Chapter 8 : Memories
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"Urgh," groaned Harry as he sat up in bed. "Every morning."
Again, he was brought out of his troubled sleep by the sound of yelling downstairs.
"This is really getting old," he said as he pulled himself out of bed. He changed his clothes, but instead of going downstairs to break up the fight, he pulled out his book and began to read. The process of becoming an animagus was interesting to say the least. He still wished for a faster solution to his nightmares but for now, he really didn't have much choice.
The idea of it all was quite thrilling. He only wished his friends could learn with him. What an advantage it would be to be at school with that sort of talent.
'Could definitely give Fred and George a run for their money.'
The arguing downstairs started to get louder, but Harry resolved to let the two figure it out on their own. It always ended with one of them leaving the room anyway.
'Or trying to murder each other,' mused Harry. Suddenly, intervening didn't seem like such a bed idea. He set his book down and walked out of the room. He walked to the top of the stairs and looked down into the living room. Sirius was sprawled out on the couch with Snape standing over him, his arms crossed and a nasty scowl etched onto his face.
"I still don't see your point Snape," said Sirius, who didn't notice Harry at the top of the stairs. "You said it was okay yesterday."
"Do you need me to explain it in child's terms? It. Is. A. Stupid. Idea. You. Idiot. Do you get it now?" said Snape, annoyance filling his voice. "I know I agreed yesterday, but I thought about it last night. It's dangerous and not beneficial. He needs an immediate solution."
"No, it's not immediate, but it is permanent. It kept me sane through twelve years in Azkaban. I'm sure it will curb a few nightmares. Besides, how would you know anything about it?"
"I know that it takes a long time to master, and Harry doesn't have a lot of time before these nightmares will have a great effect on him. He needs something now. How long did it take you to master transforming?"
"Three years, but-."
"That's my point Black," said Severus, who made to leave the room.
"If you'd let me finish," said Sirius as he sat up. "It took James and I three years. We had no one to teach us, we had to do it in secret between classes, we had to do it at school, and we had to drag Peter along with us the whole time. Harry has me to teach him. There's no reason for him to learn in secret and he has all the time in the world. Plus, he's a bright kid. Look at what he's done already."
Snape didn't respond right away. Instead, a small smirk began to grace his face.
"I know why your pushing this," said Snape as he sat down in the armchair across the room. "You're trying to replace James."
At this comment, Sirius grew the angriest Harry had ever seen. He jumped up off the couch.
"How dare you fucking say that!" shouted Sirius. "James was my best friend and no one could replace him, nor would I want to. Harry is my Godson and I vowed to take care of him."
"And a fine job your doing too," said Snape, a little too sarcastically for Sirius' taste. He made to rush towards Snape, a glare in his eye, reminding Harry that the man had spent twelve years in Azkaban. Harry was quicker than Sirius, though. He pulled out his wand and put a leg-locker curse on Sirius and a silencing charm on Severus. He walked over and sat on the edge of the coffee table between the two quarreling adults.
"You two are no better than arguing children," began Harry. He paused as he looked over at Severus, where murder was glimmering in his eyes as well. "Here you are, both concerned over me, supposedly, saying I need sleep. How do you expect me to sleep when every morning, I wake up to the sound of arguing and fighting?"
"I'm sorry Harry," said Sirius as he tried to keep his balance. "I swear, if Dumbledore really cares for your well being, I don't know why he put us together."
Harry looked over at Snape, who looked like he really wanted to say something. Harry, however, ignored him and continued.
"All I can say is that Dumbledore probably expected you two to act like adults. To tell the truth, I knew things would be a little tense but I didn't think it was going to be this bad. Since I seem to be the only adult here, I'm going to end this argument to tell you both that I'm going to be an animagus, whether you like it or not."
Harry took out his wand, released both spells from the two adults and walked back up stairs. Severus and Sirius watched the teen leave in silence and when he was gone, both looked at each other.
"Well, that made me feel stupid," said Sirius.
"Funny, I thought you'd be used to that feeling by now," said Severus as he stood up and walked out of the room. Sirius followed him, though not with the intention of murder.
"You heard Harry," said Sirius. "He's going to become an animagus. That means he is going to need the Verto potion."
"So, you can make it," said Sirius with a note of finality as he crossed his arms.
"No, I can't," said Severus as he busied himself with making tea. "You said yourself that I wouldn't know anything about the process."
