- Story Summary:
- SEQUEL TO STEALING HARRY.````Ten years ago, Lucius Malfoy got to Peter Pettigrew before Sirius could, and the universe changed. Sirius spent years watching from a distance, until one day, when Harry was eight, he took Harry from the Dursleys. After two years in hiding, Harry returned to the Wizarding world to attend Hogwarts, only to find himself once more at risk -- once more facing Peter Pettigrew, who would like nothing better than to see Harry dead in the service of resurrecting Voldemort. ````Follow Harry and his friends -- brave Neville, clever Padma, and shy Draco -- as they are caught up in the battle for dominance between the Order and the Death Eaters.
- Chapter Summary:
- SEQUEL TO STEALING HARRY.
- Author's Note:
- Thanks to my beta-reading braintrust: Heidi, Judy, Nny, and Tai for their grammar/style/continuity betas, Em for her Art!Betas and illustrations.
At one point in this particular chapter, I have used dialogue verbatim from The Philosopher's Stone. This is intentional; Laocoon's Children is, after all, running parallel to the books. In this instance, much of Ollivander's interaction with Harry is lifted or paraphrased from the book.
That August, Diagon Alley was full of parents and students, as well as the usual shoppers, the hangers-about, the street vendors and gossips. Andromeda's boutique was doing a booming business as students bought school robes and formal robes; some parents were drawn in while waiting for their children to finish making their purchases independently in other places. No matter that 12 Grimmauld Place was -- for all intents and purposes -- a rundown town-house in the middle of a bad London neighbourhood; inside it was "a shrine to classic fashion and style" (Daily Prophet, 9 April 1990) and it was easily reached through a portkey shopfront in Diagon Alley.
None of this was in the minds of Remus and Sirius, as they followed Harry up the stairs from the tube station and out into Charing Cross Road. Harry had a backpack of the few things from home he wanted to bring with him; all his guardians had were their wands, tucked in their back pockets. One of the notes in the packet sent to Sirius was that their wands would re-activate the first time they set foot in Diagon Alley. They were watchful as they guided Harry towards the Leaky Cauldron, but nothing seemed amiss --
Until they stepped inside.
Word had got around, in the two years they'd been gone, that Sirius Black had taken young Harry Potter into seclusion with some tutor, a chap named Lupin whom some of them had known at Hogwarts, memorable mainly for his lack of memorability and sickly disposition. Sirius' face was relatively well-known, as he was heir to a fine old house, and his name popped up occasionally in connection with Andromeda Tonks; when they walked into the Leaky Cauldron, it was Sirius that everyone noticed first, tall and handsome as ever, trailed slightly by a scar-faced brown-haired man and guiding, by the shoulder, a slim young boy...
Sirius cleared his throat as silence fell throughout the pub. Finally Tom, the barman, came forward.
"To be sure, Sirius, it's good to see you again," he said, holding out his hand. Sirius shook it. "And this'll be young Harry Potter then, won't it?"
"This is Harry," Sirius rumbled, with an ominous look for anyone who would accost the boy or give him grief. Several people leaned in to each other to remark they didn't like the look of the bloke behind them. A bodyguard, perhaps? "Harry, this is Tom."
Harry held out his hand automatically, and Tom beamed wide as he shook it, showing a toothless grin. Other people came forward, slowly, as they made their way through the pub, introducing themselves and saying what an honour it was to meet the boy. Harry shook hands politely, and grinned once or twice; some of them, it was true -- and after two years in the Muggle world, these things became evident -- were dressed extremely oddly.
"Quirrell, old chap!" Sirius exclaimed, as they reached the back of the pub. A young, nervous-looking man lifted his head -- face pale under a shock of unruly, auburn-brown hair. "Of all the people to run into. Harry, this is Joseph Quirrell. He was with us at school, a year below -- I tutored him for his OWLs," Sirius said, as Quirrell held out his hand to shake Harry's. "Transfiguration and Potions. Good to see you, Quirrell."
