- Multiple Eras
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 09/26/2004Updated: 09/26/2004Words: 89,188Chapters: 19Hits: 87,944
- 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.
Time seemed to pass quickly at Hogwarts; the weekend vanished almost as soon as it had come, and before Harry knew it, the first flying lesson was fast approaching. He still hadn't decided whether to sign up or not; it would be a terrific waste if he never learned to use his Nimbus Two Thousand, but every time he thought about flying, he remembered the crunch as his broomstick shattered under Peter Pettigrew's curse. He suspected that, like the look in Sirius' eyes when he saw Harry's cupboard at the Dursleys' house, it was something which would stay with him all his life.
He thought of writing to Sirius about it, or, more sensibly, to Remus; Sirius would understand, he was sure, but Sirius might shout a bit first. He had nearly decided to write Remus, the morning of the first lesson, when Marcus Flint, the slightly crooked-toothed, cowlick-haired captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team, clapped him on the shoulder as he passed.
"Going to learn flying, are you Potter?" he called over his shoulder. "Try not to fall off, eh?"
Harry, bewildered, kept moving towards the Great Hall, when Theo Nott appeared with Crabbe and Goyle trailing him like extremely ugly puppies.
"Finally decided to sign up, Harry?" Theo said.
"For flying lessons! You lost me two sickles, I had a bet on with Parkinson that you'd chicken out completely," Theo said. This did not sit well with Harry, who paused as he moved towards the entrance to the Great Hall. Tacked up outside the door were the sign-ups for first-year flying lessons; he'd stopped every day to gaze at it and finger his quill thoughtfully before moving onwards.
There, at the bottom of the list, in a scrawl that certainly wasn't his own, was a name not dissimilar to Hamg PoHer. Or, if one looked closely, Harry Potter.
"Malfoy," he muttered under his breath, recognising the uneven, childish handwriting. An arm draped itself across his shoulders, and Neville grinned at him, slapping his back.
"Don't look at me," he said. "I didn't put your name down. Can't back out now though. It'd be dishonourable."
"I'm allowed to punch Draco in the head though, right?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, well, you could," Neville allowed, "so long as it was the front of the head and not the back of the head, so he could see you coming. That's chivalry," he added. "Making sure the other chap knows what you're up to."
"That's stupid," Harry replied. "If I'm going to punch someone, I'm not going to tell them so first."
"Slytherin," Neville said, with a roll of his eyes as they entered the Great Hall.
"See you at flying practice!" Neville cried loudly, leaving Harry to walk to the already-crowded Slytherin table alone.
"Suck on it!" Harry called back.
"That's the spirit, Potter," said a fifth-year girl with straw-coloured hair and shifty dark eyes. "Gryffindors are good for two things -- being insulted and being defeated."
There was a titter of laughter around her, and Harry stared at her with what he hoped were impassive and Snapelike eyes.
"And good for telling the truth, and good for standing up for their mates, and good for helping each other out," he added. "Good for quite a bit, really," he said, in a more thoughtful manner.
"Mind your tongue, firstie," she snapped.
"I bet if you let Oliver Wood help you in Charms you wouldn't be getting letters from your parents about your marks," Harry said, in his most polite voice. "I hear he's top of the Gryffindor-Slytherin class in Charms."
"Oliver Wood is a Quidditch-mad git," she said fiercely.
"Watch how you talk about Quidditch," Marcus Flint said, and the girl fell suddenly silent. "And you, Potter, no lip to the fifth years if you want to survive to be one. Don't think just because you're going to be riding broomsticks means you're anything more than a pipsqueak of a first-year with a funny scar."
Harry's nerves settled a bit now that he'd made some trouble for the fifth-year who talked about his friends that way. With a nod to Flint, he set to eating, though the food was dry and tasteless in his mouth. He was going to have to get on a broomstick this afternoon and try to fly; not his broomstick, since that was a secret, but a broomstick nonetheless.
