CHAPTER THREE - THE KNIGHT
Everyone leaned closer to Remus as they waited for
more story. He cleared his throat dramatically and
said, “Chapter Three is called-“
Everyone in the room nearly died from having to wait
to see what happened, but James found the strength in
him to call back.
“It’s getting rather late! Is Lily going to stay for
the night, or what?”
James and Lily looked at each other and shrug. Since
neither answered, Sirius took the liberty in answering
“She is going to stay for the rest of the winter
break!” Sirius shouted down before anyone could stop
“Oh? And when were you going to clear this with me?”
James’ mother called up to them her voice getting
closer as she came up the stairs.
“Erm-“ James looked at Sirius to see if he was going
to answer for him this time. He wasn’t. So James took
a deep breath and said in a hopeful tone, “Right now?”
The door to James’ room opened as his mother stepped
in and looked at the four innocent teens. “That’s fine
with me; let’s just clear this with Lily’s parents’
all right? Lily, darling, if you’ll come with me?”
Lily got up and followed Mrs. Potter out of the room
as the boys sat there.
“Should I continue?” Remus asked as the others sat
there in silence.
“Yeah, go on.”
Remus nodded as he opened the book back to Chapter
Three. “This chapter is titled The Knight
Harry was several streets away before he collapsed
onto a low wall in Magnolia Crescent, panting from the
effort of dragging his trunk. He sat quite still,
anger still surging through him, listening to the
frantic thumping of his heart. but after ten minutes
alone in the dark street, a new emotion overtook him:
James – Shoot. I would be panicking too.
Whichever way he looked at it, he had never been in a
worse fix. He was stranded, quite alone, in the dark
Muggle world, with absolutely nowhere to go. And the
worst of it was, he had just done serious magic, which
meant that he was almost certainly expelled from
Remus – Don’t worry about it, I’ve done much worse
and it came out all right.
James – What’d you do?
Remus - ::nervous laugh:: You don’t want to know.
Sirius – I do—
Remus – Reading!
He had broken the Decree for the Restriction of
Underage Wizardry so badly; he was surprised Ministry
of Magic representatives weren't swooping down on him
where he sat.
Sirius – That’s no fun when they do that.
Harry shivered and looked up and down Magnolia
Crescent. What, was going to happen to him? Would he
be arrested, or would he simply be outlawed from the
Remus – Can’t get arrested until you’re eighteen,
and you can’t be outlawed.
Sirius – Thanks for that info Mr. Dictionary.
Remus – No problem, Mr. No-Brains.
He thought of Ron and Hermione, and his heart sank
even lower. Harry was sure that, criminal or not, Ron
and Hermione would want to help him now, but they were
both abroad, and with Hedwig gone, he had no means of
Peter – This has really got to stink for him.
He didn't have any Muggle money, either. There was a
little wizard gold in the moneybag at the bottom of
his trunk, but the rest of the fortune his parents had
James – I was rich! Woohoo!
Sirius – I most likely lent you half of it.
Remus – And the other half was from your parents.
Peter – So, technically *you* weren’t rich, your
parents and Sirius were rich.
James – ::smacks Remus/Sirius/Peter::
was stored in a vault at Gringotts Wizarding bank in
London. He'd never be able to drag his trunk all the
way to London. Unless...
He looked down at his wand, which he was still
clutching in his hand. If he was already expelled
James – No Potter gets expelled from Hogwarts!
Sirius – Except your Great Uncle Bernie?
James – Well, yeah… but that’s different!
Remus – And how is that different?
James – He didn’t have the infamous Potter hair.
(his heart was now thumping painfully fast), a bit
more magic couldn't hurt. He had the Invisibility
Cloak he had inherited from his father –
James – Yay! He has it! I was hoping that it hadn’t
been stolen or taken up by Filch!
Remus – I wonder if he has our newest creation.
Sirius – Keep reading and we may find out.
what if he bewitched the trunk to make it
feather-light, tied it to his broomstick, covered
himself in the cloak, and flew to London? Then he
could get the rest of his money out of his vault
and... begin his life as an outcast.
Peter – Horrible thought.
Others - ::agree::
It was a horrible prospect, but he couldn't sit on
this wall forever, or he'd find himself trying to
explain to Muggle police why he was out in the dead of
night with a trunk full of spell books and a
Remus - ::grimace:: I had to do that once. Except
that I had potion ingredients with me instead.
Peter – What did the police want?
Remus – He was wondering why I was standing in the
middle of London with a cauldron.
James – And why were you?
Remus – I was waiting for my Mum to pick me up from
the Leaky Cauldron so I was standing outside it.
Sirius – And what did you say to the nice Muggle?
Remus – I told him that I was trying to learn how to
make a new recipe for cooking.
Others - ::laugh::
Harry opened his trunk again and pushed the contents
aside, looking for the Invisibility Cloak - but before
he had found it; he straightened up suddenly, looking
around him once more.
A funny prickling on the back of his neck had made
Harry feel he was being watched, but the street
appeared to be deserted, and no lights shone from any
of the large square houses.
