Sirius eyed the door of 12 Grimmauld Place with trepidation. Narcissa had assured him that she had sent some of her house elves over to clean and redecorate the house (even she admitted that his mother's taste in interior design had been dreadful), but he had so many bad memories attached to the house. To be honest, he was tempted to just sell the place and buy another house for him and Harry to live in, but Narcissa had convinced him to hold off on the decision until he had seen how she transformed the house.
"You alright?" Remus asked gently from the step below him.
"Yes." Sirius pushed the door open and stepped inside, only to stop in shock. The hall was nothing like he remembered it being. It was light and welcoming. The old-fashioned gas lamps had been replaced with tasteful modern ones, the wall paper and carpet had been replaced, the ugly umbrella stand that had been made out of a troll's leg had been replaced by a silver one, and, most importantly, the house-elf heads were gone.
"This isn't so bad." Remus commented from behind him.
"Narcissa does good work." Sirius explained.
"Thank you, my lord." Narcissa said as she emerged from a door at the end of the hall. She curtsied. "Merry meet."
"Merry meet." Sirius responded automatically and heard Remus doing the same.
"I beg your pardon for my presence here, my lord." Narcissa told him as they approached her. "I was not expecting you for a few hours yet and wanted to ensure that everything was ready for you."
"Thank you." Sirius in a heartfelt tone. "The place looks amazing. Will you stay for a drink?"
Narcissa inclined her head in acknowledgement.
Sirius looked around and took in the large landscape portrait on the wall. "That's new."
"Yes," Narcissa agreed. "Your mother's portrait sat there previously, but I presumed that you would rather have her in a less used part of the house."
"Or burnt." Sirius muttered.
"She was very difficult to get off." Narcissa commented as they walked through the house and into a room that Sirius remembered had once been his mother's sitting room. The room looked just as light and welcoming as the hallway. "I had to have some goblin cursebreakers to come and take care of it."
Sirius grimaced. "That sounds like my mother. Stubborn as marble that woman."
They sat down and Narcissa called for a house elf to serve tea. It wasn't one that Sirius recognised and it made him wonder whether Kreacher was still around.
"Have you spoken to Dumbledore yet?" Narcissa asked after the tea had been served.
Sirius scowled at the reminder. "I have."
"I presume that it did not go well?" Narcissa didn't look at all surprised.
"Professor Dumbledore believes that Harry should remain with his muggle relatives." Sirius bit out angrily. "Apparently I ought to take a few more years to recover before I attempt to take responsibility for my godson."
"We even told him about what you said about his relatives." Remus added. "But he still wouldn't budge."
"What will you do?" Narcissa asked.
"Well, there's no way I'm leaving Harry with those damn muggles." Sirius told her. "I'll take Dumbledore to the Wizengamot if I have to. Harry's my godson!"
"Lucius would be happy assist if you need." Narcissa offered.
Sirius nodded. "I might just take you up on that." It felt weird to be allying with the Malfoys against Dumbledore, but Harry was worth it.
"I just don't get it." Remus said, not for the first time. "Why would he want Harry to stay there?"
Narcissa sniffed disdainfully. "Who knows how that man's brain works. Did you hear about the basilisk at Hogwarts?"
"Basilisk?" Sirius's eyes widened. "The creature petrifying people was a basilisk?"
"Yes." Narcissa nodded. "Dumbledore refused to allow Amelia to send in anyone to help apprehend it. Merlin knows how many students would have died if she hadn't found a way to put aurors in the school anyway."
Rumours were flying like crazy in the weeks after Dumbledore had announce that the creature who had petrified people was gone. Some people said that it had been a Medusa, others claimed that it was cockatrice, while other thought that it had actually been a witch or wizard. Everybody was acting weird and suspicious and even the Weasley twins, along with the rest of their brothers, seemed to be overly protective of their younger sister.
Harry thought that the reactions were bizarre. Why would the news that the perpetrator had been apprehended make people more suspicious and worried? Shouldn't they be comforted to know that the creature was gone?
Thankfully, the panic died down after a couple of weeks, something that Harry put down to the fact that Professor Snape, Professor Sprout and Madam Pomfrey had finally managed to complete the potion to unpetrify the victims.
The day after the students had been un-petrified the Wizarding Wheezes pranked the school during dinner again – this time giving everyone animal noses. Harry, who ended up with a cat's nose, thought it was hilarious; Draco, who ended up with a pig's snout, didn't enjoy it nearly as much.
Exams started the next day and as Harry looked around the Great Hall at breakfast he wondered what would happen to the students who had spent most of the year petrified. Would they have to repeat their year? Or would they be allowed to try and catch up over the summer? Neither option sounded ideal.
