Writing this should not be on my agenda, but it wouldn't leave my mind so out with it ^^".
I don't own Harry Potter or the Avengers (too bad :P) and also, un beta-ed work, so all misspellings and typos are mine. Enjoy :) -won't blame you if you don't ^^
Following a few reviews that pointed out a huge plot hole, I rewrote partially the flashback. This was basically what I had in mind, just not well–expressed I guess…
Sirius glanced nervously around him. The Italian café was slowly gathering people in the early morning and he was starting to attract attention thanks to the baby basket lying at his feet. Little Harry was quiet –had been since they had taken off from Goldric's Hollow, which was a blessing –but who knew how long he would be? Sirius had little experience with babies, and even Lily's attempts to take care of him had…
He felt a surge of anger and sadness surface again, but ruefully pushed them back. The person he was meeting today would spot any sign of weakness, and wouldn't mind pushing every button to set him off. So he buried his grief and sadness, buried and locked them tight in a safe in the corner of his mind. If he managed to convince her to take in Harry, he would have one thing less to worry about.
"Why am I here?"
Sirius nearly jumped out of his skin. The seat that had been empty seconds ago was now occupied by a stunning young woman, casually dressed in jeans and T-shirt. Her red vibrant hair seemed to glow in the light and her large sunglasses covered a good part of her face. She had been a blonde when he had last seen her, but Sirius was positive this was the spy named Natalia Romanova. He felt a light pang in his chest as he remembered the woman she had been back then. Or rather, the façade she had showed him –she had shown them –at the time. He had thought himself in love with that façade, until he realized who she really was. Even then, he couldn't help but admire her.
"Thank you for coming on such short notice" he said instead, forcing himself to focus on his goal. "Could you please remove your sunglasses first?"
Natalia sighed in annoyance but complied. Sirius nearly gasped in surprise: although her hair had changed –and granted it had been five years or so –but the redhead still looked in her late teens, early twenties, her face untouched by time.
She hadn't been kidding when she had told them she aged slowly.
"What do you want, Black?" the spy asked again, dryly.
Focus, he thought. It would do no good to let her take the upper hand of the conversation, even though he was pretty much at her mercy. He wordlessly pulled up the baby basket on his knees and watched with semi amusement as she stared at it as if it was a ticking bomb.
"This is Harry. He is Lily and James Potter's son. Unless I am mistaken, James, Lily and I helped you out of some serious jam last time. You told us yourself you were indebted to us."
"They're dead and you want me to keep an eye on that kid." She said blankly, her eyes and expressions unreadable. Sirius assumed she guessed his friends' death by the fact he showed up alone and, he had to admit, in a poor state of dress. Still, he nodded, glad she was sharp.
"Just for a couple months. I need to take care of something" rather someone, he thought grimly. "Then we'll both be out of your hair. Debt repaired and everything."
Natalia's eyes narrowed, her incrusting gaze checking each and every moves of his. Her attitude reminded him of a snake, searching for a weakness before deciding whether to strike or not. Her decision would be made in a split second and he'd have to take every advantage he could from that.
"Two months" she suddenly declared. "I'll give you two months to do what you have to do. I'll meet you here with the boy and if you're not, I'll send him in an orphanage."
Sirius tensed. Two months were reasonable enough to return to England, take care of Peter and make the necessary arrangements for the future, but he didn't like the way she suggested he could fail. He would not fail. He could not afford to fail. Harry needed him, he was so young…Natalia went on, uncaring of the thoughts running through his mind:
"And since you look so concerned about his safety, his name will be changed too. The moment you hand him over to me, 'Harry Potter' is no more. He will be Yakov Romanov."
Yakov was the equivalent for James; Sirius remembered she had told them back then. Fine, perhaps he wasn't doing a mistake confiding Harry to the former Russian spy. She wasn't that bad; maybe she just hated being indebted to someone.
"Do I have a payment for this?" she asked, but it felt more like a demand.
Sirius wondered if she was tight on budget since she had gone freelance. A few galleons would do the trick, after all gold was valuable in the muggle world and he was pretty sure they'd cover all the expenses she needed for the next two months. He pulled out the seven he carried on him and handed them to her. Natalia pocketed them after a quick examination. She then took the baby basket and slowly, as to not wake up Harry, held it tight to her chest.
"I'll see you in two months. Same time same place. If you're over fifteen minutes late…" her voice trailed off and Sirius nodded in agreement. Before she could turn away though, he added:
"It goes without saying, but take care of the little guy. He hasn't asked for any of this."
Natalia sent him an impassive stare.
