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If Wishes Were Thestrals, We'd All Run Screaming

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Summary: Xander makes a wish and the Wizarding World will never be the same.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Xander-Centered(Current Donor)SusanAnthonyFR151758,655110649310,81726 Sep 063 Nov 11No
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Hogwarts Express and the Dementors Who Love Her

The Hogwarts Express and the Dementors Who Love Her


note: I tried to use the book as my guideline and there are some quotes here from the books but sometimes the images from the movie work better so consider this a mix of the two.


Xander beamed happily as he pulled open the door to the last compartment on the train. He had his Harry memories about riding on the Hogwarts Express but still, seeing it up close and personal was just amazing. Sleek and shiny, the train gleamed in the late morning sunshine. Even Mr. Weasley's final warning about that evil Sirius Black before they boarded the train couldn't dampen his spirits as Xander was already fully aware of the escaped convict and only Mr. Weasley's belief that Sirius was guilty had caused a brief irritation.

Now, though, the train was moving and he and his friends were going to settle in for a nice, hopefully uninterrupted, talk about Xander's opinion concerning the investigative powers of the Wizard World or the lack thereof.

As he opened the compartment door wide enough to enter with his spell-lightened trunk, Xander tried not to stare at the only person in the compartment who was slumped against the window and obviously asleep. He settled his trunk into the luggage rack overhead and then sat on the seat next to Professor R. J. Lupin. Hermione and Ron sank down onto the seats across from him after putting their own trunks away and Hermione carefully slid the carrier for her snoozing cat under her seat. Then they looked at the sleeping adult curiously.

"Don't worry about him," Xander said in a normal voice as he made himself comfortable. "He's asleep and looks like he's going to stay that way for awhile."

Sometime during his three-week stay at Diagon Alley, he and Sirius had gotten into a discussion on Remus Lupin and werewolves in general. His godfather had rolled his eyes and said fondly that Remus always did sleep like a log, especially after the full moon. It had made him quite a target for Sirius and Tony's pranks until the man had leaned how to ward his bed in second year.

"Who d'you reckon he is?" Ron asked quietly as he looked the man over.

"Professor R. J. Lupin," Hermione whispered back and Ron looked at her curiously.

"How d'you know that?"

"It's on his case," Xander said in a normal tone as he gestured towards the suitcase in the rack over his head. "I bet he's the new DADA prof."

Hermione blinked for a moment before she looked thoughtfully at Xander and then nodded.

"There's only one vacancy, isn't there?" she agreed.

Xander just nodded with a grin. "Same one as always."

"Well, I hope he's up to it," Ron said doubtfully. "He looks like one good hex would finish him off, doesn't he? Anyway..." he turned to Xander. "What were you going to tell us?"

Hermione and Ron looked at him expectantly and for just a moment - a very intense, homesick moment - Xander saw Willow and Buffy looking at him the very same way.

"Xander?" The vision faded as Hermione reached over to gently touch his knee. He smiled at her, a Xander-like goofy smile, before he launched into what he'd overheard the night before as Mr. and Mrs. Weasley argued about whether Xander should know about Sirius Black. He also mentioned Mr. Weasley's warning on the platform.

Ron and Hermione both looked horrified at the thought of an escapee from Azkaban after their best friend.

"Sirius Black escaped to come after *you*? Oh, Xander...you'll have to be really, really careful! Don't you go looking for trouble!"

Xander felt quite offended by that statement. "I don't go *looking* for trouble, Hermione," he said firmly. "It's not my fault that I tend to be a...trouble magnet." He was going to say a demon magnet but as sharp as Hermione was, she would focus on the phrasing and make Xander's life miserable until he explained why he'd said that.

"How thick would Xander have to be, to go looking for a nutter who wants to kill him?" Ron asked in a shaky tone.

"That's just it," Xander stated firmly with a serious expression. "I don't think he does."

"You don't think he wants to kill you?" Hermione asked in a doubtful tone. "But Mr. Weasley said..."

