Remus wolf-apparated directly into Sirius’s cell at Azkaban. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dank dimness of the barren space. He staggered as the violent sea winds shoved him a few more steps inside, towards the back wall.
What he had believed to be a leftover, forgotten or discarded pile of rags rustled and moved. A long legged, shaggy, coal black dog emerged from the darkness, stiff legged and growling, head lowered in warning as it glared at Remus.
“Change, Black.” Remus ordered, letting Moony rumbled through his voice and eyes, which were full gold. “We need to talk.”
The dog held his gaze balefully for a long moment, before slowly morphing, lengthening, changing to the man whom Remus had once called his best friend and brother.
Sirius had always been roguishly handsome, with his coal black hair and clear ice blue, almost silver, eyes, and his aristocratic features. Three days in Azkaban under the devastating effects of the Dementors had aged him twenty years, though fire and awareness still burned in his eyes.
“Why?” Remus demanded fiercely. “Why are they saying that you betrayed James and Lily, that you killed Peter? What happened, Sirius?”
“Peter. Murderer. Rat. Secret betrayer. Ickle little Wormtail, who would’ve ever thought the rat was truly a rat? A rat, with the heart of a worm and the colors of a Gryffin!” Sirius cackled. “Dead men tell no tales. Switch the secret, no one will ever know!”
“Sirius!” Remus cried desperately. “Focus! Tell me what happened!”
“S’all my fault. I killed them. Dead, all dead, cuz of mee! Should’ve known, shouldn’t of told…” Sirius cackled again before descending once more into mumbling and nonsense. After a moment, he melted down, until the large black dog was once more standing before them. He bared his teeth warningly before moving back into the shadows and lying down, his back pointedly to the world.
*Remus. The Dementors are too strong. I fear it’s too late. We may never know the truth.* Moony said sadly.
“Padfoot…” The wizard pleaded one last time, to no avail. Gritting his teeth, he let the wolf apparate them away, back home.
Remus took solace in Harry, cuddling the boy and breathing in his scent, so comforting and soothing and familiar. They were in the rocking chair, the motion soothing to them both. The boy was dozing lightly, one chubby hand clutching a lock of Remus’s hair tightly, even in his sleep. The wizard angled his head, carefully working the strands out.
“Grip like a lion, this one.” He chuckled, though his throat was tight with tears. “James would be so proud.”
*He will have a chance to experience it for himself, in two days.* Moony replied lightly. *Is everything set? Do you have the antidote?*
The wizard nodded, careful not to rouse the sleeping child on his chest. “Yes. They were wary about accepting all of us, but are willing to at least give us sanctuary until we can figure out our next move. I never would have thought of that particular location.”
*Wolf Haven Sanctuary in Washington State has long been a haven for magicals of all types who just want to live in peace by the old ways, instead of being governed. That includes werewolves and a father and son pair who somehow have both done the impossible and survived the Killing Curse.* The wolf said drily. *The main difference is that they will not ask questions, and will not reveal our location.*
“I sure hope so.” Remus murmured sleepily. “Else we’re all fucked…”
Ten years later.
“Harry James Potter, stop bouncing so much!” Remus laughed, placing gentle hands on the ten year old’s shoulders.
“But I’m just so excited, Uncle Remus!” Harry replied, still bouncing on the balls of his feet, anxiously trying to peer around the people standing in front of them in line. “How does the airplane stay up in the sky? Does it flap its wings like a bird? How many people can fit inside? What–mmmph!”
A long arm slipped between Remus and the boy, wrapping around his head in a playful headlock that muffled the rest of his excited questions.
“Breathe, Mini Me,” James said fondly, ruffling Harry’s already messy black hair affectionately. “At least give us – or the nice lady – a chance to answer your first ten questions before spouting off twenty more, hmm?” He winked at the stewardess.
The ‘nice lady’, whose name tag read ‘Bridgit’, smiled back at him, her eyes bright with laughter. “You must be Harry.” She said cheerfully, right on cue. “If you gentlemen would follow me, we will get you settled into your seats. If you would like, young Harry, the Captain has invited you and your dad up to the cockpit, where he will be happy to personally answer your questions.”
“Can I, Dad?” Harry immediately wheedled, turning wide green eyes beseechingly on his father, as Remus snickered. Although the lad was a carbon copy of his father, the eyes and some of the mannerisms were pure Lily. And, just like with his wife, James had no defense against that pleading look from those green eyes.
