The Many Faces of Harry Potter 17

“The Many Faces of Harry Potter: Chapter 17”
By = Fayanora

Chapter Seventeen: The Broom, the Secret, and the Traitor

Note 1: Text in 'Italics and British quotes' is Parseltongue.

Note 2: Once more, I apologize for any bits and pieces of canon dialogue/narration here and there. It's been frustrating me, too, but some things are just too perfect already to change.

Note 3: I have different styles for the internal speech of Alastair, Harry, and Zoey, and now #Iliana (bold, italic, underlined, and now between hashtags/pound signs because some people's computers don't do the B.I.U.).#

Note 4: Okay, so I have some MAJOR canon divergences planned. The farther out we go from here, the more different things will be. Far enough out, and even I don't know what will happen yet!

~

The inside of their head was surprisingly quiet the next morning, with nobody in the collective talking to one another much. Harry could have used talkativeness, though, because he woke up having found himself in full Adira mode. He didn't remember coming Out, much less like this, and was very glad they had their own room now. Harry switched with Zoey so he could come out again differently. Only, instead of going full boy mode, he came out in a modified version of the form, with hair that was easier to manage and longer, of course, but also... certain changes down below. Luckily, in their robes, there would be no telltale lack of bulge to give him away.

He went to the bathroom and felt giddy at the sensation of peeing with the modified form. Of course, he knew what it felt like from Iliana's and Zoey's transformations, but this was much different. There was a noticeable difference in how things felt when he was Out than when he was watching from the back of his own brain while someone else drove, even if he could see, hear, and feel everything the others did, like whoever was driving the body was a filter, and the sensations the others got were less intense for it.

After that was done, Harry went down to breakfast. Nobody else was there yet, so he opened a book of defensive magic in front of him and read from it as he ate kippers and eggs with his free hand. Then he paused, and thought, realizing he was still thinking of himself with he/him/his pronouns. Harry frowned at this thought, but ignored it for now. He was still presenting as male, so he'd worry about pronouns later, if he ever got the nerve to come out as trans.

A school owl flew in and landed next to him. At first, his stomach dropped like a stone, worried it was a response from Mr. and Mrs. Weasley already, but it turned out to be from Healer Young, about their session today. The last one had been postponed because the Healer had a slight emergency at home with a grandchild, and Harry had completely forgotten that he'd agreed to reschedule it for today. Harry quickly wrote back a reply, and sent it with the owl.

Harry was still reading and eating when Ron and Hermione came down to join him.

“Nose in a book during the holidays? You're almost as bad as Hermione.”

“Hey!” Hermione said, hurt.

“No offense, Herm, but holidays are for relaxing.”

“But we do have homework.”

“Yeah, but that can wait. We have weeks left til term starts again.”

“A week and six days,” she corrected.

“Which is just a day short of a fortnight,” Ron pointed out.

“Ron,” Harry said, “there is such a thing as reading for pleasure, you know.”

“Reading a defense magic book for pleasure?”

“I was raised by Muggles, remember? A part of me will always be thinking 'I'm living in a fantasy universe, this is so cool!'”

Ron shrugged.

“Whatever, mate. Ah, kippers!”

Harry went back to reading.

After Ron had been stuffing his face for a while, he sat back, belly full, and sighed.

“So Harry, whatcha wanna do after this? We could go outside and have a snowball fight. Or visit Hagrid.”

“I have an appointment with Healer Young at 10am, but after lunch we could do that.”

“You just gonna read til then, I suppose?” Ron said, sounding a little put out.

“Yeah.”

“You look a lot better than Zoey did yesterday, Harry,” Hermione said.

“Yeah, well, we got better sleep.”

Ron sighed. “Sure you don't want to play some wizard chess instead?”

“That wouldn't last long. Didn't you beat me in 10 minutes the last time we played?”

“Oh, right.”

Ron stood up.

“I'm gonna go... I dunno. To the common room? Better bored in there than bored here.”

“Sorry, Ron,” Harry apologized.

“Nah, it's okay. Maybe I can find Nick and play chess with him.”

“Oooh,” Hermione said, “if you do, tell us how it goes. I imagine playing chess with someone who's over 500 years old would be fascinating.”

Ron shrugged. “Okay, if you say so.”

They watched him leave the room, then went back to reading.

Only, Harry couldn't concentrate on his reading. He was thinking. Thinking, and looking at Hermione across from him. His thoughts were complicated, and mostly revolving around his secret, his real gender, and how his two best friends didn't know yet. He didn't know if he would ever come out as Adira to the whole school, but he knew if he was going to do that, he wanted Ron and Hermione to know first. If for no other reason than to see if he'd still have friends after.

Sure, they'd seen him as Adira, but that had been a disguise. He liked the name for himself (herself? Ugh, whatever), but Adira Lily Jamie Potter would look as much like him as possible, unlike Adira Molina. She wanted to be herself, after all.

Harry was still lost in thought when Hermione spoke to him.

“Harry?”

“Huh? Oh... what?”

“It's almost time for your appointment, according to my watch.”

“What? Oh, thanks Hermione.”

He got up and tucked his book under his left arm.

“See you later.”

“You too,” she said, barely looking up from her own book.

~

He found Healer Young by the front entrance, just closing the door against the cold; he had just now gotten there, then.

“Oh hello there,” Healer Young said through a thick scarf. “Iliana not here today?”

“No, sir. I'm the one who needs it. Iliana isn't happy about Quirrell dying, there's a scar there and so she doesn't like to think about it, but she's over it. When she does think about it, she just feels a little sad, but no longer worried about being a murderer.”

“Alright then. But if she ever needs to talk again, I'll still be here. Though I still do work with St. Mungo's, I am the school Mind Healer now.”

Harry nodded.

“So why don't you sit down and tell me what's on your mind?”

Harry noticed, then, that he was still standing, his arms crossed. Healer Young had his winter cloak, scarf, and hat off and was sitting down already. Harry hastily uncrossed his arms and sat down. But he felt uncomfortable, and didn't speak.

Perhaps sensing this, Healer Young used his wand to make a teapot and teacups appear, and made some tea, offering some to Harry, who accepted. The cold was still radiating from the Healer's clothes, chilling the room. He thought as he sipped his tea.

“Okay,” said Healer Young, “perhaps an icebreaker? I know a fair amount about Iliana, but so far I haven't really met you, Harry. How was your summer vacation? I hear you went to Egypt with the Weasleys. How was that?”

Harry shrugged, spilling some of his tea.

“It... was pretty cool. I've never been out of the country before. The Dursleys don't travel much, and when they do, they never took me anywhere, except to the zoo that one time, and that was only because they couldn't find someone to mind me, and didn't trust me to stay home alone.”

“Did you see any sights?”

“Oh yeah. Saw the pyramids, saw the sphinx. Saw a bunch of wizarding tombs with mutated skeletons in them. It was fun, and cool.”

“I understand you were very adamant about being out to see it with your own eyes for about the first half of the trip, then suddenly you withdrew and weren't seen again until school. And even then, not very frequently. Did you see something that frightened you?”

Harry put his cup down and stood up again, pacing around the room with his arms crossed. Healer Young patiently waited.

“Yes and no. Kinda. I saw something I thought I'd seen the last of. Did I ever tell you about the Mirror of Erised?”

“The mirror that Dumbledore hid the Philosopher's Stone in?”

“Yeah, that one. Did I tell you that I saw the Mirror around Christmas that year? It was in an unused classroom.”

“No, you didn't. So you saw something in the Mirror then?”

“Yeah. Something I didn't know what to make of. I was me, but I saw Iliana in the Mirror. And I didn't like that, so I started coming out more, thinking it meant I wanted Iliana to replace me.”

Harry paced around some more, silent.

“And that wasn't what it meant?”

“No.”

“How did you figure that out?”

“I... I saw it again. The Mirror, over the summer. Dumbledore must've sold it or something, and it somehow ended up in Egypt. I saw it in a shop.”

