Chapter Eighty Seven – Only one Marauder left
Harry woke up from his sleep suddenly, as if his old alarm at the Durleys rang on his ears. He was able to sleep, and very well at that, during the night. But his brain was racing then, remembering the brief talk he had with Snape – and that he still didn't know what Snape's fate was. His stomach sunk, and he jumped to the floor, to change his clothes in the fastest speed he could manage. Crabbe and Goyle were still snoring. They were always snoring… Harry got used to it. But Malfoy was not there. Lately, Harry hasn't seen Malfoy a lot. Gladly.
"Harry, why you are in this hurry?" Lila, coming from somewhere Harry didn't see, approached him while he walked quickly to the Great Hall.
"I'm hungry." Harry replied.
Lila raised one eyebrow. "Honestly… I don't think I would be hungry if I were you." she observed. "You do recall you are a champion of Hogwarts… And that everyone hates you…?"
"I do." Harry said. In fact, he didn't even think about it…
But now that he considered the subject, what Lila said must be true. The Slytherins were not very famous in Hogwarts naturally, to begin with. Secondly, a Slytherin that managed to fool the age line Dumbledore made, and did not share the secret with anyone, sure would not be acclaimed as the true champion of Hogwarts. Thirdly, there was another champion from Hufflepuff, and the house didn't have much glory. And there was a Slytherin stealing that from them… Definitely, Harry was in a bad place. He had other things to worry, however. His reputation was the last thing on his mind on that particular moment.
"Fine, then. But are you… Scared?" Lila questioned, following him to the Great Hall. Harry nodded, and no words were said until they arrived at their destiny. They barely saw the glares sent in their direction, nor heard the whispers, because Hermione approached them with a napkin and toasts on her hands, and she seemed angry… And upset.
"Let's eat outside." she said, in the edge of tearing up right on the spot. Harry and Lila had no other choice but to follow her. Though Harry looked in the direction of the staff table. Everything seemed normal, and if a teacher died, they certainly would know quickly, but if Snape was dead, then the circumstances of his death were not for everyone to hear.
Nevertheless, Snape was sitting at the staff table with a scowl on his face and sipping tea. Harry didn't show any signs of relief, or else he would have to explain why he was worried in the first place. He just followed Hermione with a blank expression. Voldemort getting Snape back was a small victory – they wouldn't be without any information from Voldemort anymore… However, it was just the start. Until he was defeated, Snape would have to play the role of spy, and it was very complicated for both Snape and Harry. The worst didn't arrive yet, Harry realized suddenly.
And he saw himself near the lake, with Hermione biting a toast furiously and holding back her tears. "Can you believe it…?" she asked. "Ron isn't mad just at you anymore." she told Harry. "He said I was friends with the enemies. Both enemies. And that I should be careful… Because…" A small pause, and Hermione swallowed hard. "I was turning in one of them."
"He did what?" Lila exclaimed, also taking an angry bite of her own toast.
"Wait. He considers me an enemy?" Harry questioned. "Me?"
"Yes, he does." Hermione replied, sneering. "And I would understand that if he wasn't mad at me as well… If he wasn't being so childish, in general."
"How could you understand him?" Harry retorted. "He's being blind. Isn't it obvious that…" Harry didn't finish the sentence. He didn't know if it was safe to talk about his guess on Voldemort's plan in an open place. Though a finish was not necessary for Hermione to understand.
"I know, Harry, I know…" Hermione sighed. "But he might be jealous of you."
"Jealous of what? Being constantly in the danger of being killed?" Harry spoke in a low voice. "I don't think so."
"Well… But you have to admit you gain a lot of attention because of that." Lila pointed out. "And that if you succeed in doing what you have to do, you will have glory for the rest of your life and way beyond that. Ron lives in a home where he has to dispute attention with many other siblings, and hang out with you, who usually gets all the attention."
But what Harry had? A father who wouldn't love him, a dead mother who hopefully would love him if she was alive… Even though her background story with Slytherins was not very happy. Harry also had a nearly insane godfather, who wasn't able to see an inch in front of his nose, and capable of hurting greatly one of Harry's best friends. There was Lupin as well, who gave Harry three scars on his back. Lastly, there was Snape… But for Snape, Harry lied to everyone he trusted. He didn't regret it, and would do it again, but he would exchange all his money on Gringotts for being able, for once, to have an adult he could trust and rely on openly. Though probably, that adult would have to be Snape.
