Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Biology :: 04 :: Deceptive Shadows

04 • Deceptive Shadows

— Azkaban Year Two

“How are the mighty fallen!” — 2 Samuel i. 25. Old Testament.

The moon rose in all her splendor, silver-white and glowing against the dark velvet of the night sky. Harry smiled. It was funny how a person could go one of two ways in near isolation. For some a mask of nothingness and others the inability to mask anything.

Now that the moon had risen though, he had things to do. He knew from experience that the dementors would not bother to check on him, and the few humans than manned the entrance to the fortress never ventured into the prison if they could help it. In any case, the bundle of rags on the cot should be misdirection enough for the casual onlooker.

A moment later he was standing inside his estate, breathing in air that was untainted by the foul atmosphere of Azkaban. He took the time to clean up and grab fresh clothing for himself; there was no point in betraying his presence with the unwashed stench of a prisoner.

Another moment was all it took for him to arrive at another of the hidden Potter estates. The lintel above the great main doors was a bare, smooth stretch of marble.

“Well,” he said into the silence of the night, “I’ll just fix that then, won’t I.”

He pointed his forefinger at the flawless stone and watched as a single word etched itself into the surface in bold, uncompromising letters.

Sanctuary

He smiled again and stepped forward, the massive doors opening of their own accord to let him enter. Inside he noticed the signs of disuse; layers of fuzzy dust were everywhere and hung from the cobwebs that stretched across doorways and arches.

He shook his head and turned his attention to the ancient wards which protected the property. Being of the blood, he communed with them, and asked them to allow entry for Remus should he come here. He could feel his request be acknowledged and accepted, sensing a change in their structure.

When the wards had finished shifting he made a second request, this time for two house-elves he had every intention of asking to ally with him. They too were accepted and the wards shifted a second time, affirming their right to be here.

Harry bowed. Had anyone been watching they no doubt would have thought him crazy, if they did not already. It was surely uncommon for a wizard to bow to his own house. Harry would not have cared had his gesture been witnessed; he knew the score, and it was correct to be polite. Hogwarts was not the only structure with a degree of sentience.

His next stop would be a bit trickier. He couldn’t very well summon the Marauder’s Map; depending on where it was, it would quite likely alert someone (or multiple someones) as it went zipping along. Of course, Harry wasn’t even sure it was still at Hogwarts.

There was also the matter of if it was in someone’s hands when he arrived, they could quite possibly see that he was there, and all hell would break loose. Forgoing another cheap shot by the voice, Harry forbore actual questions and focused his thoughts on the problems instead and what might be of help to him from the virtual library in his mind.

Eventually the answer came to him and he exited Sanctuary mumbling under his breath. When he arrived in the kitchen of Hogwarts he perched above the door and surveyed the room’s entourage of house-elves. Spotting Dobby after several minutes, he skittered up the wall and across the ceiling, trailing the little elf wherever he went.

When Dobby became engrossed in one of his tasks Harry descended from the ceiling silently and attached himself to Dobby’s tunic. His patience was finally rewarded when Dobby found it necessary to carry Winky off to the Room of Requirement to sleep off yet another bout of butterbeer-induced somnolence.

Harry nimbly leapt off Dobby’s tunic and quickly transformed, pausing to cast a few mumbled spells. Dobby whipped around at the noise, arms spread protectively as he stood in front of poor Winky. Several seconds later he relaxed and a toothy grin formed on his mobile face.

“Harry Potter, sir! Dobby is being so glad to see you!” cried the elf, bouncing up and down happily.

Harry fought back a smile; he should have known Dobby would never believe he’d gone bad. “Dobby, I’ve come to ask you a very important question. Will you listen?” he asked in quiet seriousness.

“Of course, Harry Potter, sir! What is being sir’s question?”

“Dobby, were you aware that they took me away from Hogwarts and sent me to Azkaban?”