“And you saw something in it? Something... different?”

“Yes. I saw... I saw me. Only, I was different. I was... I was a girl. But not Iliana. I was a girl version of me. And older, too. More... well... more developed, if you catch my meaning.”

“And that made you hide away?”

“Yeah, well... between that image and Al's comments about it, I finally worked out what the original thing I saw in the Mirror meant. It meant... well, I like being Out, but I also like Iliana's version of the body. The softness, the long flowing hair, the feeling of... certain parts of the body... when we're her or Zoey. I didn't want to be replaced by Iliana, I wanted to be... a girl, like her.”

Harry's face turned bright red at this, and he was pointedly looking away from Healer Young.

There was a silence of what felt like many minutes before the Healer spoke again, a thoughtful silence.

“Harry... do you know what the word 'transgender' means?”

Harry nodded.

“Yeah, I do. It means you start out thinking you're a boy, and you realize you're a girl, in your brain or your soul or whatever. Or the other way around, too, I guess. But in my case, I'm... I'm a girl.”

And there it was, a sensation like relief, but mixed with excitement and nerves.

“I'm a girl,” Harry repeated. “I'm... I'm Adira Lily Jamie Potter. Not Harry James Potter. My parents... they gave me that name thinking I was a boy. But I'm a girl.”

More thoughtful silence. Harry could sense, with their empathic sense, that Healer Young was thinking, planning out what to say. But Harry suddenly turned and interrupted.

“How can I be a girl! Is there something wrong with me? What would my parents think of it, if they were alive? What will my friends think? What will my enemies think? What will everyone else think? I'm famous as Harry Potter, are they always going to be calling me that even if I keep insisting I'm Adira Potter? Are there sex change potions? Would they even work on me? Do I even need them? And why this? Why me? I'm already enough of a freak as is, with surviving a killing curse and then this whole... multiplicity thing. And now this. Why?”

He stopped talking. Healer Young waited before speaking.

“Those are all very good questions. We can address them all if you want, but first, I'm curious what you meant by the question 'do I even need them?'”

“Well, I've found I can transform, into a girl version of this form. The... the down below parts even look right. But I have no idea if the inside bits are changing too. Not that it really matters, I guess, since I'm a girl no matter what my body is like, but it would be nice to know how complete the transformation is. Knowing that, I could then move onto whether or not there are sex change potions, and whether or not they'd even work for me, given my unique qualities.”

“I see. Well if those are pressing issues for you, we could arrange for Madam Pomfrey to give you a thorough examination in your girl form. I understand that she found Iliana to be fully functional internally. I know she would be very discreet, and lock the door to keep others out during the examination.”

“I... yeah, that would be good.”

“As to the others... well your friends, Ron and Hermione at least, have certainly stuck with you through all sorts of unusual business, with your multiplicity and with the adventures you keep finding yourselves getting into. I suspect they'll adjust to this, too. The hardest part will be the waiting. Once it's done, you'll know one way or another, and I suspect you'll probably look back at this fear and laugh at yourself for it, even though it is an understandable fear.”

“I hope you're right. I think you are; about Hermione, at least. I'm not sure about Ron, but he'll probably be fine, too. Oh, and Luna; Luna will be completely nonplussed, I'm sure.”

Healer Young nodded absently.

“As to the others,” Healer Young said, “well, there's nothing that says you have to come out to everyone, or right away. You can take as much or as little time as you like with that. With all of it, for that matter.”

“No, I can't... I can't keep living this lie. Now that I know the truth, the thought of staying like this, the thought of continuing life as Harry Potter, makes me ill. Ron and Hermione and Luna have to know, at least.”

“Well if that's the case, having them know will likely make it easier to come out to others.”

“Professor Lupin would probably be cool with it, too,” Harry said absently to himself.

The Healer didn't react to this, even though he heard it loud and clear.

“Oh GOD,” Harry said, hands in his hair, “I don't know if I can change in front of Madam Pomfrey!”

“Would it help to try it for me, first?”

“I... I'll try, I guess.”

Harry took a large breath in, and concentrated. Without any glow at all, their body changed to Iliana's. She blinked, confused for a moment, then disappeared again.

Standing there before Healer Young was a girl Harry's height, hair color, eye color, everything. But her hair was longer, and while it still looked a bit of a mess, it looked a lot better than Harry's usual hair. Harry was Adira now, looking basically the same. Aside from the hair, a pair of slight bulges in the chest region, and a softer quality to the face, she looked the same as she always did.

“Well, this is me,” she said.

Her voice sounded slightly more feminine, but was still essentially the same. Of course, being only 13 and a bit of a late bloomer, her voice hadn't had time to deepen yet, so the difference was minimal.

“Aside from your hair and your chest, you look the same as always. And the chest is currently barely noticeable; I only noticed it myself because I was looking for differences.”

“Yeah, well...” Adira said, grabbing Healer Young's hat and putting it on her own head, shoving her hair under it. “I don't want to change back right now. Can we go now? To Madam Pomfrey?”

“Okay. Shall I go ahead of you, and explain things to her first?”

“Um... sure.”

“If you're not there in 10 minutes, should I come find you?”

“I guess. Yeah.”

~

Ten minutes later, Adira knocked on the door of the Hospital Wing. The door opened, and the matron stood there. When she saw who it was, she let Adira in, and guided Adira over into her office. She closed that door behind them, and cast privacy spells on it before turning to Adira.

“You can take that hat off now, Ms. Potter,” the matron said kindly.

Adira did as directed, and handed the hat back to Healer Young. Her hair spilled onto her shoulders. Madam Pomfrey handed her a brush.

“Here, Ms. Potter, you can brush your hair while I run my tests, it'll give you something to take your mind off things.”

Adira took the brush with a nod, and brushed her hair. She found, to her surprise, that it did indeed have a meditative effect on her mind, emptying it of thought as the matron did her tests. It also did weird things to time, so she had no idea how long she'd been doing it when the matron got her attention.

“Yes, Madam Pomfrey?”

“I think you'll be pleased to know, Ms. Potter, that the magic you used to transform yourself to match your new perception of yourself has given you everything that you'd have if you'd been born with them to begin with. You've essentially performed sex change magic on yourself, which I suppose makes sense, given what I know of Iliana and Zoey.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. I don't joke about medical matters, Ms. Potter.”

“Wow, cool!”

“By the way, Ms. Potter, my tests also revealed that your body's hormones are changing, and I rather suspect you will need some of these soon,” she said, handing Adira some pads and pain relieving potions.

“No need to look so embarrassed, girl; it's a fact of life, now that you're one of us. I rather suspect Iliana would've needed them anyway. The pads are magic, by the way. You should only need one a day, no matter how heavy your flow; they'll soak up the blood and other bits magically all day long, without any odor. If you know how to Vanish things, you can Vanish them when they're full, or you can chuck them in the garbage; the bins in Hogwarts automatically Vanish whatever's in them every hour on the hour. Well, except for animals or other living creatures.”

“Thanks,” Adira muttered, handing the pads back but keeping the potions. “It's just, we have some already from Iliana, remember?”

“Well, you can never have too many of them.”

Standing up, Adira switched to Iliana, then back to her Harry form. It made her feel sick to her stomach, going back to being Harry, like the 'Harry Potter' disguise had died and putting it back on was like putting her hand inside a corpse and making it move like it was a puppet. And it was that sick feeling that made her realize where she had to go next, after putting the pads and potions away.

But before going back, 'Harry' asked the matron one last question.

“Are there any potions for preventing periods? I remember from some commercials on the telly that Muggles have things like that.”

“Yes, we do, but you are a young and developing girl, and it is my professional opinion that you should wait a few years at least before using those. Even with your unique condition, taking those potions might do strange things to your body during puberty. Not to mention the fact that neither magic nor Muggle pregnancy prevention medicines are safe or effective for everyone. You should research the options, including potential side effects, before using any of those, and you will get them through me or another Healer if you get them at all. But preferably through me, while you are still in school. Those sorts of things can have some very odd side effects on people under normal circumstances. And given your unique situation, I'm not sure I would recommend them even after puberty is done with you. Especially if Zoey remains a child for the rest of your life.”

