Sirius sat at the front of Courtroom Ten, watching expectantly. Remus sat beside him. Together, they watched as Peter Pettigrew was tried for conspiracy to murder and treason against magical Britain. He was swiftly sentenced to the dementor's kiss due to the incriminating evidence of the dark mark found on his forearm. The fact that he had faked his own death was rather incriminating, and the Wizengamot was in a hurry to make up for their earlier lapse in judgement. Sirius watched his former friend being dragged away by guards with a dark look in his eye. After he was gone, Remus also took his leave. Their friendship was shaky from twelve years of separation and Remus' continued loyalty to Albus Dumbledore. Remus would never quite be able to forget all that the former headmaster had done for him in allowing him to attend Hogwarts. Sirius couldn't fathom such unquestionable loyalty, and so their relationship had become strained.
Later that week in the dining room of the Leaky Cauldron, Sirius Black stared dispiritedly down at his drink. He had just been released from St Mungo's the day before, and had spent the rest of that day and the beginning of this one trying to find Harry, all to no success. He had briefly looked into contesting the Grangers' guardianship of Harry, but was advised against it; at least until he had completely recovered. Until then, he had an appointment with the best mind healer that the wizarding world had to offer every Wednesday.
He heard the door to Diagon Alley open, but he didn't look up. It was only when somebody sat across from him that he looked up.
"Andromeda!" he said, surprised.
"Welcome back, Sirius." She smiled warmly at him.
"I understand that you wish to see me," she commented moving straight to the point.
Sirius frowned, confused. "What? What do you mean?" he asked. "Not that I don't want to see you," he hurried to reassure her. "But I'm not sure that I know what you're talking about."
"I am one of Harry Potter's tutors."
He gaped at her. "You are? Then can you- do you think that you could tell me about him? No one else will," he finished bitterly.
She smiled. "Even better. I can introduce you to him."
"What? But I'm not allowed to meet him until the mind healer says I'm not going to go insane any time soon."
"No, you're just not allowed to be alone with him yet. But out here, in public. . ." she trailed off.
He brightened considerably. 'Where? When?"
"How about here and now?" She turned to the open door, and for the first time Harry noticed the young boy standing there. "Harry," he gasped.
Harry smiled nervously. "Hi, Mr. Black."
Sirius winced. "Please don't call me that, my name's Sirius."
Harry grinned shyly at him. "Hi, Sirius."
Sirius let out a joyous laugh. It continued until there were tears streaming down his face. "Sirius?" Andromeda asked, concerned. "Are you alright?"
"I will be," he said through his tears and laughter.
By the end of the meeting, Sirius and Harry had hit it off quickly, speaking mainly about quidditch and stories about his parents. Before Andromeda left with Harry, she had given him an invitation on behalf of the Grangers to a party the next weekend, just for friends and family.
In a dark corridor of Azkaban prison, Lucius Malfoy pulled his cloak tighter around himself, clutching his cane in his hand. It had been simple to get into the prison. The human guards assumed too much about the dementors' competency and did not focus as much as they should. Once inside, the biggest problem was locating what he was looking for since the ministry kept few records of prisoners once they were interned.
After almost an hour of strolling through the dank corridors he managed to locate what he was searching for. He peered through the bars at the disheveled witch that sat on the dirty floor, her knees pulled tightly up to her chest.
"Bellatrix," he greeted. Her head shot up.
"Dearest brother. What brings you to my idyllic abode?" she cackled. "Has our Lord returned? Have you come to free me?"
"Not yet," Lucius responded smoothly. "But soon. He requires something from you before he returns in full."
"Anything. I would give anything to have him back. Just tell me who I have to kill."
Lucius took a deep breath. He was taking a risk here. Narcissa had told him about an object that her sister had been gifted with, to protect with her life, but if she was wrong. . .he would be incriminating himself.
"Our Master gave you an object to protect, one precious to him. He requires it now."
For the first time since he had shown up, Bellatrix Lestrange looked suspicious, switching swiftly to hate and distrust. "And why would I give it to you? Why should I trust you? You abandoned our lord as soon as it became risky for yourself! You care nothing for our cause!"
"Bellatrix, our Master needs it."
