Chapter Title: Changes (turn and face the strange)
A/N: If you just want a recap of part 1 of this series, here it is. Shortly after the duelling club debacle in book 2, Harry stumbles into a new friend who challenges his perception of his life and the magical world and he learns that friendships in one generation can carry on to the next. Daphne Greengrass pushes Harry's expectations of himself, his friends and magic, while connecting with each other through secret meetings and notes using Greengrass family magic. After dealing with the mystery of the chamber and solving the riddle of who planted the diary, they plot successful revenge on Lucius Malfoy but in turn, Draco swears retribution. After House Greengrass rescues Harry from being sentenced to another summer in Durskaban, Harry spends the summer with the Greengrasses and learns from his parents' will that it is exactly where he should have been. After uncovering the prophecy and that something strange is happening with Harry's scar, Harry and Daphne encounter a stray dog and then share their first kiss. This story starts the next morning.
A/N2: Does anyone recognize the chapter title? Special thanks to Shygui for inspiring me to be a better writer even though he says that is what I do for him. I hope everyone finds this story worth the wait.
When you touch a man's body, he will enjoy the moment, when you touch a man's heart he will remember it forever. ― Dixie Waters
Harry had a hard time sleeping that night but it had nothing to do with his scar even though it did still tingle. He had kissed Daphne Greengrass! He still couldn't believe it! Well, to be more accurate, she had kissed him but they had kissed, that was the important part. If someone had told him a year ago that he'd kiss the ice queen of Slytherin, he'd have called them mad and laughed at them. Now, he was facing that reality and he wasn't sure what to do about it.
She had said she had wanted to kiss a certain boy for months now and he had assumed that it was him but what if it wasn't? What if she kissed him only because he was there and she had been thinking about some other bloke? If he was the boy she'd wanted to kiss for months had this changed anything? Were they boyfriend and girlfriend now? If so, how should he act?
He had to talk to her as they hadn't talked last night. They'd both been on such a high from kissing and then walking together back to their home when it was dark. There'd been more kisses than he could count. Why hadn't they talked?
All this thinking was driving him mad and he hadn't gotten enough sleep. He'd have to face her and her little sister and her mother and probably even her father! He was doomed. He was going to explode from sheer angst and confusion. Maybe he could just hide in his room for the rest of the day.
Daphne was going to kill him! She was so angry with him that no other solution occurred to her. Her sister was snickering at her! Snickering! Her mother was being stoic – too stoic. Inside she was probably laughing at her too. Her father was the worst, acting like he hadn't noticed them at all. She knew that he knew, there was no other possibility because that bloody idiotic boy and made it so completely bloody obvious!
He had been a bloody blushing, stuttering mess since the moment he had joined them for breakfast. What had happened to all of that Occlumency training? Why couldn't he look at her? Why couldn't he at least attempt to act normal? Why did he have to make it so painfully obvious that something big had changed between them? Why was he still here? Why was he still breathing? Why hadn't she hexed him to bits yet? They were all good questions. She was going to have to kill him.
When Harry seemed done, she wanted to get them some privacy as soon as she could. She was anxious to start tearing him a new one. "We should go look to see if that stray dog is still around."
Harry nodded rather dumbly but at least he was bright enough to agree with her. His intellect might still be above the Crabbe/Goyle level after all, if barely. She stormed out of the house and didn't bother moderating her speed so when she was far enough from the house to suit her need for privacy vs. the amount of her patience, she saw him lagging behind, staring at the ground ahead of him.
If he thought that pouting would get her sympathy, he was in for a rude awakening. She crossed her arms and glowered at him as he approached. The fact that he didn't even see her glare and was making her wait just fuelled her rage. He was really asking for it and he was going to get it!
Just as he came to a stop in front of her she had her wand out and shouted "MUFFLIATO!" as she did the wand motion. "What the bloody hell is wrong with you?! Have you forgotten everything I taught you about Occlumency? You couldn't have made it more obvious that something has changed if you had flat out told them! What were you thinking?!"
He just stood there, staring at the ground and saying nothing. "What?! Nothing to say for yourself?" She almost screamed in frustration. "At least you know there are no excuses for your behaviour! You are such an idiot, Harry Potter!"
She waited again with her fists clenched so tightly that they hurt and then for the first time she began to question whether she was missing something. He certainly looked sorry and he wasn't trying to justify himself, perhaps she ought to ease up? Her face softened from a scowl to slight confusion and with his head hanging down, she couldn't really tell what his reaction was. Thus, after physically calming herself, she slowly reached out her hand and lifted his chin to see his face.
