Turning Time

BOOK-LENGTH, MARAUDERS'-ERA! After the Second Wizarding War, Harry Potter struggles to shake his past. The deaths haunt him. His friends, and the family he has made for himself, have changed. And he now knows the truth about Severus.
Ginny offers him a solution. He has the opportunity to travel back to the 70s, meet his parents, get closure. However, things aren't that simple.
What will Harry change in his past, both intentionally and on accident? Will his father like him?
Can he prevent everyone from discovering the secret behind his blue-eyed, light-haired disguise?
Harry finds out how time will turn for Severus and if the lost boy has a chance of being happy and finding love.
**Cover art designed using gimp.

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7. Secrets

The day went by quickly. Severus had managed to avoid being pranked again. A range of students had been pranked as the day went on, mostly Slytherins, but nothing too serious. Filch was alerted of the misdemeanors and, because of his incessant interrogations of innocent students, was also a victim of their pranks. Harry was just waiting for the final event, the one stunt that would keep people talking. James hinted at something happening after dinner.

 

    “What do you think of Sev’s new haircut?” Lily asked, looking fondly at him. Severus blushed and smiled back.

 

    “Yeah, it’s nice.” His hair was now short, free from his face, a definite improvement.

 

    “Madam Pomfrey did it when she reversed the potion. She also gave him this bottle of stuff to…help his hair.” She could tell the topic of Severus’ hygiene was sensitive, but he didn’t have a parent to teach him about that sort of thing.

 

    There was silence for a moment, then Raven asked, just realizing something—“Where’s Remus? Is he sick again?” 

 

    Lily nodded. “Right, we saw him, he was in the Hospital wing. They’re testing a new potion on him that’s supposed to help with the sickness he keeps getting. He looked pretty bad, but we cheered him up by visiting!”

 

    Harry knew how much Remus would have appreciated a break from the solitude, especially by seeing Lily, who the boy seemed to be growing fond of. While they were on the topic of the Marauders, Harry looked around; none of the other Marauders were at dinner. They were no doubt preparing for their attack.

 

    All of the Gryffindor students headed back, as a group, to the common room. Harry, Lily, Raven and Severus lingered at the back, looking out for signs of James, Sirius, and Peter.

 

    “What’s that?” Raven whispered suddenly, her eyes focusing on a spot a bit before them, where a shoe appeared to be hovering over the ground.

 

    “It’s one of them!” They’re under the cloak again, Harry thought.

 

    “Whoever it is, they’re going down that corridor.” The four, acting casual, followed the shoe at a distance as it made its way down the hall, up the stairs, past a group of Hufflepuffs, and into a classroom. They hesitated when they reached the doorway, but Severus pushed ahead into the room.

 

    “Something’s not right…” muttered Harry, and acting on his instinct, he pointed his wand at the lone shoe at the other end of the unused classroom and said, “Accio shoe!”

 

    The shoe soared through the air and into Harry’s outstretched hand. “They’re setting us up.” He ran to the door, but it closed before he could reach it. He tried the doorknob. Of course, it was locked. “Alohomora!” he commanded, trying the door again. Nothing. 

 

    “What happened to Lily?” Severus said, concern tightening his features.

 

    She was gone. But Harry couldn’t worry about that now; he had to focus. He surveyed the room again. It wasn’t familiar to him, but he seemed to have a distant memory of the location.

 

    There were a few posters with numbers and strange symbols on them…which would mean they were in the Arithmancy classroom.

 

    Hermione had told Ron and Harry (despite their lack of interest) about the Arithmancy classroom entrance. It was one of the doors in the school that had to be tickled in the right spot before it could be opened. A student would have to solve something before the class could leave, but the spot was always the same.

 

    Harry knelt down and searched for a small chink on the door in the bottom left corner. His fingers brushed it lightly, and, with a muffled giggle, it swung open. Lily was outside, resisting an invisible person who let her go as soon as he saw Harry pointed his wand in his direction.

 

    Lily picked up her wand and thanked him.

 

    “Are you okay?” Severus asked urgently.

 

    “Yeah, I’m fine. That was Peter. He was supposed to guard you and send me to the party. But I wouldn’t go.”

 

    “The party?” Harry asked.

 

    “That’s what he said. I guess he didn’t want you to be there.” Her green eyes flashed mischievously. “Just imagine the look on James’ face when we get there.”

 

    They made Peter take them to the party, which was in the Gryffindor Tower.

 

    “Password?” the Fat Lady asked. 

 

    “Turpis Collectio,” Lily replied, and the portrait hole swung open. 

