Chapter 2 – Appearances

Because it was the middle of the day on a Saturday, most of wizarding Britain were out in their gardens or having lunch with their friends and family. Not very many people were in work that day, especially not the Unspeakables in the Department of Mysteries. Not many people knew, but they preferred a 9 to 5 schedule. Which is why, on this very Saturday, nobody was around to see the Chamber of Death seemingly explode with crackles of electricity followed by a large shaggy black dog using the ministry floo network.

Sirius was confused. The last thing he remembered was duelling with his cousin Bella in that horrible dark chamber at the ministry. The next thing he knew, he was stumbling over his own feet in the same place but everyone involved in the battle just disappeared. Luckily, he noted, his wand was still with him.

'HARRY? REMUS?' he called out, getting no response back but for his own voice echoing off the cavernous walls.

'Fuck's sake,' he muttered. Ever aware of his status as a mass murderer, he cast a notice-me-not charm on himself and transformed into Padfoot the black mutt.

Getting out of the Department of Mysteries was a nightmare. Sirius didn't have a watch on him but he guessed it must have been at least an hour of going in and out of misleading doors and corridors in a maze meant to deceive and confound anyone who tried to navigate it. Man, those unspeakables had quite a job. And Sirius thought Hogwarts was complicated enough. Eventually, after dodging a couple of experimental mysteries like a tank of fish-like creatures that wouldn't break eye contact, he found his way to the lifts that took him to the main atrium of the Ministry of Magic.

There were a few people puttering about but the robed wizards all swept past Sirius as he trotted through the massive hall. Thank goodness for magic. He paused by one of the fireplaces at the edge of the atrium. Getting out of the Department of Mysteries was one thing, but figuring out where Harry is was another. He could floo to Hogwarts. Dumbledore and McGonagall knew he was an innocent man but what if he ran into someone like Peeves, Filch or that horrible Umbridge woman? He could go back to Grimmauld Place, but he'd probably only find that ghastly house elf, and what use would Kreacher be in finding Harry or Remus or the rest of the Order? Then it hit him. The Burrow. Molly was bound to be home and she'd probably be in contact with the rest of the Order. Sirius didn't know how long he'd been out of it for but it was long enough for the chamber to be cleared of any sign of human life. Meaning she'd definitely know where his godson was.

In a matter of seconds, he was tumbling out of the fireplace at The Burrow back in his human form. Sirius though he was confused an hour ago. He had no idea what was coming.

James Sirius Potter sat on the sofa huffing. He didn't see why he had to be excluded from the cake cutting for Ted and Victoire. After all, Teddy was the one that broke his nose, not the other way round. It was fine now; Mum cast an Episkey on it and James barely felt a thing. He was used to broken bones from the gruelling quidditch practices Max Havers had them doing at Hogwarts. He shouldn't be exiled indoors for a little kick in the knees. So that photo of Teddy's got ruined? There were probably loads more somewhere in Grimmauld Place – you just have to look for them. James shuffled himself into a different position. He was just about to continue sulking over his exclusion from the rest of the party when the fireplace glowed bright green. James frowned. They weren't expecting any more guests this late in the day. Maybe it was Professor Longbottom coming to let them know they'd forgotten a cousin (it had happened before) or maybe there was a work emergency for Teddy. Then he'd have to leave everyone else. Or maybe it was-

A man James had never met in person before. A man with dark hair and a sharp jawline and grey eyes that James definitely recognised from the photos decorating the living room of their home in Godric's Hollow. A man who James just so happened to be named after. He got to his feet immediately, wand pointed directly at the man's face. He was still just a fifth year who couldn't do magic outside Hogwarts, but this imposter didn't need to know that. Who would do this? Who would impersonate a dead man only to crash a birthday party for a cringey couple?

'DAD!' James yelled, keeping his eyes on the newcomer and hoping his father was within shouting distance. Oddly enough, the Sirius Black impersonator seemed more shocked than James himself. His wand wasn't raised and he looked like he'd just seen a ghost. If it weren't such a serious situation, James would have chuckled at that. You're not the only one seeing a ghost, buddy.

Fake Sirius looked like he wanted to say something but he couldn't take his eyes off James. 'You- you look like-'

'DAAAD! GET IN HERE!' he shouted again; this time hearing footsteps rather close by.

'Jamie, I thought Dad told you to keep quiet and not bug-' James' little sister came in with a smirk on her face but froze as soon as she saw the older man. She dashed out of the room (to go get their dad and hopefully some others, James hoped) without hesitation.

'Don't try anything, whoever you are,' said James with as much malice as he could muster. The intruder's eyes betrayed even more terror than before.

'I-I promise, I didn't kill all those people. I'm just looking for Molly Weasley. She knows me, she'll trust me.'

'You're not going anywhere near her. Not before you talk to the Head Auror.'

'Please, I just need to speak to Molly. I need to know what the hell is going-'

With a massive bang, James breathed a sigh of relief as he saw his dad, Uncle Bill, Ron and Teddy burst through the door. Lily wasn't with them. Good.

'Expelliarmus.' The impostor's wand flew out of his back pocket and straight into Harry Potter's open palm. 'James, get back.'

On a normal occasion, James would have protested. He'd always wanted to be an auror like his dad and being part of the action was dream of his. But he had never heard his dad so serious before. He slowly lowered his wand and scurried behind the men in the room, watching his father very carefully.

With four wands pointed directly at his face, the unarmed wizard did not seem very concerned about being attacked.

'I am going to ask you some questions. Anything you say can be held against you in a trial. You will answer truthfully and with no hesitation. Do you understand?' asked the Head Auror. Seeing his dad doing what he was good at was amazing.

'Yes, I understand.' The man's voice had become shakier. Ha, guess he wasn't ready to be questioned by THE Harry Potter, James smirked. His father began.

'Are you aware that impersonating a dead man is a criminal offense and can land you in front of the Wizengamot?'

'I am,' Fake Sirius replied. 'But what does that have to do with…'

He was silenced by Harry raising his hand. 'What is your name?'

'Sirius Black. Look, I know you-'

'How did you manage to enter this house? There are wards in place to prevent unwanted visitors.'

'I swear to you, I'm not a murderer! I just need to speak to Molly Weas-'

'Answer the question. How did you get access to the floo connection to this house?'

'Molly and Arthur gave me access after they moved back here!'

Uncle Ron scoffed. 'They've always lived here. Who the hell are you trying to fool?'

The man put his head into his hands. 'Look. I am Sirius Black. I swear I didn't kill those muggles! I just need to find Molly so she can tell me where my damn godson is!'

This didn't make any sense. James could tell even his dad was slightly phased by it from the way his shoulders were sitting. This wasn't the usual criminal case he dealt with. This was personal. Why would an imposter say he was looking for Harry Potter if he was right in front of him?

Harry walked closer to the man, wand only centimetres away from his eyes and voice more threatening and powerful than ever. 'Sirius Black has been dead for twenty-three years. Why are you impersonating him and how did you get into this home?'

A moment of silence passed. 'Twenty-twenty three years.' He looked down towards his feet and when he brought his eyes back up to mee the emerald ones right in front of him, there was an indescribable sadness about them.

'Harry?' his voice was barely a croaked whisper.

The head auror seemed to falter for a second. Without breaking eye contact, he signalled one of the men who flanked him. 'Ted, go ask Perce for a vial of Veritaserum. We need the truth.' With a quick flick of the wrist, the Sirius Black lookalike crumpled to the floor from silent stunner.