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Innocent by MarauderLover7
Chapter 1 : The Prisoner
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 14


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"Is that seat taken?” Sirius Black asked.

“No,” said a scrawny boy with messy, black hair said. “You can sit down if you like.”

“Thank you,” Sirius said, sitting.

“You’re welcome,” said the sandy-haired boy by the window. He turned and gave Sirius a half-smile and then quickly went back to staring at the platform.

“You’re Black, aren’t you?” the black haired boy said.

Sirius sighed but didn’t deny it. “I’m Sirius,” he said, picking at his robes.

“James,” James Potter said, grinning. He held out his hand and Sirius shook it. “That’s Remus-” Remus – the boy by the window - turned again and gave Sirius a real smile this time and shyly offered his hand. Sirius shook it, smiling back. “-and we don’t know her name.” Sirius turned noticing the other occupant of the compartment for the first time. It was a girl with bright red hair, green eyes and a miserable, teary expression.

She sniffled what could have been a greeting or what could have been nothing at all and Sirius nodded in her general direction before he turned back toward James and Remus.

Remus had produced a battered copy of The Standard Book of Spells and was now reading it with a fascinated expression. James peered over at the page and wrinkled his nose. “Urgh. Curse of the Bogies,” he said with a delicate shudder.

“Curse of the what?” Sirius asked, eyes wide.

James poked Remus. “Hey, Remmy, show Sirius.”

Remus looked up, startled. “Pardon?” James tugged the book out of the other boy’s hands and passed it to Sirius who made a face at the gruesome picture and pushed it away. James gave the heavy tome back to Remus with a grin.

Sirius watched their casual interaction with a twinge of jealousy. The only friends he’d ever had were his awful cousins and the spoilt pureblood children his parents forced him to be nice to when their social circle got together. The compartment door slid open to admit a gangly boy with greasy hair. Sirius opened his mouth to say hello but the boy went straight to the crying girl as if she was the only one there. Feeling lonelier than ever, Sirius made a face and turned back to James and Remus. “How long have you two known each other?”

“About ten minutes,” James said, shrugging. Sirius felt marginally better.

Remus marked his page and glanced at his watch. “Twelve minutes, actually.”

James laughed. “Fine. We’ll call it eleven.”

“I’m telling you it’s twelve,” Remus said.

“Eleven,” James sang, lying down on his seat. The crying girl and her friend gave him an annoyed look and shifted over to make room for his feet.

Sirius grinned. “I’d be listening to – Remus, was it? – he’s got a watch.” He and the sandy haired boy shared a grin.

“Fine,” James said, making a face at the ceiling of the compartment. “Twelve minutes.”

“Thirteen, now actually,” Remus corrected, looking apologetic.

James groaned and then perked up. “Slytherin?” he said in response to something the Snape boy had said. “Who’d want to be in Slytherin?” he asked sitting up. “I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?”

Sirius saw Remus swallow and look away. His own smile faded. “My whole family have been in Slytherin,” he said. And he would be too; it was expected, regardless of what he wanted.

“Blimey. And I thought you seemed all right!” James said, without the slightest malicious inflection in his tone.

Sirius found himself grinning and he could see Remus’ mouth twitching. There was just something about James, something about his casual, friendly manner that was contagious. “Maybe I’ll break the tradition. Where are you headed if you get the choice?”

James lifted an invisible sword-

-and toppled off his seat, dead, his face suddenly ten years older. Beside him lay Lily, unmoving, her green eyes staring without seeing. Remus turned to Sirius, hatred etched onto his pale, suddenly twenty-one-year old face. “It wasn’t me!” Sirius shouted. “No, Moony, I wouldn’t! I didn’t kill them! I’m innocent, I swear!”

Sirius Black’s eyes snapped open and he sat up, panting. “I swear,” he whispered, fully awake now. A feeling of loss crept over him as it did whenever he thought of James and Lily. He doubted he’d ever get over their deaths but he thought, in time, he could at least accept it if the Dementors would leave him alone, if they would stop reminding him of the emptiness that resided in the place where his heart had used to be.

