Wow. Quite a lot of positive response to the previous chapter. That makes me happy, since I felt a little off with my alterations to it. Glad you all seemed to enjoy it.
Well for today, I don't really have anything to announce, so I guess we can just get right into it, can't we?
I'm hopeful that the events of this chapter will be good. I'm a little uncertain, but we'll see what happens, won't we?
Anyways, on with the show!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, which is the property of J. K. Rowling. I in no way earn any profit off this beyond positive reviews from you, the readers.
Animi Ardores Hestiae
Peter Pettigrew gurgled as he frantically grabbed at Sirius Black's hands, trying to pry them lose from around his throat. But Black's grip was too strong, fueled by twelve years of rage and betrayal.
However, as Peter's struggles weakened, Lupin, Snape, and Harry managed to grab Black, and pry his hands loose, letting Pettigrew draw in a massive gasp of air, while the three of them pulled Black away.
"Let me go! THAT BASTARD NEEDS TO DIE!" Black shouted, struggling in their grasp.
"Hang on Sirius! We need to hear him confess!" Lupin said, struggling to hold his friend.
Black just growled angrily. "He'll never confess! He'll try to worm out of it like everything else!"
Pettigrew meanwhile was slumped on the bed, greedily drawing air in, as Hermione, Neville, and Ginny kept their wands trained on him. He eyed them, and the door out of the room, before looking around the room nervously.
Snape eventually got his wand pointed at Black's face. "Black, you will calm down now," he said in a dangerous tone. "I would love nothing more than to curse you. Please make my dream come true."
Black calmed at that, glaring at Snape. "I'm not about to go and please you, Snivellius," he said.
The trio let go of Black, who was still panting as he glared at Snape, then Pettigrew. Lupin turned his attention to Pettigrew as well. "Hello Peter, it's been some time," he said calmly, though there was a bit of an edge to his voice.
Pettigrew twitched, looking around. "R-Remus…m-my old friend…w-what's going on here?" He asked nervously, his voice even squeaking a bit like a rat.
Lupin just smiled, placing a hand on Pettigrew's shoulder. "It's rather simple Peter. While you were squeaking on the bed there, we were all having a nice chat up here. A chat about the night Lily and James died."
"Remus…h-he tried to kill me! He killed Lily and James and now he's come back to kill me! I knew he would be coming for me!" Pettigrew shouted, pointing with the middle finger of his right hand, since the pointer finger was gone.
Snape raised an eyebrow at that. "You knew Black, who was one of the most secured prisoners in all of Azkaban, would be coming for you?" He asked.
Peter wilted a bit, seeing Snape staring at him. "S-Severus…y-you have to know he was working for the Dark Lord! Y-You were one of them! The Dark Lord probably taught him things none of us could dream of!"
Black barked in laughter. "Me, learning from Voldemort? That would be as likely as Moony enjoying transforming into a werewolf," he snapped, stepping forward, causing Peter to yell and take a step back.
Snape meanwhile studied Peter carefully. "In truth Wormtail, I never saw nor heard of Sirius Black being a member of the Death Eaters. His brother Regulas, I remember him. But not Sirius. Now one could say I simply was made aware of all the Dark Lord's members, but…that brings up something else. I've only ever heard fellow Death Eaters call him the Dark Lord. Everyone else either uses his name…or they use one of the various ways of naming him without naming him. So tell me, Peter…why do you call him the Dark Lord?"
Harry stepped forward. "Wait...Death Eaters? What are you talking about?"
"They were You Know Who's followers," Lupin said. "Severus was a Death Eater, but near the end of the war, he defected to our side."
Harry glanced at Snape, who looked down a bit. "I made some bad choices in my youth," he said quietly. "Perhaps I can share my story with you one day. For now though…let us return to you, Peter," he said, looking at Pettigrew.
Peter trembled as he backed away, with all eyes now locked on him. "I-It was nothing. A-A slip of the tongue," he said.
"Ohhh, it was more than that Wormtail," Black spat out. "When I was in Azkaban, I remember hearing members of old Voldy's Inner Circle cursing your name. They seem to think you double crossed them and their master, sending Voldemort to his doom."
Almost everyone was flinching at Black saying Voldemort, except Snape and Harry. Black grinned almost madly as he kept talking. "In fact, you haven't been hiding from me these past twelve years. You've been hiding from them, from the Death eaters who talked or bought their way out of jail. After all, if they learned you were still alive…well you probably wouldn't remain that way for long, would you?"
Peter looked to Lupin. "R-Remus…you don't believe this madness, do you?" He asked desperately.
