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Chapter 5

                Mrs. Weasley was sitting next to Harry, watching him silently. He and Ginny had now been in their coma-like state for six days yet, earlier this morning, Harry had moved. It was slight but he had definitely moved his arm from his side to lie over his stomach. The Healers had taken this as a very good sign. Because he had stirred, Mrs. Weasley felt that if either of them woke, he would be the first. She was in the state of readjusting his sheets when the door burst open, banging off the wall from the excruciating force. Mrs. Weasley made out a sharp gasp, her heart pounding in her throat.

“Arthur, are you mad?” she cried.

Mr. Weasley barely heard her. “Molly, you won’t believe this! It’s incredible! Simply impossible!”

He was waving a copy of the Evening Prophet in his hand. He came over and displayed the front page to Mrs. Weasley who gasped. Her eyes widened to the size of goose eggs.

“Arthur! Oh, Arthur!”  She leapt out of her chair into his arms, hugging him tightly. “Is this true? Is this really true?”

Mr. Weasley nodded, a large smile spread broadly across his face. “It’s true, Molly. He’s at the Ministry. Do you want to see him?”

“Of course! But…what about…?”

Mr. Weasley glanced at Harry and Ginny. “They’ll be fine. Besides, we have to tell him what happened. He’ll want to know where Harry is.”

Mrs. Weasley nodded. “Alright. Let me get my coat.”

Mr. Weasley set down the Evening Prophet on Harry’s bedside table. After Mrs. Weasley’s coat was over her shoulders, the two quickly exited the building, practically running to the exit so they could disapparate to the Ministry.

Shortly after their departure, Harry’s eyes fluttered open. He glanced around him, confused. From the obvious look of the room he was in, he was at St. Mungo’s hospital. But how did he get here? The last thing he remembered was…

Panicking, he looked around until he spotted Ginny. Relief immediately washed over him. She looked perfectly healthy, asleep even. Her lips were a deep shade of red, her freckles standing out against her warm peach skin. Slipping on his glasses, Harry sat up, wondering what day it was. Noticing an Evening Prophet sitting on his bedside table, he picked it up and looked at the date.

Six days; it had been six whole days since they had been in that tomb. Harry thrust the paper away, not bothering to read any of it. He was incredibly hungry and his throat felt terribly parched. He slipped out of his bed, determined to see if Ginny was truly alright. He sat down, grasping her hand. It was warm. Harry actually laughed in relief. She was alive and she was fine.

Kissing every one of her fingers, Harry held her hand to his cheek, soothed by the warmth of her touch. In his heart, he thanked Sephtus for granting his request. Apparently the curse had transferred from her to him successfully. But what had actually happened? Harry felt perfectly normal. Had his physical appearance been altered? He glanced at a mirror hanging on the wall. His features were still the same.

Odd, he thought to himself. Something had to be different. Perhaps it was transfigured into a smaller curse, Harry supposed, since he couldn’t feel any differences. Whatever the case, the fact was Ginny was alive and whole, untainted by any horrible incantation.

Harry leaned forward and kissed her. He didn’t become aware that someone was standing in the doorway until he had broken away from her. As his eyes looked upon the figure in the doorway, a gasped leapt from his throat. His mind whirled. The person standing in front of him could only be a hallucination. The man was clothed in a midnight blue robe decorated with large silver crescent moons and stars. A large pointed hat of similar design rested on top of his flowing silver hair that was as equal in length with his beard, ending at the waist. Half moon spectacles rested against his crooked nose in front of a pair of twinkling blue eyes that always gave the impression that one was being x-rayed.

“Dumbledore?!” Harry gasped, weakly coming to his feet.

The smile Harry always knew climbed the old man’s face, causing the corners of his eyes to crinkle. “Hello, Harry. It’s good to see you again.”

Harry squeezed his eyes shut before opening them again. Dumbledore was still there. A horrible realization came over him. Sephtus hadn’t kept his end of the bargain. He and Ginny were dead. How else could he explain Dumbledore’s presence?

“I’m dead,” Harry said.

Dumbledore let out a hearty laugh. “On the contrary, my dear boy, you are very much alive. A fact that I am very pleased to hear by the way. Molly and Arthur told me that you and Ginny had been brought here unconscious. I must say I am thrilled to see you on your feet.”

