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.)
A/N: At one point in this chapter I have used dialogue or description verbatim from The Prisoner of Azkaban. This is intentional, as Laocoon's Children does run parallel to the books. In this
instance, Trelawney's speech and portions of Lupin's lesson are taken directly from canon.
Harry didn't get a chance to tell Draco about his brilliant politics until lunch; he had double-potions with Padma while Neville and Draco had double-Defence. He was eager, and a little scared, to hear their reactions to being taught by Remus. He'd heard nothing but cheerful gossip about Defence class so far, but he didn't care if the school liked Remus as much as he cared that his friends did. And that they wouldn't give him the cold shoulder if Remus was hard on them in class.
It turned out he needn't have worried. On their way to lunch, Padma and Draco gleefully dissected the morning's lesson on hinkypunks. Harry could hardly distract them long enough to tell the story of Marietta's blackmail.
"But you've no idea what she said about Cho Chang," Padma pointed out.
"Who cares? She doesn't know that," Harry replied.
"You didn't have to, you know," Draco said, slightly sullen. "I mean, I can take a bit of teasing."
"It wasn't just teasing," Padma retorted. "It was cruel and unnecessary. You can't help who you're related to."
"No," said Draco quietly. "S'pose not."
"But it is brilliant, isn't it?" Harry bragged, swaggering into the Great Hall. Snake, sensing food nearby, poked his head out from under Harry's collar.
"Do you really think it'll keep all the Ravenclaws in line?" Neville asked.
"Enough of them," Harry said, heading for Slytherin's table. "See you in Divination!"
"Not me, I've got the afternoon free," Draco grinned at Harry. "Have fun studying your balls!"
Draco's jest, weak as it was, was still the funniest thing about Divination class, as Harry soon found out. For one thing, it was in one of the highest levels of the castle: an entryway on the seventh floor led to a spiral staircase that seemed to go up forever, getting closer and tighter as it went. At the top landing there was nothing more than a trapdoor in the ceiling with a brass plaque on it reading "Sibyll Trelawney, Divination Teacher".
"Bugger this," Harry said to Padma. "How do we get up there? Levitation?"
As if in answer to his question, the trapdoor opened and a silvery ladder descended through it, sparkling in the dim light on the landing.
"Great," Padma said. "Remind me not to wear a skirt on Fridays."
Climbing up the ladder was like portkeying to an entirely different world, one made up mainly of chintz and china. There were a few narrow windows, but most of the light came from a handful of red-swathed wall lamps, giving the entire room a dark, crimson hue. It was packed with small tables, surrounded by armchairs and footstools, some of them looking rather greasy and well-used. It wasn't even cold outside, but a fire was burning at one end of the room next to a larger table that Harry could only assume was the professor's desk. The copper kettle over the fire gave off a smell of stale tea. The walls were lined with shelves, covered with dusty curios and teacups. It reminded Harry a little of one of the Betwys Beddau tea-shops, the one all the older people frequented, and a little of an engraving of Hell he'd seen in one of Remus' books.
He flinched back suddenly; what he'd taken for another heap of curios had begun to move, and turned out to be his professor. She was a thin, bespectacled woman in a gauzy shawl with tiny bells and bangles hanging from it; more hung from thick ropes of beads around her neck and bracelets on her wrists.
"Good afternoon," she said in a soft, misty sort of voice. "I am Professor Trelawney. Do be seated, won't you?"
Harry picked out a table near the back of the classroom, and Neville and Padma followed him there.
"Ah, my dears," the Professor said, gliding towards them. "I am afraid it is an ill omen to have three at a table -- you will sit here, my dear," she said to Neville, gently guiding him to where Ron Weasley was seated, "and you here," she said, returning for Padma, who sullenly followed her to where another Ravenclaw was seated. Harry sulkily kicked out a chair for Theo. Crabbe and Goyle took the table next to them and immediately began scratching swearwords into its surface.