He got to his feet ignoring the wasted feelings in his arms and legs. He tried to exercise as much as possible; when he wasn’t sleeping, he was pacing. His cell was seven strides from one wall to the other and he knew every dull, grey brick, every rust spot on his iron barred doors and every speck of dirt or dust that covered the ground. “Innocent,” he muttered as he walked.

The woman in the cell opposite his cackled, pressing her gaunt face up against her cell bars. Sirius paused to give her a pitying look – she’d only been there a month and was already insane – and then turned and strode back the other way.

On the seventh trip up his cell, he paused to pick up his sharp rock and used it to etch another small line into the wall behind him. There were two-thousand, six-hundred and fifty-one – now fifty-two – marks on the wall.

The human guards thought he was mad – after all, he’d been imprisoned exactly two-thousand, six-hundred and fifty days – and though they’d tried, they hadn’t yet been successful in figuring out what the extra two marks represented. If they’d asked, Sirius would have told them the marks were a record of the number of days that he and James and Lily had been apart, but they hadn’t asked and Sirius had been left to dwell on his memorial to the two best people he’d ever known in solitude.

“Or at least a semblance of solitude,” he muttered as the woman in the cell opposite his squealed and swatted at an invisible insect; real insects tended to stay clear of Azkaban. Her shouting got louder as she smacked her arms – presumably the ‘insects’ were landing on her – and then began to scratch herself. Her arms, her legs, even her cheeks were red and raw by the time she came to her senses. She pressed her palm to her shin and it came away red. She screamed.

Sirius shuddered and forced himself to keep pacing, though it did little to block out the noise; her shrieking was getting other prisoners worked up. Aside from the guards, the lack of warmth and the fact that he shouldn’t be there in the first place, the inconsistency was one of the things Sirius hated most about Azkaban; one moment, things were quiet, the next, what seemed like every prisoner on the island was screeching or talking to themselves. Sirius covered his ears – stone and not much else made for one hell of an echo – but he was still able to sense footsteps.

“Found her!” a dark-skinned guard called, skidding to a halt with his back to Sirius’ cell. “Merlin, would you look at the mess she’s made?”

His partner arrived a moment later and pocketed his wand, staring at the bleeding woman. He ran a hand through his straw coloured hair. “Doesn’t Parkinson usually give her a potion or something?”

The first guard swore. “He does. It’s on my desk in the guardroom.”

“Reckon we need it?”

“Nah. She’s mad anyway.”

Both guards stared at the woman. “Godric, they creep me out.”

“I’m terribly sorry. We prisoners do try to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible,” Sirius said dryly. His voice cracked from lack of use, but he still thought he sounded witty enough. Both guards jumped.

“Don’t get smart with me, Black,” the blond one said, jabbing a finger in Sirius’ direction.

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Sirius began to pace again.

“Mental, the lot of them,” the other muttered. “Stop your pacing, Black. You’re getting everyone worked up.”

Sirius snorted as he walked. “It’s not me. It’s her-” He nodded toward the bleeding woman who was now rocking back and forward. “-the prisoners can smell the blood.”

“Good Godric I hate this place,” the blond said with a shudder.

“Me too,” Sirius muttered.

“That’s enough out of you,” the blond guard snapped. “Get a Dementor, would you, Jordan? I think Black’s forgotten his place.” Sirius retreated to the back corner of his cell as one of the guards disappeared. “Not so brave now, are you?”

Sirius glared at him. “I happen to like my soul where it is.”

“Well, aren’t you a funny one,” said the guard, who Sirius hated more and more with each passing second.

“Not as funny as I used to be,” Sirius croaked, tracing one of the lines on his wall with a wasted finger.

“That cell,” said the other guard, who had returned with a Dementor behind him. “Black.” The hooded figure glided forward, wrapping one of its skeletal hands around the iron bars of Sirius’ cell.