"P-p-pleasure, I'm sure," Quirrell stammered. "H-h-hallo, S-Sirius -- L-l-lu-l-lu -- "
"Hi, Quirrell," Remus said, sparing the man. "Good to, er...see you again. What brings you to Diagon Alley?"
"Oh, I-i-i have some p-purchases to m-ake," Quirrell answered. "T-t-t-teaching at Hogwarts this year -- "
"Are you really?" Remus asked interestedly. "Well done you! What's your subject?"
"Best not be Transfiguration!" Sirius grinned.
"D-d-defence Against the D-d-dark Arts," Quirrell smiled weakly. Remus glanced at Sirius, who was hiding some emotion -- concern, amusement, perhaps dismay -- rather well. "I s-suppose I'll see you there, eh H-h-harry?"
"That you will -- which reminds us, we should be getting on. Good to see you again," Sirius continued, gently guiding Harry out the back door.
"Good luck at Hogwarts," Remus added, following. When they were out into the poky little alley behind the pub, he met Sirius' eye. "What on earth happened to him? He was always a bit of a runt, but my god!"
"Dunno," Sirius said, removing his wand from his pocket and giving it an experimental shake. A few reddish sparks flew off the tip. "Oh, splendid; look Moony, they work again."
"And that one's teaching Defence? Very peculiar," Remus continued, while Sirius tapped the bricks in order. Harry, who had come to Diagon Alley as a child in the months between his kidnapping from the Dursleys and their move to Wales, beamed brightly and stood very still as the bricks slid back. Sirius felt happy pinpricks across his skin as Diagon Alley appeared before them.
"Welcome home, Harry," he murmured.
They stepped out into the street proper, and Sirius glanced at Remus to find him holding his wand as they walked, levitating a pound coin in front of them; clearly Remus had missed magic more than Sirius.
"First thing we've got to do is go to Gringotts and get these notes changed," Sirius said, the floating pound coin reminding him. He had a thick roll of hundred-pound notes in his back pocket; hardly the majority of his Muggle bank account, but enough to open and nicely pad an account with Gringott's. "Read off your list there, Harry, and remind me what all you need."
Harry pulled out the already much-worn addendum to the Hogwarts letter. "Three sets of plain work robes -- "
"We'll get your uniform at Andromeda's," Sirius said, pointing as they passed the Portkey shopfront with Hogwarts uniforms in the windows and TONKS & TONKS over the door.
" -- there's a bunch of class textbooks -- "
"Flourish and Blotts," Remus said, and both Harry and Sirius could hear the book-lust in his voice.
" -- a set of potions stuff -- hey, you think we'll see Professor Snape?" Harry asked. Sirius growled.
"Shouldn't doubt he's lurking somewhere."
Harry swatted him with the letter. "If we do, you have to be nice, Sirius," he scolded.
"Anyway, I also have to get a telescope, a pewter size-two cauldron, a set of brass scales, and a wand," Harry finished, staring as they passed a potion supply house, with a barrel of dried rhinocerous beetles out front.
"We'll have to stop by the pet shop, too," Sirius said. "I know a witch -- well, if she's still working there -- who can tell us whether it's okay to bring Snake to Hogwarts..." as he spoke, a small, triangular head poked up over Harry's collar, and he sighed. "I did say you might want to leave Snake home," he said, a trifle scoldingly.
"He wanted to come," Harry replied, not at all put out. "He's having an extremely good time. There are lots of new tastes," he translated, as the snake hissed gently in his ear.
"Boy talks to snakes, I'm sure I don't know where we went wrong," Sirius muttered good-naturedly, as they arrived in front of Gringott's. "Now, if I remember right -- "
"Good lord, look," Remus said. "There's old Hagrid."
