The Sugar Quill
Author: Chrmisha (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Patronus Charm  Chapter: Default
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The Mirror on the 4th Floor

The Patronus Charm

By Chrmisha

 

Summary: Professor Remus Lupin and Harry Potter are brought together as Harry tries to conquer the dementors. In so doing, Harry and Lupin forge a friendship as Harry reexperiences the last moments of his parents’ life with Lupin’s assistance. This missing bit of story explains how Harry conquers the Patronus charm.

 

A/N: This story has been updated slightly to reflect the comments of my readers who left reviews. Many thanks to my beta-reader Zsenya for her wonderful review and critique of my work.

 

 

 

Harry was exhausted, but he still wasn’t pleased with the feeble form of his Patronus. He took a deep breath. This was his last chance before tomorrow’s Quidditch match against Ravenclaw. Professor Lupin looked more tired than usual sitting behind his desk grading papers. Harry almost excused himself to leave Professor Lupin to get some sleep, but Lupin beckoned him in. “Just a short session tonight, all right then?” Harry nodded as Professor Lupin led the way to the History of Magic classroom.

 

“Ready?” Lupin asked, a hint of weariness in his voice as his fingers hovered over the suitcase latch.

 

Harry scrunched up his face for a moment and thought about the joy of winning the Quidditch Cup. “Ready.”

 

Harry sank to the floor, pulling his knees to his chest. Although he’d managed not to pass out before Lupin finally put the boggart away, the boggart-dementor had drained all of his energy. His legs were shaky and he felt sick.

 

“Harry, you are doing excellent,” Lupin reassured. “This is ridiculously advanced magic! You can’t expect yourself to master in a short time what most adult wizards can’t even do.”

 

“That’s not it,” said Harry, a sullenness echoing in his voice. “I know what the problem is.”

 

Harry bowed his head as he felt Professor Lupin’s gaze carefully study him. Harry clenched his teeth at the inevitable string of questions Lupin was sure to fire at him, but was relieved when, instead, the professor merely sat on the floor next to him in silence.

 

“It’s not like I want to relive those horrible last moments of my parents’ life, but…” he trailed off, looking into the distance.

 

“But those are the only memories you have of them.”

 

Harry nodded, tears unexpectedly springing to his eyes. He hadn’t expected Lupin to understand.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Lupin raise a hand to place on Harry’s shoulder. The touch never came though, as Lupin pulled back, seemingly lost in his own thoughts.

 

“Did– did you know my mother too?”

 

“Yes, of course.”

 

“And…” Harry paused, swallowing the unbidden emotions rising in his chest, “Did you know me? I mean, when I was a baby?”

 

Lupin smiled solemnly and nodded. “I did.” Lupin voice was soft and Harry swore he could hear a twinge of regret in his voice.

 

Harry watched as Lupin fetched a photograph from inside of his robes and handed it to Harry. Harry stared at it with a mixture of disbelief and pleasant surprise. There, in the photo, was a younger-looking Lupin. His hair was brown with no hint of gray, his smiling face unlined. He was holding a baby with dark, unruly hair who was playfully slapping at his face and bouncing up and down in his arms. On either side of him stood Harry’s parents, each with a hand on one of Lupin’s shoulders, smiling proudly. Harry’s hands shook as he held the photo.

 

“When was this taken?” Harry asked, turning momentarily to look at Lupin before returning to the photo.

 

“About a week before…” Lupin’s voice trailed off leaving Harry to wonder what he might have said next.

 

“Do you always carry this with you?” Harry asked with hesitation.

 

“No, not always. I usually keep it in my rooms. But I was looking at it this morning when I was interrupted by a knock at the door.”

 

The two of them sat in silence as Harry watched the scene before him in the animated photograph. He searched his brain for any shred of memory of his parents. If only he could remember his father’s voice, his mother’s smile…

 

“Harry, I have an idea. I’m not sure it’s a good idea, but it’s something to think about.”

 

Harry attention snapped to Professor Lupin as he reluctantly handed back the photo.

 

“I want you to think long and hard about this before you answer. I do not want you to take what I’m about to say lightly. Do you understand?”

 

Harry looked into Lupin’s tired eyes, “Yes, Professor.”

