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The librarian at Smeltings was most surprised, of all the students at the school the one that she could see sitting at the table at the back of the library was the one she would least expect to be there. By all accounts his attitude had taken a turn for the better this term, and the boy had been applying himself in all his classes. The poor dear would never be the brightest but it looked like he might actually make something of himself after all.

 

  The blonde curly haired boy had his head cocked to the side and tongue protruding slightly through his pursed lips as he concentrated on the letter he was writing.

 

Hey Harry,

 

Was pretty stoked to get your letter. Hope everything is going alright. Schools ok. Coach reckons I’ll be fit enough to enter the comp this year, so long as I practice. He’s made it a requirement that I have to get at least B’s in all my subjects, or I won’t be allowed to go. It’s at Plymouth this year. Should be exciting.  I signed up for tutoring which starts next week so I’m hoping that’ll help me get across the line. 

 

Mum said you were keen to do some more cooking in the summer hols, maybe you can teach me. Coach says maybe if I understand what goes into food better, it might help me make better choices. There isn’t much choice with college food, but I’m doing my best, and trying to keep up the exercise. I never want to feel as unfit as I felt THAT night ever again!  

 

Well best go. Mum says if I just address this to you at your school it will get there, so fingers crossed.

 

Dudley.

 

  Yeah that seemed about right. His Mum had said he could post it the normal way or he could just stand outside and ….  What was the worst that could happen? He’d look like a fool.

 

  “Um…Is there an owl about? Ah…I’ve got a letter for Harry Potter?” he said querulously to the trees feeling like a bit of a twit.  Dudley jumped when a brown barn owl hooted at him from the lowest branch on the closest tree. He could have sworn it hadn’t been there a moment ago.

 

  “Oh…um…right, well that was unexpected. Would you mind awfully taking this to Harry? Ah…..please? He’s at Hogwarts.” The owl deigned to lift a leg so that Dudley could give it the note. “Um……thanks?” He watched as with an imperious hoot the owl flew away.

 

  Right. Well. That just happened!

 

 

  

 Two weeks into school and the rumours still followed Harry. 

 

  “They say that he was there when Diggory was murdered…..”

 

  “If he was there, why didn’t he save him?”

 

  “Yeah if he killed…..”

 

  “Do you reckon he actually killed Cedric?”

 

  “Potter? nah, couldn’t hurt a fly……”

 

  “They say he duelled You-Know-Who…”

 

  “Who are they kidding, there’s no way he could have ….”

 

  “No more than an average student…..

 

  “Would have been killed if it was true…..”

 

  “He’s just saying it for the attention….”

 

  “Did ya notice he hasn’t said anything to Umbridge?”

 

  Harry dropped his head into his hands, he hadn’t even bothered to try and defend himself, and when he had gone to Professor McGonagall to complain (after being prompted by Percival)  she had just told him that she couldn’t do anything about it and to buck up.   

 

  “Do you reckon that they believed it when Dumbledore told them what happened at the end of the Triwizard Tournament?” Harry asked Percival and Ron.

 

  Ron shrugged, “Who knows Harry. Though I kind of wish you’d let us say something.”

 

  “No point mate. Like I said to Seamus, what they believe doesn’t change the truth and it will all come out in the end.”

 

  A soft hoot drew their attention to Hedwig’s approach. Harry lifted an arm to provide her with a perch.

 

  “Hey girl, you didn’t come in last night,” Harry crooned.

 

   Hedwig bobbed as she dropped the copy of the Daily Prophet she was carrying onto the table and settled herself more comfortably on his arm. Percival reached over and stroked her chest feathers. Hedwig cooed. Oh yes having two wizards of her very own was a very fine thing. Her second wizard was a fine choice indeed. It had only taken him a matter of moments to notice that she was waiting at the window on the first night, and another minute to find a way to let her in. Now her perch was set up between her boys’ beds, so she could keep a better eye on them.

 

  Percival picked up the newspaper and paused as he read the Headline.

 

Imprisoned without Trial, 

Lord Black to have his day in Court.

Justice Delayed

 

 He raised the paper to show Harry, who snatched it out of his hand. His eyes devouring every line. A frown slowly marring his brow.

 

  The paper hit the table with a loud thump as Harry stood, “Right I need to send a letter to McMillan.”  

 

 Neville grabbed his arm and unceremoniously pulled him back into his seat, while Percival merely pulled parchment, quill and ink from his bag and handed them to Harry. Who quickly scribbled a note, ripped the offending article from the paper and gave both to Hedwig. 

 

  “I know you just got in Hedwig, but would you mind?” She hopped up his arm to his shoulder and head butted him. “Thanks, it is about Snuffles, they probably already know but…” She gave a reassuring hoot as she took wing.

 

  Percival raised an eyebrow at him, “The headlines seemed fine.”

 

  “Yeah until you read the article which is all about receiving justice for the people. And that the House Lords are all subject to the same laws as the common man and under such he should have been kissed. The date is set for next week. Do you reckon Dumbledore would let me go?”

 

  “It’s Headmaster Dumbledore,” Hermione said as she slid onto the seat next to him. “Now what are you talking about.”

 

  “Whether Harry would be allowed to attend Lord Black’s trail,” Neville responded helpfully.

 

  “Oh Harry,” Hermione looked at him sympathetically. “Do you really want to go and see him given the kiss. After all, regardless of anything else he escaped Azkaban, and was an unregistered Animagus, so it will either be straight back to prison or the kiss for him.  I don’t think it’s a good idea, besides you shouldn’t miss out on classes to go to something like that. Headmaster Dumbledore would be well within his rights not to let you go.”

 

  “Actually,” Percival said. “I believe that it would be up to Aunt Sera, as your guardian, whether or not you can go Harry. So, we just need to send her a note and see what she says.”

 

  “Don’t be ridiculous, some random Yank can’t possibly be Harry’s Guardian, everyone knows that it is the Headmaster!”

 

  Swinging his bag across his shoulder Harry stood up, “Not that it’s any of your business Hermione, but Dumbledore has never legally been my guardian. Come on Perce, I don’t want to be late for Potions.”

 

  They four boys left before the fuzzy haired girl could get in another word, heading to another lesson for Harry to get detention in. To be honest it was becoming a bit of a game.

 

 

 

  “But Sirius,” the dark-haired boy pleaded. “Sera can just come and get me from school. I want to be there for you.”

 

  “We talked about this Harry. The four of us and we don’t think it is a good idea. The most important thing is that you are safe, and by staying away, if it goes pear shaped then you won’t be dragged into it.  We already know that they are intending to bring up my Animagus status, but Sera has lodged the forms with the ICW, so that should be covered. I have already signed the paperwork to request Veritaserum and with the memories that you gave to Amelia, it should be fine.”

