Harry Potter and the Peverell Legacy

Chapter Sixty One

Closing Ceremony

The night of the battle in the Astronomy Tower had been a bad night for Britain, the castle had been defended and there had been no casualties the only serious injuries had been sustained by Bill but everyone else had only minor bruises and such.

Or at least that was what the British press and the Ministry of Magic had been led to believe.

The Order were squashing the rumours that Sirius had been out of the school when it the castle had been breached by the Death Eaters. Of course, the Death Eaters could leak that nugget of information but they chose instead to leak that Sirius was ill, frail and weak.

The truth was that Sirius was fine, the effects of the potion had been countered by Professor Slughorn who was not as knowledgeable in the dark arts as Snape but he knew more than enough to brew a counter to its effects.

He was having to walk with a stick and had to have a daily dose of a potion to keep while his body repaired itself.

Harry had been forced to sleep for seven hours by the Hospital Matron, she told him that he had over extended himself the day before and was severely close to magical exhaustion. Not arguing as he was tired Harry had fallen asleep and hadn't actually woken for eight and a half hours.

While Harry had slept, Sirius had been busy dealing with the fallout from the night of terror attacks.

Even though no one had died in the castle reports had come in, and it listed numerous casualties. The auror outpost had lost two of its aurors from his division but they had at least managed to arrest some of the death eaters. The worst news however had come from St Mungo's.

When the Death Eaters had stormed the magical hospital, they had not been subtle, they had been brutal, they had not spared anyone who got between them and the fire place that they required to get to the school.

Seventeen witches and wizards had been killed in their infiltration, nine of them had been healers but the worst casualty had been a six year old boy who had been attacked by Greyback.

The morning news had seen an outpour of anti-lycanthrope statements and opinions which was going against all the new legislation Sirius had pushed from the Ministry that had offered them protection and support.

When Harry had woken, his friends were they to support him and once he had been dismissed by Madam Pomfrey he took them aside without prompt and took them up to the Room of Requirement he had promised them a long overdue explanation.

Once within the room he sat them down and explained exactly how Voldemort had managed to survive those years ago when the curse rebounded and the truth behind his return. They had reacted very differently to the news about the Horcrux's.

Hermione had been both appalled and intrigued by the concept behind the magic as it related to the soul which she hadn't known was possible but how it was created repulsed her. On the other hand, Ron found the entire process of splitting the soul and storing in bizarre and couldn't get his head around it but had asked if Harry knew where any others were.

"Not yet, no" Harry replied, it was the truth but there were leads to follow if he had the time, "Sirius found the cave by following a story from his passed. But the items he uses have symbolic meanings, I would also imagine so do the murders he uses so it stands to reason that he hides them is similar places."

"Do you have any ideas?" Ron asked.

Harry hadn't answered, he had one idea but he wasn't sure about it.

After their talk, Hermione had predictably gone to the library to research Horcruxes even though Harry had told her there were no books on the topic in the school.

The Tri-wizard Exchange Program was coming to an end and both Professor McGonagall and Sirius had made very quick arrangements with Highmaster Petrov and Madam Maxime to have the students returned.

Petrov had agreed to the use of the Durmstrang ship easily, it was the most secure way of transporting the students out of the British Isles and across the Europe.

By lunch time Sirius had already written his letter of resignation which he would deliver to the board of Governors at the end of the school year, he had also written a statement for the Daily Prophet, it was a stall tactic for now as he knew he would need to have a true interview with them at some point.

The headship of the school would not be his burden much longer, he was handling back the reigns to Minerva as soon as he could, it was a disappointment but he had too many responsibilities and he couldn't run the school, the Order, be on the Wizengamot and protect Harry at the same time, he should have learnt that from Albus.

But for now, he still had a job to do, he entered the Hogwarts Archives. Something that Sirius had only done twice before, in his youth he had looked for it numerous times over the years he was a student but the Marauders had never found it.

