Chapter 3

Author's Note: Credit to nightelf for the Black family scene as we seem to egg each other on.

-o-o-o-

Harry stood before a familiar cliff, staring out into the wild, angry ocean that struggled, desperately to claw down the jagged stone that stood in defiance of its fury. He had been here before, once with Albus Dumbledore when they had claimed the fake locket. Another time had been to pay tribute to the last length of time he'd spent with the man.

The last, he had been to put an end to the inferni that Voldemort had left to destroy any who would disturb this particular resting place. For all his genius, Voldemort's arrogance and narrowmindedness had always left plenty of opportunity to bypass his plans with a bit of creative thinking. He had protections against all forms of wizarding magical transportation like apparition, though had ignored the house elf.

Another example had been his sealing of the entrance to require a blood sacrifice, thinking it would weaken whomever gave it up. Then there had been the charmed boat. And the inferni.

Sadly, there had been an even more obvious solution that Harry himself hadn't figured out until years later. A bit of magical excavation and, instead of making your entrance from the ocean side of the cliff, a tunnel could be formed leading straight down into the waiting cave. The last time he'd done it, he'd made a point to simply turn most of the rock into lava and either incinerate or bury the inferni in a suddenly capped off lake they couldn't escape.

This time, he was being a bit more creative.

When he stepped into the cave from his tunnel, the stone had already grown out and lead to the small island in the center of the cave.

Only, he found that he had apparently arrived far, far too early.

There was no locket, there were no enchantments, and there were no inferni.

"Well, bugger," Harry noted with a frown and a sigh as he glanced around. "That certainly complicates things."

Tapping his lower lip thoughtfully with his wand, he then began to cast his eyes around the cave. He'd originally planned to create a small army of gargoyles to keep the inferni busy, and later destroyed while he siphoned off the potion with a simple pump. Now, though…

"Well, since Tom isn't using it…"

Harry suddenly grinned viciously as he almost gave into his first impulse to just collapse the entrance to the cave and leave Voldemort thwarted that way.

But that would in turn mean that the dark lord would look elsewhere to hide the locket. Instead, he had the opportunity to prepare his own set of traps and tricks. He would just have to be careful about it.

Too much obvious magic would leave Voldemort knowing that the location was already compromised.

So he'd made his way to the back of the cave, to the furthest part from the entrance, and he began his work. The surface of the stone was carefully shorn off, then the stone beneath was separated into boxy stone. Each of the stones was then broken, before animation charms were tied to it, transforming it into a humanoid creature of jagged, brutal rock, that could then walk back into the hollow of the wall, and reconfigure itself back into the semblance of stone blocks they were formed from.

The wall face he'd cut out was then affixed to the closest layer of the animated creations, allowing them to return the wall to its previous, naturally carved state.

They would remain inert and unreactive until a wizard who was not Harry arrived and then had departed for a good length of time, or Harry himself activated them. Once another wizard had come and gone they would activate, sending a signal to Harry, before sweeping the cave and the lake of any inferni. Once the undead constructs had been destroyed and dealt with, they would return to their wall and resume their vigil.

It would hopefully be a small enough bit of magic and not set as a ward, so Voldemort wouldn't take notice of it.

With that done Harry exited the cave back through his tunnel, restoring the roof of the cave to its previous condition, for a good five feet. The rest of the cave he left in place and calmly hid the entrance beneath a particularly heavy and worn looking boulder. It was an isolated enough location that he doubted anyone would be by to remove the boulder any time soon.

-o-o-o-

For all of his ten years Sirius Black had grown adept at reading his family's moods.

It been a necessity for his own wellbeing. Blacks were not, after all, known for their great mental stability. While his mother was perhaps the most notorious of his family, Blacks were known for their hair-trigger tempers. More than once in his life he'd had to duck curses because one of the older generations fallen into a fit of anger. While none of the clan ever went for lethal curses, Sirius had quickly learned that there were fates much worse than death.

