AN: Sorry for the long delay. I've been on multiple work related trips since I last posted a chapter and its been keeping me from doing some proper wordmsithing or atleast my own poor attempt at such. Anyways somewhat delayed but here atlast is the next chapter.
Albus Dumbledore sat at his desk as the sun crept up on the eastern horizon shinning in through the windows of his office. He looked at the pepper-up potion sitting on his desk in front of him with a weary gaze. After Harry Potter's arrival and sorting, let alone the fact that his spies, allies, and informants alike had informed him that there had been a mass summons for all those with ties to House Potter calling them all to Chateau Griffin in France.
He hadn't heard anything more definitive from Molly Weasley than that her husband Arthur had been summoned to the Potter ancestral home. The more telling fact was that it was the French ancestral home and not the English Potter Hall. True he doubted he'd have gotten anymore information if it had been held at Potter Hall, the wards there were said to be nearly as strong as those of Chateau Griffin. With the number of Potter subordinates and allies that held key Ministry Positions there was no chance or point in trying to use an approach from the Ministry to crack open and peak inside the operations of Albedo and the young Lord Potter.
Still even if they were held abroad young Harry was a student here at Hogwarts now. He didn't dare hope to get too much information unless he was particularly lucky. By now the children of his allies would have closed ranks in Slytherin and the other houses. Barring a conflict with either young Pansy Parkinson or Heir Neville Longbottom, neither of which were at all likely in Dumbledore's opinion, information would be slow at best. Even Snape would have minimal insight in his role as head of Slytherin House.
The most important thing now was to gather information and wait. The Order was already informed and Dumbledore had spent the time since that meeting locked in conference with the Lords Black and Longbottom. Regardless of the two men's status as the leaders of the Dark and the Light respectively in the Wizengamot. They both had strong ties to the young Lord Potter. Both wanted to see Harry removed from Albedo's care. Neither of course had a true understanding of her true nature or power but they were willing and powerful wizards in their own rights. More importantly both had strong enough followings that they could usually push through any law in the Wizengamot when working together.
It was only now that House Potter's faction would be fully active once more that the future of the legislature was in question. Up until now while House Slughorn held the largest faction by a small margin. Whenever Dumbledore had been able to bring the Houses Black and Longbottom together they'd been able to stop him or outvote him. House Potter's allies up until now had been free to vote their own minds and had usually, though not always sided with wherever House Longbottom voted. England's fifth and final Very Ancient and Most Noble House was as always a watcher on the sidelines of the Wizengamot and refused to directly play the politics by not participating in meetings or votes. It was a shame but probably for the best given the known eccentricity of that particular Lord.
Now though House Potter's faction was back in play. It was anyone's guess as to how House Potter would vote and however the Lord Potter voted more than eighty percent of those under or allied would follow. Only the Ancient and Noble Houses under its banner could really be expected to continue to vote the way they had before the very public return of Harry Potter. Dumbledore would need to approach the Greengrasses and the other neutrals, as well as advising Black and Longbottom to do the same.
Luckily the Greengrass heiress was a first year student in Slytherin, perhaps Black could reach out to his adopted daughter, however much he might despise it, and get her to make friends with the girl and possibly bring her into his fold, it was a long shot but better than no shot at all.
Returning his attention back to the potion sitting on his desk Dumbledore picked it up and tilted his head back to down it all in one go. Almost instantly he felt revitalized as the magical potion re-energized him. Most days Dumbledore didn't find himself needing to partake of potions but after a night without any sleep trying to put plans into motion to deal with the coming weeks and months, he certainly needed it. Dumbledore was physically and mentally ready but he was still wearing the same clothes as the night before. Making his way to his private quarters he showered and dressed in fresh robes before heading down to the Great Hall arriving just as the first students began arriving for breakfast.
