"I'm thinking," Harry answered, "this is the
last time we'll ever sit here. When we come back again we'll be
riding in the back in the V.I.P. car with the teachers. It's the
last time we'll ever be out here with the other students."
"Well, when that time comes," Ron put in, "it will be well deserved. Remember that first trip, your chocolate frog escaping?"
Harry laughed. "That seems like forever ago!" he commented. "Remember when the dementors stopped the train?"
"Do I ever!" Ron sighed.
With the mention of dementors the rat in the carrier beside Ron squealed and the kitten responded with a meow. He looked down. "Do you want to come out and play, Scabbers?" he asked. The rat squeaked again. "Promise not to do anything silly like trying to run away?" Ron asked.
The rat squeaked another time, and Ron opened the cage. The rat scurried down the seat, climbed up the other side, and laid down in front of the kitten's carrier! Harry remembered when they had gone down to the cells in the dungeon the day before, where the prisoners had been kept, and looked at the cowering little man in the corner, the stub of one hand sticking out of his sleeve.
"Wormtail!" Ron muttered, "What a disgusting little thing to look at! It appalls me that for years I took care of it and showed it affection!"
The little man looked up "And those years are beloved," he remarked, "that kindness will always be remembered. I regret I was under Voldemort's spell. I really liked you, Ron! I hope you will believe that!"
Ron looked disgusted, but managed a nod.
"That's why we're here," Harry put in, "You see, the council of magic has given me liberty to deal with the prisoners. Ron is off to India. They revere rats in India, they worship them! We've come to give you a choice. You can spend the rest of your life as a rat with Ron and his family in India, or you can spend the rest of your life with the dementors in Azkaban. I'm told they're really fond of tradition, that they like to make their existence quite unbearable."
The little man shivered. "You'd take me?" he asked, directing the question to Ron.
"As long as you promise to behave!" Ron answered, "And cause no trouble. There's going to be children in the house. We won't want them being given any bad thoughts. Do you understand me?"
The little man nodded. "Yes, master!" he answered.
"Very well!" Harry snapped. He pulled out his wand. "Changus!" he cried "Permanus!"
The little man shriveled down and his clothes collapsed to the floor. A moment later a rat scurried out through the bars and Ron picked it up. "Not exactly like old times," he remarked, "but we'll get along!"
The rat snuggled into his arms. Ron passed it to Parviti Patil who took it. "There, there, little one!" she cooed, "You'll find life with us will not be unpleasant!"
"Well," came a woman's voice from across the way. "If you're dealing out paroles I've heard you're going to be a minister. I used to be a secretary at the ministry. I could be very useful to you and I promise you I'll be a very good girl!"
Hermione stepped over and looked at the woman. "Don't even THINK about it!" she snapped. "I've heard there's some goblins that are looking for some female parolees willing to work with them. Maybe we should introduce you!"
"Whoa! Whoa!" The woman cried, "Take it easy, little one! You can't blame a girl for trying to get a better situation. Goblins? Really? Well, let them know they have an interested party. I've known a few goblins that weren't all that bad."
Hermione grimaced and Harry laughed. "If you're serious I will let them know. She wasn't kidding!"
"Oh!" the woman answered, "I'm quite aware she wasn't kidding. Send them down! I'll talk with them!" Harry nodded. Ron's ladies looked at Hermione as they were going upstairs and tried to keep a straight face, but finally burst out laughing and Hermione joined right in. "Men!" they all went.
Harry and Ron looked at each other. "Now, come on!" they both put in, "We didn't do anything!"
They all continued on their way, joining in the giggles.
Hermione opening the kitten's carrier, brought him back to the present. It came out, circled the rat a couple of times, then started lapping its face. They both went back into the kitten's carrier and snuggled up to each other.
"Well! It looks like they made friends!" Harry remarked.
"Where to first?" Hermione asked.
"Home," Harry answered. "First, our cover story is that we are geniuses that have already graduated from school and are going to work for The Potter's orphan ministry while I pursue my soccer career. That will let me disappear whenever I have to do the ministry's work. With all that The Potters are involved in no one will think much of it, just a couple of more young people they've taken under their wing."
Hermione smiled, and they all went back to looking out the window.
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