 

  “But…” Harry looked away from the mirror. “I just…”

 

  “I know, I would love you to be there, but I’ll spend most of it in a Ministry cell anyway. Both Addison and Sera will be there to support me. If you like I can give them my mirror so that you can watch when you aren’t in classes.”

 

  Harry nodded, “How do they decide if you’re innocent?”

 

  “A Lord can only be tried before the entire Wizengamot. Dumbledore has been trying to be made chair, but as his status as both Supreme Mugwump and Chief Warlock were revoked over the summer, I don’t think he’ll succeed. Sera is pushing for Babajide Akingbade the new Supreme Mugwump who should be impartial. Though Fudge is fighting that, stating that he wants to keep it all internal. He has nominated Lucius Malfoy. Which will obviously be denied as he isn’t a member of either the Wizengamot or the ICW. The other options appear to be Tiberius Ogden, Amos Diggory and Augusta Longbottom.”

  

  “I just, want this to work, I want you to be free Padfoot,” a soft hoot sounded from behind the boy.

 

  “Is that Hedwig?”

 

  “Yeah,” Harry reached up an arm to pet her, moving the mirror so that Sirius could see.

 

  “Owls can’t get into the dorms, there’s a spell on all the windows!”

 

  “Yeah well, Perce found out that Hogwarts is sentient and apparently if you ask her really nicely, she’ll let your owl in.” Harry grinned. “She also made stairs into the Chamber of Secrets which Snape was grateful for. I was a bit disappointed as I was looking forward to seeing him go down the slide.”

 

  “How’s that going? I think Severus might have been a bit shocked initially.”

 

  “You should have seen his face” Harry giggled.

 

  “What’s so funny Harry?” Perce asked, sticking his head around the curtain. “You need to remember the silencing charm Harry!” he scolded half-heartedly. “Hi Sirius,” he greeted the older man.

 

  “Right!” Harry waved a hand to apply the charm. “I was telling Sirius about our first visit to the chamber and Snape’s face when he saw the basilisk.”

 

 “Snape’s face! What about mine? We will have to show you the memory Sirius, that thing is enormous. They’ll be lucky to have finished it by Sauin!”

 

  “I think I caught a glimpse of it. He popped in here afterwards, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him have a drink, I’ve never been so shocked. Have you explored the rest of the chamber?”

 

  “He won’t let me,” Harry pouted. “I cannot spare the time to supervise you gallivanting through the unknown depths of the castle Potter. Perhaps if you work hard enough, I might be able to spare an afternoon sometime around Yule,” Harry tried to make his tone replicate the Potions Masters.

 

  “That was awful Harry,” Percival snickered.

 

  “Dobby’s liking the extra work anyway, and it’s been really interesting. It’s surprising how relaxed Snape is when he’s not teaching. I’ve managed to pick up a few tips, and we discovered that my Booklist for Hogwarts in first year was short five books. It’s amazing the difference the extra information has made.”

 

  “What? Harry everyone should receive the same booklist. It all gets addressed by a magical quill. The House Elves pick them up and then give them to the owls.”

 

  “Yeah, well not mine. It also raises some issues about who knew….”

 

  “Who knew what Harry?” Looking at the grumpy face before him Sirius guessed. “This is something that the Dursley’s did isn’t it. The pen addresses the envelopes to the room you spend the most time in. Lily once told me hers was addressed to ‘the kitchen’ 42 Hencamp Street, Cokeworth. James was very proud that his was addressed to ‘the quidditch pitch’ Potter Manor. So where did you spend most of your time in that house Pup?”

 

  The scowl lessened slightly at the information about his parents before returning full force, “thecupboardunderthestairs.”

 

  Black and Silver eyes stared at him.

 

  “Forgive me Pup, but I do not want to believe that I heard that right!” Green eyes looked away.  “That’s it! I’m going to go and strangle them! And that old bearded codger too. An address like that would have even the House Elves taking the letter to the Headmaster.”

 

  Percival wrapped an arm around Harry and tucked him in under his chin, “Sirius! You are upsetting Harry.”

 

  “Oh! Harry Pup. I’m not mad at you!”

 

  “I know, but don’t go hurt them. They’ll put you away for real this time….and Aunt Petunia is getting better…….”

 

  Sirius smiled gently at Harry’s rambling, “Harry, I promise, I won’t go after them.  For starters we will need a plan before we go after Dumbledore, but mark my words if Vernon hurts you again. I will hurt him….using perfectly mundane and normal means that can’t be traced back to me.”  The smile turned evil.

 

  “Ok, Padfoot.”

 

 “No detention tonight?”

 

  “Nah, I think Snape needed a night off, either that or he really wanted to experiment with the scales he managed to lift off the skin last night,” Harry grinned. “You should see him, he’s like a third year in Honeydukes! It’s weird.”

 

  “Righto Pup,” Sirius was thoroughly amused. “How’s everything else going?”

 

  “Really good, Neville and I have been meditating at night, and then Percival helps with Occlumency just before we go to bed. Ron’s even joined us a time or two, says it helps him concentrate better. Hermione’s getting annoyed because, Percival beats her in all the classes, and Neville, Ron and I are catching up fast.  Ron’s talking about starting up a chess club and a study group for the firsties to help them settle in, which he wants us to help with. Perce will take magical theory, I’ll take defence, Nev will take Herbology. We’re looking for someone to help with Potions, transfiguration, charms and history.”

 

  “I think the twins could help with Potions and Transfiguration, and I hear Lee is good at History,” Percival added. “Though maybe we don’t want them influencing the kids.”

 

  ‘Mmmm. I think Fay Dunbar, is good at Charms too, and do you think we need to stick with Gryffindor, maybe we could make it a school wide study group?”

 

  “It’s worth thinking about.”

 

  They finally turned back to the mirror to see Sirius smiling at them, “I guess I’d best go so you can get that meditation done. Oh! Harry before I forget, Neville’s Mum was your Godmother. Your Dad chose me, but Lily chose Alice. Remind me to tell you the story of how they met. I’m not sure but Lily may have been Neville’s as well.” And dropping that bombshell, Sirius said good night and the mirror returned to showing Harry’s own face.

 

 

  “Neville!” Harry roared, ripping the curtains apart.

 

  The tall Gryffindor froze in the process of changing into his pyjamas, “What?”

 

  “Were you ever going to tell me?” Harry accused.

 

   “T-t -tell you what?” Neville stuttered in the face of Harry’s attack.

 

  “Harry,” Percival’s voice was a warning of its own. “He doesn’t know what was discussed and…” he gestured to the other beds, where three boys all in various states of undress were watching curiously.

 

  “Um,” Harry turned bright pink as his anger receded. “R….ight, sorry. Neville, I have something I need to discuss with you in private, if you would like to join me in the common room after, you’ve changed.” With as much dignity as he could manage Harry fled the room.

 

 

 

  “Harry, what’s going on?” Neville’s hesitant voice reached the boy sitting on the couch starring into the fire.