Sirius shivered, reaching for his threadbare blanket. Flashes of that night, the night his world ended, danced before his eyes. James, glasses askew and face forever frozen in shock, Lily, pale and still, with tears not yet dry on her cheeks, Harry, crying, his little face stained with blood, Hagrid, sobbing as he patted Sirius’ shoulder and took away the first of the only two people Sirius had left, and though he’d never seen it, Remus, sobbing in an office that resembled Dumbledore’s when he heard what had happened... And then his memory fogged over, leaving him with that familiar empty feeling and making him wonder if they were ever real at all. If they’d ever existed, or if they’d just been a dream. “Innocent,” he whispered. “I’m innocent.” You killed them. “No... no!”

He focused on Peter’s face, the one face that would never fade from his memory, and with Peter came everything else; Lily and James – who was holding Harry – surrounded by tendrils of pale silvery magic as Peter’s shrill voice promised to keep them safe, that sick feeling he’d had as he left Remus’ house to check on Peter, the little smile on Peter’s face as he blew up the street and the panic he’d felt when he almost hadn’t got his Shield Charm up in time. “I’m innocent,” he growled.

He opened his eyes and sat up, unable to recall closing them, or lying down. The guards were still there, watching him through the bars with identical, revolted expressions. The Dementor, though, appeared to have lost interest in him and floated toward the woman’s cell. Her whimpers ceased and she crawled forward, reaching out to it with red-stained hands. Sirius felt the temperature drop and knew what was going to happen before it did. He looked away, swallowing bile as the Dementor drew in a rattling breath.

The guards yelled out and spun, but they weren’t quick enough; the woman collapsed to the floor of her cell, a blank expression on her face. “Get back to your post,” the blond guard snarled, giving the Dementor a vicious prod with his wand. The darker guard, who was retching a little ways down shivered at it glided past and, once he could stand upright again, fished around in his pocket and produced a Chocolate Frog. Sirius stared with longing as the guard stuffed it into his mouth.

“This never would have happened if Parkinson was here,” he said, wiping his mouth. The smell clinging to his robes made Sirius wrinkle his nose.

“So you’re saying this is my fault?”

“You did forget her potion.”

The other guard let loose with a string of swear words and then unlocked the woman’s cell. “Put her on her bed,” he told his comrade.

“I don’t think anyone deserves this,” the darker guard said shakily, hoisting the woman into a sitting position.

“I don’t think I deserve the paperwork that’s going to come from this!” the other said angrily. Sirius was dying to hit him; a woman had been Kissed and the bastard was worried about paperwork?! “So where is Parkinson today?”

“I heard he was having one of the Malfoy brats over for lunch. Lucky bastard-”

“Lucky? Those little beasts are a handful-”

“No, not that. I pity any bloke who has to make small talk with Lucius Malfoy’s spawn. I just meant he’s lucky ‘cause he gets off work.” The woman keeled over with a quiet moan.

“Bloody buggering- help me, would you?” The two guards grabbed an arm each and lifted the woman over to her poor excuse for a bed; it was a pile of ragged blankets and a mouldy pillow. “I don’t reckon it’s worth it – Parkinson getting off work, I mean,” said the blond guard as he wiped his hands on his robes. “Which kid’s he entertaining?”

Sirius found himself listening raptly. He didn’t get news about the outside world very often. He could probably count on one hand the number of conversations he’d overheard in Azkaban, and so far, this was most interesting since he'd heard about Alice and Frank, because he actually knew who they were talking about; his cousin Narcissa had married the Malfoy heir and it seemed Lucius was just as big a git now as he had been two-thousand, six-hundred and fifty-seven days or so ago, when Sirius had last seen him.

“The older one. Hyde or something.” The name stirred something in Sirius’ memory. He had a vague recollection of a Daily Prophet report about a year before Harry was born, about his cousin almost miscarrying her first-born son.

“Ah, yes. Lucius Malfoy’s miracle child. The other Boy-Who-Lived.”