"To be honest, I find it very hard to believe you Peter. You claim to be innocent, but you spent twelve years hiding as a rat-," he said, only to be interrupted.
"Because I was scared! Scared of his supporter's finding me after I set up their spy to be captured!" Peter shouted desperately.
Black began to laugh again. "Set me up? Oh, you set me up alright, but you did so to take the fall for YOU betraying James and Lily! I bet you felt so big and proud, when I suggested you become their Secret-Keeper. You, who had accomplished nothing and was practically an unheard person, could deliver Voldemort's greatest enemies into his hands."
Peter mumbled under his breath, before glancing around the room nervously, only for his eyes to land on Harry. "Then what about the boy there?! What about Harry!" He said, pointing at Harry. "I've spent the last three years in the same dorm room as the boy, yet I didn't hurt him!"
"Because you were too scared to try," Snape said, crossing his arms. "I know people like you, Pettigrew. The majority of death Eater's were like you. Cowards who only did what they did because they had the Dark Lord's protection. You weren't going to commit murder under Dumbledore's nose without assurances you'd have protection afterwards."
Peter trembled quietly, looking down as Snape shut down his latest attempt at defending himself. At that moment though, Hermione decided to speak up.
"E-excuse me…M-Mr. Black? I-If I may ask…how did you escape Azkaban, if you didn't use Dark magic then?" She asked hesitantly.
"Yes! How did you escape?!" Pettigrew frantically asked, wanting to turn attention from himself, only to quieted down as he found himself staring fearfully at Lupin and Snape's wands.
Black let out a sigh, slowly leaning back against one of the walls. "Well…it wasn't easy, to be honest…in Azkaban, most prisoners go insane, after a few months exposed to Dementors. They're left with nothing but misery and agony, and so it causes their minds to snap. Some are able to endure, mostly because they seem to thrive on their negative emotions. But for me…I knew I was innocent. Somehow, just reminding myself that I was innocent allowed me to keep my sanity, and some degree of my magic. When things became too much, I would simply transform into my dog form. The Dementors are blind, so they had no way of knowing what I was doing. They just felt my emotions becoming less complex and figured I was going insane as well. And so I was able to endure, to survive. With my only goals being to one day bring Pettigrew to justice…and to make up for my failing you as your godfather harry," he said, glancing at Harry, who looked down a bit.
"However, how I escaped has to do with when I learned of Pettigrew's location. Fudge came in for one of his inspections, and I saw Pettigrew in the paper. And learning he was at Hogwarts, right where Harry was, made me realized I had to escape, because this was my chance to capture Pettigrew once and for all. When they brought me my food and opened the door, I slipped out in my Animagus form and swam to shore. After I recovered some of my strength, I went to Diagon Alley, hoping to maybe find a moment to capture Pettigrew. For a brief moment, I did see you there Harry. But I wasn't able to grab Pettigrew, so instead I headed north to Hogwarts. I've been living in the forest this whole time, sneaking food from Hogsmeade. And I would watch you play Quidditch Harry. You're an incredible flier, like your father. Though I think Red there could give you a run for your Galleons," he said, making Ginny blush a bit.
"And then I met the cat, Crookshanks. He was out hunting one night, and he stumbled across me while I was walking the grounds in dog form. He recognized I wasn't a dog, just like he recognized that Pettigrew wasn't a real rat. Took him a while to trust me, but he's very intelligent for a cat. I was able to communicate with him what I wanted, so he tried to help me, first by capturing Peter, and then by helping me get into the Tower. Sadly, Peter was one step ahead, and faked his death again. But tonight, Crookshanks followed you all to Hagrid's hut and saw Peter there. He led me back to you, and the rest is history," he said.
He looked at Harry, slowly standing straight. "Harry…if I could, I would happily go back in time, and reverse my decision. Please…believe me when I say I would gladly die if it meant Lily and James were alive and safe. They were my friends, practically my family. I would do anything for them."
Harry looked at Black for a moment, before his gaze drifted to those around him. He could see his friends seemed convinced of Black's sincerity, as did Lupin. His eyes finally landed on Snape, who glanced back at him. With a slow nod, Snape agreed that he believed Black.
Harry looked at Black, and nodded softly. "I believe you," he said, stepping forward.
"NO!" Pettigrew shouted, before trying to bolt for the door. However Neville caught him and bodily threw the man back, causing him to land on the bed. Before he could move black ropes shot out of both Snape and Lupin's wands, tying him up tightly so he couldn't move at all.
Pettigrew trembled, looking at the people surrounding him. "P-Please…you have to understand…h-how could I fight him? He was too powerful! He would have killed me!"