Harry Potter hadn't arrived yet but Dumbledore was mildly surprised to see Pansy Parkinson sitting alone at the Slytherin table. He frowned noting several House Black allies at the table as well but clearly sitting well away from the girl. Had something happened last night? He knew Sirius's opinion of his marriage and adopted daughter but the man surely wouldn't have ordered his followers to ostracize her, would he? Fifteen minutes later he got a better understanding of the situation in the den of snakes when Harry Potter walked in with twenty of his fellow Slytherins around him. He was standing in the center and his face was a mask so Dumbledore couldn't get a read on his thoughts but he didn't miss some of the glares that a few of the other less guarded Slytherins gave Parkinson as the group sat at the end of the table opposite Parkinson. His final clue came five minutes after that when the bulk of House Black's Slytherin allies sat in the middle of the table clearly between Potter's group and Parkinson.
He couldn't help but let out a silent sigh as he remembered that Potter was still Heir Black in addition to Lord Potter. Clearly something had happened but where normally the children of House Black's supporters and allies would protect their Lord's adopted daughter they were now caught between his adopted daughter and his declared heir. With no right answer the children had, probably at their parent's urging, decided not to take a side in the issue of Potter versus Parkinson.
Dumbledore scanned the rest of the hall watching the students as they ate. There was a steady stream of students of pureblood and halfblood status getting up during their meals and making their way to Longbottom at the Griffindor table, as well as Potter and Parkinson at Slytherin. It wasn't just their own supporters and allies either as plenty of individuals paid visits to more than one. Of course the allies of House Black paid visit to both Potter and Parkinson but plenty allied to Longbottom, Slughorn, or in the Neutral camp all visited the noble houses. There was of course a lesser number of students beyond those three that were visited and they were without fail the children and Heirs of Ancient and Noble Houses such as Heir Greengrass also at the Slytherin table.
Dumbledore carefully watched the interplay as he sat through the entirety of the morning breakfast trying to gather information from the young students as to who was watching who. The morning mail was particularly heavy for students who had not been absent even a full twenty-four hours and Dumbledore noted that many who opened their mail that morning quickly made their way to pay greetings and respect to key connected students even if they had already done so earlier. Clearly parents had been mailed the night before and now the children were carrying out their parents' instructions and networking as commanded.
Dumbledore diligently and intently watched it all seeking a hint as to how the looming Wizengamot session would shape up with the new political geography. His gaze frequently lingered on young Harry where he sat surrounded by his allies as student after student came up to greet him during the course of the morning meal. More than a hundred students from the other houses had made their way over to him already, and unsurprisingly none of them were muggleborn though he did note more than a few muggle born looking at the shifting patterns of students moving from table to table in confused curiosity as well as questioning those sitting near them that were raised in wizarding culture as to the nature of the student body's movements that morning.
Soon enough the first day of classes was set to begin. Dumbledore only saw Black at the end of the morning meal right when he had to leave, no doubt the man had been seeing to his own House's needs as Dumbledore doubted Black had slept any more than he had and the man definitely was showing signs of Pepper-up use. But with no time left Dumbledore didn't have time to question the man on the situation between Harry and Pansy. Dumbledore wouldn't get a chance likely until the next day as the man had a private dinner that night with Harry, Dumbledore had already been informed of the arrangements in that he would be taking Harry off campus for some private conversation rather than simply dinning in the man's private quarters. Dumbledore had been tempted to refuse but in the end figured it wasn't worth the argument when Black was cooperating on the majority of things.
Dumbledore was simply forced to hope that Black would have time to talk before the end of the week or else the fallout after the Wizengamot meeting on Saturday would likely keep them busy for days after.
Sirius Black spent all five minutes of his morning meal alternating with eating a few bites of food at the Hogwarts Staff Table, and watching his godson with fixed intensity. Harry's refusal to choose to live with either Alice and Frank, or with him, and shocked him and filled him with no small amount of sad frustration as up until now Sirius had hoped and dreamed that Harry would finally come home. Still all wasn't lost as far as he was concerned. Harry wasn't pushing them away and he wanted to have dinner and get to know his godfather better. Even better than that he had mentioned he wished to visit during the summer or holiday breaks. Sirius of course had agreed to both without hesitation and had immediately sent several owls off after Harry had left making preparations for both of Harry's requests.