Or, at least, much stranger. The slightest tug of a smile reached his face as he thought of Mother's last punishment on him, one she'd had to cancel early. Who knew that a dog could lick his own –

"I hereby call this meeting of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black to order!"

Sirius shook himself from the memories of being the family pet and brought his attention back to the meeting. Father was in charge, at the center of the library, his hand on a pensieve. Uncle Cygnus stood on the opposite side of the pensieve; the look on his face was one that he had never seen on any of his relatives: Fear. For a moment, Sirius wondered if Uncle Cygnus had done something to get himself cast out, but he quickly changed his mind: if Uncle Cygnus was to be cast out, he wouldn't be anywhere near the meeting.

A set of chairs ringed the center of the library, each of the adults sitting comfortably. Grandfather Arcturus sat off to one side, a cup of tea in his hands, his dark eyes twinkling, seeing if Father would measure up to expectations. Grandfather Pollux and Great-Aunt Cassiopeia looked on with undisguised curiosity, wondering what Father would do. Mother sat at her favorite high-backed chair, her usual look of disdain shaping her face. Uncle Alphard, by comparison, looked relaxed and nonchalant, quietly smoking his pipe.

It was next that he looked towards the edge of the room. There his brother and cousins were waiting, seated quietly and purposely as blank faced as they could manage, though Regulus was still having difficulties keeping still for too terribly long. Children were to be seen and not heard, especially so in the Black family. With a briefly restrained sigh of disappointment, he walked over and joined them.

His father took a deep breath. "Cygnus of the Ancient and Noble House of Black has asked for this meeting, to ask for a review of a decision that the House has made in supporting a… business venture." His face rose to meet the rest of the house, casting his features in gaslight.

"Last year, after some discussion, it was decided that the Ancient and Noble House of Black should give material support to the organization known as the Knights of Walpurgis. The stated aims of the Knights of Walpurgis appeared to match the aims of the House of Black. However, Cygnus and Bellatrix have provided information that they claim brings doubt to that decision."

Uncle Cygnus nodded and turned to address the rest of the Black family members. "A group of young Knights of Walpurgis journeyed to a muggle pub near the entrance to Diagon Alley a few days ago, to gain practice in anti-muggle combat. Bellatrix represented the House of Black in that endeavor, as an initiate to the organization. What she encountered has cast all of the actions of the Knights of Walpurgis in a new light."

His mother chortled, smug and sneering. "We know about the massacre, Cygnus. Surely Bellatrix' survival of that massacre illustrates the superiority of our blood!"

"Be silent on things you know nothing about!" Cygnus snarled; after a moment, he closed his eyes, and gestured toward the pensieve. "If you truly want to see 'superiority of blood' in action… by all means, see its results."

His mother sneered. "Fine!" She dove into the pensieve.

Sirius' eyes widened at the sight. He'd already seen his father's face after watching that memory. His mother was not going to be happy.

Cygnus looked over at Alphard. "Do you want to watch as well?"

Alphard smiled lazily and shook his head. "I don't need to." He glanced over at the children. "I've already seen its effects."

"Anyone else?" Father asked the crowd. Sirius fought the urge to ask for permission. Now was not the time. He would ask Father later, in private.

None of the others took Father up on the offer. Father looked down at the pensieve and ran his fingers through his graying hair. "Regardless of what I decide, we will have problems. I have received a message for Bellatrix from Lord Voldemort, apologizing to her for Avery's behavior and inviting her to rejoin the Knights. I am not so foolish as to think this is simply an 'invitation'."

Bellatrix stiffened in her chair. Sirius glanced over at her; Dromeda had placed an arm around her in comfort.

Father continued. "At the same time… there is this… Storm Chaser. He has identified himself as a half-blood –"

"A half-blood? Bah!" Great-Aunt Cassiopeia crackled.

"A half-blood who could handily mop the floor with the entirety of House Black!" Father glared at Cassiopeia, daring her to challenge his leadership of House Black. "Be silent about things you refuse to learn."