“Um... okay,” Adira said, uncertain and uncomfortable with all this sudden puberty and sex talk.

“Well, that should be all, unless you had any other questions?”

“Er, no.”

“If you think of any more, Ms. Potter, you're always welcome to come ask me. And if it would make things easier, you could have Iliana ask for you.”

“Got it. Thanks, Madam Pomfrey.”

As she walked back to the common room, her stomach churned in knots, thinking about telling Ron and Hermione. Who should she tell first? Or should she tell them both at the same time? How did you bring up something like this? She tried imagining going up to them and saying, 'Hi, wanna go outside and throw snowballs? By the way, I'm actually a girl and you should call me Adira now. I'm gonna go grab my cloak.' Somehow, that didn't seem to be a good idea. Hermione would probably blink in confusion, needing it repeated as she would've probably been engrossed in a book, and Ron would either goggle and splutter at her, or think it was a joke.

She imagined just walking in as Adira. They would immediately know who it was, still, since the only really noticeable difference so far was long hair that was somewhat tamed for her. It might not be enough, though, for them to notice the gender change. They might just ask why her hair was longer. Would she have to put something colorful in her hair, and paint her nails? Transfigure her robes into a dress?

This line of thinking annoyed her, because she shouldn't need to change anything at all. Though she was 13, her long history of being underfed had made puberty come later than normal, if it had even began to come at all, and she still had the androgynous appearance of most pre-pubescent children. She supposed she wouldn't know until/unless she got a period, which she wasn't even sure would happen, despite what Madam Pomfrey said. Maybe her body was just mimicking the right parts, and wouldn't work right?

Not that they needed to, of course; there were plenty of girls who never got periods, or got them but were sterile. And anyway, what defined a girl, anyway? There were girls that looked and acted like boys. And back to presentation, everyone in Hogwarts wore the same uniform of black robes and hat. Everyone dressed identically, except for those who chose to wear a pin or a scarf or other decoration to show which House they were in, and some of the girls wore things in their hair or, indeed, painted their nails.

And even if it did work, there was still the worry about her friends' reactions. Granted, on some level she wasn't really worried, since they'd all been in life and death situations before, and they adjusted quite well to Adira's multiplicity well enough. She was being silly, but she couldn't help it.

She paused at Sir Cadogan's portrait, staring at the knight, who was napping. She was considering asking him, quietly, for his opinion on the matter. His pony looked at her, then nudged Sir Cadogan awake. He awoke with a start and tried to stand, putting up his fists, but his visor fell over his eyes and he tripped and fell to his metal knees.

“Fight! Stand and fight, you yellow-bellied coward, sneaking up on me and blinding me in a vulnerable moment! I shall have you drawn and quartered, then bury you in four different cemeteries for this insult!”

“Your visor just fell down is all,” Harry/Adira said.

The knight stopped moving for a moment, then lifted his visor and looked at them.

“I see. In more ways than one. So, young scallywag, what pray tell is the password? Tell me or I shall skewer you upon my sword!”

“'Scurvy cur,'” Adira said, all desire to talk with the knight having evaporated.

“Well played, lad, well played. You have bested me for now, but one day we shall tussle forsooth,” Cadogan said, swinging open for her. She glared at him as she went inside.

She soon found Ron and Hermione, and before long they were bundled up and heading outside to play in the snow. But the whole time, she was distracted by thoughts of telling them her secret, and trying to work out how they would react. She got hit a lot more than anyone else, as a result, and was thoroughly soaked by the time they went back inside.

At dinner, she remained distant and thoughtful. Hermione kept glancing up at her, but said nothing. Ron was oblivious, rambling on about the Chudley Cannons whenever he wasn't eating (and even when he was eating, which grossed out both 'Harry' and Hermione).

When they headed back after dinner, Hermione hung back with Harry and walked silently alongside, looking frequently like she was thinking of asking questions.

“Well, I'm exhausted,” 'Harry' said. “I'm going to go turn in early.”

Ron's face fell a little, but then he said, “Yeah, we did have a long day of play. I guess I'll turn in, too, maybe read a Quidditch book.”

“See you tomorrow, Ron.”

“You too, Harry.”

Harry/Adira closed the door behind her and transformed into her fully girl form in the usual way. Then she took out one of Iliana's Muggle dresses and changed into it, admiring herself in the mirror.

There was a knock at the door. In a panic, she shouted “In a moment! I'm not decent!”

In too much of a hurry to transform, she threw a pair of robes over the dress and shoved her hair under her hat, before opening the door. Standing there was Hermione.

“May I come in?”

“Um... okay. I don't think you've seen my new room yet, have you?”

Hermione came in and Harry closed the door behind her.

“Why are you still wearing your hat? The robes I can understand, but the hat?”

“Oh, uh... I... well... it's polite?” Harry/Adira answered lamely.

Hermione looked like she didn't believe it. She looked thoughtful for a moment, then lunged forward and yanked the hat off Adira's head, making the long hair spill out.

“Experimenting with your hair?” Hermione asked.

Adira opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out except for random sounds.

“Sorry if I wrong-footed you,” Hermione said. “I just was wondering what's wrong with you today?”

Adira felt embarrassed and angry and a lot of other emotions all at once. Embarrassed at her hair being exposed, embarrassed that it wasn't enough for logical, puzzle-solving Hermione to figure it out, apparently, and angry both that it was done and that it didn't work. She was such a mess of emotions, she didn't know what to say or do. She couldn't even tell her own emotions apart from Hermione's, at that moment.

Opening her mouth to speak, Adira found she couldn't. First, she didn't know what to say. Second, who knew what she'd say if she was somehow capable of speech; for all she knew, random words or something barely resembling language might come out. Or she might scream and shout at her friend, which she didn't want to do.

And then, like something in her mind had set the Wheel of Emotions to spinning and it had finally landed on something, she broke down crying instead. This startled Hermione, who locked the door, because she didn't think it would help anything if Ron came barging in.

That done, Hermione sat next to her friend on the floor and held them in her arms. She said nothing, just made sure her friend knew she was there for comfort if needed. Adira took advantage of this, crying into Hermione's robes, which was uncomfortable for both of them because of her glasses.

And as this happened, Hermione – logical, puzzle-solving Hermione – began to put the pieces together. She began to notice small things first, like how 'Harry' was sitting, the feel of something under the robes that felt like a dress and a bra strap, and then the feminine touches about the room, many of which were difficult to describe. Sure, those could be attributed to Iliana or Zoey, but she knew both of those girls well enough to tell by now that many of these weren't their style, exactly.

Add that to the long hair, the weird distracted silence all day long, the fact that Harry had vanished for so long, what Ron had told her about Harry disappearing that once before daring to go to the boy's dorm, Al's weird speech that one time in Care of Magical Creatures, and little odd things she'd noticed over the past year or so, and she put together a possible answer. Still, she didn't want to presume.

When 'Harry' stopped crying, Hermione decided to speak at last.

“You... you don't have to answer if you don't want, but... are you... I think the term is 'transgender'? Harry, have you discovered... are you really a girl?”

Unable to speak, and looking dejected, Adira nodded.

“I see. And I barged up here like an idiot, you panicked, didn't have time to change back in your panic, and then I stupidly uncovered your hair. Sorry about that.”

Adira sniffed. “It's okay. I was thinking about how to tell you and Ron, actually. Wondering how to do it, who to tell first, or if I should tell you both at the same time. I guess the kneazle's out of the bag now, at least with you.”

“Um... do you... do you have a new name for yourself yet?”

Adira smiled wanly. “If you think back, I think you can guess.”

“If I think back?” Hermione said, pondering. “Oh! You mean 'Adira'?”

“Yeah. Except this time, it's Adira Lily Jamie Potter.”

