Chapter 4


The next morning, as everyone gathered back in James’ room, Remus picked up the book again only to have it snatched away within seconds.

“I’m reading today!” announced Lily happily as she took her seat beside James.

Remus shrugged as he sat down as well. Lily opened the book to the fourth chapter and was about to start when James’ mum came into his room.

“James, Honey, I just wanted you to know that Tilly, Morwen, and Kaya should be here by lunchtime.”

“Thanks Mum,” James answered as he smiled innocently at her, which didn’t fool her a bit.

“What have you all been doing up here anyway?”

The Marauders all looked at each other and answered as one, “Nothing.” That only worried her more.

Lily, being the innocent-looking one of the group, stepped forward and said, “We honestly aren’t doing anything, Mrs. Potter.”

With one last suspicious glance at them, she nodded and said, “All right. If you say so.” And with that, she left.

Lily opened the book back up and said, “Chapter Three – The Leaky Cauldron.”

It took Harry several days to get used to his strange new freedom. Never before had he been able to get up whenever he wanted or eat whatever he fancied.

Lily – I still can’t do that at home.

He could even go wherever he pleased, as long as it was in Diagon Alley, and as this long cobbled street was packed with the most fascinating wizarding shops in the world, Harry felt no desire to break his word to Fudge and stray back into the Muggle world.

Marauders – Why would he?

Harry ate breakfast each morning in the Leaky Cauldron, where he liked watching the other guests: funny little witches from the country, up for a day's shopping; venerable-looking wizards arguing over the latest article in Transfiguration Today; wild-looking warlocks;

Sirius – Warlocks? I thought we were called wizards.

Lily – You can use either or.

Sirius – Oh….

raucous dwarfs; and once, what looked suspiciously like a hag,

Remus – It probably was.

who ordered a plate of raw liver

All – Ewww.

from behind a thick woolen balaclava.

Sirius – Doesn’t Hagrid have one of those?

Others – Yeah…

Sirius – So, what is it?

Others - ::shrug::

After breakfast Harry would go out into the backyard, take out his wand, tap the third brick from the left above the trash bit, and stand back as the archway into Diagon Alley opened in the wall.

Lily – The first time I went to Diagon Alley, I couldn’t figure out what brick to tap. It was rather annoying. We eventually had to go get the bartender to let us in.

Harry spent the long sunny days exploring the shops and eating under the brightly colored umbrellas outside cafes, where his fellow diners were showing one another their purchases ("it’s a lunarscape, old boy -- no more messing around with moon charts, see?") or else discussing the case of Sirius Black

James – The “infamous” Sirius Black, get it right.

("personally, I won't let any of the children out alone until he's back in Azkaban").

Sirius – Neither will I!

Others – ::stare::

Sirius – Oh… wait…

Harry didn't have to do his homework under the blankets by flashlight anymore; now he could sit in the bright sunshine outside Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor, finishing all his essays with occasional help from Florean Fortescue himself, who, apart from knowing a great deal about medieval witch burnings, gave Harry free sundaes every half an hour.

Sirius – Ooh! Next time we stay at the Leaky Cauldron, let’s try to get free sundaes!

Marauders – Yeah!

Lily – I think he only gave free ice creams to Harry because he’s *Harry*.

James – And I'm *James*.

Sirius - And I'm *Sirius*.

Remus - And I'm *Remus*.

Peter - And I'm *Peter*.

Lily - And you're *idiots*.

Once Harry had refilled his moneybag with gold Galleons, silver Sickles, and bronze Knuts

Sirius – Unlike Remus who only likes to get the galleons and Knuts.

Remus – Hey! I have my reasons.

from his vault at Gringotts, he had to exercise a lot of self-control not to spend the whole lot at once.
He had to keep reminding himself that he had five years to go at Hogwarts, and how it would feel to ask the Dursleys for money for spell books,

Lily – They’d say no in a heartbeat! No doubt!

Sirius – I *hate* the Dursleys.

to stop himself from buying a handsome set of solid gold Gobstones (a wizarding game rather like marbles, in which the stones squirt a nasty-smelling liquid into the other player's face when they lose a point).

Sirius – I *hate* that game.

James – That’s because you always lose at it.

He was sorely tempted, too, by the perfect, moving model of the galaxy in a large glass ball, which would have meant he never had to take another Astronomy lesson. but the thing that tested Harry's resolution most appeared in his favorite shop, Quality Quidditch Supplies, a week after he'd arrived at the Leaky Cauldron.

Marauders – New broom!

Curious to know what the crowd in the shop was staring at, Harry edged his way inside and squeezed in among the excited witches and wizards until he glimpsed a newly erected podium, on which was mounted the most magnificent broom he had ever seen in his life.

Marauders – Ooh….

"Just come out -- prototype --" a square-jawed wizard was telling his companion.
"It's the fastest broom in the world, isn't it, Dad?"

Marauders – Aw….

squeaked a boy younger than Harry, who was swinging off his father's arm.
"Irish International Side's Just put in an order for seven of these beauties!" the proprietor of the shop told the crowd. "And they're favorites for the World Cup!"

Marauders – Whoa….