“No, he should be The-Boy-Who-Lived,” said the dark-haired guard. “Potter came after.”

“Potter?” Sirius asked, perking up at the familiar name.

The guards gave him smug looks as they exited the cell opposite his. “The boy who destroyed your master, Black. Didn’t you ever hear what happened?”

“Of course I heard,” Sirius said, retreating back into his corner. “I just didn’t realise he had such a ridiculous nickname. ‘Boy-Who-Lived’. James and I used to call him ‘Dark Lord’s Downfall’.” Sirius shut his mouth then, before he could let anything about the prophecy slip.

“You’ve got some nerve,” the blond guard spat. “Talking about them.” Sirius wiped spittle off his cheek and turned to face the wall, tracing the lines again. Godric he missed them. The guard laughed. “That shut him up.”

“He has a point, though,” the second guard said. “Maybe someone should give Potter a new nickname.”

“Why?”

“Cause now there’ll be two Boys-Who-Lived at Hogwarts, in the same year, no less.”

The other laughed. “A Potter and two Malfoys... and there’ll probably be a Weasley or two... the school isn’t going to know what hit them!”

They both laughed at the joke – which really wasn’t that funny in Sirius’ opinion – and then the darker guard spoke up. “Come on. If we’ve got any hope of getting home at a decent hour we’d better start on that damned paperwork.”

The blond guard slumped, following his companion out of Sirius’ line of sight.

*                     *                    *

Sirius slept fretfully that night, if he slept at all; it was often hard to tell in Azkaban.

He dreamed that a boy, a boy who looked just as James had at eleven - messy hair and all - came to stand outside his cell while he slept. In the dream, Sirius woke and the boy looked at him with disappointed eyes - which were flickering between James’ hazel and Lily’s green - as he ran a finger over the bars of the cell. “You’ve failed me,” he said, scratching at a piece of rust.

“No,” Sirius said. Damn those bloody guards for talking about James and Harry. “No, please!”

“Failed,” the boy, who could have been James or his godson – and frankly, Sirius didn’t know which scared him more – repeated. And then, he turned and walked away.

Sirius didn’t think; he leapt to his feet, determined to follow, no matter the cost. He transformed into Padfoot and stuck his head through the bars of his cell. The boy vanished around a corner. He whined and wriggled his body through the bars. Wait! he thought as orange flakes of rust were prised off the bars and fluttered to the ground like snow or embedded themselves in his shaggy fur. He changed back on the outside and looked around for the boy. “Wait!” he shouted again.

“It’s too late for that,” he heard.

“No, damn you! Wait!” Sirius shouted. He forced his wasted muscles to move and after his eighth step, a small part of his mind noted – even if he was dreaming - it was the furthest he’d walked in a straight line in seven years.

“Failed...”

“Wait!”

Sirius woke up with a yell. He was standing waist deep in cold, salty water. “What the fuck?” He stared at his sopping clothes and, after employing more of his favourite swear words, clambered back onto the rocky ground where he collapsed, shivering.

All right, he told his racing mind. All right, so I had a dream, where I broke out of my cell as a dog and then I wake up and I’m out and just about ready to swim back to shore. Either I’m free, or I’ve lost my mind. He found himself leaning toward the latter, but that didn’t explain why his thoughts were clearer than they had been in years or why he was wet... So I’m free then...

“How the fuck did that happen?” he asked the overcast sky. It disdained to answer. Sirius scowled and then decided he didn’t care. What mattered was that he was free. And that he wasn’t going back to his cell. Ever. Partially because he doubted he’d be able to find it again, and partially because he didn’t want to find it again. I need to get off the island somehow...

Wand, was his next coherent thought. Before I can do anything, I need a wand. My wand. And he knew how to get it.

One of the most strictly enforced Wizarding Laws stated that a wand – being an incredibly powerful and, at times, volatile, magical object – once in the custody of an Auror or Hit-Wizard, could not be destroyed without a court order. Another curious fact about this particular law was that it was not public knowledge. Only those who had been trained in either Wizarding Law or Wizarding Law Enforcement were supposed to know, because it was such an effective threat.

