Title: The Answer Is Silence
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Mentions of James/Lily, Luicus/Narcissa, and Ron/Hermione, otherwise gen
Content Notes: Implied time travel, graphic violence, angst, AU, gore, torture, canonical and non-canonical character deaths, canonical child abuse, time skips
Rating: R (for violence)
Wordcount: This part 6100
Summary: Lord Voldemort might have been the first to know it, but others learned, including the Dursleys, the Hogwarts professors and students, and the Death Eaters: Harry Potter is terrifying.
Author's Notes: This is one of my "From Samhain to the Solstice" fics being posted between Halloween and the winter solstice. It implies time travel on Harry's part, but does not take his POV. I wanted to write a story in which others see the results of the time travel play out but never learn the reason why. Please be warned that this is an extremely dark fic. It will have three parts.

The Answer Is Silence

"Is Harry crying again?"

"Yes. I don't know what's wrong!"

Lily could hear the tears in her own voice, and fought against them as she clasped her baby to her chest. He struggled, flailing and crying. He hadn't been a quiet baby for the first twelve months of his life, but he had never done this. His face was turning red and his throat sounded torn with his screams.

"I don't know what's wrong, either," James said, hovering anxiously. "All I know is that he got like this after Dumbledore talked about going into hiding and switching Secret-Keepers—"

Harry screamed, the sound of his voice echoing off the walls and almost covering a shattering sound. Lily spun around and stared at the table, which had cracked down the middle as if someone had slammed a giant fist into it from above.

"Is that—" She licked her lips and had to struggle to clear her throat.

"Accidental magic? Yeah."

James was smiling, but his eyes darted anxiously from the table to Harry and back. Lily cuddled Harry closer and tried to speak as softly and calmly as she could. "James? What is it?" He didn't seem as happy about this as she had thought he would be the first time their baby showed such power.

James cleared his throat. "Oh, nothing. Just something my dad said to me once when I was young. The first accidental magic I did was summoning a toy they tried to take away from me because they thought I was getting too old for it, you know."

Lily nodded. She'd known that (and she pretended she didn't know that James kept his old stuffed bunny he had summoned under the bed where he could touch it if he reached down with one hand). "What did your dad say?"

"He knew I was going to be a troublemaker because I had broken the rules the first time I did accidental magic." James ran his hand through his hair and gave her the grin she'd fallen in love with. "He said that the kind of accidental magic you do for the first time is the kind of magic you'll be doing all your life. An old wizarding superstition."

"Well, I hope that our son won't be cracking tables all his life," Lily said with some asperity. "Or crying like this," she added, as Harry uttered another soul-wrenching sobbing cry, and she began bouncing him.

"Yeah. I mean, I don't think it's a predictor of violence against tables." James smiled again, but it didn't reach his eyes.

"Then what do you think it is?"

"Mum had a grandfather who did things like that when he was a baby. Cracking open the wall they tried to use to keep him from his toys, and beating another child who was a bully with an invisible fist." James cleared his throat. "She said that he was never happy except when he was at war."

Lily shuddered and clutched her baby close. Harry was finally calming down, maybe because his little body just couldn't take the force of the crying anymore. In fact, he was clutching a fold of her robe in one hand and was almost asleep, his lips slightly parted.

He wasn't going to live a life of violence. Not her baby boy.

Petunia Dursley put down the plate carefully on the kitchen table and shot a nervous look at the cupboard under the stairs. Then she remembered the events of the last day and directed her nervous glance towards the ceiling instead.

The freak was up there. Petunia strained her ears, but she couldn't actually hear him as he prowled around. That was probably for the best.

Prowled. It was a ridiculous word to think about a child who was only five.

But real for all that, thanks to my freaky sister, Petunia thought, her mind brimming with resentment, and shot another look at the ceiling. Then she glanced at the drawing room, where Vernon was still slumped, unconscious. Dudley, thankfully, had been playing outside when the whole thing happened and wasn't back even now. The hardest challenge there would be explaining the new order of things to him, and how he wasn't allowed to call Potter a freak anymore.

What we did wasn't so bad. We gave the boy food and shelter, didn't we? We didn't have to, not after the cavalier way he was dropped off here! We took care of him. And he never seemed to mind.