"Look, Hermione," Xander cut her off as he leaned forward a bit. "I heard all kinds of rumors while I was staying in Diagon Alley." The young wizard hesitated as he glanced at the professor supposedly asleep beside him. "I also found some of my Mum and Dad's journals in their vault and I just don't believe Sirius Black betrayed them." Ron looked confused and Hermione opened her mouth to say something but Xander just continued. "Did you know Black was my godfather?"

Ron's eyes bugged out and Hermione looked horrified again. "But if he was your godfather, how could he do such a thing?" she asked unhappily.

"Exactly!" Xander nodded. "And even more, being a godparent in the Wizarding World is a *lot* more complicated than in the muggle world. There are vows and promises to protect the child made with magic. It's not something that can easily be broken. If Sirius had betrayed my parents - well that would be horrible - but if he'd betrayed *me* to old Voldiemortie, he'd have lost a good portion of his magic and obviously he didn't if he escaped from Azkaban."

"That's true enough," Ron said as he slowly nodded. "Being asked to be a godfather is big honour but it's also big magical commitment."

Hermione blinked again and studied her friend. "Xander how did you find out about godparents in the Wizarding World?" she asked, her curiosity overcoming the 'murderer is after Xander' issue for a moment.

Xander just smiled. "After I read my mum's journal, I went to Flourish and Blotts and got a book on family life in the Wizarding World. There was a whole section explaining about godparents and their responsibilities." He leaned forward in a very confidential way. "Hermione," he said earnestly. "I researched."

The young witch stared at Xander with wide eyes before she beamed at him. "Xander, I'm so proud of you!" she said as she bounced a bit.

"I thought you might be," he chuckled.

Ron looked appalled at his words. "Should I be worried, mate?" Ron asked, as he looked sideways at Hermione.

Xander chuckled and shrugged. "So that's why I don't really think Sirius Black betrayed my parents. You know he didn't even get a trial? He was just sent straight to Azkaban."

"But didn't you say they caught him after he'd killed Peter Pettigrew and several muggles?" Hermione pointed out. "You said he was laughing insanely. Maybe he went crazy because he'd betrayed his trust as a godfather?"

"I don't think so," Xander replied hesitantly. "The facts just don't add up right."

"It seems like the Ministry was fairly certain of his guilt, Xander," Hermione pointed out.

Xander just looked at her for a long moment. "Yes, and most of Hogwarts was fairly certain I was the Heir of Slytherin going around petrifying students last year too. And Hagrid was taken to Azkaban *by the Ministry* and we all know he wasn't guilty by a long shot."

Hermione didn't have a reply for that comment. She looked worried and a little frustrated.

"All I'm saying is that I think Sirius Black should get a trial," the young wizard continued firmly. "I bet they have all sorts of magic to tell if what he says is the truth. Maybe I could talk to Professor Dumbledore about it when we get to Hogwarts."

"That might be a good idea, Xander," Hermione finally replied. "But all the same, I hope you will be careful. Sirius Black may or may not have betrayed your parents but he *is* a desperate fugitive and possibly quite mad from staying in Azkaban."

"I'll be careful," he promised as he leaned back into his seat and spared another sideways glance at the silent professor sleeping beside him. Was the man's posture a bit stiffer than it had been a few minutes before? Xander never had been able to figure out when people were faking sleep.

"Hermione, don't let that thing out!" Ron said and Xander returned his attention to his friends just as Crookshanks jumped out of his basket and landed lightly on Ron's knees. One of the red-head's hands went protectively over the quivering lump of rat in his pocket as his other hand shoved the cat away.

"Ron don't!" Hermione said angrily even as the sleeping professor stirred for a moment and then turned his head away and slept on.

Hermione picked up her cat and cuddled him as Crookshanks glared at Ron. The red head ignored her for a moment, checking his pocket to make sure his rat was all right.

"How is Scabbers, Ron?" Xander asked in a completely sincere tone. Inside, though, he was still smirking about their visit to the Magical Menagerie yesterday.

###

"I know you're worried about his hair loss. Are you sure he doesn't have the mange?" Xander asked as the three friends wandered along Diagon Alley.

"What's the mange?" Ron asked in a worried tone.