"The gamekeeper?" Sirius asked, scanning the crowd of people inside. "I don't -- oh, of course," he added, as a large shape loomed in front of them. Neither Remus nor Sirius were particularly short men, but Hagrid towered over them both, his huge mass of hair and beard making him look even bigger. He was talking to a goblin as they walked, carrying a small, paper-wrapped parcel in one hand. "Hagrid!" Sirius called, and the man turned to look at them. "Rubeus Hagrid!"
"As I live an' breathe," Hagrid said, as the goblin wandered off. He sidetracked from his course and joined them just inside the entrance. "Black and Lupin. Hallo boys, how're things then?"
"Fine, Hagrid," Remus answered, with a grin. "Keeping out of trouble."
"You two? Not bloody likely. The number a' times I had to chase you an' your mates ou' of my pumpkin patch -- here, now, and you're young Harry Potter, aren' you?" Hagrid said, bending over to hold out his hand to Harry, who almost stepped backwards, as though an avalanche were descending. "Knew yer dad an' mum. Good people. Here for yer school stuff, are ye?"
"Shake hands, Harry," Sirius murmured, and Harry took the giant man's hand, nodding as he regained polite composure. "Yes, sir," he added. Sirius knew Harry had seen Hagrid when he'd visited Professor Snape, years ago, but Hagrid would have known him by another name -- if he remembered Parvus Rana at all.
"Here on business?" Remus inquired politely, indicating the package. Hagrid stuffed it hastily into his enormous overcoat.
"Sort of, sort of. Fetchin' somethin' for Dumbledore. Top secret Hogwarts things," Hagrid said, somewhat proudly, and Remus and Sirius exchanged a grin.
"Give him our regards," Sirius said. "Excuse me, I think a window's just opened up..."
They said their goodbyes quickly and Sirius laid down the roll of notes, watching as the goblin behind the counter thumbed through them, weighed out the appropriate amount of gold, and measured it into two sacks, at Sirius' request; a smaller one which he handed to Harry, and a much larger one.
"I'll hold this, and your backpack," Remus said, taking them from Harry. "How'd you like to go see Sirius' new vault with him?"
"Would I?" Harry asked Sirius, who grinned.
"It's the ride of your life, lad," Sirius answered. "Staying here, Moony?" he asked.
"I'll be just outside," Remus promised, waving them on.
Breathless and exhilarated from the ride, they rejoined Remus just as he was finishing up a haggle with a shopkeeper, outside a second-hand store next to the bank. The tables out front of the shop were strewn with miscellaneous junk, but Sirius whistled low when Remus held up his find, a set of antique scales that were burnished with age and use.
"Bit of a treasure, this," he said, as the shopkeeper grudgingly wrapped it in brown paper and took his payment. "Thought you might like it for your scales, Harry. It's a bit nicer than the new rubbish they sell for students -- cheaply made stuff. Though if you're embarrassed to be using second-hand scales -- "
"No, I like them," Harry said easily, accepting the package from the shopkeeper and shoving it in his pack.
"When I was a boy I did all my school buying in the second-hand shops," Remus said, as they ambled up the street. "You'd be amazed what you'd find. There's a little street just below Madam Malkin's, Mardjinn Alley...but we'll buy all your robes and books and things new, of course," he added hastily, and Sirius noticed the tips of his ears turning red. Remus had never had much to spend on school things, as a boy, he remembered -- his last two years, he hadn't had much himself, and he had fond memories of their gloriously adventurous shopping expedition in Mardjinn Alley while James and Peter went to Madam Malkin's and Flourish & Blotts.
They bought his cauldron and telescope, potions supplies and dragonhide gloves, and Sirius and Harry took their new acquisitions to the Leaky Cauldron, where they rented the last available room for the night, while Remus went into quiet paroxysms of joy over all the new releases in Flourish & Blotts. By the time they reached him, he'd arranged to have five or six of the most interesting delivered to their room, and gathered up all of Harry's necessary texts, plus a few extras he "thought Harry might enjoy." Harry, who had picked up a rampant bibliophilia from his guardians, added four more to the pile, including one on the myriad uses of snakes and snakeskin in charms, potions, and divination, while Sirius conferred with Remus on what he should buy himself and what he could nick from Remus' purchases. Sirius gave the delivery boy a pitying look when their order was finished, and tipped him a Galleon for his pains.
