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Chapter Eleven
Christmas and Animagi

Ginny are you sure about this?

Of course.  I know for a fact that it'll be perfectly safe.

Remus wasn't convinced.  The pair was sitting in the downstairs room of the Shrieking Shack, waiting for the moon to rise.  Ginny had followed her friend down by turning invisible, so that the teacher accompanying them didn't notice her.  Now that they were left alone, and Remus' change was fast approaching, they were starting to get a bit nervous.  Remus had never had anyone with him while he was a wolf, and the thought of his friend seeing him as a monster made his heart ache.  However, his fears were laid to rest when he looked into her eyes and saw only companionship and acceptance.  Before he had chance to dwell too much on it, pain suddenly wracked his body and he felt the change begin.

Gin, you'd better change.  The moon is out, he ground out.

Alright, I will.

With a faint *pop*, Ginny turned into a large pelican, and sat back to wait for her friend's change.  Seeing him writhing in agony as his bones snapped and reformed tore her up inside.  Remus was such a sweet and gentle person, and she felt like no-one deserved this less than him.  After a few drawn out minutes, a fully formed werewolf stood before her, growling softly.  Inching forward, she tried to make herself look small and unthreatening, so as not to anger the wild beast before her.  After a few minutes of sitting perfectly still, Ginny slowly raised her head and looked closely at Remus.  Upon seeing that she wasn't going to attack, the wolf had sat down and was staring at the other animal, its head cocked to one side.  Ginny stood up, nodded to the wolf and headed out of the shack and into the Forbidden Forest.  Looking back, she saw the grey beast following not far behind, and with an internal smile, she waited for him to catch up.

*~*~*

The following day at breakfast, each of the time travellers, bar Ginny, received a message by owl to meet after breakfast in Harry's room.  The sixth years all had free periods that morning, so it was the perfect time for them to get together without anybody being suspicious.

When the owl had arrived at the Slytherin table, Sev had given Harry a funny look, but Harry had merely shook his head at him and gone back to his breakfast.  His head was swirling with thoughts about what the meeting could be about.  The note had been in Ginny's handwriting, so he knew she had something to do with it, but he didn't know what had suddenly brought it on.  He puzzled over it until the end of breakfast before saying goodbye to Sev and heading to his room.  When he got there, the other three were waiting for him.  As soon as he sat down, Ginny stood and made her way to the wall.

I'll be back in a few minutes, guys, there's something I need to go and do.

That said, she created a door and left her confused friends to look at each other in bewilderment.

What was that all about?  I think my sister's finally lost it.  Do you know why she called this meeting?

Haven't a clue, Ron, but I doubt she would have arranged it if it wasn't important, Hermione said.

True.  She's been acting a bit odd lately though.  Very secretive.  I wonder if she's going to tell us what she's been up to, Ron added.

That's likely, but we'll have to wait until she comes back to find out.

The three lapsed into silence and the minutes ticked by.  Eventually, a door appeared in the wall and Ginny came through, leading the four Marauders to the seats around the fireplace.  When they were all comfortable, Hermione broke the silence.

Shouldn't you four be in lessons?

Yup, we should be in Divination.  All it took was Sirius telling Trelawney that he saw the grim and that the four of us would die a horrible and painful death.  She sent us straight out, saying that we needed time to set our affairs in order, James explained.

I called you all here, Ginny started, because I have a proposition for you all.  Last night I went with Remus to the Shrieking Shack and accompanied him when he became a werewolf.  The outing was a great success, as I managed to keep his wolf form under control.  We actually had a lot of fun.  Now, from what Remus has told me, you Marauders have been trying for years to become animagi so you could go with him, but have thus far been unsuccessful.  What I am proposing is that we four teach the transformation to you.  What do you think?

It took a few moments for everything she had said to sink in.  The Marauders were surprised at the offer, and were curious about what forms the time travellers took.  They hadn't known they were animagi.  They had tried to complete the transformation themselves, but had hit a bit of a snag.  They covered the theory pretty quickly, but the concentration it took to perform the viewing spell had eluded them.  They needed the help really badly, and they knew it.

The other three time travellers were thinking over the offer.  What Ginny said made sense, as they knew they could be of help.  They also knew from what Sirius had said in the future that the three of them became animagi in their fifth year.  If they didn't help, they may never get it right, therefore time would be disrupted.  They couldn't risk that happening.  Anyway, according to time, they had already helped the Marauders, so not helping them was not really an option.

I'll help.

Me too.

And me.

Good, I was hoping you'd see it that way.  Now, all we need is a way to meet up to practice.  I suggest we do it during the Christmas holidays, as we will have plenty of time to work on it, Ginny said.

I have a suggestion, Peter spoke up.

What's that? Harry asked in a strained voice.  He tried to avoid the boy who would someday betray his parents as much as possible, but sometimes it wasn't an option.

Well, the four of us, plus Ron, are the only Gryffindors staying at Hogwarts this year.  Most people are going home because of the threat of You-Know-Who.  They want to spend time with their families.  We all opted to stay because we like to spend Christmas together, and James' parents always come here anyway.  Why don't you all move into Gryffindor Tower for the holidays.

Is that allowed? Hermione asked.