 

    They were met with a burst of sound. Music blared, and the room was dim, lit only by a few (stolen) candles. People danced, chatted, and most held gently steaming drinks. Glowing pumpkins dotted the corners, grinning toothily at the partiers. Desserts were laid out on the table before the fireplace. 

 

    Harry scanned the room and spotted James, in the center of it all, talking animatedly to a group of girls, who laughed loudly.

 

    “Whoa! What are you doing here?” Sirius stopped in his tracks on his way past them, holding two drinks.

 

    “We escaped,” Severus replied smugly, before anyone else could respond.

 

    Sirius frowned, then shrugged. “Oh well.”

 

    “That was mean!” Lily exclaimed. “Why would you trap them and take me?” 

 

    Sirius looked at her in surprise. “We thought you’d want to go to the party.”

 

    “How thick are you?” Lily shook her head in amazement. “I don’t want you to bully my friends, and secondly, I would rather marry Peeves than go to your stupid party!”

 

    Sirius looked offended. “Whatever.” He stalked off toward James.

 

    “We could go upstairs,” Harry suggested, with a wary look over where Sirius was whispering into James’ ear. James’ face darkened momentarily, then brightened when he saw Lily. He excused himself from the group of girls and headed in Lily’s direction.

 

    Lily held her ground and glared at James as he ruffled his hair, trying to pull his expression into a smolder.

 

    “Hey, Evans.” James’ gaze drifted over the other three before settling on her narrowed eyes.

 

    “Potter,” Lily replied coldly. “If you could excuse us, we were just leaving.” 

 

    James couldn’t hide his disappointment. “No, stay! I mean, you just got here. Do you want something to drink?”

 

    “No,” Lily replied brusquely. 

 

    “Jeez.” Sirius was back. “He was just being nice. C’mon, have a Butterbeer. It’ll calm you down.”

 

    It was the wrong thing to say. “Calm me down? You locked my friends in a classroom and expect me to be calm?” She made a sound of disbelief and marched off angrily, with Raven, Severus, and Harry following close behind.

 

    “Maybe you should quit while you’re behind,” Sirius said, smirking at James, who smiled after Lily.

 

    “What are we going to do now?” Raven asked Lily as she made her way through the crowd.

 

    “We could visit Remus,” Harry suggested. “It’s not too late, and he’d appreciate it.”

 

    “Yeah, sure.” Lily paused and looked around. “Where’s Severus?”

 

    After a moment, Raven spotted him. “Over there, by the drinks.”

 

    Severus was examining a glass of Butterbeer. He held it up in the light, face scrunched up in concentration. His face darkened and he set the glass down, now examining the room. He rejoined the group, eying the room.

        

    “Someone added a potion to the drinks.” He emphasized “someone” with extra contempt; clearly he was sure of who did it. 

 

    “What sort of potion?” Lily asked, looking cautiously around the room.

 

    “A philtre. I think it’s to cause hallucinations, overconfidence, and can make whoever drinks it really happy.” Severus studied the room. “It may take a while for the effects to show.”

 

    “Well, we’re not sticking around to wait for that to happen. C’mon, maybe Remus could use some cheering up.”

 

    The Hospital wing was deserted, albeit five occupied beds, and Madam Pomfrey, who came up to meet the four as soon as they entered. 

 

    “Are you here to visit Remus?” When they nodded, she whispered, “He’s awake. I gave him a potion to ease his pain, so you have just about ten minutes before he falls asleep.” 

 

    Harry approached the bed first. Remus was lying under a single sheet, sweat glistening on his forehead. He was curled into a nearly fetal position on his side. He shifted over onto his back when he saw his friends, smiling weakly.

 

    “Hello,” Remus looked up at them, eyes bright against his tired, shadowed face. 

 

    “How are you feeling?” Lily asked gently.

 

    “Fine.” Remus blushed, then his jaw tightened in pain. In an effort to prove he was okay, he pushed himself into a seated position. He brushed a lock of hair out of his eyes and frowned at their varied looks of concern.

 

    “The potion…that would help me…kinda made things worse. But I’m fine.”

 

    Lily put her hand on his. “Who gave it to you?” 

 

    Remus stared at her fingers. “Dumbledore made it. Anyway, how is the party going?”

 

    Harry glanced at the others. “You’re not missing anything. Someone tampered with the drinks, and I’d bet later Professor McGonagall is going to tell them off.”

 

    Remus seemed to cheer up slightly at the news. “It must be pretty awful if you left to visit me.”

 

    “We’d visit you anyway! But about the party…” Lily told him how James, Sirius, and Peter had trapped them. 

