guess now I know to send McGonagall a bottle of that for Christmas," James rolled his eyes.
four pints of mulled mead,
No one needed to ask who that tankered was for.
for Hagrid, a cherry syrup and soda with ice and umbrella for Flitwick,
"That's something I enjoyed getting," Sirius laughed brightly at this odd comparison.
and Fudge had gotten a red currant rum. Fudge then offered for Rosmerta to have a drink with them, which she agreed to.
"Can't exactly say no when the Minister asks you for a drink I suppose," Lily shrugged.
Harry was reflecting that he should have realized it was a free weekend for the teachers as well, and he really should have seen this coming.
"It's not unheard of they would get out of the castle," Remus sighed, "but still, the timing!" He exclaimed again in disbelief.
Exactly how long were they going to sit around out here? Harry needed to get back to school before they did.
"Oh they shouldn't be there that long," Lily tried to reassure.
"Hagrid might," Sirius huffed with a roll of his eyes, and considering how he'd reacted the last time Harry had snuck out to see him, it didn't bode well.
Rosmerta was back, asking what had brought the Minister this far out?
"Hopefully just a pleasant chat with Dumbledore," Sirius said without any real hope in his voice.
Fudge said what else but Black.
"Of course," Sirius sighed with a roll of his eyes, not at all surprised he was wrong.
He had caused quite a stir with his Halloween stunt.
"Wish I could forget," James scowled, not at all delighted to hear these people, at least three of whom he highly respected, start bad mouthing and swapping rumors about his best friend. At this point he almost wished for boring paperwork talk.
Rosmerta agreed she'd heard about that, and McGonagall chastised Hagrid for telling the whole world.
"Wouldn't surprise me one bit," Remus sighed.
Then Rosmerta asked Fudge if Black was even still in the area, and Fudge agreed he was positive of the fact.
"Least we're not going to argue that point," Lily said agreeably.
Rosmerta wasn't happy, saying that those dementors buzzing around because of him were ruining her business.
"Then kick them out and send them away," Sirius snapped.
Fudge agreed they weren't his favorite things to work with, but they were needed. He'd been to see them just today and they were all kinds of angry at Dumbledore for not allowing them into the castle.
"Can't thank him enough for that one at least," James shuddered in disgust at how Harry would be feeling all the more awful if that was happening.
Fudge tried to pacify all of them that they were only here to protect them from something a lot worse.
"Unless Voldemort himself is running around I'll have to disagree with you," Remus snipped.
After what they knew Black to be capable of.
"Oh and here we go again," Sirius groaned in disdain, taking a moment to plant his forehead against the pages before gathering himself up and forcing himself to continue on that horrid lie.
Rosmerta admitted she still didn't really buy that story some days,
"Least someone other than Remus in this future does," James hissed.
not the Sirius Black she'd known to go over to the other side,
"Have I ever mentioned how much I liked her, cause I don't think I say it enough," Sirius said warmly at what he considered a rather obvious statement that no one else seemed to agree with in this future.
if someone had told her that, she'd have cut them off from drinking for the night.
"I'd have knocked your lights out, and that's being kind," Remus snapped.
Fudge agreed it had been quite a shock, but the worst thing he'd ever done wasn't even known to the public.
Sirius couldn't help the curiosity that spiked up in him then. He hated hearing what he'd supposedly done, the very thought of murdering someone he even hated made his stomach roll let alone thirteen random people, but perhaps this 'worst thing' could help clear up some of this confusion.
Lily scoffed and still wanted to snap at how the Minister himself was gossiping, but she was far too curious to hear this then bring it up.
Rosmerta was shocked, saying what could be worse than killing those thirteen people? McGonagall reminded that if she remembered Black, then she remembered his best friend.
James began to get a very bad feeling in the pit of his stomach even as Sirius couldn't help but grin. While Sirius was thinking if there was one good thing he would be remembered for, at least it would be by his best friend. James on the flip side didn't like how this 'worst thing' conversation was starting.
Rosmerta laughed fondly as she agreed they'd practically been brothers, that Sirius Black and James Potter. Harry dropped the rest of his drink in shock, and Ron kicked him.
