Chapter Four: The Third Reverse
Sirius was, by now, quite accustomed to whisking through time with the flash of black light. He was also, because of the past experiences, expecting to have advanced in age a bit—perhaps to just before graduation this time around.
So he was shocked to find himself in his First Year dormitory again.
It was night, and the bed curtains were all closed, so Sirius grabbed his wand from the table next to his bed and cast a silent Tempus.
Yep, he was back in First Year again. The first night again, in fact.
The Lady Magic was really giving him a chance to take it from the beginning. Sirius was gratified to know that the Lady was taking his suspicions into consideration. Now all he had to do was keep Peter from acting on his Dark impulses and get James and Lily together without any complications.
It seemed a difficult proposition, but Sirius thought he was up to the task.
According to his Tempus spell, the hour was very early, and the dormitory would be waking soon for the first breakfast in the castle. Sirius made a plan to not wait until classes began to make friends with his fellow First Year Gryffindors. He would make his move at breakfast, and he would draw in as many first years as he could, making sure to keep James and Lily together as much as possible as well as keeping Alice Greenway out of contact with Peter on a one-to-one basis.
An hour later the other three boys were awake and dressing for the day. Since there were no classes until Monday, they were wearing informal attire. Sirius noted Remus’ fondness for comfortable robes over James’ muggle-inspired clothing. Sirius himself favored classic trousers and a button-down shirt under a cashmere jumper. Peter also wore trousers, but of a lesser quality, and a heavy wool knit jumper. Sirius smiled and declared “Shall we adjourn to breakfast, my good fellows?” and led the group to the Great Hall.
Lily and Alice followed behind a few moments later, because Lily waited for her first new friend in the entranceway until Alice came up from Hufflepuff Chamber. Sirius watched as Lily seemed to search the Great Hall for someone, and he remembered her championing of Severus Snape during their school years. Obviously they were friends before coming to Hogwarts, and Lily always cherished her friends and held them dearly to her heart.
Sirius stood and waved to Lily and Alice, beckoning them to the table. “Come, join us for breakfast! It’s all very informal here on weekends, so I’m told!”
Alice grinned and walked to the Gryffindor table to join the four boys while Lily retreated to the entrance hall. She returned a moment later with Severus Snape by her side. Snape hesitated at the doorway, but Lily grabbed his hand and dragged him to sit by her side.
Food was already on the table and James had begun to serve himself when Peter growled about a ‘filthy Slytherin’ sitting with them. James raised both of his eyebrows at Peter and turned slightly to see who was joining them when Alice sat down beside Remus and smiled widely.
Sirius swallowed the bile he found rising in his throat and addressed the comment. “Peter, not everyone in Slytherin is a bad egg. Just like every Gryffindor is not automatically a hero. It’s all in how we’re raised, don’t you think?” The last remark was made in Remus’ direction, and the boy swallowed a huge gulp of pumpkin juice before answering.
“My family lived in the countryside of Wales. I’m a half-blood, you see, so I don’t know much about Hogwarts or the Houses we were sorted into.”
Alice grinned and replied, “I know a little bit about Hufflepuff House, but only what I read in the Common Room library last night before bed.”
By this time, Lily and Snape had joined them, and Snape was looking longingly at Slytherin table, where a few of his house-mates were sitting already. Stubbornly, Lily pulled Snape to sit beside her across the table from James and the dark boy reluctantly began to fill his plate.
They ate quietly for some time, only passing jugs of water or pumpkin juice as the meal progressed. Sirius watched at teachers came and went, taking their meals at the Head Table and watching over the students in attendance. Not one of them said anything about their mixed table, but McGonagall smiled in approval when she passed by them on her way out of the Hall.
When it looked like everyone was finished eating, Sirius began the conversation once again. “I was telling Peter here that whichever House we were sorted into has no bearing on our character; it rather depended on how we were raised how we turn out. For example: my family is absolutely horrid! I think I’m glad to be away at school so that I can meet different people and make a better quality of friend.”
James choked a bit on his pumpkin juice and laughed. “My grandmother spoke often about the Black family. I wasn’t usually allowed to listen in on those talks, but I learned the value of a keyhole when it comes to getting illicit information.”