"Well, if he wants it then he'll have to come here himself!" She flung herself at the bars, her mouth frothing as she reached out through the bars and tried to wrap her gnarled hands around his neck. Lucius took a step back, watching her calmly.
"You'll never get my cup, Lucius!" Bellatrix called out in a sing-song voice, still trying to strangle him. "Oh, no, you won't! The goblins won't give it to you, nasty little goblins! I don't like them. Perhaps I'll kill them when my Lord frees me."
"It's in Gringotts, then?" Lucius said calmly. "Thank you for your information, Bellatrix." He drew his wand from his cane.
A few minutes later Lucius Malfoy walked calmly out of the prison, carefully skirting the guards and leaving behind the broken carcass of his sister-in-law.
Sirius stood in the middle of the large room, looking out at the people surrounding him. HIs life had changed so suddenly that he was having trouble adjusting his view on life. Just a few short weeks ago he had been lying on the filthy ground of Azkaban Prison, shivering in fear whenever a dementor had come by. Now he was cleared of all charges, his money and property had all been restored to him, and he could see his godson again. It was at that moment, when Sirius was ruminating on everything that had happened to him, that said godson came walking up to him.
"Hi, Sirius!" Sirius beamed at him. "Are you enjoying yourself, Harry?"
"Oh, yes. Mr. Snape helped me prank Tonks. We put chili powder in her butterbeer, and she didn't even notice until she had downed almost half of it!" Harry saw Hermione from across the room and ran over to her. Behind him, Sirius took a steadying drink. Surely he had misheard Harry.
"Black," a cold voice said from behind him. Sirius shrieked in surprised terror and spun around.
"Snivellus? What are you doing here!"
Snape glared at Sirius. "I was invited," he said succinctly.
"Weren't you trying to be a teacher at Hogwarts? What are you doing here?"
"I left after the troll attack." Sirius paled. "What? Is that why Dumbledore is no longer the headmaster?"
"But what are you doing here? Why are you even allowed here?"
Snape just raised a sardonic eyebrow in response.
"Where's Andy? She needs to get rid of you." Sirius looked around the room furiously. "Andy! Hey, Andy!" he called out. Andromeda looked up from her conversation with Augusta Longbottom and gave him a dark look. She said something to Augusta, then walked over to Sirius. "What?"
"What's he doing here?" Sirius pointed an accusing finger at Snape.
"I invited him."
"You what!" he squawked. "Don't you know who he is?"
"He's a death eater! He's evil!"
"Harry likes him," Andromeda said calmly.
"That's it," Sirius declared. "I'm taking Harry away from here. There are too many bad influences here. It's not good for him."
"If you so much as try, I will kick you out and you will not be allowed anywhere near Harry." Sirius flinched at her threat.
"But- But he's Snape!"
"Lucius is here as well," Snape interjected, his dark eyes gleaming with amusement.
"Malfoy? Malfoy's here too?"
"Severus, you're not helping!" Andromeda hissed. "Shut up!"
"Sirius," Andromeda said, trying to remain calm. "Things have changed since the last time you were out in civilized society."
"What are you talking about? He's never been in civilized society."
She ignored Severus and continued. "Severus tried to help Harry when he was at Hogwarts, and Lucius helped the Grangers get permanent custody of him. We have a tentative alliance."
Sirius deflated slightly. "But they're Slytherins," he whinged.
"So am I."
"You know that's not what I meant. I mean, they were both death eaters. They followed You-Know-Who."
"Were. They were death eaters. Just trust me on this, Sirius. Please."
He grumbled. "Fine, Whatever. I'll let it be for now, but the moment I see something that I don't like, I'm grabbing Harry and getting out of here."
"Of course. No one would expect anything less of you," she placated him.
Snape mumbled something unintelligible under his breath. The other two just ignored it.
Andromeda gave an exasperated sigh and left. She was replaced by her daughter, who ran over to Sirius and Severus. "Hey, favorite cousin," she greeted Sirius. He brightened. "Hey Tonks."
"Nymphadora," Severus greeted smoothly. Sirius waited for her inevitable protest, but it never came. "Wait, why do you let him call you by your name?"