"Then you should have died Peter!" Lupin shouted angrily. "We would have died protecting you!"
"I-I was too scared," Peter sobbed. "I-I couldn't do it. P-Please…"
Black sneered, drawing a knife from his robes. "So how shall we do this? Together, or one at a time?" he said, looking at Lupin and Snape.
"I say altogether," Lupin said, wand out and pointed at Pettigrew.
"Agreed," Snape said, his own wand at the ready as well.
Peter closed his eyes, as Neville, Hermione and Ginny looked away. However, before the three could do anything, Harry stepped forward.
"Wait!" He said, moving between them and Pettigrew. "You can't kill him."
The three men looked at each other, then at Harry. "Harry…this…this filth is the reason your parents are dead," Black growled out. "He doesn't deserve to live."
"I'm not doing this for him," Harry said. "I'm doing this for you. All three of you," he added.
At their confused looks, Harry explained. "Sirius, we need him to clear your name. If we take him back dead, that may not be enough to clear your name. Without him, you're still a wanted criminal. Professor Lupin, if what I've read about werewolves is correct you already have a hard enough time getting by without adding murder to that as well. And Professor Snape…I can't imagine anyone would be pleased if a former Death Eater or whatever killed someone."
The three men looked at each other, before sighing as they backed up. "So what do we do then?" Black asked.
"We take him to the school, and we turn him over to the authorities. And we make sure they understand everything so that we can clear your name," Harry responded.
The trio of men nodded before Snape waved his wand. "Stupefy," he said, as a jet of red light shot from his wand, hitting Pettigrew. The man slumped back unconscious, still tied up.
As everyone looked at Snape, he shrugged. "We don't want to risk him getting a moment to transform and escape," he said.
Lupin nodded. "Alright. Let's find a way to get him out of here then," he said.
Snape nodded. "I'll handle it," he said, casting a spell on Pettigrew's unconscious body, making him float up into the air, his feet barely skimming the ground.
Crookshank soon led the group, followed by Lupin, Black, Ginny, Neville, Hermione, and harry, with Snape guiding Pettigrew's body and bringing up the rear.
In the tunnel, the group quickly made their way along the narrow tunnel, with Pettigrew occasionally knocking his head on the ceiling. Snape almost seemed to be taking pleasure in not stopping that from happening.
As they reached the end of the tunnel, Crookshanks darted out. As Black emerged, he found Crookshanks standing on the knot in the roots of the Whomping Willow, paralyzing the tree.
The entire group quickly exited and moved out of the tree's range. When they did, Crookshanks joined them, and the tree soon was shifting again, its creaking branches almost making it seem like the tree was grumbling in annoyance.
Lupin nodded as he turned to the school. "Now we just…just," he started, only to stop and shiver as he looked up, realizing he was illuminated in moonlight.
Hermione's eyes went wide in realization. "Wait…Professor Snape, did he take his potion tonight?!"
Snape's eyes widened as well. "Get away from him!" he shouted, as he dropped Pettigrew and moved forward, wand at the ready. Next to him, Sirius shifted into his massive black dog form as Lupin hunched over, his body shifting before he let out a half yell, half howl of agony.
Harry shifted his stance, readying to cast a mage spell, as Hermione, Neville, and Ginny moved behind him. They all watched in horror as their Defense Against Dark Arts teacher was replaced by a massive wolf, who snarled angrily.
Before any of them could react, Sirius shot forward, slamming into the werewolf and driving it to the ground, pinning Lupin. The werewolf snarled, struggling and snapping its jaws, trying to get at Sirius. The black dog tried to keep him pinned, but lacked the strength and mass to keep the werewolf down, as it surged up, knocking him off. The werewolf snarled at him, before turning and running towards the woods. Sirius shot off in pursuit, as Snape cursed. "Stay here!" He shouted, rushing after Sirius and Lupin.
Harry cursed quietly, looking at Pettigrew's body. "Guy's, get Pettigrew up to the school and get one of the Professors!" He shouted, preparing to run after Snape and the others.
"Harry, you can't go! Lupin's a feral werewolf right now. He could attack you and infect you," Ginny said, grabbing his arm. "Either we all head to the castle or we all stay here."
Harry was about to retort when there was the pained yelp of a dog, followed by a surprised cry from Snape. Harry cursed as he rushed forward, with his friends following quickly.
As Harry crested a hill, he froze, his eyes widening in fear. Before him was Black in his normal form, crouched on the ground and holding his head. Snape stood over him, wand out and directing a doe shaped Patronus against a massive swarm of Dementors bearing down on the pair.