Dobby hopped up and down, shaking his little fist. “Yes, Dobby knew, Harry Potter, sir. Dobby was being very angry when Dobby heard! Harry Potter is not being bad, not being evil!”

“Dobby, do you think that you would like to come and work for me? You and Winky? I think she’d be much happier with a new master, and I trust you not to betray me or my secrets.”

Dobby began shifting from foot to foot like he was standing on hot coals.

“You could remain free even if you did, Dobby, and continue to be paid. All I’d require is that you showed me the same loyalty you would a master,” he hastened to add. “But I don’t think Winky will ever be happy being free.” He spared a glance for the snoring elf with an empty butterbeer bottle still clutched in her hand.

Dobby started bouncing up and down again happily, clapping his hands together. “Dobby would be glad to work for Harry Potter, sir! Dobby and Winky is being ready to come now.”

“One thing before we go, Dobby. Do you have any idea what happened to my things?”

Dobby nodded with all the seriousness he could muster. “Dobby knows where they are. Dobby has seen them in the headmaster’s quarters, Harry Potter, sir.”

Harry’s eyes widened before he realized that made sense. “Do you think you could retrieve them before we go without getting caught?”

Dobby nodded vigorously and disappeared, leaving Harry to stare at air. Moments later Dobby was back, a trunk resting under his hand.

Harry grinned. “Excellent, Dobby. Thank you. Now, let me get Winky,” he said and reached down to pull the inebriated elf into his arms. “If you would be so kind, keep contact with the trunk and hold my free hand,” he instructed.

After he felt Dobby’s hand creep into his own, they disappeared, reappearing in the main hall of Sanctuary.

“I haven’t explored this place, Dobby. Not yet, anyway. I can only stay for so long before I have to get back to my cell.” After seeing the moistly shining eyes of the elf he added, “Don’t worry, Dobby. I’m all right. Let’s wake up Winky here and see what she says about all this, shall we?”

An hour later he had two house-elves in his service and had finished imparting his instructions to the pair. Winky was all but beside herself in happiness at having a new master, having flung the empty bottle into a nearby fireplace and declaring that she’d be the best house-elf a master could ever want.

By the time Harry was sure that both of them understood the seriousness of keeping Sanctuary a secret, they were practically bursting at the seams to go on a cleaning spree.

Harry left long enough to retrieve a sizeable stack of galleons from the hidden estate so that Dobby would be able to collect his pay and purchase anything the manor needed (and to store his trunk), then went back to his cell satisfied.

He had almost fallen asleep when he remembered his appearance, and shook himself awake long enough to return to being the grimy person who’d left earlier that evening.

*

It was, by his careful reckoning, the 31st of July. Given the potential importance of the date by anyone’s standards but his own, Harry was opened the link his scar afforded, being careful to shelter behind a mental wall of his own making. He would be able to observe Voldemort’s activities without alerting the man of his presence.

Pleasure was the first thing that filtered through to him that evening, followed by a full-blown vision of Voldemort’s surroundings. Knowing he would not be sensed, Harry settled in to watch as things unfolded, only slightly hampered by using Voldemort’s eyes as his own.

A door opened and from it issued a stream of black-robed, masked figures. They arrayed themselves in semi-circles in front of their lord and master, being sure to make as little noise as possible.

After all was settled, another group entered through the same door. This time the figures were unmasked and their hoods were thrown back, displaying their faces for all to see.

Recognizable were Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Nott. The others were nameless to Harry’s memory. He wondered in passing why there were no females among them.

The newcomers arrayed themselves much like their masked companions, forming a loose semi-circle between them and Voldemort. As one they dropped to one knee and bowed their heads, waiting.

“Witness, my faithful, a new beginning for those here before us. Tonight they shall be initiated into their new lives and will join us in our pursuit to rid the world of tainted blood and lesser creatures who dare to defy us.”

Voldemort made a sweeping gesture with one hand, ending it by pointing at one of the masked minions.