It took a small moment for the others to understand Harry's reaction, then they had to remind themselves Harry wouldn't have known this. What was obvious to the boy now would have come as quite a shock to him, and for him to hear it like this! Remus or Sirius should have been the one to tell Harry this type of thing, not hearing it second hand like this.
McGonagall agreed, they'd been the leaders of their little gang,
"Little gang?" Remus scoffed, looking genuinely offended by that. "What were Peter and I, tagalongs?"
James and Sirius gave him almost superior smirks. While they would have defended their other two friends to anyone else, forever stating there was an equal bout of friendship between all of them, the two friends would never miss an opportunity to get under Moony's skin, so Sirius said cheekily, "nah, give yourself some credit Remus. I'd say more like groupies."
"Or at least pals," James agreed with a snicker.
Remus looked likely to knock their heads together at the clear teasing, now wishing Peter were here as well so the four of them could have a more proper argument/ jest at each other, but he was also just that little more annoyed that his name hadn't been mentioned for Harry's benefit. Surely if Harry had just found out he was a friend of his father's like Sirius, Harry would have come blasting in and demanded the conversation Remus was so clearly avoiding in the future.
the most troublesome boys she'd ever met, but Hagrid interrupted with a laugh that the Weasley twins could give them a go.
"Exactly what I was about to say," James nodded in agreement, though still unable to wipe that grin off his face that if he was to be remembered for something at school, he was more than happy it was this.
Flitwick piped in that Black and Potter had been inseparable.
"Might as well be by this point," Lily agreed in a mock suffering voice, since James' best friend was round here near as often as her own husband.
Fudge agreed with them all, saying Potter had trusted Black more than any of his friends.
"Now that one hurt," Remus pouted, pressing his hand over his heart.
"Oh please, it's not like I told him that personally," James rolled his eyes in disbelief at the obvious mocking joke.
It had carried on all their life, while Black had been best man at James and Lily's wedding.
"Something I still regret to this day," Lily jibbed, "after the way you flirted with all of my bridesmaids."
Harry didn't hear whatever retort Sirius gave her, he was still trying his very hardest to ignore this sinking feeling that was gathering in him now. While nothing he'd heard so far seemed to awful to him now, there was still something very bad that was fixing to be found out that he'd rather stay buried for the time he was here. He knew without a doubt though that he could never properly explain this feeling, and so forced himself to stay tuned in as Sirius kept going.
He was even Harry's godfather.
"What, no cheeky little comment about that Lil'?" Sirius grinned over at her, clearly looking to pick a fight. This conversation hadn't been going nearly as awful as he'd feared and he wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible.
Lily however only deigned him with a knowing look, unable to argue this point one little bit and knowing she'd still agree to this call every time.
Obviously Harry didn't know that fact, as it would horrify him.
Some of their amusement began ebbing out already, wincing when they reminded themselves why exactly this would be a torment to Harry when now he looked more amused than anything at their light banter. By now Harry had gotten very good at trying to bury his innate feelings, he was refusing to let it show just how uneasy this whole scene was making him. Even James was brushing away that nasty pit he'd felt before, surely Harry not knowing Sirius relation to him had just been the worst part.
Rosmerta guessed it would be so bad because of what Black had been for You-Know-Who.
Sirius still couldn't manage to say that with a straight face, his mouth twitching towards a grimace that anyone would think this, matched by every other person in the room.
Fudge said it got even worse, because most people didn't know that You-Know-Who had even been after the Potters.
"Did we now?" James said, more in mild amusement then anything. This clearly hadn't happened yet, which means they would find out within the next year. Of course this just frustrated him more than anything as he realized his future self knew something he didn't, like why Voldemort was after his family. Which gave James a splitting headache trying to understand that time loop.
Dumbledore himself had put them under protection, using the Fidelius Charm.
"What's that?" Remus asked, clearly puzzled.