The Charms Exam was first and Harry was almost disappointed by how easy it was. There had been a few questions that he'd had to think hard about, but most of them were easy. The practical part was just as simple and Harry left the exam hoping that his other exams would be more challenging.
Herbology was the next day and, while it was definitely harder than the Charms exam, Harry still thought he'd done well. He just wished he'd spent more time studying the different soil types. Next was Transfiguration, then Astronomy on Friday night, and then they had a break over the weekend.
Harry spent most of it studying, though Draco and Luna managed to convince him to study outside near the lake. The Slytherins were studying too, though not quite as intensely, and Theo and Daphne both teased Harry about the amount of work he was putting into it. Pansy didn't say anything.
Monday brought their History of Magic exam and, while he left with an aching hand, Harry couldn't help but feel smug at the sound of his classmates panicking over the test. It served them right for sleeping through class.
Potions class was on Tuesday and both Harry and Draco's potions turned out the perfect glossy yellow colour. Neville's potion ended out a glossy green colour though and Harry had absolutely no idea how his friend had done it.
Harry's classmates spent the rest of Tuesday celebrating the end of their exams and Harry couldn't help but feel jealous. His Ancient Runes exam wasn't scheduled until the next Tuesday and, while that gave him a lot of extra time to study for it, he was ready for the year to be over.
Harry spent the next week studying hard for his exam. He was definitely better at the drawing the runes, but he still struggled to get the angles correct. He knew what the runes looked like, but translating that to paper wasn't easy.
When the morning of the third year Ancient Runes exam finally arrived, Harry was a nervous wreck. What if he failed? What he draw all the runes wrong? What if he forgot everything?
He followed the third years in the exam room and sat at a desk on the far right. When the examiners eventually gave them permission to unroll their exam parchments, Harry read the first question and breathed a sigh of relief. He knew that one! In fact, as Harry worked his way through the test, he found that he knew all the answers. He was still a little concerned about the angles of his runes, particularly the hagall rune.
Still by the time the exam was over, Harry was feeling much more relaxed about the whole thing. It was over, for better or worse, it was over and he couldn't do anything more to earn a good grade. He was officially on holiday! It was a great feeling. The great feeling lasted for less than an hour. The good thing about studying was that it had taken his mind off the fact that summer was almost there. Without any reason to study, Harry couldn't help but think about the fact that he still didn't know whether or not he would be allowed to live with Sirius over the summer. The idea that he might be sent back to the Dursleys was horrible!
The Wednesday edition of the Daily Prophet didn't help at all.
'Lord Black sues Headmaster Dumbledore for Guardianship of Boy-Who-Lived'
Just reading it made Harry's stomach drop. Why would Sirius have to sue Dumbledore for guardianship? Shouldn't his godfather automatically be his guardian? Wasn't that what his parents had wanted? What if Sirius lost and Dumbledore sent him back to the Dursleys?
Harry waited until the nearest student with a copy of the paper had finished reading it before asking to borrow it. The article was frustratingly uninformative. Basically, Dumbledore was Harry's guardian, Sirius wanted to be, Lord Malfoy was helping him, and the Wizengamot was going to meet the next day to decide the matter. As unhelpful as the article was, at least the witch who wrote it seemed to be on Sirius' side. She emphasised that he had been wrongfully imprisoned and pointed out that, without the ministries mistake, Sirius would already be Harry's guardian.
After returning the paper, Harry stood up and walked quickly out the Great Hall. He wanted to get away from all the students who were staring, pointing and whispering. It reminded him of the year before, during Sirius' trial.
"Did you know?" Draco asked as he fell into step beside Harry
"No." Harry sighed. "What if the Wizengamot says no? I don't want to go back to the Dursleys."
"They won't." Draco said confidently. "There's no reason why Lord Black shouldn't be your guardian."
"So why is Dumbledore fighting him?" Harry asked, inwardly wincing at how whiny he sounded.
Draco snorted. "Because he has no respect for our culture and thinks that children would be better off with muggles than with witches and wizards!"
Harry rolled his eyes. "He can't seriously think that."
"Probably not." Draco admitted. "But it does sound like the sort of thing he'd believe, doesn't it?"
"A little." Harry smirked. "But he's not that bad."
"Not that bad?" Draco's voice got louder. "Did you see the decorations at the Hallows Eve feast?"
"Calm down." Harry rolled his eyes again. "Yes, it's a travesty, just like the Yule decorations."
Draco huffed in frustration, but didn't say anything and Harry breathed a sigh of relief at having managed to prevent one of Draco's infamous rants.
Thursday was an awful day for Harry. He spent the entire day trying not to obsess over the Wizengamot meeting that was deciding his future, and failing miserably. In the end, to take Harry's mind off it all, Draco and Luna decided to use their final days to pull one last prank.
"After all," Draco told Harry. "We can hardly allow the Wizarding Wheezes to have the last word."