If the founders had been good at one thing it was hiding secrets at Hogwarts and the Archive was one of their best.

Sirius had removed a curious artefact, it was a bronze pyramid from the shelves covered in ancient script that he hadn't even recognised, but the top of the pyramid was missing. This missing piece had always remained in the possession of its guardians who had protected and maintained the site for centuries.

Hiding it in the library was obvious, in fact the Marauders had thoroughly combed the library for any secrets but had found none other than the secret passage into the library. When he became Headmaster, he had found out that the archive was hidden in the map room behind the large map of the British Isles that was on the wall.

As he exited the archive turned and sealed the door way with the password and he turned and frowned looking over at the other side of the room he thought he had seen something but dismissed it, the library was empty when he had entered he had checked for a human presence.

Taking care to hide the artefact that he now held, he made his way out of the castle and across the grounds to the Black Lake. As he got to the lake edge the artefact began to vibrate and the lake surface rippled as something emerged from its depths.

A solitary Selkie with long green hair and bright yellow eyes looked at him, she was a ferocious looking member of the colony of merfolk who lived in black lake but Sirius had found her quite interesting as she had sung during Dumbledore's funeral.

Bowing respectfully to her as chieftainess of the mer Sirius waited for her to decide how to react and received the customary nod which tradition dictated was the correct response from the leader of the merfolk of the Black Lake.

Holding out the incomplete pyramid Sirius said "Chieftainess Murcus I would ask that you open the portal between your domain at that of the North Sea Passage as you have done already this year."

The mermaid watched Sirius carefully before reaching up to her neck where a necklace holding a large clam hung. She opened the clam to reveal not a pearl but a large diamond on a peaked piece of brass metal but the diamond was shining with white light.

As the clam opened the missing pyramid piece floated up and returned to the pyramid and made itself whole and it vibrated it much more powerfully and the light from the diamond lit up the entire pyramid and the runes glowed red.

"I would ask the generous Mer Folk to carry out their duty and protect our gateway during this time." Sirius asked.

The chieftain nodded once more and reached out and took the pyramid from Sirius and she then sank lower into the lake before disappearing.

With that done Sirius returned to the castle, he had a lot to do and not a lot of time.

o-HP-o

The student body was loud and boisterous at the feast later that day, it was not only the end of the Hogwarts years but also the last night of the Tri-wizard Exchange. Highmaster Petrov and Headmistress Maxime had arrived on the Durmstrang Ship for the feast and ceremony of closing the exchange.

Two editions of the Daily Prophet had been delivered to the school but it was believed that they would even publish an evening edition too. The Prophet had printed that an unknown number of adults had defended the school and the Prophet had correctly identified them as the Order of the Phoenix members.

The Defence Association was also mentioned, the reported stated that a group of unnamed students had come to the defence of the school fighting witches and wizards twice their age with the skills of ones trained in combat, the rumour of a secret society was now rampant but the DA remained tight lipped, their secrecy helped them in the fight.

In the centre of the Great Hall was the Tri-Wizard Brazier, its peak burning with the three entwined fires of the three schools who were participating.

A light chime came as Professor McGonagall called their attention by tapping her glass goblet with a fork, the silence was automatic and they watched as Sirius slowly got out of his seat and walked up to the lectern the students all took notice of the walking stick.

"Good evening Students and honoured guests." He said clearly, "tonight we see the culmination of the first Tri-wizard Exchange between our three schools. I will not lie, it has been a trying year for each school and we have faced great opposition due to the exchange program in each of our countries. Our magical communities are facing great hardships and faced external pressure from dark forces, but I sincerely say that I am proud of each and every student from each school, the bravery, determination and solidarity has been a light to all in these dark times."