Harry’s shock was too much; he sat down and put his head in his hands. “Explain,” he said loudly after taking a few deep breaths. “I saw you die, Professor. If I’m not dead, how are you here? This isn’t like what happened just a few months ago, is it? I don’t have to make the decision to board a train again, right?”

Dumbledore walked into the room and sat down on Harry’s now unoccupied bed. Placing a hand on Harry’s shoulder, he comfortingly said, “No, Harry, this isn’t like before. This is real. I would like to discuss what actually happened but I’d prefer to do so back in my office.”

“You mean your office back at Hogwarts?” Harry asked.

Dumbledore nodded. “Are you strong enough to travel?”

Harry flexed his fingers. He felt fine. “I think so. But, what about Ginny?”

Dumbledore glanced at the youngest Weasley. “She will be alright, Harry. Molly and Arthur are just about to come in. They have practically been living at the hospital for a week now. I’m sure they will look after her until you return.”

“Alright,” Harry said. “How are we getting to Hogwarts? Portkey?”

“Yes, I thought that would be best,” said Dumbledore. “Although, since I am no longer the Elder Wand’s true master, it hasn’t performed my spells completely.”

“I think I can fix that problem,” Harry said, taking the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s grip. “Now, all you have to do is take it back from me.”

Dumbledore sighed as he took the wand out of Harry’s outstretched hand. “Such a simple way of passing power from one individual to another; it’s terrible, isn’t it, Harry?”

Harry agreed. “Yes. But I think it has a certain fondness for you, Professor.”

Dumbledore chuckled as he waved the wand, successfully channeling his full power through it to create a portkey out of a simple, tarnished key. “I guess it does. Now then, let me leave a little note for Arthur and Molly explaining where it is you have disappeared to and then we can be on our way.”

Conjuring and leaving the note on Harry’s pillow, Dumbledore returned to Harry’s side and held out the key. The two touched its surface. Harry felt the familiar tug behind his naval as the portkey transported him immediately to Dumbledore’s office.

The portraits on the walls immediately began to clap. Exclaims of welcome were shouted as the frames occupants jumped from their seats, each trying to get a better look at Dumbledore. The old wizard waved his hand for quiet and addressed the room at large.

“It’s good to see all of you,” he greeted with a warm smile.

“I honestly can’t believe you’re still alive,” said Armando Dippet.

“Practically unheard of,” muttered another previous head.

Harry barely paid attention to them; he was busy staring at the canvas behind the Headmaster’s desk. Severus Snape sat in an elegant chair of deep green leather. His outfit was black with a little ounce of silver coming from various fastenings on the sleeves of his cloak. He noticed Harry staring at him and surprisingly sent him a very miniscule smile.

“I had wondered what became of you when your picture disappeared, Dumbledore,” Snape said, gaining Dumbledore’s attention.

“Severus,” the Headmaster greeted with warmth. “I am sorry to see you on this wall.”

Snape waved his hand lazily. “It was bound to happen so spare showing me any sympathy. To be honest, I’m not fond of having to sit in this office and listen to all the ridiculous excuses from delinquents that are given to the current Headmaster or Headmistress.” He stared pointedly at Harry. “I’m to assume that Potter is only here because he has once again landed himself into trouble.”

Harry scowled. Even though he now knew the truth about Snape, he did not miss his old professor’s taunts.

“Actually, Professor Dumbledore wanted to see me,” Harry clarified. “But it is good to see you, professor.”

Snape stiffened slightly. “Not a word to anyone, Potter. Do you hear me?”

Harry smirked. “Sorry, professor. I had to clear your name somehow.”

“You didn’t,” Snape muttered, horrified.

“Oh, he sure did,” cried Dumbledore happily. “I always thought people should know the good in you, Severus.”

Snape moaned. “No wonder Minerva was being so nice the last few months. I had thought she would have tried to curse my portrait off the wall. When did you spill the secret, Potter?”

“The same day I killed Voldemort, in this very room, actually,” Harry explained. “You were still asleep in your portrait.”

“Who did you tell?” Snape demanded.

