Summary: Xander's plans move forward.
15th in the series of If Wishes Were Thestrals, We'd All Run Screaming
Xander, Hermione and Ron stepped quietly into the mostly empty Gryffindor common room. Xander glanced around the room, obviously searching for something.
"Hermione, where's your cat?" he asked his friend.
"He's locked in my room," she said resentfully. She glared a bit at Ron but he just looked satisfied. "Professor McGonagall asked me to either have him with me or in my room if I wasn't here."
Ron just looked justified. "If he wouldn't keep trying to eat Scabbers, you wouldn't have to lock him up," he pointed out.
Xander, however, just nodded before he purposefully made his way up to his dorm. He knew Ron and Hermione were following him, probably hoping for an explanation for his rather odd behavior, but unfortunately, all Ron was going to get was an unhappy surprise.
"*Petrificus Totalus*," Xander snapped out, flicking his wand at the snoozing rat on Ron's pillow.
"Oi, Xander!" Ron shouted but the younger teen just stalked across the room and picked up the petrified form of Scabbers.
"Xander, what do you think you're doing?" Hermione demanded as Xander pulled the pillowcase off of Ron's pillow and carefully dropped the rat inside.
"Solving your cat's problem," he stated flatly. "Scabbers is going with us to the Headmaster's office," Xander continued as he gripped the pillowcase and turned to face his friends. Hermione just looked bewildered but Xander sighed inwardly at Ron's angry expression.
"Mate, I know you don't like Scabbers, but there's no call to hex him!" Ron stated as he made a grab for the pillowcase. Xander held it behind his back as he shook his head.
"We need to go as we're already late," he said, trying to keep his tone calm. "Ron, please trust me on this. Scabbers needs to go with us and I have to be sure he won't get away."
"Why do we need Ron's rat?" Hermione asked logically but Xander shook his head.
"We just do," he replied as dodged another grab for the pillowcase by his best friend. He gave the redhead a serious look. "Ron, *please*! I'll let you hold your rat if you promise not to remove the spell or take him out of the pillowcase." The older boy still looked angry so Xander stepped closer and lowered his voice. "*Please*, Ron, this is very important!"
"I don't understand why," Ron said as he met Xander's gaze.
"You'll understand as soon as we get to Dumbledore's office," Xander replied and both boys ignored Hermione's softly stated, 'That's *Professor* Dumbledore'.
Ron grumbled under his breath a moment before he nodded. "All right, but this better be good," he stated flatly.
"If you don't agree with the reasons I'm taking Scabbers with us, I'll buy the rat his own deluxe habitrail," Xander said, knowing there was no way he'd have to back that up.
Ron just took the offered pillowcase and held it gently before he looked up at Xander curiously. "What's a habitrail?"
Xander, Ron and Hermione walked quickly from their common room to the Headmaster's office. Xander wasn't very surprised to find Professor Lupin waiting for them at the entrance. The teacher eyed the pillowcase Ron was clutching protectively to his chest for a moment before he smiled at the trio.
"Sorry, we're late, Professor," Xander said hurriedly before Lupin could ask about the pillowcase. "Shall we go on up?"
Lupin glanced over Hermione and Ron before he turned back to Xander. "This is a meeting between you and myself and the Headmaster, Xander," he said gently.
"Yes sir, I understand that," Xander replied, running his fingers nervously through his hair. "But see, this is the first chance I've had to speak with Professor Dumbledore and there's another very important thing I need to speak with him *and* you about and since this involves Scabbers, I had to bring Ron, and Hermione would really ream me if she wasn't included in this and this is the first time we've had the chance and it's very important so I thought you wouldn't mind, I mean...."
"Xander, calm down," the professor said as he reached out to touch the babbling boy's shoulder. He glanced at the other two students who looked as befuddled as he felt. "I'm sure the Headmaster won't mind their presence," he continued as Xander took a deep breath.
"Good," Xander said as he forced himself to be calm. "Thank you. You can interrogate me about Angelus later. This is really important."
Remus blinked at the boy's casual mention of one of the most bloodthirsty vampires to exist in the last three centuries. He really did need to speak with the boy about that but obviously there was something else that Xander was far more worried about. He turned and said the password for the Headmaster's Office and the gargoyle slid out of the way.
In moments, the three students and one professor stepped onto the spiraling staircase and then found themselves at the door to the headmaster's office. At Lupin's knock, they heard a faint call to come in and the professor opened door and led the way inside.
"Welcome Professor Lupin, students," Dumbledore said with a smile as he gestured at the four chairs before his desk. He didn't seem at all surprised at there being three students instead of one. "Please be seated."