The students respectfully kept quiet, you could have heard a pin drop but it was clear that Sirius had their attention, "All three schools have faced direct attacks this year, Durmstrang was attacked by Giants, Beauxbatons by Vampires and Hogwarts by witches and wizards and a werewolf. This exchange will go down in the history it is the first exchange program in our schools. This exchange is not only a historic moment for our three schools, it is a legacy for all future generations!"

"Each school approaches the teaching of magic in different ways, we also each have our own languages, cultures and outlooks. But at the heart of each school is the drive to teach magic to each generation of students." He said and he paused and looked out at each of them, he gazed raking over each table and every year group, "over the course of this program you have watched as three teams of students have competed against each other in events but also stand together and fight for a common cause. This is a sign that even when things are so dark and war is on the horizon you can still find that small glimmer of hope. Together we are strong! Together you can overcome those that wish us harm."

There was a quiet pause and then a loud round of applause in support of his words, but Sirius stalled it with a raised hand.

"Now I think I am done with the motivational and inspirational speech's! Let's get on with this award ceremony!" Sirius said breaking the tense atmosphere and the students breathed and relaxed and laughed, he was not your usual headmaster in any sense.

His fellow heads stepped forwards, and out of nowhere three pedestals appeared and on each of them was one of the three trophies.

High Master Petrov stepped up to the lectern and looked out at them.

"The Duelling Tournament was won by the Hogwarts team, they showed great skill and considerable magical understanding and power. Your performance in Durmstrang has pushed my own students to perform much better, in the future it is my hope that our schools can compete once more, although I think the outcome might be different." He said in his usually stern demeanour, he picked up the trophy and then walked over to Sirius and officially presented it to him "The duelling trophy will reside at Hogwarts until a further Exchange is arranged to showcase all that Hogwarts achieved while in Durmstrang."

Mr Filch and Mr Franks who was the second caretaker then walked forwards with a large wooden trunk and placed it in front of the High Master.

With a mere flick of his wand it opened and with a second flick smaller trophies rose out, a glass hand holding a bronze wand, "To each of the Beauxbatons students who fought well take this as a token to remember your time at my school." He then did the same with his own students who got a similar trophy but with a silver wand, and then the Hogwarts team got ones with a golden wand.

Madam Maxime then took his place and she pulled off the sheet that covered up the trophy that was for the Beauxbatons event, as it had been cut short it had never been awarded.

"The Equestrian Event was cut short due to outside interference, it is our hope that in the future a full Event can be held with all events entered and completed at my school." She said sadly, "The Winner of the Equestrian Event was the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic."

All the students gave an applause, and above them so did the students in Durmstrang and the French students celebrated in a reserved fashion.

The trophy was made of what looked like pure diamond, it was shaped like a winged horse that would flap its wings and perform a flip and land back on its plinth.

Madam Maxime also passed out the trophies to the teams, they made of the bronze, silver and gold in the shape of the common mount of the schools they were awarded to. Hogwarts came third so they only got bronze Aethonan, Durmstrang got Silver and Beauxbatons got the gold.

Finally, the attention shifted to Sirius once more, he unveiled the Tri Wizard Quidditch Cup it was shaped like the three goal posts, made of glass, around it was a single player who flew around the posts and would occasionally throw a ball through a hoop causing it to light up.

"Now I present our cup to the Durmstrang Institute, after their hard-fought win against my own school." He said and he didn't seem bitter at all, "I am not disappointed by the result as each school tried their hardest and the scores so close the win could have gone either way."

He lifted the cup and handed it to Petrov.

And then the final trophies were given out, these were simple miniature replicas of the cup, the visiting heads then retook their seats and Sirius remained standing only to say.

"Now, let our feast begin!"

The tables filled immediately and Harry and his friends were shocked by the range of the spread, he saw many different examples of cuisines from each school and thought that the elves had really pushed out all the stops.

It was to the surprise of many of the students that wine was also served with their dinner, or at least from sixth through to seventh year but they were careful not to overindulge as they were being carefully watched by the prefects, Head boy and girl and their heads of House.

