Disclaimer: all characters belong to J K Rowling and Warner brothers.
a/n [Of Western Stars verse] in which twelve year old Harry stumbles upon the facts of life. In which the obsessively overprotective godfather crashes some last minute plans to salvage his godson's innocence. In which the potions master reads a very odd essay on sexual intercourse.
A prequel of sorts to Good Intentions. A short oneshot taking place in the WS timeline with GI's setup. Please read Of Western Stars before you read this story!
This story is dedicated to Gaby. A very late Happy Birthday to you!
revised. Took the time to redo it on the plane back from Russia. Hope it is better!
Half of Dueling Range
*summer vacation, between second and third year*
Twelve year-old Harry gnawed on a lower lip in thought, a childish habit he could never break, but managed to pass onto his godfather as well. Dragons. He barely knew anything about dragons, yet he had been home schooled for years before attending Hogwarts. Harry dejectedly sank in his chair and buried his face in his hands. Snape always gave the most difficult assignments. He should never have procrastinated, knowing how the potions master itched to find any fault in his work. Snape's animosity against him grew by leaps and bounds ever since that incident first year.
Harry cringed at the memory. He should never have mentioned Snape in his letter home, but it was his first week away from the Moor House of nearly five years seclusion, and he missed his guardians. He was so used to telling Sirius and Remus everything. Besides, it was only an innocent two lines:
And a day later, a howler fell into Snape's soup and caught fire. Harry had hid under the table in shock and embarrassment when the familiar voice of his godfather reverberated through the hall.
Harry had spent the entire meal curled under the bench with his face in his hands. Granted, the entire Gryffindor house and three-fourths of the school worshipped his godfather as a result of that incident, but Harry couldn't stare at the potions master without blushing for weeks. Hundreds of letters were sent in forgery of Harry's handwriting to Sirius with ridiculous complaints ('he hung me by my thumbs for a week!' said one. 'He chained me to a tree in the Forbidden Forest!' declared another. Knowing Padfoot, he would have believed them) pleading for him to send more howlers. If the Moor House wasn't warded specifically to allow familiar owls into the residence, the Hogwarts population would have gone deaf and Dumbledore would have been advertising for a new potions master.
He generally kept Snape out of his letters after that.
But then again, Harry sighed; things would become more chaotic once the school year began. Remus and Sirius are going to be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts course. If he weren't so excited about his two guardians joining him during the school year, he would have been packing extra in anticipation for the inevitable war that would break out. Not to mention the kind of surveillance Padfoot would be keeping on him and his friends especially after second year… Harry cringed when he recalled the scene.
Sirius had blasted through the doors of the Great Hall midway through their end of the year celebration; the entire hall had fallen deathly silent at the murderous gleam on Sirius' face. As he marched in with his wand raised, Remus caught onto his robe collar and frantically tried to drag him back.
The whole display was worse than the fifteen minute howler Sirius sent Dumbledore at the end of first year. Harry, fortunately, had not been present to view its affects. Sirius had whisked (kidnapped him more like. Sirius had scooped him up when he was sleeping, blankets and all, and walked out of the infirmary without Dumbledore's knowledge) him home directly from the hospital wing after his encounter with Quirrel and didn't even let him return for finals. Remus had been horrified.
It was probably the first time in history Albus Dumbledore had ever been rendered speechless (next to the second time in history Albus Dumbledore ever received a howler. The first was from his mother when he was thirteen).
The job offering was probably a pacifier for his godfather from the headmaster to finally stuff a stopper in Sirius' temper tantrum. It had worked, but when Sirius and Remus had filled in for Lockhart's remaining weeks during school, students and teachers alike skidded around corners when they passed. Remus had never looked so embarrassed, but Sirius had been oddly unaffected.
During those times, Snape had been truly frightening. (Ron had insisted that Sirius was more frightening, but Harry didn't think so)
He was beginning to worry. If those few weeks were any sign of how Sirius would react, his third year would be treading on thin glass. Inwardly, Harry prayed that Voldemort would take pity on Dumbledore and spare him Sirius' wrath by not appearing.