Harry immediately drew his wand, turning to the others. "Get out of here!" he shouted, as he rushed forward, focusing on the happiest memory he could think of at the moment. With a cry of "Expecto Patronum!" he launched his own Patronus, which took the form of a stag that charged the Dementors as well.
The Dementors wavered a bit in surprise at the second Patronus, as Harry moved next to Snape. Snape glanced at him before looking at the Dementors. "Potter, what in Merlin's name are you doing here?"
"Never mind that! We need to get Sirius out of here," Harry said. He reached down with his free arm, lopping it under one of Sirius as Snape did the same on the other side, and they began to back away. Harry was panting, feeling exertion in maintaining his Patronus, which was wavering, starting to lose its solid shape. He could also start to feel the cold of the Dementors as they pressed towards them, doubling their efforts at the sight of one of their hated enemies.
Harry looked over his shoulder, only for his eyes to widen as he saw Hermione, Neville, and Ginny stumbling towards him. His eyes widened in horror as he saw Dementors approach from behind them. "We're trapped," he whispered.
The trio of students fell to their knees as they reached Harry and Snape, who set Black down. "P-Professor...what do we do?" Hermione asked, holding up her own wand.
Snape looked at them, then at Harry. "Harry, we're going to try and drive a hole through those between us and the school. Send your Patronus at them on my signal."
Harry nodded as he readied his Patronus, though he could feel the spell weakening as the Dementors closed in on all sides. Black was unconscious at this point, as Neville and Hermione struggled to lift him up.
Snape suddenly turned, pointing his wand at the Dementors behind them. "NOW!"
The doe and stag shot towards the Dementors between them and the school, causing them to fall back. However, Harry felt his strength leaving him, as his Patronus fell apart, becoming mist. He fell to his knees, struggling to maintain even that, as Snape's doe Patronus couldn't penetrate the Dementors.
The Dementors, sensing their prey was weak, closed in, as Harry's Patronus flickered and disappeared, and Snape's Patronus began to fail as well. Weakly, Harry raised his wand again. 'I-I have to try…i-it's our only hope,' he thought, pointing his wand at the Dementors, whispering. "A-Animi…A-Ardores…Hestiae."
A small silvery-blue flame emerged from the tip of his wand, but it soon sputtered, as Harry felt the cold envelop him. He could hear his mother screaming in his head, Voldemort's cackling laugh, as he saw Hermione, Neville, and Ginny collapse. Snape was on struggling to stand, even as the Dementors encircled them.
Eventually, Snape too collapsed, as the Dementors encircled them. Harry was barely conscious, as one approached him, reaching out with its rotting hands and grabbing him, lifting him up.
"Mage…you will die here this night," it hissed in its spectral voice. Strangely though, Harry felt the effects lessening a bit. He felt himself being turned around, his head being held in place, as the Dementor spoke. "But first…witness the death of your friends."
Dementors moved forward, slowly lowering their hoods, revealing their faces for the first time. Their flesh, like on their hands, was rotten and blistered, with no eyes, only thin scabby bits of flesh over where their eyes should be. Their mouths were little more than gaping black holes that sucked in the air with each rattling breath. The Dementors reached for his friends, Black, and Snape.
Harry trembled, closing his eyes. 'T-There has to be something I can do. I…I can't fail them,' he thought, before he slowly opened his eyes, seeing Ginny being lifted up, the Dementor holding her preparing to suck out her soul, as she whimpered in unconsciousness. In that moment, he felt something erupt deep within him.
The Dementor holding Harry let out a hissing laugh, only to pause as it felt the boy in its hands start to become warm. Looking down, it saw the boy glowing faintly with a silvery blue aura. It suddenly let out a shrieking hiss, backing away as its hands were burned, the boy collapsing to his hands and knees. "What is this?!" It demanded.
Harry weakly got to his feet, clutching his wand. "You…y-you…can't have them," he whispered, barely getting his head up. "I won't…let you…take them!" he shouted, raising his wand with his last bit of effort, and pouring every last bit of magic and will into his wand and spell. "ANIMI ARDORES HESTIAE!"
The aura surrounding Harry shot into his wand, before erupting in an almost supernova ring of silver-blue flames that erupted through the Dementors ranks. Those nearest the group were instantly vaporized, leaving behind nothing but singed, tattered cloaks. The Dementors farthest from the group shrieked in pain, their rotten flesh becoming burnt and charred as they fled, leaving the small group of huddled figures behind.
Harry stood there for a few moments, panting, before his strength left him. The wand slipped from his fingers as he fell forward, not noticing the running figures approaching as his vision turned to black and unconsciousness claimed him.
