The Inner Eye of Harry Potter
The Year of the Rat
Disclaimer — Just another fanfic.
Acknowledgements — As always, the help from the gang at Alpha Fight Club is worth noting. Beta work by ZanyMuggle, Aaran St Vines and Sparky40sw.
Chapter 3 — The Year of the Rat
Harry looked down into the teacup. Suddenly, he didn't like tea anymore. "Auntie Sybil, I've got the Grim again. Are you sure you aren't charming the cup?"
His auntie took the cup from him, "I'm sure you're just imagining it. No one turns up the same tea reading three times in …" Her voice trailed off looking into the cup. Harry could tell that she wanted to reassure him, but the image looked even more distinct then the previous two. The Grim was coming and from the looks of things it was getting closer.
"You don't have to sugarcoat it for me. I know the Grim means death." He did his best not to sound frightened. Of course, hitting puberty caused his voice to get a little unsteady at times - such as now. Still, Harry knew that he must not show fear. The powers above would not appreciate that.
Auntie Sybil smiled at him and offered him a biscuit. She said, "Harry, you and I know that the omen of death is not necessarily directed at you. It could be someone you know, barely know, or have not even met before now. Sometimes Death is change or the death of thoughts or ideals and not connected to an actual person - much the way that one of the pureblood families would look at Arthur Weasley's Muggle protection act as negatively impacting on their lifestyle. Why don't you go down to the park, or take a walk and clear your mind. When you come back, I'll break out my copy of Ominous Portents and we'll do some reading."
"I’m glad you’re coming back to teach this year. I think things will be a lot safer." Harry asked eager to have a friendly face in that somewhat harsh environment.
"It's been several years and the months here with just Vernon and Petunia do make me a tad restless. Plus with a Grim stalking my protÃ©gÃ© and Sirius Black on the loose, I don't think anything could keep me away from that castle this year."
Knowing that made Harry feel better. He'd considered not going this year after finding the second Grim. Smiling, he started out the bedroom before turning and saying, "Professor Sinistra will have to get used to being my second favorite teacher."
"I was getting worried about you! Where have you been?" Auntie Sybil was looking down at him rather sternly.
Harry reexamined his actions and felt ashamed. "I'm sorry, I should have come back, but I found out that the Grim was just a big black dog! I met one in the park today. We played a little fetch. I didn't see any tags on him. Do you think Aunt Petunia would let me keep him?"
"Well, you can't take a dog to Hogwarts. If I recall correctly, Hagrid is already watching that giant chicken of yours."
"Well…yeah, everyone was surprised when the growth potion never wore off. I know, the rules say that you can’t have two familiars, but you could…if the powers sent him to
me three times in one day, surely it's a sign!"
"Where is he now?"
"I've got him in the garage."
"Very well, Harry. Let's go out and see what your new friend looks like."
Harry led her out to the garage after making a quick stop at the refrigerator. Poor Blackie didn't look so hot, so he grabbed a package of luncheon meat for the dog to snack on.
"My word, isn't he a larger one. Definitely not a puppy…bit on the mangy side if you ask me."
Harry listened to his Auntie's assessment while opening the package and setting it on the ground. The dog pounced on the food like it hadn’t eaten in a week!
"I've never been much of a dog owner, Harry, but for you, I'll take him to Hogwarts with me, but first let me get my wand and neuter him. I don't want to be blamed for every litter of puppies in Hogsmeade. Plus, it will make him more docile and easier to handle."
No sooner had the words left her mouth than the large black dog sprinted past the two of them and down the driveway like the fires of hell were chasing it.
Harry tried to put on his best face to mask his disappointment and said, "Okay, maybe he wasn't that important after all."
Remus Lupin hurried into the next train car with all the screaming. He couldn’t believe the Dementors had boarded the train! The tattered length of cloak on the ground, shaking like a violent storm commanded his attention as he sprinted forward the words of the Patronus charm on his lips.
He stopped at the opening and was greeted by a most peculiar sight. The Dementor was trapped beneath a large steamer trunk, flailing helplessly, with its head encased in a block of ice. There was a boy sitting on top of the trunk shivering. Finally, a young blonde witch blanketed the creature in Patronus mist. A woman, who was clearly a member of the staff, clutched her purse and an empty bottle. Everyone looked a trifle pale.
"I’m Remus Lupin. What happened here?" He asked.
"Sibyll Trelawney. Would you be so kind as to get that creature off the train?" The witch answered with a question of her own. If this was the new Divination teacher that meant the boy was … the spitting image of James Potter.
"That’s very advanced magic, young lady," he said to the Ravenclaw.
"Really? It’s taught to everyone in South America as soon as they get their wands to ward off Lethifolds. Daddy made sure I could do it when we went there."