"We'll pick up your wand next," Sirius decided, while buying ice-cream cones, "and then we can go get your robes just in time to have tea with Andromeda," he added with a wink. He'd sent her a handful of cautious letters over the years, mailed well outside of Llangynog district (outside of Wales, for that matter) by Muggle post, but of couse she couldn't write back. "Be good to see her again."
"And Dora and Neville and Ted," Harry added. "Reckon Neville's still living with them?"
"Don't see why he wouldn't be," Sirius agreed. They stopped outside of Ollivander's, and Sirius held the door.
"I've one or two private errands," he said. "You two behave. I'll meet you outside of Andromeda's shopfront when I'm finished, yeah?"
Remus gave him a quizzical look, but nodded and herded Harry inside.
Ollivander's hadn't changed much since Remus and Sirius had been first years; still the small empty space at the front, the rest of the room filled with row upon row of small, narrow boxes in shelves that stretched to the ceiling.
"Lupin, ironwood, twelve and a quarter inches, bit on the skinny side -- unicorn hair. An unusual wand for an unusual young man, eh?"
Harry flinched slightly at the sudden sound, but Remus smiled and touched his shoulder reassuringly as an elderly man stepped out from the rows, pale eyes shining like moons through the gloom of the shop.
"Yes, Mr. Ollivander," he answered, calmly. "Given me good service, it has."
"Oh yes? Let's see how you've served it, then," Ollivander replied, holding out a dry, callused palm. Remus took his wand out of his pocket and laid it in the older man's hand. Ollivander appeared to weigh it, examined one end and then the other, slid his fingers along its length, and gave a satisfied grunt.
"Always said you'd be a man to take care of your wand," he said approvingly. "Could do with a bit of polish, but in the end that's just appearances."
"Thank you, sir," Remus replied, accepting his wand back again. Ollivander turned his strange, unblinking eyes on Harry, and Remus squeezed his shoulder.
"Ah yes...I thought I'd be seeing you soon," Ollivander said, stooping a little. "Harry Potter. You have your mother's eyes. She had a lovely wand for charm work -- ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Your father, on the other hand, favoured a mahogany wand -- eleven inches, pliable. A little more power and excellent for transfiguration." Ollivander gave Harry a not-very-reassuring smile. "Well, I say your father favoured it -- it's really the wand that chooses the wizard, of course." He leaned closer, fingers drifting towards Harry's forehead. "And that is where -- "
"We're interested in Harry's wand, today," Remus said quickly, and Ollivander glanced up at him, almost reprovingly.
"Of course," he said, and withdrew slightly. "Mr. Potter. Let me see."
Harry held out his right hand, and submitted to the fitting calmly, only looking a bit startled when the tape measure began taking measurements on its own, as Ollivander withdrew into the stacks. He returned with a pile of boxes just as the tape measure finished, and set them on the counter in front of him. "Try this one to start. Beechwood and dragon heartstring, nine inches. Nice and flexible."
Harry glanced at Remus, who smiled encouragingly. "Go on then, Harry, give it a bit of a wave."
Harry reached for the wand and waved it around, but Ollivander immediately took it away from him.
"No, no, that's no good. Here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy."
Again, as soon as he lifted it, it was taken away again.
Ollivander laid out several more wands, but each was a failure, until the boxes began to pile up in front of them, and Ollivander began searching deeper and deeper in the shelves.
"A tricky customer, eh?" Ollivander said, while Harry looked disconsolate and Remus perplexed. "I have a few more, now..."
He set two down on the table. Harry tried the first one -- ten and a quarter inches, maple and unicorn hair -- to no avail, and was reaching for the second one when he paused.