 

    Remus shifted uncomfortably. He didn’t want to say anything bad about his other friends, but he managed to nod or murmur agreement with Lily’s frustration.

 

    Remus yawned. “I’m sorry about what happened. When I’m better, I’ll…” Another yawn. His eyes were nearly shut now. “Well, good night.” 

 

    When the others began to leave, Remus motioned for Harry to talk to him. Harry leaned in so the others wouldn’t hear.

 

    “The full moon’s the day after tomorrow,” Remus whispered to Harry, although he had already known; his watch kept track of it. November 2nd, the Tuesday before his first Quidditch match.

 

    “I’ll come after dinner then, okay?”

 

    Remus nodded, his face pale, and drifted off to sleep.

 

    By Tuesday, everyone was a little down; Lily had given up on trying to tell a story to a distracted Severus, who gazed over at the Slytherin table. Though James only had a small crush on Lily so far, he was still a bit sour that she hadn’t taken to the party. Sirius was mad that his family refused to send him things he asked for because they were still upset at his placement into Gryffindor instead of Slytherin. James had been buying supplies for their various endeavors, and although he insisted that he didn’t mind, Sirius felt guilty.

 

    “Hey, Lily.” James sidled closer to Lily when he noticed Severus wasn’t listening to her. “You can tell me.” 

 

    “The story? But…it’s about you,” she replied, raising an eyebrow.

 

    “Oh?” James faltered and blushed, realizing quickly that it wasn’t a kind conversation. “Er, then never mind.” 

 

    Sirius snickered.

 

    Raven wasn’t with them. She never ate much for lunch, and probably took this opportunity to go off to a meet up with some Slytherins.

 

    The day went by as usual. Remus wasn’t at dinner, the excuse this time was that he was sick but couldn’t have visitors, and no one questioned it. Harry drifted from the group when they were walking back from the Great Hall and, when he was certain no one was around, threw on his invisibility cloak.

 

    The sky through the windows was darkening quickly; he had misjudged when to leave. By the time Harry was outside, it was black. He hurried across the grounds, under the Whomping Willow, through the tunnel and to the Shrieking Shack.

 

    Remus had already transformed; Harry heard him growling through the doorway. By transfiguring a piece of stray wood lying nearby into a mouse, Harry got past him and made it to the second floor. This time, Harry had brought the day’s homework and a journal to write in before he fell asleep. He also brought a package of meat to throw down the hole in the floor to feed Remus.

 

    After setting up the transfigured mice and finishing his homework, Harry opened his journal. He decided, in an attempt to fill the void the absence of his friends created, he would write a letter to them, or whenever he had time. He wouldn’t send it, but writing out how he felt would help him cope.

 

    He wrote about Remus, first, because that was what initially came to mind, then about his friends and their problems, and finally about himself. And what he missed.

 

    By the time Harry finished writing, it was midnight. He made himself a comfortable place to sleep, then tossed the meat down for Remus.

 

    That was the last thing he remembered before he fell asleep. And after what seemed like moments later, he was being lightly shaken awake.

 

    “Jacob?” a soft voice above him said. 

 

    “Mm? Remus? Are you okay?”

 

    “I’m…fine. We don’t have to leave yet, but, um, how do you do that spell? To make the ground comfortable?”

 

    “Oh, sure. I’ll show you.” Harry put on his glasses and Remus came into better focus. His clothing was very tattered, but he looked unharmed. 

 

    “Here.” Harry taught him what to say and how to motion with his wand. Before he’d finished demonstrating, Remus started to cry.

 

    “What’s wrong?” Harry asked, shocked and unsure what to do.

 

    But Remus was unable to speak. He covered his face with his hands as he cried, not wanting Harry to see him in the state he was in.

 

    “I—I’m sorry,” he choked. 

 

    “What for? It’s okay to…cry.”

 

    “I d-don’t deserve to have a—a friend like you. I’m a freak. Nobody likes me, not really. If James and Sirius…if anyone else found out, they—they wouldn’t want to be friends with me. Or…or they’d be too—too scared of me to not be friends with me!” He let out a shuddering gasp.

 

    “That’s not true.” Harry said firmly.

 

    “How do you know?” Remus demanded sharply. Then he looked down, ashamed. “You don’t know what it’s like…to be what I am.”

 

    Harry was about to reply defiantly, but caught himself. “No, I don’t,” he agreed. “But James and Sirius aren’t the kind of people who would abandon you because you’re a werewolf. That wouldn’t matter to them. It doesn’t matter to me! And they’re better friends with you than I am.”

