"For in much Wisdom there is much Grief, and
he that increaseth Knowledge increaseth Pain" --Ecclesiastes 1:18,
Safely inside the Gryffindor
common room, after a most unusual day, the Marauders staked out a deserted
corner near the portrait hole to do a serious bit of talking.
"For being a day in
which we didn't actually do schoolwork, this has been most educational,"
said James. "At least, I learned a lot."
that you'll eventually have a kid who looks just like you? You could
pass for identical twins!" said Sirius with an evil grin.
"That is simply downright
weird," said James, poking at the rug for emphasis. He ran a hand
through his hair and closed his eyes. "He's Quidditch captain, even."
"Harry isn't exactly
like you, James," said Remus. "Quieter, less mischievous."
"I noticed that, too,"
said Sirius, looking distinctly disappointed. "Must be from his mother's
side. Pity. Wonder if he's got any siblings. Eh, Prongs?"
"Like I'd know,"
"I wonder if any other
students are related to us," mused Peter, observing a few sixth-years
discussing Arithmancy at one of the tables.
"Neville's surname was
Longbottom, Wormtail," said Sirius.
"He didn't seem a bit
like Frank," said Remus. "Frank's shy, but not mousy.
Perhaps heritage is the only reason he's in Gryffindor."
"Or the Sorting Hat
knows something we don't," said James.
"You never know, do
you?" said Sirius. "Look at dear Peter here. I could have
sworn he'd end up in Hufflepuff."
"Thanks a lot, Padfoot,"
said Peter sourly.
"You know I only pick
on those I love, Wormtail," said Sirius sweetly.
"In which case, you
have a very unhealthy crush on Snape," said James, grinning. Sirius
socked him in the shoulder, so James smacked him upside the skull. Sirius
then launched himself at James, putting him in a headlock, accidentally
catching Remus' robes, and earning him a kick in the knee out of Remus'
indignation. Thus ensued a long and spirited brawl that ended only when
the Gryffindor fifth years entered the room. The Marauders untangled
themselves, realising then that in their zeal, they'd missed supper.
They didn't mind. Not if the kitchens were still behind the painting
of fruit in the dungeons. They made good use of this knowledge, and when
they returned, (after wreaking havoc in a girls' toilet, just for old
times' sake) the Common Room was empty, save for (amazingly enough) Harry
himself, doing homework by the fire. They watched him in silence for
"So," said James,
sticking his hands in his pockets, "What do you think would be the
best way to tell him?"
"Tell who what?"
"Harry," said James,
"Tell him we're here. Let him in on the charm."
"Are you sure that's
such a good idea?" asked Remus. "We've been pretty harmless
so far. Actually having contact with a future person could cause a lot
"No one came back in
time to warn us not to do this," said Sirius. "And I want to
see the look on Harry's face when he figures out who we are. It'll be
"That it will,"
said James, though that was not the only reason why he wanted to introduce
himself. "So what would be the best way? Write it on parchment
and give it to him?"
"Sounds good to me,"
They actually stole some
of Harry's own parchment and a spare quill to write the message. That
was one major advantage of the Somebody Else's Problem Charm: one could
do things right under people's noses and they'd never notice until too
late. James tried several drafts before settling on his message, and
the other three made various (and not always helpful) suggestions. When
they were all reasonably satisfied, James deposited the message on Harry's
textbook. Harry didn't pay it any mind it at first, and made to move
it out of the way when he realized what it was. This is what it said:
First, do not do anything
until you've finished reading this note. Otherwise, everything will be
Second, some old friends
and family of yours have cast a very complex charm and are awaiting your
opinion. When you are finished reading this note, look up and to your
right. There are four new but strangely familiar fifth-years sitting
in the armchair on your right. One of them is waving. They will explain
everything, even if it takes all night.