Petunia still didn't know what had changed, why today of all days the quiet boy who had never seemed to care how much food he got or didn't get, who slept in the cupboard under the stairs without complaint, had snapped. She had opened the cupboard door this morning, kicking the wall to make sure the freak was up, and he had sat up and stared at her with eyes that had never been so there before.

That had unnerved her, but there was breakfast to be made and all the rest of the freak's usual chores to do. "Get out here and start breakfast!" she'd snapped.

"I'm finally strong enough to use this," the freak had responded, nonsensically, and then reached down into a gap between the wall and the floor and taken out a stick. Petunia had squinted at it, and then her heart leaped like a frightened rabbit against her ribs.

A wand. I know what that is! A bloody wand!

But they'd very carefully kept any mention of magic away from the freak, not even letting Dudders watch shows on the telly that mentioned it, and there was no way that he could know what he was saying. He just wanted to scare her, Petunia had been sure. "Get out here and put that stick down!" she hissed. "Take it back where you got it! You probably stole it from someone, you little—"

The wand had flicked in the freak's hand, and suddenly Petunia was choking.

Her hands rose and clawed at her throat. It felt like something had been shoved down it sideways. Petunia toppled to the side, slumping against the wall, her breath rasping as she tried to speak, and tried to speak, and failed.

"It'll go on until you stop trying to say things," said the freak, and smiled as he glanced at her. Petunia stared at him, so terrified that her vision was darkening with black and white speckles. "Yes, just stop speaking and it'll be all right."

Petunia had no idea if he was telling the truth, but she couldn't get the breath to speak anyway. She let her head fall back and released what was left of the air in her lungs, and nearly sobbed when they started working again. But she managed to hold back at the last minute, since she wasn't sure if that would count as "speaking" under the freak's definition.

"What are you doing to my wife?"

Vernon! Petunia's heart pounded again, this time with gratitude, as her husband rounded the corner and charged to her rescue. She was so glad that it was a Saturday and Vernon was home but Dudley was outside playing.

The freak turned to look at Vernon and flicked the wand up and down in a complex pattern that looked as if he was tying knots in the air.

Vernon cried out, and broke.

Petunia screamed again, and choked again, as she watched her husband's arms twist backwards. His legs did the same thing, and then he dropped to the floor and began to shriek like a dying thing.

"Shut up."

Petunia had no idea if the freak had cast a, a spell, or if Vernon was so scared that he was listening to him, but he stopped screaming. He continued to lie there as if he had no more bones in his limbs or they were all broken, though.

"I think we can come to some sort of agreement," said the freak casually, in a far different voice than he'd ever used before. "I don't much care for wizards outside this house to know what I can do, yet. I'll need time to grow and mature in my magic without interference. But making me do chores and sleep in the cupboard and starve stops, now." His wand moved so that he was pointing it directly at Vernon's face, his eyes. Petunia broke into uncontrollable shudders. "Do you understand?"

Vernon was probably incapable of doing anything but blubbering right now, but he had the sense to nod.

"Good." The freak turned away, and stared at Petunia with eyes that had a feral light in them that she had never seen in her sister's. "I'll be moving into the second bedroom upstairs. It's your responsibility to explain that to Dudley when he comes back."

He flicked his wand again, and all of Vernon's limbs twisted back to normal like they'd never been broken. Then he fainted, and the freak floated him into the drawing room and removed the block on Petunia's voice and went upstairs.

And now he was up there. Prowling back and forth like some damn cat.

Petunia closed her eyes. She still had no idea where the freak had got a wand, although it did look a little familiar, but she knew well enough that her defiance could only be in her head from now on.

Lucius Malfoy turned around, a faint smile tugging at his lips. The new Minister was the sort of fool who was always eager for money and a life above his station, and he was going to be so easy to manipulate—

He saw an unexpected intruder standing in the middle of his library, and went still.

The intruder was wrapped in thick grey robes that completely concealed its face and body, but Lucius knew it had to be a goblin. There was no other species wizards commonly dealt with that would have fit the height.

"Tell me what you are doing here." With an effort, Lucius held his voice steady and didn't let it shake. No goblin should have been able to get through his wards without at least an alarm going off.