“It's a lovely name, Ha—Adira.”

Adira sat up, wiping her face.

“Now I just have to work out how and when to tell Ron.”

“Oh god, yes. Ron... bit of a wild card, Ron. Adira, no matter how he reacts at first, remember, he's your best friend. He adjusted to this multiplicity thing, he'll adjust to this new thing.”

“I hope so. I mean, it's a bit different, isn't it? The multiplicity thing came out in, what, the first week of school ever? And it's been about two and a half years since then. It's one thing finding out you're friends with like, half a dozen people in the same body. It's something completely different to find out that one of those people who you thought was a boy, was actually a girl.”

“Still, Ron's friends with me and Iliana and Zoey,” Hermione pointed out.

“Yeah, but now the only boys in the collective are Al and Tier.”

“I do see your point. But Ron won't mind. He may get weird about it, who knows, but he'll get over it. He always does. Put it this way, if people thinking you were the Heir of Slytherin didn't push him away, I doubt this will.”

Adira snorted. “There are some people who feel weird about us already. I don't know what to make of the feelings I get from them, but some of their behavior tells me enough. But with the exception of the Slytherins, most people seem to not want to say anything about it. But I know they think I'm a freak.”

“I doubt--”

“Trust me, I'm right. They do. And they're probably not wrong. I've tried not thinking about it, tried just letting all the weirdness roll over me like water off a duck's back, but then the Dursleys' words come back to me, and I wonder if they're right, but for the wrong reasons.”

“Adira, you should bring that up with Healer Young. It's not healthy to keep those feelings bottled up.”

She stood up suddenly, and started pacing around the room.

“I hate this waiting, this simmering in worry,” Adira said, changing the subject. “I was so scared and worried about telling you, and now it's done, I feel much better. I think... I think I should tell Ron now, get it over with. Whatever happens, I'll feel better not having to worry any longer.”

“Do you want me to go bring Ron here?”

“Yes, please, before I change my mind.”

Hermione smiled reassuringly.

“Okay, be back soon.”

Adira sat down on the floor, her knees in her hands, rocking back and forth as Hermione left. She felt like crying again, the worry hurt so much. It was like an acid eating away at her insides, the worry.

“Harry? Hermione said you wanted me to...” Ron trailed off, entering the room. Hermione came in behind him and closed the door, locking it again just in case.

“Oh, you can change your hair? Neat. Trying to make it look like Al's, are you? If so, it needs a bit of work, mate. Looks more like Hermione's hair, only black.”

Something in Adira's body language got through Ron's obliviousness then, making him look concerned.

“What's the matter, Harry? You're not still thinking about that Sirius Black bloke, are you?”

“That's... that's not it, Ron.”

Ron sat down on the floor next to Adira.

“So what is it, then?”

Adira could only grimace horribly, tears in her eyes.

“Do you want me to tell him for you?”

Adira shook her head.

“Tell me what? Are you ill? You look ill. Maybe you should see Madam Pomfrey.”

Well, this is like trying to convince a rock to float, Adira thought at the others in her head.

Ron's not stupid, Al said to him. Just a little slower than Hermione. But then, Hermione is usually faster than most people. Spell it out for him. Piece by bloody piece if you have to.

Bloody Hell, but you're right.

“You... you know over the summer, when I disappeared Inside for a long time?”

“Can't imagine I'll soon forget that, mate. I was worried about you. We all were, in fact; Mum and Dad and everyone.”

“And you know back in first year, I ran into the Mirror of Erised?”

“Yeah...?” Ron said, clearly at a loss to the relevance of it.

“And how I saw Iliana instead of me?”

“Oh yeah, that was weird. Did you finally figure that out, then?”

“Yeah. But only because I ran into the Mirror again over the summer.”

Ron's eyes went wide.

“You did? You didn't say anything, mate. Bloody Hell, where was it?”

“It was in Egypt, somehow. In one of the shops.”

“So what'd it show you that time?”

“It showed me myself... but different. Older. And... well...”

Adira stood up suddenly, and tore off her robes, standing there before the both of them in a muggle girl's dress, a tasteful blue dress with plain black lining.

Ron goggled at her, clearly still confused. Then something clunked into place.

“Oh.”

“'Oh'? That's all you can say?” Adira said hysterically, her hands in her hair.

“Blimey, gimme a moment, alright? I...” Ron's face went blank in a thoughtful sort of way. It was like watching all the gears and cogs in his head turning, like his skull was transparent.

“Oh,” Ron said again. “OH. Blimey, is this what Al was on about that day in Hagrid's class? You're... you're a girl?”

Adira sighed a sigh of mixed exasperation and relief.

“Yes, it is.”

“Oh.”

“You keep saying that.”

“Well excuse me if my brain isn't quite up to snuff, alright?”

“It's okay, I'm just... I thought the worry would go away when I told you, but your responses are ambiguous enough to keep the worry alive.”

“Wait, are you worried I'd stop being your friend because of this?”

“Er... yeah. Kinda. I mean, wouldn't you worry in my place?”

Ron blinked, as though he'd never considered that possibility before, but then recovered. “I dunno how to answer that, mate, so I'll answer the one before: you're my friend, no matter who else is in there with you, no matter whether you're a boy or girl, no matter what your name is. By the way, 'Harry' isn't exactly a girl's name, mate. Maybe you should change it.”

Adira laughed, tears of happiness in her eyes, and hugged Ron.

“What'd I say?”

“She's happy, Ron. You know, tears of joy.”

“Oh, right. That.”

Adira tried gesturing to Hermione to tell Ron her new name for her. It took a few tries, but Hermione got the idea.

“She's already picked out a new name, Ron. Adira Lily Jamie Potter.”

Ron nodded approvingly.

“Nice name, got a good ring to it.”

The next hour or so they spent talking about this and that. Ron was having problems remembering to use the new name and pronouns, but he was trying. Adira was very happy about this, especially when the topic of coming out to other students came up.

“I'm with Al. Anyone who makes fun of you for this is gonna get hexed. Except Malfoy; I'd rather punch him in the nose.”

“What about the twins?”

“Oh, them? They've always liked you, and now I think of it, they've said some things to me before that make me think they might already suspect. Knowing them, even if it's a total surprise to them, they'll be your biggest supporters.”

“Sounds like what I was thinking, too,” Adira said.

She sighed, and leaned back against the bed, relaxed like she hadn't been in months.

“Oh boy, if you'd told me this morning I'd be coming out about this to both of you by bedtime, I'd have thought you were mad. Especially after Madam Pomfrey kept going on about puberty and periods and stuff.”

Ron's face took on a distant expression, like he was ignoring the period talk, but he said nothing.

“If you need any, um, supplies, Adira,” Hermione said, “I've got some.”

“Yours started already?”

“Er, yes,” she whispered to Adira, blushing. “Mine started early in second year.”

Ron's distant expression took on a different look, then, for a few minutes before he spoke suddenly, startling them.

“I wonder if Professor Lupin was born a girl?” Ron said. The two girls stared at him in shock.

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, he's ill once a month for several days, but he wasn't in the hospital wing when I was cleaning the bedpans for that detention with Snape. I know Mum gets really awful cramps from her monthlies, sometimes so bad she has to spend all day in bed, trying to use her wand to cook from the living room. If Lupin's got something similar... I mean, I know he looks like a bloke, but he could be like Adira, only in reverse, and maybe he's allergic to the sex-change potions?”

Adira and Hermione gave one another a look. Then Adira made an executive decision.

“Um, that's very clever, Ron, and well thought out. But, er... it's also wrong.”

“Oh? What else could it be?”

“He's... well... actually, now I think about it, maybe I shouldn't say.”

“What else could possibly be making him sick once a month every...” his eyes grew big. “Every month. At the full moon?”

Hermione and Adira nodded.

“He's a werewolf?”

“Um... yeah. I asked him about it, he confirmed it.”

“Oh, he did?” asked Hermione, interestedly.

“Yeah, when he showed me the grindylows.”