"You may not have seen me before," Trelawney said, taking up a position at the head of the classroom. Harry noticed resentfully that at least two other tables had three occupants. "I find that descending too often into the hustle and bustle of the main school clouds my Inner Eye. So you have chosen to study Divination, the most difficult of all magical arts. I must warn you at the outset that if you do not have the Sight, there is very little I will be able to teach you."
She paused as she passed Neville and Ron's table. "You, my boy," she said to Neville. "Is your grandmother well?"
"My grandmother's dead," Neville replied with a remarkably straight face.
"I knew as much. My condolences," she said, passing onwards. Some of the other Gryffindors looked impressed. Harry wondered if "courageous" was the Sorting Hat's euphemism for "slightly dim".
"We will begin with tea-leaves, then progress to the Tarot. If we finish fire omens, we shall move on in second term to the most sublime of all divinatory devices, the crystal ball. Unfortunately, classes will be disrupted in February by a nasty bout of flu. I myself will lose my voice. And around Easter, one of our number will leave us forever. By the way," she said to Parvati Patil, "beware a red-haired man."
Parvati and Padma both glanced at Ron, the only red-head in the room. Ron looked terrified.
"Now, collect a tea-cup from the shelf, come fill it with tea, and then return to your tables and drink until only dregs remain," she said. She touched Neville's shoulder. "After you've broken the first cup, do choose one of the blue-coloured ones? I'm rather partial to pink. Now," she added, moving on, "Swill the dregs of the tea around the cup three times with your left hand and turn it upside down on its saucer. After the last of the tea has drained away, give your cup to your partner to read, using pages five and six of Unfogging the Future."
"Break a cup!" Neville said hotly to Harry as they stood in line to collect their teacups. "I've managed to feed myself for many years without breaking any cutlery at all, thanks!"
"She's just picking on you," Harry replied as Neville reached up to defiantly take one of the pink-patterned cups. "She -- watch out!"
The cup, which was coated with dust, slipped through Neville's fingers and crashed to the floor. Neville looked horrified.
"Blue-pattern, dear, please," Trelawney called. About half the class laughed, but everyone looked vaguely sympathetic. Neville gathered the shattered pink teacup onto a spare saucer and sheepishly collected his blue-patterned one.
Harry and Theo poured their tea and returned to their table; as one, they opened the window behind them and dumped out most of their tea. Around the room, the rest of the class was drinking and grimacing. Harry stealthily pulled the window shut and sipped the last of the liquid. Theo was a little too enthusiastic, and choked momentarily.
"Swirl!" Harry whispered to him. "Swirl for your life, she's coming!"
Theo hit himself in the chest with his right hand while he swirled with his left and upended the teacup onto the saucer. Harry followed suit and waited for Trelawney to arrive.
"Have you examined your dregs already?" she asked, beaming on them. "You must be very fond of the tea!"
"Absolutely," Theo croaked. Harry turned over his teacup and traded it with Theo, opening his copy of Unfogging the Future (half-price used in Mardjinn Alley, with interesting but mostly irrelevant margin notes and some very naughty annotations to the chapter on Crystal Ball Gazing).
"Um, it looks kind of like a..." Harry studied the list of images in Unfogging the Future madly. It looked like a lump of tea-leaves to him. "A volcano!" he said triumphantly. "Which is an...impending disaster. Well, that sort of makes sense," he said to Theo. Trelawney bent over his shoulder and studied it.
"Excellent, Mr. Potter," she said approvingly. "And yours?" she said to Theo, who was still clearing his throat.
"Right! Right. Uh, it looks like a flower and...a...tree," Theo said. "Sort of like a park...park's not listed...uh..."
Trelawney gave a little shriek and snatched it out of his hands.
"Can you not see it!" she cried, holding it under Theo's nose.
"A spider?" Theo said hopefully.
"My dear boy, I am so sorry to tell you this -- it is a Grim!" Trelawney declared. Harry stared at her, baffled.
"A Grim?" he asked.
"An omen of impending disaster!"
"Sort of like a volcano?" Harry ventured.
"Much worse, my boy! See the horns of a bull, here, and the shape of the Grim's head, the head of a black, red-eyed dog -- to see the Grim is to know that death is upon you!" she announced loudly. "And the horns of the bull, a troubled friendship -- someone close to you is near death!"