"So we're between two powerful Lords," Uncle Alphard opined. He blew a smoke ring into the air. "Dark Lords?"

"This Voldemort, certainly," Father conceded. "This Storm Chaser… I doubt it, but that does not make him any less of a problem." He looked over at Alphard. "It was apparent from our communications with the Knights of Walpurgis that they preferred a slow escalation, to train our young witches and wizards before enforcing its will on the mudborn." He shook his head. "That is not going to happen now. I have heard that several pureblood wizards have disappeared in recent days, likely victims of the Storm Chaser. One of the Knight's weapons, a werewolf named Fenrir Grayback, was found dead this morning; whoever had killed him had transfigured a tree and held him down under the water with it."

Grandfather Arcturus blinked at this news. "There was a full moon last night. This Storm Chaser… killed a werewolf… on a full moon… without fire or silver?" He shuddered. "What have you gotten us into, son?"

"I don't know, Father," Orion glared up at his father, "but I will see us out of it."

At that point, Mother emerged from the pensieve. She steadied herself on the pensieve and then glared at Father.

"Kill him." Mother shook, whether with fear or rage, Sirius could not tell. "Kill this… this abomination now!"

Father looked her square in the eye. "No. I am Lord Black, and you WILL listen to me!"

Mother reacted as if slapped. Father had NEVER pulled rank on her! Father glared at her, then gestured to her chair. "Sit. Please."

Sirius watched in amazement as Father paced around the pensieve. With every moment he could see the power burning within his eyes. This was no longer Father, the cowed husband. This was Lord Black, the imperious head of one of the most powerful and ancient magical clans.

He wondered if he would be like that one day, when he became Lord.

"As of this moment, we are to remain strictly neutral. While Lord Voldemort's apology is to be accepted, its previous invitation by Knight Avery for the House of Black to divorce itself from the Knights of Walpurgis is also accepted. No member of the House of Black is to join the Knights of Walpurgis; no member of the House of Black is to give material assistance to the Knights of Walpurgis. Also, until further notice, no marital negotiations are to occur between the House of Black and any known member or ally of the Knights." He glared at the members of his House, finally settling on Mother. "The survival of the House is at stake. Do not make me cast you out for this."

Mother growled, but otherwise remained silent.

Father then turned to Uncle Cygnus. "Cygnus, you have a lead on this… Storm Chaser?"

Cygnus nodded. "It is an impossible lead, but it is the only one I have. He is a Potter; that much was obvious from the man's features. I have made contact with Uncle Charlus; he has no clue who the man could be, but he is assisting me in the search. Hopefully, between the two of us, we can find the Storm Chaser."

"And you will slip a blade into his ribs if you find him?" Mother asked hopefully, maybe even a bit… eagerly?

"One would think you wanted to see your brother dead," Father drolled. "Understand this, and understand this now. We. Are. Neutral. Unless one side or the other initiates combat with the House of Black, we are not to raise a wand against either side." His dark eyes bored into every person there. "However, let it be known that, if either side wishes to initiate mortal combat with the House of Black, we are willing to turn all of our considerable resources against that party." He rested a hand against the pensieve. "So mote it be."

The family realized it was being dismissed; the other members of the family either shuffled or stormed their way out of the room. After a moment, only Father and he remained in the room – he sitting in his chair at the edge of the room, Father leaning against the pensieve, looking far older than Sirius had ever seen him.

After a minute, realizing that he hadn't left, Father looked over at him. "What is it, son?"

Sirius pursed his lips. He didn't want to ask, but… "May I see?"

His father looked at him warily. "This is not pleasant to watch, son. Your cousin was… forever changed by what she saw. Are you sure you want to?"

"This is for the House, correct?" Sirius replied.

Father shook his head. "Son, one day you will learn that there are wizards… and there are wizards that are head and shoulders above their peers. Wizards of such power and subtlety that the rest of us pale by comparison. Albus Dumbledore is one such wizard; that man holds the power he does because of the power he holds within himself. From what I have heard from Bellatrix, this 'Lord Voldemort' – no doubt a pretender – is similarly powerful." He brushed his hand along the pensieve. "The wizard here is of the same mold. He chewed up the best of your cousin's generation within seconds, ripping them apart without much effort." He raised an eyebrow. "Despite all this, are you sure you want to see?"

