In which Remus Lupin finds a strange but interesting book
It had snowed during the night.
From his room at the top of Gryffindor tower, James Potter couldn’t help but think that the view of Hogwarts’ grounds covered in snow was spectacular. It was as if someone had rolled out a pure white blanket, one which glittered, just faintly, a very pale blue. Behind the bare, frost crisped trees the Great Lake was a sheet of smooth, silver glass that gently reflected the early morning sunlight. A beautiful day; perfect for the start of the holidays.
A faint smile on his face, James pulled a jumper over his head, lifted a hand to check his black, meticulously-styled-into-tousled-nonchalance hair, and headed out of the dormitory and down the long spiral staircase to the Gryffindor Common Room. As it was the first day of the holidays it was far emptier than usual, but there were still a few students around - including James’ best friend and surrogate brother.
Crossing to where Sirius was sat skimming the front of The Daily Prophet, James flopped down next to him on one of the squashy red sofas before a merrily crackling fire.
“Morning,” he said cheerfully, relaxing back into the cushions.
Sirius looked up from the paper and grinned. “Well finally. You take longer than a girl getting ready, Prongs.”
James pulled a face, resisting the urge to lift a hand to his hair again. Sirius had clearly noticed though, arching an eyebrow and looking as if he was suppressing laughter.
“This wouldn’t have anything to do with Evans staying for the holidays, would it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” James sounded indifferent, but he couldn’t meet his friend’s eyes.
Still smiling, Sirius smiled and let it go. His best friend had been head over heels for Lily Evans since about their third year, though Merlin knew the girl gave him no encouragement - in fact, she rather did her best to discourage him, making it clear she found him a less appealing partner than the giant squid. James would keep trying, though.
“Where’s Moony?” Sirius found himself distracted as James abruptly changed the subject.
“Library.” He pulled a face to show exactly what he thought of that.
James looked equally outraged. “It’s only the first day of the holidays! What kind of a Marauder is he?”
Sirius gave a despairing little shake of his head, and James groaned. While he appreciated Remus’ work ethic and didn’t question the need to do some studying over the holidays - it was their NEWT year, after all - their friend needed to remember to relax. He lost himself in his books so easily, he would probably spend hours in the library without realising the time was passing if James and Sirius weren’t there to drag him out again.
“Well, come on.” James got to his feet and looked down at Sirius. “Let’s get him out before he spends all day there.”
Carelessly tossing the paper aside, Sirius also stood and together they left the common room through the portrait hole, waking the Fat Lady up in the process, much to her displeasure.
Decorations had begun to spring up over the last few weeks and now the castle looked as festive as the snow outside. Lengths of holly were wound around the banisters of the staircases, enchanted candles floated near the ceiling and the castle walls had been charmed to look as if they had been sprinkled with frost. With a magnificently decorated Christmas tree on each landing, the two Marauders could have walking through a Christmas card.
Before heading to the library they decided to stop at the Great Hall and grab some breakfast; James’ stomach had given a rather loud rumble and he had suddenly realised how hungry he was.
The Great Hall was just as picture perfect as the hallway. Fat white flakes of snow were drifting down from the enchanted ceiling, while the house tables had been lined with tinsel in their respective colours. Finishing the picture was a great, thirty foot tree with not a decoration out of place, topped by a star that was almost blindingly sparkly.
James and Sirius made their way to the Gryffindor table, the former trying to inconspicuously lead the way towards a small knot of girls that contained a certain pretty redhead, the latter immediately cottoning on but choosing not to comment.
“Morning,” James said cheerfully to the girls, reaching over to grab a couple - or three, or four - slices of toast.
“Morning,” they chorused, all but one looking up.
“Morning Sirius.” Marlene McKinnon eyed the taller boy hopefully, pushing her dark curtain of hair behind one ear. He spared her a grin, but that was all. Hoping for some conversation, she continued, “Aren’t you staying? Don’t you usually have some sort of competition to see who can stuff more into their mouth at once?”
Sirius shrugged, also helping himself to toast. “Usually. Not today.”
Marlene looked disappointed, her lips forming a slight pout. “Where are you going?”
“The library? You two?”
James grinned, but his eyes were fixed on Lily Evans, who was refusing to look up from her book. He knew she was aware of him though; there were very slight spots of colour in her cheeks, ones that only seemed to appear when he was around.