Hermione responded with a detailed description. "Mange comes in three varieties: Demodectic, Cheyletiella and Sarcoptic. It is caused by different species of mites, tiny eight-legged critters related to spiders." At the word spiders, Ron flinched and stared at his rat, the hand holding his pet moving a bit farther away from his body. "Signs of mange usually involve hair loss, crusty, red skin and at times, a greasy or moist appearance."

Xander studied the rodent in Ron's hands and nodded slowly. "Definitely hair loss, possibly crusty. I mean his name *is* Scabbers." Xander put his hand on Ron's shoulder and gave him a stern look. "I think we need to take him to the Magical Menagerie and see if they can help. I bet they can give him a potion or maybe..." Xander leaned down closer to the rat in Ron's hand so he could hear perfectly. "...they could give him a nice shot or three." Scabbers squeaked worriedly.

Xander leaned back and then rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Then again, maybe your rat is just anxious, restless to get out and do rat things." The Boy-Who-Lived glanced up at his worried friend with a thoughtful expression. "I hear that when cats or dogs get like that, you can get them neutered to fix it. Maybe that's all Scabbers needs."

In Ron's hand, Scabbers gave a loud, frightened squeal and fainted.

"Oh dear," Xander said, trying not to snicker. "He really must not be feeling well. We'd best get a move on, Ron. The Magical Menagerie is right over there," Xander finished with concern as he pointed out a shop down the street. A very worried Ron took off down the alley, headed towards the pet shop. Hermione, however, was giving Xander a pointed look.

"That wasn't very nice, Xander," she said as they followed their friend. "Ron's really worried about Scabbers."

Xander sniffed. "I've decided I don't like rats," he said somewhat arrogantly. "I think Ron needs an owl or a nice cat." Hermione looked at him sternly and the Boy-Who-Lived grinned wickedly. "Besides, I couldn't help myself," he stated as they reached the shop and he held the door open. "And you wanted to look for an owl anyway, didn't you?"

Later, he'd been very disappointed he hadn't been able to convince Ron to get his rat neutered.

###

"I don't think that rat tonic is working too well," Ron said as he glanced down at his pocket again. "Scabbers looks really stressed," he said with a pointed glare at the cat preening in Hermione's lap."

"Yes, well, you remember what I said about stressed rats, Ron," Xander stated in a rather loud tone. "Snip snip and their stress levels go waaaay down."

There was a terrified squeak from Ron's pocket even as Crookshanks suddenly jumped to Xander's lap and started purring happily.

"Don't say things like that, Xander," Ron snapped as he covered the quivering lump in his pocket again.

Xander just grinned as he petted the loudly purring feline in his lap. The cat settled happily, his squashed face staring steadily across the aisle at Ron's pocket.

The three students chatted quietly in deference to the sleeping professor while Xander petted Crookshanks and quietly marveled at how closely the events and conversations were following the books he'd read in his original reality. Sure, he'd messed up the timeline by bringing Padfoot along with him to the Leaky Cauldron and spending the last three weeks with his godfather but it seemed as soon as he met up with Hermione and Ron, events had snapped back onto course.

Even the goodie cart showed up around one o'clock and Ron and Hermione discussed waking Professor Lupin but the man was completely unresponsive.

While his friends debated waking the lightly snoring teacher, Xander hopefully asked the cart witch for a Twinkie. When she said she hadn't heard of that sweet, he sighed mournfully and then asked for a coke, thinking they wouldn't have that either.

"Now those we do have dearie," she said happily as she reached down into a drawer at the bottom of the cart and pulled out a familiar red can. "Many of the muggleborn asked for this so we started carrying it. Very popular it is too."

"Great!" Xander replied as he perked up. "I'll have two, one for now and one for later. And some Cauldron Cakes and chocolate frogs too please."

"Here you are," she said as Xander happily handed over coins for sugar and chocolate goodies that he shared with his friends.

"Thanks so much!" the young wizard said to the departing witch as she closed the door. He popped open the can of coke and sighed happily as he tasted the sweet, sweet caffeine. They didn't have sodas in Diagon Alley and no matter what anyone said, English tea was a *very* poor substitute for the caffeinated goodness that was coffee and cola. Maybe he should have bought some more cans to keep in his room.