Remus quickly sat down but Ron and Hermione moved a bit slower as they looked around with wide eyes, trying to see everything. Hermione, especially, was glancing around, trying to memorize everything she saw before Ron pulled her down onto the chair next to Professor Lupin. Then he sank down, holding his petrified rat on his lap.
Xander followed behind Ron, his eyes immediately drawn to Fawkes as the phoenix trilled a greeting, his feathers rustling gently as he watched the new arrivals. Xander wondered if the mystical creature would sense that he wasn't quite the same as he had been just three months before when the bird had saved him and Ginny from the basilisk.
The phoenix didn't seemed bothered, however, so Xander just plopped himself down in the last chair and turned his attention to the Headmaster. Those blue eyes seemed quite intent on him and Xander's nerves overcame his British sense for a moment.
"Hey, Professor D, what's the what?"
The headmaster blinked before he tipped his glasses slightly down on his nose and surveyed Xander over the top of the rims.
"I assume that is a greeting and question about why we are here," he noted with a raised brow and Xander immediately straightened and cleared his throat.
"Ah, yeah," he nodded with a faint blush and then as the headmaster's brow raised even further, he stammered out, "I mean, yes sir, I appreciate you seeing me...ah...I mean us. I know Professor Lupin wanted to talk about class this afternoon but I really have something I need to speak with you about."
Dumbledore smiled faintly and nodded. "My door is always open, Alexander. Why did you need to see me?"
"Er...yeah," he acknowledged as he again ran his fingers through his unruly hair. Absently, he thought he needed a haircut.
There was silence for a moment as Xander frantically tried to think of how to open the conversation and the other four just looked at him expectantly.
"Ummm, well," he began and then found he couldn't sit still to explain the problem so he stood and stuck his hands in his pockets.
"Okay, so, you know this summer was kinda strange, right? What with the Aunt Marge bloatage and the PoA thing and the Knight Bus thing, and how weird was *that* I ask you? Talking shrunken heads driving the main transportation for the wizard world? Makes me feel safer in a car with Buffy."
"PoA thing?" Ron asked, warily watching his best friend start to pace. Xander just grinned at him wryly.
"Prisoner of Azkaban thing," Xander explained as his eyes darted to Professor Lupin who had flinched slightly. Ron just nodded, well used to his friend's nervous babbling, though he did make a mental note to ask who Buffy was. Hermione just watched her friend closely.
"So yeah, typical weird summer and I'm glad it's over," Xander continued and turned back to the headmaster. "But, see, something else happened and...well...it's just kinda strange and even considering this is the Wizarding world it's bizarre. Sometimes I worry that it really didn't happen or I dreamed it all." Xander sighed worriedly and he noted that Dumbledore's faint blue eyes were now sharply focused.
"Dream what, Xander?" Remus asked in his gentle way and Xander just looked at him for a moment before his gaze went to Hermione and Ron, who looked wary, and then to Dumbledore, who looked ready to believe anything he might say.
Xander closed his eyes for a long moment and then took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, he stepped up next to Ron.
"Okay. Ron, you and Hermione are my best friends. You're the first friend I made that was my own age, right?"
"Right, mate," he agreed with no hesitation.
"Okay, then. Please trust me when I say hand over the petrified rodent."
Ron blinked and looked from Xander's outstretched hand to the pillowcase he held in his lap. He could tell that Xander's spell was still holding the small animal securely and he carefully pulled out his pet. The rat's beady little eyes looked frantic.
"Please, Ron. This is important," Xander said softly.
"Ron, you know Xander wouldn't do anything to hurt you," Hermione said softly beside him.
The redhead glanced at her briefly before he sighed and then handed the rat over to his friend, who smiled and nodded.
"Thanks," Xander said before he looked into the rodent's eyes with a flat, angry expression. "Yeah, you *should* look worried, you little bastard," he told the petrified rat.
"Xander, language!" Hermione said and he spared a quick smile in her direction.
Then he moved over to Dumbledore's desk and laid the small form down on the desktop. Dumbledore looked at the rat with a curious expression before he turned his attention back to Xander.
"Okay, so," the boy began as he stepped back and rubbed his palms nervously on his jeans. Then he nodded and a determined expression appeared on his face.
"As you know, or maybe Professor Lupin doesn't know but I kinda think he *does* know, the last two years me and Ron and Hermione have spent most of the school year running around, chasing after possessed DADA teachers and killing big reptiles along with antagonizing blonde-haired, gray-eyed Slytherins and making much general chaos." Xander glanced over at Remus, who looked a bit amused, and Ron, who looked a little smug. Hermione looked a little put-out. When he looked back at the headmaster, Dumbledore nodded.
