Monday 12 July 1993
James shook off the dizziness as the day camp Portkey dropped him back at The Mall. This week was botany and potions, not his favorites by any stretch of the imagination. Around him, the other ten campers his age were also shaking off the aftereffects of the Portkey, and they were soon joking and laughing as they made their way out of the receiving room into The Mall proper.
The Mall was a vast underground expanse that closely mirrored the no-maj mall above them. There were stores, restaurants, other magical businesses nestled in the various storefronts. Of most use during the summer, at least by families with children between ten and thirteen, was the portkey office, or more particularly, the summer camps division of the office.
Each summer, magical children who'd begun their training within the past school year, but hadn't started high school, were required to go to camps throughout the summer. The camps were broken down by different topics and lasted a week each. There were a variety of different camps run across the USA, some were day camps and some overnighters. While Harry preferred the overnight camps, since they let him use his wand all the time, his monthly problem prevented him from doing more than a week or two like that.
James saw his mom and Morgan waiting for him as he left the receiving room and joined them. "Hey Mom, we headed straight home?"
"No, we have to pick up some luggage first. Did you learn anything interesting today?" Veronica asked grabbing Morgan's hand and walking deeper into the Mall. James fell in beside them.
James frowned at the mention of luggage. He understood why Dad felt he owed it to go. James was even willing to admit that if he was stuck in Azkaban- No way that was legal under the ICW charter- But if he was stuck there he would want his friends to make damn sure he was guilty before abandoning him to his fate. Still...
"No complaining. We agreed, even if it was with reservation, that we would let Remus try to find Black and the truth. At least for the school year." Veronica said. "Now tell us about your day."
"Yeah what plants did you play with? Did you make a dorkiness potion?" Morgan asked sticking her tongue out at James.
James gave in and regaled them with all the muted joys of his day at camp. They ordered up a quartet of trunks and backpacks for the family to use on their upcoming journey complete with a wide array of security features that would be ready by the end of the week. Their business completed they went back to the Portkey office and used their home key that was sitting safely in the family's locker to go back home.
A hook of the navel later, the family was standing on their front porch. Veronica put the key in the lock when a cat meowed behind her. The trio turned as one to see a gray cat sitting on the porch railing. A moment later, Professor McGonagall stood there leaning against it.
"Good Evening Veronica." She said over the awed sounds Morgan was making and James' muttering. "Can I come in?"
"Professor McGonagall, I hope you weren't waiting for too long. Please come in. If you're out here then I guess Remus is still at work. I can fix us something while we wait for him." Veronica said stiffly while opening the door and herding everyone in.
"How did you do that? One second you were a cat and then you weren't! You didn't even need the moon." Morgan asked once everyone was inside the house. She had placed herself in Professor McGonagall path with a child's pure innocent curiosity written on her face. James slipped in beside her.
"You're an, what's the right term, animagi, animagic-" He started guessing and was quickly cut off by Professor McGonagall.
"The term is animagus, and yes I am. It is an advanced bit of wandless transfiguration that can only be achieved through meditation and long study." Professor McGonagall said, falling into the lecture she gave her sixth-year students as she made her way towards a wicker chair in the corner of the living room.
"Why don't you tell them about it while we wait." Veronica said returning from the kitchen with cups floating along behind her. "Lemonade for you, Lemonade for you, tea for you Minerva, and Coke for me."
Everyone settled in as Professor McGonagall began to talk about animagus transformations. It broke Morgan's heart when Veronica confirmed as werewolves it would be impossible, but then the Professor pointed something special out.
"True a werewolf can't become an animagus, but a witch or wizard in their animagus form can't become infected with lycanthropy either." Professor McGonagall said.
"Really?" Morgan asked
"Really, really," Remus said as he came in catching the tail end of the discussion.
"Yes, you would know all about that wouldn't you." Professor McGonagall said with a sly grin. Remus stiffened.
"Please, I know about James, your father not you, trying to find his form. I was very upset at the time but proud nonetheless. I almost wish Peter and Black had learned it too, though that would make finding him that much harder." She said. At everyone's questioning glances, she elaborated. "It was fourth-year right before Christmas when James had those ridiculous antlers. He played it off to everyone else as a prank but came to me for help reversing it. I did and taught him the spell before giving him a copy of my personal guide I wrote for promising students."
