Sirius ran to his friend's crumpled figure lying on the floor of the now smokeless room. Remus was alive but badly battered, a huge gash marred across his forehead. Sirius dropped to his side and gently shook his friend's shoulder.
"Moony, wake up," Sirius shook Remus' shoulder a little harder but got no response. Taking out his wand, Sirius said "enervate" and Remus' eyes slowly began to flutter, his dark blue eyes fighting to stay open.
"Moony, what happened? Are you okay?"
Remus struggled to sit up, hissing in pain as he did.
"Sirius, you really shouldn't be here," said Remus as he rubbed the back of his bloody and bruised hand. "Aurors could burst in here at any moment."
"Did they do this to you?" asked Sirius. Remus weakly shook his head.
"No, but they've been watching my house. They think I know where Harry is. They think I've been helping you as well."
"Who did this to you? Remus, what the hell happened?"
Remus took a labor breath in before answering.
"Deatheaters. They surprised me during the night two days ago. The Rat was with them. They wanted to know where Harry was. Obviously all the time Peter has spent away from us has caused him to be less aware to the lunar cycle."
"It was a full moon two days ago," said Sirius, the fact dawning on him at that moment. Remus nodded.
"Burst in on me right before I started to transform," said Remus. His face twisted in pain as he stretched out his back, trying to sit more comfortably. "They tried to beat the information out of me."
"Beat?" asked Sirius. "They didn't use the cructius on you?"
At this, Remus let out a small laugh.
"No. Peter said something about it having no affect on me so they would have to beat me physically. I saw the look in his eyes. He didn't want to hurt me. I could smell the fear he had. He didn't want me to die."
Sirius snorted at this, but it wasn't out of humor.
"He can deal out death for two of his friends, send one to Azkaban, but feel pity for another," said Sirius as he shook his head. "He always did liked you best."
"Anyway, I have no idea where Harry is so obviously I had no information for them. And that's when I started to transform. Peter realized that soon he would have a rabid werewolf on his hands in a matter of moments so he ordered the other deatheaters to lock me in this room. They dragged me in before I was fully formed. The last thing I remember is hearing them put the ward on the door."
"Moony, we need to go to Dumbledore. He can fix you up at Hogwarts," said Sirius as he stood up, gently pulling up Remus with him.
"I can't," said Remus. "Aurors are watching me. They'll know."
"They didn't know you've been in here for the last two days bleeding to death," said Sirius as he tried to pull Remus with him to the door. "Come on, let's go."
"No Sirius. I'll just stay here. I know enough about healing charms to fix myself."
"Remus!" shouted Sirius, letting his temper get the best of him. "Who's to say that the deatheaters won't come back for round two? Now, I'm going to cast a concealing charm on you and we are going to floo to Dumbledore from the inn in town."
With that, Sirius took out his wand and magically covered up all of Remus' physical wounds. He then transformed into padfoot and led Remus out of the ransacked house.
"Potter, is there something you could possibly busy yourself with?" asked Severus in an exasperated tone as he watched Harry pace back and forth through the living room.
"He's been gone all day," said Harry as he stopped to look out the window for any sign of his Godfather.
"It was urgent business for Dumbledore," said Severus as he laid his book on his lap. "He'll be back soon enough unfortunately."
Harry let the faded cottage curtains fall back into place and turned to sit on the couch. Severus was sitting on the other end of the chair, reading a book about potions, what else.
Harry sat for a moment, thinking about the last few days when a certain event sparked his memory. He turned to face Severus on the couch.
"Professor, you said you would explain your reason for being nice to me," said Harry. "You know back at the restaurant."
At first Severus didn't respond. Harry, for a moment, thought his potions professor was ignoring him and turned away. Severus sighed heavily, causing Harry to turn back towards him.
"I wouldn't exactly call it 'nice'," said Severus as he set his book on the coffee table.
"Knowing you," said Harry bravely, "I would."
"Do you want to hear why or not Potter?" said Severus annoyed. Harry chose not to speak again and instead, readied himself to listen. Severus took a deep breath and continued. "When you first came to Hogwarts, I saw you and immediately thought of James. You look like him, you sound like him, and I couldn't stand it. After the whole sorcerer's stone thing, I'll admit, I was surprised by your bravery, but I wasn't going to let that change my feeling towards you. After the Chamber of Secrets thing your second year, I felt the same way. Now, in my eyes, you took a step backwards your third year. Not only did you fraternize with a convicted criminal and a werewolf, you also gave me a pretty nasty knock on the head."
At this, Harry muttered a small apology.
"Now, although you showed courage through all these events, you threw yourself into them. To me, you became an arrogant show off with a lust for glory. You chose to look for trouble. That all changed last year. You didn't choose to compete in the tournament. You didn't know what Barty Crouch was doing. You didn't know the cup was a portkey."
It pained Harry to listen to Snape's recollection of the past year. The memories were painful but he said nothing.
"That is why I said that our situation is not that much different from each other," continued Severus. "Both of us have an unwanted connection to Voldemort. If I had it my way, I would never answer the summonings whenever they came. If you had your choice, you most certainly would have nothing to do with him. But that's not to happen. We both have people expecting us to do something. I'm expected to spy. You're expected to defeat him, and there is nothing we can do to change peoples mind about it."
Harry was shocked at the words his professor had just said. He had never thought of any of that before. He had certainly never expected to be told it by Snape.
"And for a teenager, you are handling this exceptionally well," said Severus, surprised his own voice had uttered a compliment to Harry. "James and Lily would be proud."