“Bella, step forth,” he commanded.

She did so saying, “Yes, my lord,” in a clear voice.

“Fetch tonight’s entertainment. Take whomever you need to assist you.”

“Yes, my lord,” she repeated, then whirled and snapped her fingers at seven of the masked figures. They filed out of the room.

While they waited there was dead silence.

Of all the new recruits waiting, only Malfoy had a look of insufferable smugness and rock-hard assurance. Harry wondered what he had done to display such confidence openly while the others maintained blank expressions.

Her group returned minutes later, each directing a person in front of them as they moved back to their places in the arrangement of Death Eaters.

“Each of you will prove yourselves to me. Any so foolish as to fail will be dealt with, and trust me when I say you shall not enjoy it.”

He swept the recruits with such a gaze that several of them just barely prevented themselves from taking a step back.

“Let us see . . . who shall have the pleasure of going first. You, Lamont, step forth,” he commanded, and was pleased to see the boy obeyed immediately.

“Pick a victim, Lamont, and show me what you can do to make them suffer and die.” Voldemort cackled wildly for a moment, then turned the full force of his gaze on the boy.

Lamont said, “Yes, my lord,” in a low voice and turned, scanning the waiting selection before pointing at a nondescript man of middle years. His keeper prodded him forward, apparently controlling the man via Imperio.

Lamont took a moment to study the area before acting. He pulled the man over to a stretch of wall and conjured a metal collar around his neck, attaching it with a length of conjured chain to a sturdy ring in the wall.

Stepping well back he pointed his wand at the man’s feet and said clearly, “Incendio!”

Harry, safe behind his mental wall, was disgusted to note that at least half of the assembled Death Eaters leaned forward at this.

They watched with avid eyes as the chained man began screaming in pain as the fire began to consume him from the feet upward. He died of smoke inhalation and shock long before his body was rendered unrecognizable.

Lamont turned back to Voldemort and bowed low, waiting.

After a contemplative silence, Voldemort spoke. “Lamont, come before me.” When the boy was in place, Voldemort gestured for his left arm and when it was presented, touched his wand to the unmarred flesh and intoned, “Morsmordre.”

Lamont immediately stiffened and bit his lip against any sound he might make as the dark mark was burned into his skin moment by agonizing moment. When it was complete he was directed to stand to the side.

Harry continued to watch with only half his attention, sickened at the things the recruits were doing in order to prove themselves to this madman. Nott was particularly sadistic in using acid to systematically destroy his victim while hurling questions the woman could not possibly answer. He cackled as her blood and fluids mixed with the acid in puddles on the stone floor, and watching with what could only be called delight as her bones cracked open to expose the marrow.

When he finally became tired of the screams, he directed the acid to her mouth and throat, then her chest. The woman died within moments and Nott cleaned up by vanishing the remains, leaving the floor spotless at the end.

One of the recruits (Harry hadn’t caught his name) failed when his turn came, unable to bring himself to kill, never mind torture. He was summarily banished to the dungeons to await his doom after having his wand snapped in front of him.

Malfoy, the last to go, had made creative use of vines to snare his victim like a snake. Sharp thorns punctured her skin like the eyeteeth of a vampire and let loose flows of blood to stain her flesh and the floor. Still more vines pierced her body in places best left unmentioned and plowed through her eyes and up her nostrils.

When her cries tapered off after screaming her throat raw, Draco directed a vine to enter her mouth and burrow deep. Moments later she was ripped apart from within and without as the vines flailed in vegetative ecstasy. He too vanished the remains.

In the end there were seven newly-marked recruits: Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Nott, Lamont, Craston, and Montrose, with one unfortunate left until later to be dealt with. Harry released the link and came back to his body, blessing his degree of control and the lack of food, for surely he would have vomited it up in the aftermath.