But thinking of Dumbledore made him think of Hogwarts. And thinking of Hogwarts made him think of Snape and his potions assignment. Harry's gaze fell back on the blank sheet of parchment and the open book lying on his desk and groaned aloud. It was late, and all he wanted to do was crawl under the covers and sleep. But no, he couldn't do that. That would be procrastinating on something he had already delayed for weeks. He didn't want to ruin any of his summer with Padfoot and Moony with some potions assignment. Setting his jaw in determination, Harry pulled a textbook close and began to flip through the index.
An hour later, Harry was just summarizing a paragraph out of the Dangerous Creatures book:
Harry's quill froze over the parchment as his mind backpedaled. Sexual intercourse? What did that mean? Harry skimmed the rest of the page searching for clues, but the text seemed to avoid it altogether. It sounded important though, Harry mused in confusion, why would the book hint at it then rush forward without an explanation? Harry examined the diagrams, wondering if they would provide some clues.
What did girth have to do with it? Chewing his lip, Harry reread the previous paragraphs and sighed in defeat. It made no sense!
Harry sank back in defeat, debating the prospects of skipping over the subject or researching more. Dancing around it seemed awfully tempting, but considering his grade in potions last year… Harry cringed. He better elaborate and make his essay as thorough as possible. Harry was very tempted to run to Sirius or Remus for help, but it was his summer assignment, and it seemed dishonest to ask them to help him. Sirius wouldn't hesitate for a moment helping him cut corners, but Remus would want him do achieve it on his own…
However hard it was going to be, he would discover it on his own, Harry told himself firmly.
Fishing a dictionary off his tall, mahogany bookshelf, he began flipping through the contents.
Coitus? What was that? Harry stared in bewilderment before hesitantly continuing.
The following list of words read like gibberish, although a few sounded inappropriate. Harry blinked blankly at the thin volume in his hands, unsure of what to think. Somehow, in the attempt to clear up confusion, he only managed to confuse himself more.
Harry dragged out another tome, a tattered one he had checked from the Hogwarts library a few days before break in plans of studying it over the summer, and embarked on another search.
Harry dropped the book in horror. Restricted section? Sexual intercourse was dark magic!
Harry sleepily dragged his feet down the stairs the next morning. Sunlight was streaming brightly through the parted curtains and a soft summer breezing was wafting through the room, but Harry couldn't bring himself to be as energetic as usual with the customary slide down the banister. Bleary eyed, Harry shuffled into the dining room and muffled a wide yawn.
"Sirius put that back down. That's… hey!" Remus' annoyed rebuke rang from the kitchen.
Harry dragged a chair to the counter and crawled up, peeking over the tiled top with childish amusement. In the small kitchen, his two guardians paced back and forth, opening a cupboard to extract a plate, pushing aside dishes to clear a space. Sirius lingered by the sink, edging a dish of butter with his elbow as Remus stirred a pan. It took a skilled observer to realize that Sirius was doing absolutely nothing productive. As Remus filled a plate of freshly sizzled bacon, Sirius whisked two with expert fingers.
"Padfoot!" Remus gritted out between clenched teeth; he sounded more exasperated than surprised.
"Yes? Ow… damn thing is hot!" Sirius attempted an innocent smile, but it quickly melted into a grimace as he blew at the strips of bacon.
"I hope your hands are hurting," Remus muttered. He strategically moved the plate of bacon out of immediate reach and shot Sirius a warning glare.
"You're taking too long," Sirius protested, nursing his burnt fingers under the tap. "Hurry up, Moony. Why don't you just use magic?"
Remus gave a long-suffering sigh, "If you would stop bothering me, I'd be a lot quicker. And whether or not I cook with magic is my decision. Or would you like to make breakfast?" He raised a butter knife to prove his point.