When Sirius graduated from Hogwarts, he and James had joined the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, where they studied for a year and a half to become Aurors. Usually, it took three years to get through the rigorous Auror Training Program, but with help from Mad-Eye, a lot of sleepless nights and the fact that the Wizarding world was at war and the Ministry needed everyone available to be fighting, Sirius – along with James – had been able to do it in half the time.

Because of this training, it just so happened that Sirius knew of the laws regarding wand-snapping, and because of an arsehole named Bartemius Crouch, is just so happened that Sirius filled the requirements; he had been denied any form of trial and whisked off to Azkaban by the next available Portkey, which meant his wand should have been filed away in the prison guardroom with the short-term prisoners’ belongings...

Without conscious thought – he suspected it was very much a survival instinct by this point – Sirius transformed. A few minutes later, at the entrance to Azkaban’s guardroom, a huge, black, bear-like dog that was thin to the point of emaciation, slipped past a pair of Dementors.

Another ten minutes saw Sirius back down on the rocky beach, pocketing a thin wooden stick and a small mirror that he had had in his pocket when he was arrested. He’d already tried to call James with it and he’d seen a glimpse of James’ smiling face before it became too much and he ended the connection.

He hadn’t bothered trying to Apparate; there would likely be wards against it, and even if there weren’t, his mind wasn’t focused enough for him to do it without Splinching himself. Looks like I’m swimming after all, he thought grimly as he transformed back into Padfoot. It really wasn’t that far – he could see land from where he was - but the water was rough and there was so much of it, and it was so open...

He shook himself. Seven years. Seven years, he’d spent, locked up for a crime he hadn’t committed. In fact, he’d probably done enough time in prison to compensate for every bad thing he’d ever done, thought about doing, or would do in the future. While he wouldn’t have ever broken out on his own, there was no way he’d willingly go back to life in that hell-hole when freedom was so close.

There hadn’t been much point in him escaping before now, or even trying to; Peter was probably cowering under a rock somewhere where Sirius would never find him, or he would be as soon as he heard that he’d broken out, Harry – who Hagrid had said was going to Lily’s sister Petunia – was probably counting down the years he had left until he could go to Hogwarts, and Remus... since he hadn’t visited or made any attempts to contact Sirius, probably didn’t know that Peter was the traitor and, Sirius guessed, would have spent the last seven years mourning Lily, James and the rat and dwelling on his hatred for Sirius.

I’ll have to find them, Sirius thought. Harry, to see if he’s happy, Peter, to prove I’m innocent and once I’ve done that I can find Moony, to explain everything, to apologise... And that’s not going to happen if I don’t get my arse off this bloody rock.

Sirius took a deep breath and waded out into the murky water.

*                    *                    *

“Mrs Peterson!”

“What, Dudley?”

“Harry’s copying my worksheet!”

Mrs Patricia Peterson had been a teacher at St Grogory’s Primary School for seventeen years. Since eleven of these years had been spent in the same classroom teaching Year Four children, it was safe to say Mrs Peterson had seen her fair share of eight-and-nine-year-olds. She had thought herself well-equipped to deal with any child. And then she had met Harry Potter.

“Potter, are you copying your cousin’s worksheet?”

“No, Mrs Peterson,” the boy said quietly.

“Don’t lie,” Dudley told his cousin.

“Says you,” Potter muttered. Mrs Peterson couldn’t for the life of her remember when she’d started addressing the boy as ‘Potter’ instead of ‘Harry’. She supposed she had picked it up from the rest of the class and, since it didn’t seem to make a difference to the boy, she hadn’t bothered to correct herself.

“Mrs Peterson!” Dudley wailed, scrunching up his round face.

“That’s enough!” Mrs Peterson gave Linda back her worksheet and walked over to the boys’ desk. “Dudley, you don’t need to keep shouting at me because I was already listening and, Potter, I’ve told you I won’t tolerate lying in my classroom.” Some of the other students sniggered as Potter flushed.