"Not that one," he said. Ollivander looked at him curiously.
"Why not, Harry?" Remus asked. Harry glanced between the two men, then looked embarrassed.
"Er...Snake doesn't like that one," he mumbled. Ollivander looked up at Remus for an explanation, and Remus tilted his head at the sinuous body wrapped loosely around Harry's neck.
"His snake," he said.
Ollivander leaned forward, and Snake lifted his head to stare beadily at the pale, moonlike eyes.
"I'm a Parselmouth," Harry explained, only a little wearily. "I talk to snakes."
"Why doesn't he like this one, out of curiousity?" Ollivander inquired, taking the confession in stride.
"He says it smells like wicked," Harry replied. "It'd be like us smelling rotten meat, a bit," he added. Ollivander lifted the wand and examined it, then looked up sharply at Harry.
"Neither you nor your serpentine friend could know," he said slowly, "that this wand's wood is from the same tree that supplied the wood for Peter Pettigrew's."
Remus tensed. Harry's face went pale, and then his eyes hardened a little. Ollivander merely looked thoughtful.
"I wonder now -- " he muttered to himself, taking down another wand. "Ask your snake what he thinks of this."
Harry had a private conference with Snake, and turned to Ollivander. "He doesn't care about this one," he said, pointing to it. "Shall I try it?" he asked, and without waiting for Ollivander's answer -- Remus saw the man about to protest -- he picked it up.
A stream of red and gold sparks flew from the end, lighting up the room and making Snake duck his head quickly back under Harry's collar. Remus grinned.
"Holly and phoenix feather," Ollivander said slowly, when the sparks had died down. "Eleven inches. A very supple wand. Very...very curious," he added, as Harry studied his new wand. Snake poked his head out again, tentatively, and then slithered down Harry's right arm to have a better look at it.
"Curious?" Remus asked, wary after the incident with the wood-brother to Peter's wand.
"I remember every wand I've ever sold," Ollivander said gravely. "And there was another wand...thirteen and a half inches. Yew. A very powerful wand, and in the wrong hands..." his unblinking eyes drifted to Harry's forehead. "The phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand gave another feather -- just one other, to the yew wand which -- well, which gave you that," he said, indicating the lightning-bolt scar.
"Mr. Ollivander -- " Remus began, but Ollivander was still speaking.
"Curious indeed," he mused, "how these things happen. The wand chooses the wizard, remember...I think we must expect great things from you, Mr. Potter. After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things -- terrible, yes, but great."
"That's enough, I think," Remus murmured. "We'll pay for the wand, please."
"I could get another wand," Harry said, hearing the tension in his voice. Remus shook his head.
"The wand chooses the wizard," he said. "Even I know that. The wand, Mr. Ollivander, and two tins of polish, if you would."
Harry put the wand back in its case and held it anxiously as Remus took the tins provided and paid out of the rapidly-depleting sack of wizarding coins. When they were outside, Remus seemed to relax slightly.
"I'm not going to get in trouble, am I?" Harry asked.
"Of course not," Remus answered, giving him a reassuring smile. "It was just a bit startling, that's all. And er...I think you should probably keep it to yourself, Harry, the...origins of the wand. You don't mind, do you?"
"I don't care," Harry answered, stroking the case lovingly. "I like it. It feels..."
"...right," Remus answered, and Harry grinned at him. "I know. I remember buying mine."
Sirius was waiting patiently for them on the pavement, when they finally pushed through the crowd; he waved, and Harry ran to meet him.
"Bought you a trunk for your school things, while you were shopping -- got your wand?" he asked excitedly, and Harry opened the case, taking it out to show it to him. "Oh, that is splendid."
"Holly and phoenix feather," Harry announced. "And Mr. Ollivander had a look at Remus' too."
"Bought some polish," Remus said nonchalantly. "Otherwise all's well. Shall we?"