"What is that drink, mate?" Ron asked curiously as he watched Xander practically coo over the red can.

"It's cola, Ron," Xander replied as he offered the can. "Wanna try?"

"It's full of sugar and carbonation," Hermione offered as Ron reached for the cold, red can. "You might not want to drink too much if you've never had any."

Ron, of course, didn't listen and took a long swallow of soda. He immediately started coughing and Xander rescued his can as his redheaded friend tried to breathe again.

"What *is* that bloody stuff?" Ron stammered as he tried to decide whether he liked it or not.

Before Xander could answer, however, the door to their compartment was flung open again and Draco Malfoy stepped inside flanked by his bodyguard/sheep, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle.

"Well, look who it is," said Malfoy in his usual lazy drawl, "Harris and the Weasel."

"Malfoy," Xander said cordially, interrupting what he knew would be an insult directed at Ron. "Thing One. Thing Two," he continued, nodding at Crabbe and Goyle. "What brings you to our pleasant little compartment?" The boy's brown eyes lit up. "Hey, did you find out about your great Uncle William?"

Malfoy practically flinched, answering Xander's question without saying a word. Xander had wondered if Spike was alive in this world and on seeing Draco in the pet shop in Diagon Alley three weeks ago, he had been convinced that if the vampire was alive, he *had* to be related to the Malfoys.

"Oh, you did!" Xander said gleefully. "Aren't you going to share the information on old Spike?"

"Shut it, Harris!" Draco snapped as he glared at the Boy-Who-Lived. "I just came to find out if the Weasel's Dad had squandered all the gold they came into this summer yet," the blonde said with a smirk in Ron's direction. "It must have been quite a shock for his Mum to have galleons to buy decent clothing for once."

Ron, predictably, jumped to his feet, an angry expression on his face as he reached for his wand. The basket that Hermione had set beside him, however, tumbled to the floor and the sleeping professor beside Xander gave a startled snort.

"Who's that?" Malfoy asked as his silver eyes darted to the snoozing adult and he stepped back a pace.

"Professor Lupin," Xander said as he stood in case he needed to help restrain Ron. "A new teacher. Would you like me to wake him so you can introduce yourself?"

Malfoy just glared at the three students in the compartment before he stepped back and murmured "Come on," to his two companions. The three Slytherins disappeared down the hallway and Xander stared after them. His gaze lingered on Malfoy and the expression on Xander's face turned dark.

He slammed the compartment door shut and plopped back into his seat as Ron stated flatly that he was not going to take any crap from Malfoy this year.

"Ron, I understand you're mad at Malfoy for being a major prat but you obviously missed the more important issue here," Xander said as he picked up Crookshanks and deposited him into Hermione's lap before he slumped back into his own seat.

"Xander, what's wrong?" the girl asked as she ran her fingers through her cat's fur.

"I saw Malfoy three weeks ago in Diagon Alley and he was an inch shorter than me then. *Now* he's at least three inches taller!" Xander ranted as he gestured rudely at the door. "What the hell happened? Why is he taller than me? He's supposed to be *shorter* than me! Now I'm the shortest guy in the class!"

Hermione and Ron blinked at their ranting friend for long moments. Xander looked back at them, expecting some sympathy for his plight. There was silence for a long moment before Ron snorted loudly and tried not to snicker. Hermione covered her mouth to hide what was obviously a grin.

"And you call yourselves my friends?" Xander howled. "This is serious! What made him grow four inches in three weeks? And where the bloody hell can I get some?"

"Xander, language!" Hermione stuttered out between her giggles.

Ron cleared his throat but couldn't keep the grin off his face as he replied. "Sorry, mate, but sometimes wizards and witches just get hit with a magical growth spurt. It just happens."

"Four inches and it *just happens*?" Xander whined as he put his head in his hands.

"Yeah, mate," Ron said as he awkwardly patted Xander's shoulder. "I'm sure you'll get one soon."

Xander leaned back in his seat and pouted as he stared out the window. How did this happen? Sirius was never going to let him live this down if he didn't get some inches on his height soon. Xander started mentally preparing a list of evil, painful things he was going to do to that damn vengeance demon when he got his hands on him.