"I don't hurt children, Black. I owed Potter a debt so don't worry, Yakov's safe with me."
A blink of the eye later and she had vanished. Sirius inhaled sharply, praying he hadn't made the biggest mistake of his life. He suddenly stood up, dropped muggle money to pay his coffee and stormed off to his bike, ready to return to England and ensure Harry would never had to fear for the future.
Ten years later, Hogwarts, Headmaster's office
Another year was starting at Hogwarts, and it was usually a good reason for celebration but Dumbledore felt particularly depressed. Nearly ten years ago, the Potters had been decimated, leaving their son orphaned and on his own. He had urged Hagrid to retrieve the boy, but the half-giant had been too late. Sirius Black had gone ahead and picked up the baby and, to Dumbledore's greatest dismay, vanished for a week. When Sirius had finally resurfaced, he had been alone and out for blood. Under two days, he had avoided and evaded them, had cornered one of his friends, Peter, and had killed him along with twelve other muggles. The reason for his suddenly bloodlust? Peter had betrayed the Potters, or so he said. When questioned about Harry, Sirius had claimed having put his godson into safety. But not once he had agreed to speak about his location.
Dumbledore laid back in his seat and closed his eyes. He remembered all too well the interrogation the young Black had gone through after his arrest…
He was lucky to have had this semi-private audience with the prisoner. After Voldemort's disappearance, the government was in a haste to shove the people to blame in Azkaban and Sirius Black, as responsible of Harry Potter's disappearance, was the first one in sight. Dumbledore had managed to secure some time to interrogate him, but not alone. Members of the Order stood among the Aurors standing there, ensuring everything went accordingly –and hoping for a confession to be made. He wouldn't be able to proceed as he wished, the current Minister of Magic being very careful and paranoid about everyone.
Still, not many people wished to approach the man. His physical appearance was a pity, as if he had been dragged into hell and back again. His eyes were wide with distain and disgust as he glared at everyone in the room. His hands and feet might have been restrained, but he appeared more dangerous than ever. The whole time he had been under arrest, he had claimed his innocence and put the blame on Peter Pettigrow, the very man he had pulverized earlier that day.
Many wouldn't have believed he could have betrayed the Potters until a week ago; but unfortunately, facts were facts and everyone was angry. Dumbledore thought their hate was more due to the Boy-Who-Lived disappearance. If only his former student would cooperate, perhaps people would consent to listen. Hopefully, he would listen to him.
"I didn't kill the Potters" Sirius spit angrily, repeating his mantra again. "Peter Pettigrow is still alive and lurking! There's another spy among you!"
Dumbledore stood a few feet away from him. He crouched to be at his level and asked again:
"We found a finger, which was all left from him. Sirius, if you truly are on the side of the light, you need to tell me, where is Harry?"
"If he comes back here, he'll be in danger!" the man kept repeating desperately. "I can't allow it, not until you find the mole!"
"He will be safe, I assure you." Dumbledore replied calmly. "Please Sirius, be reasonable…"
"I am his godfather! His safety is my priority!"
"You just dumped him to You-Know-Who's followers!" one of the Aurors in the background howled. "You bloody traitor!"
The words seemed to infuriate Sirius even more and consolidate his determination.
"Fuck you!" he yelled back. "You are just a bunch of blind bloody fools! I'll never say where he is! You'll never find him!"
"Siri-" Dumbledore started. The young man interrupted him with a glare. Finally, he thought, an opportunity to glimpse into the man's head. But all Dumbledore caught was a thick wall of darkness. He nearly gasped in shock. Who would have believed Sirius Black to be so good at Occlumency? Or was it his will to keep Harry out of their reach that made them so thick? And as he left Sirius's eyes, he was met by –and that was something to say, as he had seem many of them –the scariest grin Black had ever given anyone:
"And you, Albus, are the biggest fool of all."
And then, Black laughed hysterically.
Sirius had been right on one point; Harry had never been found. They had tried every connection the man had, used many resources, followed an endless number of trails to no avail. He sighed deeply, feeling he had failed the Potters but above all, that he had failed the wizarding world. Voldemort was still lurking, and the boy who would have been their last chance had vanished. In a last move of hope, he had checked the list of this year's new students. No Harry Potter had been subscribed for this year or for the seven next. As he closed the book, Dumbledore felt he could only sadly conclude that the last member of that old family had passed away.
Somewhere in Spain
Natalia walked down the path unhurriedly. Deep inside though, she was fuming. Her employer –former employer –had attempted to double-cross her and kill her after the money delivery. He had failed of course and she had killed all the extra security he had hired. Ordinarily, she wouldn't have bothered going through all. Had he not ruined her favorite shirt, perhaps she would have left him alive. But no, he had to play the bigger guy and strain her top with blood -a top Yasha had bought for her.
