Laocoon's Children: The Fugitive from Azkaban
AU. When Sirius and Remus go looking for Peter Pettigrew, they make a wrong turn and someone else finds him first. Eight years later, Sirius owns a book store and Remus manages it for him. When Harry stumbles into the store and they find out the truth, they decide it's time to be Stealing Harry. (SB/RL slash relationship in later chapters.)
Laocoon's Children takes up the story two years later, and runs parallel to JK Rowling's books. In Harry's first year at Hogwarts, "The Philosopher's Stone", he was put in Slytherin where he made fast friends with Gryffindor Neville Longbottom, Ravenclaw Padma Patil, and Hufflepuff Draco Malfoy, forming an odd inter-house gang of friends who delighted in exploring Hogwarts, playing pranks, and getting into trouble. He was saved from near death at the hands of Pettigrew and Quirrell by his mentor Severus Snape, but Peter escaped and has not been heard from since.
In "Secret Tongues", Harry's gang of friends reunited for their second year at Hogwarts, where they faced a basilisk, a homicidal diary bent on destroying Padma's sanity, and Draco's own mother's unprovable betrayal. Nymphadora Tonks, fresh from a debilitating injury as an Auror, took on the role of Dark Arts professor, and began a stormy relationship with Severus Snape. At the end of the school year, Lucius Malfoy escaped Azkaban prison and Draco was sent to stay with Harry in Betwys Beddau over the summer, for his own safety.
In "The Fugitive From Azkaban", year three of Harry's AU adventures, Harry and his friends must face many new problems: protecting Draco from his father, dealing with their new Dark Arts professor's quirks, helping Padma with her heavy school load, and standing firm against the aura of fear that is pervading the wizarding world.
ITEMS OF NOTE
(Clipping: Betwys Beddau Weekly Crier, August 1, 1993)
Youth Cricket: Scythes beat Stones in improbable Upset.
The Betwys Beddau Scythes and Betwys Beddau Stones met on the field of play Saturday last for a much-anticipated rematch after last year's rout of the Scythes. The South of Riverbend Scythes and North of Riverbend Stones have been playing the annual Youth Cricket tournament these past forty years as this reporter well knows, but rarely has the game been so widely anticipated.
The reason for this year's upset as all agree is a slight, spindly lad new to Betwys Beddau and the noble game of cricket: thirteen-year-old Daniel Malfoy, nephew of local tour guide Sirius Black. Young Daniel has taken up cricket with a fierce determination only matched by his companion Harry Potter's well-known passion for football. With little knowledge of the game Daniel has managed to become quite the batsman and while his fielding may still need a bit of work, one might feel that for the game he plays the boy may be forgiven a few trifling inconsistencies.
The Scythes were not favoured to defeat the Stones, captained by the Indomitable Jerry Agnew (whose father Mr. Alex Agnew is well-known to these pages for his yearly Holiday Amusements) but all proved not as it seemed on Saturday's sunny morning....
MINISTRY AWARDS ORDER OF MERLIN TO HOGWARTS PROFESSOR
(Photo Clipping: Daily Prophet, July 3, 1993)
MINISTER FUDGE presents the Order of Merlin (2nd class) to Nymphadora Tonks, former Hogwarts Professor, for bravery beyond the call of duty
in slaying a Basilisk recently discovered at Hogwarts School. Ms. Tonks has declined to have a Bertie Botts Chocolate Frog Card made in her likeness but agreed to accept the award "under much pressure from the public and the Hogwarts Board of Governors". Left to Right: Minister Cornelius Fudge; Nymphadora Tonks; parents Andromeda and Ted Tonks, owners of Tonks & Tonks in Diagon Alley; Severus Snaqe, fellow professor at Hogwarts School; Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School.
Scrawled at the edge of the clipping: It's Snape, you damn fools.