Remus relaxed. It was just James that she knew about. Perhaps things would be easier if she knew about Peter or Black, but it made him feel better knowing that the vow they made hadn't been pointless. On the other hand… Well, it was a moot point regardless.
"So my father was an animagus? With antlers? What was he?" James asked his dad eagerly. Remus gave him a sad look, cursing the vow at that moment.
"I never said you father was an animagus James. I have no idea what you are talking about. That is my unbreakable story." Remus said watching the gears turn and hoping his message had been received.
"Of all the stupid things you boys did. Peter and Black did it too didn't they? James helped them keep it a secret with what I told them. Didn't he." Professor McGonagall said, getting up from her seat and staring down Remus.
"I have my story and I am sticking to it. It would be bad for my health to do otherwise." Remus said. Okay, now the vow was useless. Rather than let things continue on this dangerous track Remus pushed for a line change with the conductor. "Anyway, I have news for you, Minerva. We talked it over as a family. Veronica was able to talk to her boss yesterday evening and I talked the people I needed to. I can come to help you find Black and fill in as the defense professor since everyone seems certain Hogwarts is where he is heading."
"Excellent then I'm going to need a book list-," Professor McGonagall began only to be cut off by Veronica.
"We need to talk about some things first. He said can, not would." Veronica said. Pulling out the list they had put together as a family on Sunday. "First off the whole family has to be able to come. Remus is going to be a professor and James can be a student. That is obvious, but will Morgan and I be able to stay at the castle. Like we said splitting up the family is not an option."
"I would need to talk Albus but I am sure we can come up with something. It will depend on what you feel comfortable doing, and what you are qualified to do of course." Professor McGonagall said. Really that seemed fairly easy.
"Fair enough. Second, we will need a cover for full moons so that we can keep our true nature a secret. The Ministry's treatment of werewolves is part of why we left, and they haven't gotten better since then." Veronica said.
"I already have that cover. My boss said they will give me a leave of absence for a year, but they want monthly reports from me on the investigation and on Hogwarts. I can write those and send them via mail, but it can serve as an excuse." Remus said. His boss had been quite clear that, if they were going to lose him from the team monitoring the internet's growth and finding ways to keep the magical world hidden, they wanted to know what was happening in Britain.
"Excellent dear. Will that work Minerva?"
"I think so, we can say your family has to leave to handle various business that can only be done this year." Minerva said. This one didn't cost her anything. James may miss the occasional class but it shouldn't be that big of an issue.
"This next one's for me." James said speaking. "I want to take an entrance exam of sorts I guess. Something to test what grade level I'm on. From what Mom and Dad have said you teach magic differently from how we learn it here. I don't want to be in a class that is dreadfully boring because I am beyond it. At the same time, I don't want to be struggling in case there is something I am way behind in."
Professor McGonagall thought about that for a long moment. She had just assumed he would be a third year, but he did have a point. The Yanks had set up a very different system of teaching magic. How would it work with the schedule? Hmm. A challenge for Filius perhaps.
"I don't know," She started, holding up a finger to silence James when he began to protest. "Not that I think you are wrong, I am just not sure how it would work out. If you were in 2nd-year astronomy and 4th-year defense while being in 3rd-year history and lets for fun say 6th-year charms it would be very hard to build your schedule in the traditional way. That isn't even accounting for your electives. Have you given any thought to those by the way?"
"Not really." James answered rubbing the back of his neck. "So is that a no?"
"It is a maybe at best, for now anyway. I just can't make those kinds of decisions arbitrarily. I will have to talk to the other professors affected." Professor McGonagall said.
"Fair 'nough I supposed." James conceded.
"On to the next item then. September 1 is a full moon. Do you see the problem?" Remus said. Professor McGonagall quickly saw the issue.
"The arrival feast and sorting are at night after the moon has already risen. None of you would be able to attend. I see how that would be a problem, but changing the start time of the Hogwarts fall term just isn't done." Professor McGonagall said.
"Not even with the right hand of a dark lord running free across Britain?" Remus asked. Getting the date changed would be an excellent prank Remus felt and a way to get even for making his family go back to Britain. There were doubts about the Black's treason, but he had thought it over and determined that it was a slim doubt. If Black truly wasn't the traitor why was Peter dead and why had his first cub wound up there.