James – Probably is the infamous Sirius Black. Bad,
Sirius. Stalking my son. Now what are you going to do?
Scare him half to death?
Remus – Probably.
Sirius – ::smacks Remus::
He bent over his trunk again, but almost immediately
stood up once more, his hand clenched on his wand. He
had sensed rather than heard it: someone or something
was standing in the narrow gap between the garage and
the fence behind him.
Peter – I hate having that feeling… it’s really
Harry squinted at the black alleyway. If only it would
move, then he'd know whether it was just a stray cat
or -- something else.
Sirius - *More* magic? This kid just wants to be
expelled, doesn’t he?
Harry muttered, and a light appeared at the end of his
wand, almost dazzling him. He held it high over his
head, and the pebble-dashed walls of number two
suddenly sparkled; the garage door gleamed, and
between them Harry saw, quite distinctly, the hulking
outline of something very big, with wide, gleaming
Remus – Hey. Maybe it’s Padfoot?
James – You know, it does sound like him.
Peter – Big? Wide, gleaming eyes? That just about
Sirius – Maybe I did come to rescue him!
Harry stepped backward. His legs hit his trunk and he
tripped. His wand flew out of his hand as he flung out
an arm to break his fall, and he landed, hard, in the
Remus – Rescue or kill? That is the question.
Sirius - ::smack Remus::
* * *
The door to James’ room opened and in stepped Lily.
“So, are you staying?” James asked, the hopefulness in
his voice heard clearly.
“Yes. And tomorrow Tilly, Kaya, and Morwen are going
to join us, hope that’s okay.” Lily said. At this the
other three Marauders perked up.
James, with a sly look at his friends, said, “Oh.
“So, since you have read on without me, what has
happened so far?” Lily asked as she was also grinning
mischievously at the other Marauders.
“Well, Harry has gone down the block a bit and is now
thinking of living as an outcast because he thinks
that he is going to be outlawed. Then he saw this big
thing in an alley and it made him fall over. And now
that is where we are.”
“That’s all you have read? Well, we need to read more!
Continue Remus!” Lily instructed as they got situated
* * *
There was a deafening BANG, and Harry threw up his
hands to shield his eyes against a sudden blinding
Sirius – Oh no! He’s being attacked! RUN, HARRY!
James – I doubt Harry is being attacked, Sirius. It’s
probably a car.
Sirius – What’s a car?
James – Think of a larger version of your motorbike
just with a top.
Sirius – Oooh… okay.
With a yell, he rolled back onto the pavement, just in
time. A second later, a gigantic pair of wheels and
headlights screeched to a halt exactly where Harry had
just been lying. They belonged, as Harry saw when he
raised his head, to a triple-decker, violently purple
bus, which had appeared out of thin air. Gold
lettering over the windshield spelled The Knight Bus.
James – I was close!
Lily – The first time I rode the Knight Bus was last
year. I was so scared, but since Tilly told me how to
do it, I did it anyway
Sirius – My first time was when I was eight, and I
took my first trip to London.
James – My first time was too long ago to remember.
Remus – My first time was when I was six my Mum was
trying to find a doctor with a cure for my, er-
Peter - My first time was when I was four and I had
been playing with my father’s wand. The conductor
didn’t even notice that I had gotten aboard till we
were in France.
All - ::laugh::
For a Split second, Harry wondered if he had been
knocked silly by his fall. Then a conductor in a
purple uniform leapt out of the bus and began to speak
loudly to the night.
Lily – Wouldn’t that be quite the sight if a Muggle
decided to look out his window right at that moment?
Sirius - ::as Muggle:: Er—Honey? Do big purple buses
with funny looking men in purple travel down our
Remus - ::as “Honey”:: No, Sweetie, I think you had
too much ale for tonight. Time to put you do bed—come
Others - ::giggle/snicker::
"Welcome to the Knight bus, emergency transport for
the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand
hand, step on board, and we can take you anywhere you
want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be
your conductor this eve --"
James – Evening… come on, sound it out…
Marauders - ::laugh::
Lily - ::sigh::
The conductor stopped abruptly. He had just caught
sight of Harry, who was still sitting on the ground.
Harry snatched up his wand again and scrambled to his
feet. Close up, he saw that Stan Shunpike was only a
few years older than he was, eighteen or nineteen at
most, with large, protruding ears and quite a few
Lily – Wait a minute! I wonder if he is the son of
Marauders – Who?
Lily – You know! The Head boy last year!
Marauders - *Oh*…
Lily – You have no idea who I am talking about, do
Marauders - ::pause:: No, we don’t. Sorry.
Lily - ::muttering:: Boys…
"What were you doin' down there?" said Stan, dropping
his professional manner.
"Fell over," said Harry.
"'Choo fall over for?" sniggered Stan.
James – He didn’t do it on purpose!
"I didn't do it on purpose,"
James – See?
said Harry, annoyed. One of the knees in his jeans was
torn, and the hand he had thrown out to break his fall
was bleeding. He suddenly remembered why he had fallen
over and turned around quickly to stare at the
alleyway between the garage and fence.
The Knight bus's headlamps were flooding it with
light, and it was empty.