"Maybe not the process but you sure as hell know the potion," said Sirius as he sat down at the table.
"Says me. In school, we 'borrowed' one of your books that had the potion in it. If it's in a book of yours, you obviously know how to brew it."
"Are you saying that I'm a brilliant potions master Black, or are you just sucking up to me?" said Severus with a malicious smirk.
"I'm saying you have no life," said Sirius matter-of-factly.
"I thought you were trying to get me to help you, not get me to dismember you. Besides, you're the high and mighty Animagus. You should know how to brew it. You did it once before."
"Are you kidding?" said Sirius with a hint of amusement in his voice. "Do you know how bad Remus, Peter, and I were at Potions? We got James to do since he was halfway decent at it. I was the best at Transfiguration, so I handled that bit. The rat wasn't really good at anything, he kind of tagged along."
"If Potter was half way decent at Potions, I can't imagine what you three were," said Severus as he searched the cabinet for teacups. "I'm surprised you're still alive, considering his talents. Disappointed but surprised."
"Could you quit with the 'me-being-dead' shit and just agree to make the damn potion?" said Sirius, desperately trying to keep Snape from getting to him. (ha, yeah right.)
"For Harry, I'll make it, but I swear, you put him in danger of any kind, I'll give you back to the dementors myself."
Sirius sat at the kitchen table, shocked.
"When did you start caring for his well-being in the first place?" asked Sirius. "If I can recall correctly, you have always had a special hatred for him."
Severus snorted at this comment.
"I was given a job Black. I am to care for and protect the boy. Besides, even cold-hearted creatures like me have the capacity to be concerned for someone other that ourselves."
"Which would mean, that for the first time in history, we actually agree on something," said Sirius with an amused grin.
"Which would be?"
"That you're a complete jerk, greasehead."
Severus turned around with the teapot just in time to send a malicious scowl in Sirius' direction.
"We are both here to care for Harry," said Sirius. "We both agreed to take care of him."
"More like he's taking care of us," said Severus slightly under his breath.
"True, but if you wouldn't be such a jackass, things would go a lot better than they are at the moment."
"You haven't changed at all since school Black," said Severus as he poured out tea for himself. "Nothing was ever your fault-."
"You're right, nothing was my fault," said Sirius as he cut off Severus.
"You always found a way to turn the blame onto someone else."
"And you always found a way to get us in trouble. I have to admit, you make one hell of a spy. It's hard to think that you can poke that huge nose of yours around everywhere and never get caught."
"Well it's amazing what one can do with the right skills and talents, but of course, you would know nothing about that."
Sirius looked sarcastically at Severus.
"Well, I'd love to sit and be verbally abused some more but I have some work to do," he said as he stood up. "Just holler when that potion's done."
"It's a bit more complicated then that," said Severus over his teacup. "It's a long process."
"Well, we have all the time in the world," said Sirius as he walked out of the kitchen.
He walked upstairs and knocked on the last door on the left. There was no answer, but he walked in anyway. He laughed slightly at Harry, who was leaning back against his headboard, sleeping. His animagus book was lying open on his lap and his glasses were crooked on his face.
Sirius took a seat next to Harry and took off his glasses. He reached over his Godson's sleeping figure and set them on the bedside table. Harry stirred a little but settled back asleep. Sirius smiled to himself as he cleared some loose strands of hair from the boy's face. He looked down and saw the animagus book laying open on Harry's lap. Sirius picked it up gently.
Setting it down on his own lap, Sirius began to flip through the pages. It had been a long time since he had the need to look through this book. Sirius quit flipping when he came across a particular page. This page brought back a particular memory. In the margin and empty parts of the page, there was a series of scratched out and re-written words.
Sirius spent so much time in Azkaban, memories from before had started to fade. His time at Hogwarts seemed like a mere dream, but since his escape, certain things had started to stir his memory. Things like spending time with Remus brought back things from the past. Even spending time with Snape was enough to recall many pranks played on the Slytherins. Now, this book was bringing back a night in particular.
"Ouch! Knock it off Sirius!"
"I'm not doing anything."
"Remus, Sirius, shut up!"
"Well sor-ry Mr. Perfect Prefect Potter."
"Guys, we're going to get caught."
"Cor blimey Peter, you've said that a million times. Keep saying it and I'll make you scream so loud, you'll wake up the whole castle."
"You will not Sirius."
"Okay, we're here."