"Well, *this* year, I've decided to get the whole 'problem of the year' out of the way early so I can concentrate on more important things like Quidditch and fun...and...er...classwork, or course," he added quickly.
"Of course, Xander," Remus said, his lips quirking slightly. Ron just snickered.
"Er...anyway," Xander began again, turning to the DADA teacher. He took another deep breath and then plowed on. "Professor Lupin, I know about the Mauraders. My dad, and you and Peter and Sirius Black." The professor flinched again and he quickly continued.
"I know Sirius was sent to prison for the betrayal of my parents." Xander's lips pressed together for a moment as he struggled to not focus on the memory that the dementors on the train had dug up. "I know they said he killed all those muggles and killed Pettigrew but what you don't know is that he was set up."
Ron and Hermione looked completely confused but Professor Lupin froze, his hands gripping the arms of his chair as he stared at Xander. Professor Dumbledore leaned forward intently. Xander just continued talking.
"Peter set him up. Peter was the Secret Keeper, not Sirius. Sirius thought he would be too obvious and got my dad to change who the Secret Keeper was at the last minute before they went into hiding. Peter was the one who worked for Voldemort." Xander found his own hands fisted at his sides as he glared at the rat on the desk. "Then he turned into a rat and slunk off, leaving my godfather to take the blame while he eventually found his way into the Weasley family as a familiar."
"What?" Ron shouted as he jumped up. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that your rat is Peter Pettigrew and that he set my godfather up to take the rap for his own betrayal," Xander stated flatly as Remus pushed forward to stare down at the petrified rodent on Dumbledore's desk.
"You're barmy, mate!" he cried. "That rat's been with the family for years!"
"Too many years, Ron!" Xander insisted. "No rat lives for twelve years! That's Peter Pettigrew!"
"There's a very easy spell that will solve the question of whether the rat is an animagus or not," Hermione stated as she put her hand on Ron's arm. "Right, Headmaster?"
"That is correct, Miss Granger," Dumbledore said as he pulled out his wand and pointed it at Scabbers. He spoke a few words softly and flicked his wand. A moment later, there was a chubby, rat-like man frozen on the desktop.
Everyone stared at the now human form on the desk for a long moment before Remus let out a cry of rage.
"Pettigrew!" he snarled, his voice hard and dangerous and he jumped forward even as Xander darted between him and the desk. He pressed his hands on Lupin's chest.
Remus' eyes were wild and golden as he looked down at Xander and growled deep in his chest. Ron dragged Hermione away from the snarling professor while the Headmaster pointed his wand at Lupin, ready to stun him if necessary. The Boy Who Lived, however, shocked everyone in the room when his own eyes flashed a brilliant glowing green and he growled low and deep right back at the werewolf.
Lupin stiffened and stumbled backwards into his chair in surprise while Xander closed his eyes and took a deep breath. With the exception of Marge's little demon dog, Ripper, the Hyena had remained relatively quiet since he'd come to Potterland but now he felt her rising to the challenge of Remus' wolf. He struggled to calm her as he used to when he was involved daily with patrols and danger. The habit of controlling her was one he hadn't needed in several months. After a few minutes of silence, he opened his eyes and found his DADA teacher staring at him with concern.
"Xander, what was that?" he asked, his tone carefully bland.
Xander just sighed and rubbed his temples. He turned and dropped into Ron's vacant seat. Across the still petrified Peter, the Headmaster was watching him with a careful gaze and Xander immediately dropped his eyes. No need to let Dumbledore see more than he wanted to share.
"That is part of what happened this summer, which I will share with you later," he stated as he straightened and glanced back at Ron and Hermione. Their eyes were wide and worried. "I promise, I'll tell you the whole story. It's nothing bad...just different. Whether you believe it or not..." he shrugged and turned back to Remus. "For now, we need to get Rat-Boy here strung up by his toes in front of the ministry so they will send the Demon guys back to Azkaban and Sirius can stop skulking around Hogwarts like a criminal."
He looked briefly at the Headmaster before he glanced back at the professor beside him.
"I do believe you are correct, Alexander," Professor Dumbledore finally allowed as he glared down at the man on his desk. "First and foremost, we must clear Sirius Black's name and find out all we can from Mr. Pettigrew."
"Yes!" Xander said as he punched the air and then collapsed into his chair. He gave a relieved smile. "Great! How long do you think it will take?"