“It’s been known to happen,” he said to Marlene, then clapped Sirius on the shoulder. “You set? Let’s go. Bye, girls. See you, Evans!”
She didn’t look at him, but her line of sight wasn’t moving so he didn’t think she was reading either.
The girls watched the retreating back of the Marauders under they disappeared out of the Great Hall, then turned back to each other with knowing smiles. They were perfectly aware of why James had decided to raid the half empty toast rack next to them rather than the fuller one further down the table.
“The library,” Marlene repeated with a shake of her head. “Do they really expect us to buy that?”
“Maybe it’s true,” Alice Scrimshire suggested from further down the table. Technically Alice was a Hufflepuff, but since her boyfriend and most of her friends were all in Gryffindor, she tended to eat with them rather than at the Hufflepuff table. Marlene looked sceptically towards the cheerful, round-faced blonde, who just shrugged. “Well, they have to spend some time studying. For all they joke around, their marks are always near the top of the year.”
Marlene couldn’t deny this, so she simply gave a disappointed sniff and looked away.
“That may be so,” Lily lowered her book slightly to look at her friends, “But I doubt they’re going to study on the first day of the holidays. They’re probably going to drag Remus out of there.”
There were a few grins at that, knowing it was probably true. Remus was well known as being much quieter and more studious than his two best friends - even if he was still always around when they were up to their tricks. It was a quality that had earned him many female admirers throughout the school.
“You know, at the beginning of term you would have called him ‘poor’ Remus,” Alice said to Lily, her large blue eyes the picture of innocence as she looked at her friend but her words containing a sly edge. “And I’ve not heard you being quite as verbally abusive of James lately ...”
“So?” Lily asked, feeling heat rise to her cheeks and hoping she wasn’t blushing too fiercely. Being a redhead, it was difficult to hide when she was flustered, angry or embarrassed; she blushed far too easily. She often envied her sister, who had inherited their father’s blond hair and cool complexion.
Shrugging casually, Alice reached out with her fork to spear a sausage from the plate in the middle of the table. “I just wondered why the change.”
Feeling a little put on the spot, Lily lowered her eyes back to her book. “It - it’s nothing,” she said, with only very slight awkwardness. “Potter’s just not as much of a prat as he used to be. You know I have to spend a lot of time with him since we’re Head Boy and Girl, and ... well, he’s grown up. So I don’t feel as sorry for Remus anymore.”
This statement was met with silence, and when she glanced up at her friends she found herself confronted by several amused smirks. Scowling, Lily lifted her book back up to hide her furiously flushing face.
“Oh, shut up.”
James had just polished off his toast as they reached the library door - a good thing, too, as the last time he’d dragged crumbs inside Madam Pince had looked ready to kill.
For all he didn’t spend much time in the library, James had to admit it was one of the more impressive rooms in Hogwarts - and that really was saying something. Bookcases soared from the floor to ceiling, hundreds, if not thousands, of books arranged in perfect order along the shelves. There were tables arranged in the middle of the room for those wanting to study, and there were also squashy armchairs in some of the corners for those just wanting to read. Sunlight spilled through the tall glass windows in the far wall, making everything bright and airy despite the maze of bookshelves.
There were a few odd students getting a head start on their homework for the holidays, but no sign of Remus. Not that James had expected to spot him from the doorway.
“Right.” Sirius shoved his hands into his pockets and stepped inside, looking around. “Let’s find Moony.”
They wandered for a while through the bookshelves, until they eventually found Remus in one of the more obscure sections near the back of the library. He was stood half hidden in a corner, looking down at a book in his hands with a thoughtfully puzzled frown. He didn’t even notice his friends approaching until Sirius swung an arm across his shoulders.
“Moony! There you are!”
“Studying on the first day of the holidays?” James folded his arms and shook his head in mock disgust. “This is unacceptable.”
Remus smiled. “I was returning a book, actually. You know how Madam Pince gets if we don’t bring them back on time.”
James and Sirius both looked like they were about to say something to this, then at the last moment changed their minds. They did both know what Madam Pince was like. An angry McGonagall was usually easier to deal with.
“So what’s taken you so long?” Sirius changed the subject. “Returning a book takes what, thirty seconds?”