LUCIUS MALFOY STILL AT LARGE
(Clipping: Daily Prophet, August 9, 1993)
The Ministry of Magic reports today that Friday's attempts to secure Lucius Malfoy, the first-ever successful escapee from Azkaban Prison, were unsuccessful. Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt spoke with the press to assure them that every possible method of capturing Malfoy, a known murderer and supporter of You Know Who, was being employed. He went on to state, however, that Malfoy is "a cagey bloke without any conscience, and it's much harder to catch a nutter than your average
sane person, you know".
Public opinion regarding Malfoy's daring escape suggests that many people believe him to have drowned in the Black Sea off the coast of Scotland....
There were a lot of things that the village of Betwys Beddau, as a collective, knew about the Black-Potter family. Or, at any rate, thought they knew.
For example, they knew that Mr. Black was independently wealthy and probably Old Money, because young Harry went to a prestigious, exclusive private school in Scotland during the year while Mr. Black kept a flat in London. Some people, on the other hand, theorised that Mr. Black was some kind of fugitive criminal or member of organized crime, because it was clear that he valued his privacy very highly. At any rate, he had enough money to support Harry without having any real kind of job. Tour guide for the local stone circle, Rhos Y Beddau, didn't count since half the time he'd do it for free.
He had enough money to support his cousin, too, although Mr. Lupin was a proud sort of man who always found some job or other to do while they were there for the summer. Some of the younger and the more astute villagers smiled indulgently on the pair's facade of "cousinly" affection, but Mr. Black was so charming and Mr. Lupin so unfailingly polite and kind that even those who disapproved of "that kind of thing" simply ignored the signs.
The villagers knew too that Mr. Black loved children, he must love children, because not only had he taken in his poor orphaned godson (and quite right) but also a sickly nephew who was down in the country "for his health" the summer that young Harry turned thirteen.
In Betwys Beddau, Harry and the other boys made him feel at home by initiating "Daniel" into the complex, Eleusian mystery of childhood cricket. They also played football among the old standing stones in the village parks and went prospecting for interesting rocks in the river at the bottom of the garden. They walked into town with Padfoot nearly every day to fetch Remus from his job and rarely a day went by that some kind person didn't stop to say hello and offer to buy them an ice lolly or a soft drink from the grocer, because you couldn't find a more charming pair of boys than Harry and Daniel. Padfoot magnanimously condescended to help them finish whatever they couldn't eat.
Mr. Lupin, while somewhat less outgoing than Mr. Black, was more sociable in the general sense. He worked in town, after all, and so saw the villagers more regularly. They knew that he too was fond of children and particularly fond of his big black Newf, Padfoot, the most intelligent dog that the villagers had ever encountered. Mr. Lupin was of a weak constitution himself, but when well he was a hard worker.
What the villagers didn't know about the peculiar family, of course, would have filled a book. But they were unaware of their own ignorance, and thus treated them as no more than a curiosity. Mr.Black's marriage prospects, Mr. Lupin's scholarly turn of mind, Harry Potter's frank and friendly outlook, Daniel Malfoy's shyness and surprising skill with a cricket bat -- these were as far as gossip went.
Had the villagers known that their little town harboured and sheltered a werewolf, a shapeshifter, and two adolescent wizards, Merlin knew what they would have thought.
It was early August, only a few days after Harry's birthday party, and the sun was out in full force in the little Welsh town. In a grassy lot near the main road, most of the Betwys Beddau under-sixteen set were rehearsing a pageant of the town's history, with Harry and Daniel (who would be gone by the time it was performed) as spectators, assistant directors, and general errand-boys. Padfoot lounged under a nearby tree, sleepily watching the proceedings and waiting patiently for Master to emerge from Meredith's Cafe nearby. Very few people were out on the road, except for one elderly man with a prodigious beard, carrying a walking stick in one hand and wearing an enormous, broad-brimmed straw hat.
Inside Meredith's Cafe it was bustling, as was usual at that time of day. The town was not so big nor so busy that a late-afternoon break couldn't be observed, and everyone left their offices and shops at two o'clock to go to one of the three cafes in town and get a scone or a muffin and a cup of tea. Remus called this the "Tea-esta" after which Padfoot had soundly bitten his ankle.