Tonks rolled her eyes. "I don't let him; he just does it anyway. I tried to stop him, believe me, I did, but he just never listened."
"Well, that's rude," Sirius said frankly. "But it's not really anything more than I'd expect from a snake like him." Tonks glared at him. He glared back. "I never said I'd be polite to him."
"I wouldn't expect you to attempt, I know it's impossible for a Gryffindor like you," Severus's silken voice retorted. Tonks glared at the two of them. "Do I have to go get mum over here again?" Sirius winced. "No. Please don't. It's not necessary"
"Then behave." Tonks saw something behind Sirius and smirked at Sirius. "Especially you, cousin."
He frowned. "Why especially me? What are you looking at?" He turned around to find himself face to face with Lucius Malfoy. To his disconcertment, Sirius was a few inches shorter than the blond aristocrat. He subtly tried to levitate himself higher than Malfoy, but ended up toppling to the side and into Severus, who growled and shoved Sirius off of him and onto the ground. Sirius jumped up and decided to act as if nothing had happened.
"So, Malfoy, how's life? I imagine things are harder for you now that you don't have your super-secret bad boy band to hide behind."
Malfoy raised an elegant brow. "I have no idea what you are speaking of, Black."
"Of course you'd say that," Sirius muttered underneath his breath. "So where's your spawn- I mean your son, yes where is your son tonight? I haven't seen him tonight. I imagine it would be fairly obvious if he were here, you know, because of the smell." He winced slightly as Tonks kicked his shin.
Lucius ignored Sirius' blatant hostility and continued on as if everything was normal. "Young Draco is visiting a friend's house tonight. It is quite unfortunate, as I know how much he wished to be here, but it was a previous engagement, and it would be rude to disregard such a thing." His judgmental gaze resting upon Sirius implied that some people would not have been so courteous.
"Oh, yeah? Which friend is this? Hestia Carrow? Vincent Crabbe?"
"No, actually, it is one of the Weasley boys."
Sirius choked on his own spit. He glanced at Severus to reassure himself that he had not heard wrongly.
Severus' face was determinedly neutral. He shrugged at Sirius. "I don't understand it either. They apparently got into a fight, and formed a somewhat wary truce in order to rebel against their punishment that has evolved into an almost friendship. It seems to work surprisingly well for them."
Sirius shrugged. "Whatever. So, Lucy, what are you up to nowadays?"
For a moment, it seemed as if Malfoy were going to say something, but a quick glance from Severus seemed to change his mind and he just gave a small, dignified shrug. "The usual."
Lucius Malfoy strode confidently up to the counter of the Gringotts Wizarding Bank. "I have an appointment with Director Ragnok," he drawled to the teller. The goblin looked up from his work and recognized him. "This way," he grunted. He slid down from his seat and led Lucius through a barely noticeable door off to the right. He stopped in front of a large bronze door. "Right through here."
Lucius stepped through the door to face an ancient goblin, sitting at a large desk with a sheave large stack of parchments laying in front of him. "Greetings, noble goblin," Lucius said, bowing slightly.
The goblin looked up. "Mr. Malfoy. I thought that your kind did not lower themselves to associate with goblins."
"I have separated myself from my former loyalties," Lucius said smoothly.
"Really?" Ragnok looked slightly interested for the first time since Lucius had entered his office. "How interesting. And why are you here?"
Lucius wet his lips nervously. "I would like to request your help."
Ragnok laughed coldly. "Our help? You are lucky to have even made it this far alive. Why should we help you?"
"You know as well as I do how the Dark Lord feels about goblins. Filthy parasites, scuttling about the wizarding world, infuriating their superiors."
Ragnok slammed his dagger into the desk. Lucius didn't flinch. "If your Dark Lord wants a war, then we will give him one. We goblins have no fear of death."
Lucius bowed his head in acknowledgement. "The bravery of the goblin nation is renowned throughout the world," he flattered. "But perhaps it would be better to stop the war before it ever begins again."
"And what is in it for us, besides this war that will likely never happen? Your Dark Lord is gone, you know that."
"I believe that he could return."
"It is impossible to return from the dead," Ragnok scoffed.