The door to Andromeda's shop was propped open to let in the warm summer breeze, and as they stepped over the threshold, there was a moment of dizziness, quickly passing when the portkey had done its work. Inside was a large room, well lit, full of clothing racks and hatstands, with a glass case of strange jewelery on one side, and a counter and till on the other."Good afternoon, and welcome to -- Sirius!"
Sirius found himself nearly bowled over by Andromeda, who threw herself into his arms and hugged him tightly before stepping back to give Harry and then Remus the same treatment. "Don't you three look well! I was wondering when we'd see you in here," she added.
"It's good to see you," Sirius said, smiling warmly.
"And Harry!" Andromeda continued, while Harry blushed. "Look at you, all grown up. Starting Hogwarts this year?"
"Just got his wand," Remus said, indicating the slim case.
"It's a proud day, and no denying it," she said approvingly. "Come on, come and have a bit of a sit down, you're just in time for tea. Irene, mind the shop, would you?" she asked, of a plump, friendly-looking woman behind the till, who nodded and turned to assist a customer.
"Business seems to be doing well," Sirius observed, as they made their way to the back of the shop.
"Oh, it's going really well -- I had to hire Irene when we expanded, just to help handle everything," Andromeda said. "Ted's been a dear, he does all the books -- Ted! Look who's here!" she called, as she led them through a door in one corner. Sirius vaguely recognised that they were passing from what once had been the enormous living room of Grimmauld Place, into the former dining room, now fitted with shelves and a giant desk, behind which Ted sat doing figures.
"Lupin, Black, and Potter," Ted grinned, standing and circling the desk to shake hands all round. "Good to see you lot again. Welcome back! Has it been two years already? My god, look at you, Harry."
"Grown, hasn't he?" Sirius said proudly. "Going off to Hogwarts tomorrow."
"Well done, lad," Ted said cheerfully.
"I'm taking them upstairs for some tea, love, are you busy?" Andromeda asked, and Ted shook his head, following them up the flight of stairs to the next floor.
Sirius blinked as they ascended; this floor had been bedrooms and bathrooms, opening onto a dim, somewhat poky landing -- but Andromeda's renovations had been vigorous here, as well, and now there was a wide open space at the top of the stairs, full of windows through which sun streamed brightly. To their right was a kitchen, cheerful and yellow, and to their left a series of doors still appeared to lead into bedrooms -- one of them, slightly open, revealed a mess similar to the appearance of Harry's, back at the River House.
"Don't mind the disarray, that's Nev's room," Andromeda said, leading them past the living room and into an elegant dining room, fixed up with what Sirius recognised as the old dining room table, refinished and polished to a bright shine. Andromeda slipped around a low counter and into the kitchen, filling a teakettle and setting it on the counter along with a handful of cups. Ted took down a plate of shortbread as she brewed the tea, talking all the while.
"We went and bought Neville's school things yesterday -- Ted was that proud -- and he's hosting a couple of his friends tonight, since their parents had to go home. I think we're taking about five boys to the train tomorrow, and picking up three more girls from the Leaky Cauldron on the way to the station."
"It's a nightmare," Ted said frankly, offering the plate to Harry, who took one and thanked him politely.
"Nymphadora's coming to help," Andromeda chided, adding cream and sugar to the tea-tray she was assembling. "I'm sure it'll be fine. Are you two staying the night?"
"Got a room at the Leaky Cauldron," Sirius said, as Andromeda set the tray on the table. Remus quietly moved his chair back a few inches, and Andromeda looked stricken.
"Oh -- Remus, I'd forgotten, I'm sorry -- a silver tea service, how careless of me," she groaned.
"It's all right, really -- as long as the cups are china," Remus protested, while Andromeda moved the tray to the furthest possible point from him, and poured from there. She added milk and sugar for Ted and herself, and glanced inquiringly at Sirius, who requested just a little milk.
"I did remember you take lemon," she said to Remus, apologetically, passing him his cup with two slices of lemon in it.