"Been there," Padma sighed, looking bored.
"Nah," Harry said, tipping the cup so that he could look into it. "That's not a dog, is it? Looks more like a kangaroo to me."
"What, like this?" Neville said, holding up his teacup. Trelawney shrieked louder.
"The Grim!" she declared. "But not meant for you! Tell me, are any of your friends ill, my dears?" she asked, looking back and forth between them. Harry looked at Padma, who smiled wickedly.
"Professor," she called, holding out her cup. Another very doglike figure had taken shape in her tea-leaves. "What do you think of this?"
Trelawney gave Padma an infinitely sad look. "One you love is near death," she said.
"Must be Draco," Neville said cheerfully.
"Who?" Trelawney asked, delicately.
"Draco Malfoy," Harry said. "He's our mate. A Hufflepuff -- "
"But you probably don't know him. I expect newspapers cloud the inner eye," Padma said.
"My dear, I am not certain you are taking this matter with the gravity it requires!" Trelawney said, scandalised.
"Oh, no, Professor!" Padma gave her a wide-eyed look. "I swear I'm giving it all the respect it deserves!"
Neville tried not to giggle. It came out sounding like someone was choking a frog.
"Clearly," Trelawney said with a significant frown, "Mr. Malfoy should heed the portents!"
"Meaning he should sign up for class," Harry whispered to Theo.
"Alas, we can but hope he will come to his senses in time," she continued, shaking her head. "In the meantime, we must press on..."
Most of the class actually seemed pretty awed by Trelawney's predictions and vague histrionics about Draco, but Neville and Padma were less than impressed.
"Honestly. It's all power of suggestion," Padma said as they walked back down the narrow spiral staircase. "And anyone who really isn't naturally gifted isn't going to get very far anyway."
"Dunno," Harry said. "It did sort of look like you both had dogs in your cups. She seemed awfully convinced..."
"Of course it looked like we had dogs in our cups," Neville scoffed.
"Why would you say that?" Harry asked curiously.
"You didn't see?" Padma asked, putting on her best innocent face. "We rearranged our tea-leaves when she wasn't looking."
Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful. Remus knew, because he was awakened at dawn by a large black dog slobbering all over his face.
"Ugh! Sirius!" he groaned, shoving Padfoot's muzzle away. Sirius transformed on the bed and pinned him down, grinning. Remus saw he was fully dressed.
"Up up up!" Sirius said.
"Merlin, what time is it?" Remus asked.
"Six ay-emme. I want you to see the house. Come on, come on," Sirius said, wrestling him out of bed. Remus staggered towards his closet and began dressing sleepily.
"It still exists after ten in the morning, right?" he asked, pulling his trousers on.
"Yes, cranky," Sirius answered.
"Then why six -- "
"Because you can't really appreciate it unless you see it in the mornings. Come on, I've found a floo point nearby..."
Sirius' floo point turned out to be a little cafe on the edge of Hogsmeade, and Remus sipped tea as they walked, the end of his sleeve wrapped around the paper cup.
"Now, it's a bit far from the village centre but it's got a great big garden for moons," Sirius said excitedly. "And it's big enough for you and me on week-ends -- "
"When I don't have class duties -- "
"Right, right. And big enough for Harry too during the holiday. It's got washing charms in place on the sink and a chill-charmed cupboard, bootscrubbing spells in the front hall -- I checked the heating hexes myself, they're in good order."
"Rent or purchase?" Remus asked, blowing on his tea.
"Well...purchase," Sirius said. "But I can rent it out in summers and Harry's going to need a house of his own one day after Hogwarts, you know."
"Can you afford it?"
"We, Moony, we. That's why I want you to look at it, it'll be yours too, you know," Sirius said. "And yes. We definitely can."
"There must be something wrong with it," Remus said with a grin. Sirius led him around a high hedge and down a small path.
"Erm," he said. "Well, it...does need a new coat of paint and some work here and there..."
He opened a gate and guided Remus through it, almost dancing with eagerness. Remus grinned at him and turned to regard the house.