He hadn’t expected that. The Dementor continued to whack its head against the ground, trying to crack the icy helmet with little effect. Part of him was supposed to be afraid, but at the same time the scene was quite ludicrous. "Err, good show then. Remind me to give you some house points. So what exactly happened? How did the Dementor’s head get a block of ice around it?"
"The awful thing came into our compartment and headed straight for Harry. The reduction charm on my trunk was negated by its presence and the trunk fell on the creature. I panicked and threw
my drink on it and it started freezing. Fortunately for us, Miss Lovegood here knows the charm that affects them and I happened to have a supply of liquid on hand."
"Oh, I see." Remus was perplexed. Water should have frozen long before it got into the room. One of the few benefits to his condition was acute senses. He took a deep breath and got his answer. A quick look at the professor and the necks of the two empty bottles sticking out of her purse confirmed his suspicion. "Is that…"
"It calms my nerves. Never did like travel by rail. Now, if you please, the creature?"
"Quite right. Harry, you can get up now." Lupin removed the trunk and unceremoniously helped the unbalanced Dementor to its "feet." True, they were despicable, loathsome monsters, but Remus found this all rather comical. It wobbled like some child’s toy as he pushed it out into the passageway and opened the door between this and the next car.
"Out you go. Nothing to see here. Let’s move along." It seemed reluctant to take to the gliding-like flight these things were capable of, so he gave it a little push.
For a moment, like those old cartoons on the telly, it just floated there in the air. Then it plummeted, weighed down by the block of frozen alcohol around the head. His keen eyesight spotted the Dementor crashing through the suddenly frozen water. Seconds later, it bobbed to the surface, now encased bodily in a block of ice. Several others swooped down and made things worse in the river below. The icy prison was now much larger — a most unfortunate turn of events.
Remus often scratched his chin during awkward moments. James used to say, it was why he never could grow a beard. He saw the Dementors looking up at him and felt uncomfortable.
To no one in particular he said, "I should definitely go now."
Back inside, he addressed the trio, "I don’t believe that Dementor will be giving you any more problems. I’ll let the conductor know that we can be on our way — the sooner, the better."
Absently, he fished out some chocolate bars from his robes and dispensed them.
The young girl looked at it skeptically before asking, "You didn’t get these from the Rotfangs did you?"
"Um no, if the wrapper is to be believed, they’re from Hershey, Pennsylvania."
The young witch smiled and replied, "Oh good, Daddy says the colonies have the Rots firmly under control! Thank you very much, sir."
Remus nodded, feigning understanding. It was slightly disturbing to see that Harry waited until the witch deemed her chocolate good to eat. It reminded him of Minerva’s comments a few days ago that the new Divination professor had an undo influence on James and Lily’s child and he should try and find time to be a positive role model to the young wizard.
He owed his deceased friends that much.
"I can’t teach the boy! Even with the Patil girl’s help, he’s going to fail this year. He excels at multiple choice exams, but since I’ve switched to essay and short answers, his grades have plummeted. It means he’s been guessing all along!" Minerva McGonagall barked at the staff meeting. Her comments were directed at Albus Dumbledore, but her glare was firmly locked with the Divination Professor’s eyes.
"Actually, it means that when faced with multiple answers to a possible question that he’s been able to utilize his abilities to select the correct answer. It’s rather odd that you switched your testing style. Was it just because of Harry? Especially strange when you proclaim my specialty is so much rubbish," the Divination Professor answered, barely looking up from her knitting.
Several in the staffroom chuckled. A few offered their own comments about Potter’s ability to defy probability on multiple choice quizzes. Either way, the two instructors were on a collision course. Over the years, McGonagall proved that she wasn’t above calling someone out. "You’ve ruined the boy! Ruined him, I say!"
"If the powers had not wanted me in Harry’s life, I would not have sought him out. Please don’t continue to blame a thirteen year old for your own shortcomings as an educator."
"While young Mr. Potter’s academics are a fascinating subject for discussion, it has little bearing on the budget proposals for next year." Dumbledore interjected, hoping
to head off a confrontation.
"I’ve always thought that magic is what surrounds us and that each and every witch and wizard must realize the potential within themselves to be a conduit for it. Do we guide the children on the path to enlightenment or are we frog marching them in lockstep to your desired destination?" Sibyll answered with accusations with her own.
Albus swallowed. That wasn’t going to go over well. Minerva was already getting her hackles up. "You were a miserable student, Sibyll! You have the gall to say that Potter’s development as a wizard is my fault! How dare you?"
Trelawney sat straight up. "From my perspective things here haven’t changed since I left. If anything, they’ve become more stagnant. Do this! Say that! Mix this together! Don’t you dare do that! Where’s the freedom to learn, Professor McGonagall? Where’s the joy of learning?"
"I don’t believe providing the students â€˜joy’ was in the job description," Snape interjected.