Sirius had told his wife he would need Black Hall that evening and it would be highly encouraged that she not be present for the duration. He glared at his adopted daughter at the thought of his wife before his gaze shifted back to Harry and the frustration and anger in his gaze faded. Sirius had a good idea thanks to Dumlbedore's report early in the morning of the gathering of House Potter's allies that Harry had spent at least some of his childhood at Chateau Griffin. As much as he wanted Harry with him Sirius had visited the place once and knew that Harry couldn't ask for a safer place to live barring the former death eaters that the Bitch had surrounded him with. He didn't know for sure that Harry had been raised there but if he had it would certainly explain why so little word of his existence had ever emerged.
Chateau Griffin's wards were the stuff of legend and myth and were capable of keeping out all manner of magic pertaining to information gathering. Rumor had it that even true Divination spells and rituals failed if the subject was protected within those ancient walls.
Eventually as breakfast wrapped up and the students began heading for their first classes, the heads of house had already moved up and down each table handing out schedules, and Sirius grabbed a piece of toast on his way out and ate it as he walked to his classroom. A quick wand flick and his robes were clean of bread crumbs and he looked fully presentable. His first class of the day was sixth year students. He had a class of seventh years and then a class of third years in the afternoon. Unfortunately as much as he would have liked to see Harry again he didn't have the first year Slytherin students until the end of the week the Friday right before the Wizengamot session which meant he wouldn't be able to do much that night anyways as he would be holed up in a meeting with the allies and subordinate houses tied to House Black that he actually trusted. Sirius could only hope Remus would be back in the country in time.
Harry stepped out of the fireplace into the ancestral home of House Black. While the head of House Black had resided in London at 12 Grimmuald for the last hundred years prior to that the home of House Black was a mountain fortress in the far north of Scotland beyond even Hogwarts. Past valleys, hills, and lochs that only the locals knew the name to was a small mountain that had been carved out its interior millennia before by the earliest of the Blacks. House Black was England's second oldest house and traced its lineage to a time before Merlin was a Woad Warlord and Sorcerer that fought and warred and raided against the Roman wizards and legions.
The entirety of the mountain had be delved and mined out and now it was mostly a tomb except for when the Lady Black formerly Lady Parkinson was in residence. But for a dinner of two heads of Very Ancient and Most Noble Houses, particularly when both were of House Black by blood and by magic, there was only one suitable place. Black Hall as it was known, the ancient lands of Clan Black going back to when the Blacks had been a coven and a clan rather than a simple family bloodline.
As he stood in the massive feasting hall illuminated by numerous fireplaces along both sides of the room that was the size of Hogwarts' own Great Hall, he could feel the ancient magics that defended the mountain curling and wrapping around him. So ancient was the magic that it even had a taste and a smell rather than simply an intuition as to its presence. After a few moments the magics recognized that he was welcome here as a member and as the Heir and pulled away leaving him alone.
Ahead at the massive feasting table a pair of settings had been laid out and set. Sirius was presently standing behind the chair at the head of the table while at his right in the Heir's spot a setting was waiting for Harry. Harry walked silently towards the table and around to his spot his eyes not missing that the left of the head of the table where the Lady of House Black would have been seated was without plate, utensils, food, or even glass. Standing by the chair he politely and silently waited for his godfather and host to seat himself as custom dictated. True they were both powerful lords but he was a guest here, and he was still the Heir, both of which dictated he waited for the Lord Black to seat first.
Sirius didn't keep him waiting long only waiting for Harry to move to stand behind his chair before seating, a sign of respect on his own part that he had waited until Harry was ready before seating himself. Without ceremony he started cutting up the glazed and roasted boar that was arranged on his plate while glancing at his godson out of the corner of his eye.
"I hope you don't mind if we dispense with titles for tonight. We are both of House Black and you are my Heir. We should be able to speak freely like this in private even if in public we must conduct ourselves accordingly."
Harry gave a nod before raising a fork of his own boar to his mouth and chewing savoring the flavor of the succulent dish. Sirius smiled slightly and took a bite himself noting subtle flavors that his house elves had hidden in the dish before reaching for his goblet and washing down the bite with a sip of wine.
"So how was your first day of classes? You Snape, the Flitwick and McGonnigal today was that correct?"
Harry nodded in reply as Sirius took another bite and the eleven year old spoke of his first day. "It was interesting. Mostly it was review given the private tutoring I've already had but Professor Flitwick did actually correct how I held my wand while I was in class."