*

When visiting day rolled around Harry was not expecting anyone to arrive. Being the full moon, he knew that Remus would be otherwise occupied, so it was a surprise to Harry when he saw the blue light of the guide nearing his cell. He quickly adopted a blank mask and remained on his cot, waiting to see who was coming.

The visitor did not bother to sit upon the stool provided by the guide, but instead stood at the door, staring at him. Harry knew what they would see. A seemingly broken, filthy man with lifeless, dull eyes and white-streaked, matted hair sitting there staring at nothing in particular.

As it was, there were two visitors; a second figure came to stand beside the first.

“How are the mighty fallen,” quoted the female, brushing back her bushy hair. “I never thought it would come to this, Harry, not after all we’ve been through. But in the end, you failed us and everyone else. Why, Harry? Why didn’t you listen to us, confide in us? I thought we were your friends.”

She shifted her weight and passed her gaze over the interior of his cell. “And look at you now, Harry. We only ever wanted what was best for you. I feel as though I never really knew you at all. How much of it was lies, Harry, a facade or a mask?”

“We knew something was wrong,” said Ron, “but Hermione’s right. You wouldn’t tell us anything when we asked, never once explained why you were acting so strangely. I’m not sure Dumbledore should have bothered to ask us to keep an eye on you. It certainly didn’t make a difference.”

“Well, Ron, I daresay if Harry had listened more often, things would be a lot different. Sirius would probably even be alive.”

Harry didn’t do much more than move his lips soundlessly on occasion and blink. He continued staring at nothing in particular, showing no signs of awareness to his two former friends.

They in turn continued to ramble on, such as Hermione pointing out how disappointed she was in him in as many ways as she could think of, while Ron interjected from time to time or nodded in agreement to whatever she’d just said.

Harry didn’t see the point of it. If he’d been as unaware as he pretended to be, all of this verbiage was wasted. Then again, Hermione had always liked to display her vocabulary. While it was true that her advice was almost always sound, whether Harry had followed it or not, he didn’t think he deserved what she had been spouting for the last half hour.

All he did feel was a lingering sadness. It was obvious to him that she’d used her not inconsiderable skills at logic to convince herself, and Ron, that everything said about him was true and that the fault lay with him for not letting her control his every action. But then, her emotional connection to him had never been one of the strong points of their friendship and was easily overruled by her intellect.

By the time the sphere did its pulsing dance to warn them of the end of the visit, she had come to the conclusion that their visit had been pointless, since Harry wasn’t in any shape to process what she’d been saying. They left without a backward glance.

Harry came out of the experience knowing that Dumbledore had succeeded in planting the seeds of doubt, then had sat back and watched them flourish.

*

The evening was chilly, which was not unexpected for November, and the full moon cast her silvery light over the landscape, leeching the colour away normally seen by day. This was afforded an appreciative thought by the man lurking in the shadows of a particularly tall tree, but otherwise did not occupy his attention.

What was of interest was the hooded figure making its way toward the woods. The man didn’t bother with any unnecessary shows of bravery or skill, nor the customary words of wit and cleverness that oft preceded a duel. He simply pointed his wand and cast, “Stupefy,” followed by, “Incarcerous,” and, “Silencio,” for good measure.

Tucking his wand back into the forearm holster he wore, he stepped out into the moonlight and made his way to the prone, bound figure and pocketed the wand that lay beside, taking long enough to do a rough search for spares.

His next action was to pull a knife from the sheath strapped to his thigh and cut away the material shrouding the figure’s left arm, exposing the dark mark burnt into the skin. The knife was returned to its sheath and the man graced his captive with a cold smile.

“You disgrace the name of Slytherin, Flint. Would that I had time to show you the depth of my displeasure, but I think the dementors of Azkaban will suit nicely, don’t you? Of course, I doubt the Ministry will give much care to your handling in the interim. Come along now, time stands not still for you or I.”

The man pulled the captive to his feet, letting Flint get a good look at his face before they both disappeared.