 

Lupin stood up and started pacing as if contemplating some intricate plan. He spoke quickly as Harry sat at attention at his feet. “Well, we could let the boggart out and, instead of fighting it, we could let you relive that night once and for all. Then, you would have it clearly etched in your mind––for better of for worse––and you wouldn’t need to fight the impulse to hear their voices because you’d already know what they’d said. And you could recall the memory at any time.” Lupin paused for a moment, shook his head, and then resumed pacing. “That way, you could focus on your anti-dementor lessons instead of your very understandable desire to hear your parents’ voices.”

 

As Harry was about to answer, Lupin held up his hand. “Harry, please think about it first. I know you really want to see your parents again, but do you really want to see and hear and feel their very last, terrifying moments? This memory will be with you for the rest of your life, and it may be a very painful one to bear.” Lupin’s voice was imploring. It was clear to Harry that Lupin wasn’t sure he wanted Harry to take him up on the offer. Harry already knew his answer, but he sat quietly for a moment, appearing to give it some thought.

 

“Professor Lupin?”

 

Lupin had stopped pacing and was staring at a spot on the wall. He turned to look at Harry.

 

“Yes, I’d like to do it. If I could see it once and for all, then perhaps I could concentrate on my lessons and conquer the Patronus charm. Then we’d have a very good chance at winning the Quidditch Cup!” Harry tried very hard to sound convincing and enthusiastic, but his enthusiasm fell as Lupin shook his head.

 

“So the only reason you want to do this is so you can win the Quidditch Cup?”

 

“YES!” but Harry saw the disbelief in Lupin’s eyes instantly. “No, of course not. I’d like to win the Quidditch Cup, but I’d really rather see my parents,” Harry muttered, staring at the floor.

 

Lupin seemed to ponder this. He had started pacing again. Finally, he smiled grimly. “Okay, but if you change your mind, I’ll be okay with that too,” he said, offering Harry his hand to help him to his feet.

 

“You will be safe with me, Harry, I want you to remember that. As terrifying as the memories might be, I will not let anything harm you. I will be right here with you.”

 

Harry nodded. The look in Lupin’s eyes said as much to Harry as his words.

 

“And unless you want me to, I will not wake you. I will be here with you, but I will let you come to on your own, so– so you can experience the full extent of the memories. Is that what you want?”

 

“Yes,” Harry replied, an uneasy knot forming in his stomach.

 

“I think you should concentrate on hearing your parents’ voices. There’s no need to fight the dementor,” Lupin’s voice hesitated.

 

From the conflicted look on Lupin’s face, Harry thought his professor might be considering withdrawing the offer.

 

Shrugging his shoulders, Lupin said, “Just go with the flow, I guess.”

 

Harry felt Lupin’s hand on his shoulder. Meeting Lupin’s conflicted gaze, Harry wondered if that gesture was meant to reassure Harry or the professor himself.

 

“All right then. Just a few last details.” Lupin pulled out his wand and pointed it at the floor. The hard, dusty stone turned into something akin to a soft, springy mattress. Next, Lupin locked the classroom door and put an Imperturbable Charm on the room so that no one could hear anything from the outside. Lastly, he dimmed the lights, so that a cozy orange glow akin to firelight filled the room.

 

Next, Lupin made his way to the packing case. “Harry, let me know when you are ready.”

 

Harry closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. He thought about his parents, he thought about their heart-wrenching screams. He steeled himself against what he might see and hear. There was no need to think happy thoughts this time. He was not trying to defeat the dementor, he was giving in to it. Harry opened his eyes, “Okay.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Harry nodded, although he really wasn’t sure.

 

***

 

A cold, icy sensation swept through Harry’s body. He could hear the raspy, rattling breaths as the dementor approached him, sucking out all of the air in the room.

 

And then, he was there; he was fifteen months old again. He was looking into his mother’s adoring green eyes, a lock of curly red hair clenched in his tiny fist. His father kissed him on the forehead and tickled his tummy while he laughed happily, snuggled safely in his mother’s arms.

 

Suddenly, his father straightened as if he’d heard something. “What is it?” his mother asked, a look of subdued panic and disbelief spreading over her face. His father’s face had paled.

 

“Not him, not now,” his father’s voice was shaking, his wand at the ready. “Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off––”

 

A horrible, high-pitched laughter filled the room. His mother was running through the house towards the back door. Harry could hear the cold, hollow voice. It sent shivers down his spine. He heard his father’s voice shouting back, but he couldn’t understand what they were saying. And then, a flash of blinding green light spiraled through his field of vision. His mother screamed and fell to her knees. “Not James, not James,” she cried. As if realizing there was no time to spare, she scrambled to her feet and reached for the back door.