The Marauders watched with
bated breath as Harry read the note twice over. Then, looking thoroughly
confused and trying to remember where he'd seen that handwriting before,
he looked up and around at them. Sirius waved furiously, and Harry nearly
fell out of his chair from shock. His mouth wagged soundlessly as his
gaze shifted from one Marauder to the next, finally settling on James,
who was turning pink.
"Sorry for the surprise.
We can explain everything," he said hurridly.
Harry, but he didn't seem to be able to put in words what he was seeing.
said James, by way of introduction. "And this is Sirius Black, Remus
Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew."
"I–I know–I mean,–I–I've
met–" Harry stammered, took a breath, and tried another tack. "How?"
Peter, as if this explained everything. It would have, had he been addressing
another Marauder, or indeed, anyone from their time at Hogwarts.
"It’s a charm,"
said Sirius, shrugging. "Sends you through time. Spent three years
researching it, and this is our first go. Pretty cool, huh?"
Harry stared at him open-mouthed
for a few seconds before closing his eyes, collapsing into a chair, taking
off his glasses, and covering his face with his hands. "This is
unbelievable. Completely, totally..."
finished James, sitting down across from him. "Yeah, I know. But
that's Sirius for you. To tell the truth, I'm surprised he could actually
do it, you know? ... We just came to this time to see how Hogwarts would
change in twenty-five years. We weren't expecting you."
"We were hoping..."
began Remus before trailing off. "Anyway, are you the only one?"
"Only one what?"
murmured Harry from behind his hands.
"Only one here with
a Marauder for a parent," explained Remus. "Personally, I doubt
Harry put his glasses back
on and looked around at him all. "No, I think I'm it," he said,
his voice strangely thick.
James, taken aback. "You mean Sirius and Remus and Peter... why
wouldn't they have families by now?" Peter nodded his agreement
"It's... kind of a long
story," said Harry, obviously unwilling to say more. "How long
have you been here?" he asked, "Why haven't I noticed you?"
"We've been here since
early this morning," said James, "And you didn't notice because
of something clever Remus dug up."
"Of course it's clever,"
said Sirius. "Remus is that kind of guy."
"Its known as a Somebody
Else's Problem Charm," said Remus, sitting down next to James. "The
story is that someone got the idea from a Muggle science-fiction book,
and the theory is not to make something invisible or inaudible, but to
make people simply ignore it. Its a kind of highly concentrated super-specific
distraction charm. You can't see us unless you know about the charm,
or know where to look."
"Oh," said Harry,
more out of weariness than genuine understanding.
"We've been following
you around all day," said Peter.
"Don't tell him that!"
said Sirius, "It'll make him paranoid."
"We have, though,"
admitted James with a shrug, "and sat in on some of your classes.
We saw McGonagall hasn't changed a bit."
"No, probably not,"
agreed Harry. "Wait. Did one of you–"
"Write on the blackboard?"
said Sirius. "That was James. What did you think?"
"You wrote that?"
exclaimed Harry in astonishment, staring wide-eyed at James.
James grinned. "None
other," he said proudly. "I wonder if she recognized it."
"I'd think it would
be awfully hard to forget," said Harry, finally smiling himself.
"At least I won't for awhile. I thought McGonagall was going to
have a fit. Where did you get it?"
"Made it up himself,
he did," said Sirius. "He's done it before, of course, twenty-six
years ago. Got detention for a month, didn't you Prongs?"
"It was worth every
minute," said James fondly. He paused, and looked at Harry curiously.
"You do know about our nicknames, don't you?"
"Yeah, of course,"
said Harry. "Sirius is Padfoot, Pr–I mean, Remus is Moony,
and Peter..." he hesitated. "Peter is Wormtail."
Sirius. "And do you know where we got those nicknames?"
"Sure," said Harry.
"You're all Animagi. Except for Remus." Remus looked troubled
until Harry said, "It’s alright. I don't mind that you're a werewolf."
"Yes, but, what were
you about to call him?" said Sirius.
Harry quickly, realizing that he'd have to be careful not to break any
news to these four in the wrong way. A tempting thought occurred to him.