Lily was frowning with her head cocked to the side, then huffed in frustration when she admitted, "that's a rather old enchantment, used back in ancient times to protect nobles who were thought to be under threat. I've only read about the theory though, the actual cantation has been lost to time."
"Guess Dumbledore found it," Sirius said without any real surprise, personally thinking their headmaster probably knew a bunch of stuff like this and just didn't share it with the public.
Rosmerta asked what that was, and Flitwick explained it was a secret hidden in a person's mind, and so long as that person known as the Secret-Keeper didn't share it, no one could ever know said secret.
Lily was nodding right along, very happy her old Charm's teacher was explaining it again, since the book she'd been reading it from was a translated and very old version and she hadn't even remembered all of those details.
If the Secret-Keeper had never spoken, Voldemort could have been right at the front door of the Potter house and never known it.
James couldn't help a snort of mirth at that description, despite how horrible the thought still was at this whole scenario.
Rosmerta summarized that Black must have been the Potter's Secret-Keeper.
"Naturally," Remus rolled his eyes in good humor. James however was beginning to frown and shift around in agitation. This sounded like a fool proof plan to him, so what on earth had happened? Had Dumbledore not set up the spell in time, and he and Lily had been killed before Sirius had gotten to play his part?
McGonagall agreed, saying that James had insisted Black would die before giving them away,
"Damned right I would!" Sirius looked outraged anyone would think otherwise.
and Black had even been planning on going underground himself.
"Now that I'd have to see to believe," Remus chuckled, wondering what force had convinced Sirius his life was endangered enough to be pulled out of the fight. Then again, if he and Peter had convinced him that it would be safer for James and Lily's Secret Keeper to be in hiding, well that would make since.
Dumbledore hadn't been convinced though, he'd wanted to be the Secret-Keeper himself.
Sirius scowled so heavily at the book, the object was lucky it didn't burst into flames. Dumbledore suspected him! Whatever faith he'd just held for his headmaster had just disappeared, since these suspicions had clearly been there before he'd even 'committed' that crime, possibly on his mind right now.
None of the others looked any happier at this, Dumbledore's implied actions making all of their blood boil in the worst way.
McGonagall agreed that You-Know-Who had been getting information about their side for ages, and it was someone close to the Potters doing it.
James went pale as ghost in horror. Yes, even now, the Order was beginning to question whether there was a traitor in their midst. The past few missions they'd been in, the Death Eaters had seemed to know a little too much about their plans, but it had to be wrong! No one in the Order could do something like this, let alone one of James friends, least of all Sirius!
Dumbledore had been suspicious for ages that there was a double agent working for both sides,
"I don't believe this," Lily scowled in outrage. "I can't believe any of them would help the other side!"
but James hadn't listened, so Black had been used as Secret-Keeper. Not a week later, Black had been the one to turn over the Potters to You-Know-Who.
"This is absurd," Remus snarled, thinking of the countless times Sirius had stuck his neck out for any of his friends, and now this was his legacy of all things!
While the others continued on in this same manner, insisting something must have gotten lost with time, there must be a piece to this puzzle Fudge was missing in this retelling; Harry was lost in thought. All of this was true, his gut and mind agreed as one with that, but that was all his mind would settle on. Something really was missing, but what? Bright spots of white began flashing across his vision in his need to keep such a memory buried and it was causing his head to pound so furiously it was beginning to drown out his surroundings.
His Mum had obviously seemed to notice, since the next thing he did recognize was her placing a hand on his shoulder. After blinking several times, he tried giving her a wane smile and explained, "there's something I need to remember, but I know the consequences if I do. Something really important about this though..." he trailed off in utter frustration at his inability to grasp at much of anything useful.
Sirius still wanted to lash out and shove that stupid bowler hat over the Ministers clearly screwed up head, but decided his Pup's needs were greater so kept going in hopes it would help.
Black had done this just in time to show his true loyalties,
None of them could ever hear that without wanting to scathe at the absurdity of that statement, but Harry still looked so out of it, and there was that comfort that he still didn't seem to believe this at least, that no one stopped this time to state this.
and he'd timed it just so with the Potter's death.