The bookstore hadn't needed Remus this year, they regretted to tell him in June, so he'd found employment at Meredith's instead. He was good at waiting tables, because he was polite, and he excelled at making drinks -- hot drinks, cold drinks, blended drinks, and the occasional alcoholic drink if he were slipped a few extra coins and nobody was paying very close attention. After all, he said to Sirius, he'd had seven years of Potions classes.
So while Lynn was on table duty and Marcus worked the cash register, Remus handled drinks. An order would be placed, Marcus would put their name and drink preference on the cup, Remus would prepare the drink and sing out the name after the patron had paid.
"Abby, your tea's ready," he called, passing the cup across to a young woman who grinned flirtatiously at him and took a seat nearby. "Nicholas? Where's Nicholas?"
"Over here!" said a man about his own age, gratefully accepting an iced coffee. Remus checked the next cup, scooped some vanilla ice cream into the blender, added a cup of lemonade from the refrigerator, tossed in a dash of sugar syrup, and whizzed the whole thing up, pouring the results into the original cup and capping it before bothering to look at the patron's name. He opened his mouth to call it, but the name came out remarkably quietly.
"Albus?" he asked, startled. He lifted his eyes over the edge of the counter and blinked a few times.
"Hello, Remus," Albus Dumbledore said with a smile. "Is that my lemonade cream?"
Remus dropped the drink, caught it before it fell far, and passed it across with a shaking hand.
"What are you doing here?" he asked. Dumbledore sipped the milkshake and smiled appreciatively.
"Taking tea. There is nothing to concern yourself over; this is a social call to ask a favour, nothing more."
Remus wiped his hands on the towel hanging from his belt and licked his lips nervously.
"I believe I shall take my lemonade cream and go watch the play rehearsal that appears to be occurring across the street," Dumbledore continued serenely. "When you are at liberty, please feel free to join me."
Remus passed the next twenty minutes in a state of vaguely fretful confusion, until at last the tea-rush died down and he could take his break. He found Dumbledore sitting placidly on a low tree branch that he was certain had never been there before, under the same tree that Padfoot had been using for shade. Padfoot, muzzle buried in the paper cup, lifted his head and panted at him.
"It is so soothing to see children at play," Dumbledore observed, indicating the pageant rehearsal with a nod of his head. Onstage, someone was being stabbed to death. "So long as one does not harbour any illusions about the content of a child's mind."
"They're good boys and girls," Remus said uncertainly.
"No doubt. Won't you sit down?"
Remus sat next to Dumbledore, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees.
"Something must have happened for you to come here," he said. "Is it Lucius?"
"Mr. Malfoy has not yet been found. I suspect, as I am sure you do, that he is being concealed and protected by Peter Pettigrew."
Remus nodded. "What about the Tonkses? They're all right?"
"Indeed. Nymphadora thrives, and they send their love. Severus expressed no desire at all to be remembered to you, but he has asked me to ensure that Harry and -- "
" -- Daniel."
" -- Daniel are well looked-after. Which reminds me, I have their Hogwarts letters," Dumbledore said, passing two thick envelopes to Remus, who tucked them absently in his back pocket. "So you see I am not here as the bearer of bad news. It was you in particular I came to see."
"Me?" Remus asked. "Why on earth?"
"I come with the full weight of the Hogwarts Board of Governors and School Trustees to offer you the position of Professor of Dark Arts at Hogwarts for the coming year," Dumbledore said.
Remus fell backwards off the tree branch. Padfoot leapt up at once and ran to him, but Remus was already struggling up onto his elbows.
"You're mad!" he said to Dumbledore, forgetting for a moment that he was speaking to his former Headmaster. "You can't give me a job!"
"That remains to be seen. I am empowered to offer it," Dumbledore replied calmly. Remus stood up and rubbed the back of his head. Dumbledore looked up at him mildly.
"We both know it's cursed, Headmaster," he said. Padfoot stepped across his feet and glared menacingly at Dumbledore.
"Be that as it may, you will do well to remember that werewolves are immune to many common curses and hexes," Dumbledore replied. "The pay is excellent, of course, and -- "
"Two of our Dark Arts professors were eaten by things when we were at school!"
