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Chapter 22 : The Blue Moon Curse
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A/N Hey everyone! This may be my last chapter for a while. i don't think I'll get a chance to post for another two weeks, so I hope this one lasts a little while : D I made it a little longer than the others, but had to stop before giving away any secrets. You almost got a cliffie this time round, but I decided to save it for the next chapter. Enjoy, and please review. While I write it for you guys, I also write it for me, so i would love to get as much feedback as I can. Thanks a lot, and once again enjoy : D Kyle
Chapter 20: The Blue Moon Curse
‘What are you doing? RUN!’ James’ sixteen year old voice echoed loudly as he and Sirius lunged out of the narrow passage way each grabbing hold of the people in front of them to drag them along.
‘He’s already got Peter!’ Sirius added as they turned a corner and started to run up the fourth floor staircase.
Harry’s mind was reeling as he was pulled along the corridors, this time around, quite certain of what it was they were being chased by. He could not believe that this was happening to him. All the dreams he had been having about the clawed limbs and of his mother being chased were actually coming true, and now he would have to live through it with her.
‘What is going on,’ Lily screamed, clearly frightened but also quite angry at being dragged along the corridors by a frantic James Potter. She was met with silence and Harry noticed the significant looks exchanged between James and Sirius. Lily stopped running and crossed her arms over her chest.
‘I’ll explain later,’ Harry huffed loudly, getting a shocked look from the two boys, but a satisfied look from Lily before she started to run again, this time right along side her son.
As they reached the top of the stairs, Harry remembered a little too late how Sirius had been taken, and turned just in time to watch him trip and fall spectacularly. Now he and Lily both ran toward his fallen figure on the ground, both shouting out to see if he was alright. Just as they were about to reach him James grabbed both their robes and turned them back the other way.
‘No, you go. I’ll help him. Don’t look back whatever you do! I’ll meet the both of you at the divination tower.’
Lily started to run but stopped when she saw that Harry was not following her. He refused to leave his father behind again. He could not just leave them both behind to be mauled or worse by the creature that was hunting them down one by one.
‘Harry go!’ James shouted now. ‘Make sure Lily is safe!’ he cried, and Harry could see the pleading look in his eyes as he knelt to pick up his injured best friend.
Harry had to decide quickly so he nodded and grabbed Lily’s sleeve before the pair started to run in the direction of the Divination tower. Harry was still not sure exactly what the purpose of the dreams were, but if he was unable to help his father and Godfather, there was going to be nothing to stop him saving his mother.
The frantic teenagers turned the last corner before reaching the winding stairs to the top of the Divination tower. Harry knew what was coming and tried to will his hearing to leave him for a while, his heart hoping that things would turn out different this time, but his mind telling him that they would not. Moments later Sirius’s ear-splitting cry of pain tore through the air, making Harry cringe and shudder with fear.
He remembered wondering what had been chasing the Marauders, but after Violet Divine’s comment that evening, he felt quite sure of what, or better yet who it was. He once again glanced into one of the classrooms they passed, this time not seeing only his mother’s reflection but his as well. Up ahead was the old rope ladder, and Harry watched as Lily hoisted herself up and into the classroom above before he quickly climbed up and joined her.
He quickly turned back to the opening, knowing what he would see and preparing himself to get James up and into the classroom as quickly as possible. A shadow began to creep up the wall and James’ ragged form turned the last bend, coming quickly to the base of the ladder, his robes torn and bloodied. There was a large gash on his left cheek and tears were flowing openly down his face now.
‘He got Sirius,’ he said barely audibly, before reaching a hand up to the rungs and pulling himself up.
Harry had wasted no time at all, stretching down through the trapdoor and grabbing both of his father’s wrists. He started to pull upwards with a grunt when Lily reached down as well, adding her efforts to the heavy haul. James was halfway through the trapdoor and nearly safe when he was suddenly pulled back downward, both of his arms grasping the edges of the floor. Harry held on tightly, hugging James so that he could not fit back through the opening.
James screamed louder than ever before, his fingers, digging in to the back of Harry’s back and pulling a shout of pain from him as well. Harry looked down passed James’ shoulder in time to see a large, dark werewolf remove its teeth from his father’s leg before looking up and sinking them in slightly harder. James screamed again, this time releasing Harry and dropping to the top most rung of the ladder, the werewolf still biting into him.
Harry quickly dropped onto his back and lowered himself into the trapdoor with his father, raising his right leg and letting his foot drop hard onto the beast’s snout with a shout that had both Lily and James stare up at him in surprise, Lily giving a small scream.
‘Remus! You get away from him!’ This was followed by another drop of his leg, this time connecting with the side of the werewolf’s head, causing it to fall backwards with a small whimper, but bring James with it. The two fell the fifteen feet to the stone floor and landed in a heap, thankfully with James landing on top.
The werewolf lay motionless for a moment, but as James started to right himself and reach up for the ladder once more, it sprang back up and grabbed for his injured leg. It was not going to give up. Harry leaned forward to reach out his hand again, but found that he was cut off by Lily doing the same.
‘James just reach a little higher,’ she shouted at him, tears now forming in her eyes as she watched the large wolf claw away at James’ legs.
‘I can’t,’ James said through pained grunts, and Harry could hear the defeat in his voice. ‘You have to close the trapdoor. He won’t stop until he gets you both,’ he shouted, and Harry knew that they had lost.
‘No! Just reach James. Don’t give up you arrogant martyr,’ her tears were now streaming down her face liberally and Harry tried to blink back his own. James gave one final burst of strength and grabbed Lily’s hand, his pain-filled gaze locked with her own.
‘Lock the trapdoor; don’t let him get you too! I love you Lily!’
With that, he let go of her hand and was pulled away from the ladder, deafening screams rising to Harry’s ears as the werewolf pounced right on top of the hazel-eyed boy. Harry tried to close the trapdoor, but he had to struggle to pull Lily back first, gaining several new scratches to the back of his hands and neck. Finally he slammed the trapdoor tightly and threw the iron latch across it before turning to look at his mother.
‘What are you doing!’ she screeched, anger and hurt covering her face. ‘We can still help him!’
‘We can’t and you know it,’ Harry told her as he tried to keep his tears from falling. His frustration was building and he felt he could probably fight Remus on his own if he tried to attack Lily.