 

  “Sorry Nev, that wasn’t very fair of me to attack you like that. I guess I understand why you did it……after all I wouldn’t have wanted to be associated with me either….so I get it. It just hurt, you know, to think that we could have……that I could have known……if you’d only said.”

 

  Neville frowned as he sat next to his friend, “Harry, you’re not making any sense. Should I go and get Percival? He said this was something we needed to sort out but…. Well, I don’t understand.”

 

  “Were you ever going to tell me Nev?”

 

  “Tell you what Harry?”

 

  “That you’re my Godbrother, of course.”

 

  “I’m you’re what!”

 

  “Godbrother. My Godfather just told me that your Mum was my Godmother. And he thinks my Mum might have been yours.  Why…” he paused as he took in Neville’s shock slackened features.

 

  “I didn’t know,” Harry barely heard the whisper. “Honestly Harry, I didn’t know.” His voice grew stronger. “I wonder if Gran knew and didn’t tell me? No, she wouldn’t have. Maybe she didn’t know?” He frowned. “I’ll send a letter to ask, but if find out that she knew and didn’t tell me, then I’ll cut her off as soon as I’m Lord Longbottom!”

 

  Both boys sighed.

 

  “I’m sorry,” they said simultaneously and laughed, flopping back on to the couch.

 

  “I wish I had known,” Harry said. 

 

  “It would have been nice,” Neville agreed.

 

  They sat their next to each other, only making their way up to bed after the fire had burnt down to embers.

 

 

 

 Harry was fidgeting, it took him slipping with the filleting knife and nearly removing his own thumb for Percival to move him away from the basilisk.

 

  “No more sharp objects for you until we hear how it went today,” the ex-Auror told his friend seriously. “Go sort out the jars with Dobby, I’ll help Snape.”

 

  With a sigh, Harry said, “with all the work you’re doing here I feel like I should give you a percentage of the basilisk too. It’s almost a full-time job looking after me!” He wandered over to the House Elf.

 

  “He’s a menace when he is like this,” Snape stated.

 

  “Mmmm, we’ll work on it. If he wants to be a Auror he’ll need to be able to concentrate under pressure.”

 

  “Yes. However, I don’t think he will need to make exact incisions in a poisonous beast though. Do you actually believe he wants to be an Auror?”

 

  “I believe that is what he thinks everyone else wants him to be. Eventually I hope he will realise that he can choose for himself. Despite his talent at Defence I can tell he actually prefers charms, and the rate at which he is picking up runes is quite something.”

 

  “Like his Mother,” Snape nodded. “She was immensely talented at potions but hated the dissecting of ‘slimy things’ and much preferred Charms. I had heard that she was going to be apprenticed to Professor Flitwick before they went into hiding.”

 

  Percival stared at his Professor for a moment, “Harry would appreciate it, if you told him stories about her.”

 

  “Mmmm,” Snape turned back to the beast, looking decidedly uncomfortable. 

 

  “Another week will see this portion complete. I have already spoken to my contact and he has disseminated news of the sale, there is much interest. He is expecting, given what I have told him about the volume and quality of the materials that he will need to stage at least four separate sales over the next five or six years. He will take a one percent commission.”

 

  “So that is twenty percent for you, five percent for Percival, and one percent for the seller. Do you think I should give some to the people who were attacked? And maybe Myrtle’s family? What about Hogwarts?” Harry commented as he approached them with the next jar.

 

  “That is a difficult thing Harry.  We can investigate Myrtle’s family, though they are muggles and may not appreciate hearing from this world again. And any money given to Hogwarts is under the purview of the Headmaster.”

 

  “Could you ask the Professors what they need then and I could arrange to have it ordered? Like how the school brooms needed replacing when I was in first year and it still hasn’t been done. I’m sure there are lots of other things which are needed?”

 

  Obsidian eyes, gazed at him thoughtfully, “I am sure Madame Hooch would appreciate new training brooms, perhaps even brooms for each of the Quidditch teams.  The potions classroom could use new benches. I have seen some in Potions Masters Quarterly that come with a warding charm over the table, it vents the gases, and prevents un-intended ingredients being thrown into the cauldrons.” Snape looked positively misty eyed at the thought.

 

  “Right well we’ll get those, and maybe Professor Sinistra would like a projector, that way her classes won’t have to be taken at night.  Hagrid’s Hut needs an upgrade. What about the Merpeople and the Centaurs?”

 

  “I will ask Harry,” Snape promised. “Though I certainly think you are right about the brooms. Now you had best make your way back to the tower before curfew, Dobby and I will finish up here.”

 

  

 

  Despite it being only mid-September the night was surprisingly cold. Harry rubbed his hands together as they hurried on their way. It was as they were passing the tapestry of the Three Fates that they heard it. A faint sniffling noise.  Careful inspection showed the tops of a pair of shoes just peeping out from under the tapestry. The boys stopped and looked behind it.

 

  “Dennis? Are you alright? What’s happened?” Harry asked, squatting down, to be eye level with the boy who was sitting behind the tapestry, arms curled around his knees.

 

  “What d’you care?” the small boy whined and rubbed his hand under his nose.

 

  “Well, of course I care. Why wouldn’t I?”

 

  “You let her get away with sayin’ that You-Know-Who isn’t back. You don’t care that she calls you a liar!”

 

  “Umbridge,” Harry groaned. “What did she do?”

 

  “Gave me detention!” Dennis, was making odd movements with his hand, hiding it under the sleeves of his robes.

 

  “Right, Dennis, let’s get you up to the tower then we’ll have a talk about this, ok?” He looked at the boy soberly. With another sniff Dennis hauled himself to his feet, and the trio emerged from the tapestry.

 

  “Why don’t….”

 

  “Shhh, Dennis!” Percival interrupted as they walked passed a seemingly sleeping portrait.

 

  “But…..”

 

  “But patience is a virtue, Dennis,” Harry said calmly, making Percival snort and murmur ‘hypocrite’ earning a glare in return.

 

  Eventually they made it back to the common room, and the older boys, sat Dennis down on the couch and cast a silencing charm around themselves.

 

  “Ok, Dennis,” Harry said looking straight at the younger boy. “It’s not that I don’t care about what she is saying, it’s just that it isn’t useful for me to fight her just at this moment.”

 

  “I don’t understand. We’re Gryffindors we stand up for what we believe in, we…”

 

  “Yeah, I know, but we’re also not stupid. There are a couple of things going on at the moment that you don’t know about. Some within the ministry. The right people at the ministry know the truth and are acting on it. Umbridge is not one of those people.”

 

  “You’re saying I should let her get away with it?”

 

  “I’m saying you should ignore her because her opinion is un-important, and everyone will know the truth in the end.”

 

  “So, he really is back? Just some people are saying that because you aren’t standing up to her, that you must have been lying.”

 

  “Yes, he is back Dennis, I just know that nothing I can say or do is going to change her mind. In fact, I believe she is more likely to side with Voldemort than not.”