A large witch in front of Harry moved, and he was able to read the sign next to the broom:


Marauders – I WANT ONE!

Lily – Peter, you can’t fly. Remus, you’re not on the Quidditch Team. Sirius, you’re afraid of heights. And James, you already have a perfectly decent broom already!

Marauders – So! It would still be cool to have one!

Price on request... Harry didn't like to think how much gold the Firebolt would cost. He had never wanted anything as much in his whole life –

Marauders – Buy it. Buy it. Buy it-

but he had never lost a Quidditch match on his Nimbus Two Thousand, and what was the point in emptying his Gringotts vault for the Firebolt, when he had a very good broom already?

Marauders - ::groan::

Harry didn't ask for the price, but he returned, almost every day after that, just to look at the Firebolt.

Marauders – I would!

There were, however, things that Harry needed to buy. He went to the Apothecary to replenish his store of potions ingredients,

Remus – I dislike Potions very much.

All – We know.

and as his school robes were now several inches too short in the arm and leg,

Peter – That happens to Sirius every summer.

Sirius – I can’t help it that I grow and none of you do.

James – Oh, we grow, we just don’t grow three inches every month.

Sirius – ::glare::

he visited Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions and bought new ones. Most important of all, he had to buy his new schoolbooks, which would include those for his two new subjects, Care of Magical Creatures and Divination.

Lily - ::groan:: He fell for the trap of Divination!

Remus – Divination itself is not that bad. The teacher just is.

Lily – Either way, the Divination I’ve been taught has been horrible!

Remus – If only you could meet a real Seer…

Lily – Well, I haven’t ever met anybody who has actually been able to make one true prediction, so I’m sorry if I’m a bit skeptical.

Harry got a surprise as he looked in at the bookshop window. Instead of the usual display of gold- embossed spell books the size of paving slabs; there was a large iron cage behind the glass that held about a hundred copies of The Monster Book of Monsters.

All – Oh. *That’s* what Hagrid meant.

Torn pages were flying everywhere as the books grappled with each other, locked together in furious wrestling matches and snapping aggressively.
Harry pulled his booklist out of his pocket and consulted it for the first time. The Monster Book of Monsters was listed as the required book for Care of Magical Creatures.

Sirius – I bet the Professor and Hagrid get along great.

Others - ::nod::

Now Harry understood why Hagrid had said it would come in useful. He felt relieved; he had been wondering whether Hagrid wanted help with some terrifying new pet.

Lily – Remember the time that he wanted us to help to help with the Lethifold?

Others - ::shudder:: How could we forget?

As Harry entered Flourish and blotts, the manager came hurrying toward him.
"Hogwarts?" he said abruptly. "Come to get your new books?"
"Yes," said Harry, "I need --"
"Get out of the way," said the manager impatiently, brushing Harry aside. He drew on a pair of very thick gloves, picked up a large, knobbly walking stick, and proceeded toward the door of the Monster books' cage.

Peter – But he’s already got one.

Remus – Do you think the manager knows that?

Peter – Er- guess not.

"Hang on," said Harry quickly, "I've already got one of those."
"Have you?" A look of enormous relief spread over the manager's face. "Thank heavens for that. I've been bitten five times already this morning --"

All – Ouch!

A loud ripping noise rent the air; two of the Monster books had seized a third and were pulling it apart.
"Stop it! Stop it!" cried the manager, poking the walking stick through the bars and knocking the books apart. "I'm never stocking them again, never! It's been bedlam! I thought we'd seen the worst when we bought two hundred copies of the Invisible book of Invisibility

Sirius – Cool! I want one!

Lily – But you wouldn’t be able to read it *or* find it!

Sirius – So?

Lily - ::sigh::

-cost a fortune, and we never found them.... Well... is there anything else I can help you with?"
"Yes," said Harry, looking down his booklist, "I need Unfogging the Future by Cassandra Vablatsky."
"Ah, starting Divination, are you?" said the manager, stripping off his gloves and leading Harry into the back of the shop, where there was a corner devoted to fortune-telling. A small table was stacked with volumes such as Predicting the Unpredictable: Insulate Yourself Against Shocks

Remus – Hey! That was our book last year! And they still have it in stock!

Lily – That’s probably because no one has bought them.

Remus – Divination is not *that* bad. You just have to meet the right Diviner.

Lily – Have *you* ever met a true Diviner?

Remus – No, most of them are like “It’s the Grim! The Grim!” Load of rubbish coming from them, but I have heard of loads of prophecies that have been made, so there must be real Diviners out there somewhere, right?

Lily – I suppose… but I’m still not saying that I like the subject.

and Broken Balls: When Fortunes Turn Foul.
"Here you are,,' said the manager, who had climbed a set of steps to take down a thick, black- bound book. "Unfogging the Future. Very good guide to all your basic fortune-telling methods - palmistry, crystal balls, bird entrails.”
But Harry wasn't listening. His eyes had fallen on another book, which was among a display on a small table: Death Omens - What to Do When You Know the Worst Is Coming.

Remus – The Grim! The Grim!