What would happen if he told them everything? He could warn them! He
could change–change what? Could he prevent his parent's death? Wormtail's
betrayal? Sirius' imprisonment? Voldemort's return? But the only reason
Voldemort fell the first time was because of his mother's sacrifice...
Confused, he decided to let the matter be for awhile.
asked James. He and the other Maruaders exchanged curious glances, noticing
the flurry of emotions that had just fled across Harry's face. He'd gone
suddenly quiet. But then he only shrugged, and smiled again.
"Wait 'till I tell Ron
and Hermione!" he said, "You don't mind, do you?"
"That redhead and the
bookworm? Not at all," said Sirius.
"But not too many people,"
"Wouldn't want to cause
too much of a stir," said James. "It would be easier if you
could introduce them to us somewhere private. Otherwise, someone else
might figure out the charm. They'll see you, of course, and might notice
who you're talking to."
"Got it," said
Harry. "Wait here a minute: I'll get Ron, and I think Hermione's
in the library." He bounded up the dormitory stairs and disappeared
from sight. The Marauders watched him go.
"Nice kid, Prongs,"
said Sirius. James smacked him.
"But Harry, that's impossible!"
Hermione had to jog to keep up with her long-legged friend as they navigated
the many halls of Hogwarts on the way to a deserted dungeon. Harry had
just finished telling her what was going on and they and Ron were meeting
the Marauders in a room they knew of that was both private and generally
forgotten. "Travelling through time is immensely difficult! There's
no way any old fifth year could do it."
"Since when was Sirius
Black 'any old fifth year'?" returned Harry. "They all got
away with becoming Animagi right under Dumbledore's nose, didn't they?"
"Yes, but–" Hermione
gestured futilely, trying to come up with another argument. Truth be
told, she didn't really doubt Harry, she just couldn't reconcile the idea
of a Hogwarts student figuring out such complex spells on his own.
"And you heard McGonagall
and Flitwick say Sirius and my dad were some of the brightest kids ever
to come to Hogwarts," Harry went on, "And they made the Marauders'
Map, for Pete's sake!"
"Oh, Harry, I just don't
know," said Hermione worridly. "What if they found out about--about
everything? Imagine what would happen!" Harry gave her a peculiar
look, and she caught the meaning immediately. "I guess you've already
imagined, haven't you?"
"You could say that,"
said Harry quietly.
"Then you know you mustn't
say anything," said Hermione. "If they find out... we
don't even know exactly why you lived, Harry. If we change anything,
it might turn out that you're dead and You-Know-Who is still around!"
"What, he didn't come
back last summer?" Harry said sarcastically.
Hermione wrung her hands
in frustration. "You know what I mean. I hate to be the one to
agree with Fudge, but we did have thirteen years of peace, didn't
we? Who else would have died in the meantime if You-Know-Who hadn't fallen?"
That caught Harry up. Before
he could answer, though, he saw Ron coming to meet them. "I couldn't
find the room," he called, glancing over his shoulder. "Never
been this way before."
"Neither have I,"
said Harry, "but it can't be hard to find. Listen, Ron, when we
get there: don't say too much about what happened between now and twenty-five
years ago, all right?"
Ron laughed grimly. "You
mean you don't want me to say, 'Hey Sirius, you know you're gonna spend
twelve years in Azkaban'?"
"Something like that,"
said Harry. "Don't say anything to my dad, either. Or to Peter–he's
still their friend." Ron wrinkled his nose, cursing under his breath,
and Hermione did her best not to show equal disgust. "And remember
not to call Remus 'Professor Lupin.'"
"So long as you call
your dad 'James' and not 'Dad'," said Ron with a grin. "D'you
think they know about your mum?"
Hermione shook her head.
"How could they? They're only fifteen, right, Harry? You don't
know who you're going to marry yet, do you Ron?"
"Good point," said
Ron as his ears went pink, and he let the matter drop.