 

  “So, I shouldn’t say anything?”

 

  “Not if you don’t want another detention.” Seeing the crestfallen expression on the boy’s face Harry continued, “Look, thank you for standing up to me Dennis. It actually means quite a lot to me. You know both last year and back when I was in second year, I didn’t have a lot of people who were on my side, so I really do appreciate it.”

 

  “Ok, Harry,” Dennis looked slightly happier.

 

  “Good. Now off to bed.” He reached out and ruffled Dennis’ hair.

 

  Opening their bags to pull out their homework, Harry and Percival watched Dennis, climb the stairs to his dorm.

 

  “Did you notice he was doing something funny with his hand?” Harry asked.

 

  “Yeah, I couldn’t see what the problem was though, he kept it hidden in the sleeve of his robes.”

 

  “Do you reckon Umbridge is using the cane or something?” Harry rubbed his hand in remembered pain.

 

 “The cane isn’t something that is used in the Wizarding world Harry. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t doing something like it with stinging hexes or similar. We’ll have to keep an eye on it.”

 

  “Yeah I’d hate for him to be hurt, defending me.”

 

  “Well there’s not much we can do at the moment and talking about it won’t get our homework done.”

 

  With a groan, Harry opened his text books. It was going to be hard to focus on his assignments tonight, when tomorrow they would find out how the first day of the trial went.

 

 

Trial of the Century 

Lord Black to Countersue Wizengamot for False Imprisonment

 

  “I’m glad you listened to me,” Hermione said as Harry was reading the paper. She tried to take it off him, but he gripped it tighter and pulled it out of her reach.

 

  There wasn’t much in the article, however Aunt Sera had snuck in with the mirror enabling him to speak with Sirius that morning before breakfast. According to The Black, the trial was going well. All the evidence was in his favour. Kingsley had managed to dig through the evidence archive and find Sirius’ wand, which under priori incantatem had revealed its last spells to be a simple healing charm, followed by several point me charms, and finally an expelliarmus. Harry’s memory of Peter Pettigrew’s confession was presented as an indication (rather than evidence of Sirius’ innocence) of the man’s survival (which had caused the elderly Mrs Pettigrew to faint in the visitors’ gallery). Statements from the Aurors on duty, noted that when taken into custody Sirius was hysterical, and did not offer any resistance to arrest. They also noted that their orders were to take him immediately to Azkaban, even though all the other Death Eaters were remanded to Ministry cells for trial, though none could remember where these orders had come from. Today would be the day that Sirius presented his own testimony. 

 

  Hermione made another snatch for the paper, and Harry leant away from the table so that her hand clutched thin air.

 

  Thump.

 

 “Ow, for crying out loud Hermione!” Harry rubbed his arm, certain that was going to bruise later.

 

  “Well, you weren’t listening to me!” she said indignantly as if that justified her actions.

 

  “And I’m not likely to start now!” Harry’s eyes returned to the article in the paper.

 

  “Good Morning!” Luna sat down next to Harry and poured herself a cup of tea, just as he finished reading.  “Ah is there anything in the paper on Stubby Broadman? Could I read it please?”

 

  “Yeah, sure!” Harry passed her the paper without complaint, causing an indignant squawk from Hermione.

 

  “Oh, see that, the Blibbering Humbingers are going to be bothering him today.”

 

  “I expect they will,” Harry replied solemnly.

 

  “Not to worry Harry, a few songs should clear them right up.”

 

  “Harry, she’s just making things up. Now give me that paper!” Hermione demanded.

 

  “Ah, is that today’s paper?” Neville said as he sat down next to Luna, “I was wanting to look at the finance section, if you don’t mind?” She passed him a couple of pages out of the middle. “Thanks.”

 

  “Oi, Harry, can we have sport please,” the twins called out in chorus, making grabby hands. The last few pages were separated, and a section passed down the table. “Ta.”

 

  “Thanks for holding politics for me,” Percival said as he sat down beside Harry, taking the remain sheets of parchment out of Luna’s hands. “Have you read what you wanted?”

 

  “MmHmm,” she nodded as she spooned a bit of porridge into her mouth.

 

  “No! I wanted the paper! Give.It.To.Me!” 

 

  “Um, Hermione, if you want the paper perhaps you should order your own,” Ron suggested as he walked up to the table and sat down beside her. Harry felt a little mean at deliberately goading the girl, so he stifled his snicker. “Oh, and don’t forget we’ve got a prefects meeting at lunchtime.”

 

  “I already have a meeting at lunchtime,” she protested.

 

  Ron shrugged, “Don’t tell me, I can’t do anything about it. This was the only time that everyone was available. You agreed to it at the last meeting. So, you’ll have to cancel whatever else you’ve got.”

 

  “I can’t cancel, it’s with the Headmaster!” she hissed.

 

  “Well, that’s up to you, but you’ll need to tell the Head Boy and Girl.”

 

  Hermione pushed herself to her feet and stomped away angrily. 

 

  “What’s got her hippogriff?” Fred asked as he sauntered up and passed the sports pages to Ron.

 

  His youngest brother sighed, “Not sure what was going on before I got here but someone needs to have a chat to her, or she isn’t going to have any friends left before too long.” With a groan he placed a couple of pieces of buttered toast into a napkin. “I think I’ll go and give the Head Boy a warning. No one deserves to encounter Hermione on a warpath this early in the morning without warning.” 

 

  As Fred and George moved to sit further up the table with the Gryffindor chasers, Percival leaned across to say quietly into Harry’s ear, “Don’t you think it’s odd that she’s meeting with the Headmaster?”

 

  “Yep. And that she’s neglecting her Prefect’s duties. He’s got to have been the one who gave her the Potter books. Hey, you never told me about the Potter Grimoire!”

 

  “Oh, when a family has been around long enough, all members begin to have magic that has a similar…..resonance, vibration, I see it as a colour. That makes it easier for them to perform certain groups of spells. Over time specific spells are developed that only that family can do or only the family knows about. These are written down in the Grimoire. It is also used to keep a record of important events in the family’s history.”

 

  “You mean….” Harry turned hopeful green eyes at his friend. Then he frowned, as a rush of anger swelled through him, and he burned with the desire to strike the boy who had failed him.  “And you didn’t think to tell me this before now!” Pushing away from the table Harry surged to his feet and stamped out of the hall.

 

  “What did you do?” Neville asked Percival curiously.

 

  With a frown on his face Percival said, “I forgot to tell him something about his family.”

 

  “Ah. Seems a bit over the top, like last night.” 

 

  Yeah, maybe…..but it seemed more than that. I’ll check later. Come on, I think we have transfiguration first. He’ probably just gone there.”

 

 

  Meanwhile Hermione had stormed off to the Headmasters Office.

 

  She practically shouted the password at the Gargoyle, “Mint Humbugs!”

