A/N: For any good it may do, I'm sorry for not updating soon. Hope you enjoy the chapter!
"You," Lupin snarled.
The contorted features on the Defense professor's face were filled with such loathing that Harry would have been running as fast as he could had someone been looking at him like that. Was this really the same caring man who had just show Harry a grindelow?
"TRAITOR!" Lupin roared. A red beam shot from Lupin's wand. Black dodged, and the light hit the Fat Lady's shredded canvas.
Black took off down the corridor. Harry, still shocked, jumped when he felt Lupin grab his arm.
"Harry," Lupin's voice was strained, as if it took all his strength to maintain the composure he lost, "do not leave my side. Black will kill you if given the chance, do you understand?" Lupin muttered something and waved his wand, a silvery form sprang from it.
Harry nodded mutely, his brain asking to questions he had been too surprised for moments ago. Was the Fat Lady alright? How did Black get into the castle? Why did Lupin hate Black so much? Did they know each other? Black had called him by name…
Harry was pulled out of his racing thoughts by Lupin yanking him down the corridor.
"But," Harry pointed behind them, "he went the other—"
"I'm taking you to Dumbledore."
"Oh." Harry felt stupid for thinking a teacher was going to march him up to Black. "But what if someone else—"
"I've already gotten word to Dumbledore. Harry." Lupin stopped and turned to face Harry, his vice grip not letting up. "Black is dangerous, more dangerous than you know. Listen." Lupin seemed to know that Harry was about to cut him off. "There's no point in hiding it from you. The only thing we know for certain is that Black wants you dead. Now he's gotten into Hogwarts. I can't risk you running into him while I go off to search for him. Do you understand?"
That seemed to be enough response for Lupin, who continued to half-drag Harry through the castle.
Sirius didn't know if he was more relieved at seeing Harry alive or angry at himself for being spotted and possibly ruining everything. All day, Sirius as waited as a dog for Harry to sneak him to the Common Room, and every minute after the students' departure to Hogsmeade that Harry didn't come made Sirius more worried. Images of Pettigrew escaping his cage and throttling Harry had become more vivid by the second. Sirius' rash actions had robbed his godson of a good life in the past, the thought that his patience had now gotten his godson killed was too much.
He had raced to the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room as a dog, tried explaining the Harry was in danger to the Fat Lady, and attacked her when she refused to open. Why was he always so stupid? He should have left when he saw Harry safe, returned as Procyon. Instead, he stood there for a moment too long, and Remus saw him.
Once Sirius was sure he was far enough from Remus and Harry, and any prying eyes, he transformed and doubled-back to the Fat Lady's portrait. No one believed that the one he really planned to murder was still in the Gryffindor Tower—Dumbledore certainly wouldn't send the students back to their dormitories, the professors would be too divided standing guard by every House and searching the castle. Sirius was willing to gamble that once Dumbledore had a look around, the place would be left unwatched.
Sirius waited for the sound of footsteps to fade before emerging from the shadows to face the ruined portrait. He didn't doubt the Stunner that Remus had sent his way would have stopped his heart if it hit him. The slashing from the knife should have been easy enough from Filch to fix up, but the spell's damage reminded Sirius that werewolf-Remus wasn't the Moony people should fear, it was angry-and-holding-a-wand-Remus. But at least the blank portrait had seen enough destruction that Sirius could break through.
As he slowly climbed to the Third Year boys' dormitory, Sirius clutched the knife so tightly his knuckles turned white. Every step was deliberate, silent. Even if Pettigrew's rat ears could pick up Sirius' heavy breathing or rapidly pounding heart, they would not hear his footfalls.
Finally, after twelve years, everything would be over. Pettigrew would be dead, James and Lily would be avenged, and Sirius would be able to take Harry away from those rotten Muggles.
Sweat from his palm stained the door as Sirius pushed it open.
"It's over, Pe—"
Sirius' arms dropped to his side as mind-numbing disbelief consumed him. There, on one of the bedside tables, was the cage Sirius had dreamed of getting into, smashed to bits, clearly empty.
"NO!" Sirius raced to the cage. A bit of blood on some of the broken sides was all Pettigrew left behind. Sirius let out a cross between a scream and a growl and hurled the cage against the wall, shattering it further and swore. He ran his fingers through his hair and paced. Of course Pettigrew knew about the plan to bring Sirius into the dormitory! Knew he had to act before then! The damn rat must have been trying to fake his death again, with that blood left behind. It wouldn't work twice! Sirius would—
Twelve years ago, Sirius sat in a cell in Azkaban at a total loss of what to do next. James and Lily were dead, Harry was gone, Remus loathed him, and Pettigrew had vanished. There had been nothing he could do—he had no way of tracking a rat who could have run to any corner of the world! Sirius had spent the next twelve years dreaming of revenge, only to, just moments after tasting it, end up back where he started.