“Wait, how'd you two work it out?”

“Well, between Snape's lesson on werewolves that one time, and recognizing that Lupin's boggart was the moon...” Adira said, trailing off.

“Oh, so you spotted that, too?” Hermione said, pride in her voice.

“Well, Al did.”

“A werewolf? Blimey. I wonder if the teachers know?”

“Snape clearly knew. What's more, Lupin told me he's been a werewolf since he was a kid, so clearly Dumbledore knew back then, too.”

“Oh!” Hermione said, thinking. “That night Sirius Black attacked the Fat Lady, Dumbledore and Snape were talking, and it sounded like Snape didn't trust someone on staff, and Dumbledore said they'd already discussed that and he trusted everyone on staff. What if they were talking about Lupin?”

“Makes sense,” Adira said.

“Well, if Dumbledore trusts him, then I do too.”

“Al trusts him, too,” Adira said. “Which I think is more reliable than Dumbledore's trust. Dumbledore is a trusting man.”

Ron yawned just then.

“Oh my,” Hermione said, looking at the time. “It's late. We should be getting to bed.”

“Sounds good,” Ron said, hugging Adira. “Glad you told me, mate. If you have any problems, let me know.”

“I will.”

Her two friends left the room, and she locked the door behind them, undressed, and took a nice long soak in the tub before going to bed.

~

The next few days until Christmas were relatively uneventful; very few people had stayed behind at Hogwart's over Xmas; in Griffindor, it was just Adira, Ron, and Hermione. Ron was playing chess against Adira while Hermione watched. Adira wasn't winning, but she wasn't losing, either. Of course, she was getting help from the others in her brain with her.

“This isn't fair, I should've beat you by now! I'm playing about half a dozen people at once, of course; I'd call that cheating, but you're only just barely holding your own. I guess that's kinda flattering, if annoying,” Ron moaned.

Adira smiled. With nobody else in the Griffindor common room but her and her friends, she was in her full girl form, and wearing a dress.

For all Ron's nonchalance, though, Adira had noticed over the past few days that Ron was acting strangely around her, and feeling a strange mix of emotions that confused her, meaning she was having to try to guess from his actions what they meant. So far, she'd noted that he kept getting confused about her name and pronouns, still. He didn't sit as close anymore, and would scoot away when she sat too close to him. Not by a lot, but it didn't have to be. He was uncomfortable with the trans thing, had to be; he'd never acted like that before, with any of them.

Hermione got up then to use the loo. Ron's eyes followed her, and when he saw her disappear, he looked at Adira with an odd look on his face, then looked away.

“So, er... I just wondered... erm... I dunno... I...”

Something about the feelings coming from him made something click in her mind.

“You want to talk about the trans thing, right?”

“The what now?”

“Just... ask what you want, I'll answer. Don't worry about being rude, mate.”

“Ah, okay... well, er... so... do you still have, you know...? Or not?”

She sighed slightly.

“No. I worked out how to change fully. I'm 100% a girl, biologically, according to Madam Pomfrey.”

“Oh, okay,” he said, his face and ears turning red. “And, er... do you fancy guys now?”

“Actually, I fancy guys and girls. Have for quite some time, too. It's called being bisexual.”

“Oh.”

“But not you. Not that... just... you're my best friend. I think of you like the brother I never had. And like Hermione as the sister I never had.”

“Ah,” he said, visibly relieved. “Not that I'd mind if you did fancy me, no matter the... well, just, it would've been awkward, I guess, cuz I think of you pretty much the same way. Not like a brother, because I've got too many of those as it is, but kinda like that. Or, well, a sister, I guess.”

Ron's face screwed up in thought just then.

“Something else on your mind?”

“Yeah. You're... are you gonna tell everyone else? And when? And do I use your old name and pronouns around people who don't know yet?”

“Excellent question. I was thinking of telling the twins, then Luna, then maybe Ginny. Then from there, I don't know. I do want to come out to the whole school eventually, and sooner rather than later. But it's daunting to think about it.”

“Hmm... Ginny, eh? Mate, I don't think she's gonna take this news very well. She fancies you, you know.”

“So I've heard.”

“But--”

“Yeah, I know, your other question. Yeah, still use my old name and pronouns around everyone who doesn't know. I know that's kinda confusing, but it's important.”

Ron nodded.

“Thought so. Good to have it confirmed.”

~

Christmas arrived, and Adira woke to find a pile of presents at the foot of her bed. No sooner had she woken up, but there was a knock on the door.

“Har—Adira? It's me, Ron.”

“Just a few moments, I only just now woke up.”

She got up, pulled off her nightgown, transformed into her Harry form, and put on school robes.

“Come in.”

Ron came in bearing his own gifts.

“Wanted to open mine with you. It's, I dunno, like opening them around family.”

Adira smiled.

“Oh, you're... are you?” Ron asked, squinting.

“Yeah, I'm 'Harry' today. Mainly because of the Christmas dinner. Didn't want to transform later, thought I'd get it over with.”

“Makes sense.”

The two of them opened their presents. Adira/Harry had gotten the usual Weasley jumper, food, and a letter:

Dear Alastair and company,

I do understand your anger, dearie, but not knowing any of you as well as you or your friends do, going only on what I've heard of you from my children and other sources, hopefully you'll understand I got the impression that you can be rather impulsive and possibly reckless. Perhaps that's only when there are lives at risk, I don't know, but even then, knowing what Black has done, you might consider dealing with him to be in the best interest of saving lives. I'm sorry if these assumptions were wrong. I do hope you'll understand I was only looking to keep you safe. Especially since, as I understand it, living with those horrible Muggles gave you some sort of magical protection that is gone now.

I am glad to hear you're taking the sensible path and staying safe. So is Arthur. But enough of this serious business for now. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. Hopefully that madman will be brought to justice soon, so you can come 'round for Easter holidays.

Merry Christmas!
With love from Molly Weasley

A tension they hadn't been aware of holding in released then, and Adira smiled. Then she remembered that she'd have to tell Mrs. Weasley about being transgender, too. But she put that out of her mind for then. She'd write Mrs. Weasley a letter soon. Until then, she was determined to enjoy Christmas.

She turned back to opening her presents, which were mostly the usual sort of stuff. But then she found a long package that got even Ron's attention. She was fairly sure she had some idea what it was, and thought at first that it was from McGonagall, since they'd gotten their first broom from her in first year. But there was no note on it at all. And when she unrolled it, the broom that came out of it was...

“A FIREBOLT! Holy COW!” Ron shouted.

“Don't touch it!” Adira said, leaping back from it.

“Why not?”

“There's no name on it. And I don't know anyone who would or could spend this much on me.”

“So?”

“So, there's a mad lunatic after my blood. Well, another mad lunatic after my blood, and this one has a body.”

“You mean Black? But he's an escaped fugitive! He can't just walk into either Gringotts or Quality Quidditch Supplies when he's on the lam! And anyway, he hasn't got a wand!”

“There are ways. He could use Polyjuice Potion. It might be difficult to get ahold of the ingredients, but he could pick a few pockets to get enough cash to buy what he needs for that. Knockturn Alley merchants probably won't ask questions. Then it would be a cinch going into Gringott's and anywhere else he needs to get a wand, or this.”

“Yeah, but the moment he tried to use his vault key, they'd know who it was! And far as I know, there aren't any free members of house Black who he could impersonate to get it.”

“I dunno. I never got the impression the goblins cared much about human affairs.”

“But if they saw him, and recognized him, but didn't tell anyone, they'd be in trouble with the law! And they'd want to avoid that. They wouldn't like Azkaban any better than wizards would.”

“Maybe. But magic can do a whole lot. If nothing else, he could steal a wand and use it to force someone to give him this broom, and then he could hex it.”

Ron looked thoughtful at this. “Huh. Hadn't thought of that. Well, you want me to go get McGonagall for you, then?”

“I think you should.”

Ron stood up, abandoning his own presents for now, and walked to the door.