"Oh god," he said, startled out of any tactful reaction.
The house rose before them on the crest of a little hill, and he would have to admit that the view out the windows on the west side would be stunning -- sunlight touched the grass and stones of Creadonagh valley below the Forbidden Forest, turning it bright gold. But the house itself...
"It's so...orange," he said.
"Yeah, but paint is cheap enough," Sirius said, resting his hands on Remus' shoulders.
"But -- so -- orange, Sirius," Remus repeated. The house, a two-story affair with a handful of odd gables and turrets, might have looked normal enough in other circumstances, but the sheer orangeness of it -- two toned orange, orange with brighter orange trim -- overwhelmed. It was like a giant orange wart in the middle of a lovely green field. "I mean..."
"Come look inside," Sirius urged. "And don't mind the wallpaper, I'm going to pull that down too."
"Is it orange?" Remus asked, still stunned witless.
"It's blue!" Sirius said cheerfully.
"What did you do this morning, Professor Lupin?" Remus asked himself, while Sirius opened the door and led him inside. "Oh, not much, Headmaster. Got some tea in Hogsmeade. Went blind and insane. Bought an orange house. An orange house, Professor Lupin? Yes, Headmaster, with lovely blue wallpaper..."
Very few things could kill Harry's appetite. Quidditch matches, of course. Nerves in general. Rarely had excitement done it, but on Monday morning he found himself totally uninterested by the delicacies Denbigh tried to tempt him with. Today he was going to have his first Defence class with Remus, and he was looking forward to it with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. He'd studied with Remus before, of course, since Remus had tutored him in "extracurriculars" when he was a student at the little village school in Betwys Beddau. He'd come to Hogwarts with a reasonable comprehension of Arithmancy and Latin because of Remus, and he'd spent many hours practicing wandwork with sticks in the back garden of the River House. He'd never really considered that to be "class", though. That was just Remus, showing him how to do things.
Neville and Harry left breakfast early and were almost the first to arrive -- Hermione Granger was already seated at her desk with her books out, doodling idly with her quill on a scrap of parchment.
"Morning, Hermione," Neville said, taking a seat next to her. Harry sat on Neville's other side, unpacking his own book. No way was Hermione Granger going to show him up in Remus' class.
"Hi, Neville -- hi Harry," she added, blushing a little.
"Hermione," Harry said, setting out his inkpot. "Looking forward to class?"
"Oh yes. I've heard Professor Lupin knows all kinds of interesting things about the Dark Arts," she said, as other students began to arrive. There was still no sign of Remus, however. "He's going to take over the Dueling Club, too."
"Brilliant," Neville said. "Professor Lupin's great."
"Do you know him?"
"Yeah..." Neville faltered and glanced at Harry. "He's friends with my parents."
Other students began to pour into the classroom and Parvati Patil sat down on Hermione's other side at that moment to engage in what was apparently a hot bit of gossip. Hermione's attention swerved away from them as Parvati whispered in her ear. Harry glanced at the doorway just in time to see Remus enter, carrying the briefcase Sirius had bought for him and wearing his freshly-ironed teaching robes.
"Good morning," he said, putting his briefcase down on the desk. "Please put your books and inkpots away. Today's lesson will be a practical."
There were a few muffled groans as people re-packed their bags. Harry hurriedly shoved his book back and tossed his quill into the bag's pocket.
"I'm Professor Lupin, and I think..." he looked narrowly out at the double class, "I know quite a few of you already. You're Mr. Crabbe, aren't you?" he said to Crabbe, who nodded sullenly. "Yes, you're very like your father. And that must be Parvati -- almost called you Padma -- and there's Neville of course...hallo Ron! I had your sister in class on Thursday...and you must be Hermione Granger," he said to Hermione, smiling. "I've been warned about you."
Hermione turned so pale that Remus hastened to add, "Only good things! Professor McGonagall has nothing but good to say of you, Miss Granger."
Hermione heaved a sigh of relief as Remus continued to name off the third-years, stopping occasionally to be introduced when he couldn't place a student. Finally he came back around to Harry.