"I've come for the book that you hide here. The little black book entrusted to you by your Lord."

The voice was human, light, a child's. Lucius could barely absorb that, though, staring at the figure in frozen disbelief.

How did he—he could not know. Which meant this must be a sending of some kind, a construct made by the Dark Lord or possibly someone else who had been in the Inner Circle and had been permitted the knowledge.

Lucius drew his wand instantly. Sendings were hard to kill, but a direct hit with any one of a number of curses would do it.

A slim wand of willow wood seemed to spring into the visitor's hand. It gestured once, and Lucius found himself on his knees with his hands grasping at the air. An invisible rope bound him, and bound everything within him, too.

He couldn't feel his lungs moving. He couldn't feel his heart beating. He couldn't speak. He would die soon—

The willow wand traveled in another circle, and the spell loosened its hold enough that Lucius could at least breathe and hear his heartbeat again. But he couldn't move. He would have liked to sag over, coughing, but he couldn't do that, either.

"I'll Obliviate you," the visitor said calmly. Lucius still couldn't see any sign of its hands or feet, but there was that improbable child-like voice. "Tell me where the book is."

Lucius discovered his eyes could move when they flicked sideways despite his will, traveling to the desk instead of the shelves. The visitor immediately trotted over and cast some swift unlocking spells, the kind that Lucius only usually saw when Aurors led their fruitless raids on Malfoy Manor.

An Auror's sending? It made almost no sense, but still the most out of any theory Lucius had yet considered.

The boy, or whatever he really was, drew the drawer open as soon as it was unlocked, and chuckled as it stood on tiptoes to look in. "There you are, Tom," it murmured, and one shielded hand dipped out and into the drawer. The diary vanished into nothingness, although Lucius assumed that was actually somewhere inside the robes.

Lucius trembled with more than rage now. What his master would do to him if he ever returned and found that diary gone…

Then again, Lucius had gambled that he would never return. He had placed all his eggs in the basket of the Imperius defense, and he would not back down now.

"Now there only remains the Memory Charm," the figure said, and aimed its wand at Lucius.

But its lack of attention to the curse that it had been using to bind him meant that the spell bent and broke when Lucius threw all his weight against it. He rolled over and scrambled up, panting, his own wand in hand once more, and knowing what spell he would use this time.


"Evil Master shall not be harming Harry Potter!"

Lucius registered the squeaky voice of a house-elf only instants before a wave of force shoved him and threw him off-balance. He staggered to his knees, gaping at the figure who had drawn back its hood to reveal the face of a child, perhaps seven years old, Draco's age.

And then one of his house-elves, Dobby, appeared beside the boy, ears quivering. He was wearing what looked like one of Draco's socks.

Lucius stared back and forth between the elf and the boy, confused, and rapidly arriving at the conclusion that he would never achieve a chance to become unconfused, with the way the willow wand was pointing at him now.

"I was going to leave you alive," Potter, or whoever it really was, said conversationally. "I didn't want to visit orphanhood on anyone who was still a child this time around. But I think you've gone far enough, and this has been so dramatic a confrontation that I really can't trust the Memory Charm to hold."

"You can't use the Killing Curse on me," Lucius sneered half-heartedly, his eyes never leaving the wand.

"No, I can't actually muster the hatred it would require," Potter said, sounding thoughtful. "My emotion towards so many of you is just indifference. As long as the ones I want to live live and don't suffer as much as they did once, then I don't care if you're alive or Memory Charmed or dead."

"Then," Lucius whispered.

"You made yourself an obstacle to my plans, though. And there is the little fact I mentioned of you possibly breaking through the Memory Charm."

"But you said—you can't use the Killing Curse."

"There are other ways to kill, you know," Potter said, with a slight roll of his eyes. "And there's a certain poetic symmetry to this when you think about it. Sectumsempra."

"What do you mean, he's moved on?"

For the first time in years, Severus's hand rose as if to tear at his hair. He managed to control it, but it was difficult. He ended up with the hand in his lap, with Petunia Dursley's eyes fixed distrustfully on it.