“Professor McGonagall, the Weasleys, Hermione, Aberforth, and Kingsley Shacklebolt,” Harry answered. “I made them swear not to tell anyone else though, Professor, so your secret’s safe.”

Snape was obviously surprised that Harry hadn’t announced the truth to the entire wizarding world. He found himself asking, “Why didn’t you tell anyone else?”

Harry looked at him and then shrugged. “Not everyone needs to know that truth, Professor. Most of the Wizarding World was astonished when I proclaimed your innocence.”

“And how did you proclaim it without revealing that detail?” Snape asked.

“I told them that you and Dumbledore planned his death and that you were merely following his orders to the letter. I had to show one of the memories you gave me before the Wizengamot. You know; the one where you and Dumbledore actually had that discussion.”

Snape nodded looking slightly uncomfortable. “If you ever tell or show those things to anyone else, Potter– ”

“I’ll show them to anyone I feel needs to hear it,” said Harry calmly, “but there probably won’t be anyone that needs to see your memories. Maybe my fiancé, after we’re married, of course.”

 Snape stiffened. “Those are my memories, Potter!”

“And you willingly gave them to me before you died. You obviously trusted me then to take care of them.”

“I was dying! And you needed to know the truth,” Snape spat. “I never would have shown you any of them otherwise.”

“I understand that, Professor. Calm down; I’m not going to bruise your reputation, okay? They’ll remain a secret from everyone except my immediate family members.” Snape looked as if he was about to argue so Harry added, “It’s part of my history, Professor. My descendants have a right to know.”

Snape groaned. “It was a total mistake,” he mumbled, “giving those to you.”

Dumbledore chuckled. “Well, the deed is done, Severus. You’re dead so you can’t stop him.”

“Yes, but you’re alive, Dumbledore. You could,” Snape pointed out.

But Dumbledore shook his head, grinning. “I honestly don’t know what you and Harry are talking about. I’m afraid that I became temporarily deaf while you two were conversing.”

Snape looked outraged. Harry practically had to stuff his fist into his mouth to keep from laughing. Dumbledore glanced sideways at him and winked. Snape, completely frustrated, threw up his hands, stood on his feet, and walked out of his portrait.

“I think you offended him, Professor,” Harry snickered.

“I suppose I did,” said Dumbledore, amused. “Oh well. He’ll cool off and come back eventually. Why don’t you have a seat, Harry?”

Harry sat down in front of the Headmaster’s desk while Dumbledore took his place behind it.

Dumbledore sighed, suddenly looking rather exhausted. “I’ve had an eventful day, I must say,” he muttered, rubbing his eyes. “Well, Harry, I suppose I should start with how I’m even alive?”

Harry nodded vigorously. “Please do.”

Dumbledore reiterated his tale to Harry, explaining the miracle of the curse hitting his pocket watch and the state of limbo in which he had lived for a year. Harry was extremely shocked when he concluded his story.

“So you saw my parents?” Harry asked.

Dumbledore nodded, smiling widely. “Yes, Harry. I visited with them many times. They’re so proud of you.”

Harry’s eyes teared up. “So they are watching me.”

Dumbledore said kindly, “Of course they are, Harry. The dead are frequently with us, even if we cannot see them.”

Harry nodded, rubbing his eyes. Dumbledore looked up at his ceiling to give him some privacy.

“Did you…see Sirius?”

Dumbledore chuckled. “Yes, Harry, I did. And I saw Remus and Tonks as well. I can’t say how many times the Marauders, along with Lily and Tonks, came to visit. It was truly wonderful to see them together again. Peter was absent, of course, seeing as he didn’t make it to the same place as your parents, Sirius, Remus, and Tonks.”

Harry assumed Dumbledore meant that Peter Pettigrew hadn’t made it into heaven. This realization made him feel at peace but also sorrowful. He’d had a lot of time to think about his parents and their best friends after the war. He’d come to conclude that all his feelings for Pettigrew consisted of sadness. There was no point being angry or resentful of someone who was dead. Harry only felt pity for him. He’d made horrible choices, leading him to betray his best friends, killing them all eventually, and now he was reaping the reward he had sown.