When she saw that he was silently crying she felt like she'd been punched in the gut and she felt her face being drained of blood. Then it all became obvious to her in an avalanche of realizations that almost staggered her. She was well aware of how he'd been raised, how would that have prepared him for this situation? In no way at all, that was an easy answer. She had assumed he understood everything last night and never talked about it but it was now painfully obvious that she had made an egregious error. This was her fault and she was the idiot, not him.
She knew she had to fix this and without conscious thought she drew him into a hug and started whispering in his ear, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…." It was a relief when he hugged her back and she found herself crying too.
When she felt they'd both recovered enough she drew slowly back and kept her hands on his shoulders to show she was not trying to push him away. She'd done enough damage to her friend and she wouldn't risk doing any more. "You have no idea what last night meant, do you?"
He started looking ashamed and moved his head back down as she shook his head 'no'. Again she lifted his chin with one of her hands. "That is my fault, Harry. I'm the idiot and you have nothing to feel bad about. I should have talked to you instead of assuming you understood and then this morning I decided this was all your fault without giving you a chance to talk to me. In fact, this calls for a formal apology."
She let go of him and just had gotten her wand pointed up and started to say, "I, Daphne…" when Harry suddenly put his hand over hers.
"No, Daphne, you don't have to do that."
She was tempted to argue with him but decided it would be counterproductive. She nodded assent and put her wand away and put both of her hands on his cheeks, which surprised him but apparently in a good way. "I just wanted you to know how sorry I was. This is all my fault. I should have talked to you about this last night."
She saw he was getting nervous so she decided it was time for her to lay out all of her cards for him to see. "You are the boy I have wanted to kiss for months." She paused as she searched his eyes and saw a hopeful look so she continued. "I don't know when it was that I started to fancy you, it might have been when we were writing while I was on the train home for winter break. I didn't realize how much I liked you until the day after the chamber. I was scared out of my wits but I just couldn't let you go alone. If I'd lost you, I think I'd have wanted to die too."
She saw the look of amazement in his eyes but then she started to see concern so she decided to lighten up the mood a little. "Then when we talked about Ginny and you said you weren't ready for dating so I decided I would wait until you were ready to be more than friends. Then last night you caught onto my mood and you kept worrying about me and I just couldn't hold it in anymore." She then gave him her biggest smile and asked, "Harry Potter, will you be my boyfriend?"
He looked gobsmacked and so cute that she had to fight the urge to kiss him that moment. "You – you still want me as a boyfriend?"
He sounded so unsure she decided to say it again. "I very much want you as a boyfriend, Harry. I'm so sorry for getting angry with you for something that was my fault. Please forgive me, please say yes."
She didn't really need to wait for his answer when the huge smile bloomed on his face. He said 'Yes' anyway and then she just had to kiss him, which turned into several kisses as they held each other tightly.
Roxanne breathed a sigh of relief as she lowered the omnioculars. She'd been afraid that their inexperience with relationships might end theirs before it had properly begun so she had moved to the room where she could still see them. However, it seemed that her daughter had figured out how to make up with her boyfriend on her own. She had been very concerned when her daughter had her wand out earlier though.
It had been painfully obvious that there had been a terrible misunderstanding about last night but they managed to figure it out on their own. Now that the cat was out of the bag, maybe she could give her some helpful hints about dating and such. Daphne must realize that she knew after what happened at breakfast.
She hadn't noticed her husband entering and she blushed at his teasing. She tried to keep her voice even as she replied, "I was just making sure I wouldn't have to step in."
"So the storm is over then?"
She looked back at him as she wasn't sure what his tone of voice meant with his last question. "Yes, thank goodness. I was afraid Daphne was angry enough to do something unfortunate."
His tone reflected a distinct lack of enthusiasm as he said, "So, she has a boyfriend now."
She rolled her eyes and smiled at him. "Oh, don't act so sour. She's a beautiful girl and she prefers boys, this was going to happen sooner or later and you know it. Plus, I think it's a very good thing that she has chosen Harry, I think they could be a good match."
Cyrus' answer was a reluctant grunt so she decided to push the issue. "Do you or do you not want to eventually have a male heir to continue the Greengrass line?"
"Of course I do."
"Then get used to this." She gave him a challenging look that eventually made him look a little sheepish.
"OK, you're right but it seems a little soon."
"Goodness, Cyrus. They're thirteen and just starting to date for the first time. We're a long way from you having to give her away." She smiled at his look of alarm. "I said a long way away from that day. You have years to get used to the idea, silly man."
He still looked disconcerted. "What about you? You'd be losing her too."
"I don't look at it like that. I won't lose a daughter and instead I'll gain a son."
He looked at her and surprise changed to contemplation. Eventually he said, "Oh. Well, maybe it won't be so bad then."