It was times like these that made being the Boy Who Lived difficult; everyone would be watching him, expecting him to be brilliant -- or expecting him to fail, if they were particularly jealous. He'd heard the expectancy in the tone of the editorial Remus sent him about his going into Slytherin; bad enough Sirius' letter had been falsely cheerful and polite and full of platitudes about the House of Black being Slytherin, as if Harry didn't know what Sirius thought of the House of Black. His letters since were better, but Harry knew he'd somehow hurt his godfather, and now he had to be good at everything, to make Sirius proud again.
Draco, a few tables away, caught Harry's eye and gave him a hesitant, timid grin; Harry scowled, and stabbed his egg viciously with his fork.
It was a beautiful clear afternoon by the time they trooped out of the school and down to the smooth, level field near the Forbidden Forest, where the flying lessons were being held. Neville and Padma flanked Harry firmly, as if daring him to try and bolt; Neville must have figured it out somehow, since he hadn't confided to either of them just how terrified he was. Draco ran ahead, school robes flying out behind him as though he were already on a broomstick. It was the sort of day Sirius used to say was perfect for flying, usually while looking longingly at his then-earthbound motorbike. The sort of day Harry would go down to the river and draw, or skim stones and fish with Padfoot, while Remus drowsed over a book on the bank.
There were two neat rows of broomsticks already laid out, and Harry cast an experienced eye over them; it might have been two years since he was a part of the Wizarding world, but once he had been as expert as any eight-year-old could be about broomsticks, from endless hours reading Quidditch magazines with Ron. Ron was there, in fact, and gave Harry a friendly wave from the knot of Gryffindors following him.
"Come to learn how to fly properly, Weasley?" came a taunt from behind Harry, and he turned to see Theo arriving. "Reckon you've never seen a broomstick as nice as these old school brooms. You probably have to use some old straw broom your grandmother handed down to you -- "
"Shut it, Theo," Harry ordered, and Theo looked surprised; Harry imagined he hadn't noticed him, and the dismay in his face spoke volumes. "None of us have got our own brooms now, anyway," he said. "So it's all down to skill, isn't it?"
"I'd be careful how I talk, in that case," Padma added. "Weasley boys always make Quidditch team."
Harry saw Ron flush, out of the corner of his eye, but Hermione Granger had stepped up next to Padma, and crossed her arms. "And if we're all equal, Nott, then that means if he flies better than you, he's just more talented, doesn't it?"
Theo sneered a bit. "Staunch defenders," he said, though he didn't say it as loudly as before. "Do you always get girls to speak for you, Weasley?"
Ron surged forward and Neville and Draco caught him by the arms; Harry had his wand out to hex Theo before he knew what he was thinking, and only the arrival of Madam Hooch stopped him. She was a tall, graceful woman, with short, feathery grey hair and peculiar yellow eyes; they reminded Harry of a hawk -- one that was circling prey.
"What's this, what's this?" she demanded, and Harry shoved his wand back in his pocket, while Neville muttered a warning of some kind in Ron's ear. "Right then, places please."
Neville, one hand still on Ron's arm, guided him into place, and the rest of them formed up; only Draco, dusting himself off after scuffling with Ron, was still in the middle, straightening his tie.
"Places, please," Madam Hooch repeated, and Draco looked up, yelped, and slid shamefacedly into the only empty space -- between Harry and Susan Bones, who gave him a quick smile.
It was a vaguely familiar process to Harry, when Madam Hooch explained it: simply hold your hand out over the broom and say "up!" in a firm, commanding tone. He'd done it for his own broomstick, years ago, and once or twice one of the Twins had let him try starting theirs.
Harry's voice cracked the first time he tried, and he looked around embarrassed, but only Parvati had managed to get her broom in the air on the first try. He swallowed, licked his lips, and said "UP!" louder than he meant to --
And the broomstick smacked into his hand.
"Cool," Draco said enviously, and straightened his shoulders, trying again. Across from them, Neville and Hermione both managed to get theirs to float, and grabbed them firmly.
The wood was smooth under his hand, worn down by hundreds of Hogwarts students before him. Harry swallowed bile, remembering his old broomstick.
"You look ill," Blaise whispered. "Something wrong?"
"Bad eggs at lunch, I think," Harry whispered back.
"Don't throw up on me."
"You're all heart, Zabini."