Sirius grinned. “It’s all true, I’m afraid. I’m a pureblood aristocrat raised within a Dark family. My grandparents were staunch followers of Grindewald and my mother wouldn’t spit on a muggle if he was on fire. Needless to say, I find my home life totally intolerable and couldn’t wait to get my letter for Hogwarts. Unfortunately, my younger brother is probably slated to come here next year, and he’s a total ‘Mama’s Boy’. Follows everything she says, right down to the Purist crap that pours from her when she’s not in polite company. He’s absolutely certain that once purebloods gain supremacy over all Magical people, he’ll get anything he wants just because he’s part of a powerful family.”
Snape frowned but Lily laughed. “I’m the only witch in my family,” she said. “At lease, as far as I know. I’m just thrilled to be here, and my parents are totally proud of me. My older sister, however, is another story.”
James frowned and asked, “How so?”
Lily shrugged. “At first, Petunia acted so jealous, because I was getting to go away to school and she wasn’t. Then she decided I was some kind of freak because I could do magic. She stopped speaking to me at all a week before I got on the train to come here.”
Sirius frowned. “I wish my brother would stop talking to me! But I’m curious—didn’t you have spots of accidental magic when you were younger?”
Lily grinned. “Yes, I did. And this wonderful lady—Professor McGonagall, it was—came to the house to explain to my parents that there was nothing wrong. But I already knew that, because I met someone that did it, too, and we because great friends two years ago.”
“Oh, yeah?” asked James. “Who was that?”
“It was me,” drawled Snape. “Lily and I lived in the same neighborhood growing up. I found her in the local play park one day when I was hiding from my father.” Snape nodded to Sirius and said, “Like you, my family was intolerable to me. Like Lupin, I only have one magical parent. I am here to learn to use my magic so that I can take my mother away from a dangerous situation.”
The others were happy to share their backgrounds, but Sirius was still stuck on Snape’s story. Sirius did not know that he was a half-blood, or that he came from an abusive home. Reluctantly, Sirius could understand how Snape came to be such an ass. If he was abused at home, and then James and Sirius abused him at school, of course Severus Snape would become belligerent toward them. And of course, since they grew up near each other, Lily’s defense of Snape also made sense.
And they bullying that the Marauders put Snape through forced the Slytherin to fight back, making any defense difficult. Sirius remembered clearly the day by the lake when Snape finally snapped and broke Lily’s heart. At the time, Sirius and James did not know why it affected Lily so badly. Sirius isn’t sure that James ever figured it out.
The meal-mates decided to continue their budding friendships out of the Great Hall and Remus took it upon himself to ask permission to explore the castle—in order to find their way around before classes began, of course. Permission was granted, and the group trooped out into the entranceway and up the first staircase.
Together they wandered the most-travelled halls, poking heads into classrooms and questioning portraits as they went. They ended up at the top of the abandoned Astronomy Tower where they once again began sharing personal information.
Remus, of course, kept his lycanthropy to himself. Sirius was content to allow that little tidbit to slide until James and he could ‘discover’ it in a few years after finding the pattern of illness that they saw in the original timeline. Peter only mentioned wanting to become a stronger and more profitable Wizard than his father, but would offer no other information about himself.
It didn’t really matter at that point what the conversation was, because the seeds of friendship had been planted.
Sirius rather enjoyed Hogwarts this time around. He had a larger group of friends this time around, including Alice Greenway and Severus Snape of all people.
Students in their respective Houses tried to criticize their closeness, but they still studied together every day and spent weekends playing chess or chatting. They never stayed in the same unused classroom; rather they moved about in order to avoid abuse from older students. They practiced spells and checked each other’s homework and laughed.
The sight of laughter on Snape’s face was something Sirius just could not get used to.
But having Snape of his side this time around was useful to the extreme. Snape was a genius at Potions, and that was a subject that both Sirius and Remus fell short with. Snape was, at that young age, a natural teacher, and he was happy to tutor the others in their little group.
It was in fourth year that James came to Sirius with suspicions about Remus. He had been ill again, and James was gathering assignments to take to him in the infirmary. Sirius was going to be joining them again after bringing some of Remus’ favorite chocolate from Honeydukes that Sirius had hidden in his school trunk. (He had to hide it, because Peter had a notorious sweet tooth, and Sirius was saving it for after the full moon.)