She chuckled before she gave him a hug and a kiss. She felt him relax into her embrace and knew they'd be just fine, at least until the next teenage angst flare-up.
Harry was absolutely mortified. He had kept trying to go into his Occlumency trance and kept failing. Daphne wasn't controlling herself as well as she normally did either and she was seething with anger towards him, which was no help at all as he became depressed. By the end of breakfast he was wondering if the best thing he could do is run away and never bother them again.
He knew that looking for the dog was an excuse and she'd likely hex him and tell him to never speak to her again. The worst part was that he felt he deserved that, he was such a loser. He followed her out and couldn't even muster the energy to keep his head up. When she started berating him, he was waiting for the hexes to start, he resolved to just take whatever she dished out and accept his fate, he just hoped it didn't hurt too much.
Then things took an unexpected turn as she lifted his head for him. Suddenly, he was being held by Daphne and she was apologizing to him! He didn't know what to make of this sudden reversal but he wasn't going to ignore a chance to hug her back. Maybe he wouldn't have to leave after all?
Her explanation of her feelings toward him boggled his mind. Was this a dream? It had to be as things like this didn't happen to him. He knew better than to argue with her whether it was a dream or not. Of course he'd be her boyfriend! She was an amazing and gorgeous girl and he'd have to be dumber than Crabbe and Goyle to say no.
As they kissed, it finally started to feel more normal to him, this was actually reality and his spirits soared. However, he couldn't let her take all of the blame, he's the one who couldn't control himself and caused their issues this morning. She'd been willing to make a formal wizarding apology and he owed her too much to allow her to do that.
Before he could gather his wits to bring it up, she drew back and gave him a smile that made his heart skip a beat. "Come on, Harry. Since we said we'd look for the dog, we may as well do it." He noticed that her hands never left him entirely and she took a strong grip on his near hand as they began to walk.
He felt a bit overwhelmed still but managed to speak anyway. "I want to apologize too. I should have handled the situation better, especially at breakfast and not gotten us into this mess."
"Harry, it wasn't that bad, I blew it out of proportion. We were never going to have this happen without anyone knowing. It's just that I'd hoped to time it better. In the long run, there's no harm done but we'll have to put up with some teasing from Astoria for a while. Did you see her face? How she was snickering? It's going to be awful!"
Harry smiled as she rolled her eyes theatrically but he had to make sure he made his point. "I just want you to know how sorry I am."
"I understand. Now, can we stop apologizing to each other already?" She gave him a grin then leaned in and whispered, "We have better things we could be doing."
Harry swallowed nervously. That sounded good, very good in fact but he still didn't know what to do. "Erm, I'm new at this, I'll probably bollix things up a few times."
"I'm new too and I just bollixed things up by overreacting." She then leaned in again and whispered, "We also get a chance to make up after a disagreement. That can be fun, don't you think?"
Well if making up meant kissing, he was all for it. He grinned back at her and she giggled at him. He was surprised by her giggle as it wasn't normal for her and it was at that moment he realized that he was making her as happy as she was making him. This whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing was rather amazing, he thought to himself as he grinned. He was startled to discover how far they'd walked when he heard the dog bark and he looked over to see him sitting there on the other side of the fence. Was that dog grinning at them?
Sirius Black was a nervous wreck. He had decided to try to stay in the area but that would mean revealing who he was. Playing the 'stray dog' until they left wouldn't gain him anything other than some food, the only way to truly get to know his godson would be to reveal who he was and hope that he'd get a chance to explain. He slept badly and didn't want to miss them so he went to where he'd seen them the previous day and waited even though it was still quite early.
How to reveal himself though? He quickly discarded simply transforming in front of them as that would go badly. He'd probably frighten them so much he wouldn't get a word in and he wouldn't be able to follow them through the wards. How could he ease into it though? That's when remembered he had two newspapers with him. He checked to make sure he was alone and transformed to human form and removed the two newspapers he possessed.
He still had the one that Fudge had thrown to him, the one with the Weasleys on the front page, the one that had motivated him to escape. That one would be no help so he returned it to his pocket and opened the other one and saw himself from when he'd been arrested, laughing like a madman although the issue was announcing his escape, not his capture. He grimaced at the memory, he'd been overtired, overwrought and stunned about having been outmanoeuvred by Wormtail of all people. He had grievously underestimated his former friend and paid a heavy price for his folly.
He had foolishly believed that they would soon realize that although he was an idiot, he wasn't the betrayer they had treated him as. Unfortunately for him, that day never came and he had rotted with his doubts and recriminations for longer than he cared to contemplate. He shook off the memories and regarded the newspaper with a critical eye. It was a little the worse for wear as he'd picked it out of the rubbish bin but the picture was clear enough for his purposes. It would suffice but how to present it? He didn't dare put it on the wall, the wards might do something to it. He put it on the ground on his side and pushed the vegetation down so it would be visible to them.