"And you're Harry Potter," he said, winking at Harry. "I think we've met once or twice, haven't we?"
"Yes, sir. I believe you know my godfather," Harry replied.
"Just so. Well, I've managed most of your names, and those I've only just learned I'm sure I'll remember with a little occasional assistance. I've rather a treat for you today. I had intended to show you a working demonstration of how Hinkeypunks trap their victims, but over the weekend a much more interesting creature was brought to my attention. Follow me, please. Leave your bags; bring your wands."
He led them out of the classroom and along the empty corridor in the opposite direction from the Great Hall. Harry wasn't sure where they were going, and he nearly ran into Neville when the whole class had to stop suddenly.
Craning his neck, he could see Remus standing at the front of the crowd. Peeves the poltergeist was in front of him, busily stuffing a keyhole with chewing gum.
"Peeves," Remus said in a reserved tone of voice. The poltergeist looked up, then flipped over midair to float upside-down, facing Remus.
"Oooho! It's the new professorling!" Peeves squealed.
"I'd take that gum out of the keyhole if I were you," Remus said, his tone still conversational. "Mr. Filch won't be able to get to his brooms."
Peeves stuck his tongue out and burst into song. "Loony, loopy Lupin! Looney, loopy Lupin!"
A few of the Slytherins giggled. Harry glared at Theo until he smacked Millicent and Goyle in the backs of their heads to stop them. Remus didn't seem affected in the least; he merely raised his wand and said "Waddiwasi!" in a commanding tone. The gum shot out of the keyhole as if it had been fired from a gun, ricocheted off the ceiling, and landed right in Peeves' left nostril. The poltergeist shrieked a startled curse and zoomed off down the hallway.
"Cool!" Dean Thomas exclaimed.
"Effective," Remus answered absently, leading them onwards. He stopped at a door marked "Faculty Common Room" and opened it, gesturing them inside.
The faculty common room, which Harry had never been in before, was a long room paneled in wood and furnished with old, mismatched chairs. A wall of windows looked out onto the grounds, and the fireplace at one end was empty, awaiting autumn's more bitter chill.
At the opposite end of the room from the fireplace, near to the door, was an old upright wardrobe which Harry guessed was meant to hold spare robes and cloaks for the professors. Remus crossed to it and the rest of the class followed, fanning out in a circle -- a circle that got a lot wider as the wardrobe gave an alarming wobble, banging against the wall and tilting forward on two legs for a moment.
"Nothing to worry about," Remus said calmly. "It's only a boggart."
Harry, as well as most of the rest of the class, felt that this was definitely something to worry about. Grimmauld Place used to have boggarts infesting the spare rooms, and he remembered hearing horror stories from Ted about getting rid of them.
"Who knows what a Boggart is?" Remus asked. Harry raised his hand quickly, barely beating Hermione's, but Remus eventually called on Seamus Finnegan.
"I -- it's a shape-shifter, isn't it?" he said uncertainly. "It takes the shape of whatever's most frightening."
"Very good, Mr. Finnegan. Boggarts nest in dark, enclosed spaces -- under beds, in unreachable cupboards, under the sheets on furniture in unused rooms. I once encountered one that had hidden itself inside a grandfather clock," he added. "This one is relatively new; I suppose it moved in over the summer. I managed to save it from the tender ministrations of Professors Snape and McGonagall -- " here everyone laughed, " -- by offering to use it as a lesson for my third years. Now, this Boggart, sitting in the darkness next to the Headmaster's second-favourite cloak, doesn't have a form yet. He doesn't know what frightens us -- yet. When we let him out, then he'll immediately try to become whatever each of us fears most. This means that we have an advantage over the boggart, doesn't it? Anyone care to guess what it is?"
Hermione's hand beat Harry's into the air this time, but Remus smiled at him. "Potter?"
"Uh," Harry said, thrown off by hearing Remus use his last name. "There are a lot of us, so it won't know what shape it should be?"
"Exactly. It's best to tackle Boggarts with company, and not just because you should always try to deal with the Dark Arts with a companion who can watch your back. Now, when Boggarts are faced with a pair of people, they have a decision to make -- what should they become? Headless corpse? Flesh-eating slug?"