"That's what he said," Tuney muttered, and folded her arms. Adulthood hadn't improved her. "He had some little creature with him one morning, and said that he didn't need to stay here anymore. Just came down the stairs and announced we could have our house back."

Severus, who prided himself on how good he was at listening to intonations and inflections, could hear the hatred in her voice, but also the tremble of sheer terror. He sighed. He had known that Lily's sister would grow up to hate magic. It seemed he had underestimated how much, if she was terrified of an eight-year-old.

"What kind of little creature?" he demanded. "A goblin?"

Tuney shot him a hostile look. "How should I know? It had green skin and these huge bulging eyes and sagging ears, that's all I saw."

Severus sat up. A house-elf? But the Potters had had none, as far as he knew. Certainly there had been none in the house that—terrible night.

He let the grief for Lily blow over him like a cold wind and dissipate, shut away in the depths of his mind where neither Dumbledore nor the Dark Lord had ever trod. A house-elf did explain how Potter might know about the magical world already, and how he might have decided that he didn't need his relatives and could live on his own.

Severus curled his lip. Of course, a house-elf was no fit companion for a lone underage wizard. Potter's son was displaying all his father's arrogance, and it seemed that the only way Potter was like his mother, unfortunately, were the green eyes that Tuney had described in a hushed voice. Ah, well. Severus had not truly dared to hope for more.

"Where did he say he got it?" Severus demanded, because the answer might be important.

"He said it was an old friend. And that was all he said, and then he vanished with the thing. How should I know where he went?"

Severus briefly met Petunia's gaze and dipped beneath the surface of her thoughts, but all that revealed was a glimpse of the house-elf and Potter dressed in thick robes. He was a small child for his age, Severus thought absently. Which made it all the more incredible that he had somehow found a house-elf and convinced it to serve him.

Well, of course he didn't, Severus decided a moment later, irritated by the turn his thoughts were taking. He would be one of those Potter fans who thought he dueled Dementors and tamed dragons if this kept up. It's much more likely that one of the Potter house-elves found him. They must have had one that they didn't take into hiding.

Severus stood up. "If that's all you have to tell me, then I can satisfy both of us and take myself off," he said indifferently.

"Wait! What about the—the blood protections or whatever they were, that that man Dumbledore promised? He said they would last as long as—as long as the brat called this house home." Petunia stared at him. "What about now he's gone?"

Severus let his true smile spread across his face, enjoying Petunia's flinch. "In fact, Dumbledore sent me because they've already fallen. Don't take this personally, Tuney, but you should move as soon as possible."

She gasped and started to gabble out some sort of nonsense behind him, but Severus swept from the house, ignoring her. He would have to report to Dumbledore that there were no leads except the house-elf. The Headmaster was always making friends with the overlooked and forgotten; just look at Hagrid. It was possible that he knew the names of the Potter house-elves and could summon them.

Severus spared a single regretful thought for the boy in Petunia's memory. It was a shame that he couldn't be more like Lily.

"Who is you being?"

Kreacher stared in frank amazement at the boy and the house-elf who had appeared in front of him. It had just been him alone in the house for two years now, ever since Mistress had died. He had kept up the rooms, like a good elf, and made sure that he kept trying to fulfill Master Regulus's orders. But no one should have been able to get in without him knowing it.

"I is Dobby!" The other elf bounced in place and held out his hand to Kreacher, a gesture he ignored. Good elves didn't shake hands. Good elves knew that was for wizards. "And this being my master Harry Potter!"

Kreacher's eyes widened as he stared at the boy, who had pushed back the hood of his large robe and was staring back at him. Kreacher shivered a little. There was the kind of power in him that Mistress had worshipped and followed, and that Master Regulus wanted and old Master Sirius was glad he didn't have.

"Your soul," Kreacher said abruptly. "It is being older than your body." That was the only explanation for the feeling of power, he thought. Normally a wizarding child this young would still be coping with the kind of accidental outbursts that always left poor old Kreacher cleaning up vases.

"Yes, in a strange way it is," Potter agreed, and turned to face the elf Dobby. "I need to find the locket."

"Master Regulus's locket?" Kreacher bristled and leaped to his feet. "Young Old Soul is not taking Master Regulus's locket!"