What Sirius couldn't help was the little gag that would always form whenever he was forced to hear that sentence, let alone say it aloud in any relation to his own hand being involved with this.
Then they knew the rest, and Black was left in an ugly spot.
Sirius shuddered in horror at the moment Fudge was painting. He'd done the numbers obsessively in his head, and it just so happened that the weekend all of this had gone down had most likely been the weekend before his birthday. Nasty position indeed, he'd probably come over there to find his worst nightmare come to life, it was no wonder if he really had gone slightly stir crazy in that moment.
With You-Know-Who fallen, and Black having shown who he really was.
James and Remus were muttering every foul word they'd ever heard, and even made up a few on the spot, at just how ridiculous that whole scenario was. Here they were, desperate to find out what had happened to decimate Harry's future like this, and all they kept getting were false stories and more rumors.
Hagrid started swearing on Black's name,
"My sentiments exactly," Lily muttered, knowing Hagrid hadn't meant it the way she was thinking it towards whoever had really done this, but finding it appropriate nonetheless.
telling how he'd been the one to dig baby Harry out of the destroyed house.
"There's a thought I never bleeding wanted," James and Lily shuddered in disgust of anyone pulling there helpless son out of the ruins of their household.
Black had arrived moments later on that bike of his,
Sirius remembered a much happier time where him showing up on his bike would have been considered such a common occurrence he never would have thought twice about it. Now all he could think was the emotional wreck he was sure would be tearing him apart inside.
and it hadn't even occurred for Hagrid to ask why.
"Wouldn't have freakin' occurred to anyone to ask why he was there," Remus grumbled.
Hagrid had no idea he was the Secret-Keeper.
Remus cocked his head to the side, noting that this clearly hadn't been made public knowledge. Safer yes, but Hagrid had been well aware of most of the goings on of the Order back then.
Dumbledore usually trusted him enough he didn't understand why he would have hid this from him or the rest of the Order. Of course since Dumbledore was wary about a spy...
Black had almost seemed shocked at what he'd seen,
Sirius hardly looked any better now, white and shaking the kindest things you could really call anyone in the room as they were forced once again to revisit what was all a living nightmare to them.
then Hagrid roared at the top of his lungs how he'd tried to comfort him!
Lily sighed as she rubbed at her earlobe, unable to bolster up any kind of anger as Sirius screamed that. The baby kicked up a fuss in James arms for the disturbance, and James excused himself for a moment to go and put the baby down for the night. It truly just wasn't the environment for his son. Once he was back, he slumped back down into his seat as if it were an electric chair, hearing Sirius being forced to read this aloud as good as a death threat to him.
Hagrid had no idea he hadn't been upset over James and Lily,
'Don't think upset rightly covers it' Sirius privately thought, but he was lucky at this point his voice was still intelligible, so he didn't risk saying that.
but You-Know-Who instead.
"I could sit here for years and list all the reasons that sentence is stupid, and still not get halfway through," Remus scoffed.
Black had tried to convince Hagrid to hand over Harry, he wanted to take care of him, but Hagrid had refused, Dumbledore had given the order Harry was to go to his aunt and uncles.
"Thank you for that lovely reminder, really brightened the mood that did," James scowled.
"Worst decision of anyone's life letting that happen," Lily agreed.
Black took some time before he caved,
'Half wish I'd just keeled over then, letting that monstrosity of a life take place' Sirius mentally ragged, but again kept that line to himself.
and offered his bike for a ride there, he wasn't going to need it anymore.
"Now that was just sad Sirius," Remus attempted at a joke, which no one really seemed to find that funny.
Hagrid should have known something was up then,
"To be perfectly honest, I probably would have agreed with Hagrid in that moment if I didn't know the rest," James sighed.
because Black had loved that bike, why hand it over?
Sirius shook his head sadly from side to side, again remembering much happier times when they'd jokingly said and given a very fair reason as to why he'd done this.
Why wouldn't he need it anymore?
"Well obviously it was because he was about to go on a psychotic rampage," Lily scathed, "what other possible reason could there be."
"You still scare me when you do that," James told her with a straight face.