They didn't have much time to prepare the prank and so spent an hour looking through the Marauders' Grimoire for ideas. The best thing about the Marauders' pranks was that they normally only took a few hours to prepare.
In the end they chose a potion that basically turned the drinker's skin into a mood ring. Red for angry, green for jealous, pink for love, etc.
It was an easy potion to make and they had managed to finish it before dinner. Harry handed the potion off to Stompy, his house elf friend, who was as enthusiastic as ever, and then they made their way down to the Great Hall.
It was smashing! The first change Harry saw was Luna, who turned orange, which according to the book meant peaceful. Luna looked at him and suddenly turned purple the colour of pride. Harry looked around the, now brightly coloured, room and saw that Draco was purple too, the Weasley twins were flushed a bright green, Neville was yellow, Anthony was red, Terry, Michael and Rodney were all a greenish yellow, while Dumbledore was the reddest person in the room. The funniest part was looking for the pink people. Percy Weasley and the girl sitting next to him were bright pink, as was Pansy Parkinson as she stared at Draco. The look on Draco's face when he saw her colour was absolutely hilarious!
Harry pulled out his wand and quietly cast the spell to reveal the words on the wall.
'Dear Wizarding Wheezes,
Have a good summer,
The Marauders' Apprentices'
The colours wore off before the end of dessert, and once Harry had finished his treacle tart he made his way down to Snape's office for his Occlumency lessons and then knocked on the door. The door swung open on its own, as it did every night, and when Harry entered he saw Professor Snape standing in front of the fire place.
"Merry meet, professor." Harry greeted him.
Snape bowed, his face twisted into a scowl. "Merry meet, Mr. Potter. There is a floo call for you."
Harry was so surprised that he almost forgot to nod in acknowledgement of Snape's bow. "For me?"
"Indeed." Snape sneered and moved away from the fireplace, revealing Cousin Narcissa' head.
Harry hurriedly spelled his sleeves so that they were rolled up to his elbows and walked towards the fireplace. Once there, he bowed. "Merry meet, Cousin Narcissa."
"Merry meet, Harry." Cousin Narcissa nodded with a smile. "I have some good news for you."
Harry's breath caught in excitement.
"The Wizengamot has approved Lord Black's petition for guardianship." Cousin Narcissa continued. "He will be waiting for you at Kings Cross Station tomorrow."
Harry smiled so widely that his face hurt. "Really?"
"Really." Cousin Narcissa nodded. "He wanted to tell you himself, but I suggested that Severus would be more amendable to having me use his floo."
Professor Snape snorted disparagingly from where he was sitting.
"Thank you." Harry told her gratefully. "I was worried that I wouldn't find out until tomorrow."
"You are welcome, Harry." Cousin Narcissa smiled. "Merry part."
Harry bowed again. "Merry part."
Cousin Narcissa ended the floo call and Harry turned towards his scowling professor. "Thank you, sir."
Snape nodded curtly. "Do you believe that you are capable of concentrating this evening, Mr. Potter?"
Harry considered that. Admittedly he felt so excited he wanted to shout, but at the same time, he felt a lot calmer now that he knew he wasn't going back to the Dursleys.
Sirius glanced at the large clock on one of the columns, before shifting nervously. Harry's train would be here any minute now. He shifted again, before stopping when he heard Narcissa cough disapprovingly.
It was bizarre to be waiting with the Malfoys. Particularly when he remembered that only yesterday they had worked together to oppose Dumbledore. How had this become his life? Wasn't he supposed to loath the Malfoys and everything they stood for? He remembered Abraxas Malfoy from dinner parties that his mother had thrown when he was a child. Lucius' father had been a cold man whose idea of humour often involved dead muggles. He had always presumed that Lucius was a carbon copy of his father, he certainly looked like one, but the few conversations he'd had with the man since returning to England disproved that. Traditional Lucius might be and his public persona was certainly cold, but nobody who looked at his wife the way Lucius looked at Narcissa could be accused of being cold.
The sound of a train whistle pulled Sirius from his thoughts and he bounced excitedly on the balls of his feet when he saw the train pulling into the station. Harry would be here any minute!
"Calm down, Sirius." Remus chided him quietly, while Narcissa coughed disapprovingly again. "Harry will be here soon."
The train came to a stop and a flood of students poured onto the platform. Sirius remembered being one of those students. Up until his fifth year he had always been one of the last students to get off the train, reluctant to go back to his family, but after he moved in with the Potters he and James had always been among the first.
Sirius searched the sea of students for his godson, but spotting a black haired twelve year old was not an easy task. After a while, he changed tactics and began searching for a child with Malfoy hair – that at least would stand out. Within seconds he spotted two students with hair the colour that was usually associated with the Malfoys, both of whom were slowly making their way towards where Sirius, Remus and the Malfoys were standing. Sirius wondered who the second child was. Surely Narcissa would have mentioned having a second child.