"Can you believe the served wine!" Ron said and he happily poured himself some red wine which did not go well with what he was eating but no one pointed it out, although he regretted it when he took a large gulp and he hated the taste, "Ergh that's horrible."

"I think it's a good vintage." Hermione said in a snobbish voice and she smelt and swirled it in its glass and made a show of taking a sip.

"What are you doing?" Ron demanded looking at her as if she was mental.

"Wine is not pumpkin juice Ronald," She told him dropping the tone and she laughed loudly, "I grew accustomed to it in France, you're not supposed to down it like you did."

"Don't worry Ron." Harry told him and he poured himself half a glass, "I am not that fond of it, however this wine goes well with this steak."

Ron handed his glass of wine to Seamus who happily accepted it and continued eating, "So any more things planned for this evening?" he asked.

"Only the dismantling of the brazier." Harry told him, it was something he, Fleur and Viktor had been briefed on that afternoon.

Harry pushed around his steak, he honestly had no appetite but he was putting on a show for his friends who had been watching him carefully since the night of the battle, as he pushed his steak around on his plate he saw that Neville, Ron and Hermione kept shooting him glances.

He sighed and took a bite of it, it was exquisitely cooked and he assumed it probably tasted the same but to him it was like ash in his mouth and he took no enjoyment out of it. He was exhausted, even after the long sleep he had after the battle but all day every time he closed his eyes he would feel Voldemort's fury, or see the cave and the inferi or see himself feeding Sirius that potion."

"Have you spoken to Daphne at all." Neville asked pointedly, he had noticed him playing with his food, "I saw her this morning and she said you were avoiding her, I said I thought the two of you were courting and she said I should ask you."

Harry snorted, "I am not avoiding her." He told him, "we walk circles around each other and no we are not together. And we won't be at any point soon."

The truth was he was avoiding her, he had been for a while ever since their last kiss. Originally it was not a conscious decision but now it was. After hearing how Draco was coerced into the having to kill Sirius through his loved ones, he knew he had to keep everyone at an arm's length it was for their own protection as much as his own.

"What is it?" Neville whispered as he reached over to get something from the next to Harry and he leant close. "I know you, whatever you are thinking is tying you in knots."

His friend's perception alarmed him for a moment, but he sighed he wasn't surprised Neville had noticed and questioned him quietly. Hermione will have noticed too but she wouldn't say anything yet. Ron knew too but he was keeping quiet, feelings of the heart were not his strong point.

"I cannot pursue any women." Harry said quietly, he looked up at the staff table and saw Sirius talking with his fellow heads quietly. He remembered what Sirius told him about the love of his life who had been killed by Pettigrew just to hurt Sirius and prove his devotion to Voldemort.

"Any girl I connect with I put in danger Nev, how can I allow myself to care for them while at the same time opening them up as a target to him and his kind. They can be used against me and I won't allow him to get power over me."

He had thought he had been quiet enough for only Neville to hear but he saw that Hermione looked shocked by his words and she ducked her head down quickly.

Neville stayed silent.

The remainder of the feast went by quickly, it was a blur for Harry, he barely spoke, his mind wandered once more to the locket that was in his pocket, he hadn't told Sirius yet about the locket and had so far been able to keep it that way.

The cup and true locket had contained a clear indication of the presence of the foul soul segment of Voldemort, he had felt it the moment he touched each of them, but the fake had no such signature.

He hadn't the heart to tell Sirius that they had only found a fake as the original was right now sitting in one of the Black vaults in Gringotts, especially given what they had gone through to get it and with everything that had happened that night across the country.

Ron and Hermione knew the truth, he had told them that morning in their talk in the Room of Requirement and they had promised to keep it quiet.

When the meal ended, the plates were cleared instantly by magic and Sirius stood again and Harry saw his face was slightly pale which probably meant he needed another dose of Slughorn's counter-potion.