Remus – You get scared easily, don’t you, Sirius?
Sirius – No! I probably just didn’t want to get
caught! I mean… hello! I’m on the run from the law!
Remus – But if you were a dog, why would you need to
Sirius – Er… maybe it wasn’t me?
Lily – Why would Sirius be a dog?
Marauders - ::nervous looks:: Er—no reason.
Remus - ::muttering to Sirius:: I keep forgetting she
Sirius – ::muttering back to Remus:: I know me too.
Don’t worry about it.
"'Choo lookin' at?" said Stan.
"There was a big black thing,"
James – You’re black, Padfoot.
said Harry, pointing uncertainly into the gap. "Like a
Remus – You’re a dog, Padfoot.
Peter – And you’re massive, Padfoot.
Sirius – All right already! Jeesh!
Lily - ::blank look::
He looked around at Stan, whose mouth was slightly
open. With a feeling of unease, Harry saw Stan's eyes
move to the scar on Harry's forehead.
"Woss that on your 'ead?" said Stan abruptly.
Sirius – It’s a scar! Are you blind?
James – Probably.
"Nothing," said Harry quickly, flattening his hair
over his scar. If the Ministry of Magic was looking
for him, he didn't want to make it too easy for them.
"Woss your name?" Stan persisted.
Peter – But I thought it was Harry!
Lily – It’s an alias, Peter, so they don’t know who he
Peter – An alien?
Lily – No, it’s an alias!
Peter – Oh! Alias! What’s it do again?
Lily - ::sigh:: Nothing, Peter, nothing.
said Harry, saying the first name that came into his
head. "So -- so this bus," he went on quickly, hoping
to distract Stan, "did you say it goes anywhere?"
"Yep," said Stan proudly, "anywhere you like,
long's it's on land. Can't do nuffink underwater.
'Ere," he said, looking suspicious again, “You did
flag us down, dincha? Stuck out your wand 'and,
James - ::as Harry:: Yes I did, but it wasn’t to
flag you all down! It was to see if I was about to be
eaten by a big black dog or not!
"Yes," said Harry quickly. "Listen, how much would it
be to get to London?"
"Eleven Sickles," said Stan, "but for thirteen you
get 'or chocolate, and for fifteen you get an 'ot
water bottle an' a toofbrush in the color of your
Harry rummaged once more in his trunk, extracted
his moneybag, and shoved some gold into Stan's hand.
Remus – Why are the Knight Bus attendants always a
James – I don’t know, maybe because slow people can
take the job?
Sirius – Then it would be a perfect job for Peter!
Peter – Hey! It would be!
Others - ::helpless sigh::
He and Stan then lifted his trunk, with Hedwig's cage
balanced on top, up the steps of the bus. There were
Sirius – Why would there be seats?
Lily – Muggle buses have seats.
Sirius – Really? Weird….
instead, half a dozen brass bedsteads stood beside the
curtained windows. Candles were burning in brackets
beside each bed, illuminating the wood-paneled walls.
A tiny wizard in a nightcap at the rear of the bus
muttered, "Not now, thanks, I'm pickling some slugs"
and rolled over in his sleep.
Peter – Pickling some slugs?
James – Pickling some slugs.
"You 'ave this one," Stan whispered, shoving Harry's
trunk under the bed right behind the driver, who was
sitting in an armchair in front of the steering wheel.
"This is our driver, Ernie Prang. This is Neville
Longbottom, Ern. "
Ernie Prang, an elderly wizard wearing very thick
glasses, nodded to Harry, who nervously flattened his
bangs again and sat down on his bed.
Sirius – Dang this kid really doesn’t want to be
noticed, does he?
Lily – He just wants to live a normal life, is that
too much to ask for?
Sirius – When you are a Potter, yes.
"Take 'er away, Ern," said Stan, sitting down in the
armchair next to Ernie's. There was another tremendous
BANG, and the next moment Harry found himself flat on
his bed, thrown backward by the speed of the Knight
Sirius – I *hate* when that happens.
Peter – I think it’s fun.
Sirius – You would.
Pulling himself up, Harry stared out of the dark
window and saw that they were now bowling along a
completely different street. Stan was watching Harry's
stunned face with great enjoyment.
"This is where we was before you flagged us down,"
he said. "Where are we, Ern? Somewhere in Wales?"
Peter – Sounds like a pirate!
Sirius – I hate pirates.
"How come the Muggles don't hear the bus?" said
"Them!" said Stan contemptuously. "Don' listen
properly, do they? Don' look properly either. Never
notice nuffink, they don'."
All – Course they don’t. They’re *Muggles*.
"Best go wake up Madam Marsh, Stan," said Ern. "We'll
be in Abergavenny in a minute."
Peter – Where’s that?
Lily/Remus – I don’t know.
Others - ::surprised:: Oh. My. Gosh. You don’t *know*
Stan passed Harry's bed and disappeared up a narrow
wooden staircase. Harry was still looking out of the
window, feeling increasingly nervous. Ernie didn't
seem to have mastered the use of a steering wheel. The
Knight bus kept mounting the pavement, but it didn't
hit anything; lines of lampposts, mailboxes, and
trashcans jumped out of its way as it approached and
back into position once it had passed.