"Really, Andromeda, it's quite all right," he reassured her, as Harry helped himself to a few spoonfuls of sugar. "You were saying, about Neville?"
"Oh, yes -- if you'd like us to take Harry to the train, one more at this point's no trouble," she said, with a smile for Harry.
"We'll take him," Sirius reassured her. "We've no need to leave anytime soon -- we're, er, we're moving up here, actually," he said. "Now that Harry's at Hogwarts, he's safe there, and Remus is itching to rejoin the wizarding world..."
"I missed magic," Remus said calmly.
"All right, so did I," Sirius agreed. "We're thinking London, or possibly Newcastle -- closer to Harry."
"Well, there's close and there's close," Ted said, thoughtfully. "Really, if you can Apparate the distance doesn't matter all that much. You'd be welcome here, you know, we just finished converting the attic -- there's only two bedrooms, but you...er...are moving up here...together, aren't you?" he asked delicately.
"We are," Remus replied, while Sirius blushed. "That would be ideal, really -- it's private, and close. We'd pay rent, of course."
"You'd have very understanding landlords," Andromeda said, with a grin. Just then there was the sound of a small herd of elephants coming up the stairs, which turned out to be in reality a small herd of eleven-year-olds: two fair-haired, tall boys, a smaller sly-looking one, and a round-faced, dark-haired boy who could only be Neville, two years older than the last time they'd seen him.
"Are we late for tea?" Neville asked, breathlessly, as the boys stopped uncertainly in the doorway. Andromeda waved them in, and gave Sirius an amused grin as she went to brew more. They ranged themselves out around the table while Ted introduced them.
"This is Seamus Finnegan -- you remember Brenda, don't you? Her lad -- and Zacharias Smith and Blaise Zabini, there, you can hardly tell they're cousins, they look more like twins -- and of course our Nev," Ted announced. "Lads, that's Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin, and this is Harry Potter."
"I remember you," Neville gave Harry a grin. "You gave me your pyjamas when I was in hospital."
"Cor, are you really Harry Potter?" Blaise asked, studying Harry interestedly.
"Let's see your scar then," Seamus said, equally as unsubtle.
"Manners, boys," Ted murmured, but Harry merely smiled and pushed his fringe off his forehead. Everyone looked suitably impressed as Andromeda passed around more tea.
"Did you get your wand yet?" Neville asked, and Harry nodded, showing him the case. "Cool. Want to see mine? We all got them, they're in my room. You can come see my room after tea if you like."
"After tea Harry has to get his robes," Andromeda scolded. At Neville's disappointed look, she relented. "Why don't you lads take your tea and go play in Neville's room, we'll call you when we're done."
All five boys beamed, and carefully carried their tea down the hallway, until their conversation was merely a commotion of incomprehensible childish voices.
"Bloomed a little, hasn't he?" Remus asked, and Andromeda put her face in her hands, laughing.
"Just you try shutting him up," Ted grinned. "Lately, anyway. He's talked about nothing but Hogwarts since he got his letter."
"Harry either," Sirius replied. "Bit of a weird feeling, really."
"Oh?" Andromeda asked. Sirius shrugged, and looked down at his tea.
"Well, I mean. Wasn't that long ago we were first years," he said.
"Twenty years," Remus murmured, with a smile.
"And, you know, here I am, having tea with other parents, talking about school clothes and the like..." Sirius waved a hand. "Makes me feel rather old, really."
"Wait till he leaves school, then you'll really feel old," Andromeda answered, sipping her tea. "It's good to see you again, both of you -- we've been worried about you, tucked away from the wizarding world, no real outside contact. I was very glad to get your letters, Sirius."
"We've done all right."
"Harry certainly seems happy and healthy," Ted observed.
"On the whole," Sirius agreed, "barring a broken leg and a couple of colds."
"Well, he's back where he belongs now," Andromeda said firmly. "And so are you."