"Remus," Dumbledore said warningly, glancing at Harry and Draco. Remus followed his gaze, sighed, and settled down on the low tree branch once more. Padfoot placed himself ostentatiously between them.
"You can't honestly think I'd be any good at the job even if I were mad enough to take it," he said in a softer voice, one hand placed warningly on Padfoot's neck.
"I know you have spent many years studying ways of combating the Dark Arts while you were searching for Peter," Dumbledore said. "You seem to have an uncanny method of discerning when trouble is looming on the horizon, and moreover, you are a figure of authority in young...Daniel's eyes."
"What has he to -- oh. Oh, I see," Remus said grimly. "Lucius."
"We have no reason to believe he has forgotten his only son and heir. You have the ability to protect him, Remus."
"You're playing dirty, Headmaster," Remus said. "Does the school board know what I am?"
"Do they need to?"
That elicited a small smile from Remus. "No, I suppose not. It'll be hard to avoid telling the staff..."
"No; they would have to be informed. Poppy knows already, of course."
"He has kept your secret this long. Besides, I have presented you to him as a...challenge."
Padfoot whined. Remus looked perplexed.
"Indeed." Dumbledore offered him a newspaper clipping from yet another pocket. Remus stared down at it for so long that Padfoot began to gnaw on his shirtsleeve.
"It was perfected in July," Dumbledore offered. "I know you'd been following the journal articles for years, but they've kept it all very secret. Fortunately, Severus was one of the members of the extended research team."
"He can brew this?"
"He believes so. He's been allowed to brew a test batch for the experimental subjects. They are still alive. He would be capable of providing you with the potion each month, in return for research assistance. There is still some pain, I understand, but the human mind is retained much more fully -- "
"Human," Remus whispered, not looking at anyone now. "I could remember the moon. I'd be safe to be around."
"Alas, the potion does not travel well. Your presence at Hogwarts is required," Dumbledore said. Remus was silent. "I have faith in your abilities, Remus; you might try it yourself some time. Come to Hogwarts. Try the potion, try teaching, and protect your son's best friend."
Remus looked at him sharply. Dumbledore smiled winningly. Padfoot, finally driven to it, ran behind the tree and emerged as Sirius, shaking his shaggy hair out of his eyes.
"You're not bribing him with some potion," he said, pointing a finger at Dumbledore accusingly. "If Snivellus can make it, I can make it, and you know I'm well-connected enough to get a copy of the procedure."
Dumbledore gazed mildly at Sirius' finger.
"Do you wish Draco dead?" he asked quietly.
"Since when was it Moony's job to protect him? Get Snivellus to do it, he was Lucius Malfoy's bumboy at schoo -- "
Sirius found himself suddenly unable to speak. He clutched his throat, swallowed, and glared at Dumbledore.
"As I was saying," Dumbledore continued, "The responsibility for the protection of our children does not fall only on the shoulders of those intimately connected with them. As Mr. Black may be intrigued to know, I myself educated him over the strong objections I held to his family's personal beliefs."
Remus hid a smile.
"The decision is ultimately yours to make," Dumbledore said to Remus, emphasizing yours slightly. "But there is also the fact to be considered that Lucius Malfoy may not only be after his own son. He may be after Harry Potter as well."
Sirius paled, glancing at Harry, who had yet to notice the antics of his elders.
"Revenge," Remus murmured. "Yes. And if Peter had a hand in it..."
Dumbledore was very eloquently silent.
"May I have a day or two?" he asked. Sirius was still rubbing his throat, trying to throw off the hex, but without his wand he wasn't getting very far.
"Of course. I'll send someone for your answer in three days. Give my regards to the boys; tell them I could not stay to say hello."
He rose and smiled at Sirius, who coughed and growled. Remus put out a hand to stop him, however, as Dumbledore made his way back to the road and continued walking towards the path to Rhos-y-Beddau, the ancient stone circle (now submerged in peat) at the edge of town.
"Bastard," Sirius said feelingly.