Lily - ::giggle::

"Oh, I wouldn't read that if I were you," said the manager lightly, looking to see what Harry was staring at. "You'll start seeing death omens everywhere. It's enough to frighten anyone to death. "
But Harry continued to stare at the front cover of the book; it showed a black dog large as a bear, with gleaming eyes. It looked oddly familiar...

Remus – It’s the Grim, I tell you! The Grim!

James – Shut *up*, Remus!

The manager pressed Unfogging the Future into Harry's hands.
"Anything else?" he said.
"Yes," said Harry, tearing his eyes away from the dog's

Remus – The Gri-

James - ::covers Remus’ mouth before he could finish::

and dazedly consulting his booklist. "Er -- I need Intermediate Transfiguration and The Standard Book of Spells, Grade Three."
Harry emerged from Flourish and blotts ten minutes later with his new books under his arms and made his way back to the Leaky Cauldron, hardly noticing where he was going and bumping into several people.
He tramped up the stairs to his room, went inside, and tipped his books onto his bed. Somebody had been in to tidy;

Sirius – House-elves are so helpful, aren’t they?

Lily – And really polite and sweet.

the windows were open and sun was pouring inside. Harry could hear the buses rolling by in the unseen Muggle Street behind him and the sound of the invisible crowd below in Diagon Alley. He caught sight of himself in the mirror over the basin.
"It can't have been a death omen,"

Remus - ::from behind James’ hand:: Hmph mph rmph! (Translation: It’s the Grim!)

he told his reflection defiantly. "I was panicking when I saw that thing in Magnolia Crescent.... It was probably just a stray dog...."

Remus - ::and yet again from James’ hand:: HMPH MPH RMPH!

James – SHUT UP!

He raised his hand automatically and tried to make his hair lie flat
"You're fighting a losing battle there, dear," said his mirror in a wheezy voice.

James – The mirror always says that to me.

Peter – Because it’s true.

As the days slipped by, Harry started looking wherever he went for a sign of Ron or Hermione. Plenty of Hogwarts students were arriving in Diagon Alley now, with the start of term so near. Harry met Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, his fellow Gryffindors, in Quality Quidditch Supplies, where they too were ogling the Firebolt; he also ran into the real Neville Longbottom,

Peter – So, there really *is* a Neville Longbottom?

Lily – That’s what it says.

a round-faced, forgetful boy, outside Flourish and blotts. Harry didn't stop to chat; Neville appeared to have mislaid his booklist and was being told off by his very formidable-looking grandmother.

Peter – Sounds like my Grandmother.

Harry hoped she never found out that he'd pretended to be Neville while on the run from the Ministry of Magic.

Sirius – Definitely sounds like your Grandmother.

Harry woke on the last day of the holidays, thinking that he would at least meet Ron and Hermione tomorrow, on the Hogwarts Express. He got up, dressed, went for a last look at the Firebolt, and was just wondering where he'd have lunch when someone yelled his name and he turned.
"Harry! HARRY!"

Sirius – Harry! Your hair is on fire! Hurry! Quick! Put it out!

They were there, both of them, sitting outside Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor -- Ron looking incredibly freckly, Hermione very brown, both waving frantically at him.
"Finally!" said Ron, grinning at Harry as he sat down. "We went to the Leaky Cauldron, but they said you'd left, and we went to Flourish and blotts, and Madam Malkin's, and --"

* * *

“James!” Mrs. Potter’s voice rang out through the house.

“Yes, Mum?”

“The girls are here! They’re coming up right now!”

The occupants of the room shared a look and then turned back toward the door to wait for their new guests to join them. They didn’t have to wait long, as the door swung open and in stepped three girls. Lily jumped up and greeted them with a hug.

To get the stuffy old descriptions out of the way, Morwen was the shortest out of the four of them. She had the shortest hair (curly black) that went to her chin and her cheeks were covered in light freckles with black eyes. Peter fancied her and she found him quite adorable as well. Kaya was the tallest with the longest hair that reached her thighs and it was a very dark brown color. Her parents were originally from Greenland and she fancied Sirius who had shown no real interest as of yet back. The last girl was Tilly who was shorter than Lily but taller than Morwen, but she had the brightest colored hair. It reached the middle of her back and was bright strawberry blond with freckles covering her pale skin from her head to her toes. She fancied Remus for years, but Remus hadn’t really let on whether or not he liked her back.

“So, what have you guys been doing?” Tilly asked as she sat down beside Remus. James had finally removed his hand from his mouth.

“We’ve been reading this book that looks like it’s from the future.” James explained as Lily sat back down beside him.

“You’ve been reading this whole time?” Kaya asked as she sat down beside Sirius.

“Yeah, and it’s really interesting!” Lily said and began to explain the book. “It’s about this boy named Harry Potter. And he is apparently James’ and my son who is in his third year at Hogwarts. Voldemort killed James and me but Harry survived so now he has to live with my sister and her husband and son who treat him like crap. Well, this year a convict has escaped from Azkaban and this convict is none other than our very own Sirius Black. Well, right now, Harry is at the Leaky Cauldron with his friends and they just met up with one another.”

“Wow,” the newcomers said as one.

“Well,” Morwen said, excited, “are we going to continue or what?”

“Okay, I’m reading!” Lily said as she continued on with the story.