"Ah yes, Professor Snape. I remember you bragging that your experiments as a student were what led you to being selected as the youngest Potion Master in the last two centuries. Now, I
hear that you accept no deviations from your instructions. Would you have been able to pass your own class under these circumstances?"
Dumbledore twinkling eye twitched slightly. He knew Severus Snape wanted to be drawn in to the verbal sparring. The man had a weakness when it came to young Harry. Albus hoped that wouldn’t be a problem in the future.
With a trademark sneer, the Potions Master replied, "I seldom encounter a student with any real potential. Most of them are accidents waiting to happen. As for Potter, he’s on a path
to mediocrity. If you harbor any dreams of him sitting for NEWTs in my class, then I do believe you need to have your crystal ball checked for cracks."
"Mediocrity?" Sibyll sputtered, "Perhaps you spend too much time sniffing your cauldron scrapings. I only agreed to come back to try and help Harry and protect him when it is clear the lot of you cannot! I suppose you’ll be as useful as all of you were against the Basilisk last year. Do I even need to mention his first year?"
Both McGonagall and Snape were red faced and leaning forward. This did not bode well at all. Dumbledore cleared his throat and said, "Ah yes, wonderfully spirited debate is the foundation of any good school, but I’m afraid we should move on."
Dumbledore faked a smile and desperately twinkled his eyes. "Discovering new and better ways of helping the students, including young Harry, is an admirable goal, but once again not part of
the business at hand. To avoid a descent into chaos, let’s let Harry’s head of house have the final word. Filius, what do you have to say about Harry’s progress?"
"He does well enough in Charms. Not surprisingly, he has top marks in Divination. Good marks in Astronomy, History, and Magical Creatures. His Defense, Transfigurations, and Potions could use some work. Overall, he’s scoring lower than all the students in my house, but still in the top half of the year."
Remus Lupin spoke up, "I’ve been spending some time with the lad. I tested him in private with the boggart."
"What was his fear?" Snape asked, perhaps with a bit too much sudden interest.
"A broken crystal ball, blank cards, and shattered dice. I was concerned that a life-sized version of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would pop out."
Sibyll frowned and said, "He’s worried that when he needs them the most, his powers will fail him. Probably the influence of the very people in this room."
The accusation hung in the air for a moment before Remus said, "We’re trying to learn the Patronus Charm, but honestly, he wants to hear about his parents and I have a hard time saying
no to him."
"Which reinforces how useless you really are. Several of my students could also use extra defense tutoring. Shall I send them to you as well, or is this a special program just for the Potter boy?"
"Severus, "Dumbledore warned. "Very well, I can see this is going nowhere. Remus, please continue to work with Harry. If he is performing acceptably in Potions, I will leave that you judgment, Severus. As for Transfiguration, send him to me, Minerva. Perhaps a different approach might work for Mister Potter. Now, if we can get back to next year’s budgets."
"You wanted to see me, sir."
"Yes, Harry. Come sit down."
Harry did as he was instructed. He’d drawn The Sage when Auntie told him that he was to see the Headmaster. The smiling old man offered Harry a lemon drop, which he gladly accepted.
"I’m told your having a spot of trouble with Transfiguration. Would you like to talk about it?"
Quite honestly, Harry would rather have a fungal infection. "I’ll work harder, sir."
"Always good to hear, but I was thinking that we might try a different approach. You’re going to spend a few hours a week with me and, though I haven’t taught in several years, let’s see if I still have that old magic — pardon the pun."
Despite himself, Harry chuckled, as the Headmaster continued, "According to the syllabus, you’re studying Rollins’ theories on small object Transfiguration. How about we recap and I’ll try to help you gain a better understanding?"
Thirty minutes later, Harry had learned more about Transfiguration than he had in perhaps the entire year. It just furthered his opinion that Professor McGonagall wasn’t all that good. Instead of boring lecture and repetition with wand movements, the Headmaster constantly spoke while his wand was in motion demonstrating, telling stories of when he found himself in a situation that he had to apply the theory.
Dumbledore was telling a particularly interesting story about a friend from his childhood named "Gelly" and an unusual situation where they found themselves swimming in a lake and someone stole their clothes from the shore. They were forced to make whatever clothes they could out of the shrubbery.
"And that, Harry, is why you must always be careful about your selection of base material — or as I like to say, poison ivy does not make good underwear."
Before Harry could reply, the Head Boy burst into Dumbledore’s office. "Headmaster! Headmaster! The Fat Ladies painting! It’s been damaged!"
"I’m afraid we’re done for the night Harry. I must go sort this out. See you again next week."
Harry made it back to Ravenclaw tower just in time to find out that there was some impromptu sleeping party in the Great Hall. One thing was certain; things were never dull around the castle.