"So now as the Exchange ends there is only thing left to do." He told them he indicated with his hand around the room and the lights dimmed within the metal dishes hanging from the walls. "Mentors if you would?"

Harry stood and made his way into the centre of the Hall where the brazier sat happily burning away, Fleur and Viktor joined him and they each stood in front of the basin that held their fire.

"This brazier represents the fire that burned in each and every one of our team members, the heads of each school and our mentors and former champions." Sirius said, "each school will retain the first sparks of the fire we created at the beginning of this year, and we will each keep it until the next exchange program and this brazier is lit once more."

Fleur, Harry and Viktor reached out with their hands and began to reach out towards their fires and began to pull at it, it looked like they were pulling on an invisible rope but after four pulls the fire began to move.

The fires receded from the top of the brazier and each basin in its alcove burned brighter for a moment before it began to stream out of the holes towards each mentor and formed a ball in front of each of them and they continued to pull the fire out until the basins were emptied.

Each mentor stood with a large ball of fire in front of them, it was then separated by deliberate hand movement and they held a large flame in each hand. Harry looked to his left and saw Fleur and to his right was Viktor, they each made eye contact with each other for a moment before nodding and thrust their hands towards each other.

The fires collided with spectacular effect and they seemed to fight each other for dominance for a moment before the fire began to move and shape itself into a large fire circle with them on them on the outside and the brazier inside.

As the fire burned bright and brighter the bowls lifted from their alcoves and settled at their feet and then the golden brazier began to melt and slowly become smaller and then white lines appeared over what remained and it separated into three identical pieces.

The fires were then absorbed into the pieces and they then floated towards each mentor who caught them, they picked up the bowls at their feet and then walked towards their schools Heads and presented them.

Sirius smiled as Harry bowed respectfully and offered the Hogwarts bowl and brazier piece, but Harry could not return that smile, he looked Sirius in the eye and saw from his mask which he wore and saw the pain in his eyes and it made him feel sick.

With the last of the ceremony over the three heads made further speeches thanking them all for how they conducted themselves and commending them for their achievements in the Exchange and then the feast was over and Sirius explained that a large firework display would be set off over the grounds and if they wanted they could go out and sit and watch it.

o-HP-o

Harry had all but ran out of the Great Hall once they were dismissed, he had no intention of going out into the grounds and celebrating. His friends had all tried to stop him or catch up but had lost sight of him due to a disillusionment charm.

He ran, ran as fast as his feet could take him and he didn't even care where he ended up and after twenty minutes he found himself once again on the sixth floor, in the secluded corridor that had open stone arches and offered views of the grounds, he was happy it didn't overlook the quidditch pitch which was where the fireworks were being set off and he looked over the and he looked up at the stars.

Part of him wondered what the centaurs could possibly see in them but he knew they would never give a straight answer to any human. The last time he had seen the heard they had spoken something cryptic about some type of eagle coming, whatever that meant. Did they see the attack coming for the school, if they had would they have warned them? It was their home too.

The ghost of Ravenclaw went passed and he gave her a small respectful smile, he was after all disturbing a place she spent time in contemplation, of what he still had no idea but he didn't want to be rude to the haughty ghost.

He sat on the bench next to the arch and looked out with his head against the cold stone, grateful for the relief it gave his head, and he relaxed a little.

Suddenly he woke with a start, the grounds were quiet now as the fireworks had stopped, it surprised him he had managed to nod off, checking his watch he saw it was just gone eleven at night, he had napped for under an hour uninterrupted which was a record for him recently.

He heard the footsteps coming down the corridor but he didn't care, they wouldn't see him as he re-applied his disillusionment spell. Ignoring the sounds of the footsteps as they got closer Harry continued to look out at the stars and kept doing so for five minutes.

"Harry?" said a voice from behind him.

Harry jumped in fright, and spun around and saw Sirius standing there leaning on his stick.