He transformed back and looked around and found himself still alone. He sat down and regarded the newspaper and decided he couldn't just leave it there like that. He had to make sure they were paying attention and then show it but how? He had only one way to conceal it for now, he laughed to himself as he sat on it and waited.
His insomnia and early arrival made the wait long and boring so he alternated between lying down and sitting up and finally heard people approaching. He popped back up and quickly identified the same two teens. This time was a little different though as they were holding hands and walking closely together. They were obviously a couple and she was definitely flirting with him.
He was happy for Harry to see his suspicions of yesterday confirmed but then he realized that Harry was ahead of the Marauders. As much as he prided himself on being a ladies' man, the truth was he didn't start pursuing the ladies until near the end of his third year. He mentally chuckled to himself at how his little pup was already outdoing him. James had been smitten with Lily at that age but getting nowhere with her and Moony never really tried. He didn't even consider Wormtail.
Here was Harry, his little pup, already with a pretty bird who seemed destined to be one of the most beautiful in all of Hogwarts and he hadn't even started his third year yet! He gave a mental cheer, way to go, Pup! He couldn't stop his smile and he hoped it wouldn't look threatening on the face of a large dog. He was so excited that the bark slipped out before he could stop it. Not only had he alerted them to their audience as he could already see her pulling slightly away from Harry but he'd also put himself in the spotlight. He felt like a bad dog or at least a stupid one and he might owe his pup an apology for ruining his moment.
Well that was a mood killer, she sounded almost disappointed. Hopefully, it's only because he had foolishly interrupted them and not because she was against him already. He stayed as he was though as they had to come closer to see the newspaper and fortunately, they did keep approaching. That's when he noticed their slightly swollen lips and comingled scents. Harry, you dog! He was so proud.
Harry was beaming at him. "How are you doing, boy?"
He had to suppress his urge to go to Harry. His dog instincts wanted to approach him as much as his human feelings, which was a powerful combination. He settled for a soft 'woof' that Harry seemed to choose to accept as a greeting. They were finally close enough and he had no better ideas for the big reveal so he slowly rose and prepared to step out of the way. He didn't miss Daphne's hand urging Harry slightly back, she was a protective one and he expected he'd be facing her wand soon.
He wasn't disappointed, she hissed a warning to Harry and had her wand pointed at him in a flash. Although Harry slowly removed his wand too, he kept it down and looked from the copy of the Daily Prophet to him with a puzzled look. Since she looked like she wasn't about to hex him yet, he then pointed at the picture with his nose and then looked at Harry again.
However, it was the girl who spoke up. "He's an Animagus! Who are you?!"
Yep, he was definitely not in her good books.
Harry seemed to have an epiphany. "That's how you got away! You're Sirius Black, aren't you?"
If he could manage it as a dog, he'd give Harry a proud smile in that moment. He nodded his head instead but then he got a big surprise.
"We know you're innocent!"
What? How? He'd not seen nor heard anything about him but him being a psychopathic escaped mass-murderer so how could he know that? Well, he could hardly ask now, could he? He transformed and watched as Harry watched avidly and Daphne watched worriedly. He decided he better do something to appease his girlfriend as he could neither defend himself and at this range, he'd not be able to dodge.
He held his hands up and said, "I'm not armed and there's a ward between us. You have nothing to worry about."
She didn't look totally convinced but after glancing at Harry, she did lower her wand just a bit.
He then looked back at Harry and asked, "How do you know that I'm innocent?"
"I read my parents' will, they said you weren't the secret keeper."
Finally! He knew that James and Lily wouldn't let him down. "Why isn't that out in the news then?"
Harry scowled as he answered. "Because Dumbledore sealed the will!"
Dumbledore? He'd been counting on help from that wanker! If Dumbledore had turned on him, no wonder he'd been abandoned in Azkaban. He had to grit his teeth together painfully to keep himself from venting, things were still much too fragile for that. He needed more information plus he'd have to see how Roxy and Cyrus reacted to him before he'd know if he could stay.
"Do Roxy and Cyrus know about that?"
"Yeah, both. Cyrus was with me when I read the will."
That was interesting, Cyrus had always seemed so standoffish but he seemed to get along well with Harry. Of course, Roxy would have had a hand in that to some extent.
He turned to Daphne and said, "You should get your parents over here. We need to talk." She looked so startled that at another time he might have smiled at the sight but not today.
A house elf appeared and he found himself regarding her as curiously as she was regarding him.