"He has the best interests of the children at heart," Remus replied.
"He wants us to think that," Sirius retorted. "Moony, you know that job is cursed."
Remus sighed. "Yes, and he rightly pointed out that some curses...don't work on me."
"But this one might! I don't want you eaten!" Sirius dropped onto the branch next to Remus. "Besides, that would mean we wouldn't be able to stay in London this year, and you know you'd miss Diagon."
"There'd be Hogsmeade. You could take a cottage there. I'd have floo access, there's no reason I couldn't come home every night. And at lunches," Remus suggested with a grin. Having two thirteen-year-olds living in the River House, which was small and not terribly thick-walled, made for a rather stifled sex life. Sirius' frustration with it was beginning to show.
"You're managing me."
"Am not!" Remus answered, looking hurt. "I'm rationally -- oh bugger, my break's up," he said suddenly. "Listen, I'll see you at the River House, I'm off at four. Don't tell the boys anything and don't try to argue this out with me in front of them."
"It's going to affect them, you know! It's not exactly easy when your..." Sirius fumbled for the word to express what Remus was to Harry. "Well, it's not easy knowing the person who's grading your papers, is all!"
"Severus does it. I've got to go, we'll ask Harry about it after you and I are sorted," Remus said, running back across the grass.
"WHAT ABOUT THE MOONS?" Sirius yelled after him, and several people coming out of the cafe stopped to stare.
"Argument about astrology," Remus said to them as he brushed past. Sirius, sulking by the tree, ignored the funny looks they gave him.
Harry had once told Draco that Remus didn't need any money, since he and Sirius had loads in Gringott's, but that Remus liked to work because he felt useful and anyway it was good to keep his hand in. Draco had replied that he thought he understood that, and it was likely he understood it even better than Harry or Sirius. Remus felt an instinctive affinity for the shy child, as well -- he remembered what it was like to be the quiet one.
Remus liked to work. He'd been raised to it and the few years spent trying to hold a steady job before Sirius took him on at Sandust Books was the most depressing time in his life, bar none. Even now, with the Black wealth and his own meagre savings supporting them comfortably, he liked to keep busy. Sirius did too, even though he didn't admit it; he'd spent half the summer bent over a drawing board, designing new toys for Madame Schaeffer's Scholars' Emporium. Harry, who was a rather better artist than Sirius, occasionally assisted.
And a long time ago, Remus had rather liked the idea of teaching at Hogwarts. It was a long time ago, when he was fourteen or fifteen and thought Minerva McGonagall was the most wonderful teacher in the world (well, he still thought that) and before he'd fully realised just how limiting his lycanthropy would be as an adult. At fifteen he could almost bounce back in a day. Now -- well, now he was in his thirties, and the Change slowed him down a bit more.
But still. Teaching, and teaching something he was good at...
Well, Sirius might be louder and less tactful and a good deal more obstinate about small things, but for sheer bullheaded stubbornness where it really mattered, you couldn't beat Remus Lupin.
Two days after Dumbledore made his offer, while Harry and Draco were puttering around making themselves breakfast in the kitchen, Remus rolled over onto his back and stretched his arms behind his head, shoulder-joints cracking in a satisfying way. Sirius grunted and turned on his side, stealing the blankets.
"Sirius, I'm going to take the Hogwarts job," Remus said. "We're not going to argue about it any more. As long as Harry is all right with having me as a teacher, I can't miss this opportunity."
Sirius opened his eyes wide enough to see the set of Remus' jaw.
"Well, if you'd sounded that decisive when Dumbledore was here," he yawned, "I wouldn't have bothered fighting with you."
Remus began to laugh. "What?"
"Moony, if you had any sense at all, you'd know that as long as you tell me something instead of ask it, I'm going to cave every time."
"Really," Remus said, turning his head. "That could make life interesting."
"Life isn't interesting now?"
Remus grinned. Sirius knew that particular grin, and would have taken full advantage of the impending excitement it had to offer, but there was a pounding on the door.
"EGGS AND BACON IN FIVE MINUTES!" Harry called through the door.