Madam Hooch was moving up and down the rows, showing students how to sit a broom properly, correcting grips, and reassuring Draco, who was having a bit of difficulty holding onto his.
"Boy sits a broom like a natural," Sirius had said, his enormous, capable hands holding the broomstick steady and Harry with it. Harry remembered a warm palm on the small of his back, and the unequaled sensation of freedom when Sirius finally let him fly.
"Yes, you're quite a natural at this, Mr. Potter," Madam Hooch said. "Just adjust your hands a little, there -- Ms. Abbot, come see how Potter's done it."
Harry, finding himself already astride the broom, held carefully still as Hannah and Draco both inspected his grip. He could feel the broom's impatience to be aloft, and it was all he could do to keep his feet on the ground, desperate not to fly until everyone else was.
Then Madam Hooch blew her whistle, and everyone kicked off, Harry a little after the others. Susan and Draco both shouted in pleased surprise when they found themselves more than ten feet off the ground, but Padma rose with a steady calm that Harry envied; Ron and Neville seemed just as composed.
"Come up then, Harry!" Neville called, as Harry hovered a few feet below the others, calculating precisely how high he could go before he would break something when he fell.
If he fell. If he fell.
Which he wouldn't. He was James Potter's son and Sirius Black's godson. He could feel the weight, even now, of Sirius' little Remembrall in his pocket. He set his jaw and rose another few feet, until he was level with Draco, who was kicking his heels in an effort to go higher.
Madam Hooch showed them how to move forward and backwards, how to rise and drop and steer simple curves, seemingly everywhere at once as she steadied uncertain flyers or stopped Crabbe and Goyle from flying into each other on purpose. Harry, who spent most of his time trying to hover just out of sight of Madam Hooch until he felt more secure, noted with pride that Ron actually was flying circles around Theo, who seemed to have stalled out somehow, like a boat with no rudder or oars.
"Look, Sirius!" he'd cried, rising above the hedges but looking only at his godfather, who had crossed his arms and was staring up at him approvingly. Down below somewhere, Ron and Ginny and the twins were running around underneath him, cheering.
"Aren't you having fun, Harry?" Draco asked, pulling up next to him. "Look, even Neville's enjoying himself..."
Harry glanced over to where Padma was steadying Neville after a near fall. Neville grinned and gave him two thumbs up, then grabbed frantically for the broomstick again.
"I think I'll finish up," Harry said. "Coming back to earth with me?"
"Not on your life! Come on Harry, it's great! You've hardly moved. You race me and you'll see."
"Draco, I don't really want to -- " Harry stopped; Draco had plunged his hand into Harry's pocket and come up with three sickles and the miniaturised Remembrall that Sirius had sent him when Neville's remembrall-bracelet had arrived (to much acclaim; Harry had already written to Sirius with demands for five more).
"Give that back, Malfoy!" Harry shouted.
"Without hands now," Sirius had said, and Harry had held his arms out carefully to the sides like a tightrope walker, feeling coiled power in the magic that drove the broomstick. He balanced perfectly, and Sirius smiled down at him, approval in every line of his face.
"Come and get it," Draco said, with a wicked grin, and raced off on his broom. Harry shot after him without thinking, weaving through the rest of the flying students as Draco dodged between Hannah and Goyle, then rose up above the crowd.
Dimly, in the background, Harry heard Madam Hooch shouting for them to come down and join the class again, but he was concentrating on Draco, Harry gaining speed as the other boy's broom began to, for lack of a better word, sputter. Draco turned suddenly, still clutching the Remembrall tightly, and Harry was right on his tail; another sharp turn, to the left and up forty-five degrees at the same time, but Harry was taking his lead from the way Draco's broomstick-bristles pointed, and didn't hesitate to follow.
"Catch me!" Draco called, over his shoulder, and Harry ducked tighter against his broomstick, inching up on the other boy. Now he was level with his bristles, now with his shoes; he reached out and grabbed Draco's robe.
Draco, surprised by the sudden movement, shouted and jerked; both brooms skewed sideways and Harry saw Sirius' tiny Remembrall slip through Draco's fingers.
"You dropped it!" he shouted at Draco, who looked stunned.