Snape looked up from the mind numbing tedium of grading essays to find the Potter boy looking at him. "What do you want?"
"I’ve made a prediction and I believe it involves you." The boy was wary.
"I don’t have time for this foolishness."
"The snake, the wolf, and the dog circle each other. When the three intersect, the fate of the fourth shall be decided. They will suffer, pain, humiliation, and guilt."
He smacked his hands on the table. "I’m supposed to make something out of your gibberish."
Potter’s face darkened and for a moment it reminded Snape of an older and decidedly less harmless Potter. "Make of it what you will, I’m simply delivering a warning and assuming you are the snake. I’m going to warn Mr. Lupin next."
"So, your Aunt told you about him being a werewolf against Dumbledore’s wishes?"
"He’s a werewolf? I just assumed he’s the wolf because of his name being Remus Lupin. Wow! What horrible karma to have that name and end up being turned into a werewolf. Talk about bad luck!"
Snape suddenly felt a nasty itch on his backside, and it was spreading. The oath! Dumbledore made him swear not to directly tell any student about Lupin’s condition unless they were in immediate danger. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair at the sudden pain.
"Get out of my office!"
The brat stood there for a moment before turning and leaving, giving Snape one last pitying look. When the door closed, Snape rummaged through his cabinets for some healing balm and began slathering it on the red welts to no avail. He’d have to have Dumbledore release him from the oath before it would stop irritating him. It was at that moment Severus Snape remembered that Dumbledore had been called to the Ministry for the evening and wouldn’t be back until morning.
The whelp would suffer for this! Snape would make certain of that. Furious, he cursed aloud, "Why do Dumbledore’s oaths always involve my arse!"
A few of the paintings in the room guffawed.
Harry wasn’t allowed out of the castle much. Auntie Sibyll had confiscated his invisibility cloak after the first time he’d been caught using it to take a turn around the school grounds. It was one of the reasons he liked the newly-promoted Professor Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class. It was the only time he could get out and see Colonel Sanders.
"You look troubled, sir." Harry said tossing an engorged kernel of corn to his familiar.
"Ya don’t have ta call me sir, Harry. I’m still just plain old Hagrid. But yeah, I’m worried about what they’re going ta do ta poor Buckbeak."
"Buckbeak? What’s that all about?"
"Unless I can stop it, they’re gonna have him killed on account of him injuring Draco Malfoy. Little Miss Granger is trying to come up with a defense for it, but I reckon they’ll do it anyway just to save his pride."
Harry vaguely recalled something about Draco posturing in front of the Gryffindors after Dean Thomas had successfully ridden a hippogriff, and the blond Slytherin got hurt. Harry didn’t particularly like Malfoy, especially after that incident in their first year. Lucius Malfoy had been behind the diary plot of the second year.
Looking over at the shackled creature, Harry figured he ought to do something about it.
"Why exactly did you drag me down here?" Hermione Granger asked. Out of boredom and mostly since Parvati was in detention, Lavender followed along when Harry asked Hermione to meet him outside of the entrance to the kitchens.
"You’ve never been down to the kitchens before?" Harry didn’t even bother with waiting for the answer. Instead, he led the two girls down the narrow steps and past the silencing charm that kept all the noise confined to this area.
Harry found the chaotic actions of the House Elves to be an enjoyable way to relax sometimes. It was the very definition of organized chaos.
"They have House Elves in Hogwarts!" Granger exclaimed.
He almost commented that for someone at the top of the class for academics, she was a little sparse in the cupboard when it came to common sense.
"Of course the do, Hermione," Lavender Brown said. "How do you think our food gets made and our rooms cleaned?"
"But it’s slavery? They’re thinking beings, not animals!"
"Let’s not wander off topic," Harry replied. "You want to save Buckbeak, right?"
"What on Earth does this have to do with Buckbeak?"
The elf dropped his pan, containing someone’s dinner and ran over to them. "The great and powerful Harry Potter is calling on poor little Dobby!"
Harry made a note not to have any fish tonight. "Yes. Hermione and Lavender, this is Dobby. Dobby was the elf that stopped that rogue bludger last year. He used to work for the Malfoys, but there was a bit of a dust up between Mr. Malfoy and the Headmaster at the end of the year and now Dobby is a castle elf." Harry gave them as few details as possible before turning to the elf. "Dobby, your old master is up to no good. He’s going to make the Ministry kill a hippogriff. I’m betting there are a lot of things you can tell us about Mr. Malfoy and what he keeps at his house."
The elf’s eyes grew impossibly large, "Oh no! Dobby cannot betray old master. It is not allowed."
The wheels in Harry’s head turned. "Were there any things you weren’t allowed to touch?"
"Dobby was burnt with hot pokers after he used Master’s hair potions. Dobby’s hair is the envy of all the castle elves."