"How did you find me?" Harry demanded, "And how can you even see me."

"I can't" Sirius said and he took a seat next to him, he then pointed his wand at Harry and muttered "Finite." The concealment charm stopped, "I can now."

"You didn't answer my question." Harry pointed out returning to looking at the stars, ironic as the he saw Sirius in the night sky as clearly as he sat next to him.

"You're a Black." Sirius reminded him, "I can always find you if I chose too, I just followed the family magic. Only the most powerful magic could block the family magic, you could mask your presence too but I have never taught you that as I know you would abuse that, I need to keep an eye on you."

Harry ignored him and continued to sit silent, he couldn't look at Sirius, he saw the pain written over his face and he was responsible for that, he had forced that cursed potion down his throat, and was even now hiding the truth behind that mission from him.

"You have been avoiding me." Sirius said, "Ever since we returned you have avoided me at all costs."

Guilt rose like bile in his throat but he kept his tongue, he had wanted to be with Sirius but couldn't face him.

"What is it?" Sirius asked sighing, "I have been trying to get a read on you all day but you avoid my gaze and run if I get close."

Harry turned and looked at him but quickly looked down and saw the stick which Sirius had rested across his lap, fittingly the head was shaped like a grim and despite himself his lips quirked up.

"I didn't want to have one with a snake or raven, this was much more fitting." Sirius said seeking his look, "I transfigured this myself, I think I did rather well if I do so say myself."

They sat silent for ten minutes, and Harry was getting annoyed he had hoped if he was stubborn Sirius would give up and leave him be but after another ten minutes he realised that Sirius was equally as stubborn or just patient.

"What do you want me to say." He said eventually.

"I want to know why you are avoiding me." Sirius repeated, "You have not spoken to me all day, even last night in the hospital you clamed up and stopped speaking to me."

Harry looked up and saw the beseeching look Sirius gave him and he felt his start to get moist and looked away very quickly and his breathing got faster and he reigned his emotions back under control, or at least appeared to.

"What I did to you makes me feel sick." Harry told him, "You were in agony and suffering and I kept putting that potion down your throat despite seeing what it did to you."

"You did." Sirius agreed, "But you did so under my order, you kept your word."

A spike of anger hit Harry then and he managed to swallow it, "I should have found another way."

"There was none." Sirius reminded him, "We tried, it had to be drunk and I was not going to let you do it. I couldn't have done what you did."

"So, because of your weakness I had to do something unspeakable to one I care for." Harry snapped unable to stop himself.

Sirius recoiled from his sharp words but didn't deny it, "I was there the day you were born Harry, I held you in my arms as if you were one of my own. Lily and James named me your god parent as they knew I was devoted to you as I was to them, I wanted only to protect you."

"Well you didn't do a good job." Harry told him "You spent most of my life in Azkaban while I was used as a house elf by my muggle family." It was a low blow, deep down he didn't even mean that, he understood that was out of Sirius's control and he regretted it deeply.

"I do not deny I have done poorly Harry." Sirius croaked and a tear ran down his cheek, "But I have kept my word that I would protect you, I broke out of Azkaban as Wormtail was alive and a threat to you, and I wanted revenge for what he done. I was so proud of you the night you confronted me, you were there to save a friend and after discovering the truth you did not turn to murder like Remus and I, you looked for justice."

"My mercy helped the most dangerous dark wizard to regain his body." Harry said snidely, "That is not something to be proud of I am sure."

"You couldn't have known." Sirius reminded him, "In the last two years you have matured and grown so much, and I am proud with how you handled yourself on our mission, it might have gone awry but you did well."

The anger he had previously suppressed rose back up inside him and he broke, he wasn't going to hold it back, "You should never have made me do it!" he shouted, "You made me all but torture you!"

"Yes, I did." Sirius said calmly,

"What I did was disgusting, I am not better that him! And it is all your fault!" Harry shouted, "I have watched him torture countless people and I condemn him for it and then I have no choice but to torture you because I gave my word."