I don't see why not, Sirius said, picking up Peter's thread, I mean, that way we could all spend Christmas together and have a party in the common room.  I doubt anyone would mind, and it would only be for two weeks.

Well, I'm up for it, Harry said.

Me too, Ginny piped up.

I suppose, Hermione reluctantly agreed.

So it's settled then?  We can start on the first day of the holidays.  If you bring whatever you'll need for your stay after the other students leave, you can move right in and no-one need be any the wiser, Ron said.  Everyone nodded and smiled at each other.  It had been settled.  The time travellers were teaching the Marauders how to be animagi.

*~*~*

The morning of the first day of the Christmas holidays finally came, and Harry was sad to have to see Sev off.  The younger boy had received a summons from his father, so he had to go home for the holidays.  Harry thought his friend had seemed distracted since the letter came, as if he was dreading something.  When he asked about it, though, he received only a scared look and a muttered brush off.  Harry had decided that if Sev was still acting strange when he came back, he would confront him about it.

Over breakfast, Harry started thinking of ways he could find out what was wrong with his fellow Slytherin.  The only thing that sprang to mind could be classed as deception, and he wasn't sure about breaking his friend's trust.  However, after much deliberation, he decided to throw caution and his conscience to the wind and go ahead with his plan.  Slipping out of the Great Hall, he made his way down to the Slytherin dorms to pack what he would need for his stay in Gryffindor Tower.  When he got there, instead of heading straight for his room, he made a quick stop at Sev's dorm.  Lifting the lid of the waiting trunk, he unravelled Nirah from his wrist and started to speak to her.

*Nirah, I need a favour*

*Anything Harry.  What do you want?*

*I want you to go home with Sev and keep an eye on him.  Report back anything strange that happens while you're there.  Can you do that for me?*

*Of course* Nirah replied.

After placing charms on her so she could be separated from her mate for an extended period of time, Harry gently lowered the snake into the trunk and closed the lid, thankful that she was still under the influence of the spell that made her visible only to those who knew she was there.  With a wave of his hand, several small air holes appeared in the side of the trunk, which Harry quickly camouflaged with concealing charms.  When he was done, he slipped back out of the room and made his way to his own room to pack.

Two hours later, after waving Sev off at the main doors, Harry headed up to Gryffindor Tower, Hermione and Ginny catching up to him on the way.  They had all shrunk their trunks earlier that morning, so they were all ready for their move.  They knew it would be strange being back in Gryffindor again, even just for a short time, but they were definitely looking forward to it.

When they got to the portrait of the Fat Lady, they were pleased to see Ron waiting for them.  As soon as he spotted their approach, he turned to the portrait and gave the password, holding the door open as they all piled in.  Once the new arrivals were all settled in their appropriate dorm rooms, they met up with the Marauders in the common room to start the training.  When they were all seated in a circle on the floor, Hermione started to prepare the three who would be doing the spell.  Although it wasn't necessary to go through with it, as the time travellers could simply tell the three what their forms were so they could go straight to the research, they knew that they couldn't say anything.  It would look to suspicious.  As Hermione talked James, Sirius and Peter through the procedure, they started to relax and meditate in the way that they were supposed to.  After a few minutes of silence, Hermione started to move around the circle.

Right, James I want you to say the incantation.

Video Animagus.

A brilliant glowing stag appeared in the middle of the circle of students and pranced around for a few minutes before disappearing.  James seemed pleased with his form, and sat back to see what the other two had.  Peter went next, although it took him a few tries before anything happened.  When the small rat appeared on the floor, James, Remus and Sirius burst out laughing, causing the other Marauder to turn bright red.  They had to wait for Sirius to calm down before he could try the spell himself, as his concentration had been ruined.

Video Animagus, he stated clearly.

A large black dog appeared in the middle of the floor, and Sirius beamed at it.

Well, at least now we can all truthfully tell Trelawney that we've seen the grim.

*~*~*

After a week of thorough research by the Marauders, and homework by the others, Christmas day finally came.  Remus was the first to get up, and he managed to sneak into all of the dorm rooms to play a prank on the occupants.  Sitting by the fire, a mug of hot chocolate in his hand, he waited patiently for the others to get up.  After about half an hour, he was roused from his doze by a loud scream coming from the boy's corridor.  A few minutes later, Sirius and James came storming into the common room.

What is the meaning of this?

The meaning of what, James? Remus asked, a look of innocence on his face.

This! Sirius said, pointing to his red and green hair.  Remus smiled back at him.

I just thought you ought to be in the Christmas mood.

We don't need green and red hair to be in the Christmas mood, Harry said as he appeared in the door, similarly afflicted.  

After a few minutes, the others came grumbling into the room, their hair all done in Christmas colours.  Not long after, the portrait hole opened, admitting Minh and Eustace, who started laughing when they saw what Remus had done.  Everyone scowled at them, except for Harry, who discreetly waved his hand, changing the two adults' hair red, green and gold.  This brought a smile to everyone's face as they all congregated around the tree to open their presents.  Looking around at all the happy faces, Harry felt a lump in his throat.  Seeing James, Minh and Eustace together made him feel very emotional.  This was his family.  The family he had never had.  And he was going to make the most of it.

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