 

    Remus nodded vaguely. He abruptly looked sick and stumbled forward. Harry caught him before he hit the ground and gasped. There was a growing spot of blood on his back.

 

    “What the hell…?” Harry bent down and pulled apart the back of Remus’ shirt along a large rip. There was a good-sized gash in his back, with a piece of wood poking out. “How did this happen…” he muttered, mind working furiously to think of a spell to use to heal him. He realized he didn’t know anything effective enough to fix it and moved quickly out of the shack.

 

    He realized Hogsmeade was closer than the castle. If he could get help from someone there…Aberforth.

 

    Harry levitated Remus and blasted out the front door of the Shack. It was cold in Hogsmeade, colder than around Hogwarts. The sky was still dark; Harry’s watch read 5:12. 

 

    Harry hurried along the street until he saw the Hog’s Head. He knocked first, not knowing what sort of protective spell might be set on the building. He knocked again, painfully aware of little time they had. 

 

    “Alohomora,” Harry said, pointing at the door, and went inside. Immediately, a few candles flared, and a goat that had been lying across the room bleated. 

 

    There was a thump upstairs and a man in gray pajamas shuffled quickly down the stairs, wand at the ready. He spotted Harry and drew his wand, but Harry interjected.

 

    “Wait! Aberforth, I need you to help me! My friend is hurt…” He gestured to Remus, who didn’t seem to be breathing. “Can you help me, please?” His voice cracked with desperation. “I can’t answer your questions right now, we don’t have time.”

 

    Aberforth looked from him to the floating boy. The resemblance to his brother struck Harry just as it had the first time they’d met. 

 

    The goat that had been scared away earlier clomped over to Harry and stood by him.

 

    Aberforth sighed drowsily and approached Remus, eyes locked on the wound. He passed his wand over the gash, closed his eyes, and murmured a string of words that were incomprehensible. The piece of wood lifted out of Remus with a nasty sliding sound. Harry grimaced and clenched his teeth. Not again. He can’t die again, he thought. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, even if I could reverse it.

 

    Wordlessly, Aberforth guided Remus upstairs. Harry stayed where he was and waited. He shook with emotion and clenched his fists to staunch his fear.

 

    “He’ll live. I put him in the guest room upstairs and cleaned up his back,” Aberforth informed him when he returned, ten minutes later, looking shaken. By then, Harry’s lip bled from biting it, and his fingernails had carved grooves in his palms.

 

    “Thank you,” Harry said, and sat down wearily on a chair that was next to him.

 

    “Now, explain yourself.”

 

    Harry studied the younger version of the man, who significantly less aged and had gray hair instead of white. “I’m Jacob Walker. The boy who you healed is Remus Lupin.” 

 

    Aberforth noted his uniform. “You’re from Hogwarts.”

    Harry nodded. “Dumbledore knows we’re out, but he doesn’t know Remus got hurt.”

 

    “Why were you away from the school this early, anyhow?”

 

    Harry took a deep breath. “Remus is a werewolf. He is taken out of the school for his safety—well, everyone’s safety.”

 

    Aberforth was surprised, a strange expression on his solemn face. “He won’t…transform, will he?” Aberforth glanced upwards to where Remus lay, in bed. 

 

    “No. But, anyway, I go with him on the nights he transforms because if he doesn’t have anything to attack…he attacks himself. I don’t know how he got that wound, though. I was thinking…I could go to the castle and get Dumbledore to pick Remus up later this morning, when he’s well enough to be moved.”

 

    “Right. Two boys come out of nowhere early in the morning, one of them seriously injured, and the other wants to bolt, saying he’ll get his headmaster? We’ll send an owl to Albus, that way I can know for sure if you’re telling the truth.” Aberforth paused. “How old are you? You couldn’t be older than fifth year, right?” 

 

    “I’m in first year,” Harry responded, puzzled. Did he really seem mature enough for fifth year? 

 

    “Really?” Aberforth squinted at him, but a chime from the clock on the wall across them interrupted his thoughts. It was six o’clock. 

 

    “But besides that, wouldn’t I have already left when I had the chance? I’ll be late for class if I stay behind, and people will ask where I was, they’ll realize I’m gone.”

 

    Aberforth grunted. “Fine. I’m still sending an owl.”

 

    “Thank you. And I’ll talk to Dumbledore.” He glanced at the painting of Ariana, then left the Hog’s Head.