"Why not?" Potter asked with exaggerated patience, something Kreacher could recognize after having Bad Master Sirius use it on him. "You haven't been able to destroy it, and I know how to do that."

"You is not," Kreacher said uncertainly. It seemed utterly strange to him that a child would suddenly show up out of nowhere able to destroy the locket, when he had worked for so long.

But maybe that had something to do with the old soul in the young body. Maybe wizards like this, who Kreacher had never heard of, knew those sorts of secrets because of the long lives they had lived and remembered.

"Master Harry Potter be commanding Dobby to find the locket?" Dobby was vibrating on his feet, and looked like he was going to start tugging his ears any moment. Kreacher gave him a scornful glance. He shut his head in the oven when he needed to. Tugging ears was a punishment for weak elves.

"Master Regulus's locket be being Kreacher's!" Kreacher snapped. Dobby was a young elf, Kreacher could tell from the feel of his magic, and that meant Kreacher should be able to overpower him if he had to. "Master Regulus's locket be staying here!"

Potter rolled his eyes. "But I can't destroy it here, Kreacher. There's too much Dark magic here. In fact, that might be one of the reasons you haven't been able to destroy it. The Dark nature of the house is influencing the Dark magic that powers it."

Kreacher stamped his foot a little, because he didn't want to hear anyone speaking badly of Dark magic like the mistress had used, but he was thinking. He had head Mistress say something like that once, long ago, when they were discussing the proper mixture of guests at a party. Some people shouldn't be there because their magic would push against and influence each other's.

(Such parties as they would never have anymore, poor Mistress. Poor old Kreacher).

"But if you be destroying the locket far away, then how is Kreacher to be knowing that you fulfilled Master Regulus's last orders?" he demanded, and folded his arms when he saw how that made the Potter brat hesitate. Yes, Kreacher was more clever than some people thought, clever enough to fool a wizard brat.

"Well, I didn't think that this would happen," the Potter boy said, and he sounded almost mirthful. "How would you like to become my elf, Kreacher?"

Dobby quivered and looked as if he would say something, but Potter gave him a slashing look, and he shut up. Kreacher tilted his head. That look was much like the ones that Mistress had used once upon a time, to make the young masters be quiet at the dinner table.

"Kreacher serves the House of Black," Kreacher said, because it was true, and his only hope of having his head hung on the wall when he died.

"I'm of the House of Black by courtesy," Potter said, and his eyes lit up in a way that reminded Kreacher of cats' eyes, doxies' eyes, Mistress's eyes. "Sirius Black is my godfather, you know. And I do think that he would probably leave all of this to me, the way he might have in another life, another soul-time."

Kreacher doubtfully scanned the boy. Harry Potter looked back, and Kreacher sniffed delicately. He could smell something that was perhaps the scent of old leaves and brilliant winds around the boy, winds such as blew from the darkness between the stars.

Kreacher hesitated. "Harry Potter will swear that he can fulfill Master Regulus's final orders?"

"I swear. I've destroyed Horcruxes before, Kreacher, and I know exactly whose Horcrux that is."

Kreacher felt his eyes welling up. He had known, he had thought, he had suspected, but he hadn't known for sure what it was. Poor old Kreacher, the books that talked about such things were shut up in the library shelves where only family could read them. And Kreacher would shut his head in the oven for thinking about the House of Black disrespectfully.

"Kreacher would be grateful," he whispered. "Kreacher would become the Potter boy's elf, if he wanted."

"That could be useful," Potter said, nodding slowly. He glanced at Dobby, who was bouncing in place now, and sighed, "I told you not to punish yourself, Dobby, please. You've helped me a lot, too. And you know what we're doing. We have more than enough work for two house-elves."

Kreacher watched this doubtfully. He didn't know if the Potter boy was as Dark as the family after all, if he talked to elves like they were his equals. But then the boy turned to him and held out his hand.

A black star seemed to blaze in his hand.

Kreacher backed up with a hiss. He didn't know what spell that was, but he knew what he felt. It was a hungry, cold darkness that tugged on his soul and wanted to eat him. And the Potter boy stood there with it in his hand like it was nothing.