James’ screams continued for another minute before it became silent save for Lily’s wail as she dropped to her knees defeated.
‘No!’ Harry screamed as he leaned with his back on the wall and slammed his fists on the floor.
Lily continued to sob uncontrollably while Harry’s mind raced, thoughts of all the pain he had just caused swimming in his head. He had known that this would happen, down to the last detail, and still he was unable to change a thing.
The latch on the trapdoor rattled and Harry scurried over to a terrified Lily, reaching out to grab her hand consolingly, even though he knew that any moment their deadly friend would burst through the trapdoor and kill them.
Lily suddenly got to her feet and started to look around the room frantically, searching for anything that might aid them against their friend. Harry watched her pull out her wand and he too did the same, hoping that perhaps with the both of them they stood a chance. If only it had been Remus in his human form, Harry knew that he could fight him off; in his werewolf form it was a different story. After all, it took two large animals to keep him in check every full moon.
Harry’s eyes widened as he thought of something.
‘Lily, are you familiar with the homorphus charm?’ he shouted and watched as her eyes widened in understanding and she nodded. ‘When he gets in, I’ll distract him and keep him back while you cast it.’
‘Harry, you won’t be able to sto-’ she started to object but was cut off as the trapdoor flew off of its hinges and clawed arms reached up through the opening. Harry watched as the werewolf looked directly at Lily before lowering itself and preparing to attack. Just as it did, Lily let out a scream as Harry leapt into the air, eyes closed and body changing, before colliding head on with the beast and landing hard on his hooves next to it.
The werewolf crashed through a cart of crystal balls, littering the floor with shards of broken glass, and let out an angry growl before getting back on its hind legs and attacking the creature in front of it. Harry reared up and connected a heavy hoof with the wolf’s head, knocking it away and causing a loud howl to fill the room. He turned to see Lily still staring in shock on the other side of the room, so he neighed shaking her back into action.
The moment’s distraction allowed Harry to be caught off guard and the werewolf leapt onto his back digging its claws deep into his sides before finally sinking its teeth into his shoulder. He heard Lily shout the charm’s incantation and felt the werewolf fly off of him and heard the thud of it landing somewhere behind him. He felt immeasurable pain radiate through his body as he felt himself slowly reverting to his human form, and let out an inhumanly scream as he dropped to the floor in agony.
Lily rushed over to him and he smiled up at her reassuringly, though the little light in the room began to fade. He heard her telling him that everything would be alright and not to worry. They were safe now. Harry could feel the blood gushing from his shoulder and let out another scream when Lily ripped off her sleeve and pressed it down hard on his wound.
Lily grabbed his hand and had him hold the makeshift bandage on the wound firmly, telling hi that she would have to go and get help.
‘Is Remus alright?’ Harry gasped, trying to turn and see but winced in pain and his eyelids started to droop close.
‘It’s not Remus Harry,’ he heard Lily say and he was sure that she had made a mistake. ‘Look.’
She helped to hoist him up and Harry promptly lost consciousness at seeing the prone figure of Cornelius Fudge ten feet away.
Harry opened his eyes to an entirely different scene than the dark musty Divination tower. Instead of frilly scarves and poufs, Harry was now surrounded by plain white walls and a sterile smell that made him wish for the overpowering scent of professor Trelawney’s herbs.
He blinked a few times to allow his eyes to adjust to the brightness of the room before reaching to the bedside table, where he knew he would find his glasses, and put them on to clear the blind haze. As he looked around the room, every thought that had run through his mind the night before, plunged to the fore of his mind and Harry began to panic.
He had seen Cornelius Fudge unconscious on the ground, dressed in tattered robes and obviously having just been reverted from his werewolf state. How could Fudge have been a werewolf? There was no way a werewolf would ever be made Minister for Magic; the trust was just not there. And what had become of Remus then? Had he spent the entire night in the Shrieking Shack unaffected by the havoc that had reached the castle walls?
More and more questions filled his mind as he scanned the room and his eyes fell upon each of the other five bodies occupying the beds around him. Directly across from him was Lily, and in the beds on either side of her were Fudge and Pettigrew. To either side of him were James and Sirius, both heavily bandaged but awake, neither one speaking; just simply laying there quietly. Harry felt a load of relief flood his body at seeing they were alright, but still worried that they were so terribly injured by such a powerful creature.
As he made to sit up, a pain like no other he had felt before tore through his shoulder, reminding him that he too had been bitten by the beast. His eyes widened suddenly and he threw a hand up to his shoulder, realising exactly what it meant to be bitten by a werewolf. Now he and the Marauders would have more than one thing in common.
He felt all of his dreams of becoming an Auror slip away with all the other thoughts of a remotely normal life and he tried to think of what he would do now. Perhaps all was not lost, as Remus had been a werewolf for most of his life and although he looked ragged around the edges, he still seemed to do alright. Perhaps, he suddenly thought, he would not have to tell the Ministry when he got home, keeping it a secret so that he could have a relatively normal career and family?
Then again it was the Minister who had bitten him, so maybe not. Well, at least Dumbledore would still trust him, and perhaps he could come and teach at Hogwarts. There would always be a need for a Defense professor, he laughed to himself, getting the attention of the others in the room.
‘Harry!’ Lily shouted, and bounded out of her bed and over to sit on the edge of his. ‘How are you? Are you feeling alright?’ Her eyes searched his naked upper body for any other damage and they lingered on his sternum for a moment before they fell on his face again.
‘I’ve been better,’ he answered her with a laugh, and both James and Sirius laughed as well. Peter seemed to be ignoring them all determinedly, while Fudge still looked quite ill and simply rested his head on his pillow with his eyes closed. Harry got the impression he was listening though.
‘How are you two doing?’ Harry asked of his Father and Sirius, turning to look at their multiple wounds, feeling even worse now for not having prevented the whole ordeal. Because of him they would all be werewolves.
‘I’m doing just great!’ James said enthusiastically with a grin plastered on his face, and Harry could not tell if he was simply putting on a show, or being an idiot, or possibly both.
‘Yeah me too,’ Sirius agreed, ‘although every inch of my body feels on fire. I’m sure that’s normal though.’
Everyone stared at him for a moment before laughing. Madam Pomfrey rushed over to shush everyone and made Lily get back into her own bed, warranting a very nasty look from the red-haired witch and making everyone laugh even harder.