Ron had a good, big family, with brothers, a sister, a father and a mother who would do everything for him. He lived without the fear of being killed every second, of knowing that one slip… One little mistake, would cause not only his death, but the death of his family as well.
And Ron was jealous of Harry's life…? How so?
"I don't want the attention." Harry argued. "I don't want the glory. All I want is… All I want is this to get to an end."
"But you have the attention, bad or good, Harry." Lila said and smirked. "The point is that we have to deal with what we have, instead of wishing to have something else."
They stayed in silence after that, and Harry finally grabbed a toast from Hermione's hands. They finished all the toasts in silence, to then stroll without a destiny. But after quite some time, they headed back to the castle, ready to deal with what they had to deal.
Sirius woke up from his slumber with Dumbledore's voice. It was his patronus, a phoenix, sitting at the head of the bed. He mumbled some swears, but sat anyway, to listen to what the patronus said: "…tonight. I assume you want to know about it before hand to have enough time to get everything ready." The patronus disappeared. Sirius took his hair out his face, trying to process the bit he heard of the message. It was, probably, about an Order reunion. Again.
"Aargh." Sirius grunted and stood up, dragging his feet downstairs and making his way to the kitchen.
"Blood traitor scum…" he heard someone mumble from the end of the kitchen. He was dizzy and confused, and he couldn't see who said it, but he knew.
"Get out!" Sirius snapped. "Get out now! You are the last thing I want to see today, get out of the kitchen!"
Kreacher, still mumbling things Sirius considered to be obscenities, left the kitchen, with something wrapped in a dirty blanket. Sirius didn't bother to see what it was… He merely grabbed a bottle of milk and sipped it as he walked around the kitchen, waving his wand for things to clean up and organize alone. It was much easier when Molly was around.
In fact, if Sirius thought that the house having people was bad, being alone with Buckbeak and Kreacher was even worst. The guilt was eating him alive… It was potentially worst than in Azkaban. He remembered the good times he had in his life, and they were not happy anymore.
Because it was his fault it was over. He knew it all along, but only recently he really stopped to think about it, and let it sink in his mind, slowly, poisoning every happy memory he might have… He shook his head, focusing on letting the house sufficiently clean. He even forced himself to take the first shower in four days, and shave, a couple of hours before the hour the reunion was supposed to start.
Lupin was the first to arrive. "Good evening." he said in a low voice, and sat very far away from Sirius, opening a book. Other person might think Lupin was reading. His eyes weren't moving, however. He was just trying to make the situation less uncomfortable.
"Hello…" Sirius replied and hesitated. "Moony." A line formed between Lupin's eyebrows.
"It has been a long time since you called me this." Lupin observed dryly.
"Yes, it has." Sirius agreed. "Don't you miss those times…?"
"Not in the slightest." Lupin replied, at least having the decency of flipping the page.
"No?" Sirius was surprised. "Why not? We had so much fun."
"You had a lot of fun. I didn't." Lupin corrected Sirius. Arthur and Molly arrived then, along with Bill and Percy. The conversation was interrupted, but Sirius was left puzzled by Lupin's last statement. Lupin was drained to a conversation with the Weasleys, they all seemed worried. Sirius just stared at nothing at all, wearing a frown and listening to no one. Then, McGonagall arrived, and… Snape. Sirius scowled, but didn't say anything.
Lastly, Dumbledore arrived. "You already heard the news, I suppose." he spoke. Only then Sirius snapped out of his state.
"What news?" Sirius inquired. He was a little disconnected with what was happening in the wizardry world, considering that owls were not allowed in the Grimmauld Place… And he knew as much. So no Daily Prophet. He didn't leave the house, either, and sometimes a Weasley dropped the newspaper in the kitchen table. But that didn't happen that day, so Sirius had no way to know what Dumbledore was talking about.
"Harry's name was picked by the Goblet of Fire last night." McGonagall replied Sirius' question. "He is now one of the champions of Hogwarts." She sent a glance on Snape's general direction. "It was not his fault, of course… He couldn't participate, but someone put his name on the goblet, and we are still trying to find out who it was."
"I'm afraid I can't give much information." Snape spoke coldly. "For now, I am not very high on Voldemort's ranks."
"You returned to… Him?" Lupin asked. Snape nodded slightly.