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot, Sirius,” said James as he gathered the parchment and quills for homework into a bag. “He’s only ever really sick once a month. That would not be particularly suspicious if he was female, but he’s not. And he’s obviously very clumsy when he’s sick, because I could swear I see new scars every time I see him. So, using logic—don’t laugh at me Sirius!—I think he’s got something worse than recurring Dragon Pox.”
Sirius looked up from his trunk and raised an eyebrow at James. “Uh-huh. Well, then, what do you think it is?”
James made a big show of going to the door and looking out to make sure nobody was listening in before he returned to Sirius’ side and whispered, “I think he’s a werewolf!”
Sirius was impressed. James had figured it out an entire year sooner than the first time.
“Okay,” said Sirius as he sat on the edge of his bed. “So Remus is a werewolf? What do you want to do about it?”
James sat next to Sirius and folded his hands together in his lap. “I’ve been doing some research, and there are some interesting studies on werewolves coming from the continent. I know his life isn’t worth much in this country, but in America and France and Italy, werewolves have excellent lives if they want them. And one study said that werewolves that are harmful to humans are not harmful to animals—something about kindred spirits or some such. But this researcher in Italy showed that a werewolf is not dangerous to Animagus-transformed humans, because the animal form still has a slight scent of not-human, and an animagus would have the animal reflexes to keep away from a charging werewolf.”
“Okay,” said Sirius. “But that doesn’t exactly help us, does it?”
“But it does!” said James. “We—you, me, and Peter—can become animagi together, so we can be with Remus on the full moon nights! Severus, too, if he wants. We’re family now, Sirius! We have to stick together and help each other!”
“Oh, I agree, James. I totally agree! But first, maybe we should let Remus know about our suspicions, huh? If he’s keeping quiet for a reason, it might help if he knows we’re not going to turn our backs on him.”
And so they went to the infirmary and confessed their hunch to Remus. And Remus went into a small panic for a moment or two, until he realized that neither James nor Sirius were condemning him. They did their homework and talked about how Remus came to be able to attend Hogwarts (Dumbledore’s blessing and assurances) and where he went during the full moons (Shrieking Shack).
Once Remus was released from the infirmary, James and Sirius guided him to the library so they could reveal their plan to study the Animagus Transformation. Remus was overcome with relief that his friends would not turn him away, so he agreed to help them study the difficult spell.
As it turns out, there is a reason that particular spell is not even discussed until seventh year: it’s difficult as hell to perform.
Sirius had been doing it for so long, he forgot how hard it was to learn. His head hurt just from reading the instructions. He was concentrating so hard on the spell that he did not hear Severus Snape approach their table at the back of the library until he gasped when he saw what they were working on.
“You mean to attempt this spell?” Snape asked in shock. “It’s very advanced!”
For the past four years, since his friendship with Lily brought Snape into their small circle of friends, Sirius was impressed with Snapes’ desire to seek out knowledge. He was as studious as Lily and as serious as Remus, and Snape had a great desire to succeed past his meager station. Sirius could understand wanting to grow past your family. After all, that is what he was trying to do as well.
James gave a shifty look to Remus and answered, “We thought it would be fun, you know? Something nobody else is doing?”
Snape sneered and sat in a chair across from James and Remus, pulling the book to him. “I see,” he drawled, “and this has nothing to do with Mr. Lupin’s lycanthropy?
James gasped in shock and Remus dropped all of his papers onto the floor. Sirius just sat back in his chair as Snape smirked. “Really, I’m surprised you two didn’t figure it out much sooner than this. Now, how can I help?”
Sirius would never, ever get used to a helpful Severus Snape.
They sat there, the four of them, studying the spell for the Animagus Transformation. They left only for dinner, and when they returned to the library afterward, Peter had joined them. Where Peter was earlier in the day, Sirius did not know, but he was there now and he was eager to learn the difficult spell. He was, of course, shocked when he learned why they wanted to learn it, but he swore to keep the secret.
He bemoaned the fact that there was a great deal of meditation involved, so that the person performing the spell would be able to find their perfect animal form—or even if they had one. There were notes in the spell book that noted what could happen if a person did not have a proper animal form and they tried to cast the spell. The results were not nice.
But there was a shortcut, and Severus Snape was the one that found it.
“It says here, in Humane Transfiguration,” said Snape softly as he flipped through the thick volume, “That there is a potion that will reveal a proper animal form—if a person has one. Of course, the potion is difficult to brew.”
Sirius looked up from his notes. “Are there illegal ingredients? Do we have to go into hock to brew it?”
