Written for Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

House: Thunderbird

Class: Arithmancy

Task: 4. What if Dolores Umbridge hadn't caught Harry and his friends in her office?

Bonus Prompt:

10. (genre) suspense

15. (emotion) fear

Word Count: 1157/4500

A Different Ending

"Where is he, Kreacher? Did he go to the Department of Mysteries?" Harry roared after the elf.

Before Kreacher could reply, the door swung open behind the house-elf and Remus walked in. "Who's shouting, Kreacher?"

A tidal wave of relief washed over Harry when he saw the older man. "Remus!" he gasped, his fear still evident in his tone. "It's Sirius! He's in trouble!"

The lock clicked open when Harry inserted the blade in the crack between the door and the wall, and Harry and Hermione entered Umbridge's office. The office was empty, and Hermione breathed a sigh of relief.

Harry ripped the Invisibility Cloak off of then, his heart thundering irregularly against his ribs. This is a waste of time. Sirius can't possibly be at Grimmauld Place; he's being tortured by Voldemort! This is useless! Hermione hurried over to the window to keep a lookout, standing just out of sight with her wand in her hand.

Harry dashed over to the fireplace, seized the pot of Floo powder, and threw a pinch into the grate, causing emerald-green flames to burst into life there. He knelt quickly, thrust his head into the flames, and cried, "Number 12, Grimmauld Place!"

His head spun as the flames danced in his eyes, and when the spinning stopped, he opened his eyes and found himself looking out upon the long, cold kitchen of Grimmauld Place.

There was nobody there, and even though Harry had expected it, he was not prepared for the molten wave of dread and fear that seemed to burst through his stomach at the sight of the vacant room.

"Sirius? Sirius, are you there?" he screamed, terror evident both on his face and in his tone.

His voice echoed throughout the room, but there was no answer… and then, Harry heard a tiny snuffling sound to the right of the fire. His heart leapt to his throat when he saw Kreacher creep into view. "Kreacher! Where's Sirius?" he demanded.

"It's the Potter boy's head in the fire," Kreacher said, sounding oddly triumphant. "What has he come for, Kreacher wonders?"

"Where's Sirius, Kreacher? Tell me!" Harry repeated, his voice ricocheting off the walls of the kitchen. "Where's he gone? I'm warning you!"

Kreacher merely cackled, and Harry's temper rose with his fear. "Where's Lupin? Moody? Any of them! Are any of them here?"

"Nobody here but Kreacher!" Kreacher sounded so gleeful that Harry wished to bash his teeth in. He began to walk away from the fireplace. "Kreacher thinks he will have a little chat with his MIstress now, yes, he hasn't had a chance in a long —"

"Where is he, Kreacher? Did he go to the Department of Mysteries?" Harry roared after the elf.

Before Kreacher could reply, the door swung open behind the house-elf and Remus walked in. "Who's shouting, Kreacher?"

A tidal wave of relief washed over Harry when he saw the older man. "Remus!" he gasped, his fear still evident in his tone. "It's Sirius! He's in trouble!"

"Trouble? Sirius? That's not too hard to believe," Remus said as he shooed the infuriated house-elf away. "What's he done this time?"

"Voldemort's got him! He's in the Department of Mysteries!" Harry cried.

To Harry's surprise, Remus looked confused. "What? No, he's not, Harry. He's upstairs with Buckbeak."

"No, I saw him," Harry argued, losing his patience. "He's been captured!"

Remus frowned. "Really, Harry. Hold on…" He turned his head and yelled, "Sirius! Come down here for a second!"

Harry's heart was in his throat, and when Sirius came into view, safe and unharmed, Harry let out a choked sob. "Sirius… you… how…"

"What's the matter, pup?" Sirius frowned, kneeling down beside Remus.

Overwhelming relief rushed through Harry, and he sobbed, "You're… you're safe! But how? I saw you getting tortured by Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries! He was trying to order you to grab something for him because he couldn't touch it!"

Sirius and Remus shared a quick glance and shook their heads. Sirius said, "Kid, this is exactly why you needed to learn Occlumency… He's showing you things to get your attention… He wants you to do something for him."

"But why? What could be so important that Voldemort's taking such a risk?" Harry asked, frowning. His heart was still pounding in his chest, and he promised himself he would thank Hermione later for keeping a level head in such a stressful situation.

Remus sighed and replied, "We know what he's after, but for now, it's safe. Let's not overthink it."

Sirius said gently, "Harry, kid, you okay? You still look a bit…"

Harry whispered, "I thought you were going to die, Sirius. Kreacher said no one was there, and I was about to… to…"

"You were about to go to the Ministry, weren't you?" Sirius asked with a grim look in his eyes. "Merlin, Harry, I don't even want to think what would have happened if Moony and I hadn't come in right now!"

Harry whispered, "I'm sorry, Sirius, but I was so scared that I just lost it. Mione's the one who forced me to check up on you."

"Next time, kiddo, use the mirror I gave you," Sirius said, smiling at him. "I always have that on me, and it's much easier to use than a Floo."

"I will," Harry said, and when Hermione whispered to him that Umbridge was on her way up to the office, he hastily said his goodbyes and pulled his head away from the fire.

Once the two teenagers were out of the office, Harry yanked Hermione into a fierce hug. "Thank you, thank you, thank you, Hermione," he whispered in her hair. He wasn't used to offering physical displays of affection, but this time, he knew it was important Hermione know just how much he appreciated her solidarity and loyalty.

"See, Harry, I told you that you have a saving-people-thing," Hermione teased goodnaturedly, and Harry let out a full-bellied laugh, feeling as if a great burden had been lifted off his shoulders.

All of a sudden, Harry said, "Hey, if he can show me lies, do you reckon…"

"Harry, what are you suggesting?" Hermione gasped, pulling away from him.

Harry grinned, suddenly feeling mischievous. "Let's give him a taste of his own medicine, shall we?"

Hermione's eyes widened at his words, but she said, "As long as you don't do anything stupid."

Harry's eyes lit up with glee as he closed his eyes. "Think of a way for alerting Umbridge about Dumbledore's presence in the Ministry, will you, Hermione?"

Sirius Black Pardoned For His Crimes

In a surprising turn of events, the Ministry found a group of Death Eaters lurking about in the Department of Mysteries last evening. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement was instantly alerted, and in the skirmish that followed, Head Auror Rufus Scrimgeour apprehended Peter Pettigrew, a man widely believed to be dead.

Under the effects of Veritaserum, Pettigrew confessed that he had betrayed the Potters in 1981, having been their Secret Keeper, and Sirius Black was innocent. He further revealed that You-Know-Who demanded Pettigrew kill Cedric Diggory, the third champion of the Triwizard Tournament that had been held at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this June.

The Ministry of Magic offered Black an official pardon in the early hours of the morning, including compensation of one million Galleons.

The names of the other Death Eaters apprehended by the Aurors have not been released yet.

Please read and review. Thanks!