 

    Harry ran as much of the way to the castle as he could. He came up with an excuse in case anyone noticed he wasn’t there: He hadn’t been able to sleep, so he got up early, or if they’d seen him get up in the middle of the night, he’d gone to the bathroom. But if someone had proof against his excuse? What was he supposed to do? He could ask Dumbledore once he got to his office. He had managed to get away last time without anyone saying anything, but he needed a plan for when they became suspicious, just like with Remus. They couldn’t be sick or have family emergencies at the same time.

 

    Harry slowed down just before the front doors. He used a few spells to clean up, then he put on his invisibility cloak. Thankfully, the front doors were now opened (it was just past 6:30), so he had no trouble entering. 

 

    He hurried to Dumbledore’s office, where he took off his cloak, recited the password Dumbledore’d given in case of emergency, and leapt up the stairs, two at a time, until he reached the door. 

 

    The door swung open as soon as Harry knocked. Dumbledore was at his desk, writing. A plain brown owl was curiously observing Fawkes, who was asleep. 

 

    “Ah, Mr. Walker. How was your journey?”

 

    “Er, good.” He’d met the gaze of those blue eyes already this morning.

 

    “I hear you’ve met my brother. I received his owl to inform me of the incident. I plan on picking up Mr. Lupin shortly.”

 

    Harry sighed and rubbed his eyes. “I’m sorry for the trouble. I don’t know how it happened. The whole point of me being with him…”

 

    Dumbledore met his eyes, the picture of sympathy. “It is not your fault. You did the right thing by going to my brother, though why you chose the Hog’s Head, I don’t know. Anyhow, without your quick thinking, well…let’s not think about that.” He smiled kindly. “I will ask Madam Pomfrey to help you with a spell to heal wounds. So you will be prepared, if this should happen again.”

 

    Harry nodded solemnly and stood up.

 

    Dumbledore spoke before Harry shut the door behind him. “Oh, and Jacob?”

 

    “Yes, sir?” 

 

    “Good luck Saturday.”

 

    “Thank you, sir.”

 

    When he left the office, Harry realized he forgot to ask what he should say when anyone got suspicious of Remus’ absence. He decided he would be able to handle it when the moment came.

 

    He had barely walked a minute when James, Sirius, and Peter spotted him from behind. “Hey, Jacob, where’ve ya been?” 

 

    “What do you mean?” Harry swore in his head; he’d forgot to put on the invisibility cloak.

 

    “Well, you were gone all night, weren’t you?” There were shadows under their eyes—they knew.

 

    “I didn’t realize it was that long…” Harry bought time to think of an excuse.

 

    “You didn’t realize what was that long? 

 

    “That—ugh, I’m going to be sick again…” Harry clutched his stomach and ran off in the direction of the nearest bathroom. 

 

    He hoped they bought it and believed he’d just been ill. For improvising, it wasn’t that horrid of a performance. But even so…they weren’t that thick; maybe they had guessed that the absence of Remus and Harry was linked.

 

    At breakfast, Harry felt as though he could fall asleep right on his plate of eggs and toast. 

 

    Lily arrived at breakfast a half an hour later and greeted him cheerily. 

 

    “Hi, Jacob!”

 

    “Hey. Where are Severus and Raven?” 

 

    Lily’s cheeriness faded slightly. “I don’t know. Are you feeling okay?”

 

    “Just a little tired,” Harry replied, yawning. 

 

    “Here, Sev gave this to me.” She pulled out a vial filled with a yellow liquid. “He has trouble sleeping, and I’ve been staying up late with homework, so he brewed a bunch of this stuff. Just add a bit to your drink.” 

 

    Harry gratefully took the vial and added some of it to his pumpkin juice. He downed the glass and instantly felt better. 

 

    “Thanks, Lily.” He noticed her fidgeting. “What’s wrong?”

 

    “Did you hear what happened yesterday after dinner?”

 

    Harry shook his head, a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. Lily was clearly glad to tell someone the story and began in a hushed, hurried voice.

 

    “One of the Slytherins cursed a Gryffindor because they thought they were working against You-Know-Who. Of course, the teachers think it was just a regular fight. ‘Cause, you know, our houses get into fights all the time.”

 

    Good. It’s not about Remus.

 

     A fourth year boy with sandy hair overheard Lily telling Harry what had happened and leaned in to add to the story. “But it was planned, you see. She was cornered by a few of them, and they cursed her. But the thing is, the last spell their wands had cast was completely harmless—a repairing spell. And there were no other witnesses, so no one knows what really happened.” The boy’s friend stood up and nudged him to go. Before following his friend to the Ravenclaw table, he added, “They’re both in the hospital, but the Slytherins got off with only a baldness charm.”