They all talked for the next little while, Peter now pretending to sleep while the other four let him be. Harry noticed a certain awkwardness between James and Lily, his mother never meeting his father’s eyes directly when they spoke. They discussed many things as though they had not been hunted down savagely the night before, and not one of them mentioned their new conditions, perhaps hoping that if they did not, it would not hold true.
After another hour or so of idle talk and putting up with Madam Pomfrey’s nasty potions, they were all very relieved to see the bright purple hems of the Headmasters robes sweep through the door.
‘Poppy, may I have a little time alone with your patients please?’ he asked politely, and received an indignant huff from the Hogwarts medi-witch before she stomped into her office.
Dumbledore turned toward the group of students, each of them now sitting up and staring at him attentively, obviously wanting to know exactly how the previous evening’s events had come to pass. The old wizard took a deep breath and seated himself at the foot of Peter’s bed so to see everyone clearly before beginning.
‘First of all, I am glad to see that all of you are recovering nicely, and I must apologise for the terrible incident last evening. It is something that has never occurred in these walls before, and measures will be taken so that they never happen again. Luckily, there were no fatalities and it appears that no long term damage has been caused.’
Harry looked over to James and Sirius and found that they were nodding along with the Headmaster, confusing him terribly and making him interrupt him at that point.
‘What do you mean no long term damage? I’m not sure about all of you, but the idea of being a werewolf does sort of put a dampener on my future. I would definitely call it damage. Big damage!’ he said, holding his hands out at arm length to further his point.
Sirius, James, Lily, and Peter all laughed at this and the Headmaster smiled softly, helping to make him think that they were all suffering from some sort of trauma, possibly brain damage. Even Fudge had a small smile on his face now, although it did not travel to his eyes, the dark spheres looking haunted as they stared over in his direction.
‘Since you have such great plans for your future Mister Portus,’ the Headmaster continued, ‘I’m happy to inform you that neither you nor your friends will grow hair or fangs during the next full moon.’
Harry did not understand, so he simply stared at the Headmaster and waited for the long explanation that he knew would soon come, once again showing how lucky he was when it came to exceptions.
‘It’s the curse mate,’ James’ voice told him as though it were common knowledge.
‘Yeah, and it’s a darn good thing, because I don’t fancy canceling dates three times a month,’ Sirius added with a grin, ‘That would set me back, what, 36 girls a year?’
‘Pig!’ Lily shouted at him and he pulled a face at her while the Headmaster simply watched in amusement.
‘What curse professor?’ Harry asked, ignoring his friends and wanting to know exactly what had spared his future.
‘The curse of the blue moon Harry,’ he answered simply. ‘As I’m sure you noticed yesterday, the moon was not its ordinary self. Once every fifty years the moon is double its size and shines a brilliant shade of blue, making for a very beautiful sight but not such a beautiful effect on our werewolf friends.’
‘Is that why I could hear Remus howling all the way from the Shrieking Shack last night?’ Harry asked.
‘Yes. Unfortunately, the blue moon intensifies the werewolf transformation, making it that much more painful and making the bearer of the wolf curse that much more deadly.’ His gaze now turned to Fudge, who looked suddenly depressed and looked up at Harry.
‘I must apologise to you Mister Portus and to all of you again. If I had not been stopped I’m not sure what might have happened.’
‘It’s alright Mister Fudge,’ Harry told him, feeling a slight bit of sympathy, but not much, for the man now that he knew he suffered the way that Remus did. ‘If you don’t mind me asking, how long has it been since you were bitten?’
Fudge’s eyes darted to the Headmaster before they turned back to Harry and he sighed. ‘About sixteen hours.’
Harry’s eyes widened. ‘What? How can that be? Who bit you?’ he asked, now understanding the sadness in the Undersecretary’s eyes, but confused as to why he would be a werewolf and not the rest of them.
‘Me,’ came a voice from the door, and they all turned to see Remus standing in the doorway, his robes bloodied and torn, and a look of disgust on his face like Harry had never seen before. ‘I did it!’ he said, and walked over to a bed next to the Headmaster. ‘I didn’t mean to sir, I swear it. I don’t even know how I got out of the Shack. I just woke up in the Forbidden Forest. It’s never happened before. I am so sorry Undersecretary, please forgive me.
Harry could see the tears forming in his eyes as he refused to look at any of their faces.
Dumbledore got to his feet and made Remus get into the bed next to Sirius.
‘Don’t blame yourself Mister Lupin,’ Fudge said to him now, ‘It was completely my fault, as I am the one who foolishly came to find you in the Shrieking Shack, and I am the one who left the front door open after you bit me. If I had simply trusted the Headmaster’s word that you were well contained and not a danger, this entire situation would have been avoided.’
‘I’m afraid I still don’t understand what happened,’ Harry said, turning slightly red at being the only one who seemed lost in the room.
‘You see Harry,’ Dumbledore started to explain, ‘After Miss Divine’s warning last evening, Cornelius understood that there was a werewolf in our school and promptly approached me about it after dinner. I simply explained Remus’ situation and he agreed with me that the boy could stay at Hogwarts but that he would need to be registered at the Ministry for everyone’s safety.’ Remus’ head dropped lower in misery at the mention of being registered.
‘Unfortunately, I was foolish enough to not take Dumbledore at his word,’ Fudge continued for him, ‘and I walked to the Shrieking Shack to check for myself. Upon entering the Shack I was met with a sight I was not prepared for. I’m afraid you know how the rest happened,’ he said sadly and looked back to Remus, who was still looking down at the ground in what looked like shame.
‘But werewolf bites don’t affect the recipient until the next full moon. How did you transform so quickly?’ Harry asked, wondering why he was still the only confused person in the room.
‘The curse Harry,’ Dumbledore said seriously. ‘Under the blue moon the balance of the werewolf curse is shifted, much like the size of the moon. Normally any person bitten is affected at the next full moon, where they are forced to transform and can then bite others and continue the cycle. Under the blue moon, any person bitten transforms almost immediately, but whoever they bite remains unaffected. It’s the small but very fortunate trade off for the immediate transformation.’
‘Basically Mister Portus,’ Fudge said, ‘I am the one who will pay for my mistake, not you.’