They walked on for a few
minutes in silence, Harry trailing one hand on the stone wall.
"D–I mean, James–said
it would be somewhere here: a hidden door that looks like part of the
"How do you find it?"
"By finding the handle,"
said Harry. "Its invisible, but James said it would be waist-high
and... Here!" Harry pulled on what looked like air, and a door appeared
out of nowhere, leading to a low, dusty room. "Wait a sec, while
I see what's going on." He stepped inside.
"Hey there!" said
Sirius cheerily. "We were beginning to wonder." He and the
other Marauders were seated in dusty wooden chairs. Other than that,
the room was empty The only light came from shivering silver flames that
Remus seemed to be cupping in his hands. Harry realised where he'd seen
that trick once before: as Professor Lupin, Remus had used those flames
when the lights on the Hogwarts Express had gone out on the way to school
two years before.
"My friends are with
me," said Harry, "How do I do this?"
"Just tell them what
to look for," said James.
Harry took a good look around
before turning to Ron and Hermione. "Listen," he said, "I
told you about the spell, and how it works. All you have to do is know
what to look for."
"When you go in, look
to your left. Sirius is on the left, Remus in next, then Peter, then
James. And Remus is lighting the room with a sort of flame in his hand,
the same kind he used on the Hogwarts express when the Dementors came
on. Got it?"
Harry stepped back, and was
quite satisfied to hear the barely audible squeak Hermione let out when
she saw the Marauders.
"Harry," said Hermione
breathlessly, poking her head back out the door. "You do look just
like your dad!"
Harry grinned at her. "I
know. Weird, isn't it?"
"I think it's pretty
cool," said Ron.
"'Cool' is an understatement,"
said Sirius. "You should have seen James's face when we first saw
you, Harry. I believe the technical term for it is 'freaked out'."
"Whereas the technical
term for you in any situation," said James, "is 'completely
out to lunch'."
"And you're just jealous,"
Sirius shot back.
"Excuse me," interrupted
Hermione, "but where do we sit?"
Sirius jabbed a thumb at
James. "D'you mind taking this one, Prongs?"
James shrugged and waved
his wand, conjuring up three more chairs to complete the circle they were
sitting in. He beckoned them forward.
"How did you do that?"
asked Hermione, staring at James as she took her chair.
"Oh, you know,"
said James, waving a casual hand as if shooing a fly. "Just a little
bit of advanced transfiguration. Come now, you haven't seen Dumbledore
do something like that?"
"I have–I just–You're
only a fifth year!"
James folded his hands and
leaned in close towards the incredulous Gryffindor. "My dear Hermione,
I have never allowed knowledge like that to hinder me in my life-long
quest for mastering the most difficult and obscure spells," said
"Besides, it’s not that
hard," added Sirius. James backhanded him.
"I suppose you've heard
all about us," said Remus.
"Of course!" said
Ron. "My twin brothers practically idolize you. The famous Moony,
Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. They'd probably kill to meet you."
said Sirius, "but no human sacrificing, please."
"It’s not good for our
image," said James.
"So you're just... doing
this for the fun of it?" asked Hermione timidly, looking very hard
at James. She seemed to be trying to figure out some mystery about him.
"More or less,"
said James with a shrug.
"It’s an adventure,
and a Marauder is always up for a good adventure," said Sirius.
"Even," said Remus,
looking as if he didn't know whether to be proud of the fact, or very
ashamed, "if it's highly illegal."
it's highly illegal," corrected Sirius.
They talked for a good while,
laughing quite a bit as the Marauders told of their various escapades
together. They had only recently managed the Animagus spell and were
still getting used to their new freedom. Harry, Ron, and Hermione added
a few good tales of their own, impressing even Sirius with the story of
the flying Ford Anglia. The only thing was, they had to keep catching
themselves from telling too much. It wasn't such a bad thing to let them
know that Remus would someday be a professor, (James especially was highly
amused) but there was so much else that was far too dangerous. Sirius
kept asking over and over who James was going to marry, even when James
threatened to turn him into a hamster, but Harry held firm. "Even
if you guess, I'm not saying."