*

Remus sank onto the three-legged stool heavily. After long moments of blank staring, Harry rose from his cot and moved to sit in front of the cell door, smiling up at his friend, who looked unutterably weary, probably from the full moon two days prior.

“Hello, Moony. It’s good to see you again.”

“Hello, Harry.”

“I had some visitors. Can’t say as they were much fun though. They seemed to think I was quite mad, and that all of this is my fault,” Harry said calmly.

“That . . . doesn’t surprise me.”

“Yes, well. Enough about them. How fares the glorious revolution?” Harry had read something like that in a comic once, and had always been wanting to use it in conversation.

“Personally or generally?” asked Remus.

“Both. You know that.”

“Personally, I’m gotten more flak for coming here, but it doesn’t matter. I believe in you and that’s that.”

“Are you getting wolfsbane each month or having to transform unprotected?”

“That depends, Harry. Snape doesn’t always have time to make it, but that’s all right because I’m in a safe enough place to transform.”

“Oh?”

“The Shrieking Shack. The willow still protects it and the structure has been reinforced.” Remus seemed to be shrugging it off as unimportant, so Harry let him.

“Dumbledore is a bit mystified; two of the house-elves have left Hogwarts, along with your school trunk. He doesn’t understand why they left, or whether or not your trunk going missing is coincidence or planned.”

“Aside from a few items of personal value, I don’t see why anyone would either. The map, the cloak and the firebolt, sure,” Harry reasoned.

“That’s just it. Your wand was also in the trunk according to Albus, and he’s more upset about that than anything.”

“Oh. Yeah. I’d have figured he’d snap that.” It was Harry’s turn to shrug. What use did a prisoner have for a wand? He felt only slightly guilty at playing games with Remus, but it would all come out in the end.

“The brother wand to Voldemort’s, are you kidding? Well, doesn’t matter now. It’s gone. Let me think . . . another Death Eater was captured under odd circumstances. He was delivered, bound and silenced, to the Ministry with his sleeve cut off to display the mark. Whoever the hunter is, they’re developing an odd sense of humor.” Remus chuckled.

“What makes you say that?”

“The word came down that the fellow in question, Flint, kept telling anyone who’d listen that it was Salazar Slytherin who did it. I think it spooked him enough that he was glad to be taken away. The Ministry pronounced him mad after questioning.”

Harry turned slightly so he could lean against the bars. “How tragic. How are the twins?” he asked with a slight smile.

“Business is still booming. They’ve decided that you’re a fully-fledged partner at this point, and asked me to tell you that if you’ve any ideas of your own to please pass them along.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, Moony, but why do you think they don’t come here themselves?”

Remus looked him squarely in the eyes. “I think that while they disagree with most of their family, they also don’t want to be the cause of a huge rift. They keep their beliefs to themselves, refusing to say one way or the other when your name is raised. If they made the trip out here, people would start to raise questions.”

He paused, shook his head, and continued. “I think if it came down to it they’d openly stand firm, but for now they aren’t rocking the boat.”

“If it comes up, Moony, tell them I understand.”

“I will. You can be sure of it.”

*

A spider crept across the ceiling with no real destination in mind, ambling along as though taking its daily constitutional, when noises made it freeze in place a moment before scuttling into the waiting shadows.

Shortly thereafter Remus Lupin strode into view with a resigned look on his face. His wand he placed onto a ledge well up into the fireplace. Sitting down, he waited patiently for the moon to rise.

The spider, watching him closely, cringed at the pain of the transformation, waving one of its legs in mute distress until at last a wolf sat panting. The spider continued to wait as the creature roamed the shack restlessly, only to finally circle a few times in place and lay down, muzzle on his paws, and go to sleep.

The spider waited a while longer before scuttling down the wall on an angled path until it rounded the doorframe and entered the next room, where it dropped to the floor.