Adira waited, regarding the fancy broom with suspicion. She hadn't wanted to ask the price of the thing when she'd seen it in the store, but she figured it probably cost more than all the brooms she'd got for the school combined, as it was a high-end racing broom.

Hermione came in just then.

“H—Adira, where's Ron going? He wouldn't say more than that he was in a hurry. Wait, what's that?” She pointed at the broom.

“That is the reason Ron's gone to fetch McGonagall. There was no note. It could've come from Sirius Black. It's probably hexed.”

Hermione nodded with approval at Adira's sensibility.

“Good idea. Can't be too careful.”

A few minutes later, McGonagall came in and examined the offending broom, then confiscated it to have it checked for hexes.

“If it is indeed from Black, Potter, then the joke will be on him. Between myself, Professor Flitwick, and Professor Dumbledore, we can remove any hex that may be on it without damaging the flying charm and the other charms that came with the broom.”

Adira smiled at this. It would indeed be funny if that happened, but she didn't really need a new broom, since there were extra 2001's belonging to the school that Iliana could use. However, it would be nice to have her own broom again. But if worst came to worst, she could always buy herself a new one.

Later in the day was Christmas dinner. There were only a few other students there, two nervous first-years and a Slytherin fifth year. Lupin wasn't there, which didn't surprise the Trio, it being that time of the month for the werewolf.

Nothing very interesting happened at the meal, aside from Trelawney making more dire predictions about the Potters dying. Al didn't even bother to comment this time, especially since McGonagall did it for him. But aside from that, and Snape getting a stuffed vulture hat from one of his wizard crackers – something that did not amuse them any more than it did Snape – nothing else really happened.

Which is pretty much how the rest of the holidays went, the Trio hanging around together and enjoying a nice Christmas. The only oddity happened while Adira was struggling to get to sleep one night; she had the Marauder's Map out, and saw the name Peter Pettigrew on it, in Ron's room. Carefully, she tiptoed into Ron's dorm room and looked around. But if Pettigrew had come back as a ghost, he wasn't in the room. Adira made a mental note to ask the Twins about it when they came back.

~

“Ah yes, Peter Pettigrew,” Fred said when Harry mentioned it to them in a spare classroom the day of their return. “The invisible man who sleeps with our brothers.”

“Pardon?” Harry asked. (He hadn't yet come out to them as Adira.)

“Oh yeah,” said George. “We noticed it our first night with the Map, that Peter Pettigrew, because he was sleeping in the same bed as Percy. But we looked, and he was alone.”

“I felt around the bed, but nobody invisible was there either.”

“Then some years later, he started sleeping with Ron. Weird that, but again, no sign of anyone else in the bed. Probably just a glitch in the map.”

But the collective didn't think so. Harry sat there, thinking.

“I don't know, something about that feels familiar somehow. Like it should mean something. Tell me, does everyone stay in the same dorm room for their whole Hogwarts career?”

“Mostly, yeah. There's the occasional exception, as you know, though.”

“So this Peter fellow on the map switched rooms?”

“Yeah, come to that, he did. And now you mention it, we've seen him other places on the Map, too.”

“Where? Is there any pattern to it?”

“Hmm... now you mention it, he followed Percy around a lot for a while. Wasn't always with Percy, sometimes stayed in his room or wandered off.”

“Then when it switched to Ron, it did the same thing, mostly. You know, hanging around Ron a lot.”

They looked at the Map. Ron and Peter Pettigrew were labeled as being in the Great Hall. There was a tiny ink Ron if you looked hard enough, but just a name for Pettigrew.

“Isn't Peter Pettigrew the wizard bloke who snuffed it when Black blew up that street?” Fred asked.

“Yeah. That's why I found his name being there to be odd.”

“Well like I say, could be a ghost.”

“But if it was a ghost, even an invisible one, wouldn't people – like Percy and Ron – feel a cold spot? They'd know if there was a ghost in their bed, they'd be able to feel it.”

Fred and George looked at one another, dismayed and impressed; apparently, the thought had never occurred to them before.

“Blimey, you're right.”

“Still, it doesn't matter. Just a glitch, we reckon.”

Just then, something clicked in Harry's mind.

“Wait a minute... how long ago did Percy get Scabbers?”

“Oh, what was it, 12 years ago, Fred?”

“Right.”

“Where did your parents buy him?”

“Didn't. He just turned up in our garden one day. Percy took a fancy to him and kept him, then outgrew him and gave him to Ron.”

“A random, literal garden-variety rat just turned up on your property and your mum let Percy keep him?”

They looked at one another again, a sudden darkness clouding their mood.

“You know, that does sound weird when you put it that way,” said Fred.

“Yeah. But he must be magical, or he wouldn't still be alive after all this time.”

“Has he ever showed any sign of powers?”

“Not to my knowledge. Doesn't do tricks or anything. Just eats and sleeps all day. Always has.”

“Right. And, er... isn't Scabbers missing a toe on one of his forepaws?”

“So?”

“All they found of Pettigrew was a finger,” Harry said.

Harry could feel their mood turn to a cold iron lump in their abdomens.

“Blimey, you don't think he's alive? That this bloke,” Fred said.

“--faked his own death? That he's,” George said.

“An animagus?” the twins said in stereo.

“That's what I'm starting to think. I mean yeah, I can see where you'd think it was a glitch, but the timing is just too weird. He just shows up out of the blue 12 years ago, then... hmm... when did the name move from Percy to Ron?”

“Bloody hell! It was around the time Scabbers went from Percy to Ron. It happened over the summer, of course. But end of one year, Pettigrew was hanging around Percy. Beginning of the next school year, it had switched to Ron.”

“That settles it. Pettigrew is alive. Faked his own death, too, by the look of it. And he's an animagus.”

“Well, he must be unregistered, then, because the whole thing was weird enough. All they found was a finger, and they didn't go looking for more? Granted, the rest might've gone down the sewer during the explosion, but still odd. If he was registered as an animagus, they would've known something was fishy. At least I hope the Ministry would have enough sense to find that fishy.”

“Why would he fake his own death?”

“Well, if Black was raring for his blood, why not?”

“But there's no way he could've timed things perfectly to coincide with Black's curse, he'd have to have superhuman reflexes or something.”

“Wait, do you reckon that means he was the one that killed all those Muggles?”

“Absurd! Black was laughing maniacally after that! He was still laughing when they caught him.”

“Maybe the laughter was hysterical, rather than maniacal? If I'd been trying to kill someone, and they beat me to it, or seemed to, then I might go a little unhinged myself,” said Harry.

“Why would Black be going after Pettigrew anyway? I mean, even a Death Eater has to have some kind of reason for something like that.” George said. “And that was one part of the story that never made sense to me.”

“The Minister said, when I accidentally overheard him talking about it at Hogsmeade, he said Pettigrew had said he was going to tell on Black about betraying my parents. But it sounded like Black was already there when he said that? So that doesn't make a lot of sense. Unless Black predicted that.”

Harry then spent some time filling the twins in on what he'd overheard.

“So why hide out all this time as a rat?” Fred asked when Harry was done. “Black was in Azkaban! Even if he hadn't killed Pettigrew, he still killed a bunch of Muggles, too. And seriously breached the Statute of Secrecy to boot. So why not come forward? Especially after the witnesses told the Ministry that Black had been the secret-keeper. It doesn't make any sense! He'd be lauded as a hero for exposing the truth!”

“I still can't believe he timed his transformation so perfectly. And how'd he lose the finger? He had to have been the one who blasted the street apart, not Black. And cut his finger off so there'd be something for them to find. Still odd that they stopped looking for the rest of him.”

“That answers one question and raises more. Like, why? Why do that? Especially if Black was gonna do it himself anyway?”

“What do we know about the Fideleus Charm?”

“Us? We know what you know, mate.” George said.