* * *

"I got all my school stuff last week," Harry explained. "And how come you knew I'm staying at the Leaky Cauldron?"
"Dad," said Ron simply.

Sirius – How would his dad know?

Lily – Let me read and you may find out.

Mr. Weasley, who worked at the Ministry of Magic, would of course have heard the whole story of what had happened to Aunt Marge.
"Did you really blow up your aunt, Harry?" said Hermione in a very serious voice.

Morwen – He blew up his aunt?

Remus – Yeah, when his aunt was saying all these bad things about Lily and James he got really mad and did wandless magic. That’s why he ran away and ended up at the Leaky Cauldron.

Morwen – Oh.

"I didn't mean to," said Harry, while Ron roared with laughter. "I just -- lost control."
"It's not funny, Ron," said Hermione sharply. "Honestly, I'm amazed Harry wasn't expelled."

Tilly – Yeah, why wasn’t he expelled for that?

Sirius – Probably because of who he is. He’s the only person ever to survive the Killing Curse *and* he supposedly made Voldemort disappear.

"So am I," admitted Harry. "Forget expelled, I thought I was going to be arrested." He looked at Ron. "Your dad doesn't know why Fudge let me off, does he?"
"Probably 'cause it's you, isn't it?"

Sirius – See?

shrugged Ron, still chuckling. "Famous Harry Potter and all that. I'd hate to see what the Ministry'd do to me if I blew up an aunt. Mind you, they'd have to dig me up first, because Mum would've killed me.

Sirius – Sounds like my mum.

Kaya – It never ceases to astound me how you, a boy with such strict parents, ended up being the prankster that you are.

Sirius – It helps when you have a little brother that gets on your nerves twenty-four hours of the day.

Anyway, you can ask Dad yourself this evening. We're staying at the Leaky Cauldron tonight too! So you can come to King's Cross with us tomorrow! Hermione's there as well!"
Hermione nodded, beaming. "Mum and Dad dropped me off this morning with all my Hogwarts things."
"Excellent!" said Harry happily. "So, have you got all your new books and stuff?"

Sirius – Of course they have. What, you think they’ve spent their whole stay *only* looking for you?

"Look at this," said Ron, pulling a long thin box out of a bag and opening it. "brand-new wand. Fourteen inches, willow, containing one unicorn tail-hair.

Tilly – Whoa. Freaky. That is almost exactly what my wand is.

Remus – What’s your wand?

Tilly – The same combination as that except with a different unicorn hair.

Remus – Wow, talk about coincidence.

And we've got all our books --" He pointed at a large bag under his chair. "What about those Monster Books, eh? The assistant nearly cried when we said we wanted two."

Kaya – Monster Books?

Sirius – The Book of Monsters that act like a monster.

Kaya – Ah, I see.

"What's all that, Hermione?" Harry asked, pointing at not one but three bulging bags in the chair next to her.
"Well, I'm taking more new subjects than you, aren't I?" said Hermione. "Those are my books for Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, the Study of Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies --"

Marauders – But she’s Muggle-born! What she need that for?

"What are you doing Muggle Studies for?" said Ron, rolling his eyes at Harry. "You're Muggle-born! Your mum and dad are Muggles! You already know all about Muggles!"

Marauders – See?

"But it'll be fascinating to study them from the wizarding point of view," said Hermione earnestly.

Marauders - ::snort:: Yeah right! Here is the second part of chapter four:

"Are you planning to eat or sleep at all this year, Hermione?" asked Harry, while Ron sniggered. Hermione ignored them.
"I've still got ten Galleons," she said, checking her purse. "It's my birthday in September, and Mum and Dad gave me some money to get myself an early birthday present."

Sirius – How much you want to bet it’s a book?

Remus – I bet you ten galleons!

Sirius – Deal! ::shake hands::

"How about a nice book? said Ron innocently.
"No, I don't think so,"

Remus – Hah! Pay up, Padfoot.

Sirius - ::grumble::

said Hermione composedly. "I really want an owl. I mean, Harry's got Hedwig and you've got Errol --"
"I haven't," said Ron. "Errol's a family owl. All I've got is Scabbers." He pulled his pet rat out of his pocket. "And I want to get him checked over," he added, placing Scabbers on the table in front of them. "I don't think Egypt agreed with him."
Scabbers was looking thinner than usual, and there was a definite droop to his whiskers.

Peter – Poor rat.

"There's a magical creature shop just over there," said Harry, who knew Diagon Alley very well by now. "You could see if they've got anything for Scabbers, and Hermione can get her owl." So they paid for their ice cream and crossed the street to the Magical Menagerie.

Tilly – I prefer Eye-Lopes Owl Emporium myself.

Morwen – That’s where I got my owl.

There wasn't much room inside. Every inch of wall was hidden by cages. It was smelly and very noisy because the occupants of these cages were all squeaking, squawking, jabbering, or hissing. The witch behind the counter was already advising a wizard on the care of double-ended newts, so Harry, Ron, and Hermione waited, examining the cages.
A pair of enormous purple toads sat gulping wetly and feasting on dead blowflies.

Lily – I don’t like toads.

Tilly – I think they’re cool.

Lily - ::glare:: Yeah, that’s why you put one in my bed in first year.