It transformed to human, bearing the guise of the long dead Salazar, and pulled out a wand. Padding silently to the door, he poked his head around cautiously and saw that the wolf remained asleep.

A few spells, boosted in power to be assured that the wolf would not break free, rendered the creature harmless. The man stepped into the room and quickly retrieved the wand from the fireplace, stowing it in his pocket.

From there it was mere steps to bring him to the wolf’s side. He laid one hand on the creature’s flank and warped them both to Sanctuary. The room he had asked for had long been ready and Moony was plunked into the middle and locked in.

Outside, the man reverted back to his natural state and sat down. It was all there waiting for him. Harry pulled open the left drawer of the desk he was seated at and placed Moony’s wand carefully inside, then closed it.

From the right drawer he pulled a sheet of parchment, and taking a quill from the stand on the surface, he proceeded to draft a letter for his friend to read when he awoke.

It contained very little in the way of real information. Remus was free to make Sanctuary his home for as long as he wished and use the room for transformation without fear of interruption or other awkward issues. As a token of faith, he would find something within the house which should ease his worries of betrayal or worse. It also gave the location of his wand.

Harry pulled a stand over in front of the door to the locked room and placed the letter on it in plain sight. Remus would see it when he exited the room.

He snapped his fingers and Dobby appeared.

“Dobby, can you please get Winky as well?”

“Of course Harry Potter, sir! Right away!” Dobby popped out and back in a moment later, Winky by his side.

“Dobby, Winky, remember the room I had you prepare?”

They nodded.

“Remus is in there now. After the moon has gone down and it’s safe again, I want one of you to unlock it, all right? The same goes for any night he needs to use it to transform; lock him in before the moon rises, and unlock it when it sets.”

“Is Dobby and Winky to be caring for Mr Lupin?”

Harry nodded. “If he decides to stay, yes. But do not tell him that I am your master, or how you two or Hedwig came to be here, or who really owns this place, got it?”

“What is we allowed to be saying, Harry Potter, sir?” asked Dobby, shifting his weight from side to side.

“I’ve left him a note signed as Salazar Slytherin.” He ignored the almost comical looks of horror the two elves displayed and continued. “When the time is right, he’ll know everything, but for now what he doesn’t know he can’t be forced to tell. You can tell him that Hedwig is here though.”

“Yes, Harry Potter, sir! Dobby and Winky is keeping your secrets like good house-elves.”

Winky nodded her head as though it would fall off.

“Now, do you need any more money?”

*

The stool was kicked aside in favor of sitting on the floor, much like Harry did when Remus came to visit. A suspicious look tightened his already lined face, but Harry simply greeted him normally and was greeted in return.

“A strange thing happened to me a while back, and some strange things came to light,” Remus started, giving Harry a funny look. “You remember, I told you about the two house-elves who left Hogwarts, and the fellow who’s been capturing Death Eaters?”

Harry nodded, letting his face slide into an expression of inquisitiveness.

“I find it all rather convenient that the fellow, who’s going by the name of Salazar Slytherin of all things, is the same one who apparently has a mansion taken care of by said missing house-elves. The same fellow who kidnapped me from the shrieking shack and left me a note saying I was welcome to live in his mansion. And that’s not the best part.”

Harry raised his brows in silent enquiry. “I’m almost afraid to ask.”

Remus snorted. “The three residents of the mansion are all intimately connected to you, Harry.”

“Excuse me?” he asked, jerking his head forward slightly.

“You heard me. Dobby, Winky, and Hedwig.” Remus shot him another strange look. “Are you sure you aren’t an animagus or something, Harry?”

“Moony, when did I have time to become one? It took dad and the others years to manage it so they could be with you. I doubt I could figure it out in this hellhole, even if I had a clue where to begin.”

Remus started to speak, then closed his mouth, obviously thinking. After a moment he looked back up. “There’s something very strange about you, Harry.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said, smiling slightly.