‘I’m really sorry Mister Fudge. I do hope things work out for you when you return to the Ministry,’ Harry said, unsure of how to console a new werewolf. It appeared this was not the right thing to say.
‘Thank you Portus, but I’m afraid as soon as I’m registered as a werewolf I will be let go as Undersecretary, and I’m not certain what I will do after that. Half-humans are not allowed in the Ministry. It has been a law for many years, and I’m afraid it shall continue that way for some time,’ Fudge said darkly as he looked around the room.
Harry thought for a moment before commenting again.
‘I’m sure you don’t want to hear this sir, but although you may have misinterpreted Violet Divine’s message to you, you have yet to think of her sisters’.’ Fudge’s eyes widened at hearing this and Harry could see his face brighten significantly. ‘Perhaps sir, you were meant to become a half-human so that you could go back to the Ministry and improve the laws concerning them. After all, Violet’s other message did seem promising,’ he added with a knowing smile, but let it drop when he saw the look Dumbledore was giving him.
‘That does sound nice Portus,’ Fudge said with a small smile, ‘but I’m afraid the Ministry will still not keep on a werewolf.’
‘Then what say we not tell them?’ Harry offered, and watched as every head but the Headmaster’s snapped toward him. He began to get hot around the collar, but knew that if his plan worked he might be able to help a couple of people in the process.
‘Are you mad?’ Fudge said to him, his eyes nearly bulging out of his head. ‘I cannot lie to the Ministry. There are five witnesses here who can attest to the fact that I am a werewolf.’
‘Actually Cornelius,’ Dumbledore said in his calm voice. ‘I cannot say for certain what you are. After all the effects of the blue moon are tricky at best, and from what I saw, you were simply affected for an evening, same as the others in this room.’
Fudge gave the Headmaster a long hard stare before turning to each of the others in the room and receiving an equal nod from each of them until he reached Harry.
‘It’s true sir. All I know is that every person in this room was affected by the blue moon, and that none of us need to be mentioned in the Ministry’s Registry. Isn’t that right Remus?’
Remus’s head turned toward Harry, and he could see that the sandy-haired boy could not believe what he was doing. Harry could hardly believe it either, but desperate times called for desperate measures, and if a little black-mail was what it would take to help his friend, then it was what he would do. Fudge looked at him in understanding and finally nodded.
‘Very good. I’m glad that we are all safe and sound and that we are all perfectly human, every last one of us.’ He looked up to Dumbledore who smiled and nodded as well. ‘Well if that’s all, I’m afraid I’ll have to be going home for a couple of days Dumbledore. I will return in time to see the arrivals from Durmstrang. If you could just have Poppy collect any medical files I may need to bring with me,’ he paused to clear his throat, ‘you now, for a private healer of course.’
‘Of course,’ Dumbledore said, the edge of his mouth threatening to go up. ‘I’ll have them sent to your quarters Cornelius.’
That said, Fudge got up from his bed and reached for the lime green bowler on the nightstand next to him. Placing it on his head, and effectively making him look ridiculous in his dressing gown, he gave a small nod to them all and left the hospital wing. Dumbledore also gave them all a last smile before excusing himself and heading into Madam Pomfrey’s office to collect the necessary documents for the Undersecretary.
‘Are you mad?’ Remus hissed at Harry, the instant Dumbledore had closed Pomfrey’s office door.
‘What do you mean?’ Harry asked innocently, acting as though he did not understand.
‘You just blackmailed the Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic!’ Lily said, also staring at him as though he had grown another head.
‘I think its bloody brilliant!’ Sirius said from his bed, and Harry snickered as Lily and Remus both glared at him.
‘I’m not sure what you’re going on about,’ Harry said with a raised eyebrow. ‘I simply pointed out that we all fit into the same category of illness, and that since we seem to be healthy, there was really no need to carry on about it. I did nothing worse than that,’ he said with a small smirk.
‘Actually,’ James said with a mock-pained expression, ‘you did kick him in the head last night. Twice.’
At this all five of the students started to laugh hysterically, but no one louder than Harry. He would from this day forward be content in knowing that he had successfully kicked the Minister for Magic in the head twice and gotten away without punishment.
‘Harry?’ James asked once the laughter died down and they were all able to speak again. ‘I’m glad that you were there to help us, but I’ve been wondering about something. When you kicked the undersecretary in the head to try and save me, you screamed for Remus to let go of me. Why would you assume that Remus was a werewolf?’
Harry stiffened slightly as he did not have an answer for this question, but was luckily saved by Remus answering for him.
‘I told him.’
‘What?’ both James and Sirius asked at the same time. ‘Why? When?’
‘When the two of you got yourselves in detention for a month and couldn’t keep me company, Harry approached me and, well, he guessed,’ Remus lied. ‘I suppose I could have denied it, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt and I wasn’t feeling all too well so I just told him.’
‘Oh,’ James said with a bemused look on his face. ‘That’s alright then. It looks like you’re on your way to being one of the Marauders Harry,’ he added and got a cheer from Sirius and a thumbs-up from Remus. Peter, Harry noticed, smiled but said nothing at all.
‘Hmm, hmm’ Lily cleared her throat forcefully and had them all turn to her. Her face was now set in a stern expression and she did not look pleased.
‘Oh, sorry Lily, but the Marauders only let boys into the group.’ James said, and looked away awkwardly.
‘Yeah,’ Sirius added, ‘that way when you and I break up after our date in a few months, there won’t be any hard feelings.’
‘In your dreams,’ both Lily and James said at the same time, making both of them blush slightly and Harry and Remus laugh at the dejected look on Sirius’ face.
At that point the group was interrupted by a tall blonde girl walking through the door with a card and a bunch of flowers in her hand. Harry recognized her as the Hufflepuff girl that had been constantly harassing Marc.
‘That’s really sweet Sheena, but you didn’t have to bring me flowers,’ Sirius called out, making the girl stick her tongue out at him and make a gesture that had them all laughing again.
‘You wish I was here for you Black. It’ll never happen, so just give up already,’ she said and Harry watched as she passed his bed with another glare. ‘Hello Harry. I hope you feel better soon,’ she said to his surprise, before waving at Lily and continuing passed them.
‘Sheena?’ Harry called after her, making her stop and swing around to face them again. ‘Who are the flowers for?’