Peter – I love to look out the window and watch
Sirius - *I* don’t. It makes me feel sick.
Stan came back downstairs, followed by a faintly green
witch wrapped in a traveling cloak.
Sirius – Sounds like me when I finally get off it.
Remus – Except you aren’t a witch?
Sirius – Exactly.
"'Ere you go, Madam Marsh," said Stan happily as Ern
stamped on the brake and the beds slid a foot or so
toward the front of the bus. Madam Marsh clamped a
handkerchief to her mouth and tottered down the steps.
Stan threw her bag out after her
Lily – Something valuable and breakable could have
been in there!
Sirius – Why would you take something valuable on the
Lily - ::pause:: Good point.
and rammed the doors shut; there was another loud
BANG, and they were thundering down a narrow country
lane, trees leaping out of the way.
Harry wouldn't have been able to sleep even if he
had been traveling on a bus that didn't keep banging
loudly and jumping a hundred miles at a time.
James – I never figured how people could actually
sleep on there!
Remus – I always sleep on the Knight bus.
James – How exactly?
Remus – I’m a heavy sleeper.
His stomach churned as he fell back to wondering what
was going to happen to him, and whether the Dursleys
had managed to get Aunt Marge off the ceiling yet.
All - ::laughs::
Stan had unfurled a copy of the Daily Prophet and was
now reading with his tongue between his teeth. A large
photograph of a sunken-faced man with long, matted
hair blinked slowly at Harry from the front page. He
looked strangely familiar.
"That man!" Harry said, forgetting his troubles
for a moment. "He was on the Muggle news!"
James – Finally! More on Sirius! We will be able to
see what he did to end up wherever he was!
Stanley turned to the front page and chuckled.
"Sirius black," he said, nodding. "'Course 'e was
on the Muggle news, Neville, where you been?" He gave
a superior sort of chuckle at the blank look on
Harry's face, removed the front page, and handed it to
"You oughta read the papers more, Neville." Harry
held the paper up to the candlelight and read:
BLACK STILL AT LARGE
Sirius Black, possibly the most infamous prisoner ever
to be held in Azkaban fortress,
Sirius - ::suddenly pale:: Azkaban? I was sent to
Azkaban? I don’t want to go to Azkaban!
Remus – Maybe if we keep reading we’ll find out why
you are in Azkaban and we can prevent it?
Sirius - ::nods::
is still eluding capture, the Ministry of Magic
confirmed today. "We are doing all we can to recapture
Black," said the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge,
this morning, "and we beg the magical community to
remain calm." Fudge has been criticized by some
members of the International Federation of Warlocks
for informing the Muggle Prime Minister of the crisis.
"Well, really, I had to, don't you know," said an
irritable Fudge. "Black is mad. He's a danger to
anyone who crosses him,
Sirius – No I’m Not!… Am I?
magic or Muggle. I have the Prime Minister's
assurance that he will not breathe a word of Black's
tTilly identity to anyone. And let's face it- who'd
believe him if he did?" While Muggles have been told
that Black is carrying a gun (a kind of metal wand
that Muggles use to kill each other), the magical
community lives in fear of a massacre like that of
twelve years ago, when Black
Sirius – Here’s the moment of truth! What did I do?
Remus - ::reading ahead:: You sure you want to know,
Sirius – Yes.
Remus – Okay…
murdered thirteen people with a single curse.
Sirius - ::going paler:: I-I wouldn’t… I’d never!
No… I mean… I just… No! I wouldn’t do something like
James – You- you killed thirteen people with one
Sirius – I- I would never! I- just wouldn’t!
Peter – Maybe you changed?
Sirius – I WON’T EVER DO THAT!
Remus – Sirius! Calm down! Maybe we should just stop
right here for now and go for a walk to cool off,
Sirius - ::nods::
All excluding Peter - ::stand::
Lily – Coming Peter?
Peter – No. You go ahead.
Lily - ::nods::
Remus - ::takes book with him on the walk so Peter
can’t read ahead::
20 Minutes Later…
Remus - ::leading them all back into James’ room::
Ready to continue?
All excluding Peter – Yes!
Peter - ::snore::
Lily – Should we wake Peter up first?
Sirius – Nah. Let's just go on.
Harry looked into the shadowed eyes of Sirius Black,
the only part of the sunken face that seemed alive.
Harry had never met a vampire, but he had seen
pictures of them in his Defense Against the Dark Arts
classes, and Black, with his waxy white skin, looked
just like one.
Sirius – Ugh. I must look like Snape!
"Scary-lookin' fing, inee?" said Stan, who had been
watching Harry read.
"He murdered thirteen people?" said Harry, handing
the page back to Stan, "with one curse?"
Sirius – No I didn’t!
"Yep," said Stan, "in front of witnesses an' all.
broad daylight. big trouble it caused, dinnit, Ern?"
"Ar," said Ern darkly.
Stan swiveled in his armchair, his hands on the
back, the better to look at Harry.