###

Jesse fell towards him and disappeared in a snarling whirl of ash. Uncle Vernon's hand swept towards his face, connecting with a loud, painful slap. Buffy was falling and falling and falling until there was a harsh, sickening thud. Calib was approaching him, his eyes insane and his hands nearing his face. He heard a woman's terrible, pleading screams and a high, cackling laugh.

"Xander! Xander, are you all right?" Someone was slapping his face and the young wizard lashed out, trying to get away from the woman's screams and the mad priest before his thumb found his way into his eye. His hand connected with flesh in a solid thwap before he was even aware. Muffled cursing followed the strike and Xander came back to himself to see Professor Lupin with one hand over his eye and Ron and Hermione staring at him with incredulous expressions.

"Xander!" another voice called in shock out even as he closed his eyes - two eyes! - to try and restore calm but all he could see was Calib so he looked up again at his friends, hovering over him with concern. When had he hit the floor?

"Xander, are you all right?" Hermione asked again, very cautiously this time as she and Ron helped him back into his seat. Xander held his head in his hands for a long moment, breathing deeply and trying to get his thoughts under control.

"I'll be fine," he finally said as he glanced over at Professor Lupin. "I'm sorry I punched you, Professor. The dementor was just...the voices were so loud and then the screaming. I didn't know it was you."

"Don't worry about it," he said as he pulled out a large slab of chocolate and started breaking it into pieces. He handed out a bit to each student. "Eat this," he said as he crumpled up the chocolate wrapper and put it in his pocket. "It'll help."

Then he smiled wearily and waved his wand across his own face as he murmured something low. The swelling around his eye immediately went away.

"No one screamed," Ron said nervously and Xander glanced at him and shrugged as he ate the chocolate. He had no intention of explaining the memories that the dementor had dredged up in his mind. Between his own memories and his Harry memories, Xander was certain he wasn't going to sleep a wink tonight. He made a mental note to make the Dursley's life extra-hellish next summer.

"What was that thing?" Hermione asked in a very subdued tone as she studied Xander.

"A dementor," Lupin replied as he also studied Xander worriedly. "One of the dementors of Azkaban." Xander noticed his scrutiny and quickly ate the rest of his chocolate. Lupin nodded and then walked to the door. "I need to speak with the driver. Be sure to eat all the chocolate. It'll help, I promise."

With those words, he disappeared down the corridor and Xander looked back at his very worried friends. He took a deep breath and then absently rubbed the scar on his forehead.

"Hermione," he finally said, his tone very shaky. "Do you know what a dementor is?"

Hermione shook her head and Xander glanced at Ron, who also looked blank.

"No one screamed though, mate," he said. "You just went sort of rigid and fell out of your seat and started twitching when that dementor opened the door."

There was silence for a long minute.

"I read about them when I heard about Sirius Black." Xander finally said as he took another deep breath and wished he had more chocolate. "A dementor is a creature that sucks all the happy memories out of your head and leaves only the horrible ones," he slowly explained. "That's why Azkaban is so awful. The prisoners go insane because of it." He glanced up at his friends and tried to steady himself. "The screaming I heard...I think it was my Mum."

And Jesse and Buffy and Dawn and Willow...

Xander closed his eyes and willed himself not to tear up. They were just memories, after all. Boys don't cry. Malfoy would never let him live it down.

"Oh Xander!" Hermione said in a horrified tone as she sat next to him and put a comforting arm around his shoulders. Xander just took another deep breath and tried to remember that Willow and Tara were together and Jesse was alive now and he had the books to prove it.

"Here mate," Ron said as he picked up the unopened can of coke that had rolled across the floor when Xander hit the floor and landed at his feet. "Maybe you'd like a drink of this."

And before Hermione or Xander could say anything, he'd popped open the top as he'd seen Xander do before and the shaken carbonated drink exploded out just as the compartment door opened and Professor Lupin walked in.

Xander and Hermione blinked as they watched coke dribble down Lupin's face. Ron looked from the open and dripping can in his hand to the cola-soaked professor standing with a look of great surprise in the doorway.

A very pale Ron stammered out his apologies as he handed the can to Xander.