‘My Marcus of course,’ she said with a slight red creeping up her cheeks, before turning back and making her way to the last bed in the corner that Harry had not noticed before now.
It had the curtains pulled around it tightly and Harry watched as the Hufflepuff girl parted them and walked in with a smile. Harry eased himself out of bed and ambled over to the bed that apparently contained his time-travelling partner. Sure enough, when he parted the curtains he found Sheena sitting in a chair next to a very tired and extremely green Marc.
‘Marc? What happened, are you alright?’ he asked and watched as the curly-haired boy nodded his head and smiled lightly.
‘I guess I wasn’t ready to be let out of the hospital wing just yet. I collapsed yesterday after dinner. Sheena here helped me to get back here. It’s a good thing she was there,’ he said in obvious sarcasm, and Harry restrained a laugh as Sheena leaned down and kissed him on the forehead, only to have him swat at her. She was undeterred and smiled down at him. ‘Madam Pomfrey says I should be good as new by tonight and she’s going to let me come back to the common room provided I promise to check with her in the morning,’ he rolled his eyes at this, and Harry laughed.
‘Alright, well why don’t you come and sit with us. It looks like we’ll all be here for at least as long,’ he told his friend and watched as he nodded.
‘Yeah, I heard. Lucky break,’ he said.
‘I know. If it hadn’t been the blue moon...’ Harry trailed off, unsure of what would have happened for certain.
‘Actually I meant with the Minis, I mean Undersecretary,’ he said with a cocked eyebrow. Harry just smiled and helped him to get to his feet, Sheena helping from the other side.
Soon Marc and Sheena were installed in the bed that been had Fudge’s and the s even students were once again chatting amicably about this and that. Harry’s attention was suddenly pulled away from the conversation as he noticed Sheena playing with a pendant that hung around Marc’s neck.
He squinted to make sure he was seeing correctly and then looked down at his own to compare them.
‘Marc, could I see your pendant for a second,’ Harry asked and pointed to the shining gold object being fingered by the tall Hufflepuff.
‘What, this? Yeah sure,’ he said and pulled it over his head before tossing it over to Harry who snatched it out of the air with ease.
Holding it next to his and his mother’s pendants he found that they were an exact match except that Marc’s was in gold.
‘Where did you get this?’ Harry asked, curious as to how they could possess the same family crest.
‘Oh, it’s just my family crest. My mum got it for me when I was born. Why, is it like yours?’ he asked, not all that interested.
‘They’re identical except for the material.’ Harry commented and watched Marc for his response.
‘Well yeah, that’s a big difference. Way back in the past, when the crests were still regarded as extremely important, the material it was made from described the financial status and nobility of a family. Apparently yours was a bit higher class than mine,’ he added with a smirk. ‘I guess I’ll have to resent you for it,’ he joked, and Harry threw it back over to him.
Next to Marc, Lily looked over and looked at the pendant as Marc placed it back over his head, before reaching into her robes and pulling out a chain and her own pendant. Harry’s heart nearly stopped and he could see the panic on Marc’s face too.
‘That’s odd,’ she said as she stared at her own silver pendant. ‘I didn’t say anything when I noticed your pendant Harry, but it would appear that they’re making more of these darned things then we thought. I’ve got the same one as you, and I know for a fact that I’m not related to anyone by the name Portus.’
Both boys relaxed and they started to chuckle. ‘Oh well, at least our parents meant well in buying them,’ Harry said with a smile and watched as Lily nodded in agreement.
Another hour of light conversation passed before Madam Pomfrey appeared form her office looking severely harassed and shooed Sheena from the hospital wing, telling the others that they had five minutes before they were to take a dreamless sleep draft. They all groaned and Sirius asked if he could just be set free.
‘I don’t think so Mister Black,’ came her response with a scoff. ‘You will not be leaving this room for at least a day and a half. Don’t try to argue. Same goes for Misters Potter and Pettigrew. Portus, Turner and Evans, you’ll all be free to leave tonight.’
‘At least we’ll be out in time for the match against Hufflepuff,’ James said and grinned at Sirius, but it was short-lived as Madam Pomfrey whirled around.
‘I think not Mister Potter. There will be no Quidditch for at least a week, and I have already gotten the Headmasters approval for that,’ she said, getting nasty and outraged looks from both boys.
‘What are we going to do?’ James screeched. ‘We don’t have another seeker on reserve.’
‘Or another beater,’ Sirius said in frustration.
Harry grinned from ear to ear and exchanged a look with Marc who seemed happier on the spot.
‘Actually you do.’
Harry walked down to breakfast the next morning with Marc and Lily, all three of them having been released late the night before from the hospital wing. At first, neither James nor Sirius wanted to relinquish their places on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, but it took very little persuasion after reminding them that they would forfeit without replacements. This meant that the very next afternoon, Harry and Marc would both be out on broomsticks, playing Quidditch against players they had never played against before and with team mates they had yet to meet.
Walking to their table, Harry listened for the expected comments about the werewolf attack two nights before, and was shocked to find that not a single student was mentioning it. Instead, he heard a several groups of girls discussing the tragic Quidditch accident that had incapacitated both James Potter and Sirius Black. Harry grinned up at the staff table and received a small wink from the Headmaster. He was not sure how he had managed it, but Dumbledore had succeeded, for the first time that Harry could remember, at keeping a secret out of the corridors of Hogwarts.
The three friends sat down at the Gryffindor table and were soon joined by several of their friends, Sophie and Gwendolyn among them. They began talking about many different things until finally they were interrupted by the Prewett twins joining them and instantly changing the subject to tomorrow’s Quidditch match.
Harry did not object, and allowed the twins to discuss whatever it was they wished when they were around. He did not in any way pity them, but he did feel a certain sympathy, having lost his parents as well. The twins seemed to have taken the news of their demised family better than expected, neither of them cursing anyone nor trying to leave the school. There had been a day where they had left to attend their parents’ funeral, and once they had returned it would not have been entirely inaccurate to say they were different wizards.
While the twins were obviously still themselves, they acted in a much more dignified and entirely un-Prewett way. Both boys had given up on their constant attempts at humour, and it appeared as though their grades had not suffered in any way. McGonagall seemed worried as their grades started to rise, Harry catching her comment to the Headmaster about their change of behaviour. Everything theses days for the twins was about finishing school and becoming Aurors, something Harry understood fully. They did not talk about it, but Harry understood that they wished for revenge.