Ministry of Magic
Cornelius Fudge sighed softly, as he finished sighing paperwork. There were many perks to being Minister of Magic, but the paperwork was definitely not one of them.
He was reaching for his cloak when the fireplace flared to life, and the head of Amelia Bones, the head of the Auror Department, appeared amidst emerald green flames. "Minister, you need to come to Hogwarts immediately! A serious incident has just arisen!" She shouted, before disappearing.
Cursing, Fudge quickly Floo'ed to Hogwarts, appearing in the Headmaster's office. There, he found the squared jawed Amelia Bones, her gray hair in a bun and a monocle covering one of her navy blue eyes. Amelia was talking to Dumbledore when Fudge arrived, and both looked up.
"Albus, Amelia, what's going on?" Fudge demanded worriedly.
"What's going on, Minister, is that four students and a Hogwarts Professor were nearly given the Dementor's Kiss, and apparently…Peter Pettigrew is not as dead as we thought," Amelia said.
Fudge blinked at that, stumbling back. "W-What? Who was nearly Kissed? What do you mean Pettigrew isn't dead?" Fudge demanded, feeling a major political fallout was possibly about to occur.
Dumbledore strolled forward. "Follow me Minister," he said, his voice holding none of its warmth.
The trio headed straight to the Infirmary, where Madam Pomfrey was monitoring Hermione, Neville, Ginny, and Harry, all of whom were unconscious. Snape was in the bed after the four of them, awake and sitting up in bed, reluctantly eating a chocolate bar.
Fudge groaned, seeing Harry was one of the students. The media was going to have a field day with this, not to mention what the Mages would do when they found out.
At the other end of the room was a group of Aurors standing guard over two figures, both of whom were secured to the beds they were laying in. One was Sirius Black, who was pale and unconscious still. The other made Fudge's eyes widened. "T-That…t-that can't be Pettigrew!" He said.
Peter Pettigrew was awake, but was immobilized completely, unable to move or do anything. Bones swept down to that end, sneering.
"It is Pettigrew Minister," she snapped. "I've already had gotten his records from St. Mungo's and had an analysis done. Not to mention this," she said, indicating his right hand, where his pointer finger was missing.
Fudge just stared, horror written on his face. "I don't…I don't understand," he said.
"We don't have all the details currently Cornelius," Dumbledore said. "However, I'm sure once everyone's recovered from tonight's ordeal, we will get our answers. What concerns me more is the Dementors."
Fudge nodded weakly. "Y-Yes. We'll need to get containment teams to track them down. H-How many of them escaped?"
Amelia Bones turned, glancing at Harry. "That's the astonishing part, Minister. The majority of the Dementors were killed," she said. "Only eleven of the thirty we stationed here escaped."
Fudge stared at her. "K-Killed? How?!" He shouted, only to be shushed by Pomfrey.
"We don't know for certain. All I was able to get Severus was that it involves young Harry," Dumbledore said. "For now, we must wait until they recover, and we can get the answers we seek."
Fudge nodded weakly. "I-I need to get back to the Ministry, get on top of things. Amelia, do what you must to get those remaining Dementors, and keep these two guarded. Whatever it takes," he said, as he turned and quickly left the Infirmary.
Amelia sighed as she looked at Pettigrew and Black. "When Black awakes, keep a close eye on him. We don't know if he is dangerous or not," she told the Aurors, who nodded. She then turned to Dumbledore. "Albus...as soon as we can, I'd like to transfer Black and Pettigrew to secure rooms."
Dumbledore nodded quietly. "I understand. I'll find a pair of rooms immediately. In the meantime, please feel free to use my office to coordinate the search for the missing Dementors," he said.
Amelia Bones nodded as she headed out of the Infirmary, stopping at Harry's bed. "This boy…he's definitely something else, isn't he Albus?" She said.
Dumbledore nodded quietly as Bones left. He moved to Harry's bed, sighing softly. "Yes he is," he said to himself as he looked at the unconscious boy. He sighed, closing his eyes and rubbing them, before looking at Pomfrey. "Let me know when they awaken," he said softly, before leaving. He had some parents he needed to owl.
And that's the chapter. It's short. Sorry about that. I had wanted it to be longer, but after Harry passed out, I felt I couldn't really justify covering anything beyond the immediate aftermath.
For those of you worried I'm going to overpower Harry, don't. Harry will be suffering some backlash from what happened, and it's not going to be something he'll be doing again anytime soon.
I do hope you all enjoyed this chapter, and hopefully, I'll have the next one out soon enough. After my next Shinobi's Creed chapter.
Thanks again to my awesome beta Kyuubi123, and to you the readers for reading and reviewing.
Till next time!