The castle was surely under lockdown by now, Sirius had used his time to go back for Pettigrew instead of escaping. He had no way to sneak out of the castle with every exit under scrutiny. All it would take is one mention of a large, black dog to Remus and his time on the run would be over. Even if he could get out, Sirius didn't even know which side of the castle doors to begin his search for Pettigrew. What he wouldn't give for a look at the Marauders' Map!
With the adrenaline beginning to fade from his system, Sirius laid back across the foot of one of the beds, staring at nothing. He had failed James again. Failed Harry again.
His foolishness would force his godson back into the home of those rotten, worthless Muggles! His failures had been easier to live with when he could imagine Harry growing up safe and happy, surrounded by people who loved him and spoiled him like Sirius wanted to.
No, Sirius would not allow Harry to go back to his blasted relatives who made it their life goal to break the boy down! He would figure something out. He had to. For Harry.
After a few moments of pacing, Sirius glanced down at Harry's trunk. He felt a bit guilty the moment he thought of it, and a bit stupid for not remembering it sooner. James' Invisibility Cloak was in Harry's trunk. Maybe Sirius wasn't as trapped as he had thought.
The day after Sirius Black had been spotted in Hogwarts when the students were allowed back to their Houses, Harry quickly became annoyed at arguing with Ron about what happened to Scabbers. When the Gryffindor Tower had been searched, the Gryffindors had only been allowed back in when Ron proclaimed loudly that the bloodied rat cage was Crookshanks' doing. However, when Harry and Ron got back to the dormitory, Harry found Procyon under his bed, which caused Ron to blame Procyon as well as Crookshanks in Scabbers' disappearance. Harry and Hermione had defended their pets, despite any evidence Ron threw at them, but Ron remained convinced that the cat and dog worked together to bust up the cage and eat Scabbers. When Harry finally declared that he was going to use the Invisibility Cloak to sneak Procyon back outside Hagrid's ("So he can run around after someone else's pet! Stupid dog!" "He was worried because I didn't show up today!"), Ron rolled on his bed and accused Harry of never caring about Scabbers while Hermione lectured him on how stupid that idea was. The eighth time Harry had to stop to let a teacher pass on his way back to the tower, he vowed never tell Hermione she was right. But the fear of Procyon being discovered in the dormitory and forced to live as a stray again had made Harry's decision even without either of his two best friends supporting him.
Three days later and Harry was nearing his limit with all the extra attention. Not only were his peers badgering him for details about the attack on the Fat Lady, but teachers were finding any excuse to walk him between classes or to the loo, and not to mention Percy Weasley tailing him all over the school, no doubt put up to it by his mother. The worst was when Professor McGonagall tried to stop Harry from practicing Quidditch, only relenting when Madam Hooch agreed to oversee practice.
The only thing that cheered Harry up was, after complaining about never being left alone within earshot of Fred and George, the Weasley twins dragged him off and presented him with something called the Marauders' Map. It showed the location of every person and animal inside Hogwarts. Harry was gifted with it to avoid the 'unwanted public' on the condition that he took care of it and used it to sneak into Hogsmeade on the next trip.
Harry was out to use the Marauders' Map for the first time that evening. Once he was sure that Ron and the others had fallen asleep, Harry grabbed the map and his dad's cloak. He didn't care how foolish he was acting, Harry needed to get away from everyone cornering him about murderers and rats. He would spend some time with Procyon, who must have been feeling neglected to show up under Harry's bed like that, and the go back to the castle to sleep.
The map was wonderful. While Harry ended up making several detours, he never ran into anyone. But one group of dots caught his eye. A group of professors was standing just outside the Great Hall. Harry's curiosity got the better of him, and he quietly approached to eavesdrop.
"-finish the search?" Professor Dumbledore asked Professor Flitwick.
"Yes, no sign of any of the security being tampered with."
"Do you really think Black would try again so soon, Albus?" Professor McGonagall asked.
"After spending twelve years in Azkaban, who can know how to predict Black's actions? But there is now no doubt that he is nearby. I do not plan on allowing him access to this castle a second time." Dumbledore sighed. "Thank you all for your assistance. Good night."
Harry retreated as far into the shadows as he could when Dumbledore left.
"I hope he's caught soon," Professor Vector said. "Really, Minerva, did you see the papers this morning?"
"I did. I'm just relieved Albus has managed to keep the worst of it from the press."
"The worst of it?"