He came to the obvious conclusion that it was because Dumbledore could track that bike, and Dumbledore had known about Black being the Secret-Keeper.
Sirius had to swallow very hard around a pile of bile that was building up in his throat. Sirius would still rather die than let this future come true, especially now that he realized he'd very plainly screwed up somewhere to cause all of this, made him see tiny little black spots that were going to cover up his vision very soon. He was still lucky he could continue blinking all of this out of his eyes and continue reading rather than attempt to say any of this, since he knew his friends would likely smack him in a heartbeat if he said this aloud. They would try and defend him, attempt to come up with some bull loaded excuse that was both lame and probably wouldn't make him feel any better, because at this point, he doubted anything anyone could say would really make him feel better. From the way the spell was set up, it was obvious he must have screwed up somewhere! So unless Harry himself told him that something else happened, and this scenario really didn't leave a lot of wiggle room that wouldn't leave him wanting to throw himself off the nearest tower, he'd just keep that little pit of heartbreak to himself for as long as possible.
Then Hagrid shuddered at the thought of what if he had handed over Harry?
"I actually think that would have turned out a lot better," Remus offered in a conversational tone of voice. "Might have stopped whatever mayhem followed if that had happened."
"I wish, I wish, with all my heart," Lily sighed.
Hagrid guessed he probably would have been dropped in the ocean somewhere.
Sirius really couldn't read that sentence without gagging a few times, using every bit of force within him not to burst into tears at the mental image, let alone Hagrid or anyone thinking he'd been the one to do it.
Rosmerta tried to get to the end, pointing out the good in the Ministry catching up with him, but Fudge said it hadn't been the government at all, but Peter Pettigrew.
Sirius' voice finally switched gears from desolate to confusion all over again. Peter found him? So many questions made that come to mind, it hurt his head just to figure out where to begin.
His reaction was nothing though, compared to Harry's. He clawed at his temple, his eyes screwed so tight in pain it was a wonder he didn't try and curse his own head off to help alleviate it. Which was ridiculous because he'd already heard that name. His family had been using it freely since he'd been here, but there was something there! Something in regards to Peter's name and this subject, if only he could remember... he groaned in frustration as that pent up pain began ebbing out already, blinking horribly as he glanced around to find all eyes on him. He couldn't offer them anything, not even a smile to show that he was okay and already pushing past this, because he wasn't; far from it. He needed to remember something, something so incredibly important but it just wasn't going away or getting any easier. Sirius felt like he'd rather pull out his own teeth then keep going, but it hurt all the more to see his little pup in this kind of pain so read on he did.
He'd been another long standing friend of James, and he must have been one of the ones that knew about Black being Secret-Keeper, so he went after Black.
Sirius let out such a horrible noise none of the others even knew how to define it. He looked likely to keel over any second as the book started shaking so hard it was a wonder it didn't fall out of his hands.
"Sirius?!" both James and Remus said as one in high pitched concern, both looking likely to either smack the life back into him or hug him until he couldn't breathe they sounded so worried.
"It's my fault," Sirius finally croaked out, this time unable to blink away the tears that traced his sallow skin. "I, I did something or, Merlin what did I do?"
"Stop that you idiot!" James snarled, looking very close to either tears himself or punching Sirius through a wall. "Pete reacts without thinking, we all know that." His mind kept scattering around, thinking back to his at the time laughable hysterics upon finding out Sirius' animagus, or how he'd initially flipped out when he'd found out Remus was a werewolf. Peter always did things without thinking them through, surely he was just as grief stricken and upset that he went and blamed it on the nearest available person, Sirius.
Sirius didn't seem to have heard him, he was still shuddering and looking around vacantly like he expected the grim reaper to appear any second. Remus kind of lost his temper, he reached forward and grabbed a fistful of Sirius shirt so that he knew those dark eyes were actually focused on him and snapped, "Really Sirius? You look around this room and you tell me with a straight face you actually believe you would do anything to get them killed." Remus waited a beat for the fog to clear and a look of indignation to cross back over his face before nodding and pushing him back, snapping, "now knock it off before I put you out of your misery."