Lavender tilted her head sideways. "You don’t have any hair."
Dobby started to pull the Hogwarts towel he wore like a robe open. Harry’s quick action stopped the elf.
"Never mind! Dobby! We don’t need to see that … ever! I’m probably asking the wrong question. Were there any places in the house that you weren’t allowed to clean?"
"Oh yes! There was the chamber under the trapdoor in the drawing room. Dobby was never to go down there and the little room behind the bookshelf in the master bedroom. Dobby was punished for cleaning it once…"
Harry smiled and nodded to the pair of Gryffindor witches. "Thank you, Dobby. I think that’s everything we need."
"Dobby is always happy to help the wonderfully magnanimous Harry Potter!"
Climbing the steps, Harry said to Lavender, "I’m sorry about your rabbit."
The blonde witch replied, "I’m amazed Professor Trelawney predicted it! She said my aura indicated loss and the next day, Binky’s gone."
Hermione Granger spoke up, "Maybe you can use your powers of Divination to find Ron Weasley’s rat. He keeps saying that my cat ate it."
It was the first time this year Harry had heard someone mention a rat. He filed it away and wondered if it was significant. "Now, let’s use a school owl to send Draco’s father a little warning."
"We’re going to blackmail him?" Granger said folding her arms.
Harry shrugged and replied. "Normally, I wouldn’t do this, but I happen to know he was behind the diary incident last year."
"He was?" Hermione had spent weeks paralyzed by the Basilisk, nearly died, and, much to her horror, had lost her top student ranking as a result.
"Yes, so I’m a firm believer in what goes around comes around. Sometimes things just need some extra help going around."
"I’ll write the letter," she said with a slightly scary smile on her face. It made Harry wonder if there was really anything to that theory Luna had about Hermione being connected to a Rotfang conspiracy.
Dear Lucius Malfoy,
Bad things will happen to you if the hippogriff known as Buckbeak is executed. There’s a good chance that the Aurors will discover what is in that little room behind the bookshelf in the master bedroom amongst other things.
"My brother and I have been talking …"
"Actually, I do believe I was doing the talking …"
"Are you certain? I thought I was the one talking."
"Quite possibly, but I’m fairly certain I was talking as well."
Harry did his best to follow the banter of Fred and George Weasley. Their antics were well known throughout the castle. They circled him so he had a hard time following which one was speaking.
"A right sly one, this one is, wouldn’t you say, Fred?"
"Indeed brother. Didn’t you hear a rumor that he was behind that hippogriff getting freed? Rather resourceful if you asked me."
"What can I do for you two?"
"Well, we heard you were confined to the castle and thought that was a poor show on their part. We might happen to know the locations of a few secret passageways and would be willing to part with them, in return for the occasional use of a certain invisibility cloak you’re rumored to posses."
"My auntie confiscated it."
"Yes, we’d heard that and it does sound bad. Well look at it this way Harry. When something is confiscated, it really means that it’s being borrowed for a period of time. Obviously, your aunt intends to return it at a later date and you know what they say about time … that there’s no time like the present."
"They also say time’s a wasting, dear brother."
"All too true my not-so better half. There’s a good chance something can become un-borrowed and perhaps even returned before it is noticed. When she confiscated it, she meant for you not to be using it. Since we would be using it, and not you, I don’t see where the harm is in that, do you?"
Harry frowned. "If you can get it, you can borrow it. The powers that be will either allow your success, or conspire against you."
The twins looked at each other like Harry had challenged them. "Ah, but young Mr. Potter, we have something of an edge over even a seer."
They unfurled a map and whispered something to it. Harry was very surprised when names began appearing on the map and moving around. It showed Auntie Sibyll was in the faculty lounge.
"As you can see, it will be a simple matter for us to retrieve your cloak and the powers that be are nowhere to be found. So you see, oh gifted one, even such powers as yours can be overcome."
Harry fought back a smile. Perhaps they should have checked the surrounding area first. "If you say so. But I wouldn’t be so certain. The powers work in mysterious ways."
"Surely, you jest."
Professor Lupin’s voice interrupted, "I believe his given name is Harry and not Shirley."
The Weasley brothers tried in vain to hide the parchment, again whispering to it, but the Defense instructor held his hand out for it.
By the time they gave it to him, the image of the castle had faded.
"Well, it seems to be a gag gift of some kind. How does it activate?"
"We don’t know, sir," they answered in unison.
"Well, perhaps I’ll try this. Oh my! That was a rude comment from someone called Mr. Prongs. Okay, how about this? A Mr. Padfoot that time and a Mr. Wormtail that time."
"There’s another one called Mr. Moony," one of the brothers said. "We show it to people and let it insult them. It’s just a prank paper, sir. That’s all."