"I'm sorry!" Draco answered, but Harry barely heard it; he pointed his broomstick nearly straight down, remembering to grip with his knees and crossed ankles as he'd seen a Gryffindor Quidditch player do once, and dove after it.For a minute the world went away, and there was just Harry, matching speed with a tiny glass ball, and a blur of blue that was the sky, a blur of green that was the grass, and suddenly stone -- he was skimming the outside wall of the castle, the masonry barely six inches from his knees.
It was like the one time Sirius had opened up the motorbike on the roads just outside of Betwys Beddau; Remus would have killed them both if he'd ever found out, but when they hit ninety miles an hour the wind stole your breath and every curve was an adventure waiting to happen, and Harry had never felt so alive.
He saw windows flashing past and heard paper rustle as the wake of his speed blew late-summer air through the windows; all this he remembered later, because at the moment his entire being was focused on the little glass ball....
Six feet from the ground and he pulled up, leaning over to snatch it before it impacted, and the speed he'd already had took him thirty or forty feet before he skewed to a stop, and hovered, the Remembrall cool in his palm.
The sudden lack of wind in his ears made the world seem very silent, as he realised what he'd done. Most of the other students were on the ground; Draco was descending slowly, looking stunned.
What he'd done had probably broken about half a dozen school rules; disobeying a professor, for a start. He looked around for Madam Hooch, and saw her standing, frozen in amazement, near the front gate of Hogwarts.
Professor Snape was standing next to her, looking breathless and somewhat rushed, as though he'd just come running from somewhere.
"Oh, bollocks," Harry whispered. He wasn't sure whether he ought to go to them, or wait for their wrath to descend. Either way, he'd better get off the broomstick. He lowered himself to the ground, slowly, and the full impact of what he had done didn't hit until his toes touched soil.
He'd done it. He'd flown above every other student in the class and done a dive that would have made Sirius whoop with joy. And he hadn't been afraid at all.
No, it wasn't him -- Draco had made him do it.
That boy needed a serious talking-to.
When he touched down, Madam Hooch seemed to snap out of her shock, and began to descend the steps, moving faster the closer she got. Professor Snape was on her heels; she stopped when she reached Draco, while Snape continued past her. He came up short in front of Harry, staring in a way that made Harry distinctly uncomfortable.
"Show me," he ordered. Harry held out his hand, and the little Remembrall glittered in the sunlight. Red light on Harry's palm showed the words Don't Break School Rules. Harry thought he saw Professor Snape's lips twitch slightly.
"That dive," he said, with an odd sort of urgency. "How high were you when it began?"
"I don't -- " Harry swallowed. "Above the spire of Gryffindor Tower at least."
"And by the time you reached the ground..." Snape's gaze intensified, eyes almost sparking, until he abruptly turned away.
"Madam Hooch," he announced. She looked up from where she was haranguing a terrified Draco. "I will deal with Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy, if you prefer."
She looked relieved. "As you wish, Professor Snape."
Snape caught Harry by the arm, not too roughly, and hauled him forward; Harry tossed his broom to Neville as they passed and Snape hooked his other hand in the crook of Draco's elbow. He led them swiftly up and into the entryway, stopping just before the second set of doors that let out onto the courtyard.
"Get out of here," he said to Draco, releasing him. Draco stared up at him, confused. "Thank your surname and go," Snape snapped. Draco looked as confused as Harry felt, but he scuttled away, with a backwards look of sympathy for Harry. Snape led Harry onward, muttering to himself. "Never in ten years at Hogwarts -- might have killed you both -- lucky not to be expelled -- "
At least, Harry thought, it was probably a good sign that Snape was talking about not expelling them.
They stopped in front of the History of Magic classroom, and Snape threw the door open, leaving Harry outside while he stepped in.
"Professor Binns, I wonder if I might borrow Flint and Bole," he said, and Binns waved the two boys on. Snape shut the door behind them, and the two bewildered fifth-years stared at Harry, who realised he probably looked even more windblown and disheveled than usual.
"Bole, you're fired," Snape said, without preamble. For some inexplicable reason, Bole looked relieved. "Please inform Stimpson you are to replace him as Beater, and he can find something else to do, preferably something which requires little movement and no skill."