Tilly – I said I was sorry!

A gigantic tortoise with a jewel-encrusted shell was glittering near the window. Poisonous orange snails were oozing slowly up the side of their glass tank, and a fat white rabbit kept changing into a silk top hat and back again with a loud popping noise. Then there were cats of every color,

Lily – Cats are better.

Tilly – I don’t know, I think that if we could bring dogs to Hogwarts, I would bring one of them instead.

Remus/Sirius – Really?

Tilly – Uh huh. Dogs are loyal and smart. Cats are cocky.

Lily – Yes, cats are cocky, but they’re still cute.

a noisy cage of ravens, a basket of funny custard-colored fur balls that were humming loudly, and on the counter, a vast cage of sleek black rats that were playing some sort of skipping game using their long, bald tails.
The double-ended newt wizard left, and Ron approached the counter.
"It's my rat,"

Sirius - ::cough:: Wormtail. ::cough::

Peter - ::glare::

he told the witch. "He been a bit off-color ever since I brought him back from Egypt."
"Bang him on the counter,"

Peter – Don’t *bang* him!

said the witch, pulling a pair of heavy black spectacles out of her pocket.
Ron lifted Scabbers out of his inside pocket and placed him next to the cage of his fellow rats, who stopped their skipping tricks and scuffled to the wire for a better took.
Like nearly everything Ron owned, Scabbers the rat was secondhand (he had once belonged to Ron's brother Percy) and a bit battered. Next to the glossy rats in the cage, he looked especially woebegone.

Peter – Poor rat.

Lily – Stop saying that!

"Hm," said the witch, picking up Scabbers. "How old is this rat?"
"Dunno," said Ron. "Quite old. He used to belong to my brother."
"What powers does he have?" said the witch, examining Scabbers closely.
"Er --" The truth was that Scabbers had never shown the faintest trace of interesting powers.

Sirius – Sounds a bit like Peter, doesn’t it?

James – Yeah it does.

Remus – Interesting.

Peter – Hey!

The witch’s eyes moved from Scabbers' tattered left ear to his front paw, which had a toe missing and tutted loudly.
"He's been through the mill, this one," she said.
"He was like that when Percy gave him to me," said Ron defensively.

Kaya – That’s what they all say.

"An ordinary common or garden rat like this can't be expected to live longer than three years or so,"

Lily – That doesn’t fit out. If this Ron kid has had the rat ever since he has been at Hogwarts and he’s a third year then this should be the year that he dies. But he said that his brother had the rat *before* him so that means that he hasn’t only been living for three years, that means he’s been living for more. So, that ain’t a common or garden rat there.

James – Thanks for that insight.

Lily – No problem.

said the witch. "Now, if you were looking for something a bit more hard-wearing, you might like one of these-"
She indicated the black rats, which promptly started skipping again. Ron muttered, "Show-offs."
"Well, if you don’t want a replacement, you can try this rat tonic," said the witch, reaching under the counter and bringing out a small red bottle.
"Okay," said Ron. "How much -- OUCH!"


Remus – Er- I doubt it, Sirius.

Sirius – But it hurt him!

Remus – I don’t think that it was the bottle that hurt him.

Sirius - ::pout::

Ron buckled as something huge and orange came soaring from the top of the highest cage, landed on his head, and then propelled itself, spitting madly, at Scabbers.
"NO, CROOKSHANKS, NO!" cried the witch, but Scabbers, shot from between her hands like a bar of soap, landed splay-legged on the floor, and then scampered for the door.

Peter – Run, Scabbers, run!

"Scabbers!" Ron shouted, racing out of the shop after him; Harry followed.
It took them nearly ten minutes to catch Scabbers, who had taken refuge under a wastepaper bin outside Quality Quidditch Supplies. Ron stuffed the trembling rat back into his pocket and straightened up, massaging his head.
"What was that?"
"It was either a very big cat or quite a small tiger," said Harry.

Sirius/Remus/Peter – Stupid cat.

Morwen – You don’t like cats, do you?

Sirius/Remus/Peter – Nope.

"Where's Hermione?"
"Probably getting her owl."
They made their way back up the crowded street to the Magical Menagerie. As they reached it, Hermione came out, but she wasn't carrying an owl.

All excluding Lily – Oh no.

Her arms were clamped tightly around the enormous ginger cat.

All excluding Lily – She *bought* it?

"You bought that monster?" said Ron, his mouth hanging open.
"He's gorgeous, isn't he?" said Hermione, glowing.

Marauders – NO!

That was a matter of opinion, thought Harry. The cat's ginger fur was thick and fluffy, but it was definitely a bit bowlegged and its face looked grumpy and oddly squashed, as though it had run headlong into a brick wall. Now that Scabbers was out of sight, however, the cat was purring contentedly in Hermione's arms.

Lily – It sounds adorable!

Kaya - ::raising one eyebrow:: Are we reading the same book?

"Hermione, that thing nearly scalped me!" said Ron.
"He didn't mean to, did you, Crookshanks?" said Hermione.
"And what about Scabbers?" said Ron, pointing at the lump in his chest pocket. "He needs rest and relaxation! How's he going to get it with that thing around?"