"Black woz a big supporter of You-Know-'Oo," he
Sirius – I WASN’T!
Remus – Do we need to go for another walk?
Sirius - ::timidly:: No.
Remus – Good.
"What, Voldemort?" said Harry, without thinking. Even
Stan's pimples went white; Ern jerked the steering
wheel so hard that a whole farmhouse had to jump aside
to avoid the bus.
Sirius – What’s so wrong with saying “Voldemort”?
Remus – Don’t know. I thought he was dead.
James – Me too… And people are still afraid. Weird.
Lily – You aren’t, I see.
Marauders (well the ones awake) – Nope. Voldemort.
It’s just a name after all.
Lily – Me neither. Voldemort.
Remus – I think I’ll continue now.
"You outta your tree?" yelped Stan. "'Choo say 'is
"Sorry," said Harry hastily. "Sorry, I -- I forgot
"Forgot!" said Stan weakly. "blimey, my 'eart's
goin' that fast ..."
"So -- so Black was a supporter of You-Know-Who?"
Harry prompted apologetically.
Sirius – No, he wasn’t. He was framed, I tell you!
"Yeah," said Stan, still rubbing his chest. "Yeah,
that's right. Very close to You-Know-'Oo, they say.
Anyway, when little 'Arry Potter got the better of
You-Know-'Oo --" Harry nervously flattened his bangs
Lily – Shouldn’t Stan be wondering why Harry keeps
flattening his BANGs by now?
Remus – No, he won’t find out until someone comes up
behind Harry and says his name.
Sirius – And you know this how, Remus?
Remus – It’s my inner-eye!
"-- all You-Know-'Oo's supporters was tracked down,
wasn't they, Ern? Most of 'em knew it was all over,
wiv You-Know-'Oo gone, and they came quiet. but not
Sirius Black. I 'eard he thought 'e'd be
second-in-command once You-Know-'Oo 'ad taken over.
Sirius - ::glare/sulk/growl/scowl::
Anyway, they cornered Black in the middle of a street
full of Muggles an' Black took out 'is wand and 'e
blasted 'alf the street apart, an' a wizard got it,
an' so did a dozen Muggles what got in the way.
'Orrible, eh? An' you know what Black did then?" Stan
continued in a dramatic whisper.
All - ::lean in:: What?
"What?" said Harry.
"Laughed," said Stan.
All – Laughed!?
Remus – That’s what it says.
Sirius – Maybe I went psycho after I saw what I did?
James – Maybe…
"Jus' stood there an' laughed. An' when reinforcements
from the Ministry of Magic got there, I 'e went wiv em
quiet as anyfink, still laughing 'is 'ead off. 'Cos
'e's mad, inee, Ern? Inee mad?"
"If he weren't when he went to Azkaban, he will be
Sirius - ::shudders:: I don’t want to think about
said Ern in his slow voice. "I'd blow meself up before
I set foot in that place. Serves him right, mind you
... after what he did...."
Sirius – I didn’t do it!
James – We believe you, Sirius.
"They 'ad a job coverin' it up, din' they, Ern?" Stan
said. "'Ole street blown up an' all them Muggles dead.
What was it they said ad 'appened, Ern?"
"Gas explosion," grunted Ernie.
Lily – Now that is *sort* of believable…
"An' now 'e's out," said Stan, examining the newspaper
picture of Black's gaunt face again. "Never been a
breakout from Azkaban before, 'as there, Ern? beats me
'ow 'e did it. Frightenin', eh? Mind, I don't fancy
'is chances against them Azkaban guards, eh, Ern?"
Sirius – I’m the first person to ever escape from
Azkaban? I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad
James – Lets go with good. because if you were guilty,
then you would have gone mad, but if you got out,
maybe you were sane so maybe you *were* innocent.
Ernie suddenly shivered. "Talk about summat else,
Stan, there's a good lad. Them Azkaban guards give me
Remus – I wouldn’t put it like that, but me too.
Others - ::agree::
Stan put the paper away reluctantly, and Harry leaned
against the window of the Knight bus, feeling worse
than ever. He couldn't help imagining what Stan might
be telling his passengers in a few nights' time.
"'Ear about that 'Arry Potter? Blew up 'is aunt!
We 'ad 'im 'ere on the Knight bus, di'n't we, Ern? 'E
was tryin' to run for it...."
He, Harry, had broken wizard law just like Sirius
Lily – Actually, not just like Sirius…
Sirius – Actually, I have blown up my aunt once…
twice… three times…
Was inflating Aunt Marge bad enough to land him in
Azkaban? Harry didn't know anything about the wizard
prison, though everyone he'd ever heard speak of it
did so in the same fearful tone. Hagrid, the Hogwarts
gamekeeper, had spent two months there only last year.
James – Poor Hagrid!
Harry wouldn't soon forget the look of terror on
Hagrid's face when he had been told where he was
going, and Hagrid was one of the bravest people Harry
Sirius – Bravest person I know as well.