“I’m not lying, Mrs Peterson,” he said, staring up at her with those big, bespectacled green eyes.

How a child could look so pitiful while being such a monster was beyond her, but somehow, Potter pulled it off. He was unnaturally polite, which she didn’t buy for a moment; the boy was probably trying to win her over as he had won Mrs Baddams last year. “Worksheet,” she said briskly, holding out her hand.

He passed it over without a word. She checked it, noting the lack of working out and passed it back. “Detention today at lunch,” she said. Dudley sniggered. Potter, if it was possible, looked relieved and nodded.

“Dudley, worksheet,” she said. He passed it to her and found the answers the same as the Potter boy’s had been, also with no working out. “Excellent work as usual. Yes, Katrina?” She saw Potter’s hand tighten around his pencil as she walked away.

She gave them five more minutes to work on their maths problems. “You can do the rest for homework,” she told the class. “Now, who’s going to write the best story?” Everyone looked at Katrina, who blushed and ducked her pig-tailed head. “You have one hour to write and the topic is... wishes. Get started.” She retreated to her desk as pencils started scratching on desk-tops.

Mrs Peterson watched her class with a warm smile. Felicity would no doubt write something about horses, Malcolm was fond of stories about football stars, while Linda like dancers and Hannah liked cats. She was almost excited to read their stories; under her careful eye, the quality of her students’ writing had improved significantly and the absence of bothersome spelling and grammatical errors made reading their work almost enjoyable.

Mrs Peterson watched them all for a moment longer- smiling at the way Gordon pulled a face every time he had to erase something and the way Hannah sighed and rubbed graphite off her left hand every so often – before she pulled her copy of Oliver Twist out of her desk drawer. It was one of her favourite books, though, as a teacher, it broke her heart to see Oliver – even if he was just a character – living in such horrible conditions; little food, no family and forced into what could only be described as slavery... it made her cry every time.

“Mrs Peterson?”

“Hmm? Oh, yes, Gordon?”

“It’s past an hour,” the boy said, sucking on the end of his pencil. She became aware that most of the class had put their pencils down and were watching her. Potter, at the back of the classroom, was the only one not looking in her direction. He was reading his story with a funny expression she couldn’t quite place.

“So it has,” she said marking the page. “I expect good things from these,” she said as she collected them, “since I gave you an extra fifteen minutes. Thank you, dear. If you’ve given me your story, you can go to lunch.” With a collective whoop, her class charged out, leaving Potter sitting in his chair. “Story,” she said holding out an impatient hand.

“What would you like me to do?” he asked.

“Lines today,” she said with a sigh as she straightened the pile of stories. “‘I will not copy other people’s work’. Twenty times should do it and then you can go to lunch.”

“Yes, Mrs Peterson,” Potter said, tearing sheet of paper out of his workbook.

Odd that he never argues... I suppose he knows it wouldn’t work, or perhaps he knows he deserves it... She sat back down at her desk and pulled Potter’s story towards her.

Once, there was a boy called James, Potter had written. James lives with his mum and dad. Every morning James wakes up in his bedroom and goes to the kitchen where his mum gives him breakfast. His dad drives him to school and after school his mum and dad take him to the park. After they get home from the park, they help James with his homework. Every night, James’ mum makes dinner and it tastes good. Sometimes James helps because he wants to, not because he has to. They all eat at the table together and sometimes James has second helpings. At night, they tell stories and they tuck James into his bed and tell him they love him. James tells them he loves them back and then he goes to sleep. If he has a bad dream, he gets to tell them about it and sleep in their bed until he feels better. James doesn’t need to wish for anything because he already has everything.

“Potter.”

“Yes, Mrs Peterson?” Potter put his pencil down and looked up.

“You don’t need to call me Mrs Peterson every time we talk,” she said irritably. “We’ve discussed this.”

“Sorry, Mrs Peterson- I mean, sorry.”