“But,” said Fred, “and this is just a wild stab in the dark, but, well... it sounds like a very advanced charm. Probably not many who could perform it, or everyone would've been using it back then. And you have to really trust the secret-keeper. Which might not be the same person who cast the charm. I don't know how it works, of course, but I know if I were designing something like that, I'd want to be able to set the secret-keeper without anyone but me knowing who it is.”

“Yeah,” said George. “So the most anyone else would know is who they'd been planning to use, not who they actually went with. I mean, the only ones who knew would be the secret-keeper and the people being hidden, ideally. Anyone else would only know whatever the others told them.”

“I imagine the Ministry would've used veritaserum – truth potion – on Black when they brought him in.”

“Yeah, but back then things were a right mess. Dad said a lot of people never even got trials.”

“Wait,” said Harry. “Some people never even got a trial?”

“According to Dad, yeah. And he would know; he works at the Ministry. And he was working there when all this went down.”

“If they can overlook a trial, why couldn't they also overlook using veritaserum? Big spectacle like that, Black's laughter, and looks like they assumed Pettigrew's body was obliterated... seems pretty open and shut, especially if you're still besieged by the tail end of a war. What if Black wasn't given a trial or truth potion? What if they just chucked him in prison and forgot about him?”

“Could happen,” Fred said. “It was war. And You-Know-Who disappearing didn't help much at first. Most people didn't trust he was dead, since there was no body. Death Eaters – his followers – were running around still causing chaos before things finally started to settle down. It's possible.”

“Right travesty of justice if so, but possible,” agreed George.

There was silence for several minutes. Then...

“He wasn't the secret-keeper,” Harry said.

“What's that?”

“You said it yourself, the only people who would know for sure who the secret-keeper was would be the casters – like my parents – and the secret-keeper. But someone who was being considered for the position might be able to guess. What if Pettigrew was the real secret-keeper, and Black was a decoy? It would explain Black's actions, why Pettigrew faked his death, why he's been in hiding. After all, someone might finally realize they never questioned Black, and find out the truth from him.”

“Right. And you said the teachers, in that conversation you overheard, said Black and your dad were very talented, and that Peter wasn't. So a decoy would make sense.” George began.

“Yeah,” said Fred. “They knew there was a spy. What if they wanted You-Know-Who to think Black was the secret-keeper, but really it was this weak, talentless Pettigrew?”

“That would mean Pettigrew was the secret-keeper,” Harry said. “Which means Black didn't betray my parents, he did!”

“And he might've been the spy, too, we reckon.”

He stared at the name on the Map, with anger in his eyes. But this was a cold, calculating anger.

“We have to catch him. And, I dunno, force him back to human shape somehow. We need proof. After all, even I'm not sure we're not just stabbing wildly in the dark.”

“We agree, Harry, but... how?”

“Hmm... well, Lupin knew my parents too. And Black, and Pettigrew. He told me so himself.”

“But he'll think this all mad! He won't believe a word of it!”

“We could show him the Map?”

“Oh yeah, suspect magical artifact like this, a perfect map of Hogwarts at a time when a crazed lunatic is supposed to be out for Harry's blood, that'll go over swell,” Fred said sarcastically.

Something on the map caught Harry's eye. He ran his fingers over the word.

“Wormtail,” he whispered.

Could it be? Harry asked the others in his head with him.

No, can't be. Ridiculous. A stretch and a half.

But he's a rat. Rat tails look like worms.

#And 'Moony.' What better nickname for a werewolf? Makes sense if you know, isn't suspicious if you're ignorant.#

Four friends, four Marauders? What about Padfoot and Prongs?

Oh don't be absurd. This is a huge reach.

What better way to find out all this stuff about Hogwarts than to be an animal? Pettigrew could've explored the whole school as a rat, with nobody the wiser.

There was a pregnant pause from Al.

If Pettigrew was so talentless, how'd he become an animagus? And in school, no less?

He would've had to have help. Black, our father, both described as 'very talented.' They helped him.

Al reeled in shock, getting the idea.

Shit. And why help someone else become an animagus and not become one yourself? And those nicknames... Prongs... some kind of antlered animal? Padfoot... Maybe a mountain lion?

“The Marauders,” Harry said aloud to the twins. “Wormtail is Pettigrew. Moony is Lupin. Padfoot and Prongs are probably either Black or my dad.”

“What? How'd you come to that conclusion, Harry?”

“Yeah, seems a bit mad to me.”

But this lit a fire under Harry. He looked for Lupin. The man was in his office.

“Only one way to find out,” Harry said, picking up the Map, blanking it, and beginning to leave.

“Woah, wait a moment, Harry! Where you going?”

“Yeah, this is lunacy!”

But he ignored them, and walked as fast as he could without running outright; he didn't want to risk Filch's ire, not now.

Harry knocked on Lupin's door, and waited. When the door opened, Lupin looked drawn and haggard.

“Harry. I'm sorry, but I'm still recovering. Can you come back later?”

Harry pushed past him, knocking him back a little. The twins barged in behind him.

“Sorry, Professor,” he said, shutting the door and casting privacy spells. “But this is important.”

“No, Harry, I'm sorry but--”

“Moony,” Harry said, shutting the man up at once. It wasn't easy for him to go any paler, but he did.

“W-what? What did you call me?”

“I called you Moony. You are Moony, right. And Wormtail was Peter Pettigrew.”

“H-how do you know those names?”

“You, Pettigrew, Black, and my dad were the Marauders. Right?”

“How do you know that?”

The twins looked from Lupin to each other with a mixture of surprise and delight on their faces.

“Mssrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs?” they exclaimed with glee.

Lupin's own face turned solemn.

“So you found the Marauder's Map, then? But how did you know I'm Moony?”

Harry, with occasional help from the twins, explained what they'd been discussing, and showed Lupin where Pettigrew was on the map. When he saw the name there, he looked like he'd seen a-- well, a ghost.

“You're right. The Map never lies, it can't. It always knows who is who. Even if they're disguised, or hidden. This is no glitch. So Peter faked his own death, did he? And Sirius was innocent all along? Hmm... but how to prove it?”

“Good luck on that! Ickle Ronniekins never lets go of that rat if he can help it. Especially these days, keeping him away from that mad cat.”

“Mad cat?” asked Lupin.

“Crookshanks. Hermione got him from the Magical Menagerie.”

“So he's a magical cat?”

“I guess so,” Harry said.

“Which means he must be part kneazle. Ordinary cats are just, well, ordinary. But kneazles are magical. They're like living sneakoscopes, among other things, but they're very dangerous, which is why they're mixed with cats; makes them more friendly and easier to manage. If this Crookshanks is part kneazle, which he must be to be sold as a magical cat, then he's been hunting Scabbers because he knows the rat isn't really a rat.”

“So that's what I kept sensing from him! I couldn't make heads or tails of it,” Harry said, slapping himself on the forehead. “It also explains why I could sense Scabbers' emotions, since he's not really a rat. And... oh my god! The sneakoscope kept going off around Scabbers!”

“This is fascinating and all, but how're we going to capture Ronnie's pet and prove Harry's godfather is innocent?”

OOH! OOH! ME! PICK ME! I WANNA DO IT! Zoey shouted in his brain, sending him an image of her jumping up and down in excitement.

“Zoey just volunteered. But I don't know if she has a plan or not, yet.”

Lupin looked at them, interested; he hadn't met Zoey yet.

Never fear!

With no warning or glow, Harry was replaced by Zoey, who appeared with a very sturdy looking cage in her hand.

“Ron's not in the Great Hall anymore,” said George, consulting the Map. “He's almost all the way to the Common Room.”

“I'll be right back,” the little raven-haired girl with heterochromatic eyes said just before skipping off out the door. But she popped in again quickly first, on a second thought.

“What's the password to Dumbledore's office?”

“I believe it's Custard Cremes. Why?”

“Meet me there, okay?”

“Okay, we will.”

“Good,” she said sweetly, then skipped off again.