James – I don’t know… I think that Dumbledore is the
Sirius – But everyone knows *that*… I’m saying that
Hagrid is really brave as well and not a super wizard
The Knight Bus rolled through the darkness, scattering
bushes and wastebaskets, telephone booths and trees,
and Harry lay, restless and miserable, on his feather
bed. After a while, Stan remembered that Harry had
paid for hot chocolate, but poured it all over Harry's
pillow when the bus moved abruptly from Anglesea to
Lily – At least he wasn’t tired and wanted to sleep
One by one, wizards and witches in dressing gowns and
slippers descended from the upper floors to leave the
bus. They all looked very pleased to go.
Sirius – I would be pleased too!
Finally, Harry was the only passenger left.
"Right then, Neville," said Stan, clapping his
hands, where abouts in London?"
"Diagon Alley," said Harry.
"Righto," said Stan. "'Old tight, then."
James – Bang?
Others – Bang.
They were thundering along Charing Cross Road.
Harry sat up and watched buildings and benches
squeezing themselves out of the Knight bus's way.
The sky was getting a little lighter. He would lie
low for a couple of hours, go to Gringotts the moment
it opened, then set off -- where, he didn't know.
James/Lily – You’re making a HUGE mistake, Harry!
Sirius – Hey! He could hide out with me! And I could
take care of him! And then- ::sigh:: that would be
Ern slammed on the brakes and the Knight bus skidded
to a halt in front of a small and shabby- looking pub,
the Leaky Cauldron, behind which lay the magical
entrance to Diagon Alley.
"Thanks," Harry said to Ern.
He jumped down the steps and helped Stan lower his
trunk and Hedwig's cage onto the pavement.
"Well," said Harry. "'Bye then!"
But Stan wasn't paying attention.
Lily – Distracted easily, isn’t he?
Still standing in the doorway to the bus, he was
goggling at the shadowy entrance to the Leaky
James – Wonder if the massive dog is back?
Lily – Probably not.
"There you are, Harry,"
Remus – Told ya’.
Sirius – Yeah… yeah…
said a voice. before Harry could turn, he felt a hand
on his shoulder. At the same time, Stan shouted,
"blimey! Ern, come 'ere! Come 'ere." Harry looked up
at the owner of the hand on his shoulder and felt a
bucketful of ice cascade into his stomach -- he had
walked right into Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of
All - ::groan:: He *had* to run into the Minister
himself, didn’t he?
Stan leapt onto the pavement beside them.
"What didja call Neville, Minister?" he said
Fudge, a portly little man in a long, pinstriped
cloak, looked cold and exhausted.
"Neville?" he repeated, frowning. "This is Harry
James - ::as Harry:: No I’m Not! I only have this
scar because I was dropped as a child!
Lily – That’s enough, James.
James - ::pout::
"I knew it!"
Lily – How did he *know* it?
Remus – He didn’t. He’s just saying that to look
Stan shouted gleefully. "Ern! Ern! Guess 'oo Neville
is, Ern! 'E's 'Arry Potter! I can see 'is scar!"
"Yes," said Fudge testily, "well, I'm very glad
the Knight bus picked Harry up, but he and I need to
step inside the Leaky Cauldron now..."
Sirius – Maybe he *is* going to be expelled…
Fudge increased the pressure on Harry's shoulder, and
Harry found himself being steered inside the pub. A
stooping figure bearing a lantern appeared through the
door behind the bar. It was Tom, the wizened,
"You've got him, Minister!" said Tom. "Will you be
wanting anything? Beer? Brandy?"
"Perhaps a pot of tea,"
James - ::as Harry:: And I think I’ll go with a
brandy seeing how that I’m in quite a lot of trouble
at the moment.
said Fudge, who still hadn't let go of Harry. There
was a loud scraping and puffing from behind them, and
Stan and Ern appeared, carrying Harry's trunk and
Hedwig's cage and looking around excitedly.
"'Ow come you di'n't tell us 'oo you are, eh,
Lily – Because he didn’t want the publicity!
said Stan, beaming at Harry, while Ernie's owlish face
peered interestedly over Stan's shoulder.
"And a private parlor, please, Tom," said Fudge
Sirius – Smart move.
James – But not for Harry.
”’Bye," Harry said miserably to Stan and Ern as Tom
beckoned Fudge toward the passage that led from the
Sirius – I thought that we had already established
that he is *not* Neville.
Remus – We did. He’s just slow.
Sirius – Ah.
Fudge marched Harry along the narrow passage after
Tom's lantern, and then into a small parlor. Tom
clicked his fingers, a fire burst into life in the
Sirius – I’ve always wondered how people do that.
James – Me too, but I’ve never taken the time to
figure it out.
Sirius – Me neither.
Lily – Well, if you really want to know maybe you
should take the time?
Sirius/James – Why? It would be easier to just *not*
take the time.
Lily - ::sigh::
and he bowed himself out of the room.
"Sit down, Harry," said Fudge, indicating a chair
by the fire. Harry sat down, feeling goose bumps
rising up his arms despite the glow of the fire. Fudge
took off his pinstriped cloak and tossed it aside,
then hitched up the trousers of his bottle-green suit
and sat down opposite Harry.
James – He really needs some fashion sense.