Remus decided diplomatically
to change the subject. "So, Harry, you play Quidditch?"
"He's the captain,"
said Hermione. "He plays seeker, and he's very good at it."
James, "I'm captain too, but my position is Chaser. Too bad, I
could teach you a few moves."
"James, think. You
probably already HAVE taught him a few moves," said Sirius.
"Oh, right," said
"No, he hasn't,"
corrected Harry before he could stop himself. He was very tempted to
smack his forehead for making the blunder.
"Why not?" said
"Its another long story,"
said Harry quickly in what he hoped was an offhand manner. "A long
story" had been his excuse for any slip-ups so far, and it seemed
to pacify the Marauders for the time being.
"What, did he suddenly
become very afraid of heights?" guessed Remus.
"No, he had a horrible
accident on his broom ten years ago that explains not only why he no longer
flies, but also why Harry is an only child," said Sirius knowledgably.
"Sirius, that is very
sick, and very wrong," said James. "Which may be typical for
you, but there are children in the room."
"We're not any older
than you are at the moment," said Harry with a slow and deadly grin.
"Besides, Sirius, you don't have any children at all, which, as far
as you know, is due to the very reasons you just gave to James."
"I think not,"
said Sirius indignantly.
"Harry, why don't you
just call James 'Dad'?" piped up Peter.
"Because that's more
sick and wrong than Sirius' alleged broomstick accident," said Remus.
"I did NOT have a broomstick
accident!" insisted Sirius.
"You don't know that,"
said Ron slyly. Sirius made a move to clobber him, but James held him
Hermione tutted. "Boys!"
she exclaimed, clearly annoyed.
"You know, Sirius, maybe
we should have brought Patricia along," said James. "Then she
and Hermione here could have gone off and discussed... I don't know, make-up."
"If I had an interest
in that sort of thing, maybe I would have been grateful," returned
Hermione. "Who's Patricia?"
"Patricia Marsh, Sirius'
girlfriend," said Peter simply.
"She is not my
girlfriend," said Sirius, "and if you continue to call her that,
I will spike your pumpkin juice with a Frankness Draught from now 'til
graduation. It will be ever so interesting when you can no longer prevent
yourself from keeping your fascinating private thoughts to yourself."
James leaned over to Harry
and said, "Personally, I think ol' Wormtail hit the nail on the head."
Harry and Hermione both nodded.
Sirius looked James in the
eye. "Personally, I think you could do with a nosejob a la Padfoot."
Remus smiled. "Personally,
I think you're all a bunch of great noisy gits."
"Personally, I'd like
to raid the kitchens. I'm hungry," said Peter.
Remus, Sirius, James, Harry,
Ron, and Hermione all looked at him. "Wormtail, that was neither
clever, nor pertinent to the situation," said James.
"It was what I was thinking,"
They went on talking. When
midnight came, Remus performed a Somebody Else's Problem charm on Harry,
Ron, and Hermione, and they all snuck quietly back up to Gryffindor Tower.
Harry had filled the Marauders in on their schedule the next day, and
the Marauders themselves promised a day full of unprecedented fun and
general mayhem, followed by some cooperative pranking between the two
generations in the evening. They all agreed that the best part would
be pulling pranks that hadn't been seen at Hogwarts in decades and giving
the staff a serious case of dčja-vu.
Curled up in the corner of
the fifth-years' dorm in Gryffindor Tower, James couldn't help but reflect
on this "highly educational" day. He found himself glancing
continually over at Harry's bed. He couldn't get over how much they were
alike, down to the similar prescriptions in eyeglasses. Remus was right,
though, Harry wasn't as reckless as James, and he was definitely quieter,
but with a little encouragement he had the same sense of humour. But
there were other differences. Harry's eyes, for one, thought James.