"Mipsy, get mother and father. Tell them that Sirius Black is here."
The house elf looked frightened, "Sirius Black?"
Harry spoke up before he could explain he was harmless. "It's all right, he's my godfather. Just tell them to come or better yet, bring them here."
"Mipsy be right back!" The house elf quickly vanished.
He looked at Harry fondly as Harry looked back at him excitedly. He hoped that Harry had the right idea and he wasn't about to be shipped back to Azkaban.
Roxanne was discussing proper behaviour with Astoria towards her sister and her new boyfriend when they were interrupted by Mipsy Apparating near them. Before she got a chance to ask what was going on, Mipsy started talking excitedly.
"Mistress! Sirius Black is here! Miss Daphne is sending Mipsy to get you and master."
She gasped but managed to suppress any more expressions of surprise. She turned back to Astoria and firmly said, "You will stay here."
Astoria opened her mouth to protest but wilted under her mother's stern gaze as her mother stood up. "Yes, Mum."
She then turned to Mipsy and extended her hand, "Take me to Cyrus."
Cyrus seemed very surprised when they appeared in his den but before he could say anything she said, "Sirius Black is here and Daphne sent Mipsy for us. We have to go to them." She extended her hand to him and after only a momentary hesitation, he got up, took her hand and all three suddenly vanished from the room.
As soon as they hit the ground, Roxanne let go of both of them and pulled her wand but didn't aim it at anything as she oriented herself and saw Sirius with his hands held out, obviously empty. She'd seen that Cyrus had pulled his wand as well so she wasn't too worried. She wouldn't have worried about the Sirius she knew in school but this wasn't that Sirius. After nearly 12 years in Azkaban, she couldn't say she really knew him much at all.
They regarded each other for a few moments and since nobody else was speaking, she decided to start taking the measure of her former classmate.
"It's been a long time, Sirius."
"That it has, Roxy."
His voice was rough as if from disuse, which wasn't a surprise. He had called her by the same nickname as before, now for an identity/memory test. "Alice always said that you turn up at the strangest times."
Sirius smiled although it resembled a grimace somewhat. "We both know it was Marlene who said that."
Oh, bloody hell. Of all the tests she could have used, she had to use one that referred to Marlene. She felt like a git. "I'm sorry, I should have used something else as a test."
He seemed to shrug negligently as he said, "That was a long time ago."
Her regret grew as she saw the suffering in his eyes. It hadn't been that long ago for him, the pain was still there. "How are you?"
He seemed to sag a bit and he looked exhausted. "I've been better. I'm here because I wanted to find my godson, to protect him, to finally be there for him as his godfather."
So far, so good. He was acting a lot saner than she expected and she was impressed. The timing of all this still bothered her so the next question was obvious.
"Because I saw Peter, the real traitor. He was going to be at Hogwarts with Harry. I had to get to him and protect him like I failed to do on that awful night." Sirius turned to look at Harry solemnly. "I know you were at the Dursleys, we're going to have to talk about that someday."
If he knew what she knew, it could be bad. Her revenge was already in progress and as a Black, he might appreciate what she was doing. Hopefully, she'd be able to convince him to settle for what she was doing as payback. There was a possibly more urgent matter, however.
"Where did you see Peter? We need him alive to get you free."
Sirius seemed taken aback for a moment but he recovered and responded. "I'll have to show you something, it's just another issue of the Daily Prophet." He slowly and carefully pulled a newspaper from his ratty clothing and Roxanne forced herself to remain calm, the last thing she wanted was to make this any tenser than it was. She'd seen Harry stiffen at the mention of the Dursleys and she still didn't know for certain how stable Sirius was.
She was surprised to see him reveal a picture of the Weasleys, it looked like the one where they had announced that they were the winners of the draw. Was Peter on some other page of that issue? Her confusion increased when he seemed to point to one of the sons. "He's right here, on the boy's shoulder. He's a rat Animagus."
She had two reactions to that. She'd never been real impressed with the magical abilities of Peter Pettigrew so Peter becoming an Animagus surprised her. However, she'd known that there was some other secret about the Marauders besides Remus' lycanthropy. Had the Marauders all been Animagi? Wait, could they have done that to help Remus? They might have been borderline bullies for part of their time in Hogwarts but they were also loyal to friends. It's something they would have done.
"Wait, does that mean you were the dog they were talking about?"
His big grin was all the answer she needed. "Is that how you escaped Azkaban?"
"That has a lot to do with it, yes. The dementors are less sensitive to animals, I also spent a lot of time as a dog and it helped keep me sane. Well, relatively sane, anyway, you probably never thought I was all that sane to begin with."
