Minor change made two chapters back while Harry and Blaise were sitting in Severus' quarters to point out the whereabouts of Harry's snake.
Consider yourself honored, this is probably the longest chapter I've ever written and I'm not sure when you'll see another of this length from me again. It is also the conclusion of Blood's Sacrifice. Enjoy the ending.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter and can't get money for this, but I can make him into a Mafia Prince.
Warning: Some chapters (the ones including pranks and mimes) might not be appropriate to read at work. Laughter may ensue leading your co-workers to see you as even more insane than they previously thought.
Chapter 22: In the End…
Harry and Blaise quietly slipped from the Slytherin common room and the private, end of the year party their house was indulging in. This was the one night when even the Slytherin inner-house rivalries and faction lines dissolved into non-existence. For this one night they didn't have to worry about spiked drinks within the common room—there was a permanent truce at the meal tables on poisoning each other that ended once they were back in Slytherin territory, though there was an unspoken rule that nothing lethal be used.
Things had just been starting to get rowdy with the appearance of alcohol and Professor Snape had shown up to observe and keep the fun from spilling over to the rest of the school. That wasn't to say that the fun had been spoiled and that they had stopped enjoying the party, Harry and Blaise had found the fire-whiskey to have an energizing kick that went well followed by a sip of the mellower butterbeer, but Severus had asked a favor of them and they couldn't in good conscious turn him down.
With the alcohol present Severus couldn't leave the Slytherin party in case something happened or someone drank too much and decided to act stupid, but Professor Lupin still needed his Wolfsbane. So agreeing to go because they owed their Professor for taking the time to teach them the Patronus spell, Harry and Blaise left the party with strict instructions on how to dose up the potion now that it was finished simmering and headed towards Severus' private potions lab.
"Dunder-headed brats." Harry repressed a smirk as he uttered the password and entered the familiar, immaculate lab.
Following Severus' instructions exactly Harry carefully dipped a ladle full of the potion into the waiting goblet, watching as the thick potion swirled around the bottom. Then, after replacing the ladle and pulling a lid on over the cauldron to protect the doses meant for the next two nights from contamination, Harry gave Blaise the goblet. It was time to add the silver. They had watched Severus make the silver serum one day while spending some time in his lab working; everything had been very precise right down to the quality and grain of the silver dust that Severus had mixed with purified water and willow extract. Two drops—no more, no less—and the potion would start to put off a wispy white-gray smoke. If it looked any different then they had screwed up and needed to get a new goblet or they could possibly kill Professor Lupin. Of course, Severus had also told them that they had better not mess up.
Two drops fell in quick succession and Harry immediately slipped the dropper back into its vial before another drop could fall. Smoke billowed forth and if she hadn't been expecting it Blaise would have dropped the goblet. Gradually the smoke thinned until it was just a wispy fog above the potion.
"Looks right." Harry glanced at Blaise and she nodded in agreement. "Let's get this to the professor so we can get back to the party."
Gratefully passing the goblet off to Harry, the noxious smell was making her slightly sick, Blaise led the way to Professor Lupin's quarters while keeping an eye out for professors, prefects, or other students who might question what they were doing out at this late hour. Near one of the outside doors a quick movement had Blaise and Harry withdrawing back around the corner. It was Professor Lupin, the man moving quickly but furtively across the school grounds.
"I wonder why he didn't wait for the Wolfsbane." Harry mused. "It isn't safe for him to be out without it."
"Maybe he was afraid it wasn't coming and is heading for a safer place to change."
Harry glanced at his watch, mindful of the goblet he still held.
"No, we're still on time, almost early, and he was heading away from the Forest which would have been the safest place for him to go if he was staying out to transform."
Blaise groaned. "You know what this means, don't you?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah, it means we follow him and try to get him the Wolfsbane in time and be prepared to run like hell if we don't."
Blaise sighed, though it was a half-hearted sound. "We shouldn't be doing this. There's a really good chance we're going to end up regretting this."
Harry shrugged. "Possibly. But you know we're going to do it anyway."
"Alright. Just making sure."