Lucius said simply, "Horcruxes." He struggled to hide the pleased smile that threatened to slide across his face at the brief look of terror on the goblin's.
"More than one?"
"By our reckoning, five. From things he said, we supposed that he intended to divide his soul into seven parts, including the portion remaining in his body, but was interrupted by Potter."
"Again, why come to us?"
"I believe that a horcrux resides within Gringott's vaults."
"Impossible," Ragnok breathed.
"The Dark Lord entrusted my sister-in-law, Bellatrix Lestrange, née Black with an object. It is in her vault."
"Tampering with the contents of a wizard's vault without the express permission of the vault's owner is in violation of the Treaty of 1782."
Lucius smirked. "If you destroy this object, and allow me to witness its destruction, then I will return all goblin made objects within all Malfoy vaults to the goblin nation."
Ragnok stared at him in surprise. "And you would be willing to swear an oath to never reveal our violation of the treaty to anyone?"
"Of course, I would expect no less."
The goblin grabbed a clean sheet of parchment from his desk and wrote out a contract. He pulled his dagger out of the tabletop where he had stabbed it. With careful precision, he made a small cut on the tip of his finger, then gingerly wrote his name at the bottom of the parchment and handed it to Lucius. He scanned the contract briefly, then nodded. "It is acceptable." Ragnok offered him his dagger, but Lucius shook his head and lifted his cane, twisting the bottom off to reveal a small knife. He added his name in his blood to the parchment and handed it back to the goblin. "It is done," Ragnok intoned. He pushed his chair back from the desk and stood. "Come."
Down through the twisting tunnels they went, just Lucius Malfoy and the goblin Ragnok, both stone silent. At the bottom of the wild ride, Lucius eyed the dragon calmly. The beast's scales had turned pale and flaky during its long incarceration under the ground. Both of its real legs bore heavy cuffs from which chains led into enormous pegs driven deep into the rocky floor. It turned its ugly head towards them and roared, spitting a jet of fire that failed to cow Lucius, who simply stood there, his hand clutching tightly to his cane.
Ragnok came up beside Lucius, pulling out a number of small metal instruments that when shaken made a loud, ringing noise like miniature hammers on anvils. He advanced, shaking the clankers, and the noise echoed off the rocky walls, grossly magnified. Lucius winced slightly at the noise, his expression still implacable.
The dragon let out another hoarse roar, then retreated. Ragnok handed the clankers to Lucius. "Keep shaking them," he warned. Lucius sniffed in disdainment. "So undignified," he complained.
Ragnok pressed his hand to the door, and it melted away to reveal a cave-like opening crammed from floor to ceiling with golden coins and goblets, silver armor, the skins of exotic beasts that even Lucius barely recognized. Ragnok followed him into the vault, shutting the door with a loud clang. The sounds of the dragon's cries were cut off suddenly, and there was silence. Ragnok looked at Lucius questioningly. "Well?"
He shrugged. "I know little of what it was; Bellatrix mentioned a cup, but that is all I know."
"And you did not question her further?" Ragnok grumbled.
"I should have. Unfortunately, it is impossible to do so at this point. She has been disposed of."
"There!" Ragnok said sharply, pointing to the farthest corner. Lucius started to walk towards it before turning to Ragnok and asking, "Have the curses been removed?"
Ragnok nodded. "Yes. There used to be gemino and flagrante curses present during the war, but they were removed at its end."
"Good." Lucius strode over to the cup and reached up with his cane, snagging it through the handle. He returned to Ragnok with it. "Place it on the floor," the goblin ordered. Lucius did so and stepped back, watching as Ragnok pulled a small vial with a dark green liquid in it. He uncorked it and let a drop fall onto the goblet. For a moment, nothing happened, and the two were left simply staring at the goblet. After perhaps half a minute, a slightly hissing sound could be heard. The parts of the goblet near the green liquid started to blacken. The contagion spread rapidly until the entire cup was blackened. The hissing had grown into a shriek, until finally the cup collapsed into ashes and the screams cut off. "It is done," Ragnok again intoned.
Portions of this were quoted and adapted from The Deathly Hallows. Ragnok uses a strong acid derived from basilisk venom to destroy the cup.