Sirius stilled surprised that Flitwick could have anything to correct. From what he'd been informed of it was clear Harry had been recieving years of private tutoring in magic before coming to Hogwarts, they surely would have gotten him a training wand through that and would have corrected any errors in his form up until now. Clearly his surprise was visible as Harry continued explaining away Sirius's confusion.
"Oh he recognized how I was holding it, I use a duelist's light handed grip." He drew his wand and briefly held it demonstrating and Sirius began to understand although some part of him child at noting that that same grip was one that Voldemort himself heavily favored. "I had a bad grip on it but only a duelist who was familiar with a number of obscure dueling styles like Professor Flitwick would have noticed and been able to correct me and he did."
Sirius nodded now understanding quite well even as he studied in his mind's eye the grip Harry had held his wand with. Most witches and wizards simply held their wands normally with their hand curled around it. Harry favored a grip that rested the haft of his wand between his thumb and hand while the middle of the shaft was held between his index and middle fingers. It was a style for someone who favored finesse and dexterity over simple brute power. This wasn't a point and cast style grip but a fluid duelist's grip that was used in fast but graceful movements of minimized energy that deflected enemy spells even as they cast their own. Incidentally given that it favored such a fluid flowing style of spell casting chaining up combinations of spells would prove slightly easier than a more conventional grip.
They each took a few more bites, Harry shifting to sample the local vegetables that had been added with his plate before speaking while Sirius continued on his glazed boar.
"I met Pansy Parkinson last night." Harry finally said after swallowing his food. He wasn't about to tell Sirius that she had slapped him but this did need to be discussed. He glanced over as Sirius forcefully set his knife and fork down on either side of his plate. "And what did that girl want?"
Harry silently watched Sirius for a moment.
"She was upset. She said you don't pay her any attention and that you don't treat her as your daughter despite the fact you married her mother."
Sirius took a deep breath forcing himself to be calm. Everything he had done up until now since that night in Godric's Hollow had been done for Harry but that did not mean that Sirius had been happy about all those things.
"Pansy is not my daughter. Her father is a Death Eater who should have been given the Kiss but is instead serving a life's sentence in Azkaban. I have no love for the girl because she is not my daughter and never will be." He sighed looking at where Harry was silently watching him, the boy's face a carefully composed mask that betrayed nothing. "After the second year of you being missing I began to grow desperate that we would never find you. In an effort to get more resources bent into looking for you I approached my Father and asked him to step down and name me the Lord Black. I was already the Heir despite my mother's mad delusions but I had little political power as the Heir. He agreed on two conditions. First I would marry a woman of his choosing. His choice was Mrs. Parkinson. Her father and head of house dissolved her previous marriage and we were wed and she became the Lady Black." He practically spat the final two words as if the idea of his wife being the female head of his house disgusted him. "She of course is an arrogant pure blooded bigot and her daughter's much the same given how the woman and her former husband had raised the girl. I'll not have such a girl as my Heir. You were my Heir anyways even before I became the Head of House. Now I had the full resources of House Black to push the Wizengamot to look for you as much as they could... to an extant."
"As for my father's second requirement he demanded that I never remove House Black from the Dark Faction of the Wizengamot as long as I am the Head of House Black. My belief is that he hoped that Parkinson's daughter or any son that we might have by birth would keep it int he pure blooded faction. Of course he never required how I vote in the Wizengamot beyond that or who would be my Heir. Shortsighted on his part if he thought I would willingly perpetuated the idiotic pure-blooded agenda."
After a long moment Harry eventually gave a single nod. "Very well. Still perhaps a token effort might be made in regards to Pansy. Right now I wonder about her and wonder what kind of trouble she'd get up to when no one is around to keep her from self destructing.
"Sirius raised a brow in surprise. "You think she'd do that?" He hesitantly asked eyeing her with suspicion. Harry simply nodded. "She was a wreck down in the common room last night confronting me about how you loved me more. I suspect she could use with affection." Sirius simply shrugged seemingly unconcerned with the girl's fate. "The girl is nothing to me. I was required by my pure-blood obsessed father to marry a 'proper' pure-blooded witch. He said nothing about any previous children she had. But I do not want to cause trouble for you Harry. I will speak with her and inform her how I expect her to behave around her family's Heir."