Sirius looked at his father. He was a Black. Blacks showed no fear. He gulped, and nodded.

Father smiled gently. "You'll make a great Lord one day." He moved aside to allow Sirius access. "I'll be waiting when you come back out."

Sirius stepped up to the pensieve and looked into the imposing, silvery liquid. He couldn't turn back now; Father expected him to do this.

He couldn't delay it any more. He took a deep breath, and dove in.

-o-o-o-

"What?" Voldemort could only repeat the question as he stared back at the man in front of him, incredulous as he struggled to even comprehend Avery's words.

"The… The Blacks have ac-… knowledged your offer, my lord," Avery reminded him quickly, "and even thanked you for it, but they… accepted that the divorcing will be fully. They have declared neutrality, my lord."

"Neutrality?" Voldemort repeated, his eyes narrowed into dark slits as he hissed his words. "They dare?!"

"They are the Blacks, my lord," Avery quickly reminded him. "They have stated they will give no aid towards any side. They will only act if acted upon."

Voldemort hissed in rage and Avery was banished into the wall with a gesture from his wand. "So, not only has your incompetence cost us some of our most promising recruits, but also the support of House Black!?"

"They…" Avery struggled to breath as his head swam from the pain, "have said they will leave us what they have already donated, but to expect no more. I… They have declared that will not oppose us, my lord, only that they will offer no more support!"

"You think that this lack of support means anything less than opposition?!" Voldemort growled as he paced, his robes billowing around him like the surface of an ocean, writhing in storm. "How many know of this?"

"Of the Black? None, my lord," Avery said quickly, desperation and assurance filling his voice. "It was a discreet meeting."

"And that will last how long?" Voldemort wondered out loud as he glared out into the distance, his fingers visibly tightening upon his wand.

"My lord, please!" Avery begged, down upon his knees. "If we declare ourselves against the Blacks, we will have open rebellion among our ranks!"

For a moment he sneered, glaring down at Avery as if he was nothing but an insignificant bug, before he calmly forced his features back to stoic neutrality. "For now. What other news is there?"

"Alastor Moody has discovered our raids," Avery said with a wince as Voldemort's face twisted in anger again at this latest revelation. "And we believe he has informed Albus Dumbledore of his discovery."

"Crawling to our dear Headmaster and hoping he'll save them." Voldemort stated with a sneer and a look of disgust. "Fools."

"And we have reports that the… individual struck again last night," Avery stated with a wince.

Voldemort's eyes again flashed, before he gave Avery a flat look, "I believe I made myself abundantly clear that there were to be no more… independent actions."

"This wasn't one, my lord," Avery stated quickly. "The reports are he killed Fenrir Greyback last night."

This time there was no immediate reaction as Voldemort processed the information, before he recalled what the state of the full moon had been like the night before. "On a full moon?"

"Yes, my lord," Avery agreed, before hesitating and continuing in a much softer voice, "without fire or silver."

That made Voldemort still, then purse his lips and consider the words speculatively. Fighting a werewolf without fire or silver was generally considered the height of folly. Without something to tap into the beast's innate weaknesses, they were more than difficult to overcome. "Then how damaged was this 'Storm Chaser?' Has he been diagnosed as a werewolf yet?"

"He… was not injured according to the report." Avery admitted in an almost deathly silent voice, his whole body trembling in terror.

"…" Voldemort stared at the man for a moment, his mind almost rebelling against the words, before snarling, "WHO IS HE!?"

"We don't know, my lord," Avery whimpered helplessly as he prostrated himself on the ground. "The only thing we know is that he has 'messy black hair,' 'green eyes', and wears glasses."

Voldemort paced in irritation. He did not like this new unknown. He did not like unknowns period, as they made things uncertain, uncontrollable. They were more than a complication, they were a threat.