“You don’t seem to be affected by the dementors—and don’t give me that song and dance about Occlumency again—you obviously aren’t insane, and someone . . . someone seems bent on gathering up pieces of your life and bringing them to the same place. Wouldn’t you be a little unnerved if you were me?”

“I expect so, but I’m not sure what you think this Salazar fellow has to do with me specifically. I can’t very well have asked him to do these things.” Seeing the look on Moony’s face he said, “You know as well as I do that no one leaves Azkaban without trickery or help, and no one has visited me except you and, well, those two.”

Remus grunted and inspected his fingernails.

“Remus,” Harry said hesitantly, “do you trust me?”

The werewolf looked up. “Yes, Harry, I do.”

Harry felt the truth of the simple statement and heaved a quiet sigh of relief. He summoned up a smile and told the other man, “Then don’t worry about it for now. Whatever’s happening, I’m sure that Dobby has enough sense to stay away from danger and treachery. And he knows you’re my friend; he’ll probably protect you as well as he could me, even if he is known to be a bit enthusiastic at times.”

“Speaking of whatever’s happening, another Death Eater was brought in, also claiming to have been apprehended by Salazar Slytherin. This one said he’d been told he shamed the name and house of Slytherin.” Remus gave Harry a sideways glance.

“Must be a kick in the pants for Voldemort if he’s heard about that detail,” commented Harry. “Quite infuriating, I’d say.”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“That reminds me. I didn’t think to tell you the last time you were here. I guess I had other things on my mind.”

“Tell me what?” Remus asked.

“Voldemort held an initiation ceremony on my birthday last year. Seven of the eight were marked. I don’t suppose Snape said anything?” Harry was truly interested to know if the potions master had gotten word through his own sources.

Remus cocked his head to one side. “No, he didn’t. Or if he did, it wasn’t brought up as it should have been in a meeting.”

“How curious,” he said vaguely.

“Do you know who was inducted?”

“Yes, but I don’t think—well, maybe it could work. How’s this? That is to say, if you intend to pass the names on, I have an idea as to how.” Seeing Remus nod, he continued. “Let’s say that the last time you were here you kept hearing me mumble a series of names. At the time you assumed that’s all it was—the ramblings of the insane—but this time I kept at it, plus added more.”

“Go on,” prompted Remus.

“A few more were initiated just recently, which is probably why I remembered this time. Anyway, the list is Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Nott, Oakley, Shipton, Lamont, Craston, Montrose and Bole.”

Remus pulled a spare bit of parchment from his robes and scribbled down the names with a muggle pencil, then looked up. “I suppose then, with you being insane and all, that you’ve no control over shielding your mind, and therefore see everything, right?”

Harry gave him a vacuous smile and nodded his head foolishly, then smirked. “Something like that. Of course, after you wrote those names down, I stopped babbling abruptly.”

“Of course you did. I wonder why Snape wasn’t informed of these, or if it’s just me who’s out of the loop.” Remus shoved the list and pencil back into his robes and frowned. “How come your two visitors didn’t hear this?”

“How often have you heard me say anything meaningful the times you’ve been here, Moony?” Harry asked with a pointed look.

“Touché.”

*

The remaining two visits by Remus that year were somewhat similar. In June he was told that Travers had been dropped off at the Ministry. As he was one of those who had been broken out after imprisonment for participation in the battle at the Department of Mysteries, the Ministry was reportedly thrilled to have him back in custody. The same was true for Dolohov.

Remus had dutifully reported what he’d heard Harry mumbling in his cell, though he’d given no opinion as to what it meant, saying only that it had stopped abruptly after he’d written the names down. As he relayed to Harry, Snape had looked briefly surprised before his habitual dour expression had fallen into place again.

Albus, for his part, had nodded sagely and requested that Remus keep his ears open for anything more that Harry might say, regardless of how peculiar it may sound, and ceased his gentle chiding about the visits Remus insisted on making.