Sirius just grinned with all his teeth and chewed. Remus set his jaw in annoyance, but it was only acting for a game they played for years. Sirius filched food any morning he could wake up early enough, and Remus had long since resigned from trying to change his habits. Nevertheless, he made a few warning swipes with the knife when Sirius' hand sneaked too close.
"And you might want to act more mature, Padfoot," Remus added with a carefully hidden smile. "Harry's been watching you from the counter for the past ten minutes."
Sirius nearly gagged on his piece of bacon. Grinning widely, Harry ducked out of sight before his godfather could catch him in the act. But as he was scrambling off his chair, a hand snagged the back of his shirt and trapped him halfway. As he watched Sirius almost effortlessly lean over the tall countertop, Harry couldn't help but wonder with childish hopefulness if he could ever be as tall as his godfather one day. Considering how he could barely brush Sirius' elbow when he stood, even at twelve, the prospect seemed rather distant. Maybe he should jump more; Harry heard somewhere that a boy grew faster that way…
"What were you doing, not helping your godfather gang up on Moony, hm?" Sirius easily lifted the young boy back onto the chair to stare sternly at him. As if to have his point proven, Sirius accented his statement with a ruffling of his godson's unruly hair.
Harry's smile grew despite his best attempts to imitate Sirius' serious frown. "Hm," he solemnly echoed; with his dark hair standing on end in every direction possible, the boy attempt at somberness fell flat on its face.
"You and Harry ought to switch roles, Padfoot," Remus noted wryly. "Harry is definitely more mature."
Sirius spluttered, looking bruised. "Hey! That's…" he narrowed his eyes in a manner that made both Remus and Harry shrink away in recognition. "Alright. Suffer. Right now."
It took a long time for them to settle down to breakfast, and by then, the food was distributed over a range of area and they were all too breathless to eat. Or rather, Remus was leaning against the wall gasping for air, charming ketchup out of his robes, and Sirius sitting in a chair, flicking bacon strips out of his hair. Harry remained unscathed; he set the table with two coffees and a cup of orange juice while the two men twice his age wrecked the kitchen.
'Some people act mature when they are young and act younger as they grow old,' a muggle book once said. Either his two guardians never aged, or they were old men, Harry decided. Although he remembered Professor McGonagall saying that Remus was normally very composed. Maybe it was only Padfoot…?
Remus dusted his robes off one last time before walking back into the kitchen trying to recover his scattered dignity.
"I'll bring the toast," Harry offered brightly.
Sirius suddenly looked vaguely embarrassed, just as he did after any skirmish and Harry offered to clean up after him. Harry took the time to pat his godfather condescendingly on the head and pick half a strip of bacon out of his hair as he passed. Sirius always popped a nerve when anyone insisted Harry was more mature for a reason Harry couldn't completely grasp, but it was amusing watching his godfather react.
Maybe height was inversely related to maturity… maybe that was why Sirius and Remus were so tall and he was so short.
As amusing as that theory seemed, Harry knew it wasn't true. Even if maturity was somehow related, his guardians still knew far more than him. Harry paused on his way to the kitchen and curiously glanced over his shoulder to the table where Sirius sat. He definitely knew more than him. For six years, he taught him, and somehow, he still never ran out of things to say. Harry could never hope to match Sirius' transfiguration knowledge even after he graduated from Hogwarts. Harry was sure he would know the answer to the summer assignment that was giving him so much trouble.
Slowly, Harry made his way back to the dining room and slowly approached his godfather. Even if neither of them told him the answer, at least he would be forewarned if he were researching something related to dark magic. Harry chewed his lip thoughtfully.
Sirius glanced over his mug, suddenly noticing the small twelve year-old standing at his elbow. "Is something wrong?"
"Padfoot," Harry awkwardly began, unsure why he felt so apprehensive. "Is sexual intercourse really dark magic?"
Harry had never seen something fly so far out of a person's mouth. Not even when Neville had been tickled during dinner and he retched his soup had it gone nearly across the table. Harry stared at the brown spot on the window curtains then at his godfather, choking and gagging on his coffee with amazement and perplexity.