"I just thought he could use a drink is all, professor," Ron was saying earnestly. "I didn't mean to get that stuff all over you! Please don't take any points!"

The man glanced over at Xander trying to hide a half-hearted smirk behind his cola can and Hermione studiously checking her cat over for any sign of cola on his fur.

"It's quite all right, Mr. Weasley," Professor Lupin finally said in a weary tone as he pulled out his wand. "I understand it was an accident. It was very well done to try and help your friend. Just be a bit more careful opening up a can of soda in the future."

"I won't be opening any of those weird cans again, Professor," Ron assured him. "You never had this kind of trouble with pumpkin juice!"

"Oh, Ron," Hermione sighed though she couldn't help grinning at her bewildered friend.

###

Everyone was quiet the remainder of the trip. Ron fidgeted nervously while Hermione read over her summer homework. Professor Lupin resumed his seat but said nothing to the students. Xander just sat silently beside Professor Lupin and stared out into the rainy dusk.

The memories that the dementor had dredged up from his previous life were some that Xander had dealt with years ago and while they still had the power to hurt, they didn't overwhelm him. His Harry memories, however, were fresh and painful and he was sure he'd be dreaming about that damned green light and his mother's frantic cries for weeks to come.

His brown eyes glinted dangerously as he also recalled the memories from his Uncle and his very heavy hand. Xander had grown up with verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his parents and he would *not* be going through that experience again. The first time Vernon Dursley even tried to touch Xander, he'd find himself making a quick trip to the emergency room. And Xander wouldn't even have to use magic.

When they finally arrived at Hogsmeade Station, the trio stepped off the train into the chaos of hundreds of students trying to keep up with their various friends, pets, bags and whatnot. Hermione led the way to where at least a hundred coaches awaited.

As they approached the first carriage, Xander came to a sudden stop as all his hellmouth alerts kicked into high gear.

"What the bloody hell is that?" he asked, staring at the demon/reptile/horse-like/winged thing that stood patiently in front of the coach.

Hermione and Ron looked at him as if he were crazy.

"What is what?" Ron asked, looking back and forth between Xander and where Xander was staring. Xander look at him as if he were crazy.

"What do you mean, 'what is what'?" he asked, gathering the attention of a few passing students. "That horse-like thingummy over there...." and his voice faded as he looked from the demon horse, that was now looking at him curiously, to his friends, who were now looking at him as if he'd gone nuts. He sighed and held his hand over his eyes for a moment.

Of course he would see the Thestrals even though Harry hadn't until his fifth year. Xander had seen many people killed over the course of his demon-fighting career.

"That thingummy over there that you two can't see," he finally grumbled as he started walking again. "I forgot," he said, walking faster and hoping Hermione would drop it but very doubtful she would.

"What thing we can't see?" Hermione promptly said as she and Ron tried to keep up with their friend. Xander didn't answer as he jumped into a carriage followed by his friends. As soon as the door shut behind Ron, the carriage moved forward and Xander leaned back and closed his eyes, trying to look wan and pale so he wouldn't have to answer questions.

"What thing we can't see?" Hermione asked again, gently poking his arm.

Xander took a deep breath and kept his eyes closed. "Please wait, Hermione," he said as he held up his hand.

"Xander, wait for what?" she began in an almost whiny tone and then trailed off into, "Oh," as the carriage slowly approached the main gates to the castle.

Xander could already feel the cold nausea and despair that he'd felt on the train. Ron and Hermione shuddered as well as the coach trundled past two huge dementors standing guard at the gates. Xander just wished the thestral pulling their coach would trot a little faster and then he wondered why the dementors didn't affect the beasts.

That thought was followed closely by a mental note to speak with Remus right away to get training going on the Patronus Spell and then a second note to find out how to slay the bloody evil bastards. From his experience, every demon could be slain, it was all a matter of research and determination. Scaring the bloody things away with the Patronus wouldn't help in the long run when they had to face the dementors again across a battlefield.

"All right, Xander?" Ron asked hesitantly and Xander opened his eyes to give his friend a faint nod.

"Okay, what thing we can't see?" Hermione asked firmly.

"Has anyone ever said you have a one-track mind, Hermione?" Xander asked as he glanced at his best female friend.