Snape scowled across the book. “Of course not. The ingredients are easily, and legally, obtained, even by a student. Most of them are even in our student potions kit. It is the difficulty of the potion that is in question. It is time-consuming, of course, and the directions are very exact. I doubt very much that any of you have the talent or patience for it.”
Peter slumped against the table in defeat. James and Remus also seemed to feel the same way. Sirius knew, deep down, that he would try very hard to help Peter through the meditation and spell-practice, but Peter was a hard-taught student at the best of times.
Even so, they were all shocked when Snape announced, “I will, of course, brew the potion for you all. I would hate to see it messed up spectacularly by one of you.” Snape packed up the book and stood to check it out. He paused for a moment, saying “You will, I think, need someone to alibi your absences on the evenings of the full moons. And perhaps, someone to keep watch while you are out. And there is no need to worry Lily or Alice about any of this.” And then he took the heavy book and left.
Sirius, James, Remus, and Peter all stared after him, dumbfounded.
Sirius would never have guessed that he would count Severus Snape among any of his friends, but there it was.
Snape was valuable when it came to potions-tutoring, and with his help, Remus was able to learn and perfect the Wolfsbane Potion that kept him mostly sane during his transformation every month. Lily was happier than Sirius was able to remember, and when James asked to take her to Hogsmeade on Valentine’s Day in their fifth year, Severus was the one to say “Of course she’ll go, Potter. She’s rather bonkers over you.”
Sirius was able to keep to his plans to run from home the summer after his fifth year, and James’ father welcomed him with open arms. For the first time since his original timeline, Sirius felt safe and at home. Because of this, and because his mother wasn’t actually able to cut Sirius off from the family fortune (his grandfather forbade her from doing so, insisting that Sirius was the best of the lot of them), Sirius was able to send sufficient funds to Severus to allow him to run from his own home and escape the abuse there.
Severus refused to go to the Potter home, instead staying in a comfortable room at the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley, something that amused Sirius but he never revealed why. Severus, James, and Sirius sent frequent owl messages to one another, and they managed to meet with Remus and Peter several times during the summer months before school began again. Their friendship was a strong as it ever was.
They happily met at the platform in Kings Cross so they could board the Hogwarts Express together. Sirius was able to secure a compartment with Severus while James and Remus waited for the rest of their group to arrive. For the first time ever, Sirius was alone with Severus Snape and he didn’t feel the urge to hex the other man.
Instead, they talked about plans for after graduation—possible jobs and masteries and the like. Snape admitted for the first time that he feared, when Lily Evans was sorted into a different House than he was, they would cease to be friends, and she was his only solace when they were children. He told Sirius that he was grateful for his efforts to make a Slytherin a part of a Gryffindor clique, and that he gladly withstood the snipes of his Housemates in order to keep true friendships.
Sirius replied, “Actually, having friends in all Houses makes you the most Slytherin of them all. Your main House trait is ambition, is it not? How could you be any more ambitious than to have friends in all manner of places that can help you to your success?”
“Indeed,” said Snape with a gleeful sneer.
Once classes began during their sixth year, Lily went into a frenzy about future plans and how important their test score would be to gaining masteries. Nobody had the heart to argue with her, or point out that they still had one year before NEWTs. They simply gathered in the Great Hall after the first week of classes, as had become their custom, and they discussed what might be their most difficult classes. They made plans and scheduled a weekly study session, and Lily went to Professor McGonagall to ask about using an abandoned classroom for their study club.
McGonagall was used to this request and readily agreed. She seemed, to Sirius, to be most pleased to see members of three different Houses cooperating to succeed in their classes. The damnable Hat was always singing about inter-House unity or some such, and here was a small group of students that managed to do just that—for the most part. There were no Ravenclaws in their small group of friends, and only one Puff and one Slyth each, but they tried.
Sirius was happy to attend classes again. This was the farthest he had managed to make it without hexing Peter.
Oh, he thought about it, for certain. Peter would do little things, inconsequential things, that led Sirius to believe that he was still trying to give in to his Dark side. Sirius would still spy Peter reading from books that he should not have had access to. Sirius knew Peter did not get them from the Hogwarts library, because he could still recognize the titles from a distance (his family library was rife with Dark texts) and they were not available to students.