From the kitchen, there was a distinct clang as something solid was dropped.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked, standing up on his toes to pat his godfather on the back.
Sirius snagged the boy's wrist even before he could find the voice to speak, and Harry jumped at the horrified expression on his godfather's face.
"What…?!" Sirius finally croaked out.
Harry had a vague idea that Sirius wasn't asking him to repeat his question. But he did anyway, unsure of how else to respond. "Is it dark magic? I read it, but I wasn't sure…" Harry bit his lip at Sirius' rapidly darkening demeanor.
"Where? What… why were you reading about…?" Sirius choked on the next words; he gripped his side as if he was close to keeling over. Harry hurriedly supported his elbow.
"For my potions assignment," Harry distractedly began. "Padfoot, are you…?"
A fit of coughing could be heard from the kitchens. Sirius' grip tightened on Harry's arm.
"I'm going to kill him," Sirius said flatly.
Harry blinked. "Professor Snape? Why?"
"Don't do your assignment," Sirius bit out.
"On sexual… Oh, but it's on dragons!" catching Sirius' bewildered expression, Harry hurriedly ploughed forward. "They said they were so rare because they rarely had offspring. And I ran across something about: they don't like sexual intercourse. I didn't know what it meant." Harry faltered slightly when something akin to terror skipped across Sirius face. "The dictionary made no sense. In another book, it said I should go to the Restricted Section for a… visual guide…?"
Sirius suddenly broke into a coughing fit. "Gimme that…" he rasped out. "I'm burning it."
"Yeah, it wasn't very helpful at all," Harry reluctantly admitted. "But you shouldn't burn it. I borrowed it from Hogwarts."
"Throw it out!" Sirius hoarsely croaked.
Harry paused in bewilderment, unsure of how to place his godfather's reaction. "Err… I'll return it soon. But Padfoot, is sexual intercourse really dark magic?" Harry patted his godfather on the back again when he gagged on seemingly nothing. "I mean, the textbook made it sound like it has something to do with reproduction. How could dark magic be related to creating new life? That's contradictory."
Harry waited expectantly for a response, but Sirius seemed to have lost his voice. Abruptly, he sank back in his chair and buried his face hopelessly in his hands.
"Greasy git…" he mumbled. "… kill you… look what you did! My poor godson… six years old!"
"Padfoot?" Harry nervously asked, tentatively tugging at Sirius' sleeve.
Silence. Sirius looked as if someone had slapped and cheated him, and he was plotting for vengeance. Harry shifted worriedly, trying to peek at his godfather's face through his hands. Was he wrong to ask him? Should he leave? Perhaps he should research more, or maybe…
"I'll ask Moony," Harry offered quietly.
"No!" Sirius nearly shouted the word.
In a moment, Sirius was sitting upright with his hands clenched into tight fists on the table. Drawing several deep breaths, his godfather solemnly evacuated his chair to sit beside Harry on the floor.
"Harry, you see, sexual intercourse is…" Sirius gulped audibly and his voice drifted.
The silence was becoming noticeably long.
Tilting his head at him in curiosity, Harry examined Sirius' oddly pinched appearance. "…is?" Harry eagerly prompted.
Sirius gulped again. He looked on the floor. He scratched at the carpet. He looked at the ceiling. He chewed his lip.
"It's hard to explain. Sexual intercourse is…" Sirius' face contorted into a pained grimace and he gestured vaguely with a hand. "sex."
Harry's mind drew a blank at the word. "What's that?"
Sirius cleared his throat. "Sexual intercourse."
They were going in circles.
Something was dropped none too gently on the floor, and Sirius sneaked a glare in the direction of the kitchen.
"What is that though?" Harry asked, taking another brave stab at the forbidden topic. "Is it… dark magic?"
Sirius looked at the carpet as he traced a design on the rug. "Well, no." He sounded oddly reluctant to admit that.
Harry nodded attentively.
"But that doesn't mean you go around doing it!" Sirius shouted the afterthought with a sharp glance at his godson.