Kreacher looked up slowly, to meet the Potter's eyes. Potter looked back at him with one dark eyebrow rising. He had dark hair like the Blacks, Kreacher noted. He sometimes looked a little like them.

And wasn't the Potter's father Bad Master Sirius's best friend? It was a connection.

"Master," Kreacher whispered reverently, and went to fetch the locket.

Sirius rolled restlessly over in his cell. He had lost track of the days again, although he always knew when it was the full moon because it would shine into his cell, and he would change into a dog as the only way that he could honor his connection with Moony. But now it was just an ordinary day, or night, filled with greyness and screams and Dementors floating by.

Had he been here eight years? Ten? All of them ran together, and Sirius remembered and relived and regretted and forgot. And was a dog often enough that he knew he was better off than most of the other prisoners.

He heard a footstep in the corridor, and raised his head blearily. If a human guard was coming on their rounds, then he wouldn't be able to be a dog right now. The last thing he wanted was for that secret to get out and the guards to decide that Dementors weren't enough to keep him captive.

But the figure that walked up to the bars of the cell next to Sirius's was far too short to be a guard. Or a Dementor, for that matter. Sirius stared, baffled, as the figure looked into the cell and gave a sharp, short whistle. If Sirius had been in dog form right then, his ears would have pricked up.

"Hey! Bellatrix Lestrange!"

Sirius recoiled a little. He knew that the prisoners were regularly shuffled from cell to cell to keep them from building up enough familiarity or possessions in a place to break free, but he hadn't realized that his cell was right next to his mad cousin's.

Bellatrix lurched forwards to the bars with a little twisted giggle. She wrapped fingers as thin as spiders' legs around them and stared at the small figure. Then she twisted her head back and forth and said in the most doubtful voice Sirius had heard from her since they were children, "It's an itty-bitty Auror."

The figure laughed, and it was a child's laugh. Sirius swore aloud. Since when had they started letting children into Azkaban?

The child jumped and turned towards him at the sound of his voice. And Sirius found himself staring into a face, in miniature, that he had thought he would never see again, with brilliant green eyes that—


The boy sighed and clapped one hand over his face.

"It's a tall goblin!" Bellatrix declared, and laughed in glee, clapping her hands together in a way that made the bars ring like bells.

"Not exactly," Harry told her, and turned to face Sirius. "I'm sorry, Sirius. I didn't mean to meet you like this. I planned to free you as soon as I could, but—well, frankly, you're not going to like most of the things I'm planning to do. So I thought you could stay here where you could be safe—"

Sirius couldn't help the barking noise of disbelief he let out.

"Relatively safe," Harry corrected himself. "Staying in a place that wouldn't involve you being Kissed on sight or crazy vengeance quests. And where you wouldn't feel compelled to watch over me." He gave Sirius an unexpectedly warm and sympathetic smile that still made Sirius ache inside, because it was the kind of smile a parent would give a son. "It's been a long time since I needed someone to watch over me."

"Harry…" Sirius shook his head. "How are you here?"

"House-elves are wonderful things," Harry said, and faced Bellatrix's cell again before Sirius could even ask about all the implications of his words. "I want to be your heir, Bellatrix Lestrange."

"It's a tall goblin that makes jokes!"

"I can hurt you until you agree if you'd prefer that," Harry said, with a careless shrug.

Sirius nearly swallowed his tongue. No, not like James, not like James at all, he thought, wretchedly and frantically. And not like Lily, either. She'd had a temper, but it burned hot and quick and she always yelled at someone or maybe hexed them, and then it was over. Not like this boy with her eyes standing in front of Bellatrix's cell and threatening her.

Bellatrix cocked her head back and forth, studying the boy with one eye and then another like a bird. "No," she said finally, and then laughed. "No tall goblins who make jokes for my heir!"

The boy sighed, impatiently. "Oh, all right. Imperio."

The curse slammed into Bellatrix, and she gasped. Sirius leaned forwards, incredulous and with his heart thrumming in his ears. His cousin was good at throwing off the Imperius, partially because it tended to be a favorite for the Death Eaters to curse each other with. She must be able to throw off such a weak spell as a ten-year-old—or was he ten?—could cast.