She was somewhat reassured that he could joke about that and things made more sense now. After nearly 12 years, she was amazed that he was alive at all, much less as sane as he seemed. However, she had two daughters to think of and although he seemed to care a lot for Harry, anything might happen in a moment of madness. On the other hand, leaving him out there as a wanted fugitive wasn't much of an option either. He looked dreadful, not only in health but in hygiene. How could she live with herself if she left him to his fate? What could they do?
"So, Lily never told you about us becoming Animagi?"
Bringing Lily into it just increased her feelings of guilt, she couldn't bear to turn him away. "No, she didn't. She did say there were some secrets that weren't hers to tell, that must be one of the things she was talking about."
Then she had a sudden thought, what about the old servants' quarters? They were separate from the house but what condition were they in? They'd never had a use for them and she had ignored the building. She did know the outside was maintained but what about the inside? She looked around and saw that Mipsy was still present and looking at Sirius curiously.
"Mipsy, has the inside of the servants' quarters been maintained?"
"Mipsy has been keeping them nice and tidy, Mistress."
"Does the plumbing work?"
"Mipsy is not knowing but Mipsy can fix if they not be working."
She was surprised to hear Harry's voice. "Dobby can help too."
Suddenly, the elf himself appeared, as eager as ever. "Dobby can help! How can Dobby be helping?" He stopped his excited chatter to stare at Sirius. He then turned to Harry and asked, "Who is raggy man?"
She tuned out the conversation between Harry and his house elf and realized that things were falling into place. She turned to look at Cyrus who was already looking at her. She knew what he was thinking so she just nodded at him. He quietly suggested, "One time access," and she nodded again.
Harry Potter had been on a roller coaster of emotions all morning. Now, seeing the dog again had been a relief but then it turned into astonishment when he learned it was an Animagus and then that it was his very own godfather that he'd been worrying about! He'd started to worry again when the Greengrass parents had their wands out but relaxed again when Roxanne had seemed friendly toward Sirius.
He was distracted momentarily by the mention of a Marlene and wondered if it was the girl in the picture. Then he realized that she must be the one they referred to as they both knew her. Why was Roxanne sorry for bringing her up though? Were Sirius and Marlene good friends? Wait, at that age, they might have been boyfriend/girlfriend. His heart sank at the thought of losing a girlfriend and he couldn't help looking at Daphne who was watching the adults but had taken his hand again and was beside him.
Then came another shock, Scabbers was an Animagus too?! No wonder that rat had seemed creepy to him but Harry remembered Ron's letter – Scabbers had run away. If it had been a normal rat, no big deal but now that he knew who it was it was more bad news. This wasn't the time to tell them though, things were tense and he had to make sure that Sirius got help.
Harry was puzzled by the discussion of servants' quarters, he'd seen the building and been satisfied with the explanation that they didn't use it. Why would they have servants' quarters when they had a house elf? Could this property have originally belonged to Muggles? He wondered about the separation they seemed to be planning but it was still helping Sirius. He wanted in on helping so he brought up Dobby.
Then his statement brought the elf himself and Harry was again distracted. He nearly laughed when Dobby asked about the 'raggy man'. "Dobby, this is my godfather, Sirius Black. He's going to be joining us and needs some help."
"What can Dobby do?"
That was a good question, what should he do? He looked at Sirius again and took stock of his condition. There wasn't much Dobby could do about his health or hygiene but it was obvious that Sirius needed new clothes. "Could you get him some new clothes?"
"Yes, Dobby can do!" The eager elf turned towards Sirius and a measuring tape suddenly appeared in his hand. Before Harry could react the elf had popped over by Sirius as he said, "Dogfather must stand still with his arms out!"
Sirius looked very surprised but he complied and suddenly the tape was whizzing around him like the one that Ollivander had in his shop. Harry decided to wait until things settled down to correct Dobby about who Sirius was to Harry. However, when the tape finished, both it and the elf vanished. Had he gone to get clothes already? They hadn't even had a chance to tell him what Sirius needed! Oh well, Dobby could make another trip If necessary.
"What was Dobby doing?"
Harry turned to Roxanne to answer her. "He went to get Sirius some clothes."
"Good, he needs them."
"Sirius, Cyrus will escort you through the wards to where you will stay. Daphne and Harry, you will come with me."
Harry was reluctant to be separated from Sirius so soon but Roxanne's manner brooked no argument. He and Daphne walked together to follow her mother while Cyrus approached the wards and Sirius. Harry took one quick look back before he had to concentrate on where he was going. Cyrus seemed to be approaching Sirius in a friendly manner so things were going well in his view.