James took out his wand and stuck out an arm from under the invisibility cloak. He tapped the brick in front of him four times and said "fish sticks." Now, for someone observing, it would look like no magic had taken place but in reality, it had. The four boys huddled underneath the cloak walked forward and right through the wall. On the other side, there was a small room with many old couches and chairs. They uncovered themselves and plopped tiredly onto several of the old seats.
"Do you have the book Sirius?" asked James as he folded his invisibility cloak up and set in the chair beside him. Sirius, with his most striking smile, stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out his hand with a flourish. In his palm was the very same book that Harry was now in possession of. He took his wand out of his pocket and returned the shrunken book to its original size.
"Sirius can already transform and you are really close, James," said Remus. "Why do you still need the book?"
Sirius and James didn't answer. Instead, they looked at each other, then at Remus, gave him an identical odd expression, and then directed their gaze to Peter who was smiling nervously.
"Uh, I need a bit more practice," said Peter with an uneasy laugh. James and Sirius both gave him a "what-ever-you-say" look before turning back to each other.
"All right, everyone knows the drill: concentrate on transforming and go as far as you feel safe going," began James as he flipped to the correct page of the book. "Remus, you stand by in case anything unexpected happens."
"I know James," said Remus as he rolled his dark blue eyes. "You say the same thing every time. I think I know what I'm doing by now."
"Okay," said James, slightly put off and offended. "I was just making sure. Ready everyone?"
Sirius, Remus, and Peter all nodded.
"Alright, let's get started."
With that, James, Sirius, and Peter all closed their eyes. Remus watched on with his wand ready. Sirius, opening one eye, looked around and began to smile to himself. He closed his eye and let out a long and loud "hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm." Peter and James eyes both shot open and were met by an amused look on Sirius' face. James got up off his chair and punched his best friend hard in the shoulder. Sirius' eyes quickly shot open and he laughed. James pushed Sirius on the forehead, causing him to hit the back of his head on the chair. At this James laughed and sat back down in this chair. Again, the three teens closed their eyes in concentration, and this time, Sirius was serious.
He was the first to transform. He could do it for a few weeks now, and in less than a couple of minutes, he was instead a huge black dog. After the complete transformation, Sirius stretched his four limbs and began to walk around the room. He stopped as he watched James slowly begin to change. Sirius sat and watched as brown fur began to cover James' body. His arms and legs began to elongate and his fingers closed together and started to form hooves. James' face also started to elongate and sprout fur. Sirius watched in anticipation as he saw his best friend completely transform for the first time. The last antler point formed and James looked over at Sirius with an expression of excitement and achievement (the stag version, of course).
"Hey you two," said Remus, getting both animals' attention. "Look at Peter. I think he might go all the way this time."
Dog and stag both looked from Remus to Peter, or at least where they last had seen Peter. They looked at each other and then back and both walked over to the seat Peter had been formerly sitting in. On the floor, next to the chair, there was a rat. The rat started to look around and all of sudden, he let out a tremendous squeak. James and Sirius weren't sure if it was out of pure excitement or sheer terror. They both guessed the latter when the rat began to change back into Peter. Peter's now fully formed face looked terrified.
"That was the scariest thing I have ever done," said Peter as he stood up from the floor and sat down in his chair."
"But you finally did it Peter," said Remus with a grin. "And so did James."
Sirius and James both changed back to their former selves and took seats next to Peter, congratulating him in the process.
"This is so great!" said Sirius giddily. "Just think of where we can go! What we can see!"
"You know what we need?" said James. "We need nicknames. You know, like code names for our animal selves."
"Yeah!" said Sirius. He was getting really excited. "I can be. . . um. . . ."
"Jerkface!" shouted Remus with a grin.
"Mutt butt!" shouted James with an identical expression.
"Ha ha," said Sirius with a sarcastic smile. "Very funny. No, I was thinking more along the lines of Wonder Dog or Stud Machine."
"Okay, because those aren't stupid names," said James, smirking.
"Okay prong head, what should I be then?"
"Wait," said James. "What did you say?"
"I called you prong head and asked you what I should be called."
"Hey, I like that."
"What? Prong head?"
"No," said James, shaking his head. "Well, yeah. I mean, with out the head part. Prongs. That's going to be my nickname."
"Hey," said Remus with a smile. "That's good. I think I'm going to be Moony. For obvious reasons, of course. What about you Peter?"