Peter never really gave much away about his home life. Sirius knew all about James, of course, and Remus never hid anything about himself. Even Severus was able to disclose how his home life had affected him.
But Peter only told of his mother and her yearning to have a famous son. He cited her as the reason for trying so hard in classes. And of course, Sirius remembered reading about how Peter’s mother happily accepted his posthumous Order of Merlin after Sirius ‘killed’ him in the first timeline. So, really, that was all that Sirius knew about Peter’s family.
But Peter got those books from somewhere, and Sirius wanted desperately to know where.
So Sirius was careful to keep watch over Peter, ready to step in if Peter tried anything untoward.
He simply wasn’t prepared this time.
Just after Christmas Break, when the frigid air forced all students to stay indoors, the Inter-House Study Squad (Lily’s name, for all it made the rest of them giggle) had managed to finagle use of an unoccupied guest room—bare of furnishings but with a fully-functioning fireplace—from Professor McGonagall, with the understanding that other groups could use it as well. It was a small room, but there was enough floor space to set up a practice cauldron for Potions practice and the group of friends could sit in a circle on conjured cushions to pass around notes and quiz each other.
It wasn’t as comfortable as the empty classroom they normally used, but it was off the main hall, near the castle entrance, so it was convenient to everyone in the group. The cauldron space was more than ideal, however, so it was used often for practice brewing by many groups of students.
One evening, after a study session ran late, Sirius and James helped Severus clear away the cauldron before packing up and heading back to the Common Room with Lily. Peter was still bumbling about the room when they left, but they didn’t worry about him too much. Once Severus was on his way, the Gryffindor trio headed out of the room toward their beds. Curfew was neigh and they didn’t want to get caught out by a prefect, or else they would lose use of the room.
Half way back to the tower, however, Lily exclaimed that she forgot her favorite quill and that she had to go back for it. Sirius and James gallantly escorted her back to the room, past the entrance to the faculty lounge where they could still see professors milling about after a late meeting.
Lily paused at the entrance of their meeting room, however, because it was closed and locked and they always left it open. They also never locked it, because a key could not be produced.
James cast a quick Alohomora on the door and it swung open to reveal Peter Pettigrew—standing over a bound and unconscious Alice Greenway.
Peter had a knife and had managed to cut away part of Alice’s clothing. He had an evil gleam in his eye and appeared not to have noticed the others enter the room. Lily shouted in anger and charged across the room, finally drawing Peter’s attention. When he looked up at the figure of an angry Lily, Sirius spotted his wand in his hand.
He had foolishly thought that Peter was only armed with a knife, which was a rather crude weapon for a wizard but was one that was easily bypassed. A wand, however, was another story.
Peter jerked in shock and uttered a cutting curse in Lily’s direction as James and Sirius rushed at him. They managed to tackle Peter, but utterly missed the fact that his curse had hit its target.
Lily fell to the floor with a gasp as her leg began bleeding profusely. The cutting curse hit her femoral artery, and even though James managed to call several professors from the faculty lounge in time to subdue Peter and save poor Alice, Lily bled out rather quickly.
There was no saving her, and both James and Severus were inconsolable.
Sirius was at a loss as to what to do for his friends.
The rest of his life passed in a blur. Sirius could not have told, at the end of it all, what he did after leaving Hogwarts or how he died.
He only remembered closing his eyes one day, and opening them again to see Lady Magic once again standing in front of him.
“I have to applaud you this time,” She said to him when he regained awareness. “You’ve done incredible things this time around. Bringing Severus Snape into your close circle was a move of pure genius.”
In a daze, Sirius shook his head. “Well,” he said, “it seemed the thing to do. I wanted to make Lily and James happy, you see, and for some reason Lily liked having the git as a friend.”
She smirked at him and said, “And you? How did you find having him as a friend?”
Sirius shrugged. “He was alright after a fashion. It did feel un-natural to be nice to him. I’m not sure I could pull it off again.”
The Lady was once again older in appearance. Her gossamer gown flowed from Her shoulders in a graceful sweep, pooling on the floor at Her feet. Her hair was once again in a long, silver braid that reached over one shoulder to touch Her hip.
Sirius was again struck at Her regal appearance. If he didn’t know Her true identity, he would think She was a very classy Lady. And She was—very classy, that is.
She was fierce as well. Especially when it came to Her pet cause.
Which reminded him….
“I was wondering, exactly, why it’s Harry that is so important.”