Cyrus wondered when it was that he had decided to take in a wanted man that could put his family in a very embarrassing position if he was found here. The answer might just be 'when he married Roxanne', it was probably as good as any other. Roxanne had caused many changes in him and since she made him want to become a better person, he'd been at peace with the changes. For example, he hadn't considered himself to be a blood purist but she had shown him his prejudices and he had done his best to eradicate them.
Now he found himself compromising his family's vaunted neutrality but only partially due to his wife, his eldest was indirectly demanding it. On the other hand, if he could help the new Lord Black prove his innocence and resume the life he should have had, it would be quite the coup for the family. Although his father had been on pleasant enough terms with the Blacks to attend their parties and to invite them to his, there had never been any formal alliance. Given their currently aligned interests, an alliance was finally possible. Another advantage occurred to him, if he had to negotiate with House Potter then Sirius could advise him and that would be much more appropriate than putting his wife in a compromising position.
Despite the many losses the Black family had suffered from their membership and despite the choices of one his cousins, the Blacks were still a powerful, well established and very rich family. An alliance would be very valuable and Cyrus had to content himself with that as his motivation, at least the one he'd share. Despite his training to be dispassionate when making familial decisions, one could not look at the shell of a man that Sirius had become and not be moved. Privately, he could admit to himself that he felt an obligation to help the man, even partially for it to be aid to Harry Potter as well.
Besides his wife's publically stated objectives, he had some of his own, he had to take his own measure of this man.
"We have three layers of protections; I have to take you through two of them to get you to your destination. You can leave anytime you wish but to re-enter any of the wards, you must have the aid of either my wife or myself. Do not attempt to do so yourself." The fact that Harry or his daughters could also do that was something he decided to withhold for now, he'd have to be surer of the man before giving him an easier to manipulate proxy.
Black smirked at him and said, "I'd expect nothing less."
Cyrus reached through the wards with his left hand, leaving his right empty but he could have his wand back in his hand in an instant from the concealed wand holder. When Sirius grasped his hand he said, "Sirius Black is a guest of House Greengrass and may enter at this time."
He pulled him through and made sure he had his balance after stepping over the fence as he noticed that Sirius tended to favour his right foot. "What happened to your foot?"
"I got a cut from the rocks during my escape. It hasn't had a chance to properly heal."
"I'll have to have Roxanne check it out, she's better at healing than I am. We'll get you a nutritive potion as well, you need it. Did you have any trouble with the ward?"
"No, I sensed it before I got to it and never touched it."
That really piqued his interest. "Is that a natural ability?"
Sirius gave him a tight smile before answering. "No, I was taught by my father."
Family magic then, he had best change the subject. "It seems that we have some aligned interests, Lord Black."
He paused and looked at Sirius curiously when he had abruptly stopped and looked at him in astonishment. Then Sirius barked out a self-deprecating laugh and said, "You are misinformed, Lord Greengrass. I don't know who has or will have the headship of the Blacks but it certainly won't be a disowned son."
"I checked on it after the reading of the Potter will, the goblins are quite certain that you are Lord Black and they are notoriously thorough when making such determinations. I don't know if you were formally disowned and reinstated or never formally disowned but you are recognized as Lord Black."
"But my life sentence…"
"You were never convicted by a court so you were never stripped of any titles. I checked that too. You were held under an order by former Minister Bagnold and the legality of your indeterminate incarceration is debatable. It's one of the points in our favour of getting you free. We'll have to work towards recovering Pettigrew, which will also help."
That earned him an appraising look from the newly-informed Lord Black. "What do you want for your assistance?"
"I am not asking anything from you, I offer my aid freely and without reservation. If the relationship between my daughter and your godson becomes permanent, we may find ourselves allied anyway."
Sirius nodded his agreement and they then continued on their walk side by side. Cyrus had one other issue to bring up though. "How did you find us?"
Sirius chuckled and then admitted, "It wasn't easy, I was walking back and forth across Norfolk hoping that I'd get lucky. If I hadn't heard a remark by my grandfather, I'd never would have had any idea where to look."
"Ah, Arcturus Black, I guess I should have known. The Blacks were always good at ferreting out secrets."
They continued in amicable silence as they continued on their way. Cyrus did not give any indication when they approached the second ward but would warn Sirius if they got too near. However, that proved unnecessary as Sirius stopped and smirked at Cyrus before saying, "We're almost to the next ward."
He remained stoic as he said, "Indeed we are." He again offered his hand and said the same thing as they passed through the ward. He was surprised by what Sirius said next.
"That one was stronger and nastier."
That was interesting; he detected not just the presence but the nature of wards, a very useful skill. He then began to wonder if his new guest was as helpless as he'd been thinking. Could Sirius Black perform wandless magic? It was best for his family that he should assume that he could, one must not underestimate a potential adversary.