Harry couldn't help but release a surprised burst of laughter at what he considered an empty threat. You didn't need to know these boys long to recognize an empty threat towards one of their own.
Rosmerta was shocked to hear this, referring to Pettigrew as that fat little tag along they'd had at Hogwarts.
All three of his friends frowned at that comparison, knowing they'd likely have cursed anyone who had said that about their friend. Peter was just as much a Marauder as any of them. Always coming up with the getaway strategy for their pranks and usually considered one of the sneakiest Gryffindors most had met, his jumpy actions now didn't change anything to them one jot.
McGonagall agreed he'd worshiped Black and Potter, though never as magically gifted.
"Maybe not in her class," Remus frowned in annoyance, knowing that Peter had rather excelled in other subjects such as Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, and Potions.
She'd been very strict on him at school, and now regretted those actions, even sounding a bit faint at the reminder.
Sirius couldn't help a teasing smirk light up his features, knowing he'd just love taking the mickey out of Peter for McGonagall showing her soft side when he came up.
Fudge tried to comfort her, saying he'd died a hero.
Then Sirius let out a choking noise like his throat had just closed shut. It hadn't really linked together yet... but 'twelve muggles and one wizard.' 'Peter went after him'...
"Dang it, he stopped breathing again!" Came from a very loud voice on his left, was that James jabbing him in the ribs? Least it wasn't Remus that time. "Sirius?" Crap that was his name, he should probably respond if he could remember how to say anything other than muttering, ",I ki- killed..."
"Course you didn't you idiot," Remus ground out from his other side. "I'm still half convinced this was an imposter or...something else that did the attack to begin with."
Sirius decided that if he ever met a boggart this would probably be his now, the mental image of him killing one of his very best friends, but Remus was right. He could never actually attack him, clearly someone had the wrong information here, so ignoring that his teeth were still trying to chatter out of his skull he still read intelligibly.
People had put him there at the scene, crying with grief as he yelled at Black for getting Lily and James killed.
All four of them shivered, pity filling every one of them for Peter in that moment as they were all convinced that James was right, Peter was just reacting and flipping out and blaming the nearest available person. Surely this imposter had cursed Sirius to keep up charades, there wasn't any other option!
That didn't even begin to cover their shock and heartache at hearing Peter's fate. Because of the miracle that Sirius and Remus had survived, they'd almost been thinking the same of their last friend. It was such a tiny little hope that none of them had even dared think it before now, but it was always there in the back of their mind that surely one of them had survived the war and come out okay. Now that they heard this, that Peter had lost his life the same day Sirius' world had ended, was yet another terrible blow to their view.
Everyone except Harry, who was beside himself trying to stop word vomit from causing him to collapse to the ground. Something so wrong was going on here, it didn't seem possible at this point he could control the pain, but when his mother reached over and cupped his hand in loving warmth, recognizing how much pain he was in from trying to control this, though she was honestly under the false impression that it was the pain of learning all this rather than his forced back memories, he held on just that little bit longer so as not to break down.
Pettigrew had tried to go for his wand, but Black and been faster, and blown him up.
Sirius bitterly remembered mockingly thinking that he was going to kill Peter if he was alive for not coming around for Harry. Now he really meant it when he decided he was going to kill the bastard who had dared to really do that to his friend.
McGonagall was gasping how foolish he had been, should have left it to professionals.
James sadly wanted to agree, thinking it may have saved his friend's life, but he didn't think he could get the words out without bursting into tears as well.
Hagrid said that if it had been him Black wouldn't have had the chance, he'd have torn his limbs off one by one.
Sirius cocked his head to the side at what he considered a very real threat. Honestly at this point he still felt sick enough with himself he might have taken Hagrid up on that offer, but he was worried it may result in another slap from one of his friends so he didn't say that aloud.
Fudge told him he was being ridiculous, Black couldn't have been handled by anyone except their law when he was backed into that corner.