 

  “Come in,” the Headmaster’s voice filtered through the door. She yanked it open and strode into the room.

 

  “What seems to be the matter, Miss Granger?”

 

  She noticed the formal use of her name immediately and glanced quickly around the room. Severus Snape was standing beside the stone cabinet that she knew usually stored the Headmaster’s pensieve. It was empty.

 

  “Headmaster, where has your penseive gone?” despite the firm shake of his head, she couldn’t stop the words from tumbling out of her mouth. 

 

  “Do you think it wise Headmaster that Miss Granger should be aware of such antiquities?”

 

 “Now, Severus, there is no harm. It is an interesting artefact and one who is so curious as Miss Granger is, wouldn’t fail to notice it.” 

 

  Snape sneered in his disapproving way, “Playing favourites again are we Headmaster. What did you need Miss Granger?”

 

  “Oh,” Hermione was nearly thrown for a moment but quickly recovered. “I was just asked to advise the Headmaster that the Prefect’s meeting was at lunchtime today.”

 

  Blue eyes flashed for a moment before the Headmaster responded, “I see. Well any missed meetings will need to be made up for at the first available opportunity.”

 

  Hermione nodded, “Well…..um, I’d better go….” she hurried out of the room.

 

  “Have you thought that she might be the culprit Albus?”

 

  “Miss Granger……no.”

 

  “Then what about Mr Potter?”

 

  “I would know if either one of them had been in my office unannounced Severus.”

 

  “They both knew of it! And very few do.”

 

  “Knowledge of the item isn’t proof of the crime Severus, otherwise I could also cast the blame on Minerva and…….you,” his voice dropped at the last word.

 

  “You think it was me!” Severus hissed. “I am a master occlumens and have no need for such a thing.”

 

  “You do have a ….chequered past Severus.”

 

  “I swear, that I have never taken a single item from your office Albus!” Snape vowed, in a quick flash of silver.

 

  “Ah……” the Headmaster seemed disappointed. “Well I guess if it wasn’t you then you may go,” he dismissed his potions professor. 

 

 

 

  Worryingly Harry was not at transfiguration. During the break that followed, Percival returned to the Gryffindor common room. It was empty. He took the stairs two at a time. Pushing the door to the dorm room open, he noticed Harry’s curtains were pulled around his bed.

 

  “Harry.” He walked over and pulled them slightly apart. 

 

   Harry was lying on his side facing away from the opening, legs pulled up, and head buried under his pillow.  His jagged breathing gave away the sobs that Percival could not hear. Slowly he climbed onto the bed and pulled the curtains closed behind him. A hand was ever so lightly placed on the smaller boy’s shoulder. The chest stopped for a worryingly long period of time, before another silent jagged inhalation was seen. 

 

  “Harry,” this time Percival gave that thin shoulder a gentle shake.  When there was no response he reached out and tugged on the pillow. It gave way revealing a devastatingly tear stained face. Percival crawled over the boy to lie on the other side of his friend.

 

  “Want to tell me what’s wrong?”

 

  With a wave of a hand sound was returned to the small space.

 

  “Do…do…you hate me now?”

 

  An arm snaked around the boy’s neck and pulled his head into Percival’s chest, “Never.” It sounded like a promise.

 

  “I’m sorry that I forgot. We’ve had so much on,” Percival whispered into Harry’s hair. “I can understand why you’re so angry.”

 

  “But that’s the thing, I’m not!” 

 

  “Then do you want to tell me what happened?” He squeezed tighter trying to offer reassurance.

 

  “I…I….just felt so angry. I wanted to …..I wanted to bite you or something. It seemed to come out of no-where. This is what I was trying to tell Addison. I…I’m scared. I feel like I’m going crazy. I came back here to try and call Sirius, then I remembered that he would be at the Ministry and anyway I don’t want him to have to worry about this as well.”

 

  With a quick roll out of bed Percival went to his trunk and retrieved two crystal phials, before lying back down again. 

 

  “Think about what happened,” he instructed and placed his wand to on Harry’s temple, drawing forth the silver strand of a memory which he deposited into one of the phials. He then repeated the process himself. “We can send these along with a letter to Addison through your post-box. I believe it is probably feedback through the horcrux. You’ve missed the last couple of nights of meditation, haven’t you?”  

 

  The head which was resting against his chest once more nodded.  

 

  “Been so tired, I’ve fallen asleep without meaning to.”

 

  “How about we talk to Snape and see if he will let you off…”

 

  “No!” The black head shot up and red-rimmed eyes locked onto black. “No. He already thinks I’m arrogant and lazy!”

 

  “I think that is a long way in the past.” Seeing the bitten lip and the clear ‘I’ve got something to prove’ look in the green eyes, he offered another suggestion. “What about Quidditch? Can we talk to Angelina about you taking a couple of practices off, just until the harvesting is finished?”

 

  “Can’t,” Harry dropped his head back onto what he now noticed was a rather warm firm chest. “First game is in two weeks.”

 

  “They could get someon…” Percival nearly laughed at Harry’s horrified expression. “Or maybe not. I guess I could always remind you every night.”

 

 Placing his hands on Percival’s chest Harry pushed himself away and rolled onto his back. “McGonagall is going to be mad isn’t she?”

 

  “She did notice your lack of attendance. Though you can probably get away with claiming to be ill. I can let Snape know if you need more time.”

 

  With a groan Harry dragged himself up into sitting.  “Can’t miss potions.”

 

  “Go wash your face, I’ll sort our bags.”

 

 

 

 

  Harry and Percival slipped into the dungeon classroom just before Snape slammed the door shut.

 

  “Cutting it fine gentlemen,” he murmured barely moving his lips as they moved passed him. Louder he said, “Five points each and detention this evening for tardiness. Once again, I must remind you that the joyous occasion of those who score less than an Outstanding on the Owls leaving us, is fast approaching. Such lack of regard for this class will only diminish the likelihood of you achieving that a lofty goal.” He turned his patented sneer on the two boys who had just entered the room and were sliding into the vacant seats at the table next to Ron and Hermione, at the back of the classroom.

 

  With a flick of his wand, words began appearing on the blackboard at the front of the room.

 

 “The instructions for today’s potion are on the board.  Ensure you follow them exactly, failure to do so is likely to have detrimental effects to the health of everyone in the room!” the stern professor warned.

 

  Harry leaned towards Percival, “I can’t read it from this distance, his writing is too small.” The whisper earnt him a glare from Hermione.

 

  A moment later a list scribbled on a piece of parchment was passed to him, “I’ll get the ingredients from the store and you set up the cauldrons.”

 

  Harry moved to do as he was bid. He quickly lifted both cauldrons onto the table and bent to Percival’s bag to retrieve his tool kit. A glance at the list showed that today they needed the crystal stirring rod which was less reactive than the pewter one they usually used. As he placed Percival’s bag, back down he noticed a battered copy of Advanced Potion Making sitting on the top of Hermione’s book bag. It was odd as the text they had been using was one book earlier in the unimaginatively titled series, Intermediate Potion Making. He made a note to discuss it with Percival.  