"What if you moved it back to the third. It would confuse Black to no end if he really is trying to get to Hogwarts. I am sure you could sell it that way." He said, trying to give Professor McGonagall a reason that would appeal to Dumbledore and the Ministry.
Professor McGonagall was silently thinking it over. Moving the date would throw off any attempt by Black to reach Hogwarts aboard the express. It would also give Albus a day or two more to negotiate with Minister Fudge over the security arrangements. She realized she might want to tell Remus about that, but it could wait until she had the signed teaching contract. The thirty first of August seemed like a good date. It might not come to be anyway.
"I'll ask. No promises of course. If I can't get it moved perhaps a compromise can be reached such as your family arriving the next evening. We can cite difficulty in the move or having to settle business here that kept you longer than planned." Professor McGonagall offered. That would do nicely she imaged. Sure someone would have to fill in the first day of defense classes, but perhaps just a review of what they should have learned under that flop would do the students some good.
"We could make that compromise," Veronica said after a shared looked with her husband.
"What about me? Will I still have to go to first grade or will I get to learn magic early?" Morgan asked. It wasn't fair and equitable, a fun word equitable (she wasn't sure what it meant, but it seemed right) that everyone else got something she didn't.
"We will have to look into what kind of schooling is offered in Hogsmeade, if that isn't good enough I'm sure we can find a primary school somewhere in Britain for you. If all else fails we'll homeschool you so you don't fall behind." Remus said. They had talked about this already, but he wouldn't hold it against Morgan for wanting to talk.
"That's right, and no magic until you're old enough. Don't ask our guest about things you already know the answer to." Veronica said with a frown. She wasn't wrapped around her daughter's finger like some others she could name. Morgan huffed and crossed her arms. She wiggled off the couch then stalked upstairs.
"Yes, well if there's anything else." Professor McGonagall asked. With the list, they already complied she knew her work was going to be cut out for her, but Albus was clear. Find Remus and find what it would take to get him back.
"That should be everything." Veronica said.
"Let us know once you have answers for us. We will be on standby until August. If we haven't heard by then we aren't going to have enough time to make any kind of major moves before James and Morgan are due to start their school year." Remus said. Professor McGonagall thanked them for their time, said her goodbyes, and was out the door. By Tuesday afternoon she was disembarking in Heathrow. Moments later she was walking through the gate to Hogwarts, her work cut out for her.
8 August 1993
It was Saturday and James was busy going through his things trying to decide what to take with him and what to leave behind. He'd already told Ryan and his other friends he wasn't going to be there for their last year of middle school. This had been met with considerable disappointment. They'd all extracted promises that he would tell them about everything that happened.
The previous Monday had been a full moon and they run with the greater Nakota Pack under Alpha Hardfast. The full Nakota Pack had been there, members from all across Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Montana. The moon rose, Alpha Hardfast asserted his dominance over the lesser Alpha's that followed him, and the packs hunted.
So it came as a surprise when he answered a knock at the door and Alpha Hardfast was there with the Nakota Pack's teacher Shaman Moon.
"Good Afternoon James," Alpha Hardfast said, his voice rumbling like distant thunder. "We've come to speak with your mom and dad before you leave."
"Okay. I'll go get them." James said, he started to turn away but stopped. "Um, do you want to come in while I fetch him?"
Alpha Hardfast shook his head. "No thank you. It is a nice day, we'll just wait on the porch." The pair sat down on the plastic patio chairs, which creaked under Alpha Hardfast bulk as James went in search of his dad.
"Hey Dad," James called out when he found Remus in Morgan's room helping her figure out what to bring. "Alpha Hardfast is here with Shaman Moon. They want to talk to you and mom about something."
"Thanks James. Morgan, I have to go talk to Alpha Hardfast, figure out which stuffed animals you want to bring. Remember, only two." Remus said as he pushed himself off the floor.
"I know Dad." Morgan said seriously. Her toys were arranged like soldiers before a general. She picked one up, considered it and returned it to the ranks.
"Where are they waiting, James?"
"Out on the porch Dad. They said it was a nice enough day out when I invited them in."
"Okay. Thanks. I'll grab Veronica and we'll go talk to them. Are you ready to pack?"
"Almost, just have to figure out which books will be worth bringing and which ones I can leave behind." James said with a shrug. Remus nodded. He went to find Veronica and meet with their guests.