 

    Lily and Harry were silent for a minute. “What do you think about Slytherin house?” Harry asked Lily, hoping she didn’t feel like he was questioning her too much.

 

    Lily frowned. “I don’t like what they’re doing. I’ve overheard what Slytherins talk about—You-Know-Who. I had no idea who he was until a month ago when Cassandra, a second year, told me about him. About what he does to people. And that all the Slytherins are planning on joining him.”

 

    “And you think all of them will? What about Professor Slughorn?”

 

    “But he’s older! Well…I guess not all Slytherins, but I haven’t heard any of them say that they aren’t going to join You-Know-Who.”

 

    “Maybe they’re just scared. Because you’re saying that you think all—or nearly all—of them join Voldemort—”

 

    Lily gasped.

 

    “…I mean, You-Know-Who…so don’t you think they might feel pressured into it?”

 

    Lily thought hard. “I guess…” she said slowly. Something dawned on her. “Jacob, you don’t think Raven and Sev—that they might want to be Death Eaters? Do you think they wished they were Slytherins? Because, well, Raven’s whole family was in Slytherin, and Sev wanted to be in Slytherin until you told him not to be!” 

 

    “You should ask him,” Harry suggested. 

 

    “I will.”

 

    The first class of the day was Defense against the Dark Arts, ironically. As their professor got ready to teach, everyone chatted noisily.

 

    “Sev? Can we talk?” Lily asked him. 

 

    Severus blinked and nodded. He stood by the side of his desk, and his hands, which gripped the edge, tightened.

 

    “I want to know if you’ve been meeting with Slytherins. Or doing the Dark Arts, or anything like that.”

 

    “Did Jacob tell you anything?” Severus glared at Harry.

 

    “Jacob? No…” Harry met her glance, then pretended not to listen. “But it doesn’t matter. Sev, can you just tell me? Please?” She looked up at Severus, eyes wide and pleading.

 

    “Okay. Yes, I have,” he confessed, wanting desperately to look away, but unable to do so.

 

    “Please take a seat, class,” Professor Trabet said, patting her short, neat hair.

 

    “Oh, Severus, why…!” Lily stopped because the sound in the room had died down.

 

    For the rest of class, Severus maintained a furrowed expression, and Lily kept glancing at him in concern.

 

    After class, Lily rushed to meet Severus. “Promise me you won’t do anything…bad? I can’t make you promise you won’t hang out with them, but at least promise you won’t do what they’re doing.”

 

    “Okay,” Severus said, as if not saying the exact phrase “I promise” would make going against what she’d asked him better.

 

    As Severus and Lily returned to a more casual conversation, Harry spotted Neville’s dad and two friends walking in the hallway.

 

    “C’mon, Frank, you know that it wouldn’t do any good to pick a fight with Lucius.”

 

    “Yeah, at least the prick got his badge taken away.”

 

    “That’s not enough for what he did to Alice. He’s a rotten little…” their conversation faded out of earshot.

 

    Harry was stunned. “I didn’t know Alice was the one who was cursed.” And Lucius who cursed her. Alice, Neville’s mother, is already a target?

 

    Lily was unfazed by the story—for a first year, it was outside of her world and deep concern. “Yeah. I heard more about what happened today. He could’ve been expelled, but he told Professor Slughorn she started it, and she told Professor McGonagall he started it, so they just got a warning. He just has a ton of detention, and he’s not a prefect anymore. Someone said…” her voice dropped to a whisper, finally acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, “…someone said he told her they would do much worse to her when she graduated, if they could prove she was part of something against You-Know-Who…but that’s just a rumor.”

 

    “Yeah, a rumor.” Harry shuddered.

 

    In November, everyone attended the first Quidditch game, unfazed by the cold and cloudy weather. Even Severus came. Harry guessed it was not just because Lily was going, but also because Severus wanted to show he wanted to stay friends with Harry.

 

    As the stands filled with people, Violetta gave the Gryffindor team a pep talk.

 

    “This is it, guys. The first game of the season. We have a great team this year…only one new member, Jacob, and everyone is on top of their game.” The second youngest player was in his fifth year, and the rest were in their sixth and seventh years. The third boy was in his seventh year, the other four players were girls. It was apparently only the sixth year in Hogwarts history that a Gryffindor team had more girls than boys on the team.

 

    “Just do your best, and have fun!” Violetta didn’t want to put pressure on them to win, but Harry could tell she wanted a victory very badly. The whistle sounded outside and the team marched out, gripping their brooms tightly. The audience swelled with cheers as the Slytherins and Gryffindors took their place on either side of the field.