Once Zoey got in the Common Room, she looked around cautiously. Ron was at a table, getting out an Exploding Snap deck. She looked very carefully, and saw a slightly wriggling bulge in one of his pockets. Stifling a giggle, she took out her wand and Disillusioned herself, and put her shoes in the cage before padding silently past Ron, around the room, looking for Crookshanks. But he wasn't down there, so she checked the boys dorms first, in case he was lurking there. Then she went up to the girl's dorms. In one of the rooms she found him. He immediately turned to face her and began to growl a little, before stopping to turn his head in confusion.

“Hi there, Crookshanks. Don't think we've met yet, I'm Zoey Potter. You're trying to catch and expose a fake rat, right?”

They sensed a faint feeling of relief that they interpreted as a 'yes.'

“So am I. He's a bad wizard. I have a cage to keep him in, but I need your help.”

If cats could smile, Crookshanks would have, then.

~

A few minutes later, Crookshanks casually walked down the steps into the Common Room as though just out for a jaunt. Then he went over towards the fire, but approached it in such a way that he could reasonably be expected to have seen the rat bulging in Ron's pocket without raising any suspicion. Then his attention switched to the rat, and he started to approach Ron.

Ron looked up warily at Crookshanks, and stood up. He wasn't going to wait around for that stupid cat to attack him, and went upstairs to the dorms to try to hide Scabbers, keeping an eye on the cat the whole time, until he couldn't see it. Which meant he didn't see Crookshanks smugly sit down and lick his forearms in triumph.

Instead of going to his own dorm, though, he went to Harry's, which meant Zoey had to follow him out, glaring invisibly at him all the way for not doing as she'd expected him to. When he knocked on the door and got no response, he tried the handle; it was unlocked, so he went in. He felt guilty about this, but he figured his friend wouldn't mind, given the circumstances.

This, of course, gave Zoey the chance to put her shoes on the table by the bed, then undo the Disillusionment Charm and pretend to just be getting in. The cage, however, was still Disillusioned.

“Ronnie!” she exclaimed.

He jumped, then turned like a bolt.

“Oh, it's just you. Hi Zoey.”

“Whatcha doin in our room without permission?”

“Er, sorry about that, but that mad cat is after Scabbers again, and I need to keep him safe.”

“Oh. Hmm... I think I can help with that.”

“You can?”

“Sure!”

And with a fake glow, she used her magic to make the cage visible again.

“Well that might help some,” he admitted, “but it's also a little dangerous. What if it falls down?”

“Oh I thought of that. Once it's put down, Crookshanks won't be able to knock it over or budge it at all. And he can't get in. Also, if Crookshanks touches the bars, they'll zap him. Harmless, but painful. Won't zap Scabbers, though.”

Ron grinned. “Great. Open the door.”

She did, and he put Scabbers in; the rat was, for once, not struggling. Then she closed the door, locked it very carefully with her wand, smiled at Ron, and Stupefied him. He fell to the floor with a thud, and she left a note in his hand saying, “Come to Dumbledore's office, I'll be there. Password is 'Custard Cremes.' Love from Zoey. XOXOXO”

Then she grabbed the cage, and made her way to Dumbledore's office.

~

“Custard Cremes,” Lupin said to the gargoyle once Zoey appeared at their side with Scabbers.

As they went up the moving stairs, Lupin looked very carefully at the rat.

“Yes, that's him for sure. I just can't figure out how Padfoot knew, though.”

“If you mean who I think you mean, Professor,” Zoey said, “He got given the Daily Prophet that had a picture of Scabbers on Ron's shoulder, from the announcement of the Weasleys' trip to Egypt. I think that's how he knew.”

“Ah, that explains it. But raises other questions that I shall have to take up with Padfoot.”

“Come in,” Dumbledore said when they knocked.

He looked curiously at his newest teacher, the Weasley twins, and young Zoey Potter carrying a cage with a rat in it. He also perceived a very nervous air from Professor Lupin.

“What is going on, Remus?”

“Ah, yes. Well, that's all rather complicated, and it will be so much easier to show you, Sir. At least, to get the ball rolling, as it were.”

As he lifted his wand, Zoey stopped him. “We're still waiting for Ron. He needs to see this, too.”

The words were barely out of her mouth when there was another knock at the door.

“Come in, Mr. Weasley.”

Sure enough, Ron came in, looking angry and confused. Then he turned to Zoey and pointed at her.

“Professor Dumbledore, sir! That little cretin stole Scabbers and Stupefied me!”

“Did she? Well I think we should hear what she has to say for herself, then, don't you?”

“Yeah, exactly. Sir,” he added at the last moment.

“Just a moment,” she said, using her wand to enlarge the cage. She'd made sure to do it so a rat still couldn't escape.

“Impressive transfiguration, Miss Potter. Though unusual, for such a small animal.”

“Thank you. Now, Professor Lupin, your turn.”

“Gladly.”

Lupin pointed his wand at Scabbers. Before Ron could protest, a flash of blue-white light hit the rat. Then they watched as the rat floated up and warped and twisted weirdly until he became an adult man.

Everyone, even those who'd known what to expect, stared in disbelief at this rat-faced man who looked like a fat man who had lost a lot of weight very quickly. Even as a human, his behavior was still rat-like.

“The bloody HELL! You turned my rat into a man! Change him back!”

“Mr. Weasley,” Dumbledore said, “I am afraid I must inform you that your pet is not, in fact a rat. He is an animagus, and has been all along. An animagus named Peter Pettigrew.”

“Peter...? But he's dead!”

“I taught Peter in school, Mr. Weasley, and knew him after school. I assure you, Peter Pettigrew is quite alive and kneeling in a cage in front of us.”

Dumbledore stepped away for a moment to the fireplace, and Floo-called someone. When he was done, Professor Snape stepped out of the fireplace and blinked in astonishment at Pettigrew.

“Pettigrew? Alive? But how?”

“You have the veritaserum, Severus?”

“Yes, headmaster. Shall I administer it?”

“Please do.”

Pettigrew tried to avoid Snape, but there wasn't much room in the cage, and Snape used his wand to force the man to open his mouth and take two drops of the potion. Then he relaxed in the cage, looking a little dreamy, and Dumbledore began to question him.

When he was done, he used the Floo to summon Fudge. The Minister, too, was shocked. Naturally, there was more questioning.

“Quite distressing, Dumbledore, quite distressing indeed,” said Fudge when it was over, and Aurors were taking Pettigrew away to Azkaban to await trial.

“I think it seems clear, now, that Sirius Black is innocent, and thus the dementors shall have to be recalled to Azkaban?” Dumbledore said calmly.

“Oh yes, quite right. And I shall have to grant Black a full pardon, once all the necessary work has been done, of course. But in a week or two he should be pardoned, and I shall be recalling the dementors this very night, and calling off the search for Black.”

“Good. I am sure all of my students will appreciate the change in atmosphere when the dementors are gone.”

When the people from the ministry were gone at last, Dumbledore turned to Zoey and the others. Ron was sitting on the ground, still looking stunned.

“Don't worry, Ronniekins,” said George. “We'll get you another pet, once we scrounge up some money.”

“Yeah, it's partly our fault he's gone, after all; Harry and us were talking, and one thing led to another, you know...”

“...and that's how we ended up like this, little bro. Sorry.”

Ron made a non-committal noise.

“If everyone but Miss Potter would please exit the room for now...?” Dumbledore said. They nodded, and left.

When everyone was gone, Dumbledore said, “Well, Miss Potter, it seems your godfather will be pardoned. He will likely need to spend the rest of the school year in St. Mungo's to recover physically from his ordeal in Azkaban and being on the run, but I daresay you might very well have a proper guardian this summer, if all goes well.”

“Cool!” Zoey exclaimed. “That's brilliant!”

“Quite. And now, little Miss, off to your room again. It is almost curfew.”

End note: So there we are, what a game changer! I'm finally getting away from my bad habit of following the canon! WOOT! More to come in a week or two!



If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
up
83 users have voted.

And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks. 
This story is 12848 words long.