 

  The rest of the class passed without incident as even the Slytherins weren’t willing to risk their own health merely for the pleasure of sabotaging the Gryffindors Potions grade.  For once even Neville produced a passable potion. It was actually rather relaxing, especially as Snape didn’t say a word about Percival helping Harry by writing out the instructions. 

 

 

 

  With the anxiety Harry felt waiting to hear something from Sirius the peace achieved by a calm potions class didn’t last. By that afternoon Harry couldn’t sit still.

 

  “Really Harry you need to calm down, you’ll hear something when it’s over.” They were all sure that Ron was trying to be reassuring, the awkward thumping on Harry’s back was the giveaway.

 

  “He’s been stuck in the ministry cell for a week now. If they take him to Azkaban, I’ll never see him again. We won’t even be able to say goodbye. Last time they just took him away with no warning, what if they do that again? What if they have him kissed right there? What if someone sneaks in and hurts him? He can’t protect himself, they’ve still got his wand!”

 

  “Breathe Harry,” Neville said. “Your Aunt Sera’s letter said it all seemed to be going well.  They’ve looked at all the evidence so now we just have to wait for their decision.”

 

  “I’d feel better if I could just talk to him,” Harry pouted.

 

  Ron and Neville each threw an arm around Harry’s shoulders.  

 

  “We wish we could help mate, but….” Ron shrugged, “it’s illegal to break into the Ministry.”

 

  “Here, Harry,” Hermione spoke from beside Ron, making Harry jump. “I wanted to talk to you.”

 

  “What’s the matter, Hermione?” 

 

  “I’m worried about you,” she actually sounded concerned which made Harry pause. “I…I know I’ve been kind of pushy, with your homework and everything. I see now that the way I’ve been handling things is wrong. I wanted to apologise. It’s just this is a big year. I know you want to go on and be an Auror. But to achieve that you’re going to have to work really hard, especially because you need to be able to take your Potions NEWT, which you’ve never done really well at. I guess I was just trying to make sure you didn’t fall behind.”

 

  “Thanks Hermione,” Harry smiled at his once best friend.  “I actually seem to be doing a bit better this year, and I’ve not turned in a single assignment late, and Snape hasn’t banished my potion once.”

 

  “You were late for class today though,” she pried. “And you missed transfiguration.”

 

  “Yes, I wasn’t feeling well. Actually, that reminds me, I’d best go and see McGonagall. Ron do you want to come with me?” Harry changed topic and hurried away with the red-head in tow. Neville watched through narrowed eyes as Hermione also turned and walked away.

 

 

  Hermione ducked around the corner and leaned against the cold stone wall. Closing her eyes. Where had it all gone wrong? She had been doing so well. The books she had been given allowed her to stay ahead of the rest of the class, not to mention they were interesting even if they were becoming darker. Lately there were more serious books like the Macabre book of Monsters, and Hexes of the Nineteenth Century, which had a dark oily feel to it. Still she just couldn’t put them down, and Dumbledore obviously thought she could handle them. She had felt so great, so important as the guiding light in Harry’s life. So clever, even Lupin had called her the smartest witch of the age.  

 

  Hermione sighed, then something had happened. It started with the books in her trunk, the ones she had been warned not to leave at home, they had mysteriously disappeared one day. Some of them had only been on loan and she had had to try and explain the loss. That had been an awful conversation. The one today was just as bad. She could practically feel the disappointment dripping off the Headmaster and had vowed to do better, next time she would skip the Prefects meeting. Most annoyingly, Harry just didn’t seem to want to cooperate anymore. Normally he had been completely compliant, willing to do whatever she asked and to go wherever she led. Now he wouldn’t listen to her at all and he argued! He argued well, even she had to admit that some of the things he said made sense, but Albus Dumbledore had said that Harry was lying and so that was that.

 

    It had all started with the arrival of Percival Graves. There was something going on there, his appearance right at that moment in time was decidedly suspicions. Personally, Hermione thought he must be a Death Eater, and controlling Harry some way. While Harry’s arguments against the Confundus and Imperius curses were valid, there was more than one way to control a Wizard. In fact, a note on the side of one of the pages of potions book she had been given that morning, hinted at a potion that was the equivalent of a liquid imperius. Perhaps that was it. She would have to find some way of slipping Harry a cleansing potion, the way he had been acting he would never take one voluntarily.  

 

   Now that she thought about it, Percival had been around when her books went missing. Hmm, that might be worth looking into. The one thing Hermione did know was that continued disappointment wasn’t going to be tolerated.  Soon, very soon, there were going to be consequences and they were likely to be severe.

 

 

 

  “How are you going with the latest History Assignment Harry?” the feminine voice drifted over the group. Harry looked up from where he had been talking Dennis through one of the spells in his text book. Things had warmed between them slightly but the friendship they’d had was definitely lost.

 

  “Sorry Hermione, I’m busy at the moment.” Harry turned back to the task at hand. “So, the wand action is a circular motion that ends with a forward jab.”

 

  “Like this?” Dennis demonstrated.

 

  “Not bad, relax your grip slightly and again,” Harry encouraged patiently. Percival looked up from the arithmancy notes he had been going over with Dennis’ older brother, Colin and couldn’t help smiling at the sight. 

 

  “Harry, your homework is important,” there was a thready tension in her voice now. “You need to get yours done first, before helping anyone else.”

 

  “My homework is done Hermione, and I am helping Dennis with his at the moment. We’ll be finished in about half an hour, if you want to hang out then,” the dark-haired boy explained patiently.

 

  She sat on the couch with a huff, at least it wasn’t a complete rejection. Percival glanced up again and caught the calculating expression on her face as she watched and waited. They had puzzled over the extra text book but couldn’t rule out the possibility that she was just studying ahead. As the assigned text for sixth and seventh year, there had to be spare copies in the library. So, while it was unusual it wasn’t inherently suspicious. Besides a quick check with Dobby reassured the boys that it wasn’t a book from the Potter library. He wondered what exactly she was up to, the sudden change in attitude seemed out of character.

 

  “There you go Dennis, you’ve got it now. Just write up what we talked about and reference the text book and you’re done. Twelve inches is just one sheet of A4 paper, which is hardly anything.” The excitable boy bounced up, squeaking his thanks and hurried over to his friends who were gathered around a coffee table on the other side of the room. They bent their heads together and chatted excitedly as they did their work.

 

  “Do you really think it’s wise for you to be helping Dennis with his Homework Harry? I mean, what if you get it wrong and he fails because of you? How would you feel then?” Hermione asked, thinking she had a valid point as from what she knew Harry’s marks hadn’t been all that good in the past.