"Perhaps next time you should think things through before you give you word." Sirius told him.

"Don't you dare turn this around on me Sirius!" Harry warned, "This was not my fault."

"What wasn't your fault?" Sirius asked surprised "I haven't blamed you for anything."

Harry pointed at his bad leg and stick, "Look at you! You can barely walk, you are on who knows what potions to recover from the potion and the attack. I tortured you, I weakened you. You were disarmed by Malfoy and blasted off the top of the Astronomy Tower when you were not on top form and at a severe disadvantage!"

He couldn't see passed his tears of fury, it was his fault Sirius had almost died, just like it was the year before in the Department of Mysteries.

"Harrison James Black-Potter." Sirius said sternly grabbing his arm firmly and forcing Harry to look at him, "I knew the risks that our mission to that cave could have, I went with the understanding that should I have to I would protect you above all. Should I have died but saved you I would have done it without hesitation. What I asked you to do was much easier for me, you might call me a coward, but if the roles had been reversed and it had been you drinking that potion I could not have done it. I would have been unable to do it, there are times that you can be as hard and unyielding as steel and you proved it in the Cave. Never blame yourself for it, if I have to say it you are whole heartedly forgiven for it but as I said you did nothing wrong!"

"As to what happened in this castle, well all I can say is that sometimes things happen. I may have been disarmed and blasted from that tower but I was not defenceless I wasn't the entire time I was just waiting for the perfect opportunity." Sirius continued, "Sometimes things are not as they seem, you saw only what you could perceive and understand. There is a conversation we must have over the summer, there is something you should know but that can wait."

Harry looked into Sirius's grey eyes and he could see no sign of hate or blame, and he sagged.

"Why is it our lives are so complicated?" Harry asked, "We never have it easy do we."

Sirius snorted, "Fate seems to have stacked the deck against us that is true. Sometimes I wish it were otherwise but at the same time even as Voldemort grows more powerful so do you, like fate is keeping you equals in a way."

The words of the Prophecy whispered to Harry at his words and it made him shudder. Harry wondered if now was was the time to come clean about the Locket, Harry looked at Sirius and went to admit it but stopped.

"What is it?" Sirius asked noticing.

Thinking quickly, he said, "I am not returning to school next year."

Sirius raised his brows, "You're not?"

"No." Harry told him firmly, "I am done in school, I am needed out there in the world hunting those items."

Looking at him carefully Sirius asked, "And were you going to discuss this with me?"

"No?" Harry said barely hesitating, "In only a few more weeks I will be seventeen and will take my title. As Lord Potter and a legal adult I can make my own decision and that is a simple one. One that I made months ago and one that will not change."

To his surprise, Sirius nodded. "That is your right, you will be an adult. I would prefer that you complete your education but at the same time I worry about the next year or so. Some say this war hasn't yet started but to my mind it has, I have tried to deny it but I have to now admit that this war had been going for almost two years."

"So, you will support me?" Harry asked.

"Of course, I will." Sirius laughed "Do you really think I would leave you to fight it alone?"

"No." Harry said in a small voice, touched by Sirius's commitment it was still a shock.

"The school year will be ending in three more days, once we are back home we can start our search for more of them." Sirius assured him, "I will also be receding from my public life, Voldemort wants me dead now more than ever."

"Ron and Hermione know about them too, I just haven't told them that I won't be returning next year." Harry quickly told him.

"I figured you would." Sirius acknowledged, "Now you should get to bed, I should too I have an early meeting with the Ministry and a press conference with Madam Bones too."

Harry left Sirius sitting on the window bench, he was grateful for their talk he really was but he was still hiding the truth from Sirius but he would admit that to him in only a few days' time.

o-HP-o

After his discussion with Harry, Sirius had been busy getting the school affairs in order and seeing off the foreign students and had to have the portal closed and return the artefact back to the archive.