When the students finally reached them, Sirius grinned in delight to see Harry with them. His godson was so big! Sirius still remembered him as a toddler, just learning to walk. Now here he was, a twelve year old. It was amazing!
"Merry meet." The three children chorused and Sirius noticed that the second child with blond hair was a girl. The three children bowed to him first, and then Draco greeted his parents with polite excitement while Harry and Luna bowed to the Malfoys.
"Merry meet." Narcissa and Lucius nodded.
"Merry meet." Sirius added belatedly.
Harry smiled nervously. "Sirius, may I introduce Draconus Malfoy, Heir to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy, and Luna Lovegood."
Sirius raised an eyebrow in surprise. This was the Luna that Harry had occasionally written about. Something jabbed him in the side and he turned to see Remus looking at him expectantly.
"Oh," Sirius winced, he was so bad at this stuff. Why couldn't people just smile and nod. Why did they have to be so formal about everything? "Harry, Mr. Malfoy, Miss Lovegood, this is my friend Remus Lupin."
Harry smiled shyly at Remus. "It's nice to meet you, sir. Sirius had told me a lot about you."
"It's nice to meet you too, Harry." Remus smiled.
Harry squirmed around as he stared at the ceiling of his bedroom at Sirius' house. It was nearly midnight, but he was way too excited to sleep. He was living with Sirius and he even had his own bedroom, with the biggest, most comfortable bed he had ever seen.
Sirius was smashing! And his friend Remus was pretty brilliant too. Harry had been a little worried about what to expect from his godfather, after all you could only learn so much about a person through letters, but so far Sirius had been everything Harry had ever dreamed. He didn't even mind Sarko and Sativa.
There was even a library filled with books that Sirius said Harry was allowed to read. There were some sections that Harry wasn't allowed to look at until he was older, but Harry figured that was fair enough.
The only bad thing about the house was that there was no place to fly, but Sirius had promised Harry that he could visit Draco a lot – so he would able to use Draco's Quidditch pitch.
This was going to be the best summer ever!
Suddenly a sharp pain jabbed through Harry's scar and he couldn't help but cry out. It felt like it always did after his visions, but he didn't remember having had one. Besides, Professor Snape thought that Harry's Occlumency was good enough to keep him from having visions.
Maybe that was what the pain meant. Was he supposed to be having a vision but wasn't because of his Occlumency?
Harry breathed deeply and sunk into his meditative state, before turning his attention to his city.
There was definitely something wrong, though he wasn't sure what it was. It was as though something was trying to get through, but it wasn't doing it in a logical way – it was just trying to break the city down. Harry focussed on whatever it was that was trying to invade his mind and then pushed it out as hard as he could. At first it seemed to work, but then whatever it was that was trying to break in started all over again. Harry didn't know what to do. He needed Professor Snape.
And then, as quickly as it had begun, it was over and the invader was gone. Harry looked around the city again and winced when he saw how much of it he would need to fix.
He slowly pulled himself out of his meditation and rubbed his scar. What did it mean?
Lucius watched sympathetically as Amelia Bones' hands shook. "He is."
"How?!" Amelia asked desperately.
"From what I understand, he has been living in wraith form since his original defeat and last night he had Pettigrew perform a ritual that would restore his body." Lucius explained. "Bartemius Crouch Senior is dead, I suspect the Dark Lord used him for the ritual.
"But you don't know." Amelia was already sounding calmer.
"No, I wasn't called until after his body had been restored." Lucius swallowed down a flinch as he remembered the pain he had experienced the previous night. The Dark Lord hadn't been pleased with any of them and had made his displeasure known. "What are his plans?" Amelia asked.
"I don't know." Lucius admitted. "He was more concerned with past events than future ones. He did mention Harry Potter multiple times."
Amelia sighed. "Of course. Is he aware of your family's connection to the boy?"
"Yes," Lucius answered. "He questioned why I had supported Lord Black's petition for guardianship."
"And your answer?" Amelia queried.
"That I thought Potter would be easier to attack out of Dumbledore's hands." Lucius told her.
"I presume that Dumbledore will know of his return by now?" Amelia asked.
Lucius nodded, Severus would have definitely told him by now.
A.N. So, this is the end of Harry Potter at the Knees of the Marauders. I actually wrote this chapter in January and, as I look back on it now, I can't help but feel a little bad about the cliff hanger I have left you with. Sorry
Anyway, the next part of this story, 'Harry Potter and the Interlude', is already written and I have posted the first chapter of it already, so you should go find it on my profile page.
Thank you for continuing to journey with me, your encouragement and constructive criticism is very inspiring.