"Don't," Lily said sharply when she registered an almost smug look creep across Sirius' face. She felt bad at once for telling him off for a joke she didn't really think was in good taste, because she'd have rather heard that then the sultry voice he slipped back into the moment he turned back to the book.
Fudge had been one of the first their after the moment was called in, and he vividly remembered all the dead bodies and the destruction.
'Merlin what kind of soul could do that' the others bitterly thought. Of course there were a few more important questions they wanted answered, how had they really framed Sirius for that mess. Why for that matter? Was it because he was a Black and it was more believable, or because he was so openly against Voldemort despite his family name he was an easy target? James' wand appeared in his hand and he kept tapping it against his thigh in agitation that he didn't have a name to curse into oblivion for the cause of all of this mess.
Fudge had to clear his throat then before saying that was that, Black had been taken in, and Pettigrew's mother given Peter's Order of Merlin, First Class.
That wasn't any comfort to anyone in this room, but it was a nice thought anyways for what their friend might have been trying to do. Maybe if whatever hadn't gone so brutally wrong, Peter and Sirius both would have gotten that for stopping this massacre.
Black had been living in Azkaban since that day.
Sirius felt a horrible twitch under his skin, like he really wanted to remember that on top of everything else he'd just learned, but he pressed down on any further questions that sprung to mind so he could finish this nightmare.
Rosmerta asked if Black really was mad, and Fudge agreed that his master's defeat must have done something to him.
'Pretty sure this whole ordeal unhinged him, not to mention where he'd be staying wouldn't help' Lily mentally sighed, but refrained from voicing that.
The way he'd murdered those people had been nothing more than the act of a cruel man.
'And the worst mistake that person ever made in their life' Remus vowed, personally wondering where he'd been in all of this mess. He must have followed up on this, tried to figure out what really happened and what could have happened to Sirius, try to get revenge against the real person who'd killed his friends and all of those innocent people, but he had no ideas right now.
The weird part was, Fudge had seen Black in person, and he'd been acting perfectly normal. He'd even asked Fudge for his paper, saying he missed it.
Sirius released a surprised snort of laughter, one hundred percent certain bored was the last thing he'd been feeling in that hell hole and wondering what on earth he'd been thinking trying to make pleasant conversation with the Minister.
Harry on the other hand gave a surprised jerk, frowning and rubbing at his temple. There it was again, something about Sirius and the paper. There was a key in there, a connection he was missing, but the others were still absorbed enough they didn't seem to notice he was distracted.
Fudge had been shocked at the behaviour, since he was on twenty-four seven watch by the dementors, and lesser people had gone mad sooner.
"There will not be a time I won't want to curl in on myself and cry at the thought of that, but thanks for the reminder," Sirius muttered to himself as he checked how much was left, and gave a blessed sigh of relief when he saw this was almost done.
Rosmerta asked why he'd really broken out, if he was planning on putting You-Know-Who back in power?
James sighed and laid his face in his hands, more than tired of repeating himself about how stupid that was, but refrained from saying it again for the sake of getting this done.
Fudge agreed that was his ultimate plan, but they were going to get Black before that.
"Ha." Harry said lightly, shaking his head from side to side at how absurd that sounded to him. This gave the others a little more life to cling on to, Harry finding that sentence laughable was a very good omen for how this should all play out in the end.
They drank a bit more, but then McGonagall mentioned the time and said Fudge had a dinner with Dumbledore.
Lily couldn't help but release a surprised snort of laughter that came out rather runny at how lightly all of this seemed to be taken by everyone but them. She'd personally hold down the loon who thought they could mess with her family and get away with it, and the fact that these teachers took this matter as a passing side story was pretty insulting to her.
They all up and left, and Hermione and Ron ducked down to see Harry's blank white face, while they were all lost for words.
That was pretty accurate to how everyone else in the room felt as well.
*That is the actual response from JK herself as to how the twins worked that out. I personally had another headcanon for this.
**Nickname suggested for James by Shakira94 and MelodyGirl239 but I thought it suited Harry a bit more. I am a proud owner of my own Marauder's Map, which I've stared at for so many hours I'm convinced my dot will appear on it!