"How is it that we do not know who he is? We should know who every witch and wizard in the Isles is." Voldemort slipped back to his seat and forcing himself back into the guise of the regal, knowing lord who resided imperiously over his court. "Wizards of this caliber do not simply 'appear' out of thin air!"

"We do not know, my lord," Avery repeated that same, frustrating answer with a wince as he further wilted under Voldemort's glare. "I have been asking, I have been looking through everything I can. I have talked to the continent, and I have even reached out across the pond. No one seems to have even heard of someone like him."

"Then FIND OUT! This is MY destiny! This is my time!" Voldemort snarled as he dug his fingers into the arms of his chair, face distorted into an ugly mask of hatred and anger, before he suddenly held up his wand, his hand rising faster than Avery could follow.

Around him tendrils of a dark, pulsing purple miasma rose, hissing like snakes as they flashed with arcs of sickly green bolts. Then his wand flashed out and the air seemed to scream in terror as it raced towards Avery. The man lifted his wand, attempting to shield himself, to deflect the coming spell, anything, only to have the spell warp about his attempts at defense and strike up on his arm.

Then Avery began to scream. Voldemort watched, a cold, cruel smile coiling over his lips as he could see the way the wizard's skin was slowly peeled back on his arm, then bubbling boils formed around stretches of stinking rot.

Voldemort cut off the spell and watched as each of the pustules pulsed, swelled, and then burst with a noxious puss that made Avery's skin burn everywhere it touched, all while the man began to retch and vomit up from the combination of pain and sickness.

"Surely you knew this was coming, my dear Avery," Voldemort stated with a slow, almost purring voice as he seemed to examine his wand, "or, perhaps you thought it would be something simple, something… direct? The Cruciatus is a very useful, even enjoyable, tool. But with all my travels, all my experiences… All the dark forbidden things I know, you didn't think it was the worst I had did you?"

"M-my, my lord…!" Avery almost squealed out the words as he clutched at his cursed arm, his lips covered in vomit and spit as his eyes were blinded with tears. "P-Pl-please! M-mer-mercy!"

"Mercy, Avery?" Voldemort asked as if contemplating the word as he lightly tapped his chin with his wand. "Truly? Do you think you have earned such? Because of you I have lost significant footing in our plans. Because of you we have lost the Blacks. Because of you Dumbledore has been alerted to our preparations."

Casually he strode forward, his body moving with an almost inhuman, serpentine grace. His wand found the soft spot beneath Avery's chin and forced the man's gaze up towards his own as he lightly twisted the slender wood between his fingers, digging it into the man's skin. In smooth, sibilant tones, he spoke.

"Mercy has never been one of my virtues, as you should well know, Avery."

And with a flick of his wrist the tip of the wand flicked away from Avery's throat, and, faster than the cursed man could follow, a simple cutting curse separated the cursed appendage from the man.

As he listened to the renewed screams leaving Avery's lips Voldemort smiled cruelly back at the man. "Disappoint me again and I shall teach you another lesson. Find out who this Storm Chaser is quickly enough and perhaps I can be convince to grant you a… replacement."

Avery only screamed.

-o-o-o-

Charlus Potter was seated in the quaint muggle inn with a small tumbler of decent scotch and a rather nicely done rare steak with roasted potatoes on the side. The meal itself was good enough to make the trip worthwhile in and of itself. He'd have to remember to convince Dorea to step outside of her comfort zone and give it a try.

Still, when he saw the man enter into the room, he didn't need the sudden stillness to tell him that this was the man he was here to see. He knew the face, at least, in passing; it was close enough to himself and his family that he could see why Cygnus had declared the man a Potter. But the eyes were just as he'd been told, a vibrant shade of green he'd never quite seen before.

There was little impressive about him at first glance. Even less when you caught the slighter than average frame and the typical muggle clothing he wore. But when you looked into those eyes… there was a calm certainty in them.

A look that had quickly bled into confused recognition when he met Charlus' gaze and studied the man's face.