Dumbledore observed Harry quietly. At the mention of Pettigrew, he was sure that Harry’s eyes would fill with loathing but what he saw instead made him astonished as well as proud. He saw pity. Harry definitely had grown, he decided, in many ways. The person before him was no longer a boy. He was a full grown man.

“I’m proud of you, Harry, for all you have done.”

Harry looked up, bemused. “I only did what I thought was right.”

Dumbledore nodded. “Yes, I suppose you did. But you are a genuine individual, Harry, and a far greater man that I ever will be.”

Harry blushed. “Thanks, Professor. Can I ask you something?”

“Anything, dear boy.”

“If you were stuck in limbo, how did you come to see me after I got hit with the killing curse? And why did you tell me you were dead?”

“Ahh, yes, I suppose I should explain that,” said Dumbledore with a smile. “I received special permission to leave my office to see you since you were in a similar situation as myself; stuck in limbo. Does that make sense?”

Harry nodded.

“And as to why I told you I was dead, well, forgive an old man for not telling you the truth. For some reason James instructed me to keep the truth from you. I was only following orders.”

Again, Harry nodded. It made sense. At that time, it had not been appropriate for him to know about his headmaster; he was supposed to have been focusing on killing Voldemort once and for all. But he had also been given the choice to move on.

“If I’d decided to go on, would you have been able to tell me the truth?”

Dumbledore rubbed his chin. “As to that question, Harry, I am unsure. But I suppose it’s foolish to dwell on what might have been since we will never know.”

“I guess you’re right,” Harry agreed. 

“Any other questions you might have?” Dumbledore asked kindly.

Harry shook his head. “I understand everything we’ve discussed but I’m still having a hard time believing it all.”

Dumbledore chuckled. “As am I, Harry. Oh, I almost forgot! I have something for you.”

“You do?”

“Yes. I had to put it upstairs in a safe place though. Do you mind waiting while I go get it?”

“Not at all, sir.”

Dumbledore promised he would return shortly before disappearing up the stairs. Harry looked out the window. The sun was seconds away from sinking beneath the horizon. Harry blinked. An odd feeling began to stir in his bones. It kind of reminded him of muscle pain after an excruciating Quidditch practice. He tried to shrug it off but the pain only intensified.

And then, all at once, Harry felt like someone had thrust him into the heart of a bolt of lightning; his bones were on fire, his muscles stretching and shifting into different positions. He cried out in agony as his whole body began to convulse. He was vaguely aware of the portraits on the wall screaming his name. The excruciating fire surged into his bones, churning for three torturous seconds, before Harry blacked out, the pain too much for him to bear any longer.

The portraits of the previous heads had all become as silent as the grave. They couldn’t fully believe their eyes. Unable to recover from their shock, they stared at Harry, who had fallen to the floor, without a word. It was to this silence that Dumbledore reappeared with four people behind him.

Armando Dippet was the first to see them. “Dumbledore, we didn’t know what to do!”

Dumbledore looked at his predecessor noting his alarm at once. Before he could respond all the other portraits were shouting and pointing at the floor, each trying to make themselves heard above the other. Instead of listening to them, Dumbledore followed their pointing fingers. Quickly, he walked around his desk and gasped.

The four people who had followed him down the stairs in silent amusement peeked over his shoulder.

“Oh my…” gasped Lily Potter.

Dumbledore demanded silence from everyone as he bent low. A magnificent white stag lay on the floor, unconscious. Dread was growing in Dumbledore’s chest as he put a hand on the creature’s neck. It was breathing but the breaths were shallow.

“You didn’t just pull a prank, did you Prongs?”

“Of course not, Sirius,” James Potter said in a subdued voice. “Besides, I wouldn’t use myself as a model for a prank.”

Dumbledore held up a hand, silencing the two men. “Remus, Harry’s patronus is a stag, correct?”

“Yes,” Remus replied, finally speaking.

Dumbledore nudged the stag softly and muttered, “Harry?”

Lily gasped again. “Albus, surely you don’t think…”

“Harry is no longer in the room, Lily,” said Dumbledore without looking away from the stag. “And judging from the shocked expressions of the portraits, they just witness a horrible round of magic.”

“That’s an understatement, Dumbledore,” said Phineas Nigellus. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

“Care to explain, Grandpa,” asked Sirius.