Remus – He isn’t going to get any.

"That reminds me, you forgot your rat tonic," said Hermione, slapping the small red bottle into Ron's hand. "And stop worrying, Crookshanks will be sleeping in my dormitory and Scabbers in yours, what's the problem? Poor Crookshanks, that witch said he'd been in there for ages; no one wanted him."

Lily – Poor kitty!

Sirius - ::roll eyes::

"Wonder why," said Ron sarcastically as they set off toward the Leaky Cauldron.
They found Mr. Weasley sitting in the bar, reading the Daily prophet. "Harry!" he said, smiling as he looked up. "How are you?"

Sirius – Just fine, thanks!

James – Er—he wasn’t asking you.

Sirius - ::disappointed:: Oh.

"Fine, thanks," said Harry as he, Ron, and Hermione joined Mr. Weasley with their shopping.
Mr. Weasley put down his paper, and Harry saw the now familiar picture of Sirius Black staring up at him.
"They still haven't caught him, then?" he asked.

Kaya – I say he’s innocent.

Marauders – We do too.

Tilly – I think there’s more to it than him just being innocent… Where’s Remus by the way?

Marauders/Lily - ::shrug::

Remus – Neither Peter or I have been mentioned yet.

Morwen – Well, I have a feeling that we won’t know the whole story till the very end.

Lily – If you let me read you’ll be able to see, won’t you?

"No," said Mr. Weasley, looking extremely grave. "They've pulled us all off our regular jobs at the Ministry to try and find him, but no luck so far."
"Would we get a reward if we caught him?" asked Ron. "It'd be good to get some more money --”
"Don't be ridiculous, Ron," said Mr. Weasley, who on closer inspection looked very strained. "Black's not going to be caught by a thirteen-year-old wizard. It's the Azkaban guards who'll get him back, you mark my words."

Sirius - ::shudders:: I sure hope not.

At that moment Mrs. Weasley entered the bar, laden with shopping bags and followed by the twins, Fred and George, who were about to start their fifth year at Hogwarts; the newly elected Head Boy, Percy; and the Weasleys' youngest child and only girl, Ginny.

Girls - ::wince::

Morwen – That’s got to suck.

Tilly – Trust me, it does.

Ginny, who had always been very taken with Harry, seemed even more heartily embarrassed than usual when she saw him, perhaps because he had saved her life during their previous year at Hogwarts. She went very red and muttered "hello" without looking at him.

Tilly – That’s so sweet!

Kaya – And it would be another messy black haired Potter with another red headed girl!

Tilly/Kaya – So cute!

Others - ::blink::

Percy, however, held out his hand solemnly as though he and Harry had never met and said, "Harry, how nice to see you.”
"Hello, Percy," said Harry, trying not to laugh.

Sirius – James! ::takes his hand:: How are you, ol’ pal?

James - ::shaking hands:: Just fine.

Sirius – Remus! ::takes his hand:: How nice to see you!

Remus – ::shaking hands:: Nice to see you as well.

Sirius – Peter! ::takes his hand:: It’s been too long!

Peter - ::shaking hands:: Yes it has!

Sirius – Tilly!-

Lily – Could I read?

Sirius – Heh, sorry, Lily. Got a bit carried away.

"I hope you're well?" said Percy pompously, shaking hands. It was rather like being introduced to the mayor.
"Very well, thanks --"
"Harry!" said Fred, elbowing Percy out of the way and bowing deeply. "Simply splendid to see you, old boy --"
"Marvelous," said George, pushing Fred aside and seizing Harry's hand in turn. "Absolutely spiffing." Percy scowled.
"That's enough, now," said Mrs. Weasley.
"Mum!" said Fred as though he'd only just spotted her and seizing her hand too. "How really corking to see you --"

Marauders - ::laugh::

Girls – Oh no! A new generation of Marauders! God help us!

Marauders – We aren’t *that* bad!

Girls – Sure you aren’t.

"I said, that's enough," said Mrs. Weasley, depositing her shopping in an empty chair. "Hello, Harry, dear. I suppose you've heard our exciting news?" She pointed to the brand-new silver badge on Percy's chest. "Second Head Boy in the family!" she said, swelling with pride.

Morwen – Wait… ::counts on fingers:: They’ve already mentioned seven of the Weasleys… There’s more?

Remus – Nine in total.

Morwen - ::gap:: I’m not even going to comment.

"And last," Fred muttered under his breath.
"I don't doubt that," said Mrs. Weasley, frowning suddenly. "I notice they haven't made you two prefects."
"What do we want to be prefects for?" said George, looking revolted at the very idea. "It'd take all the fun out of life." Ginny giggled.

Tilly – Thank goodness!

James – What?

Tilly – Ginny didn’t turn out to be a perfect Head Girl! She’s got a sense of humor!

James – Lily’s Head Girl.

Tilly – So are you. Does that mean you don’t have a sense of humor?

James – Of course I have a sense of humor!

Tilly – All right then.

James – But you just said…

Morwen – Just nod your head and agree with her. Tilly never does make much sense.