Nodding back to the young man, Charlus calmly gestured to the seat in front of him. For a moment it seemed as if this "Storm Chaser" might just refuse. Or even simply leave. Then he walked forward and slid easily into the seat in front of him.

There was a momentary silence as he allowed the man to study him as he carefully cut another piece of the steak and then quietly set the knife down and looked him over in closer inspection.

Close enough to see the fine, mostly hidden scars that hadn't been able to be fully healed over. Close enough to see some ugly prominent ones that were likely the work of some particularly dark curses. Close enough that it was easy for him to catch the cough reminding him he was staring.

"I do prefer to not be gawked at." It was polite, though with a tinge of irritation and sarcasm.

"Merely appraising," Charlus responded easily enough. "What scars a man wears can tell you something of their character."

"I prefer to not be appraised either." the man stated without missing a beat.

"On that you will find your preferences generally disregarded," Charlus pointed out as he speared the piece of steak and calmly brought it to his mouth and chewed it a few moments before swallowing. "Especially with what I'm guessing is your penchant for chasing storms."

"I suppose you wouldn't believe me if I said that I have no idea what you're talking about?" Harry Potter asked as he looked back at Charlus with a look of resignation on his face.

"The Wilkins' send their thanks for your disposal of Greyback," Charlus stated simply as he lightly sopped a bit of the steak's juices on a piece of bread. "It caused quite a stir."

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Harry responded with a flat blandness. "Greyback managed to be freed from my spell. I never saw what happened to him after that."

"I'm not with the Ministry, lad," Charlus pointed out and then took a sip of his scotch before continuing. "No need to dance around the truth with me."

"No need to ever say anything self-incriminating either." Harry responded back with a look and an arch of the brow.

"A cautious wizard," Charlus took another sip of the scotch. "Not exactly the most common of things these days."

"I grew up in the muggle world," Harry stated simply as he leaned back in the seat. "But that's why you're here I take it? Trying to find out more about me?"

"In part," Charlus agreed with a nod. "However there is one particular facet that matters to me in particular."

"Oh?" Harry asked a brow arching.

"You're a Potter."

"… Am I?" Harry asked after a brief moment, his brow still raised.

"Interesting. You're even aware of it." Charlus noted with a slight frown as he frowned just a bit. "And yet, none of us are familiar with you."

"I wasn't exactly planning on advertising myself as such," Harry stated flatly. "I have enough problems to deal with without having to worry about saving you lot."

"You wouldn't be suggesting that we're unable to defend ourselves properly, now would you?" Charlus asked with a cool tone taking over his voice.

"Against most of those idiots? I wouldn't be terribly worried unless you got full of airs. Against the elites, I'd give even odds," Harry stated simply and tilted his head to the side. "Against Voldemort himself?"

Harry mulled that over a moment before looking flatly back at Charlus. "Voldemort can go spell for spell with Dumbledore."

Charlus froze at that, noting the conviction in Harry's voice and frowning, "And what makes you so certain of this?"

There was a pause as Harry looked at Charlus for a moment, and then shrugged, "It doesn't matter."

"The source of your information matters a great deal." Charlus stated with a deepening frown.

"The source of my information no longer exists," Harry stated with a sigh as he slumped back. "So there's no way to verify it even if you did know of it."

"You speak in vague riddles with an… annoying certainty." Charlus answered as he looked Harry over. "Do you really expect to be able to keep up this… over dramatic mystique?"

"Heh," Harry bobbed his head slightly in response. "Voldemort is a half-blood, born Tom Marvolo Riddle. There's a whole anagram in his name. His mother was Merope Gaunt and his father Tom Riddle, a muggle aristocrat whom Merope used a love potion on, and Voldemort later murdered for abandoning him."

Harry tilted his head to the side a bit as he watched the slight widening of Charlus' eyes, before they narrowed in consideration as he continued. "Despite the fact that his father never even knew about him. He framed his uncle Morfinn for the murder. I'm sure you probably heard about it."