Maybe ten minutes later Shaman Moon came and knocked on James' open bedroom door.
"May I come in James?"
"Sure," James said. He scrambled around for a second to clear his things out of his desk chair and offer it to Shaman Moon. "Here."
"Thank you." Shaman Moon said easing himself into the seat. He ran a gnarled hand along his wrinkled jaw as he looked over the room. "Strange how different your room is from mine when I was your age, but that was a long time ago and the reservation is different from a countryside home."
James nodded. "I imagine. Are Mom and Dad still talking to Alpha Hardfast?"
"They're still talking. I'm curious James; what do you know of the situation in Britain?" Shaman Moon asked, his pale eyes locked on James.
"Um, not much. I know a major criminal named Sirius Black escaped their prison and I heard Albus Dumbledore lost pretty much every position he gained after beating Grindelwald a few years ago."
"What about the werewolves of the Isles?" Shaman Moon asked leaning forward slightly.
"Um, I know oppression and discrimination is the order of the day. The magicals fear us and so try to separate us from them."
"Do you know why?"
"Not really. Aside from being part the reason why we left years ago I really don't pay attention to it." James admitted.
"There is a werewolf over their named Fenrir Greyback. He is the vilest of people. His actions have fueled that fear. He is the supreme Alpha over there as well. Your parents and Eric are discussing what might happen when your family goes over there for an extended period." Shaman Moon leaned forward and waited for James to reply.
"He's the one who bit Dad." James muttered. "What might happen?"
"What do you think will happen if he realizes you are there? What would you do in his position?"
James thought it over for a second. "Try and force us to submit and become a part of his pack."
"Indeed. Though you have Eric's permission to go, that does not protect you from others."
"Why bring this up to me? Dad will be in charge over there. Well him and Mom." James said looking down at his hands. Shaman Moon made a rough sound in the back of his throat and changed the topic instead of answering.
"How are your exercises coming along? Have you managed your arm yet?" He asked.
"No, just the fingers, and even then not always." James said morosely
Shaman Moon stood from his chair and laid a hand on James' shoulder. "Not to worry, it is no easy task, and I will bet you are ahead of your parents in this. You have always been more in tune with your wolf then they have. The merging was quicker and easy for you."
James nodded. It was true, but he only had a few transformations before they'd met the Nakota Pack. Mom and Dad had spent years living as werewolves before then, so of course, it came more slowly to them. They had more to unlearn.
"I think it is time for us to say goodbye." Shaman Moon said. He stopped in the doorway and motioned for James to follow him. James followed, curious why Shaman Moon would need James to walk him out. They found Alpha Hadfast and Remus on the porch, looking out across the plain.
"Ready to go Eric?"
"In just a second John. Remus, Veronica, keep what I said in mind." Alpha Hardfast said. He stood and faced James. "James, whatever happens, while you lot are away, remember you are part of my pack. No one else's. Mine. Remember that." Alpha Hardfast said, punctuating his statement by jabbing James in the chest with a finger. James was forced back a step but nodded once firmly.
"Good. Take care Lupins, we'll see you for Christmas. Let's go, John."
James and his parents watched the duo climb into an old army surplus jeep. It roared to life, and quickly faded away. They watched it disappear then returned to their packing.
"Did they agree with your assessment?" John Moon asked his longtime friend.
"They did. Remus didn't even try and argue. If anything he seemed resigned. Veronica was less than thrilled but she recognized how quickly James is growing." Eric Hardfast said.
"When do you think it will happen?"
"Probably before Christmas."
"Remus is not an alpha, John. He leads his family, but he isn't an alpha. Throw in they expect James is going to living in dorms instead of with his family…"
"Hmm. It will be interesting to see them at Christmas."
Eric nodded and they lapsed into silence, the matter of the Lupins closed.
Part of the concept behind this story is Magic doesn't usually work well across large bodies of water. Rivers can disrupt it, large lakes dampen it, and oceans can completely cancel it out. Thus, Apparition and Portkeys across oceans aren't a thing. The English Channel is about the max range such magic will work over. This results in the Magical World being forced to travel via non-magical means to reach the Americas and many other places without having to go a slowly way trespassing many other countries along the way.
Updated 6 Jan 2019