 

    A young Madam Hooch released the Snitch, which flitted away, out of sight. Harry searched the sky for a flash of gold as the captains shook hands, a little roughly. Hooch gave a brief speech to the teams, then, in a flurry of motion and sound, everyone took flight. 

 

    Harry could feel the eyes of most of the students as he rose quickly above the other players. When scanning the field, he noticed Dumbledore was watching him, one hand propped under his chin. The Slytherin Seeker idled far away on the other side of the field; Harry couldn’t see who he or she was, but didn’t think either of them were having much luck.

 

    And suddenly, there was a small movement down at the edge of the field, almost directly under the Slytherin Seeker. Harry casually moved forward, but to the right so he wouldn’t draw attention to the Snitch below. He kept his eyes on both the Snitch and the other Seeker; both were gradually moving toward him. And, just as the boy came into view—Lucius Malfoy—Harry shot in the opposite direction toward the Snitch. The crowd’s cheers escalated as he neared the Snitch. 

 

    Lucius was right behind him but too far to have a chance. Harry’s fingers closed around the Snitch. 

 

    Furious, Lucius dove straight into Harry and nearly knocked him off his broom. 

 

    Harry dangled dangerously in the air, only one hand gripping the Nimbus. There were a few screams and gasps, but they died out as Harry shoved the Snitch in his pocket and managed to pull himself up. Then Harry reached inside his uniform, pulled out the Snitch and thrust his fist into the air. 

 

    The audience roared.

 

    Harry touched down on the ground, grinning broadly. His team swarmed around him, cheering, some pumping their fists. The Gryffindor Beaters held Harry up easily as he waved at the crowd. The game had been tied—20 to 20—before he had caught the Snitch. 

 

    Lucius scowled at him from the Slytherin side of the field, as he was lectured by Madam Hooch for blatching; flying with the intent to collide. Harry was happy to see the baldness charm Alice set on him had worked; Lucius took off his helmet on the way to the dressing rooms and, after the clouds opened overhead, his bare head glinted.

 

    The whole school was alight with the excitement over the game and the unmatched skill of the previously unknown Jacob Walker. If Severus had been around the rest of the day, he would’ve been thoroughly annoyed by the attention Harry was getting.

 

    James, after brooding for a while, came up to Harry with Sirius at his side.

 

    “Good game, Jacob,” he said, like a boy whose mom had forced him to be nice on the playground.

 

    Sirius gave James a look, then said to Harry, “Malfoy’s face was priceless.”

 

    “Yeah, he looked like he could curse you,” James added, with difficulty.

 

    Harry thought back to Alice. It was a mystery to him that Lucius hadn’t been suspended from Quidditch for the year. His dad must have as much influence as Lucius had in Harry’s time.

 

    “Well, okay, are we done here?” James turned away impatiently.

 

    “Thank you,” Harry blurted.

 

    James looked at him strangely before walking away.

 

    As he could shake off his new admirers and his friends, Harry visited the Hospital wing. There were no other visitors, and only two of the beds were occupied. 

 

    Madam Pomfrey intercepted him before he reached either of the beds. “Are you here to visit Remus?”

 

    “Him and Alice.”

 

    “Oh, you’re Mr. Walker, right? The Headmaster asked me to show you how to heal wounds in case of emergency.” She eyed him closely. “How did the piece of wood impale him?”

 

    Harry felt a cold surge rush across him. He had come up with a plausible explanation the night before. The spell he’d cast to transform wood to mice must not have worked properly. It seemed as though Remus caught one of the mice and after he had eaten it, it transformed back into wood.

 

    “It was my fault. An accident,” he replied, not quite meeting her eyes.

 

    “Hm. Well, when you’re done, I’ll help you.” Madam Pomfrey studied him once more, then left to tend to the other patients. 

 

    Remus looked remarkably better, almost impatient. Books were laid out around him and he scribbled furiously on a piece of parchment. His face brightened when he saw Harry.

 

    “Jacob! I’m just working on the Transfiguration essay.” He put it aside and his smile faded as he registered Harry’s somber expression. “What’s wrong?”

 

    “I figured out how this all happened,” Harry began, pressing his lips together to hold his composure. “The wood I transfigured to turn into mice…you caught one, and ate it, which wasn’t supposed to happen, and it turned back into a piece of wood inside you…”

 

    “It’s not your fault,” Remus assured him, voice low.

 

    “You could’ve died!” Everyone was taking it much too lightly. Madam Pomfrey glared at Harry, a finger to her lips.