By now Charlus was trying not to gawp at Harry as he struggled to not allow his jaw to hang open and gaping.

"What?" Harry asked with a slightly bemused smile. "I expect you to go ahead and verify all of this. Can't just blindly trust it after all."

"How do you know all this?" Charlus demanded finally.

"Assuming I'm right?" Harry asked, a slight smile on his lips.

"Assuming you're right," Charlus allowed reluctantly.

"Assuming I'm right, why would I tell a complete stranger I've never met before?" Harry challenged back.

And again Charlus was thrown for a loop as the boy had seemed rather forthcoming with information, and then suddenly was being evasive.

"I'm giving out information because it's rather pertinent about the man behind the people that have been trying to kill me and others." Harry made a point of stating. "You happen to likely already be included in those others."

"And what, exactly, will lead to you trusting me?" Charlus asked as he arched a brow.

"Well, for starters, you could introduce yourself," Harry stated pointedly.

Charlus stared at the young man for a moment, resisting the urge to palm at his face at the statement. Taking a slow, deep breath, he spoke again. "I apologize. My name is Charlus Potter. I happen to be the great Uncle of the woman you chose to be your… messenger."

"Huh." Harry tilted his head to the side as he processed that information. "I keep forgetting ickle-Bella-kins is related to the Potters that way."

"I was asked by my nephew, Cygnus, to help find you." It was a neutral statement as Charlus looked steadily back at Harry.

"What, to deliver me up to their waiting ambush?" Harry asked sardonically. "I'm quite familiar with the Blacks and their politics. Even more familiar with their stance on blood purity."

"From what I've come to understand, to know your intentions and to declare neutrality," Charlus stated as he kept his eyes on Harry. "Your little… demonstration made quite the impact when the memory of it was shown. Both Cygnus and the current Lord Black, Orion, were apparently quite… shaken by it."

"Of course they were," Harry stated again with a look that stated 'No, really, pull the other one.'

"They have already told the Knights of Walpurgis that they will not be granting them any additional support from what I understand," Charlus stated simply before he took another sip of his drink. "It's all being kept quite hush-hush, you know. I was only told of it for the contingency that I found you first."

"Which you apparently have." Harry said as he shook his head. "So, the Black's are claiming neutrality."

"Two sides of a civil war are complicated enough for the Black's," Charlus said in response. "A third becomes a bit much."

"A third?" Harry asked, now visibly confused. "Why the hell would there be a third side?"

"You," Charlus stated simply. "Most of the veterans of the war with Grindelwald are getting on in our years. We've gotten rusty, disorganized and have little interest in backing the Ministry in a fight. They could probably have even taken out a good number of us quickly if they struck hard and fast enough."

"And what does that have to do with me?" Harry asked, still very much confused.

"Because you've already made a name for yourself. Like it or not, people are going to start following your example," Charlus noted shrewdly. "And power like yours will draw in people to your cause."

Harry stared at Charlus for a moment before sighing and slumping as he rubbed his forehead. "In for the pence, in for the pound, I suppose. Though I suppose after I did in those little dark munchers and Greyback. And with the ring. And…"

He paused there and groaned as he palmed his head. "Bloody hell, I went well past being happy with just the bloody pound and went for the whole bloody bank."

"I suppose this somehow makes sense to you." Charlus noted dryly as he looked at the young man critically.

"Just realizing how bloody troublesome this has become," Harry stated before sighing softly. "I've gone and made a complete mess of things. All because of wanting one bloody drink."

Charlus just looked at him speculatively.

"No, I'm not going to explain," Harry stated simply and shook his head. "It would take entirely too long and involve too much convolution."

"Well then," Charlus stated, sensing he wasn't going to get any further with the man. "Going to at least give me a name beyond some nom de… Whatever you wish to call it?"

"I don't know, I rather like it," Harry admitted with a slight smirk. "It makes me sound so much cooler than I really am."

Charlus simply snorted and gave the man a look.