Phineas eyed Sirius with piqued interest. “I must say it is a surprise to see you, Sirius, especially since you’re dead. Though I don’t understand how he did it, I suppose Dumbledore would have to bring you back out of all my descendants. The black sheep has returned.” He sneered.

Sirius tried to keep his cool. “I’m here because Harry is my godson and I’m here to see him and him alone. Now tell us what happened!”

Phineas shrugged still smirking. “Fine. Imagine seeing someone taking Polyjuice Potion with the pain ten times more agonizing.”

Lily shuddered, completely capable of imagining the imagery; she’d seen it countless times during her potioneering days. Still, she remained shocked over the distinct possibility that the stag at her feet was none other than her son. But hope sustained her with the suggestion that Harry had just decided to play a prank on Dumbledore by leaving a fallen stag in front of his desk. Trying to keep her voice even, she asked, “It can’t be Harry, surely.”

To these words, the stag’s eyes opened, blinking a few times. Its eyes were emerald green.

“I’d never forget those eyes,” James muttered nervously, glancing at his wife.

Lily let out a sob, burying her face into her husband’s neck. “It can’t be! It just can’t!”

“Professor?”

Everyone froze. They all knew that voice.

Dumbledore’s eyes sharpened considerably. “Harry? Are you okay?”

“Of course he’s not okay!” Sirius shouted. “He’s a stag, Dumbledore! A STAG!!!”

I must have hit my head really hard,” Harry muttered. The stag looked at the people behind Dumbledore and shook its head back and forth. “I’m seeing dead people.”

“Harry,” Dumbledore began delicately, “I don’t know how to say this politely.”

“What is it?”

“Well, you’re a stag.”

The stag’s green eyes widened. “I’m a what?”

“A stag, I’m afraid,” Dumbledore repeated. “A spitting image of your patronus, actually.”

Harry finally looked down at his body. How could he not have noticed before? Perhaps it had to do with the fact that his limbs still felt like they were on fire. His muscles ached something monstrous too. He closed his eyes and took a deep steady breath, trying to remain calm.

He was a stag. Somehow, he’d been transfigured into a stag! The horror of this situation crashed down upon him like a tidal wave. His heart began to race, throbbing horribly within his chest. He wanted to sit up but his muscles felt like they weren’t his own. They were new, different, and practically alien to him. How did he even get this way?! What was going on?!

“How did this even happen?” he asked. It was only after he heard the words coming from him that he realized he was speaking telepathically. Apparently when he wanted to talk, his thoughts could be heard. Small comfort, seeing as this did nothing to fix his problem.

“It happened while I was upstairs, Harry. Tell me, what occurred after I disappeared?”

Harry thought hard. “I looked out the window and saw the sun set. Immediately after that my body felt like it was on fire. I passed out as the pain got worse. My body couldn’t handle it anymore.”

Dumbledore nodded silently. “Well, the air is thick with evidence that a horrible curse has just been placed on you. Do you remember hearing anyone enter the room? The door opening? Anything to indicate there was someone in here other than yourself?”

Harry shook his head. “There was no one, Professor.”

He tried again to shift his position; his legs were sticking out in front of him as he lay on his side. Folding them, he was able to sit up. It felt really awkward having his arms and legs beneath his body but he couldn’t deny it was definitely more comfortable than having them protruding in front of him. His eyes finally focused passed Dumbledore.

He blinked several times, sure that the scene before him wasn’t real. He was staring at his parents, Sirius Black, his godfather, and Remus Lupin, a dear friend and previous Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. Their outlines were not solid but blurred; yet they weren’t transparent so they obviously weren’t ghosts.

“Hi, Harry,” Sirius said with a small smile. “It’s good to see you even though you’re…well…a stag.”

“Sirius? Remus?” He also looked at his parents, unable to say more because his throat felt like there was a Quaffle stuck in it.  

Lily smiled despite being horrified at the state of her son. “Hello, Harry.”

“It’s great to see you,” said his father.

Harry shook his head. “I don’t believe this.” Turning to Dumbledore, he asked, “Are you sure we’re not both dead?”

For the first time since finding Harry in this predicament, Dumbledore chuckled. So did the others.