 

    “But I didn’t. And look—” Remus pointed to his arms. “I don’t have any new scratches.”

 

    “Except the huge gash in your back.”

 

    Remus sighed. “Listen—I don’t blame you, so you shouldn’t blame yourself. You’ve made the mistake once, and you’ll know what to do next time.”

 

    Harry nodded to pacify Remus. But he didn’t understand how scared Harry hd been. “I’m going to see Alice. Have you talked to her at all?”

 

    “Yes, a bit. She’s leaving in a couple days. She’s really nice. Oh, and I’m leaving in a few hours, after Madam Pomfrey gives me my last dose of potion. I’ll see you in the dorms.”

 

    “Yeah, see you then.” Harry moved down three beds as James, Sirius, and Peter entered the Hospital wing.

 

    Alice was awake, reading a black book whose title was only visible if seen at a certain angle. There was a significant amount of candy and flowers around her bed. Harry noticed a drawing of Lucius, which showed him losing his hair and crying. He would watch it grow back in a mirror, looking hopeful, only to see it drop off when it got to a certain length. 

 

    “Hello,” Alice said warmly, putting down her book. “Have we met?”

 

    “No, sorry, I’m Ha—Jacob Walker.”

 

    “Nice to meet you.” She smiled, looking amused.

 

    “Jacob!” A bright voice piped up behind him. Harry turned and saw Violetta approach holding a bouquet of pink flowers. When she placed them in the sunlight, the flowers appeared to dance.

 

    “How do you know Alice?” Violetta flicked her wand and her long blonde hair went up into a tight ponytail.

 

    “I…we actually just met.” 

 

    “Oh, well, cool. I’ve told her how good—no, extraordinary—you are at Quidditch,” Violetta said. “Though, not how you beat Lucius today.”

 

    Alice smirked. “I’d love to hear that story.” 

 

    Violetta told her an exaggerated, more dramatic version of the game, and how Lucius handled the loss. “…He nearly snapped his broom, banging it on the ground like an angry troll when Jacob caught the snitch. Looked like one, too, with his ugly bald head. I swear, he might blind someone with that glare off his loaf…”

 

    After a few other stories involving their friends and Lucius, Violetta let Harry speak. “What was it you wanted to say to Alice?”

 

    Harry paused, collecting his thoughts. “I wanted to tell you how, er, brave you were. Facing Lucius and joining…well, you know.” He flashed back to seeing Alice and Frank at St. Mungo’s. Alice couldn’t understand fully where he was coming from, that she would be tortured but remain loyal to the Order.

 

    “Thank you.” Alice smiled at him, though concern about what he knew was visible in her eyes.

 

    “It was nice talking to you,” Harry said, taking a last look at her strong, familiar face before leaving.

 

    Things had changed significantly in the few months since school started. Harry had so many other people’s issues and emotions on his plate that he was beginning to ignore his own. His dreams were the only place for him to dwell on the people he left behind in his own time. 

 

    The Marauders didn’t question Remus and Harry when they disappeared once more on December 2nd. Severus only asked Harry where Remus had gone a couple days before the full moon, when Remus had been too sick to attend class. They used the excuse of a family emergency instead of Remus being ill.

 

    Severus and Raven were gone that evening, along with Lily (who was up in the girl’s dorms) and Remus, on the evening of December 2nd. The full moon had risen in the morning and lasted throughout the day, so Harry missed his classes under the excuse that he wasn’t feeling well.

 

    “Hey, Jacob,” Sirius said, sitting on a chair next to Harry in the common room.

 

    Harry started. Sirius seemed amazingly casual. What had changed? He looked back down in his journal and continued writing.

 

    James walked in, holding two cups, his hair ruffled in all directions, as always. He sat next to Sirius, ignoring Harry.

 

    “I got you a cup of pumpkin juice,” James said, holding it out for Sirius. 

 

    “I thought I said I just wanted water.”

 

    “Well, you can get it yourself, I you want,” James snapped. 

 

    “Fine.” Sirius left in a huff.

 

    There was an awkward pause.

 

    “Do you want some pumpkin juice?” James asked, after staring into his cup.

 

    “Sure, thanks,” Harry replied, taking the cup from him. 

 

    James leaned forward slightly, eyes locked on Harry as he drank from his cup. Harry tried not to acknowledge this by looking around the room.

 

    “What have you been going these past few months at the same time as Remus?” James asked as Harry set down his empty cup.

 

    “I help Remus when he transforms into a werewolf,” Harry answered automatically. His eyes widened. Truth serum.

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