The class made appropriately mock-terrified noises.
"I once saw a boggart make that very mistake -- tried to frighten two people at once and turned himself into half a slug. Not remotely frightening, of course," Remus said. "Now, how do we defeat a Boggart? All right, Hermione, your turn," he said.
"Laughter," she said promptly.
"That's right. You need to force it to assume a shape you find amusing. And the spell we use to accomplish this is, repeat after me, Riddikulus."
"Riddikulus," the class repeated.
"Riddikulus," Harry chorused, along with everyone else.
"So, who wants to volunteer? Neville, a bit of Gryffindor courage?"
Neville grinned and stepped forward.
"Now, what do you find most frightening?" Remus asked.
"Professor Snape," he said, and the entire class laughed. Remus grinned.
"Come on, Longbottom! Professor Snape's scary all right, but there must be something worse."
Neville appeared to give it some thought.
"I don't reckon I like Dementors very well," he said, and the class was instantly quiet. Remus nodded.
"That's uncommonly wise of you," he said. "Very well then, let's see. Ted Tonks is quite the cook; you know that red apron he owns?"
Neville nodded, perplexed.
"And do you remember the time Andromeda played a trick on him and he came running out of the kitchen chasing her with a saucepan full of onions?"
Neville laughed. "Sure!"
"Right. Now, when the Dementor comes out of that wardrobe, I want you to picture it in a red apron, with a saucepan of onions in one hand, all right?"
Neville nodded and took his wand out of his pocket. "I'm ready," he said.
"Very well. On three -- one, two, three!"
Remus aimed his wand at the wardrobe and it burst open. Black smoke spiralled out, resolving itself into a Dementor with frightening speed. Neville turned pale and Harry felt sick, but just when he thought he might bolt, Remus shouted.
Neville lifted his wand automatically and shouted "Riddikulus!"
The Dementor jerked backwards as if a string had pulled it, and a red apron materialised over its cloak. One slimy hand suddenly grasped a large saucepan, and the other held a spatula. It looked down at the spatula in confusion. The apron read "REAL MEN SAUTEE". Neville and Harry both burst into immediate laughter, followed closely by the rest of the class.
"Excellent! Form up, let's give everyone a try -- you next, Crabbe!"
The Dementor swooped down on Crabbe, turning into a giant spiked ball as the rest of the students fell into line behind him.
"Riddikulus!" Crabbe shouted, and little streamers burst out of the tips of the spikes to the sound of kazoos going off. Parvati was next, her mummy unraveling and tripping on his own bandages, and after her came Ron. The Boggart burst out into a gigantic spider, but Ron was prepared and almost before it was fully formed, it had rollerskates strapped to its feet.
Harry, at the end of the line, watched as each student took their turn, marveling a little at the variety of fears, both concrete and absurd, that were passing before his eyes. Finally, he was next; he lifted his wand, but before he could, Remus stepped forward so quickly he almost collided with the giant jack-in-the-box that was about to have its lid slammed down on top of it by Goyle. It stretched and compressed and shifted into what Harry knew to be a moon, though from where he stood it looked more like a pale yellow balloon.
"Riddikulus!" Remus said almost lazily, and the moon deflated, buzzing all over the room before zipping back into the wardrobe. Remus locked the door and stepped back quickly as the wardrobe nearly toppled on top of him.
"Well!" he said, slightly breathlessly. "I think that's enough for one day. I'll have my fourths finish it off. Let's see; five points to everyone who tackled the boggart; ten to Hermione, Harry, and Seamus for answering my questions, and fifteen for Neville for going first."
Harry stared at Remus as the rest of the class filed out, heading back to the Defence classroom for their bags. Remus checked that the lock was secure, slipped his wand up his sleeve, and turned.
"Did you need something, Harry?" he asked mildly.
Harry was furious, suddenly; he'd known he wouldn't get special treatment from Remus, but he didn't think Remus would coddle him. He never had before.
"No," he snapped. He turned on his heel, almost running out of the room.