Eye-color wasn't something James usually took note of, but who on earth
had eyes that particular shade of green? It was so unusual. Did Harry
really inherit it from his mother, the girl James would someday marry?
And there were times that Harry fell silent, and something seemed to burden
him somehow. Something's wrong here, thought James. Something big has
changed between my time and now, 'cause there's something about Harry
that shouldn't be, something that he can't help and isn't about to tell
us. Almost like Remus, but not. James sighed and decided not to worry
about it at the moment. It occurred to him just before he fell asleep
that, come morning, he'd like to ask Harry where he got that odd thin
scar on his forehead.
Groaning, Sirius tried to
stuff his pillow in his ears. One of the Gryffindors was snoring heartily,
and it was getting on his nerves. Odd, he thought, usually it wouldn't
bother him. He realized he was tense, and even the Marauders' most daring
adventures didn't make him this tense. But this was different. He had
a feeling that this whole adventure was starting to turn a little weird;
either that or it was about to turn weird. His mum always said he had
an affinity for the future--not true divination, but still helpful, though
most of the time he couldn't tell if what he felt was something current
or coming. He realised he was thinking about how Harry, Ron, and Hermione
had all been giving them surreptitious weird looks throughout the evening.
Especially Harry. Sirius tried to chalk it all up to the strangeness
of seeing one's own father at one's own age, but it didn't work. It was
almost as if Harry had never seen James before. Ever. Silly idea, thought
Sirius, rolling over and sandwiching his head in the pillow, which drowned
out the snoring somewhat. He probably just never realized how much he
looked like his dad. They did look a lot alike, Sirius mused, except
for the eyes, of course, and that scar.
Remus, too, had trouble getting
to sleep that night. It wasn't the hard floor. He was used to that sort
of thing. He was wondering why Harry kept avoiding their questions.
Sure, he'd filled them in on the basics of his life: his love of Quidditch,
the classes he liked, the broom he owned, his favorite way of torturing
his worst enemy. Yet he seemed to pointedly avoid any inquiry about his
background or home. It takes a liar to spot one, thought Remus, and after
spending a good bit of his life explaining away his monthly disappearances,
he had a knack for picking up on other people's cover-ups. And Harry
was definitely covering something up. He wondered vaguely if James or
Peter or Sirius had noticed, but decided to wait until morning. And there
were always other ways of finding out about people. Sirius might disagree,
but those ways didn't even have to include going through a person's belongings.
He just had to ask the right questions in the right ways. At least, thought
Remus sleepily, he's not prejudiced against werewolves, but that was probably
James' doing a long time ago. He tried to think up some innocuous questions
to ask in the morning, but only got as far as "where did you get
that scar?" before he fell asleep.
Peter watched his three best
friends fall asleep one by one. He knew Sirius and James and Remus would
all just call him paranoid, but he could have sworn Harry, Ron, and Hermione
ignored him. Granted, most people usually ignored him, being as small
and shy as he was, but these three had every reason to pay him some attention,
being from the past and all. Yet they seemed to avoid even looking at
him, let alone speaking to him. Well, of course, thought Peter, they're
paying all that attention to James because he'll be Harry's dad someday,
and Remus was one of their teachers. And Sirius was... Sirius was Sirius,
and therefore by definition impossible to ignore. Oh, well, he thought.
Maybe I'm just imagining things. He leaned back and put his hands behind
his head. Tomorrow would be fun. This would be the first time they had
ever had the chance to wreak havoc like they'd always imagined: not only
messing around in classes they didn't have to be in, but no one would
ever guess they were at Hogwarts at all. He couldn't wait to see what
all seven of them together could cook up and didn't doubt that Harry could
be as good as James at mischief. He seemed pretty adept at wandering
about at night undetected. Peter yawned. Perhaps a wild adventure had
been where Harry had got that lightning scar of his. What would cause
that, he thought, before drifting off into sleep.