As Bole left, apparently to track down Stimpson immediately, Snape turned to Marcus Flint, who was now eyeing Harry with more shrewdness than Harry was accustomed to seeing from him. Snape's hand thrust Harry forward, towards Flint.
"Potter will be your Seeker," Snape said bluntly. Harry nearly swallowed his tongue.
"Is he any good, or just a golden boy?" Flint asked. Snape looked as though he'd like to slap the Quidditch Captain.
"Slytherin plays to win. I would not handicap you with an idiot, if I had another choice," Snape growled. "The boy did a dive from Gryffindor Tower and caught this -- " he held up the Remembrall, " -- at the bottom of it."
"He's built for it," Flint allowed. Harry, through a haze of surprise, decided mildly that this might not be a compliment, but Snape's words drowned out most rational thought -- Potter will be your Seeker. "He'll need a decent broom -- "
"I've got one," Harry blurted. Both of them stared at him. "My godfather..."
"Black," Snape said, almost resignedly. "Breaking the rules as usual. What is it then? A Cleansweep of some kind?"
"A Nimbus Two Thousand," Harry said shyly. Flint goggled at him.
"With a broomstick like that he doesn't need talent," he said.
"Thanks," Harry managed, scowling.
"I want him ready to win at the first game," Snape said to Flint, ignoring Harry for the moment. "If you need special accomodation, notify me at once."
Flint's smile turned slightly predatory at that, but he nodded.
"Back to class with you," Snape said, and Flint ducked back into the classroom. Snape and Harry stood there, both slightly breathless, for a moment.
"Professor," Harry said finally.
"What is it?"
"Are you going to punish Malfoy?"
"What did you mean when you told him to thank his surname?" Harry pressed.
"You are to practice hard," Snape replied. "Don't think because you're about to become the youngest Quidditch player in a century that you can slack off. You'll be playing against larger, faster, and quite possibly smarter opponents."
Harry realised he wasn't going to get an answer, so instead he settled for "Yes, sir."
"You've been spared a punishment. I'd appreciate it if you didn't noise the fact about. Tell Mr. Malfoy to do the same."
"Go find him, now," Snape continued. "Flint will notify you about your first practice session."
And he walked off, towards the stairs that would lead to the dungeon, just as classes began to let out all over the castle. Harry stood in the hallway, bumped and buffeted by the crowds, before dashing off towards the Great Hall, to find Draco and share the good news.
Thank you for your letter yesterday and the spare quill Remus sent, I don't know how I lose them so quick. I think Nevilles been nicking them off of me. Tell Remus hi and that I'm writing a letter to him next so he shouldn't feel left out, but this news could not wait and I am very glad Hedwig is here because she fly's a lot faster than the school owls and I'm not allowed to go to the postoffice in Hogsmeade.
This afternoon I had quite a grand adventure and you will never guess whats happened...
Sirius ducked as a letter came flying at his head in the middle of the crowded restaurant, and an exausted Hedwig landed on the white-linen-covered table, flapping a little and immediately wandering over to Remus' soup. Andromeda nearly spilled her wine.
"Goodness," she said. "What's Hedwig doing delivering mail here?"
Sirius plucked the letter off of his steak, and turned it over in his hands. "Harry must have told her it was important."
"It's his second week of school; if it's not from Hogwarts itself how important can it be?" Remus asked, sighing and pushing his soup towards Hedwig.
"It's not very good soup," Nymphadora told the owl, who hooted and continued to worry a bit of cooked chicken she'd found in the bowl.
"You know kids," Sirius said. "Everything's life-and-death when you're eleven."
"Excuse me, sir..." said a waiter, hesitantly. "We don't allow owls in the establishment..."
"Of course, I'll just send her home -- " Remus lifted Hedwig off the tablecloth and she took the hint, ruffling her feathers in annoyance and flapping off out of the restaurant again, through the wide, open windows that looked onto Sosi Alley, the dining district above Knockturn Alley and Gringotts Bank.
The other patrons were staring.