They reached the servants' quarters so he had to concentrate on getting Sirius acclimated for now. He tried the door and it was not locked. They entered a hallway with four doors and he turned to address Sirius.
"There are four apartments within this building, basically all the same. You can use any one you want or even more than one if you wish, we have never used this building as Mipsy prefers to live with us. Do you have a preference?"
Sirius shrugged and opened the door nearest to him and they entered a small room with a bed, easy chair, desk with chair, a door to a closet and a small en suite bathroom. When Cyrus saw that Sirius gave the shower a longing look, he decided to keep things as short as he could.
"I have begun teaching Harry about his future responsibilities as the Lord of a Most Ancient and Noble House. As you are his godfather, I will leave that to you and Harry whether those should continue."
Sirius gave him a nod and a serious look. "I appreciate that you offered to do that and I hope and prefer that you would continue. You have experience which I lack and my training was cut short due to my… self-imposed exile from my family home."
"I would be glad to continue, Harry is an eager and able student and he has learned a lot already. Speaking of training, perhaps you could show him how you detect wards as that could be helpful to him."
"Certainly, I have a lot of things I'd like to teach him. Maybe I'll even tell him how the Blacks operated as a family, which might give him some insight." Sirius sighed and then continued. "My cousin might just be mad but she insisted that Voldemort was still around." Sirius paused to look at him seriously. "Do you know anything?"
So now he must be the bearer of bad tidings, he saw no reason to delay. "Harry can tell you a lot about that, he has fought Riddle, which is Voldemort's real name, twice now and defeated him both times."
Sirius looked aghast. "WHAT?!"
"He's been reduced to a spirit but he's trying to regain a body. He can't seem to be killed now so he will probably eventually regain a body and the war will start again."
Sirius collapsed into the easy chair and moaned as he rubbed his face in frustration. He then gave Cyrus a steady look. "Where will you stand when that happens?"
"I will stand with Heir Potter and hopefully Lord Black. I would see this threat removed from our world for my family and our shared future. I will not see my daughters threatened by a madman. I have more to share about what is going on but I think this is a talk for another time."
Sirius nodded in understanding. "I look forward to that time and I will be glad to stand with you against anyone who threatens our world."
"Good. Just one last thing before I allow you to rest and wash up. I hope that you understand with three children to protect, I must take precautions with someone I don't know and who might not be as stable as normal."
The mirthless laugh was not reassuring at first but then he relaxed when it became obvious that Sirius took no offense. "I would be disappointed if you didn't take precautions, especially with my godson involved. I swear I have no ill intent towards you or your family. I also have fond memories of being a student with your wife. However, I recognize that I am far from normal right now. In fact, while we are discussing this, I think you should put a silencing ward around this apartment." Sirius stopped briefly with a sheepish look and then added, "I have nightmares. I sometimes scream."
Cyrus didn't know how to respond so he decided to keep things business-like. "I will see to it. Before I leave though, Mipsy!"
The elf popped in and asked, "Yes, Master?"
"Does the plumbing work?"
"Yes, Master. Mipsy checked all four apartments and everything works."
"Very good, Mipsy. Thank you and you may return to your regular duties."
Mipsy responded with a gasp of pleasure and a shy nod before popping away.
He saw Sirius giving him a curious look so Cyrus responded, "That's something I learned from Harry. He treats his elf like a person, I'm trying to do the same."
"The Black elf was a mad thing. Even a hyper one like Dobby is an improvement in my eyes."
"All right. I'll see to the ward then. I'm sure that Roxanne will check on you later and you are invited to dinner in the house. I'll come to get you, unless you'd prefer to remain here."
"No. I'd like some company and I'll do my best to be good company."
"I imagine that Harry will want to visit you also. For now, clean up and relax and I'll see you later."
"Thank you, Lord Greengrass. I'll remember this."
The handshake was firm and his gaze was forthright. Cyrus was sure he'd gotten some goodwill with the future Lord Black and that was an accomplishment. However, that didn't seem to be what made him feel good at that moment. He hid it all behind his stoic mask as he exited the apartment and saw to putting up a silencing ward.
A/N3: Just in case anyone was wondering what prompted me to write this story series, here are the two questions that inspired them. First, what if Harry had befriended someone outside his canon friends and that person inspired him to try harder and become his own man? That question came to me while I was reading Shygui's A Fateful Walk so naturally, the new friend became Daphne. The second question was: what if the adults in his life were smart/observant enough to aid him in his struggle?
A/N4: I am posting this chapter now to prove that I am still working on this story. However, the story is not ready for regular posting yet and even though it is not finished, it is already longer than the first story. I don't know when I can start regular posting so this may be the only chapter you see for quite a while.