Sirius – Why? That sounds like the way I dress.
James – *You* need some fashion sense.
"I am Cornelius Fudge, Harry. The Minister of Magic."
Sirius – Doesn’t Harry already know this.
Lily – Yes.
Sirius – Then why does he need to be told again?
Remus – Let me read and you may know.
Sirius – Right. Go on, Moony, read.
Harry already knew this, of course; he had seen Fudge
once before, but as he had been wearing his father's
James – Which is ace by the way.
at the time, Fudge wasn't to know that.
Tom the innkeeper reappeared, wearing an apron
over his nightshirt
Sirius – Oh. I forgot that it was night.
Remus - ::muttering:: You would.
and bearing a tray of tea and crumpets. He placed the
tray on a table between Fudge and Harry and left the
parlor, closing the door behind him.
"Well, Harry," said Fudge, pouring out tea,
"you've had us all in a right flap, I don't mind
telling you. Running away from your aunt and uncle's
house like that!
Sirius – I would have too!
James – Me too!
Remus – And me!
Lily – Don’t forget me!
Peter - ::snore::
I'd started to think... but you're safe, and that's
Fudge buttered himself a crumpet and pushed the
plate toward Harry. "Eat, Harry, you look dead on your
Lily – Of course he does! With the Dursleys not
feeding him right, how’s he suppose to look healthy at
Now then... You will be pleased to hear that we have
dealt with the unfortunate blowing-up of Miss Marjorie
Dursley. Two members of the Accidental Magic Reversal
James – They’ve had to come to my house five times.
Remus – Three times for me.
Sirius – Ten times for me.
Lily - ::blushing:: One time for me.
Others - ::shocked::
James – Really?
Lily – Yes.
James – No wonder I love you!
were dispatched to Privet Drive a few hours ago. Miss
Dursley has been punctured and her memory has been
modified. She has no recollection of the incident at
all. So that's that, and no harm done."
Remus - ::muttering:: Except for the fact that the
Dursleys will remember…
Fudge smiled at Harry over the rim of his teacup,
rather like an uncle surveying a favorite nephew.
Harry, who couldn't believe his ears, opened his mouth
to speak, couldn't think of anything to say, and
closed it again.
"Ah, you're worrying about the reaction of your
aunt and uncle?" said Fudge. "Well, I won't deny that
they are extremely angry, Harry, but they are prepared
to take you back next summer as long as you stay at
Hogwarts for the Christmas and Easter holidays."
All – Why wouldn’t he?
Harry unstuck his throat. "I always stay at Hogwarts
for the Christmas and Easter holidays,"
All – Of course he does!
he said, "and I don't ever want to go back to Privet
"Now, now, I'm sure you'll feel differently once
you've calmed down," said Fudge in a worried tone.
"They are your family, after all, and I'm sure you are
fond of each other –
All - ::snort::
er -- very deep down."
It didn't occur to Harry to put Fudge right. He
was still waiting to hear what was going to happen to
"So all that remains," said Fudge, now buttering
himself a second crumpet, "is to decide
Sirius - ::as Fudge:: How much reward money you
should receive for getting revenge on that awful
Others - ::snicker::
where you're going to spend the last two weeks of your
vacation. I suggest you take a room here at the Leaky
All – Shut *Up*, Harry!
blurted Harry. "What about my punishment?"
Fudge blinked. "Punishment?"
"I broke the law!"
All – Just Shut *Up*!
Harry said. "The Decree for the Restriction of
"Oh, my dear boy, we're not going to punish you
for a little thing like that!"
Remus - ::frowns:: But I always get in trouble when
I accidentally do magic… no matter how small. Why is
he being let off?
Others - ::shrugs::
cried Fudge, waving his crumpet impatiently. "It was
an accident! We don't send people to Azkaban just for
blowing up their aunts!"
But this didn't tally at all with Harry's past
dealings with the Ministry of Magic. "Last year, I got
an official warning just because a house-elf smashed a
pudding in my uncle's house!"
Sirius – What is a house-elf doing in a Muggle
Others - ::shrug::
he told Fudge, frowning. "The Ministry of Magic said
I'd be expelled from Hogwarts if there was any more
Unless Harry's eyes were deceiving him, Fudge was
suddenly looking awkward.
"Circumstances change, Harry... We have to take
into account... in the present climate... Surely you
don't want to be expelled?"
James/Lily – Of course he doesn’t!
"Of course I don't," said Harry.
James/Lily – See?
"Well then, what's the fuss about?" laughed Fudge.
"Now, have a crumpet, Harry, while I go and see if
Tom's got a room for you." Fudge strode out of the
parlor and Harry stared after him. There was something
extremely odd going on.
Sirius – ::sigh:: There’s always something going on
in the Ministry.
Why had Fudge been waiting for him at the Leaky
Cauldron, if not to punish him for what he'd done? And
now Harry came to think of it, surely it wasn't usual
for the Minister of Magic himself to get involved in
matters of underage magic?
Sirius – Nope, even in all my times that I’ve done
magic out of Hogwarts, I’ve never met the Minister of
Magic because of it.