"Oh…" Harry whispered.
Sirius' declaration flew completely over his head. He couldn't exactly do something he didn't know, but Sirius wasn't being very helpful explaining. How strange… Padfood was usually very helpful. Maybe he wasn't sure what it was either? Harry shifted uneasily on that thought; he should have stuck with the dictionary.
Sirius had the expression of someone preparing to step into a hot oil bath. Drawing a deep breath, he squared his shoulders and drew several unnecesssarily long breaths of air. Was he purposely stalling?
"You see, sex is directly related to reproduction," Sirius quietly whispered. Harry had to struggle to make out his words. "It's not considered dark magic because it does not harm a person physically. It involves two people of opposite genders and… a wand." he made another gesture with his hand that reminded Harry oddly of a toothbrush.
"Like dueling?" Harry asked. His mind finally clicked on the one subject he excelled in. "Is it like professional dueling when you have to be twenty years-old? Opponents must stand ten meters apart and operate on a set list of spells and rules in which… wait, only one wand?"
Sirius fidgeted. "Yeah, only one… And a… cup."
Now that was completely over his head. "A cup? What for?" Harry was utterly bewildered. He entertained the image of two people standing on a dueling platform, one holding a teacup and the other trying to aim with a wand ten meters away. "Target practice…?"
Sirius gagged. "No!!"
Harry took a startled step back.
Sirius fidgeted again. He chewed his lip. He poked the floor.
Another stretch of silence. A strange, conflicting emotion crossed his face, and Sirius drummed his fingers restlessly on his knees. Then, something seemed to click in Sirius' mind. Straightening, Sirius placed his hands on his godson's smaller shoulders and stared grimly down at the miniature boy.
"Harry, sexual intercourse involves a spell. If one day, you ever want children, you need to find someone of the opposite gender and cast a certain complex charm that involves extensive paperwork to do. You must stand five meters apart…"
"Half of dueling range?" Harry piped in. "To harm a person, one must stand ten meters apart, but five meters is the complete reverse of that intention. That makes sense actually…"
"Err… yes," Sirius gave a weak nod. "Stand five meters apart from your partner before you cast the charm. But in order to be qualified, you must both be twenty-five years old…"
"Twenty-five?" Harry interrupted with some amount of confusion. "Weren't my parents nineteen when they had me?"
Sirius looked ready to choke again. "They had full parental consent!" he bit out quickly.
"Oh…" Harry didn't know of any charm that required an age limit to perform. Apparation fell into a separate category of magic. To attain parental permission to perform must mean that parents have an innate blood bond bound to their children, but that couldn't be right. But since Sirius insisted... "Does that mean if you're twenty-five, you don't need any permission? You can just go ahead and do it without any guidance?"
"No!!" Harry jumped when Sirius nearly shouted the word. His godfather looked horrified, as if Harry had just declared that he was joining Snape to create a national tree huggers organization. "No, you still need partial permission. If you're twenty-five and you want to perform the charm, you need to get at least one of us to give you consent. You know who to go to, right Harry?"
There was an edge to Sirius' question that made it very clear he was not to say Remus. Harry nodded and solemnly pointed to his godfather.
Sirius beamed."Exactly! Not Remus', mine, okay?"
From the kitchens, something angrily crashed into the sink.
Sirius' smile was rather unsettling.
Harry mused thoughtfully for a moment before glancing curiously up at his godfather. "Padfoot, have you ever done it?"
Sirius reeled back as if struck. Another cough could be heard from the kitchen, although it sounded suspiciously like muffled laughter. Was Remus eavesdropping?
"What…?" Sirius finally rasped out.
"… just wondering," Harry added quickly.
Sirius flushed into an startling shade of red. "Of course… not. I don't have any children, and I don't plan to. A godson's enough for me." Sirius gave an overly forced laugh and ruffled Harry's hair at that explanation, but Harry noticed his godfather seemed to be trying extra hard to change the topic.