 

  “Thanks for your confidence in my abilities Hermione,” Harry said drily. A reflexive smile blossomed on her face, and Harry couldn’t help but remember the times that she had stood beside him when no one else had. Perhaps there was something worth saving there after all., if they could just crack the attitude. 

 

  “How have you been Hermione?” he asked to break the awkward silence that had fallen. “How’s being a prefect?”

 

  “It’s such a good opportunity,” she started enthusiastically, and she began extolling all that was good about her prefects’ duties.  It lasted for all of five minutes before she began to complain. “But Allison Duchovny, you know the Head Girl? She’s a Ravenclaw. Anyway, you’ll never believe this, she got angry at me for having an appointment with the Headmaster, it’s not like I can just rebook that you know. But she wouldn’t listen. I ended up having to make my apologies to the Headmaster and he wasn’t pleased. Just because that was the only time that everyone else was available for the next two weeks. We weren’t even meeting about anything important, just the schedule for rounds. And that’s another thing, how do they think we are going to have enough time to study if we are always doing rounds. I mean what are the teachers doing at that time? Surely they should be doing them instead!”

 

  “Hermione,” Ron interrupted. “The teachers do rounds as well, they just take the late ones, so that we can all make it back to the common room by curfew. They also have to mark all our assignments. It’s not like we have to do rounds that often, its only once a week for us this year. The sixth years cope the brunt of it.”

 

  Hermione sniffed, “It’s still two hours I could be studying. And what’s this I hear about you forming a study group?”

 

  Ron blushed, “Well I saw what Harry went through in first year and realised, that there really is nothing to help the Muggle born and raised students to acclimatise. The boys in our dorm were talking and we realised just how little Harry knew about the way things work. That’s what started it.”

 

  “If Harry had bothered to pick up a book before the start of school, he wouldn’t have had a problem,” Hermione said dismissively.

 

  “Oh, you mean the books that the Dursleys confiscated the moment I got home? I managed to hide one in my backpack before they were locked in the cupboard under the stairs. However, exactly which of the first-year text books would have helped me learn about how the Wizengamut works, or told me about the floo, or which vaccinations I needed to have?”

 

 That caused the fuzzy haired girl to pause, she had to be careful now, her list of books hadn’t exactly matched the one given to everybody else, “I don’t remember Harry that was five years ago! Still you could have looked it up any time since.”

 

  “Yes, I’m sure between finding the stone, the basilisk, the dementors and the tournament that I had plenty of time to look up the things that I never knew I needed to know. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, I mentioned it would have been nice if someone had taken me aside and let me know where to find that information.”

 

  Ron nodded, “Yeah, so I spoke to the other prefects…..”

 

  “When was this? Why wasn’t I invited?” Hermione demanded.

 

  “You were invited,” Ron snapped, before taking a deep breath and continuing more calmly. “You said you had study to do and as it wasn’t a set meeting for all prefects you weren’t interested. It was just the Gryffindors, but we have discussed it with the other houses as well. They already have something in place, and they were willing to give us the format that they use. After the first session with the first years they requested study groups, it grew from there.”

 

  “Why didn’t you ask me to help? I’m the brightest witch of the age!”

 

  “Yeah, your real smart Hermione,” Ron ignored her preening. “But you have also been unavailable, every time we’ve had a meeting about it, you have either, already had something on or have declined in favour of studying.”

 

  She frowned, so that was what all those meetings were about, she had talked to Cho Chang who was the sixth-year prefect for Ravenclaw and been told that they didn’t have extra meetings, so she had assumed that they weren’t important and were just something that the Gryffindors were making up. “Well I want to be included next time,” she demanded.

 

  Ron nodded genially, “No problem. Have a think about what subject you’re happy to tutor the first years in.”

 

  “First years?” she raised an eyebrow. “But Harry’s been helping Dennis?”

 

  “Yeah,” Ron shrugged. “After we started working with the firsties, the other grades started asking if they could set one up too. But they had much more specific questions, so it was decided that we would have a list of mentors, based off marks and a willingness to assist. Harry does Defence and is back up for Charms, Neville does Herbology. Well I could go through the whole list but it’s posted on the notice board. Each mentor has listed the times they are available to help.”

 

  “But….but I wasn’t asked. I always score the best.”

 

  “Yeah, you used too, but the second component is willingness to help, and we haven’t been able to find you to ask,” the red-head shrugged.

 

  “Oh, well sign me up.”

 

  Ron stood and removed the list from the notice board. “Right think about what subjects you are willing to help with and when you are free to offer assistance. Just write them in the column next to the subject.”

 

  Hermione eagerly grabbed the parchment and after scanning it briefly with a frown, started writing. It was really lucky that she had become involved, this would go a long way towards proving she deserved to be made Head Girl when the time came, and she couldn’t believe the others already on the list. Clearly, they had just been letting anyone sign up as a mentor. Well that would be stopping now!

 

 With a barely concealed snort Harry, turned back to the game of chess he had been playing with Ron. He was losing again, but that was hardly unusual. Four moves later and he had lost.  Ron grinned and moved away to challenge Dean, leaving Harry with Hermione. She completed the list and walked over to pin it back on the notice board. As she sat back down, Harry wondered if she had finally understood what they had been trying to tell her. His thoughts were interrupted by the mirror vibrating in his pocket. “Um Hermione, it’s been good to catch up, but I really need to head to bed.” He faked a yawn. “After feeling unwell this morning, I should really have an early night.” He haphazardly stuffed all his work into his bag and practically ran from the room.

 

  Hermione leaned back in her chair, with a huff. That interaction had undoubtedly been better, but it still wasn’t back to what it was. Maybe she should hold off on the plan to give Harry the cleanser. One thing was certain, if he found out that she had spiked his morning pumpkin juice with a potion, he would never trust her again. 

 

 

 

  As soon as he was in the dorm Harry, threw his bag onto the ground, jumped on his bed, pulled the curtains and cast a ward to prevent anyone overhearing. He ripped the mirror from his pocket and looked into it hopefully only to see Seraphina Picquery looking back at him. His stomach dropped like a stone.

 

  “No!” he cried out, water pooling in his eyes.

 

  “Harry, wait!” Aunt Sera called out, trying to distract him.

 

  “Ah Shite Pup!” a more masculine voice broke through his despair.

 

  “Sirius?!”

 

  “Yeah, sorry Pup. I didn’t think. I thought it would be funny to have Sera break the news to you. With all the evidence we had I didn’t consider for a moment that you would assume that the verdict hadn’t gone the way we wanted.”

 

  “So, it did?  Go the way we wanted I mean,” Harry asked hopefully.

 

  “Yeah, Pup,” Sirius reassured. “I am a free man. There will be an announcement in tomorrow’s prophet. The Ministry is paying me some compensation and covering my continued treatment by Addison. I had a chat with McMillan, and he reckons that I shouldn’t try for custody until treatment is finished. We will get my recovery signed off by an independent Healer before taking the paperwork in. That is if you still want me to, I know you’ve been getting on better with Petunia and Dudley. But have a think about it.”