Harry dropped his gaze to his hands. A compliment like that from Snape was nothing to be taken lightly.
"And now, if you don't mind Potter, I'd like to get back to my work," said Severus as he picked his book up and began to read. Harry looked up at Severus with an amused frown and shook his head. He stood up and walked upstairs.
Harry spent the rest of the afternoon in his bedroom, starting his summer homework. The fact that he could sit out in the open and write about Holgar the Heinous and his role in the goblin rebellion of 1854 made him feel a little closer to living a normal Hogwart's students life. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard raised voices downstairs.
"Sirius is home," said Harry out loud to himself. He walked out of his room and towards the stairs. He stopped to listen before going downstairs to break up the fight they no doubt were going to engage in.
"What the hell was Dumbledore thinking to send you there?" shouted Snape. "You could have been captured and forced under veritaserum."
"What would you have done?" retorted Sirius. "Would you have let your best friend lay there and bleed to death?"
"Well, no but-."
"Exactly. I couldn't let Remus die."
Harry listened even closer. This wasn't a normal argument between the two.
"You may be a heartless bastard Snape but you would've done the exact same thing."
"Could you stop with the insults for a moment? What did Dumbledore tell you about Harry?"
Sirius sighed heavily.
"He said that the deatheaters are looking for him because the Ministry no longer knows where he is and this is chance opportunity to get a hold of him."
"How do the deatheaters know Harry is missing?"
"The Minister has told the Daily Prophet that Harry has left his relatives to join with Voldemort and the deatheaters."
Both men looked up suddenly when they heard Harry exclaim from the top of the stairs.
"Harry? How much did you hear?" asked Sirius as his eyes followed his Godson down the stairs.
"Well, I would think that much was obvious Black," said Severus wryly.
"Shut up Snape."
"Make me Black."
"Is this really the time to be arguing like children?" asked Harry, taking on the adult role once again. "Now, tell me more. I have a right to know."
"The Ministry told the Prophet that you left the Dursley's to join the Deatheaters," said Sirius as he sat down on the couch. Harry followed. Snape leaned his back against the mantle of the fireplace.
"I heard that Sirius. What else?"
Snape continued when Sirius failed to answer.
"You now have enemies on both sides. If the deatheaters find you, you'll be taken to Voldemort. If the Ministry does, you'll be taken to Azkaban. They have charged you with Cedric Diggory's death."
"So I'm trapped either way?" asked Harry, knowing what the answer was going to be.
"Well," continued Severus, "you'll be fine as long as you stay here. Dumbledore has added an extra security measure to the cottage."
"Which is?" asked Harry when Snape didn't continue.
"He made Remus our secret keeper," said Sirius. "He's going to stay at Hogwarts for the rest of the summer."
"Is he alright?" asked Harry as he remembered the beginning of the argument.
"Madam Pomfrey fixed him up. He's fine, though a little sore and really tired."
Sirius reclined on the couch, laying his head on the back and shoving his hands into his pockets. His fingers brushed against a small square object in his pocket. He suddenly remembered his trip to the Hogwarts library.
"Harry, you'll be happy to know I found a solution to your nightmares. Now it will take a lot of practice and it won't get rid of them completely, but I've been using it for the last fourteen years to curb the nightmare I have."
Harry and Severus both looked at Sirius with anticipation and interest. He pulled out an object from his pocket and showed them it with a flourish of his hand. Harry and Severus both leaned in to figure out what the object was. Sirius looked down at it grinning but then realized it wasn't quite right. He slapped a hand to his forehead.
"Ha, stupid me, hold on," he pulled out his wand and muttered a spell. The object swelled in size, revealing that it was actually a book. "Tada!"
Harry grabbed the now normal sized book and flipped open the front cover and read, "The Animagus in You." He looked back over at Sirius with wide eyes. "Huh?"
"I'm going to teach you to be an animagus," said Sirius as he folded his arms behind his head. "An illegal one of course. Your father wouldn't have it any other way."
"That is very nice of you Black," said Severus, the tone of his voice obviously not meaning the statement, "but what does this have to do with Harry's nightmares?"
"Well, I discovered that while I was in Azkaban, turning into my dog form lessened the effect the dementors had on me. It's that same way outside of Azkaban. The nightmares have less of an effect on me when I'm a dog. I can sleep right through them and forget them a few minutes after I wake up."
"You're really going to teach me?" asked Harry, a smile drawing itself across his face.
"Of course," said Sirius as he clapped Harry on the shoulder. "If Snape here doesn't object of course." He leaned and whispered into Harry's ear. "I'd do it even if he did object. More reasons to make him angry."
"I heard that Black," said Severus as he shot a dark glare at Sirius. "And no, I don't object. Just don't doing anything to get Harry killed. I trust you're intelligent enough to handle that."
"Hey, who's the animagus here? I learned how to do it in school. I'm sure I can teach Harry. If that bastard squib-and-a-half Pettigrew can manage it, I'm sure Harry can," said Sirius, shooting his own glare at Snape.
"Whatever Black. Potter, does Shepard's Pie sound alright for dinner?" asked Severus as he began to walk into the kitchen.
"You know Snape, that does sound quite good. I'm starving," said Sirius.
"Really Black? How about a nice punch in the face? Does that sound good too?"
Harry laughed slightly and shook his head. He turned to the first chapter of his new book and read: "Chapter One: Releasing the Animal Within"