"Oh, okay. But it seems to me that it would be smaller if it was simply that. Perhaps you should try reading it now." He said handing it back to the nearest twin.
"Mr. Moony says that he’s on to you and that you should return his map. That doesn’t make any sense."
Lupin smiled, "Unless of course you knew that my nickname in school happened to be Mr. Moony."
Harry enjoyed watching the expressions on their face. It was never good to taunt the powers. They should have known better.
The Defense instructor tapped the map in the boy’s hands and said, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good. Normally, I’d be inclined to let you two keep this, but in the light of current events, I think its best that the map goes with me. Harry, I was just coming to get you. Professor Trelawney says that she has made a prediction and wants your assistance interpreting it. It was something about a servant returning to the master. So, if you’ll follow me."
A Weasley spoke up, "One second sir, if you are Mr. Moony, who are the others?"
"Mr. Prongs was none other than James Potter, Mr. Padfoot was Sirius Black, and Mr. Wormtail was the late Peter Pettigrew." He paused and his expression darkened as he said, "With Black an escaped prisoner and a threat to the people in this castle, it is only fitting that something he made will have a hand in his undoing."
Harry noticed Fred and George nudging each other. Lupin did as well, "Do you two have something to say?"
"I thought Peter Pettigrew was that kid in Ron’s year — kind of pudgy and barmy about plants."
"I think that’s Neville Longbottom," Harry answered.
"Well we used to see Peter Pettigrew on the map all the time in the third year Gryffindor dorms."
"Impossible!" Lupin said. "Peter died. If his ghost was haunting the castle he surely would have come see me."
Lupin knelt down and spread the map, scanning it very intently. Harry also looked. His eyes were drawn to the gamekeeper’s hut.
Three names were there. Rubeus Hagrid, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew.
Lupin bolted upright and started running for the exit.
Harry and the twins regarded each other as one of them snatched the map back up and stuffed it inside his vest. "What do you think we should do?" The other asked.
His face was devoid of humor, "Sirius Black helped kill my parents. I’m going down there to make sure he gets his!"
"What’s all this about?" Snape said coming around the corner.
"Sirius Black is in Hagrid’s hut right now! Mr. Lupin’s gone off to capture him."
"More like help him!" Snape said moving faster than they had ever seen him.
The three boys waited just long enough for him to round the corner before following.
Peter Pettigrew was having a bad week and was in fear for his life. He’d been caught by Hagrid in the vegetable garden and put into a cage to be given back to Ron Weasley. The cage didn’t worry Peter, except that he couldn’t transform.
But it wasn’t his inability to transform that had him so frightened. Hagrid had also found another animal and brought it in to his hut to feed the creature.
It was a dog — a very big, black dog and it was staring at him and showing teeth.
The only thing keeping Black from transforming was that he had no wand and Rubeus Hagrid was in the room, but that could change any minute.
Hagrid swilled whiskey from a jug, "You’re looking a little lean there, doggy! Here, let me getcha something." Peter cringed at the sound of bloody meat slapping on a plate. When the plate was set down in front of Sirius, the animagus made a point of picking the morsel up and holding it in his mouth and staring at Peter before violently ripping into it.
No, it can’t end like this!
"I was plannin’ to go down to Hogsmeade today," Hagrid said to no one in particular, "but I reckon there’ll be plenty of time for that after the school year ends. I think I’ll have me a little snack and a nap instead." He collapsed into a large, battered recliner that looked like it was scavenged from a muggle landfill with his jug of alcohol and a plate with four turkey drumsticks on it.
Peter considered his options and started using his tiny paws to work on the cage’s latch. Black growled at him, which in turn caused Hagrid’s boarhound, Fang, to growl at the animagus. There was a light thud on the windowsill and Peter looked on in horror at that bloody Granger girl’s cat. It meowed at Black who gave a curt bark back in reply. The presence of Crookshanks sent Fang into further hysterics.
Bloody hell! Black and the cat are working together.
"Aw, give it a rest, Fang! Can’t a bloke get a little peace and quiet?" Hagrid chucked a half-eaten drumstick at the barking animal as Crookshanks edged closer to Peter’s cage.
In answer to that question, the door burst open and there was Remus Lupin brandishing his wand. He immediately sent a stunner at the grim, who dived behind and end table for cover.
"Lupin! â€˜Ave you lost your bloomin’ mind!"
Remus was too busy casting a variety of spells at the dog and his banisher actually struck Hagrid’s leg spinning his massive frame around like the least graceful ballerina in history.
That knocked Hagrid into the table and Peter’s cage teetered before crashing to the floor. The rat animagus tried to clear his head. The cage was broken in several places. His first instinct was to run, but the sudden appearance of a furry orange claw swiping at him. He dodged to the backside oblivious to the mayhem occurring in the rest of the room.