"Everything all right?" Ted asked, worriedly, as Sirius' face drained of colour. He was gripping the letter and reading intently, but he didn't look upset; if anything, he looked jubilant. After a second read, he folded it slowly, and tucked it -- steak-juice stain and all -- into his pocket. He signaled the waiter.
"Champagne, please," he said. "Quickly."
"Sirius, stop indulging in melodrama," Remus ordered.
"Wait for it," Sirius answered, with a vague grin in Remus' direction.
"He's gone bats," Nymphadora whispered, to her father.
"He's been bats," Andromeda answered.
"Quiet," Sirius said, as the champagne arrived. He poured five glasses, then held his up.
"To my godson," he said with a grin, "The new Slytherin House Team Seeker."
Nymphadora grinned gleefully and lifted her glass; Andromeda and Ted followed with theirs a second later, but Remus just sat and stared.
"Seeker?" he demanded. Sirius drained his glass and grinned. "Harry's a Seeker? For the House team?"
"Says so in his letter. Says Snape appointed him himself. I told you the boy was a natural! I told you that broomstick'd be a good investment!" Sirius said jubilantly.
"He's a first-year," Ted put in. "How on earth did he get on the Quidditch team?"
"He's my godson," Sirius said, proudly. "Of course he made the team."
"But he's a Slytherin!" Nymphadora observed. "Does this mean we have to start rooting for Slytherin to win games?"
"Oh dear," Remus murmured.
"We won't worry about who he's playing for right now," Sirius declared. "Come on then -- " he filled his glass again. "To Harry!"
This time they all lifted their glasses in unison. "To Harry!"
Sirius took the letter out and passed it to Remus, who read it and smiled. "Good for him," he said warmly, now that the shock had passed. "He can catch a Snitch and fly a broomstick, even if he hasn't yet mastered apostrophes."
"I'm having that letter bloody framed," Sirius answered. "Look, Andromeda, see right here. Professor Snape says I'm the youngest Quidditch Player in a century and Padma says hes right, so I shall probably get tossed about quite a bit because all the other Seekers are much bigger than I am, but I'm not afraid of a few bruises."
"Good for him," Nymphadora said.
"He's going to get killed," Remus added. "He'll probably enjoy it though." He paused for a minute. "James always did."
"The bigger the bruise, the better the fame," Sirius replied. "I remember."
"I wonder what Severus thinks of James Potter's son playing for Slytherin," Andromeda mused.
"They're bloody lucky to have him, that's what he'd better be thinking," Sirius retorted. He gestured for another bottle of champagne. "But we are not going to think about rooting for Slytherin tonight. Tonight," he said, gesturing for the waiter to pour this time, "we are going to celebrate!"
"Remind me to pick up some Pepper Up on the way home," Remus murmured to Nymphadora, who grinned at him.
"You'll need it when I show him the Slytherin pennant I'm going to give you two," she agreed, and Remus laughed.
By the time they reached the Portkey-doorway to Tonks&Tonks, Remus was half-carrying Sirius on his shoulder, and Andromeda's cheeks were cheerfully pink; Sirius and Ted were animatedly reliving the Quidditch matches of their youth, and Nymphadora had nipped down to the late-night grocers to pick up some Pepper-Up, a handful of Sickles pressed into her hands by a relatively-sober Remus.
Irene, Andromeda's assistant, was just locking up, and she grinned and stood aside to let them enter, as Dora scurried back, waving the packet cheerfully. She led the way inside, and clattered up the stairs to deposit her purchase in the kitchen. Andromeda and Ted followed more sedately, and they could hear Irene locking the door after them, and her footsteps down the pavement. Just before Remus reached the staircase, Sirius skewed ahead of him and wrapped one arm around his waist, beaming.
"Hiya Moony," he said, and kissed Remus' nose. Remus wrinkled it and rubbed at the tickling sensation; Sirius hadn't shaved before dinner, and his chin and cheeks were rough. "Hey!"
"Hey what?" Remus asked, the champagne affecting him just enough to stop him caring that they were necking at the bottom of the stairs."Nothing," Sirius answered, and kissed him thoroughly. Remus tasted champagne, and kissed back; when it ended, Sirius pulled him a little closer, hands straying lower on his back, and Remus realised if they weren't careful they were going to end up performing indecent acts in the stairwell. He glanced sideways, and saw Andromeda watching them from the stairs, a small smile on her face.