“Yes Harry. I can assure you we are definitely very much alive,” Dumbledore assured. “Allow me to explain. Because you destroyed Tom Riddle, you have been given a rather unique gift. A gift that should not be taken lightly and never abused.”

Dumbledore held out a small picture frame, the size being no larger than 2 inches by 3 inches.

“I was told to give this to you as soon as I saw you. This is a doorway from heaven to the mortal world. You have earned the right to visit with your loved ones as long as you like, however you may not be able to see them every day. They have a lot to do on the other side but if you ever find yourself in need of a parent or friend’s advice, you just have to pull out this frame, say their names, and they will come to you.”

Harry didn’t know what to say. He was speechless.

“It looks like we’ll be bugging you a lot, Harry,” Sirius said with a grin. “I’m afraid we’re not that easy to get rid of either.”

The corners of the stag’s mouth lifted. “Like I’d want to get rid of you.”

James laughed.

Lily, on the other hand, did not. “Am I the only one who sees that we have a big problem? Harry’s a stag, James! And although you and Sirius and Remus find this not to be disturbing, I find it alarming! Our son has just been cursed and nobody seems to even care!”

The smiles of James and his friends slipped from their faces, each replaced with soberness.

“I’m sorry, Lils,” James muttered.

Dumbledore conjured chairs for all of them to sit on while Harry continued to lie on the floor. It was great that he’d just been given a present from the deepest recesses of his heart but the happiness he felt from this gift was becoming crushed by the gravity of his current situation. What was he going to do? He was supposed to start school in a week!

“This is indeed a major problem,” Dumbledore muttered, running his hand down his long white beard. “Obviously Harry is under a heavy curse but according to him there was nobody in the room to inflict it.”

“So what are we going to do, Albus?” asked Lily. “Harry can’t remain this way!”

Dumbledore sighed. “At this current moment, there’s not much I can suggest, Lily.”

The adults all stared at the Headmaster in disbelief.

“You mean, you don’t know?” asked Sirius in a hoarse voice.

“This isn’t something I have encountered before, Sirius,” Dumbledore confessed.

“But, you have to know!” Lily cried, exasperated.

Dumbledore smiled at her sadly. “Although I appreciate your confidence, Lily, I am sorry to say that I am as confused as everyone else in this room.”

Everyone was shocked into silence. Dumbledore really didn’t know? Harry had come to think the Headmaster always had some idea, some theory, to explain everything. The fact that Dumbledore was as lost as everyone else made Harry feel that his chances of ever figuring out how to solve this curse had turned from slim to zero. He hung his head.

Dumbledore noticed this expression of hopelessness. “You must not give up so easily, Harry. I will do everything I can to figure out what exactly happened to you. I can give you a theory but it’s based on very little facts.”

Harry looked up. “Even a theory would be appreciated, sir.”

Dumbledore sighed. “Well, from what you have said and from the curse that I can feel hovering over you, I would have to say that this is ancient magic of the blackest kind.”

“Why would you say that, Albus?” asked James.

“I have been exposed to ancient magic before, James. The curse lingering over Harry is similar to what I have felt in the past. As to what curse has been cast and who conjured it, I have no answers at this time.”

Harry sighed. “So I’m stuck like this.”

“For now, Harry,” said Dumbledore.

“What do you suggest we do now?” asked Remus.

“I think we should wait a full day to see if the curse has a time limit or if Harry has been permanently transfigured,” Dumbledore said.

“I think that’s a good idea,” James agreed. “What do you think, Harry?”

“I don’t see what other option there is,” Harry muttered. But then his heart jumped. “What about Ginny though?”

“Ginny?” said Sirius. “What about her?”

The stag looked down at the ground. James and Sirius looked at each other and grinned. Before either could begin teasing, Dumbledore said, “I will go to St. Mungo’s to check on her and tell the Weasleys you will be staying at Hogwarts tonight. In the mean time, I suggest you rest in here, Harry. I have an appointment this evening that I have to keep so you will have plenty of time to spend with your parents and friends. I will also seal off the entrance to my office to ensure that no one stumbles in here. And I am to make this specifically clear that the events that have transpired in this office are to remain a secret.” To this, Dumbledore looked around at all the portraits. Each of them nodded.