Then, it was Crookshank’s turn to dodge as Fang leapt after it. His tiny ears winced at the screams of the cat, the growls from the dogs, Hagrid’s curses, and Lupin’s spells! Knowing it was foolish to stay, Peter scurried out of the broken cage. Fang was intercepted by Sirius Black, and the two canines rolled onto the ground.
But that means…
Peter sprinted for the cover of the destroyed recliner as a claw struck him hard, knocking him sideways. Pain shot up his back leg and he knew he was bleeding, but didn’t have time to worry about that at the moment. He burrowed into the cushions, desperately trying to escape the feline. The cat was right after him with its claws digging through the whiskey soaked foam.
"Quit destroying my things!" Peter heard Hagrid below and the floor shook with heavy steps.
"The dog! The dog is Black!" Lupin screams were muffled by Peter’s getting under what used to be the bottom of the chair and was now a twisted mass of wood, fabric, and metal.
Peter risked a quick peek. Hagrid had Lupin pinned to the wall. Fang and Black were nipping at each other, but Black’s frame shuddered and the angry dog became enraged man, kicking his way through the hound and lunging at Peter.
"I’m going to kill you Wormtail!"
Peter was already moving when Black upended the remains of the chair. He sprinted through a broken lampshade and glanced back at the maniac chasing him.
I just need a way out! One stinking break!
Peter was shocked that his salvation came at the wand of none other than Severus Snape. The cutting curse opened up a nasty wound on Black’s back. The escapee ducked the blasting curse which opened a gaping hole in the wall. Several screams from the animals in the pens behind that wall could be heard.
That way’s too high off the ground. I’ll get out the window!
Peter started that way, leaping from bookshelf to chair and from chair to the table next to the windowsill, but was cut off by a haggard looking cat with a few blood spatters on its fur. He turned and ran off the table, but it was too fast. It pounced on him. He’d run out of options and shifted back into his human form.
The injured Black was screaming at him, so Peter did the first thing he could think of. He threw the wretched cat at the man’s face. Hagrid was wrestling with both Lupin and Snape. The Slytherin was still firing off spells and now the room was on fire and filling with smoke. The huge man tossed both men aside like rag dolls and turned towards Sirius and him.
Three other forms appeared at the doorframe. Peter recognized Fred and George Weasley. It was the third that for some reason made Peter pause. Ron hadn’t brought him to too many classes with Harry Potter. He’d snuck into the Ravenclaw tower to see him a few times. It was shocking how much the boy looked like James. It was just plain eerie.
It was almost like the boy was looking right through him with Lily’s eyes.
What am I doing? I have to get out of here!
Hagrid grabbed Sirius and was already moving his way much more quickly than Peter ever believed possible. Snape’s wand was coming up, but the two twins and Lupin cursed the man. The spell Snape was casting misfired and the entire hut started to collapse.
Peter pushed his way through the collapsing boards around the hole and transformed.
That’ll stop them! I’m safe! All I need to do is get to the woods and I can Apparate.
"Colonel Sanders! Stop him!" Potter yelled from the other side of the chaos.
For a second he savored the freedom sprinting across the dirt strewn with the chunks of corn and half-eaten melons. It was only then that Peter looked for the inhabitant of the cage. It was a hulking monstrous chicken; nearly the size of Hagrid and its beak was coming right for ….
Uninjured, Harry sat on the edge of the bed in the infirmary watching his headmaster unravel the events at Hagrid’s destroyed hut. Madame Pomfrey moved like a hummingbird amongst a floral bed, flitting from one patient to the next.
"You two boys are lucky to have such thick heads."
"Not quite …"
"Thick enough …"
"If you …"
"Ask me …" The twins answered. Both had concussions and bruises. One was nursing a broken collarbone.
Harry had remained in the doorframe because he’d kept thinking about earthquakes and one of the best places to be during an earthquake was a doorframe … or a tub, but there had been too much going on to get to Hagrid’s bathtub and, more importantly, Harry wasn’t sure what he’d find in Hagrid’s bathtub, or for that matter if the man actually bathed.
Clearly the doorframe was where he was supposed to be.
Sirius Black was both magically and physically restrained. The curse he’d been hit with was still oozing blood. There was talk of sending someone to St. Mungo’s to find out what the correct counter-curse was from Professor Snape. Snape was in horrible condition. One of the twins had hit him with a slug spitter and the other a bowel loosener. Those spells had combined with whatever he’d been trying to cast and Harry was having a hard time not smiling at the disgusting aftermath. The twins were already joking about how to reverse engineer the "slug pooper" and all the possible applications of such a spell, especially when Madame Pomfrey and Dumbledore’s efforts could not reverse it.
"But Dumbledore, Sirius Black is an escaped criminal. He should be kissed. Immediately!"