"I don't know. . . there aren't any cool names for a rat."
"Sure there are Pete," said Sirius as he walked over and sat next to Peter, putting his arm around his shoulder. "You could call yourself Squeekers. No? Okay, how about Rizzo? Splinter? Cat food?"
"No. See, there aren't any cool names for rats. There's nothing special about an animal with beady little eyes and a tail that looks like a worm.
"Oooh, that's what your name'll be," said Sirius as he rubbed his hands together as if plotting something.
"No, Sirius, I don't want to know," said Peter as he tried to pull from Sirius grip.
"No, that's a stupid name," said Peter as he scrunched up his face.
"Too bad. That's your name," said Sirius with a note of finality.
"Come on guys," said Peter as he turned to Remus and James. "Tell Sirius that it's a stupid name."
"Sorry Wormtail. I think Sirius has made up his mind," said Remus, shrugging.
"That's Prongs to you Wormtail."
"Okay, my turn!" said Sirius with a grin as he released Wormtail. "How about SBD?"
"SBD?" asked James and Remus at the same time.
"Silent but deadly. You know, because I'm so sneaky. Can you even fathom how great it's going to be to sneak up on people without them knowing?"
"And how do you plan on doing that Sirius?" asked Remus. "Dogs aren't the quietest animals."
"Yes they are," said Sirius. "Their padded feet allow them to walk silently."
"Uh, I don't think so. Have you ever heard a dog walk across a wood floor. Their nails click," said James.
"Okay, but outside, their padded feet make them quiet."
"Alright all-mighty Padfoot, we'll-."
"Hey James!" said Sirius as he stood up quickly. "That's a cool name. Padfoot. Thanks!"
"I was just joking Sirius," said James as he adjusted his glasses.
"Oh well," said Sirius, shrugging. "I like that name."
"Ok," said Remus. "We have Prongs, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Moony. Does anyone have a quill?"
"Here, I do," said Peter as he pulled out his self-inked quill (much like a ball point pen). Remus took it and then grabbed the animagus book. He scribbled the four names on an empty page. He then lifted the quill and scrunched his face up in thought. An idea hit him and he quickly scribbled something else. He set the book back down on the coffee table to allow the three other boys to examine his work. The page read:
"The Vandals?" said James as he looked up from the book.
"Yeah, that can be our gang name," said Remus.
"But the Vandals?"
"Well, it was just an idea."
"Hey, give me the quill," said James. Remus handed it to him and James took up the book. He scratched out "The Vandals" and added something else. He laid the book down to let everyone else see.
"The Rebels?" said Sirius. "James, that sounds really sissy. I'm so disappointed."
"Sissy? How does 'rebel' sound sissy?"
"It's got no ring to it. No oomph."
"Well," said Remus, "do you have any ideas Padfoot?"
Sirius stuck out his hand and James handed him the quill. He crossed out "The Rebels" and replaced it with his own creation. He pushed the book back and threw the quill in triumph.
"I like it," said James. Remus and Peter both nodded in concurrence.
"So it settled. From now on, we will be known as 'The Marauders'," said Sirius. Everyone agreed.
Sirius smiled as he closed the book, though the smile was a little sad. Days long past he thought to himself. Days he was never going to get back.
"Sirius, wake up."
Sirius slowly opened his eyes and realized he must have fallen asleep on Harry's bed. The animagus book was still lying on his lap. Harry was standing over him with an amused look on his face.
"All these early morning arguments must really be getting to you," said Harry as he crossed his arms.
"How long have I been asleep?" asked Sirius as he groggily sat up and rubbed his eyes.
"You slept through lunch. . . and dinner."
"It's 9 o'clock."
"WHAT! I've been sleeping all day?"
"Actually, I think Snape may have placed a sleeping charm on you."
"I've been known to sleep a lot, but not that long. That's okay, I have my own little charm to place on our dear friend Snape."
Sirius got out of Harry's bed and walked out the door. He walked downstairs and in to the empty living room. He made his way to the kitchen.
"Hey Snape. Did you enjoy your quiet afternoon? I hope so, because it's the last one you're going to get in a while. I'm going to make your life a- what the hell are you doing?"
Sirius stopped his crusade into the kitchen when he saw Severus sitting on the floor, doubled over.
"Snape? What's going on?"
Severus looked up at Sirius. He was gripping his left forearm so hard his knuckles were white.
"I've been summoned."
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