Accepting his fate, James sighed dramatically. “Are you sure you aren’t Remus’s kid, with that puppy dog face?” He teased.
“Not a chance. Lily is somewhere watching and giggling like crazy.” Remus retorted. “As are your mother and grandmother, both of which I believe, blessed you with the popular, ‘may you have a child just like you’ when you told them Lily was pregnant.” He poked Harry in the side, making him squirm away with a giggle. “Have I taught you nothing? Save that face for your birthday and Christmas!”
James rolled his eyes. “Lead the way, Miss Bridgit, please. I guess we’re off to see the captain.”
“So, how does the airplane stay up in the air?” Remus greeted them, amused, as they returned. He was already settled comfortably into his seat in the middle – they were flying first class – and had taken the liberty of ordering both himself and James a drink, knowing it would be appreciated.
“Magic.” Harry answered wit ha straight face, before breaking into laughter at his uncle’s obligingly exasperated huff. “I don’t really know–the captain said something about lift and aerodynamics, but I didn’t really understand it, so my theory now is a modified levitation charm, like on flying carpets.”
“So then not by flapping its wings like a bird?” Remus teased, as James settled in beside him near the aisle.
Harry stuck his tongue out at the older man, turning pointedly to look out the window instead.
“Ah, the pre-teen years.” The werewolf murmured, still highly amused. “Like the calm before the storm. Is that the distant rumble of hormones I hear in the distance?”
James snorted, slumping down in his seat as much as the still upright position would let him. “Shut it Moony. You’re the favorite uncle, remember? So guess who he’s gonna come running to play mediator and sympathizer when dear old dad becomes the bad guy. You, that’s who.”
“Lucky me.” Remus drawled. “Are you sure I can’t stay in the States?”
He bit back his instinctive initial response, that it would be like Hogwarts all over again, with him usually as the logical voice of reason (and tie breaker) between the more hot headed James and Sirius. Even after ten years, the mere mention of Sirius’ inexplicable betrayal still brought a dark shadow to James’s eyes and mood. Sirius had been his family, more like a brother than the cousin he technically was. The Potters had brought Sirius into their home after he was kicked out and disowned from his own family for not adhering to the Black family values, beliefs, and traditions, especially those that aligned with Voldemort.
The only person Sirius had loved instantly more than James had been young Harry himself. He had often teased Lily about having to share the two men in her life. She had responded by giving him a certificate stating that he had shared custody and ownership of the Potter males, as well as a co-ownership contract that required a mandatory boys’ weekend once a month (so she could get things done), and at least one night every other week babysitting his godson (that night become the Potter date night, although most of the time they came home early, or spent the night in watching movies and reminiscing.) She also gave him a bill for 15,000 Gaellons in owed child support. She was just teasing about the money, but Sirius secretly started a vault in Harry’s name, and made a deposit faithfully, every month.
So then why had Sirius betrayed them to Voldemort? Remus still didn’t understand, and suspected that he never would.
His friend had raised his brows and shot him a thoroughly unamused look. The blonde relented, his tone holding a hint of apology for the tease. “Only teasing. You know I’m with you to the end, no matter what.” He stated quietly.
James held his gaze for a moment, and nodded. “I know.”
Shaking off the melancholy thoughts, both men turned to watch Harry, who had missed the byplay in his own enthusiastic running commentary of the slow progression of the airplay, as they finally departed the gate and joined the line for liftoff.
“Why did we decide to take a Muggle airplane instead of an international Portkey?” James muttered, gripping his arm rests as they climbed into the sky.
“Because none of the identifications we had would be applicable for getting through international customs. There’s also the little fact that to the wizarding world, James Potter has been dead for ten years, so seeing your name on a passport might raise some questions we don’t want answered yet.” Remus answered too patiently. “And there’s also the fact that the Supreme Mugwump of meddlers, Albus Dumbledore, believes that your son, the Boy Who Lived, has been staying with his Muggle relatives, tucked away, but still on the same continent this whole time, so we don’t want to rile the old man up any more than we already have either.”
The werewolf smiled sympathetically. “C’mon, Potter. You were the Captain and lead Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, yet you can’t handle flying in a plane, with nice padded seats and plenty of protective mental between you and the outside world?”