Hermione just gave him the Look that said 'tell me or you will regret it'. Xander was quite familiar with that look. He sighed.

"Have you ever heard of a thestral?" he asked quietly, looking at the girl. She shook her head as her eyes narrowed in thought. Xander glanced at Ron who indicated he didn't know either. "A thestral is what is pulling this carriage. I don't know a whole lot about them except they look like a reptilian horse and you have to have seen someone die to be able to see them."

Hermione bit her lip for a moment, as Ron looked very uncomfortable.

"You saw someone die, mate?" he blurted out and Hermione glared at him. Xander just nodded.

"My mum, I think," he said softly, wondering why the books indicated that Harry hadn't been able to see the thestrals until fifth year. Obviously, his mum had died right in front of him, even if he'd only been 15 months old.

The three students remained quiet the rest of the way to the castle though Hermione looked as if she couldn't wait to start researching something. Thestrals and Dementors most likely.

Xander stared out into the night and just hoped he could get to the feast with no further problems. He wasn't very hungry now but maybe actually seeing Hogwarts would cheer him up a little.

He continued thinking this way until he and his friends stepped out of their carriage.

"You *fainted*, Harris?" a taunting, malicious voice questioned loudly. "You actually fainted?"

Xander turned to find Malfoy and his sheep approaching with his smirk turned on high. At that moment, Xander decided he had quite enough of the original Prisoner of Azkaban storyline.

He stepped forward with a narrow gaze and glared up at Malfoy before Ron or Hermione could interfere.

"Yeah, Malfoy, I fainted," Xander snapped and Malfoy looked surprised and then wary as Xander just stepped closer, his voice rising with an anger that seemed to well up from nowhere. "Did you know dementors play out your most horrible memories? Well, I saw Voldemort kill my mother with a killing curse. Would you like to discuss this further?"

Xander's final words were almost shouted out into Malfoy's face. The taller youth was stunned at the verbal assault from Xander, as the boy had never responded like that to any insult Draco had flung at him. Then Draco's face flushed in anger as he registered the silence from the students around them. Before he could retaliate, however, a mild voice interrupted.

"Is there a problem here?" Professor Lupin asked as he stepped away from a newly arrived carriage.

Malfoy and Xander were glaring at each other. The blond boy grit his teeth for a moment before he glanced at the newly arrived Professor.

"No Professor," he grated as he turned back to Crabbe and Goyle, who still looked stunned at Xander's words. "Let's go," he growled as he joined the throng of students heading up the steps into the castle.

"Xander, are you all right?" Remus Lupin's gentle words brought Xander's attention away from glaring at Malfoy's retreating back and to the professor's understanding eyes. Xander immediately dropped his gaze to the ground.

"Yes, Professor," he said as tried to rein in his sudden anger.

"Then you'd best go," he said, waving towards the castle and Hermione prodded Ron to get going, her worried gaze glancing over to a scowling Xander.

The trio joined the crowd of students as they flowed into the school but Xander barely registered anything around them until he heard Professor McGonagall calling his and Hermione's names. The woman led the two of them up to her office. Xander suffered through the overzealous ministrations of Poppy Pomfrey and then she had the gall to call him 'delicate'. He'd protested that hotly, of course, as any self-respecting thirteen-year-old would. It didn't help to see Hermione and McGonagall grin at his protestations.

Then he was booted out of McGonagall's office while she spoke privately with Hermione. Xander kicked the nearby wall angrily for a few minutes, knowing that his Head of House was giving Hermione the time turner, which he hoped he wouldn't need this year to save Buckbeak and Sirius.

He made another mental note to make sure Malfoy stayed away from the hippogriff so he couldn't whinge to his dad about getting hurt.

A few minutes later, Hermione and McGonagall came out of the professor's office and they all went down to the feast. Hermione was slightly disappointed to have missed the sorting. In truth, Xander was as well. After he settled into the seat Ron had saved for his friends, he spent quite a bit of time staring around the great hall. Even though the word 'delicate' still vibrated horribly in his mind, his mood was slowly calming as he took in his first (as Xander: Boy-Who-Lived) look at Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
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