“Apology accepted. Come over here, please. I’d like to talk to you about your story.”

“My-my story?”

“Yes, now, aside from the fact that I gave you an hour and you’ve barely written a paragraph, you haven’t stuck to the topic. What did I say you had to write about?”

“Wishes, Mrs Peterson.” So he had been listening.

“Yes, and what did you write about?”

“Wishes coming true.”

“No, Potter, you didn’t.” Potter opened his mouth to say something and then closed it again. “You wrote about things that happen every day, when I wanted you to write about something you wish could happen.” Potter had the audacity to look confused. “Things that don’t happen all the time,” she said, trying to get him to understand.

Potter frowned. “But I don’t get to spend time with my parents.”

“Why not?” She knew the boy lived with his Aunt and Uncle but had always thought it was because his parents were incapable of looking after him. Mrs Peterson had heard a rumour that the father was a drunk and the mother unfaithful, a woman who wouldn’t know what real love looked like if it invited itself to tea. It would certainly explain why Potter had turned out the way he had.

“They're dead.”

She felt a twinge of pity for the boy she didn’t particularly like. “Is that what you meant?” He nodded. “Well, I suppose that counts but the rest of the story is just about your life with your Aunt and Uncle. That’s not very creative.”

“You think it’s just like my life with-?” Potter seemed to realise he was talking out loud and stopped. “Right,” he said stiffly, his jaw clenched. “Should I write it again?”

“No, no.” Mrs Peterson swallowed, the phrase ‘If looks could kill’ running through her head as Potter glared and then walked stiffly back to his desk and sat down. “No. Another ten lines will do. ‘I will follow instructions’.” Potter picked up his pencil, which snapped in his hand. He looked up and jumped about a foot out of his seat, eyes wide.

“What are you looking at, Potter?”

“N-nothing,” he said, not looking at her. He picked up one of his pencil halves and started to write, though he sneaked furtive glances in her direction when he thought she wasn't looking.

Mrs Peterson was midway through Piers’ story about pirates when there was a knock on the classroom door. “Come in,” she said without looking up. She scribbled a comment on the story – Piers was a wonderfully imaginative boy, but he did tend to write about fighting quite a lot – and pulled another piece of work over.

“Hello, Patricia, do you still have my poetry antholo-?”

“Hello, Sue, no, I don’t,” Mrs Peterson said looking up from Emma’s story about becoming a princess. “Anne had it. Why are you staring?”

“Blue,” Sue said faintly. “Why is your hair blue?

“My hair?” Sue nodded. A horrible suspicion formed in Mrs Peterson’s mind. “Potter!” she screeched. “What did you do?!” Potter paled, staring at her with wide green eyes, but he didn’t answer. “I’ll have to write home about this,” she told him as Sue slipped out of the classroom, looking as if she was trying not to laugh. “Now, what did you do to my wig?!”

“I-I didn’t...” Potter stammered. “I didn’t touch your hai- er... wig, I swear.” But he didn’t look sure of that. In fact, e looked a little worried.

You did it you little monster, I know you did, she thought viciously. “I’m sending you home. You’re to give this report to your Aunt and I’ll be calling tonight to make sure you do.” Potter's expression was horrified.

She pulled a pen out of her tin and wrote, Dear Mrs Dursley,

I don’t know how or why it happened, but your nephew has somehow managed to turn my wig blue.

I have suspended him from this afternoon’s lessons as punishment – he will need to catch up in his own time.

I trust you to take any extra disciplinary action you deem necessary,

Yours Sincerely,

Patricia Peterson.

She folded the paper in half and stuffed it into an envelope which she addressed to Mrs Dursley. “Here,” she said, thrusting it at the now terrified Potter. “Take that home for your Aunt to read.”

“Y-yes, Mrs Peterson,” he stammered, placing the envelope into his schoolbag.

“And remember, I’ll be calling tonight to follow it up.” Potter nodded and fled.

Mrs Peterson had no way of knowing it would be the last time he ever passed under her classroom doorway.


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