 

Lord Voldemort was standing in front of her. “It’s all over,” his cold voice filled the momentarily still air. “Now, give me the boy.” He was pointing his wand at Harry.

 

“NO!” she screamed. She turned to run the other way, but it was no use; she was trapped in the kitchen. She backed against the wall, “Not Harry! Not Harry! Please not Harry! He’s just a baby. Please, I’ll do anything––” she pleaded.

 

“Stand aside, you silly girl. Stand aside, NOW!” the cold voice shook with fury.

 

She fell to her knees and flung her body over Harry, begging, “Not Harry, please no, take me instead, kill me instead––”

 

“Don’t be stupid. Now GET OUT OF MY WAY!” his voice hissed.

 

“I won’t let you hurt him, I won’t!”

 

Her voice suddenly changed from pleading to a sort of furious determination. “You’ll have to kill me first,” she said, looking directly into his dark, evil eyes.

 

Harry heard the hiss of his cold voice.

 

“NO!” Lily screamed, shielding Harry with her body. A flash of green light flew from his wand, hitting Lily instead of Harry. Harry tumbled to the floor beside his mother’s lifeless body.

 

The momentary silence was punctuated by shrill laughter as Voldemort threw his head back. “You are mine now, MINE!” his voice bellowed. “Nothing can stop me now, not even YOU!” The thrill in his voice was unmistakable. He pointed his wand straight at Harry as he roared the death curse in triumph.

 

As the green light flashed before Harry’s eyes, he thought his head would explode; an excruciating, burning pain tore through every nerve of his body, rounding back to the spot on his forehead where the curse had left its mark.

 

***

 

As soon as Harry fell to the enchanted floor, Lupin coerced the boggart back into the packing case. Kneeling beside Harry, Lupin studied the thirteen-year-old boy in front of him. He looked exactly like James, especially with his eyes closed. But Harry was more sensitive than James and less arrogant. He supposed that had a lot to do with the fact that he’d lost his parents so young; he hadn’t grown up having confidence in the world that everything would be all right.

 

Lupin sighed, shaking his head. Where had the time gone? Harry had been just a baby when it all happened. Just a baby. And now twelve years had passed. Why hadn’t he kept in touch? Why hadn’t he stayed close with Harry over the years? There were many excuses, but the truth was, it was just too painful. He’d lost everything that fateful night––his best friends––to death or betrayal. It was easier somehow to pretend he never had friends than to see the constant reminder in Harry of what he had lost.

 

He snapped out of his reverie as Harry let out a sudden cry. Lupin stiffened. The cries soon turned to screams, the screams of a baby, screams filled with confusion, and then, abject terror. Harry the teenager had curled into a tight ball; the screams growing louder. Lupin was horrified––what was he putting this child through? Was it worth it? His heart raced. He had promised Harry he wouldn’t wake him. He put his hands on Harry’s shoulders, “Harry… Harry… it’s okay,” he spoke softly. But he knew it wasn’t. Harry’s parents were being murdered and Lupin watched in horror as Harry relived those frightful memories.

 

After what seemed like an eternity, the screaming stopped. Lupin breathed a sigh of relief, wiping the sweat from his brow.

 

He looked down at Harry just in time to see him forcefully clap his hands to his forehead; the screams now louder and more dire. Screams of shear pain. Screams of utter desperation and confusion. Harry was thrashing around on the enchanted floor, his hands on his forehead, his feet kicking violently outward, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. “Ma Ma!” he cried out. “Ma Ma! Da Da!”

 

Lupin shook as he watched the scene unfold before him. It was awful to see Harry reliving those moments as a baby, knowing that his cries for his mother and father would go forever unanswered. He scooped Harry into his arms, cradling him. He couldn’t bring back his mother and father, but perhaps he could bring him some comfort. “I’m sorry Harry, I’m so sorry…” Lupin whispered. Harry screamed and screamed for his mother and father, tears streaming down his face, his hands still clamped to his forehead. Lupin rocked him back and forth, talking softly to him, his own tears intermingling with Harry’s. He had been so worried about how Harry would handle the memory that it never occurred to him that he too would be watching the terrible events unfold through Harry; that he too would be reliving the memories of that evening twelve long years ago.