The one thing that had remained the same with these boys was their love for Quidditch, and now that Harry thought about it, it was the one constant source of pleasure for him in his own time as well. No matter what happened to him, a good game of Quidditch or even simply flying around the pitch was enough to lighten his heart significantly. If that was what the Prewett twins needed, Harry figured that they deserved every chance they got to bring their favorite game up.
The Head Boy also happened to be the captain of the team and Harry found himself thinking of how envious Ron would be had he come along for this trip. Being the captain, Gideon eventually commented on his seeker and beater’s status, hoping that they would both be alright by the time of tomorrow’s game.
‘Actually Gideon, I’ll be playing for you tomorrow. James has already approved it.’ Harry said.
‘What?’ The light-haired boy nearly screamed. ‘No, that can’t be. We need James. Without him it’s nearly pointless. That boy has got the record time for catching the snitch in consecutive matches. If we lose against Hufflepuff, it won’t matter if we beat Slytherin later on. They’ve already got too much of a point lead form their match against Ravenclaw. I need James!’
‘No you don’t,’ Harry shouted back at him. ‘I could beat him any day of the week,’ he added, with as much arrogance as he figured James would have used.
At this both Prewetts began to laugh and soon, even Gwendolyn and Sophie were laughing. Lily smiled politely at Harry, but it was quite evident that she too found his comment to be untrue.
‘Harry,’ Fabian said now, ‘No one has ever caught the snitch before James. No one. As good as you think you are, I know exactly who I would put my galleons on.’
‘And you’d lose them all,’ Marc said loudly, defending his friend, but also knowing that Harry would probably beat James if given the chance.
‘Really? And how many matches have you caught the snitch in less than three hours?’ Gideon asked, more as a rhetorical comment than anything.
‘All but one actually,’ he said getting a wide-eyed look from everyone but Marc. ‘Only missing it once in six years isn’t all that bad now is it?’ he asked, eliciting a more than amusing reaction from the Head Boy and his twin.
‘Six years?’ Gideon shouted. ‘No one has ever been allowed on a team at Hogwarts before second year. Are you telling me that Durmstrang lets their first years play?’
‘If they’re good enough,’ Harry said, enjoying this chance to show off his skills for once. ‘But so far, I’m the first in a hundred years.’
‘Well, even if that is true,’ Fabian said now with one of the first serious expressions Harry had ever seen, ‘you’ve just said you lost a match. James hasn’t lost any.’ There was silent murmur of consensus around the table and Harry saw Marc smile knowingly.
‘I suppose you’re right,’ Harry said in a business like tone, and watched the satisfied expression on both boys faces. ‘Although, the hundreds of Dementors flying around the players and spilling on to the pitch may have affected me slightly.’
The silence that ensued was absolute. Every person sitting around Harry gaped at him, most of them stunned by his comment, others trying to decide whether he was telling the truth or not.
‘You’re trying to tell me,’ Fabian challenged him now, ‘that not only did the Dementors leave Azkaban, but they somehow made it to Durmstrang and floated around your Quidditch pitch. And then of course you survived, but I’m sure it simply wanted to chat,’ he said mockingly, having obviously decided that Harry was lying.
‘Of course the Dementors were trying to get Harry’s soul,’ Marc said quickly in an attempt to defend his friend. ‘And after that incident Harry hasn’t met a Dementor he couldn’t take care of. He’s got the best Patronus I’ve ever seen. I’d like to see James beat that!’
Harry groaned inwardly. He had not intended on telling the Gryffindor table about his ability to conjure a Patronus, and now he was certain that everyone would want proof that he could. He gave Marc a look that clearly expressed how pleased he was about his remark.
‘You can conjure a Patronus?’ Sophie asked excitedly. ‘I’ve been practicing, but I can’t even get a vapour to appear from my wand.’
‘Step aside,’ Fabian declared, ‘I will show you a Patronus.’ He lifted his wand and seemed to be thinking very hard about something before flicking his wand and shouting ‘Expecto Patronum!’ Harry waited for some amazing figure to shoot out of the slender piece of willow in the seventh year’s hand, and had to suppress a grin when a large amount of silver vapour sprung from the tip instead. It hung in the air for several moments before quickly dissipating and leaving a smug Fabian standing in its wake. Everyone applauded for him.
‘And that is how a real Patronus is cast,’ he said, grinning at Harry, a challenging look in his eyes. ‘But I’m sure you already knew that.’
‘Go on Harry, show them how it’s done,’ Marc said from beside him. ‘What could it hurt? I mean, with the dazzling performance Prewett just put on, how could you not compare?’
Everyone was watching Harry as he looked up toward the staff table, wondering who exactly would see his not so little display of magic. Dumbledore was eating quietly in his seat, while professors Sharpbane and Sprout discussed something seemingly serious. McGonagall and Flitwick were, as always, talking amicably about something or other, and Harry sighed heavily as he got to his feet and took a step toward the center of the room. If he was going to do this, it would make quite a show either way, so he decided he had better get everyone’s attention so not to scare them half to death.
He noticed now that only the Headmaster and professor Sharpbane had noticed Fabian’s attempt at a Patronus, and that both seemed rather impressed with his effort. He was worried about what they would do when they saw his. He slowly lifted his wand and pretended not to notice as all of the teachers stopped their conversations to watch him, Dumbledore smiling slightly as he did.
Eyes closed, he searched his mind quickly to find a happy memory and decided upon a more recent experience. While not his happiest memory, brewing the growth draft with Lily and Snape had become one of his favorites. He clearly singled out a moment where his mother had laughed and then flicked his wand shouting ‘Expecto Patronum!’
Harry opened his eyes in time to watch a brilliant white stag leap from the end of his wand and begin galloping toward the staff table, where it leaped over the Headmaster before circling around the back and heading back toward its originator. It made several rounds around the Great Hall before finally disappearing and leaving Harry in a room filled with eyes that watched him. Every student and teacher had their eyes trained on him, most of their mouth hanging slightly open without a sound to emit.
Finally it was Dumbledore to break the awkward silence by applauding. As soon as the old man’s hands had come together, the rest of the school had joined in excitedly, every student cheering loudly for him; the Slytherins of course being the exception. Harry quickly took his seat next to Marc, who slapped him on the back and then gave a dumbfounded Fabian an I-told-you-so look.