"Cornelius, under any other circumstance, I would agree with you, but the fact that we recovered this body by forcing young Harry’s giant chicken to regurgitate it. The deceased bears a striking resemblance to Peter Pettigrew and also possesses a Dark Mark on his arm. We always assumed that Sirius Black was never marked because he was Lord Voldemort’s secret agent, but I now have cause to doubt this."
"I agree with the Headmaster," Remus Lupin said limping badly passed Hagrid’s bandaged and snoring form. "I acted too rashly and should have questioned Pettigrew’s presence, but it was clear that Sirius was trying to kill him."
"That’s one thing that is definite, Mr. Lupin. You did act rashly. One of my conditions for allowing Dumbledore and the Board of Governors to hire you was that you kept your nose clean. This flies in the face of that."
"If my resignation is asked for, I will gladly give it." The man answered leaning on a cane. "Either way, there should be an inquiry before any action is taken. I’d never dreamed that Peter was still alive all this time, but he was. The man was clearly a rat animagus, as was Peter. He is missing the same finger that belonged to Peter and most importantly, unless Peter was guilty, he had no reason to stay in hiding all these years. He was thought of as a hero. Minister Bagnold posthumously awarded him an Order of Merlin."
Fudge scratched his chin and said, "Fine, fine. We’ll question Black under Veritaserum and find out if he and this one were co-conspirators. I’ll have a trio of Aurors watching him until we can question him."
Dumbledore nodded. "Do what you think is necessary, Minister. Neither myself or Sirius Black will be leaving this room until I’ve had a chance to question him."
The Minister of Magic left, motioning for the pair of disappointed Dementors waiting at the entrance to the infirmary to follow him.
"Harry, I do believe we need to make your chicken the official mascot of Hogwarts," Dumbledore said with a slight smile on his face. "It is a remarkable and unlikely force for good."
"How is Colonel Sanders?"
"Your chicken’s wounds are minor. I sent Percy Weasley to gather some of the NEWT Care of Magical Creatures students to tend to it and the other injured animals. Do not fear. They are in good hands, although Miss Granger’s cat has most assuredly spent at least one of its nine lives."
Harry started to reply, but another voice interrupted. "You killed me! You bastards killed me!"
They turned and looked at the ethereal twin of the corpse on the bed.
"Ah, Mr. Pettigrew I presume."
"You’ll all pay for this! I’ll find The Master. I’ll tell him everything I know about this place!"
"You got exactly what you deserved, Peter!" Lupin fumed. "How could you betray James and Lily like that? You sold out to the Death Eaters!"
"Go to hell, Lupin. I did it for the money, a whole lot of money in fact. I was going to live like a prince! Then the little brat here destroys the master and suddenly there wasn’t anyone willing to pay up. They were all too busy trying to buy their way out of prison. So, I hid. I listened and now I’ll go tell the Dark Lord everything I know about this place. I’ve been in this castle for years, Dumbledore. I know things about it that even you can’t possibly know. The Master will reward me. He’ll make me a new body. You’ll see!"
Harry spoke up, "Good luck finding your master. Last I heard he was in Canada."
"Nice try whelp, just like your father, but I heard Albania is the place to be. Isn’t that what you said to the boy last year, Dumbledore? Your office has quite a few little holes in the walls."
With a wave of his wand, Dumbledore banished Pettigrew’s ghost through the wall. "I’ll alert the ghosts in the castle. Should Mr. Pettigrew attempt to return to the grounds, he will be dealt with. How are you holding up, Harry?"
"I could use a lemon drop."
The man reached into the pocket of his robes and fished out a pair. Harry barely noticed the privacy spell going up from the man’s wand. "I was just thinking the same thing. Assuming Sirius Black is innocent, he is your godfather. He will doubtless want to be involved in your life, but for the sake of the blood protections you must continue to live at your aunt’s house."
"I understand sir."
"Good. You have a remarkable ability, Harry. The fact that you came through that entire fight unscathed is most impressive. Continue to hone and refine it."
"What do we do now, sir?"
"We persevere. I will ponder what damage Peter can possibly cause and you, young man, will continue to be the most fascinating student to walk these halls in centuries."
Thanks for stopping in. July has been a pretty hectic month for me, hence the slow updates. Hopefully August will be better. If you're interested in reading an original short story from me (along with 39 others stories from the rest of the winners of the flash 40 contest) visit http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/2942. The stories are in alphabetical order and mine is called Fate's Heavy Hand.
More Inner Eye coming soon and I'm preparing to dust off Turn Me Loose for the final arc in that story.
The other good news is that Dead Eye is now available on all of Amazon's country sites, so you folks in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and whereever else Amazon sells can get Dead Eye without the excessive shipping and handling.
For all those that have already picked it up, thanks. I'll ask one last favor - swing by Amazon and leave a review of it.