Bellatrix shivered, and shivered, and a string of drool spilled from her mouth. Then she said, "Yes."

"Good!" Harry reached into a pouch that was hanging off his belt, the kind that Potions brewers might use to carry their ingredients, and took out a heavy scroll of parchment that had a Ministry seal on it. "Then if you'll sign here and here."

Bellatrix did, her hand moving slowly and cramping around the quill Harry handed her, but still a recognizable signature. The boy studied it, nodded, and cast a Drying Charm on the ink. Then he tucked the scroll back into his pouch and turned around.


Harry turned around and walked back to Sirius's cell. "Yes?" he asked gently. "Do you want to be freed now? I could do that, but you would have to promise not to interfere with me as I worked."

Sirius shook his head, slowly, back and forth. "Who are you?" he whispered. "How can you be wearing my godson's body but have a soul that's entirely different?"

Harry sighed impatiently. "No offense, Sirius, but how well did you know me when I was a baby? How did you know what I was capable of or would be later in life? You really didn't, because I was a baby, and after Mum and Dad went into hiding, then you didn't really see us. You were running around being a decoy."

The amount of bitterness in his voice was surprising. Sirius swallowed. "You know about that?"

"Yes, and if you had left something to ensure that someone else did, then we wouldn't be in this situation." Harry waved his hand at the bars and the stone walls. "Hell, I did the best I could by crying whenever Mum and Dad talked about Pettigrew and trying to get them to switch Secret-Keepers with as little as I could talk when they died. But they just ignored me and kept on thinking it was a great plan." His mouth tightened with grief. "And now they're gone."

"Where have you been?" Sirius asked, quietly, listening with one ear for Dementors or guards but too fascinated to tell Harry to leave yet.

"With the Dursleys. Mum's sister Petunia," Harry added, when Sirius could feel himself staring with a blank face. "I did what I could to make sure they let me alone, but until I was five, I couldn't wield Mum's wand—"

"You have Lily's wand?" Sirius whispered.

Harry nodded sharply. "I grabbed it from her body after Voldemort—came and killed her. I hid it with me and willed as hard as I could to make it invisible. My magic wasn't very strong then, and it's probably why I couldn't use it until I was five, because I was working so hard at just hiding I had the bloody thing. But after I got it, nothing has been the same." He gave a little reminiscent smile.

Sirius tried to remember if he had seen Lily's wand on her after the—after the battle, and couldn't. He had seen James's, rolled under a table, but all he had ben mindful of when he got to the bedroom where Harry was crying was his godson, and handing him over to someone safe so he could go after Wormtail.

He growled at the thought of Wormtail, and looked up to see Harry watching him with a slightly shaking head. "You see?" Harry said gently. "I would be willing to take you out of here and help you recover, but you can't just run off after Pettigrew or get in the way when I need to do something like what I just did with Bellatrix. And I'm afraid you would."

"How do you know all this?"

"That's something I won't be explaining, either," Harry said. "Could you live with that, or is it going to make you desperate to find out the truth and take me down?"

"Take you…" Sirius let his eyes wander back to Bellatrix. She was curled up on the floor of her cell, crooning quietly, and he couldn't tell if she was still under the Imperius or not. Harry hadn't really hurt her either way, though.

He glanced at Harry. Harry watched him calmly back. "I'm not a good person, Sirius," he added. "I haven't been since I realized how shit this world is, really. I'm doing things that some people could call good, but they wouldn't call my methods that. You probably wouldn't, either. Which is why I need to know if you would interfere or not."

"If I say I would?"

"Then you can stay here. Or I'll get you out and Obliviate you and you'll be under the care of a Mind-Healer and incapable of interfering anyway."

Sirius shuddered. He had the feeling that this was something he shouldn't consider for an instant. If he was the person who had been accused of betraying James and Lily and flung into prison, he probably wouldn't have.

But ten—was it ten?—years in Azkaban had changed him. And no one had ever come and asked him why he'd supposedly done it, or even visited just to yell at him. It sounded like no one had been taking care of Harry, either.

Sirius took a deep breath. "I won't interfere," he said.

Harry smiled, and broke the bars with a curse Sirius had never seen before, and reached out a hand to him over the rubble.

Sirius took it.