"Only long enough to procure some veritaserum and call a Wizengamot session, I think," Dumbledore replied almost absently. "A few days at most, I would think, and then Sirius will need medical care as well."
"Will he have to go to St Mungo's?"
"Probably for awhile," Albus replied gently. "He will have to be healed from twelve years of Dementor exposure and living in rather bad conditions."
Xander thought that 'rather bad conditions' was wildly understating the case but he just nodded as he stood. "Will you let me know what happens and when I can see him again?"
The Headmaster and Professor Lupin just looked at the youth with raised brows.
"Again?" Dumbledore asked softly and Xander flushed and glanced away, mentally bludgeoning himself for not watching his words.
"Did you see Mr. Black before coming to school, Alexander?" Dumbledore asked in a casual tone.
"Well...maybe?" Xander said in a hopeful tone. Hopeful that he wasn't going to get in trouble over this but doubting it.
"You hadn't thought to say anything before?"
Xander tried not to look guilty as he straightened again. "Well...er...." he stammered with an apologetic glance at Remus who looked confused. "I *might* have seen him in Diagon Alley. Once or twice. But then again, he could have been *any* big, black, scruffy-looking dog. All those Grim, Omen-of-Death type animals look alike." He glanced sideways at Lupin. "Er...ya know?"
Remus just raised his eyebrows. The Headmaster looked even more intent.
"The dog that stayed with you at the Leaky Cauldron? That was Sirius Black?" Hermione suddenly burst in, her tone completely scandalized. "Xander did you let that convict stay with you in your room?"
"He's not a convict!" Xander replied hotly. "He never got a trial so he was never convicted!"
"Mr. Harris, are you saying that Sirius Black is an animagus?" Professor Dumbledore interrupted the pair with his question and Xander looked back at him guiltily before he glanced at Remus.
"Maybe?" Dumbledore's brow rose slightly. "Possibly?" He glanced at Remus who was just rubbing his forehead as if he had a headache. "Maybe you should ask Sirius?"
"Indeed, I will, Mr. Harris," the Headmaster replied before he turned back to the man still petrified on his desk. "I think you three should return to your dorm for now. I will let you know how things are progressing in the next few days."
"Thanks, Headmaster," Xander said with a nod before he turned to join Hermione and Ron by the door.
"And Alexander?" Professor Dumbledore called out as the door was closing behind them.
Xander stopped and stepped back into the office as Ron and Hermione trotted down the stairs. "I'm sure you won't mind stopping by my office this weekend for a nice chat, will you?"
The boy just closed his eyes for a moment and then nodded. "Yes, sir. Do you think Sirius will be here? These are things he needs to hear as well."
"I will see what we can do. Now off with you," the headmaster said before he turned to the man frozen on his desk. Xander, however, didn't move. He stared at the petrified traitor on Dumbledore's desk with a troubled gaze before he turned to where Ron had disappeared down the stairs.
When he turned back to the headmaster, he bit his lip for a moment. Dumbledore and Lupin watched the boy as he started to speak and then closed his mouth.
"Xander?" Remus asked, "What is it?"
"Pettigrew has been at the Weasley house for twelve years with no one the wiser," he began quietly with another glance back down the stairs. "Maybe you should check them over for compulsions that Peter could have planted, especially Percy and Ron, since Pettigrew was actually with them all the time." He looked back at the professors and saw their concerned expressions.
"I mean, I don't *know* if anything was done but better to check and know for certain that the bastard didn't mess with their minds or anything else. I mean, Percy is so different from his brothers..." Xander worried at his lower lip. "I just worry that there might be a reason," he finished as he gestured toward Pettigrew.
"Language, Mr. Harris," Dumbledore said absently as he studied his prisoner with a dark gaze. "But you may be correct. We will check on that."
Xander just nodded and followed his friends down the stairs.
"Now, Mr. Pettigrew," Dumbledore began as the door closed behind them.
Xander wondered for a moment if he could stay and listen. But Ron had come back up the stairs and was giving him an extremely concerned look. Xander just sighed and followed him down to where Hermione was waiting impatiently.
He figured he was going to have to tell them something to explain how he had known what he did about Pettigrew and he thought his parents’ journals would make a really good excuse. He'd share the story of the Marauders and their secret keeper with Ron and Hermione this evening. Vampires, Slayers, Hyenas and Vengeance Demons could wait until this weekend.
Xander sighed as his friends escorted him firmly back to the common room. Hermione and Ron looked quite determined to hear his explanation.
Ah well. At least he wouldn't have to do his homework.