Harry silently doubted that this was the kind of talk from Sirius that Pansy had hoped for but it seemed likely that this would be the extant that Sirius currently do for Pansy at this time. Having spoken with Sirius and raised the matter of Pansy he could for the moment only for that it would turn out for the best although he held doubts to the likelihood of such. He mulled over what he could do as he took another bite of his meal. While he was in thought Sirius continued.
"So I know you are ahead in your classes because of your tutors. What do you think of your teachers? Off the record of course."
Harry gave the question a bit of new thought taking another bite. "So far they're all quite good. Professor Snape is much as I've been warned he would behave. As for Professor McGonnigal she is every bit as strict as I have heard but her mastery of transfiguration is evident. And of course Professor Flitwick is as much a master of Charm spells as he is the dueling arena."
Sirius couldn't help but nod in agreement at how accurate Harry was of each of his professors. True some on the Hogwarts like Trewalney and Binns could stand to be replaced and Sirius was often set to wondering why Dumlbedore did not for each but others such as McGonnigal or Flitwick, even Snivelus had all fully earned their Masteries in their chosen fields.
"Well you are right about each of them. Even Sni-Snape. Much as I dislike the man his skill with potions cannot be denied."
Harry nodded taking the final plate of his dinner and easing back in his chair sipping from his goblet of pumpkin juice. Sirius was close behind a few bites himself from finishing as he regarded Harry's empty plate. "If you want more you need only ask my elves would be happy to serve you more."
Harry smiled slightly but shook his head. "Thank you but it is not necessary I am quite full."
Sirius took a final bite himself and as he set his fork and knife down the plate and silver disappeared from infront of them by the unseen house elves that tended to Black Hall. He eased himself in his chair savoring the meal while Harry was silent in thought drinking his pumpkin juice silently regarding the still empty chair across from him that should have been seated with Pansy Parkinson's mother. He looked to Sirius in thought. "You do not regard your wife as the Lady of House Black? You have not adopted her daughter as your own. Will House Black die with you?"
Sirius's mouth tightened as he thought about Harry's question. "I've been thinking about that question since the night I was married and forced to consecrate my marriage. I always intended for you to be my Heir. My father approved at first thinking you would be temporary only but I must admit I have thought long and hard. Thanks to my loathsome parents I am forced to remain a dark faction member and it will forever shroud me. As long as Dumbledore and Frank, Lord Longbottom, are around I can work with them and they keep the doubters at bay but there are those who wonder if I have not fallen to my family's ways and become a Dark Wizard like so many before me. Any child I have my wife will do her best to poison and taint. I am an Auror, she will inevitably spend more time with my child and have a chance to poison any I might have. Perhaps the best would be to let the title pass to you and hope that you can potentially redeem my house. You do have the blood of House Black thanks to your great-grandmother. The ancestral house magics have accepted you. I would let you decide my family's fate. Either by absorbing it into your own and ending the darkness or by passing it to your second child. Either way will make me proud to see it come to pass should I still live com that far off day."
Harry frowned in thought. This was something outside of what had been expected as a likely course. True Albedo had considered it a chance of happening but they had considered it more likely that Sirius would sire a bastard and eventually make him his Heir. Instead Sirius seemed intent on just letting Harry remain his Heir. He would need to contact Albedo tonight after he got back and inform her. She would need to change plans accordingly to know that House Black's allies would fall under House Potter eventually and for now they could be shifted to a secondary priority and focus on other issues of more pressing natures. After a moment he nodded firmly to himself finalizing his thoughts and stood up pushing his chair back slightly. As he did Sirius stood as well. "You don't have to go back right away if you don't want."
Harry nodded in understanding at the offer but shook his head. "I should get back and finish my homework and send a letter to Albedo before she storms the castle." Sirius raised a brow in surprise but nodded as if he wouldn't be surprised if that very thing happened. Harry walked over to the fireplace he had emerged from before and took a pinch of floo powder and tossed it at the flames and as they turned green and roared up he stepped in speaking clearly. "Defense Against the Dark Arts, Hogwarts, Office."