James – Okay… ::nods uncertainly::

"You want to set a better example for your sister!" snapped Mrs. Weasley.
"Ginny's got other brothers to set her an example, Mother," said Percy loftily. "I'm going up to change for dinner..."

Sirius – Why would he need to change?

All - ::shrug::

He disappeared and George heaved a sigh. "We tried to shut him in a pyramid," he told Harry. "But Mum spotted us."

Remus – So close, yet so far!

Others - ::snicker::

Dinner that night was a very enjoyable affair. Tom the innkeeper put three tables together in the parlor, and the seven Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione ate their way through five delicious courses.

Sirius – Five!?

James – Five.

Remus – Not even Peter eats that much.

"How're we getting to King's Cross tomorrow, Dad?" asked Fred as they dug into a sumptuous chocolate pudding.
"The Ministry's providing a couple of cars," said Mr. Weasley.
Everyone looked up at him.

All – ::look::

"Why?" said Percy curiously.
"It's because of you, Perce," said George seriously. "And there'll be little flags on the hoods, with HB on them."
"-- for Humongous Bighead," said Fred.

All - ::snort::

Everyone except Percy and Mrs. Weasley snorted into their pudding.
"Why are the Ministry providing cars, Father?" Percy asked again, in a dignified voice.
"Well, as we haven't got one anymore,"

James/Sirius - ::evil grins::

said Mr. Weasley, "-- and as I work there, they're doing me a favor --"
His voice was casual, but Harry couldn't help noticing that Mr. Weasley's ears had gone red, just like Ron's did when he was under pressure.

Kaya – He’s hiding something.

"Good thing, too," said Mrs. Weasley briskly. "Do you realize how much luggage you've all got between you? A nice sight you'd be on the Muggle Underground.... You are all packed, aren't you?"
"Ron hasn't put all his new things in his trunk yet," said Percy, in a long-suffering voice. "He's dumped them on my bed."

Marauders – Tattletale.

Sirius – James, if you turn out to be like that, I will make it my duty to stuff you into the teachers wardrobe and magically lock you in!

James – If I turn out like that, I will make it my duty to let you.

"You'd better go and pack properly, Ron, because we won't have much time in the morning," Mrs. Weasley called down the table. Ron scowled at Percy.

All - ::scowl::

After dinner everyone felt very full and sleepy. One by one they made their way upstairs to their rooms to check their things for the next day. Ron and Percy were next door to Harry. He had just closed and locked his own trunk when he heard angry voices through the wall, and went to see what was going on. The door of number twelve was ajar and Percy was shouting.
"It was here, on the bedside table, I took it off for polishing.”
"I haven't touched it, all right?" Ron roared back.

Sirius – I would have. And I would have put a huge smudge on it just to spite him.

"What's up?" said Harry.
"My Head Boy badge is gone," said Percy, rounding on Harry.

James – Hey! What are you rounding on him for? He didn’t take it!

"So's Scabbers' rat tonic," said Ron, throwing things out of his trunk to look. "I think I might've left it in the bar --"
"You're not going anywhere till you've found my badge!" yelled Percy.

Tilly – Bo-o-o-o-ssy.

"I'll get Scabbers' stuff, I'm packed," Harry said to Ron, and he went downstairs.
Harry was halfway along the passage to the bar, which was now very dark, when he heard another pair of angry voices coming from the parlor. A second later, he recognized them as Mr. and Mrs. Weasleys'. He hesitated, not wanting them to know he'd heard them arguing, when the sound of his own name made him stop, then move closer to the parlor door.

Tilly – No-o-o-o-sy.

"--makes no sense not to tell him," Mr. Weasley was saying heatedly.
"Harry's got a right to know. I've tried to tell Fudge, but he insists on treating Harry like a child. He's thirteen years old and --"
"Arthur, the truth would terrify him!" said Mrs. Weasley shrilly. "Do you really want to send Harry back to school with that hanging over him? For heaven's sake, he's happy not knowing!"

Morwen – I have a feeling that Sirius’ name is going to be brought up any minute now….

"I don't want to make him miserable, I want to put him on his guard!" retorted Mr. Weasley. "You know what Harry and Ron are like, wandering off by themselves -- they've ended up in the Forbidden Forest twice! But Harry mustn't do that this year! When I think what could have happened to him that night he ran away from home! If the Knight Bus hadn't picked him up, I'm prepared to bet he would have been dead before the Ministry found him."

Sirius – I better not be brought up in *this* conversation.

"But he's not dead, he's fine, so what's the point?”
"Molly, they say Sirius Black's

All - ::lean in::

mad, and maybe he is, but he was clever enough to escape from Azkaban, and that's supposed to be impossible. It's been three weeks, and no one's seen hide nor hair of him, and I don't care what Fudge keeps telling the Daily Prophet, we're no nearer catching Black than inventing self-spelling wands. The only thing we know for sure is what Black's after-“

Sirius - ::muttering:: I’m not after Harry, I’m not after Harry, I’m not after Harry…

"But Harry will be perfectly safe at Hogwarts."
"We thought Azkaban was perfectly safe. If Black can break out of Azkaban, he can break into Hogwarts."
"But no one's really sure that Black's after Harry!”
There was a thud on wood, and Harry was sure Mr. Weasley had banged his fist on the table.