"All right, Andromeda?" he asked softly, and she coloured a little more. Sirius glanced up, grinned, and nuzzled Remus' cheek. Andromeda descended the stairs, and kissed Sirius on the forehead.
"You can know a thing," she said, "and never really know what you're going to think of it until you see it."
Remus, unsure, held Sirius' head against his neck, and smiled faintly.
"I'm glad you make him happy," she said.
"Me too," Remus answered.
"What're you going on about then?" Sirius demanded, into his throat.
"Nothing, Sirius," Andromeda said, turning to go. "Come upstairs, before you make a spectacle of yourself."
"Wasn't making a spectacle," Sirius said.
"Sirius, you've got your hand -- " Remus began, hoping Andromeda hadn't seen that.
"Oh." Sirius looked sheepish, then -- in a nearly unparalleled feat -- transmuted it into a wicked grin. "Shall we continue making a spectacle upstairs?"
Harry nearly fell asleep in Potions, the next day; between the excitement of his first flight in two years, making Quidditch team, and anticipation of Sirius' return letter, he couldn't get to sleep the night before. Eventually he had begun to listen for the sounds of sleep from the other boys, and when he was sure they wouldn't notice, he crept out of bed and opened his trunk.
His Nimbus Two Thousand lay in its special hidden compartment, and he lifted it out as quietly as possible; he wondered if he'd still be able to fly when he wasn't chasing furiously after Draco. Hesitantly, he laid it on the ground and whispered "up!" as loudly as he dared. It sprang up into his hand, solidly, much less skittish than the old school broom.
Oh, it was beautiful. Almost too beautiful to ride.
He carefully climbed onto the broom and tugged gently; it responded easily, lifting him up off the floor of the dormitory, and drifting him gently towards the window high in the wall, which let out barely a foot above ground level, and was just wide enough for a thin eleven-year-old to fit through. He unlatched it, hands shaking in the moonlight -- it would be Full Moon soon, and he'd send Remus a nice long letter for him to read while he recuperated.
Once he'd squeezed through the window, the broom seemed to sense somehow that they were free; he rose quickly, the chest-constricting fear of this afternoon banished in the feel of the wind blowing through his disordered hair.
He'd spent hours flying, learning the feel of the broomstick, how to pick up or drop speed, how to do simple tricks like loop-de-loops and a barrel roll that made his glasses fall off; he dove, squinting, catching just a hint of light reflected in the lenses, and grabbed them instinctively. He hadn't come half as close to the ground as he had with the Remembrall, he saw, when he put them back on. The Nimbus had superior speed, superior handling...it was, simply, superior.
He didn't return to the Slytherin dormitory until the sun was peeking over the horizon, and he'd barely managed to get the broomstick into its compartment again before he fell into bed for an hour or two. In Potions, Neville had to keep poking him to keep him awake, but they did manage not to melt any cauldrons, and Professor Snape didn't seem to notice Harry dozing off with his chin on his hand. If he did, he didn't comment.
At lunch, while he tried not to fall asleep into his sandwich, he got good-natured jibes from the Weasley twins about hitting bludgers his way, and not-so-good-natured glares from some of the Slytherin team, who clearly didn't think he was up to it. Still, Harry wasn't afraid, and just after lunch Hedwig flapped into the Great Hall with a jubilant letter from Sirius, congratulating him with a proud tone even Harry couldn't dismiss. He wondered how Sirius and Remus were going to take to rooting for Slytherin, and he was sure Remus was wondering too, though Sirius sounded too swept up in the excitement to consider it.
At the High Table, he saw Professor Snape looking...well, if he was to be honest, rather smug. Professor McGonagall looked downright murderous; but then Harry knew Gryffindor had been after the Quidditch Cup for years, and Slytherin was their main competition. Surely he alone couldn't annoy her so much, though; she had no idea if he was any good, or any sort of competition for the new Gryffindor Seeker, tapped just this year.
Harry had the sudden presentiment that, while Quidditch could be the best time of his life, it was also about to make said life infinitely more difficult.