"Oh," Harry whispered. Didn't the book say sexual intercourse didn't have to produce offspring? But he grinned at Sirius' warm words nonetheless.
Sirius' shoulders sagged in relief.
Almost fearfully, he glanced at Harry again. "So now do you know what sexual intercourse is?"
Harry slowly nodded, remembering the unfinished essay still lying on his desk. He should finish it before lunch after Sirius' explanation, and hopefully, Professor Snape could see how much effort and time he spent trying to figure out a minor detail. "I should probably finish my essay then."
Sirius abruptly paled. "Oh… right…"
"It makes a lot more sense. Maybe I can actually pass potions this year," Harry beamed and flung his arms around his godfather for a hug. "Thanks Padfoot!"
For some unexplainable reason, Sirius suddenly seemed very uneasy.
Severus Snape reread the seventh paragraph of the ninth Gryffindor's essay for the fifth time.
He slapped the paper face down against his desk. What sort of joke was that despicable boy trying to pull this time?! As if Potter's grade could suffer no more, he was going to start the year with negative points! That idiot Black put the troublemaker up to this, definitely, but what could be expected of the son of James Potter, raised since six by the werewolf and convicted murderer? Pity. And he thought Potter still had hope, being so timid.
Severus huffed in irritation as he ran his quill over Harry's essay with a flourish. Really, godson of Sirius Black, defining sexual intercourse like some naïve six year old…
Lots and lots of thanks to fyre who suggested the happenings in second year in the first place. Thank you!! And LilPup who painted a rather vivid picture of Sirius storming through and Remus trying to restrain him, great for the muse! And MysticWood who helped inspire the mad Remus impression at the end. Thank you all! Suggestions in reviews are great, considering my humor is awful. Nonetheless, hope the revisions are okay.
Sorry this story seems a bit overstuffed now! Ack, hopefully it isn't too confusing. The first scene is mostly broken up into two parts, and the background it gave was too long. Two more general tid bits were added: Harry questioning Sirius' past love life and his memory of the occurances at the end of his second year. Dueling is a oneshot, no chapter or sequels planned, but it does seem tempting to continue it. But then there's Bad Intentions which still is beginning to be worked on. Ack… It might not be written after all. Sorry!
Lots of thanks to all those who reviewed the first version! I'm glad you all enjoyed it! Sirius doesn't seem too… out there I hope. umm... if anyone is interested, there could be another chapter to this, an epilogue of sorts addressing Snape and his 'discovery' It sort of takes away from the time of Bad Intentions though, but if everyone prefers this over Bad Intentions, then there definitely will be a second chapter to Dueling. Thank you all for reading and I hope you all had a wonderful hoilday! (Von, I'm not so sure about Bad Intentions anymore. It'll definitely be a pain to pull off, all those overlapping characters. But I'm not sure yet)
umm... there will be another disappearance soon. Finals are in a week and many, many things are due prior. Any questions, comments, and or concerns that needs to be answered, feel free to email! It's on the bio. Thank you and I'm sorry!
Of Western Stars [*complete* in which Sirius escapes Azkaban five years into his imprisonment and kidnaps six year-old Harry from the Dursleys. The first of verse; this one initiates the entire conflict. Please read this first!]
Of Snow [posted as CoS chapter 14. In which the Dursleys take another stab at Harry to again make his life miserable. As he lives in his near perfect world with his two guardians, his previous family is filing lawsuits to regain custody of the seven year old child. Stands largely alone]
Clawtracks of a Star [in which nine year old Harry is pulled into an alternative universe where he and his mother are dead. His father is alive and his godfather, Sirius Black is a murderer and a servant of Lord Voldemort. Still in the works, and largely incomplete. Warning: dark]
Good Intentions [*complete* in which a sixteen year old Harry wanders obliviously through Hogwarts while his obsessively overprotective godfather beats girls off with sticks behind his back. Half of Dueling Range prequels this, but Half of Dueling Range is what sets off the entire Sirius' anti-girls-coming-anywhere-close-to-his-godson spree]