Peter – Eep. He’s mad.

"Molly, how many times do I have to tell you? They didn't report it in the press because Fudge wanted it kept quiet, but Fudge went out to Azkaban the night Black escaped. The guards told Fudge that Blacks been talking in his sleep for a while now. Always the same words: 'He's at Hogwarts... he's at Hogwarts.' Black is deranged, Molly, and he wants Harry dead. If you ask me, he thinks murdering Harry will bring You-Know-Who back to power. Black lost everything the night Harry stopped You- Know-Who, and he's had twelve years alone in Azkaban to brood on that...."

Sirius - ::jumping to his feet:: No I haven’t! I am NOT a Death Eater and NEVER will be! And I will NEVER want to kill my best friend’s son!

Remus – Sirius, calm down. I agree with Tilly. We don’t know the whole story and we probably won’t until the end of the book, so just chill.

Sirius - ::grumbling:: How can I when this stupid book keeps saying that I’m a murderer.

There was a silence. Harry leaned still closer to the door, desperate to hear more.
"Well, Arthur, you must do what you think is right. But you're forgetting Albus Dumbledore. I don't think anything could hurt Harry at Hogwarts while Dumbledore's headmaster. I suppose he knows about all this?"

Remus – Course he does. Why wouldn’t he?

"Of course he knows. We had to ask him if he minds the Azkaban guards stationing themselves around the entrances to the school grounds. He wasn't happy about it, but he agreed."

All - ::pale::

Tilly – THAT’S IT!

Others - ::jump:: What’s it?

Tilly – Remus is probably at Hogwarts to help contain the Dementors! I mean, he is the best person at the Patronus I’ve ever seen.

Others excluding Remus – Yeah, maybe…

"Not happy? Why shouldn't he be happy, if they're there to catch Black?"
"Dumbledore isn't fond of the Azkaban guards," said Mr. Weasley heavily.
"Nor am I, if it comes to that... but when you're dealing with a wizard like Black, you sometimes have to join forces with those you'd rather avoid."

Sirius - ::wince::

"If they save Harry then I will never say another word against them,” said Mr. Weasley wearily. "It's late, Molly, we'd better go up...."
Harry heard chairs move. As quietly as he could, he hurried down the passage to the bar and out of sight. The parlor door opened, and a few seconds later, footsteps told him that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were climbing the stairs.

Kaya – Poor kid. That’s got to be a lot to process.

The bottle of rat tonic was lying under the table they had sat at earlier. Harry waited until he heard Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's bedroom door close, then headed back upstairs with the bottle.
Fred and George were crouching in the shadows on the landing, heaving with laughter as they listened to Percy dismantling his and Ron's room in search of his badge.
"We've got it," Fred whispered to Harry. "We've been improving it."
The badge now read Bighead Boy.

All - ::laugh::

Harry forced a laugh, went to give Ron the rat tonic, then shut himself in his room and lay down on his bed.
So Sirius Black was after him.

Sirius - ::muttering:: No he’s not.

This explained everything. Fudge had been lenient with him because he was so relieved to find him alive. He'd made Harry promise to stay in Diagon Alley where there were plenty of wizards to keep an eye on him. And he was sending two Ministry cars to take them all to the station tomorrow, so that the Weasleys could look after Harry until he was on the train.

James – Must be horrible.

Harry lay listening to the muffled shouting next door and wondered why he didn't feel more scared. Sirius Black had murdered thirteen people with one curse;

Morwen/Tilly/Kaya - ::gap::

Remus – Yeah, that was mentioned earlier.

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley obviously thought Harry would be panic-stricken if he knew the truth. But Harry happened to agree wholeheartedly with Mrs. Weasley that the safest place on earth was wherever Albus Dumbledore happened to be. Didn't people always say that Dumbledore was the only person Lord Voldemort had ever been afraid of?

All - ::nod:: Uh huh.

Surely Black, as Voldemort's right-hand man, would be just as frightened of him?

All – Yeah.

And then there were these Azkaban guards everyone kept talking about. They seemed to scare most people senseless, and if they were stationed all around the school, Black's chances of getting inside seemed very remote.

Sirius – ::shudder:: Definitely… unless they don’t know *all* of the passages yet…

No, all in all, the thing that bothered Harry most was the fact that his chances of visiting Hogsmeade now looked like zero. Nobody would want Harry to leave the safety of the castle until Black was caught; in fact, Harry suspected his every move would be carefully watched until the danger had passed.

All – Poor, poor, Harry.

He scowled at the dark ceiling. Did they think he couldn't look after himself? He'd escaped Lord Voldemort three times; he wasn't completely useless....

All - ::shocked:: Three times!?

Unbidden, the image of the beast in the shadows of Magnolia Crescent crossed his mind. What to do when you know the worst is coming...

Tilly/Morwen/Kaya – Huh?

Remus/Lily – Divination.

Tilly/Morwen/Kaya – Oh.

"I'm not going to be murdered," Harry said out loud.
"That's the spirit, dear," said his mirror sleepily.

All - ::laugh::

Lily – That’s the end of Chapter Four.

Remus – On to Chapter Five?

All – Yeah!