“I know how my broom works, and I’m in control of it and thus my life. This way, I’m entrusting Muggles to keep us safe.”
“They have plenty of magic of their own, in a way.” Remus shrugged. “Relax, James. Look at your son. He loves this! Besides, we’ll be in Britain before you know it.”
“From one land of mist and rain to another. Will you miss Haven?”
The other man glanced away. “It doesn’t rain in Washington nearly as much as people assume. Britain is far worse.” Feeling his friend’s knowing gaze, he relented. “I will miss Haven, yes. I…learned a great deal among the Lunar packs.” He felt Moony’s pleased agreement wash over him, and smiled faintly.
*You did well, wolfling. You are beginning to show the potential that I saw in you from a young age. You will make a great alpha someday. The wolf said quietly, overriding the wizard’s automatic protest. You are an Alpha, a leader. It is instinctual. There will come a point where you will have to decide to challenge for control of the packs. You know it as well as I. The viper is still linked to this middle plane. When he returns, he will recruit again. The packs would follow you, Remus. And you, in turn don’t have to follow Dumbledore or Voldemort. There’s always a third path.*
*I know.* Remus replied quietly. *We will follow that trail when we cross it.* He settled back in his seat, closing his eyes. “Try to get some sleep, Prongs. We’ve hours yet.”
He dozed lightly despite his advice to his friend, trusting Moony to keep track of their companions and surroundings.
The flight went smoothly, despite James’s mutterings and fears. Harry’s new friend Brigit led them off the plane to a small room, rather than directing them to the concourse to pick up their luggage. “Please, wait here gentlemen.” She said apologetically. “It seems that there was a small issue with your passports…” She disappeared through another door before they could respond.
James and Remus exchanged a look, moving to bracket Harry and silently releasing their wands from their wrist holsters as they warily watched the door, waiting for her – or someone else – to come back. They never saw the wizard who Apparated in behind them, or the silent spells that hit all three in the back, knocking them unconscious.
“Dear, dear me.” Albus Dumbledore murmured, shaking his head. “Remus Lupin, you naughty boy. Didn’t I tell you to leave young Mister Potter where he was, all those years ago? And James, dear boy, however did you survive? No matter. I can’t have you two marauding and mucking about, messing up my plans.” He chuckled in delight at his word play, before waving his wand over each of them. “You’ll understand someday, James. Your son has a destiny, a fate that will not be denied. This is the only path forward…”
It was a good thing that one of the silver gadgets on his desk monitored a tracking charm that he had placed on Harry before leaving him at the Dursleys. It had taken a few days to acclimate, then stopped responding all together, but he had assumed that there was too much interference, between the distance and the bit of magic surrounded by all of the Muggle technology. He had thought nothing more of it, confident in the fact that Harry was exactly where he had left him – until the gadget had started spinning and sputtering again that morning, eventually giving him the coordinates of a Muggle airport.
He had travelled enough in his younger years to be able to manoeuvre around a Muggle airport without too much difficulty, and a few sly questions had confirmed that a man and a boy matching Remus’s and Harry’s descriptions were on the flight, along with a third companion. He had a quiet word with security, and there they were. He was intensely curious about how James had survived the Killing Curse, especially since Dumbledore himself had confirmed his death, but that was not enough to alter his course.
Searching carefully in his pockets, he finally found an empty Chocolate Frog wrapper and an equally empty box of Bertie’s Every Flavour Beans, which he spelled into two Portkeys. He tucked one into James’s pocket, and one into Remus’s, watching in grim satisfaction as they disappeared, before gathering Harry in his arms and Disapparating, leaving the room empty once more.
Two weeks later, he was in his office, staring broodingly into the fire, when there was a soft knock on the door.
“Enter.” He called. “Ah, Minerva. Please, come in.”
“No need; I’m on my way to visit a Muggleborn and her parents. Just wanted to check with you before I left. Harry Potter’s letter is addressed to go out. Do you want me to deliver it personally as well? Those awful Muggles…”
“No, no. If it comes to that, I will take care of it.” He replied firmly. “Safe travels, Minerva.”
She looked as if she wanted to protest but didn’t, sweeping out of his office in a swirl of green wool. Dumbledore watched her go, his eyes hooded; he knew exactly where that letter was addressed.
Mr. H. Potter
The Cupboard Under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging, Surrey