 

As Harry’s unrequited screams slowly turned into resolute sobs, Lupin laid him back on the floor. He wiped the tears from Harry’s face. He laid his cloak over Harry, who was still trembling. He stroked his sweat and tear-drenched hair, brushing it off his face.

 

Sighing, Lupin closed his eyes and remembered. Remembered how much he had loved James and the others, how they’d meant the world to him. He could never have imagined friends like James, Sirius, and Peter. And once he knew them, he could never image life without them. All that changed one fateful night. And Harry was unknowingly and unexpectedly bringing that pain back to the forefront of Lupin’s battered life.

 

***

 

The fog was lifting. It was not so cold anymore. Someone was stroking his hair. Harry felt shaky and damp. Was he sick? He tried to move, but he was too exhausted. He lay still for a moment, trying to remember where he was and why he was there. His scar was giving an odd prickling sensation. He opened his eyes. The dim lights of the room swam slowly into focus: Professor Lupin, the boggart-dementor, his parents. Oh, his parents. He felt a heavy weight on his chest. He tried to put the scene out of his mind. He had wanted to see it, to hear it, to feel it, but it all seemed too much right now.

 

Looking around he saw Professor Lupin. Lupin, as he’d promised, was kneeling beside him, keeping watch. Harry quickly wiped the remaining tears from his face, but Lupin hadn’t noticed. Lupin was still absently stroking Harry’s hair, his eyes closed. In the dim light, Harry could see the tears glistening on Lupin’s face.

 

“Professor?”

 

Lupin looked down at Harry with glassy eyes. “Welcome back, Harry. How are you feeling?”

 

“I’m, I’m okay, I think.”

 

Lupin pulled his hand away from Harry and non­chalantly wiped the tears from his face without a trace of embarrassment or shame.

 

Harry tried to sit up, but Lupin firmly put his hand on Harry’s shoulder and said very gently, “Not yet, Harry. Rest for awhile. You’ve been through a lot. There’s no rush.”

 

Relieved, Harry relaxed back onto the enchanted floor and stared at the ceiling.

 

“Do you miss him? My dad, I mean?” Harry ventured, not daring to look at Lupin.

 

“I miss them both, Harry, very much.” Harry watched as his professor turned away. “Very much,” he heard Lupin repeat quietly, more to himself than to Harry.

 

The silence lingered as each of them were lost in their own despairing thoughts. Finally, Lupin reached into his robes and pulled out a bar of chocolate. He helped Harry sit up and gave him half of it. Lupin consoled himself with the other half.

 

“Did you find what you were looking for Harry?” Lupin asked as they finished their chocolate.

 

Harry thought about Lupin’s question. He had watched the last moments of his parents’ life and they were more horrible than he could have imaged. But he’d also had the briefest glimpse of how happy they were before Voldemort had forever destroyed their family. That single happy memory might be enough to outweigh the awful moments that followed.

 

“I think so,” Harry said, unsure of himself. “For a brief moment, before it all happened, we were happy, the three of us. My mum was holding me and smiling, my dad was tickling me, and I was laughing. I was happy. And safe.” Harry blinked rapidly, willing away the encroaching tears.

 

“Your parents loved you more than anything in this world Harry.” Lupin’s voice rang with honesty.

 

“I wish–– I wish––” but Harry couldn’t finish his sentence. He was staring at a spot on the floor that had gone very blurry. He wished for so many things.

 

Lupin pulled Harry into his arms. Harry swallowed against the emotions threatening to unravel him.

 

Wiping his tears, Harry pulled back and righted himself. “Thanks, Professor,” he muttered, embarrassed by his loss of control.

 

“You are very welcome Harry. Any time.”

 

For the first time in his life, Harry did not feel alone. Lupin had not only known his parents, he had loved them too. Lupin understood him like no one else ever had. His comforting words filled Harry with hope and gratitude.

 

As Harry walked back to his dormitory that night, he felt a sense of peace that had previously eluded him. He smiled at the brief happy memory that would forever outshine the more horrific events that followed. Perhaps now he could move on with his life knowing that he once had a family that truly loved him. And, he reminded himself, there were still people around, like Professor Lupin, who were willing to share the memories of his parents with him.

//
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