“About,” Remus nodded, the corner of his mouth quirking upwards. “I was putting it back when this caught my eye.” He gestured to the book in his hands, then looked thoughtfully at James. “You don’t have any relatives called Harry, do you?”
Bemused, James thought for a moment before shaking his head. “Not that I know of. Why?”
Remus held the book out towards his friends, who leaned forward to curiously read the silver lettering curling along the spine: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Other than the title there was little about it to spark interest. It was slim, bound in red leather, and fairly unremarkable.
“Random,” Sirius remarked, running a finger over the name. “And you thought this might be a relation to James?”
“Who know? It might be.” James shrugged, a sudden grin on his face. “Just because I’ve never heard of a Harry Potter doesn’t mean there isn’t one. My family goes back a long way. When’s it from, Moony?”
For some reason Remus seemed hesitant to answer that question. “Yes ... that’s the other thing. I think it must be a printing error, I don’t see how else to explain ...”
He looked a little abashed as he flicked open the first couple of pages and then pointed to the publishing date. James had to read it twice before it sunk in.
“Nineteen ninety seven?”
“What?” Sirius snatched the book and ran his eyes down the page. “That can’t be right.”
“That’s what I thought.” Remus shrugged apologetically.
His friends didn’t seem to hear him, though. Sirius was staring in disbelief at the neat printing that proclaimed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had indeed been first published in Great Britain in 1997, while James was suddenly pacing in front of them. A wild gleam of excitement that Remus knew only too well was in his eyes, and the young werewolf had the sudden notion that he should be feeling nervous.
“Maybe that explains it,” James muttered, half to himself, but on catching his friends’ confused looks continued, “Why I’ve never heard of Harry Potter. Maybe he’s not an ancestor but a descendant of mine!”
“You think this is your ... what? Your son?” Sirius asked, tone heavily sceptical.
James nodded. “Why not? This is a school of magic, isn’t it? Let’s read it and find out.”
He took the book from Sirius’ hands and began flipping through, trying to find the first chapter, unaware of the look of mingled horror, surprise, disgust and - just faintly - curiosity that travelled across his best friend’s face.
“You want to read a book, on the first day of the holidays?”
“Don’t you get it?” James gave an exasperated sigh. “If this really is from nineteen ninety seven, and Harry Potter really is my son then this book ... it can tell us all about our futures!”
A light of understanding came to Sirius’ eye. “You just want to know if you ever get a shot with Evans.”
“No. Well. Maybe,” James conceded, a little sheepishly, “But that’s not all. We can find out where we live, what we do ... what the future will be like. If,” a dark shadow briefly crossed his face, “if we win against You-Know-Who.”
That stopped both Sirius and Remus in their tracks, and they shared a look of torn emotions. Both of them had to admit, it was an appealing prospect, the chance to find out if the war that was casting a shadow over their lives and the whole wizarding world would be brought to an end - and how. Not to mention the opportunity they might have to change anything that could, or should, be changed.
“I don’t know,” Remus was hesitant, though his eyes lingered on the book. He hadn’t been able to stop the thought from entering his mind: what if they found a cure for his ... his condition in the next twenty years, and it was in that book? He would be free. “Learning the future ... it could be dangerous, James. And this book ... we don’t know what kind of magic we’re dealing with here.”
James looked down at the book his hands, then back to his friend. “I know,” he said, voice uncharacteristically grave. “That why I’ll be relying on you to watch out for me.”
This didn’t appear to have completely convinced Remus, but he recognised the determination in his friend’s eyes and slowly inclined his head.
“Alright,” he said, voice soft. “But not here. Somewhere ... somewhere more private.”
“Private? Like what, the dormitory?” Sirius asked.
Remus shook his head. “No. We require a room more private.”
His lifted his eyebrows just slightly, waiting for the emphasis to penetrate. Sure enough, both James’ and Sirius’ eyes widened as they understood his meaning and they both nodded their heads. Glancing around to make sure they were hidden from view, James slipped the book inside his robes and then together the three of them headed for the door and then up the stairs towards the seventh floor corridor.
A.N: This was written purely for funsies. I've seen the same idea (the Marauders and Lily reading the HP books) done a couple of times and wanted to try my hand at it myself. I've tried to keep everyone in character, even though it's a crack story and not meant to be taken seriously in the slightest. Please R&R!
Disclaimer: Characters, settings and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone all belong to JKR.