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A Different Path

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Harry looked confused at Hermione and Ron as they were shoved into Dumbledore's office, where they had been hustled across the castle from the Transfiguaration classroom. Harry spun around to ask what was going on but the door was slammed behind Professor Hooch as she hurried away leaving them staring at the door confused.

Almost as one Harry and Ron turned to look at Hermione who was frowning thoughtfully. She patted her chin with her thumb as walked around in a little circle in the lower half of the office. Harry and Ron moved to sit on the stairs leading up to the second circle of the office waiting for her to work things out.

"Ok, that was clearly an animagus transfiguration, like Professor McGonagall being able to turn into a cat," Hermione turned to look at them making them perk up.

"So Scabbers was whoever this guy was the whole time!?" Ron scrunched his nose.

"I am afraid so yes, Peter Professor McGonagall said before she stunned him. You spell mucking up with your wand must have acted to force him out of his transformation," Hermione nodded.

"He has been sleeping on my bed for years!" Ron groaned shivering.

"The main question aside from who the hell this Peter is, is why we are the ones that have been shoved in here," Harry frowned.

"Yes, me you can understand, but she seemed very insistent that you two be brought up here as well, Harry in specific," Ron said absently while still looking fairly grossed out.

"Professor McGonall's eyes kept flashing to you Harry," Hermione moved to sit next to him on the steps.

"So he is connected to me some how?"

"She definitely knew who he was, she looked really shocked, and then furious. I have never seen her so angry before!" Ron grimaced.

"What is going on!" Harry huffed.

They had to wait an hour and a half, during which time they had ended up entertaining themselves with a set of cards Hermione transfigured after they had run out of different theories on what was going on with the animagus.

Finally though the door opened again and Dumbledore walked through, for the first time since Harry had met him looking grave and haunted. The look was so different to the normally twinkly eyed man that the three of them just froze in place where they were sitting on the floor and stared. It also took them a few moments before they realised Professor Mconagall and Molly were also with the headteacher.

"Mum?" Ron blinked.

"Ron, are you ok?" Molly sighed hurrying over to hug her son. Ron didn't even have time to draw the breath he lost from the hug to answer her when she turned and tugged Harry into a tight hug too.

"I called your mother, she needed to be made aware of what happened and be here for you," McGonagall explained.

"Ok, so what did happen? We were the only ones out the whole class that were separated," Hermione asked.

"Why don't w all take a seat, this is a little bit of a story I am afraid. Some tea too I think," Dumbledore sighed.

He sounded so tired and looked so lost that they all followed up up to the higher part of office and took one of the armchairs that the Headmaster conjured for them. Another quick wave and a tea tray with a cup for each of them appeared on the desk and floated over.

After two and a half years in the Wizarding world Harry was still normally amazed by such acts of magic, however with everything that had had happened and the curiosity of what exactly they were about to be told, he barely blinked in reaching out for the cup hovering in front of him before he looked back to Dumbledore impatiently.

The Headmaster took a good drink of his tea before he placed it back on the table and looked directly at Harry while speaking.

"This is a little bit of a story I am afraid, going back 20 years. Your father Harry made three very good friends when he was here at school. They called themselves the Marauders. All in Gryffindor they put the Weasley twins to shame. Each of them very intelligent and powerful in different ways. Remus Lupin, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew.
When the war reached its height all four of them and your mother joined a group that I put together to fight against Voldemort, called the Order of the Phoenix. They all fought against him as much as they could. And then events happened during which Voldemort set his sights on James and Lily, but more specifically the unborn baby that Lily was carrying.
He believed that you would grow to be a danger to his grab for power. So Lily and James went into hiding.
For their safety we used a spell where their location would not be able to be discovered even if Voldemort were standing in your front yard. The only hitch in the plan was that someone had to be the secret keeper, the person to keep the knowledge of the address. While James loved all his friends, he was closest to Sirius. So naturally he chose him to be the Secret keeper,"

"But Voldemort found us," Harry said softly.

"Yes," Dumbledore smiled sadly. "We all believed Sirius had been a traitor and working with Voldemort. We believed he had given your location away, and your house was attacked.
He was caught after he murdered Peter Pettigrew, the only part of him that was found was a finger, and he was sent to the Wizarding prison Azkaban. At least that is the way we thought it went. Until today,"

"Peter Pettigrew," Hermione looked at McGonagall.

"Yes. The man that was revealed to be an animagus in your classroom today was Peter Pettigrew. Sans a finger. We have just interrogated Mr Pettigrew using truth potion veritiserium. He confessed that they switched the Secret keeper at the last moment, believing that Pettigrew, the lesser of his friends, would be the last person that Voldemort suspected of knowing where James and Lily were. Also believing that Pettigrew was their friend and would never sell them out,"

Ron and Hermione both reached out and took Harry's hand as he dropped his head down, tears burning in his eyes as the truth was revealed to him. The man that had appeared in front of him only a few hours ago, the man that had been living in the same dorm as him, he had betrayed his parents and led to their death, he had betrayed his friends when they had trusted him with everything.

"I am sorry Harry, I am sorry that you had to hear this, but you deserved to know," Dumbledore said softly.

"What about Sirius Sir?" Harry asked quietly, his mind spinning, but his mind focussed on the other life that that man had ruined.

"The Ministry came to collect Pettigrew, an investigation will be conducted, but I have no doubt Sirius will be released very soon," Dumbledore assured him.

"Will we have to do anything for the investigation Sir? Will Harry?" Hermione asked tightening her hand around Harry's.

"No you won't do not worry," McGonagall said quickly patting her shoulder.

"Can I go please Sir?" Harry asked weakly.

"Of course my boy, but if you need to talk to anyone, please do not hesitate to come and talk to myself or Professor McGonagall," Dumbledore looked concerned as he watched Harry stand and move to leave.

He hugged Molly tightly one last time, and waited by the door with Hermione's hand in his as Molly squeezed Ron tightly to herself. He felt like he was in a fog and the only thing anchoring him was the hand holding his firmly, Hermione's eyes sad but her grip was firm, knowing as she seemed to always do, what he needed right in that moment.

His other friend seemed to know as well as the moment Ron reached him he took his hand tightly and held on even as they shuffled slightly awkwardly out of the door. Behind them the three adults shared a sad smile, the sight of such a good friendship heartening even at such a time as this. And though they were concerned about what was going to happen and what effect it would have on them, as long as they stood by each other they would be fine.