Fudge came back, accompanied by Tom the innkeeper.
"Room eleven's free, Harry," said Fudge. "I think
you'll be very comfortable. Just one thing, and I'm
sure you'll understand... I don't want you wandering
off into Muggle London, all right?
All – Who would want to?
Keep to Diagon Alley. And you're to be back here
before dark each night. Sure you'll understand. Tom
will be keeping an eye on you for me."
"Okay," said Harry slowly, "but why?"
All – Yeah, why?
"Don't want to lose you again, do we?" said Fudge with
a hearty laugh. "No, no... best we know where you
are.... I mean..." Fudge cleared his throat loudly and
picked up his pinstriped cloak. "Well, I'll be off,
plenty to do, you know..."
"Have you had any luck with Black yet?"
Sirius – No. I’m too smart for that!
Harry asked. Fudge's finger slipped on the silver
fastenings of his cloak.
"What's that? Oh, you've heard -- well, no, not
yet, but it's only a matter of time. The Azkaban
guards have never yet failed... and they are angrier
than I've ever seen them." Fudge shuddered slightly.
"So, I'll say good-bye."
Sirius – Good-bye and good riddance!
Lily – Sirius!
He held out his hand and Harry, shaking it, had a
"Er -- Minister? Can I ask you something?"
"Certainly," said Fudge with a smile.
"Well, third years at Hogwarts are allowed to
visit Hogsmeade, but my aunt and uncle didn't sign the
permission form. D'you think you could--?"
Sirius - ::snort:: No.
Lily – Why wouldn’t he?
Sirius – The Minister of Magic is always a git who has
no idea what he is doing and won’t do anything that
doesn’t make them look good.
Lily – But Fudge was waiting there just to make sure
that Harry was safe!
Sirius – Yeah, and I’m sure that Fudge wouldn’t have
looked so good if the Morning’s Newspaper read “Harry
Potter Missing” now would it?
Lily – Er… Guess not.
Fudge was looking uncomfortable.
"Ah," he said. "No, no, I'm very sorry, Harry, but
as I'm not your parent or guardian --"
Sirius – See.
Lily – So much for wishful thinking.
"But you I are the Minister of Magic," said Harry
eagerly. "If you gave me permission-“
"No, I'm sorry, Harry, but rules are rules,"
Sirius – Rules are only rules when they make the
*Minister* look good.
James – Since when did you hate the Ministry?
Sirius – Since I was put in Azkaban apparently. I must
have not gotten a trial, because I know that I am
said Fudge flatly. “Perhaps you'll be able to visit
Hogsmeade next year. In fact, I think it's best if you
don't... yes... well, I'll be off Enjoy your stay,
And with a last smile and shake of Harry's hand,
Fudge left the room.
Tom now moved forward, beaming at Harry.
James – People like beaming at Harry, don’t they?
Remus – Apparently so.
"If you'll follow me, Mr. Potter," he said, "I've
already taken your things up..."
Harry followed Tom up a handsome wooden staircase
to a door with a brass number eleven on it, which Tom
unlocked and opened for him. Inside was a very
comfortable-looking bed, some highly polished oak
furniture, a cheerfully crackling fire, and perched on
top of the wardrobe -
Remus – Wow. Very smart owl.
Harry gasped. The snowy owl clicked her beak and
fluttered down onto Harry's arm.
"Very smart owl
James – That’s exactly what Remus said.
Remus – Like I said before, it’s my inner-eye.
you've got there, chuckled Tom. "Arrived about five
minutes after you did. If there's anything you need,
Mr. Potter, don't hesitate to ask."
He gave another bow and left.
James – And what’s with the bowing! It’s not like
he’s some sort of king or something!
Harry sat on his bed for a long time, absentmindedly
stroking Hedwig. The sky outside the window was
changing rapidly from deep, velvety blue to cold,
steely gray and then, slowly, to pink shot with gold.
Harry could hardly believe that he'd left Privet Drive
only a few hours ago, that he wasn't expelled, and
that he was now facing two completely Dursley-free
Lily – I could hardly believe that I was
Petunia-free for the summer last year as well.
"It's been a very weird night, Hedwig," he yawned.
And without even removing his glasses, he slumped
back onto his pillows and fell asleep.
James – Just a bit of advice, Harry. It’s very
uncomfortable to go to sleep with your glasses on.
Sirius – Thanks for the info, Prongs.
James – No problem.
Remus – That’s the end of Chapter Three.
Lily – On to Chapter Four!
All – Yeah-
James’ Mum – Bedtime!
All – ::groan::
James – Mum! Can’t we just stay up for a few more
James’ Mum – No!
All – PLEASE!?
James’ Mum – No! And that’s final!
James – ::Sigh:: Guess we ought to go to bed, eh?
Lily – Yeah… Someone ought to wake Peter now.
Remus – I will since we’re sharing a room.
And with one last look at the little innocent book
sitting on James’ dresser, a sleepy Peter, a
mysterious Remus, and a pretty Lily left the room to
go to bed as an adventurous James and a mischievous
Sirius got into their own beds in James’ room.