The following morning Sirius was supposed to have gone straight to the Ministry to meet with Madam Bones before the press conference but he had six angry parents arrive at the school before he could leave to remove their children.

Truthfully, he could have asked Minerva to take care of it, but he thought that is disservice to the position he still held at the school, so he met with each parent and had been on the end of their ire at the school.

So now he was running very late, he hadn't even had time to change into something more formal and was having to attend wearing plain dark blue casual robes. It was not a decision he regretted really, he didn't need the trappings of the houses or Wizengamot today.

He had managed to get Amelia a message to tell her he would be late, but he knew she would not be very happy with him but he should be able to smooth things over, if she let him get a word in at least.

It didn't take long for him to arrive in London at the decrepit public apparation point for the wizarding hospital, the muggles were rushing around and some seemed scared as if they knew they were near an area of a mass murder.

Blending into the muggle crowd was supposed to be easy here, but given wizarding clothing they really did stick out a lot. Sirius cast a perception charm over his clothing to make muggles only see clothing they thought normal.

Managing to get to the shop of the ridiculous outer façade with its old shop windows dummies, he stepped through the glass and was in the lobby of the wizarding hospital. A small stage had been set up and he saw Madam Bones standing at a podium speaking to the assembled healers, reporters, patients and visitors.

"…what happened last night in this place of healing is a devastating blow to our country and shows the levels of depravity this terror organisation will go to in order to achieve their goals." She said, "the loss of every life here is a heavy blow to me and my department, we failed them. Even though our aurors saved everyone else and held off the Death Eaters, the loss of even a single life means we lost this fight."

Sirius couldn't get to the stage, it was too far away and the crowd to large and packed to get up the front. He listened to Amelia, she was a good speaker, albeit and sharp and hard one. She was not pushing an agenda, just speaking the truth and not hiding from it.

It was something he greatly admired about her.

"Madam Bones I thought Lord Black would be attending." Asked a reporter somewhere in the crowd loudly.

"Headmaster Black has responsibilities to the school, he sends his regrets and apologises for his tardiness but he could not leave the school as he planned." Madam Bones told them, "I am sure once he is free he will release a statement."

"No need." Sirius called raising his voice, "I am now here, and I regret my lateness but I had urgent business regarding my students."

The crowd spun to get a better look at him and then there was a great number of flashes and a loud chorus of talking and muttering, while reporters suddenly began to shout questions.

Blinded by the numerous camera flashes Sirius blinked unable to see but as he did he saw movement, something moving fast towards him.

Without thought he spun away even though he couldn't see and through the white flashes he saw a different colour. Bright green. He didn't know where it went but he was deafened by screaming and then pushed on by either side by the crowds as they began to try and move.

The stage was empty now, but he saw red-robed aurors pushing through the crowd trying to regain calm. Sirius's held up his own wand now, his eyes watering from the flashes still but he was alert. Then a man came running toward him with dark shadows under his eyes and a gaunt appearance and a gleam of silver in his hand.

A sharp knife was thrust towards him only to meet a shield charm and it sounded like nails on a blackboard as it scraped the magical shield. The man then tried again only to be hit in the face by a powerful stunning charm and he sagged forward.

Pushing his way forward Sirius made his way towards the stage, watching the crowds carefully for other assailants, but he saw the aurors had apprehended three people and had them bound and disarmed.

He frowned, someone was missing.

The crowd moved again and he caught sight of the stage and saw something laying on the floor unmoving. Right under the podium with her wand still in hand lay the formidable former head of the department of Magical Law Enforcement.

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Authors Note: So this is the end of the Exchange program, and with the death of Amelia things are going to only get worse for the magical community i am afraid.

Next chapter is titled "Endarkened Coven" and the truth of the Perverells will be explained, and it is not going to be pleasent for Harry and everything will be tied up!

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