 

  “Ok,” Harry said softly. “So, you’re really free? No joking? Really?”

 

  “Yeah Pup, really, really.”

 

  The water that had cleared gathered again and ran down Harry’s cheeks. “Harry, Pup! Why are you crying?” 

 

 “I’m so happy!”

 

 “Yeah me too.” Neither one mentioned the tears that flowed from Sirius’ eyes either.

 

 “Could….do you think we could….um….I want to see Aunt Petunia but maybe I could……” Harry sniffed, and swiped his hands across his face. “I think I would like to live with you, I just want to be able to see want Petunia and Dudley sometimes.”

 

  “Sure, thing kiddo,” Sirius’ face split in a grin.  “I’ll get Sera to mention it in her next letter.”

 

  “Aunt Sera has been writing to her?”

 

  “Yeah, just general stuff. Now tell me what has been going on?”

  

 

  Harry was glad that Percival had started teaching him Occlumency. It had taken an hours’ worth of meditation before he stilled his mind enough to finally manage to fall asleep. Which meant that despite the excitement of the news he was able to get up early the next morning and sitting in the Great Hall, waiting eagerly for the owls to fly in with the mail. Harry had of course let Percival in on the secret before going to bed, but Sirius had said that it would be announced in the mornings paper so today was the day that they could finally tell Neville that Sirius was Snuffles.  Ron and Neville had still been deeply asleep as Harry had made his way out of the dorm, but Percival had stirred and had promised he would come down as soon as he had showered, knowing that there was no way Harry would have the patience to wait for the others to be ready. 

 

  Harry looked around, it was rather peaceful sitting in the Great Hall, watching the rose-coloured sunrise.  He wondered what everyone would make of the announcement. At least Ron and Neville would be pleased. Dumbledore would surely be glad he had another wand available in the fight against Riddle and Hermione would be pleased that justice had finally been served.

 

  “Dobby, could I have some tea please?” Harry asked politely. With a soft clink a teapot and mug appeared in front of him. “Thanks.” It only took a moment to pour then he sat, starring into the brown liquid with his hands wrapped around the cup. He closed his eyes and inhaled the fragrant steam rising from his mug, trying to still he whirling emotions.

 

  “You are out and about early Potter,” Harry startled, and nearly spilled his tea. 

 

  “Morning Professor,” his green eyes lifted to meet the obsidian ones.

 

  “If I didn’t know better, I would assume you were up to something,” Severus arched an eyebrow. 

 

  Harry smiled good naturedly, “Perhaps I am Sir, but if only pranksters are awake at this hour. What have you been up to?”

 

  “Unfortunately, it falls to myself as the responsible adult present to try and stop Dunderheads from harming themselves in their blatant disregard for the rules.”

 

  “Oh, I didn’t realise there was a rule about being up so early,” Harry frowned. “I’m usually awake at this time at home, so I just came down here. It’s so much calmer than the common room.” 

 

  For a moment it looked as if Severus was going to say something.

 

  “It is indeed,” Professor Dumbledore’s booming voice interrupted them as he pushed open the double doors to the hall. “Now Severus I think we can forgive Harry if he acts out a little this morning.” He frowned sadly, “I believe that we shall hear the results of poor Sirius’ trial. If you need to take the day off Harry, just make sure you catch up on your work.” 

  

  “Um, Professor, there is every chance that Sirius was cleared,” Harry said.

 

  “A positive attitude, that’s the ticket!” Dumbledore flashed a grin for just a moment before resuming the sad expression. As he turned to walk away, he muttered, “Poor deluded boy, tut, tut.”

 

  “Potter,” Severus started hesitantly.

 

  “It’s okay Professor, I spoke to my Godfather last night.”

 

  “Last night?” the slight tightening around Snape’s eyes made him seem momentarily shocked.

 

  “Yeah,” Harry confirmed, before calmly taking a sip of his tea.

 

  Black eyes flicked towards the head table where Dumbledore was seated, humming to himself as he took a pancake off the stack that had appeared in front of him and liberally anointed it with syrup. 

 

  “Perhaps a detention is in order?” 

 

  Harry nodded, “Sure, I’ll figure something out for potions, we should probably include Percival.”

 

  “Indeed.”

 

   Not long after that the room began to fill with students. As he drank his second cup of tea, Harry watched them. It seemed that the later it became the rowdier the students were. At some intervening time, Percival had joined him, placing a plate loaded with bacon and eggs in front of Harry with a pointed look. 

 

  “Thanks,” Harry returned to student watching as he began to eat.

 

  By the time the owls flew through the windows, Harry was surrounded. Percival and Ron sat on either side of him, with Neville, Dean, and Seamus on the opposite side. 

 

  Hermione who was sitting next to Ron said, “You’ll be happy to know that have I now got a subscription to the Daily Prophet.”

 

  “Good for you,” Ron shovelled a spoonful of scrambled eggs into his mouth. 

 

  Hedwig landed in front of Harry, she was carrying both a copy of the Daily Prophet and a letter. Harry praised her and relieved her of her burdens.

 

 “Thanks, beautiful girl. Are you going hunting today?” she cooed in response. “Ah tonight. That’s fair. Go and have a sleep now.” She hopped over and butted him with her head, before flying off.

 

  A quick glance identified the sender of the letter to be Dudley, so Harry tucked it into his bag to read later and unrolled the Prophet.

 

  “Pftttt!” A spout of tea was spat across the table.

 

  “’Ermione!” Seamus complained, reaching for a napkin to mop his face.

 

  “Sorry Seamus,” the bookworm blushed.

 

  “What’s so shocking?” Dean asked.

 

  “Sirius Black was cleared of all charges!” 

 

  That she seemed baffled, confused Harry. Had she not pay attention in Third year? He glanced quickly at the teacher’s table. Dumbledore was as still as stone and paling fast. Harry nudged Percival and nodded in the Headmaster’s direction.

 

  “Do you think he’s having a stroke?”

 

  Percival, glanced up and then back to Harry with a look of confusion on his face, “Stroke?”

 

  “Oh, maybe Wizards don’t have them. We learnt about them at school. Um, it’s an event which stops blood getting to areas of the brain leading to parts of it dying.”

 

  The explanation didn’t help Percival at all. “He certainly looks shocked. Which is decidedly odd, as he knows that Sirius is innocent. One thing is for sure, something deeper is going on here. If the Headmaster had plans that involved Sirius being incarcerated, who knows what he will do now.”

 

  Harry looked at him sharply, “You don’t think he would hurt him, do you?”

 

  “I don’t know, but perhaps it would be wise to warn him to take extra care.”

 

  “Maybe we can get Snape to pass a message on for us when we get detention tonight?”

 

  Percival nodded his agreement as they stood and made their way to class.