Harry barely looked at the map as he raced to the secret passage to the school grounds that Fred and George had recommended. The conversation he had just heard between Professors McGonagall, Vector, Flitwick, and Hagrid had sent Harry off numb. His parents were dead because his father's best friend betrayed them. Everyone knew—hell, even Malfoy knew!—but no one, not Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. Weasley (whose strange request that Harry not go looking for Black now made sense) bothered to tell him. Did they not trust him to know? Did they think he was too weak to handle the truth?
At the edge of the Forbidden Forest, Harry pulled off his Invisibility Cloak. Without waiting to see if Procyon was following, he started heading down the forest path. When he was far enough in that he didn't feel like the castle could watch him, he sat. Procyon, who seemed to sense Harry's anger, put a paw on his knee and gave a low whimper. Harry laid a hand on his faithful dog's head. Harry just sat there, his mind working furiously. Even if Black was caught and sent back to Azkaban like everyone was hoping, would that really be enough? The dementors didn't affect Black. Was that the truth everyone was trying to shield Harry from? That his parents' betrayer was never really punished for what he did?
"If I see Black, I'll—"
Procyon tilted his head.
"No one told me. My mum and dad died because of Black. He wasn't even suffering for it. The dementors didn't affect him, he never heard my mum screaming when they got too close!" Harry, blinking furiously, didn't notice when Procyon stepped back. "They all just kept it hidden, why didn't they tell me the truth? Why didn't they—"
"They couldn't have told you the truth, Harry. No one else knew it."
Harry jumped up. "You," he snarled.
Sirius stared at the ground to avoid the hatred he knew would be in his godson's eyes. It didn't lessen his cringe at the loathing in Harry's voice.
"I don't have any proof for you, but if you hear me out, I'll tell you everything."
He knew that revealing his identity to Harry was incredibly stupid. He knew that Harry would likely shout or hex him, attracting some sort of unwanted attention. But the guilt Sirius felt over hearing the hurt in Harry's words outweighed the desire to keep himself hidden. Maybe if Harry finally heard the truth, had Sirius talk to him about it, it would lessen the angry confusion Harry was clearly trapped in.
What Sirius did not anticipate was the small teenager launching himself onto Sirius and throwing as many punches as he could.
"Harry!" Sirius couldn't fight back, this was his godson! Even if Sirius wasn't a hundred percent positive that James would rise from the dead and hex him to oblivion for raising a hand to Harry, he could never do anything to hurt his godson! Instead, he grabbed Harry's arms and restrained him in an awkward embrace. The stinging under his left eye told Sirius he would soon have a bruise there.
"Let me go!" Harry snarled.
"I need you to listen."
"I'm not listening to anything you have to say!"
"Harry, what you heard tonight, what everyone thinks happened, that's not the truth. You can decide if you believe me or not once you hear me out, but you deserve to know."
"Why don't you just kill me like you killed my mum and dad!" Harry roared.
Sirius tried not to flinch. "I don't deny that I as good as killed them, but I never betrayed your parents, and I'm not going to kill you."
"LIAR! You were their Secret Keeper! Or now that Voldemort's gone, are you too scared to finish the job you started?"
Sirius tightened his grip as Harry struggled.
"If I was going to kill you, I would have done it as Procyon!"
Harry went still, as though he hadn't before registered that his beloved dog was actually Sirius Black.
"You- You were in Azkaban for twelve years, you're mad!"
Sirius wanted to offer that his sanity was still intact, but he knew that 'the real traitor is your best friend's pet rat' was the maddest story he could tell without proof.
Harry's mind was racing. Procyon was Sirius Black. His dog—his best friend—was his parents' traitor. That truth hurt worse than anything else he had heard that night. Harry willed his eyes to dry. Procyon had been his faithful companion, someone he could talk to more freely than he could talk to even Ron, someone who always cheered him up, someone who understood what it was to be lonely and unwanted, someone who loved him.
Harry didn't know just when his shaking turned from angry to hurt. He didn't know just when Black stopped restraining him in favor of a proper embrace. He didn't know just when he started crying into Black's dirty robes.
"I'm sorry," Black finally said, his voice shaking. "I never meant- I only wanted to catch a glimpse of you before going north… but when I saw you, running away, talking like you had no place to go- I couldn't leave you alone."
Harry stayed silent. Mad or not, if Black was a desperate to kill him as everyone said, he, Harry, would have been dead a hundred times over since leaving his aunt and uncle's. Could it all be some sick trick?
"I would never hurt you, Harry. Or your parents. They were my best friends, and you're my godson. Please, will you hear me out?"
Nothing was making sense anymore. Harry couldn't have said what made him nod, but when Black smiled at him, he felt the same comfort as he did from Procyon nudging his hand with a cold, wet nose.