"… Fine, ruin my fun." Harry stated with a grumble and a sigh. "Harry. My name is Harry."

"Harry." Charlus repeated looking back at him with a brow arched.

"It's what my parents named me," Harry agreed with a nod and a shrug.

"Harry what?" Charlus pressed.

"Well, you were the one that called me a Potter," Harry countered back with a smug grin.

Charlus just gave him a slight glower while Harry grinned unrepentant.

-o-o-o-

It wasn't too much later that Cygnus Black found himself facing an eruption of green flames from his floo as Charlus' face appeared in it.

"Uncle Charlus," Cygnus stated with a canting of his head. "So good to hear from you."

"Nephew," Charlus stated simply, his face visibly irritated. "Let me through."

For a moment Cygnus considered insisting upon propriety. Then he took another look at Cygnus face and simply opened the floo. "It's open, Uncle."

And in a flashing pulse of flames, Charlus appeared. Steadying himself on his feet, he straightened up and gave Cygnus a look. "I found him."

Cygnus blinked at that. "Already?"

"It wasn't terribly difficult once I talked to the family he saved from Greyback," Charlus stated as he slowly began to pace back and forth. "He's a cheeky bastard, I'll give him that."

"If you can find him so easily, the Knights won't likely be too far behind." Cygnus pointed out, unsure of how to feel about that.

"With all the extra wards the Wilkins' have thrown up, there'd be plenty of warning." Charlus stated simply and shook his head. "Unless one of them happens to be less thug and more of a honey tongued charmer than I gave them credit for."

Cygnus let the statement pass without challenge as he looked at Charlus. "Well then, Uncle?"

"We talked." Charlus stated as he looked back at the floo. "Or, I should say I asked questions and his answers gave me more questions than I already had before."

"Such as?" Now Cygnus was both intrigued and annoyed at the evasiveness his uncle was putting forth.

"He told me the Knights' Lord, Voldemort I believe, is in fact a half-blood." Charlus stated flatly, watching the way Cygnus' eyes almost seemed to pop out. "He gave me what he claimed was his true name, and the names of his parents. Do you remember the muggles that Morinn Gaunt was supposed to have murdered?"

"No, not particularly." Cygnus admitted.

"Of course not," Charlus muttered sourly and then shook his head. "According to your Storm Chaser, he was memory charmed. By his nephew. Who was the son of one of those muggles."

"… Who is Voldemort." Cygnus finished staring at Charlus.

"Supposedly." Charlus agreed with a nod.

"… We supported a half-blood." Cygnus continued, before palming his face slightly as he groaned. "This…"

"Oh, you're forgetting the best part." Charlus stated with a smug, vicious grin.

Cygnus stiffened at that and looked at Charlus expectantly.

"If true, that means that all three side. All three of the most powerful, are all half-bloods." Charlus stated simply with a smirk. "This Storm Chaser, that Voldemort, and Dumbledore."

"…" Cygnus stared at Charlus, his face slowly going pale as he felt his knees going weak. "But…"

"Of course, it could turn out to not be true," Charlus agreed. "We'd just need to do some research to find out. Starting with Voldemort's supposed real name. Tom Marvolo Riddle."

On a whim, he remembered what Harry had told him, about the anagram, and casually he wrote out the name in the air between them with his wand. Then he rearranged the letters to spell Voldemort. What was left was "maoridl" another bit of a flic and he had "Lord Voldemort" and "mai" left over. It was rather obvious when he then looked at Cygnus.

"Rather pretentious, don't you think?"

Cygnus stared.

"Yes, quite." Charlus agreed with a nod. "So, nephew, do you know what you're going to do now?"

"… I need a drink." Cygnus stated simply.

"We need a drink," Charlus corrected succinctly. "I was the one that had to deal with it directly from the bloody source. You just got it second hand."

"Yes, Uncle Charlus." Cygnus agreed woodenly with a nod of his head.

"And make sure it's the good stuff, won't you lad?" Charlus added.

"Yes, Uncle Charlus."

"Excellent."