And when the big boss fell, his bodyguards launched on her. Nothing she couldn't take care of. She did spare the one who wore a wedding ring. The poor guy looked completely at loss –obviously a novice –and she was pretty sure he would stop working for shady people. She made it look like she wanted to leave someone behind so the survivor would spread the word that the Black Widow was not to be trifled with again.
Her footsteps wavered when she caught the sign of a music shop in the corner. Natalia hesitated a moment, wondering whether she should waste precious minutes just to check if what she was looking for could be found there. She had made a few steps towards the shop when she felt it; that disagreeable feeling of someone watching her, a threat hanging over her head. It wasn't the first time actually. Those past days, she couldn't shake that sensation of being followed and unfortunately, she had been working far too long in the business to know she had a tail. She had caught sight of him on a roof the previous day –a man wearing sunglasses, cramped in the shadows.
The moment she had realized that, she had decided they needed to move again. Shame, they had spent two full years here.
Determined to shake her tail before returning home, Natalia strolled through the streets, ducked through shortcuts and mixed with crowds. After a while, once she knew she had lost him, she directed herself in the right direction. Her steps had led her closer to home that she'd like, but since she figured she was no longer followed, it didn't mattered much.
The redhead slipped in a small alley and entered an ordinary-looking building. She headed to the second floor, stopped at the apartment numbered 205 and opened the door. The sound of a violin greeted her the moment she stepped in, and Natalia couldn't bite back a smile. As quietly as she could muster, she sneaked into the living room and peeked inside. An eleven year old boy was hanging onto his violin like his life depended on it. Long dark hair was tied back into a ponytail; his eyes were closed, enjoying the melody his habile fingers were producing. Natalia recognized the soloist part of Storm from Vivaldi. Not quite easy she assumed, yet he stood straight and elegant, in total ease as his fingers and bow ran over the cords. The last notes trailed off and he lowered his violin. The redhead stepped inside the room and slowly clapped her hands in approval.
"Great job малыш." She said with a smile. The boy blushed and returned her smile with a humble grin.
"Welcome back mama. Did you have any trouble during your courses?"
"Nothing I couldn't handle" she reassured him. "How did your lesson go?"
The boy grimaced.
"Miss Morgan is determined to get me into a music school. She says I'm a virtuoso in waiting, that the tools I have aren't enough for a good development."
Natalia raised an eyebrow at his neutral tone.
"I thought you would be thrilled by the news. Yasha, what's going on?"
His mouth thinned into a line. He pulled out a letter from his pants pocket and handed it to her. Natalia looked over the address and understood. The envelope had a creamy color, very parchment-like, and the green scripture in old elegant print made her wince. Her suspicions were furthermore approved when she returned it. A red seal was marked with an emblem she had seen very few times over the years, but would recognize anywhere. Howgart's crest.
Ten years ago, Sirius Black had trusted her with his best friend's baby son for two months. The two months had gone by and he hadn't returned. Despite having promised she'd leave the boy past the delay, Natalia had gone to England, determined to dump the one year old back on him. Her contacts had informed her that Sirius had been thrown into a wizard prison, Azkaban, for killing a war hero and hiding the 'Boy-Who-Lived'. Further investigation had made her realize how important the baby actually was for the magical community, and Natalia had made a decision. She could find out if the baby still had living relatives, she could search for one of the members of the Order of the Phoenix, she could drop the baby at an English orphanage or anywhere in the world –she wasn't that cruel, she knew a couple of good places- or…
She could keep him.
The thought had sounded crazy; she was the Black Widow, infamous assassin. Attention was her worst enemy and a baby would just hinder her. But then, the little boy had opened her eyes, green eyes, alike hers, and smiled that absolutely horribly cute smile of his and babbled 'maaama' and she knew she was stuck with him. Natalia might be a first-class assassin and an abnormality –curtsey of the Red Room and their serums –but she craved to feel a sense of normality. A baby would help her blend in. With her mind made up, she had taken off and never looked back. Ten years later, ten years of worrying, caring, watching and that baby had grown into the boy standing before her today.
He may have not turned out to be the boy his parents or Sirius would have wanted, but Natalia thought she hadn't done a bad job. Yasha was intelligent and resourceful. He seemed content with his life and she always made sure he felt cared for. But unfortunately, now that he was coming of age…
"I suppose that was bound to happen someday" she merely said, resigned.
The wizarding world was finally catching up with them.
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