“If we must,” said a voice behind Dumbledore’s desk.

James jumped and looked over at the wall, ribbing Sirius in the side. “Well, look who it is, Padfoot.”

Sirius scowled with distaste. Eyeing the picture sordidly, he said, “Why would anyone make a portrait that big of you, Snape?”

Snape narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth to retort but someone spoke before him, answering Sirius’s question.

“Because he deserves it.”

Sirius whirled around, his mouth dropping to the floor.

James couldn’t believe his ears. With wide eyes he said, “Did you seriously just say that, Harry?”

The stag nodded.

“Are you sure he’s not ill?” Sirius asked, concerned.

The stag rolled its eyes. “I’m perfectly fine, Sirius.”

“But…you just defended Snape! Last time I checked, you hated him!” said Sirius in frustration. “Did I miss something?” He turned and pointed a finger at Snape. “You cursed him, didn’t you?”

Snape rolled his eyes. “If you honestly believed that, I would take you for a bigger fool than you already are, Black.”

Sirius’ face reddened while his eyes flashed dangerously. “I think a change of decoration is in order. What do you think, Prongs?”

James clenched his teeth together. As much as he loved the idea of blasting Snape’s portrait to smithereens, it wasn’t couth. “Sirius, let it go.”

Sirius angrily looked away from Snape, determined to ignore him.

Snape only grinned. “Oh yes, listen to Potter. He saved your neck more than once when you were alive. I see some things remain the same even in the afterlife.”

Sirius leapt to his feet. “That’s it. Mark my words, Snape. When we finish our little visit with Harry, I’m going to find and beat the living snot out of you!”

Snape rolled his eyes. “I’m really scared.”

James and Remus got to their feet as well. All four men were shooting daggers at each other.

Lily sighed, standing up only to put a hand on James’ shoulder. “James, relax. You too, Remus and Sirius. Severus is just bitter that he wasn’t invited to come this time.”

Snape scoffed. “I am not!”

Lily snorted. “Oh, really? I seem to recall you coming up to me asking if you could be part of this little reunion.”

“What?!” James cried, rounding on Lily. “Did he really?”

Snape had turned red. “I only wanted to come so I could discuss a few things with Potter.”

“And what might those things have been?” James demanded.

“Stop it, Dad.”

James looked down at the stag in surprise.

Harry sighed. “The things Professor Snape and I discussed don’t need to be shared unless I feel like sharing them, which I don’t. So give it a rest.”

These words seemed to cause James to fall into shock. He sat down in his chair, speechless. Even Remus and Sirius couldn’t believe their ears. What on earth had happened to make Harry look at Severus Snape with such respect? Had the world come to an end? Had his brain been fried when he’d been cursed? The three best friends couldn’t comprehend what was going on.

Harry felt bad being so blunt to his dad but this was something very personal. He was sure that if James did discover the entire truth behind Severus that he would blow a gasket. Harry glanced at his mother, who had remained silent through this whole exchanged. She seemed mildly uncomfortable. From her expression, Harry knew that she knew everything. He didn’t know how she’d figured it all out, but the fact remained she knew. Harry sighed. He was feeling so exhausted.

Dumbledore picked up on this. “I suggest that all of you refrain from causing a fight in the office. I’m sure Harry is feeling rather exhausted after undergoing such a terrorizing transformation.”

James sighed. “Alright, we’ll behave. But I’m gagging Snape if he says anything else offensive.”

Snape seemed on the verge of doing such a thing but Dumbledore flashed him a warning glance. “I trust that all of you will be able to act like adults. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to be on my way. Remember, Harry, take it easy in here until I return.”

“I will, Professor. Let me know if anything’s changed at the hospital,” Harry added, slightly embarrassed.

Dumbledore smiled. “I will.”

And with that, he stood and left the office, leaving Harry alone with his loved ones.


 


Hi! Thanks for sticking with my fanfiction so far! I really appreciate it! I promise to update as often as possible. I thought I’d make a note to explain that when Harry is speaking telepathically as a stag, his dialogue will be in italics. Please leave a review if you’d be so kind! They’re always encouraging! See you in the next chapter!
                                                                                                            -Gryffindor Soar

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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