It was several minutes before Harry noticed the strange look he was getting from the Potions Mistress. She was staring oddly at him with an expression on her face that Harry had never seen her use before. If he had not known any better he would have said that she was impressed. Luckily, he did know her better than that so he quickly excused himself from breakfast after telling a speechless Gideon that he would see him on the pitch the next afternoon.
‘But what are we going to do about Sirius? We still need another beater,’ the Head Boy stuttered after him.
Harry turned back to see Marc placing a hand on the tall boy’s shoulder, and then laughed when he saw his twin’s incredulous look at being told that Marc would be his new partner. Laughing, Harry exited the Great Hall and headed back toward his dormitory.
The next day at half past twelve, a mad rush of whispers and comments filled the room the instant Harry and Marc walked into the Great Hall for lunch. Gideon had announced their decision to substitute players to the Heads of House the night before, and soon the entire school was excited to see how Gryffindor would fare with their newest exchange wizards playing on their team for the first time.
To say that the team members were skeptical toward trusting the new members would have been a great understatement, as it was evident that they would be losing without their two most accomplished players. The Hufflepuff table was positively alight this morning, owing to the fact that they knew they would not be playing against James Potter, and therefore would undoubtedly catch the snitch in no time at all. Harry just shook his head and continued to eat with the Marc, the Marauders and Lily and her friends.
James and the others had been released from the hospital wing that morning and would be able to watch the match in a couple of hours after much protesting on their parts. The Headmaster had finally convinced Madam Pomfrey that it was enough that they were being forced to give up their spots temporarily and that it would not do much to prevent them from watching as they would probably somehow bring harm to themselves in their attempt to see the match anyway.
Now Harry was sitting with his friends and trying his best to act as though he cared about the information James was feeding him. He kept nodding and acknowledging the little facts and maneuvers his father thought would help him to win the match, while he really listened to the conversations that his other friends were having. On the other side of the table, Marc appeared to be just as annoyed by Sirius’ antics to teach him how to be a beater, constantly rolling his eyes in Harry’s direction and making him laugh, much to James’ annoyance.
Finally, lunch was over and the students started to file out of the Great Hall for a chance at the best seats in the stands, wanting to get as close to the action as was possible. Harry and Marc followed the rest of the Gryffindor team back to the common room to retrieve their Quidditch robes, and were pleased to find that both he and Marc had brand new crimson robes draped on their beds.
Down in the changing rooms, Harry and Marc were quickly given a speech by Gideon and introduced to the two members of the team that they did not know. Other than Gideon and Fabian, Gwendolyn surprisingly turned out to be one the chasers along with a third year girl named Trenice Dawling. A dark-haired fourth year boy named Kristian Kale played Keeper, and Harry hoped that he was at least half as good as Ron.
Once the entire team was acquainted, Gideon proceeded to give one of the most terrible pre-match speeches Harry had ever heard. Granted he had been privy to Oliver and Angelina’s over-zealous captaincies, he still could not believe that a captain would be so unenthusiastic to readily accept defeat and warn his team not to worry about it.
Harry heard an unfamiliar voice boom out from high above in the stands and he was soon following his new teammates out onto the pitch as their names were called. Moments later, he was fifty feet in the air, staring down the Hufflepuff team and not recognizing a single player as he waited for the release of the bludgers, snitch and finally the quaffle. Gideon shook hands with the Hufflepuff captain Ginella Thomas and quickly mounted his broom to take position next to the other chasers.
Together, Gideon, Gwendolyn, and Kristian looked the formidable team, giving Harry the impression that this Gryffindor team was not one used to losing. Along with Fabian and Sirius as beaters and James as seeker, it really just depended on their keepers abilities, to tell him that they had a near perfect team.
Harry’s attention was pulled back to the game as the golden snitch whizzed past his head in a gold blur and a whistle was blown to start the match. He immediately turned face to search for the tiny ball, knowing full well that it could easily have reached the other end of the pitch by now.
The sky was clouded and grey, however the sun made sporadic attempts to shine through, every once in a while succeeding in bathing the players in warmth for several minutes at a time. Hogwarts’ grounds were covered in a thin layer of crisp white snow, having just fallen for the first time this season the night before. There was a chill in the air, and Harry could tell that there would soon be much more of the frosty white substance covering the grounds. The pitch had been cleared of snow that morning and now Harry pulled his robes tighter around him as he searched.
‘Hufflepuff in possession,’ the announcer’s voice shouted over the crowd, and Harry looked down to see the captain rush toward Kristian. ‘Thomas is barreling toward Kale at incredible speeds, both Trent and Carver at her sides. Hufflepuff is showing an incredible amount of speed this year, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen chasers so coordinated before.’
As he said this, Harry watched Gideon give Gwen a sign and watched as she and Trenice dropped low before giving a burst of speed and leveling next to Thomas. The instant she found them shadowing her, she released the quaffle and sent it to one of her other Chasers.
‘Oh, Thomas gives the quaffle up quickly, only to have it intercepted by Prewett. It appears the Gryffindors have come up with a more aggressive strategy than we’re used to. Now Prewett has passed the quaffle to Chastings and she flies low before dodging a bludger from Creptin and passes it up to Dawling. Dawling rushes at the Hufflepuff hoops and lets it sail through the left hoop. You’ll have to do better than that Jargus. Ten points to Gryffindor!’
Harry heard shouts of approval form the Red and gold component of the crowd and found that James and Sirius were on their feet cheering as loudly as they could, both still heavily bandaged and being watched by professor McGonagall. He shook his head with a laugh and kept searching. A tall blond boy played seeker for Hufflepuff, and Harry found that he kept looking up toward him, as though ensuring that he knew where he was at all times.
‘Hufflepuff in possession once again, this time Carver looping around the left side of the pitch toward the goals. Oh! He drops the quaffle to avoid that perfectly aimed bludger from Turner. First day on the job and already showing such talent! Now Thomas has reclaimed the quaffle and is dong a great job weaving between the Gryffindor players. She aims for the right hoop, but wait, she sends it to the left. No good! Kale is quick on his broom, snatching it out f the air. Kale sends the quaffle to captain Prewett, who swiftly sends it up to Chastings. This girl is a marvel on a broomstick. She flies through the air as though she were flying without a broom.’