"When did we tell him he could start frying bacon on his own?" Remus asked, sighing.
"I think it was part of our plan to give him more responsibility," Sirius said. "Which was your idea, by the way."
"Bugger. Well, there'll be bacon, anyway," he said, rolling over to straddle Sirius' hips and kissing him on the forehead. "Thank you, Sirius. This means something to me."
"Yes, well, you're in charge of finding me someplace to stay in Hogsmeade," Sirius grumbled. "And nothing stone or drafty, either, it's cold as blue fuck in Scotland."
"Duly noted." Remus slid easily off the bed and reached for his housecoat. "Come on, Harry'll sulk if the bacon's cold by the time we get out there."
Draco was devouring an enormous egg and bacon sandwich when Remus appeared in the kitchen, blinking at the bright sunlight streaming through the windows.
"Morning," Remus said. Harry passed him a warm plate of eggs, bacon, and several slices of fried bread. He reflected that early mornings weren't quite so bad when the reward was fried things.
"Sirius coming?" Draco asked.
"Mmhm. Listen, I need to have a word with you two," Remus said, sitting down and cutting his bread into soldiers.
"If it's about the river, we didn't do it," Harry said promptly.
"And if we did you couldn't prove it," Draco added. Remus rubbed his eyes.
"We'll come back to that, because I know you're not really stupid enough to disclaim knowledge of something ahead of time, but for now, no. It's about Hogwarts."
Harry tilted his head as he slid the rest of the bacon, along with quite a bit of grease, onto Sirius' plate.
"The Headmaster has offered me a job at the school," Remus continued. "Teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts."
"Wicked!" Draco said. "Does that mean we'd have to call you Professor Lupin?"
"Yes, and that's what we need to talk about," Remus said, as Sirius walked in and took the plate Harry offered him. "I've decided to take the job, but I want to make sure it's all right with you two. It's not easy having a parent at school -- "
"Yeah, Dora graded Neville really hard, 'cause he's her brother," Harry said.
"Well, yes. And other students might think badly of you. And, if I had to give you a detention, I would," Remus continued.
"Here, Moony, I have a thought," Sirius said suddenly, as he entered the kitchen. "Do you suppose you could talk Filch into letting you into his files and steal back some of the stuff he took off us -- "
" -- twenty years ago? No," Remus said firmly. "Besides, he's probably thrown it all out, and stop distracting me."
"Yes, Professor," Sirius muttered.
"So I want your thoughts and your approval before I tell him yes," Remus finished, looking from Harry to Draco and back. "It'll affect you as much as it does me. I'll be living at school with you, and Sirius will be nearby as well."
Harry glanced at Draco. "I think it's brilliant," he said with a shrug.
"I'm with Harry," Draco agreed.
Remus hesitated for a fraction of a second before nodding. "Settled, then," he said.
"Is Sirius coming up to live at Hogwarts too, then?" Harry asked. Sirius glanced at Remus.
"Er...probably not at Hogwarts," Remus said.
"Well..." Sirius pursed his lips. Remus gave him a questioning look. "Padfoot could. Professors are allowed a Familiar, aren't they?"
Remus burst out laughing. "You're proposing to spend an entire year as a dog?"
"Not the whole year. Just the bits of it where I follow you to class, bite anyone who's misbehaving, and snag sweets from all the students."
"You'd do that anyway."
"My point exactly."
Remus rolled his eyes. "We've nearly a month to decide all that. I think it's far more sensible of you to take a cottage in town and we'll have it hooked up to the floo in whatever rooms they give me. And you two had better keep quiet about it," he said, pointing with his fork at the boys.
"We're thirteen, Remus," Harry said scornfully. "We're almost grown!"
Sirius tried not to laugh under his breath.
"Good, then I will trust you," Remus said agreeably. "And for the next month you may refer to me as Professor."
Sirius snorted into his fried eggs, but when he looked up, Remus was regarding him with quite an interesting look on his face.
"You too, Sirius Black," he said with a grin.
Sirius decided this Hogwarts business might be entertaining after all.