"Yes, Snape returned at his spy activities." Dumbledore said. "But, as Minerva said, we are still trying to discover who the spy is, and for that reason, I called you and no one else tonight. It is certain the spy is not within this group as Voldemort had no information whatsoever about the reactivation of the Order of the Phoenix.
Sirius snorted lightly. How could Dumbledore be so sure about it…? And he noticed Dumbledore used the past. "Had", not "has". "What do you mean?" Sirius questioned. "He knows the Order is back, now?" Dumbledore didn't reply. "Who told him?" Sirius went on, already knowing the answer… Snape, of course. "How are you even alive?" he continued, then, to Snape. "Because someone had to tell Dumbledore Voldemort returned, and I'm pretty sure Voldemort questioned this as well." Sirius made a pause, trying to get his thoughts together. "You told Voldemort Harry could see through his mind so he could have you back…? Are you crazy?"
"No, I am not, Black, unlike you." Snape replied calmly.
"You put Harry in danger just to save your precious neck!" Sirius exclaimed. The Weasleys, McGonagall remained in a shocked silence, while Dumbledore was silent like them, but calm. "We are all trying to protect Harry. What are you even doing here, then?"
"And since when do you care about anyone's safety…?" Lupin spoke with slight venom on his voice. "You also seem to forget Snape have been teaching Occlumency to Harry for some time… I'm sure Snape wouldn't do that in vain."
Sirius laughed it off. "You trust him way too much, Moony… Who gives you any guarantee?"
"Sirius." Dumbledore warned him. "The decision was well thought and contemplated over and over again. No one in this room would put Harry in danger in vain, I'm sure."
Sirius was in an even bad mood after that. Why everyone still insisted on trusting Snape…? It was clear as the day he was not trustworthy. Especially after putting Harry in such danger. Soon the reunion was over, because Sirius dozed off, and didn't pay attention to anything. But as the members left the kitchen, he started to be aware of his surroundings again, and noticed Lupin seemed annoyed and angry. He was the last to leave, so Sirius rushed to grab Lupin's upper arm and spin him around. "Are you… Mad at me?" Sirius asked.
Lupin released himself from Sirius' grip and rubbed his forehead, taking the already graying hairs out of it. "No… It's just that you are being…" Lupin was measuring his words. "Childish."
"Me?" Sirius questioned in disbelief.
"Yes, you." Lupin replied, more sure of himself then. "Can't you see this old rivalry or whatever you want to call it you have with Snape is only making your life worst? Could you just… Get over it?"
"Get over it…?" Sirius echoed. "He's just being the coward he always has been."
"People grow up and change." Lupin argued. "And that was what Snape did. He is the least person who would put Harry in danger for nothing, believe me… Besides, Dumbledore trusts him. Harry does it, too."
"And we don't have a clue why." Sirius retorted.
"You don't." Lupin corrected Sirius. "Think about it for a second and you will find out why everyone trusts him, and rightfully so."
"Are you actually siding with him?" Sirius insisted, almost desperately. "What about your old friends, Moony?"
"Don't call me Moony." Lupin said, very serious. "Can't you understand? We are not the Marauders anymore, Sirius! We grew up! We aren't playing games here, and I'm not sure you understand this."
Sirius stepped back, surprised with Lupin's lash out. Lupin went on: "And, even further, I don't exist just to be your friend when you need me, Sirius! Do you think I forgot that I was completely shut down, before James and Lily's death? Do you think I forgot how you almost put me in Azkaban because you find it funny to trick Snape to the Whopping Willow? How do you think does it make me feel, even now? Have you ever stopped to think about it, damn it, or are you still as selfish as before?" Lupin was breathing heavily, then, as surprised as Sirius was. "Have you ever thought you might have to apologize?"
"Moony, I…" Sirius tried to say but Lupin left, letting Sirius alone again.
P.S.: Wow, character development chapter. The plot didn't go much forward this chapter, but… Well, you know, it does, but the results will only show up a lot later. Also my Lupin is growing much more interesting than in canon, I must say.
ReaderWriterDreamerGirl7: Glad you liked it, and I hope you have enjoyed it so far.
Blue Luver 5000: I've been busy but I'm trying my best to stay on the routine.
Phoenix1592: Well, thank Merlin, no?
Sailor super-starS: Thank you…! Hope that it's still good.