Harry looked down once more to watch as Gwen flew in and out of several defensive barriers put up by the opposing chasers before making a series of passes with her teammates and finally scoring another ten points. So far things were going well.
‘Creptin and Dungler are working well together today, however Prewett and turner are turning out to be quite the incredible pair. If Turner keeps up with this accuracy, I would not be surprised if Black was not asked back.’
‘Doppler!’ McGonagall’s magnified voice echoed disapprovingly, fishing an apology from the announcer and reminding Harry greatly of Lee Jordan. Harry laughed out loud when he saw the disgruntled look on Sirius’ face and the death glares he was shooting at this Doppler boy.
The game continued for an hour before anything drastic needed to be done. The teams were tied at eighty points each, Hufflepuff showing that they really were a great team in this time. Harry had now seen the snitch twice, but had refrained from catching it, as he was not sure he could have beat the blond Hufflepuff to it on the old Cleansweep he was using. James had been gracious enough to lend it to him, as Sirius had done for Marc, but next to his Firebolt, Harry felt that he had might as well use a school broom.
This was getting ridiculous, Harry thought as he watched the snitch appear for the third time, once again about ten feet away from the oblivious Hufflepuff seeker. How this boy had made the team, Harry would never understand. Harry decided to make a lunge for the tiny sphere but stopped at hearing ‘ten points to Hufflepuff!’ shouted over the crowd.
Now Gryffindor was behind by ten points, and although they would still win if he caught the snitch, Harry was certain that Gideon would have his head for not letting them build up points the way Ron and Angelina always wanted. He gave the other seeker another withering glance before telling himself that he could very well have foregone his seeker duties and joined in the game for all the talent the blond possessed. Harry’s eyes widened and he shouted Time-out before rushing over to Gideon and whispering in his ear.
The crowd seemed confused as to what the problem was, and the look on the Gryffindor captain’s face was one of disbelief and uncertainty. Finally he gave a small nod and called his other chasers over while Harry flew down to speak to Professor Clanders, the schools present flight instructor. The look on her face was similar to that of Gideon Prewetts as the crowd watched her talk with the Gryffindor Seeker, but after a moment of flipping through her rulebook, she nodded and Harry flew back up to the game.
Professor Clanders blew her whistle and the match continued, Harry flying back up and circling the pitch in search of the snitch. He watched as all three chasers were closely followed by their Hufflepuff counterparts, making it difficult for them to pass to one another. Hufflepuff might have been the weakest team in his time, but here, Harry decided that they were far better than his time’s Ravenclaws. Seeing a perfect opening, Harry gave Gideon a quick wink before heading down lower toward the Hufflepuff side of the pitch.
‘Prewett in possession again, and he’s finding it difficult to pass the quaffle to any of his teammates. Chastings drops low, but she’s quickly countered by Carver, making it an unclear shot. What’s this? Chastings and Dawling are both rushing back toward their keeper, Carver and Trent both marking them with ease. What are they doing? The goal posts are in the other direction ladies.’
Harry took this as his cue and flew up about sic feet away from Gideon where he was quickly tossed the quaffle and headed toward the goal posts.
‘Merlin! Portus is now in possession of the quaffle and headed directly for the hoops. Thomas and Prewett are in hot pursuit but Carver and Trent will never close the gap. Portus passes back to Prewett and he flies high before passing it back again. Thomas is being led in circles here. Portus makes to pass it back once more, but no, he flies into the scoring area and lets the quaffle sail past Jargus. Ten points to Gryffindor!’
The crowds roared in approval and even the Ravenclaws and some Slytherins were applauding. The looks on Sirius’ and James’ faces were indescribable as they looked on in shock. It was the icing to Harry’s plan.
‘Never before have I seen something like this. A seeker playing as a chaser! This is unheard of! Portus back in possession, now over to Chastings, and now to Prewett. Prewett back to Chastings and now over to Dawling. With four chasers, the Hufflepuffs are barely keeping tabs. Ten pints Gryffindor!’ he shouted again, as Jargus missed a shot from Trenice.
Harry watched in amusement as Ginella Thomas called the blond boy down to her and soon he was also acting as a chaser, to counter anything that Harry might do. This technique continued for another hour or so, Harry easily outwitting the blond boy and essentially allowing Gryffindor to lead by sixty points.
Just as he was about to make a break for the hoops with possession again, Harry saw the blond seeker dive in the corner of his eye. His heart sank as he realized that he would not be able to catch up with him from his current height. He threw the quaffle haphazardly before looking down and going into a dive anyhow, hoping that maybe the other seeker would miraculously miss it. He was bout a hundred meters away, and he could see the glint of gold directly below him, flittering about fifty feet off the ground. Te other seeker was nearly fifteen meters ahead of him.
Having a daring idea, Harry took a deep breath and let go of his broom, allowing himself to freefall toward the earth. He pointed his hands downward and tried to straighten up as though he were diving and soon he could feel the wind whipping at his face as the ground quickly approached him. He could hear screams from the crowd and noticed the horribly confused look on the blond boys face as he fell past him, before finally closing his hand around the tiny golden snitch and turning his head up to the sky again.
He reached out a hand and willed with all his might for his broom to come to him. He whispered the words ‘Accio broom,’ and watched in relief as it came whipping at him at break-neck speeds. He grabbed hold of it ten feet from the ground and pulled p as hard as he could, just barely skimming the frozen grass with the hem of his robes before rising into the air again.
His heart was thumping madly in his chest as he held up a hand and heard the cry of ‘Portus has caught the snitch, Gryffindor wins!’ The silence that had momentarily filled the stands was now replaced by a deafening roar of applause and cheers as Gryffindors jumped up and down in approval of what they had just seen. Harry landed quickly and was met by the rest of the team, all of them running to him and cheering him on for what he had done.
‘Are you mad?’ Gideon shouted at him disbelievingly, although this was outweighed greatly by the wide grin on his face and the approving slaps on the back.
Marc simply shook his head and gave Harry a look that told him he knew that he was going to do something like that. Harry looked up from the congratulations of his team to see the Hufflepuffs leave the pitch looking disgruntled and extremely disappointed.
Harry gave one of the widest smiles in a long time at seeing the blond seeker walk off the pitch looking as though he still did not understand exactly what had happened.
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