Harry and Blaise grinned at each other before taking off across the lawn in the direction Professor Lupin had taken, the goblet of Wolfsbane still held firmly in Harry's hand. Thankfully the two were very familiar with Hogwarts rugged grounds and had no mishaps as they tracked Professor Lupin despite the dark evening.
"Hold up." Harry stopped suddenly and grabbed onto Blaise with his free hand. "Look."
Professor Lupin had paused to bend over a form on the ground before he straightened up and loped off in the direction of the Whomping Willow. Dodging the swinging branches Professor Lupin picked a long stick up from the ground, prodded at the tree with it, and darted into the roots. Harry looked at Blaise who shrugged back as if to say 'we've come this far'.
Moving with more caution now, Harry and Blaise approached the form on the ground to find a dazed Hermione lying there.
"Granger?" Harry was surprised to find the rule-abiding Gryffindor out here for apparently no reason. "What's going on?"
Hermione made a small noise of distress, tears in her eyes. "I don't know. I tried to save Buckbeak, but I was too late even with my time turner. It's impossible by myself. They, they just beheaded him. Oh God, oh God…"
"Granger!" Harry put a bite in his voice, the same tone his father used when he needed answers from a hesitant person. "Focus. Forget Buckbeak. What about Professor Lupin?"
Hermione blinked. "Oh. I was wandering. Upset. I…" She began to trail off but Harry's sharp gaze helped her focus. "I went to Hagrid's but he was gone. But I found Ron's rat. I found Scabbers!"
"Shock." Blaise mouthed over Hermione's head and Harry nodded in agreement.
"Then what Granger?"
"I started back to the castle but a giant black dog, a—a grim, attacked me. I thought I was dead. He took Scabbers. Then Professor Lupin was here. He asked me what happened; he wanted to know where the dog went. He called the dog Black. Where did he go? What's going on?"
"Stupefy!" Blaise pulled her wand and uttered the spell, Hermione slumping to the ground as it took immediate effect.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure it's wise to stun someone in shock."
Blaise shrugged. "I don't know, but it was either that or have her want to follow us. Besides, she was starting to focus well enough to ask questions. And no, I know what you're thinking; I'm not taking her back to the castle."
Harry quirked a smile, Blaise easily reading in his expression his admission that he had been going to try, and they continued after Professor Lupin. The Whomping Willow was just starting to creak around again by the time they reached it. Quickly, before the tree could regain too much of its usual momentum, Blaise snatched up the stick.
"There." Harry's sharp eyes picked out an unusual protrusion at the roots of the tree, the bark worn and scarred from numerous prodding over the years.
Blaise timed the swings of the tree branches, counting with the beats of her hear, before suddenly darting forward much as Professor Lupin had done to spear the knot with the stick and put the fierce willow tree back into dormancy. With the tree still and no longer twisting, Harry and Blaise could make out a low and nearly hidden opening leading into the ground beneath the tree.
"Last chance to turn back." Harry didn't look at Blaise as he spoke and she knew he wouldn't turn back.
"What kind of friend would I be if I left you go on by yourself now?" Blaise retorted.
"A smart one." Harry's answer was blunt. "If it is Sirius Black down that tunnel, and I think we both know it is from what we read in the Marauder's Guide, then I want answers. Professor Lupin is running out of time too."
"Then you had better stop trying to protect me so we can hurry up." Blaise pointed out. "Besides, I don't want to be standing here when the tree decides to start moving again. Gentlemen first."
Harry rolled his eyes but moved forward and slipped his feet down the hole, sliding to the tunnel floor with one hand over the goblets opening to keep contaminates from getting into the potion. Blaise quickly joined him and he passed the Wolfsbane potion back to her so that his hands would be free as they went through the tunnel. It was dark, very little light filtered in through the tree roots, but Harry didn't want to light his wand incase it drew unwanted attention. Instead he moved forward using touch and sound to guide him, straining his senses to be alert for the presence of anyone else in the tunnel. They came across no one in the dark, damp trek—the tunnel was straight and fairly well maintained for being underground—until finally a dim glow pierced the darkness and Harry found himself at a trap door. He could hear muffled voices coming through the trap door, but they sounded at least a room away instead of right outside. Taking a deep breath Harry pushed open the wooden barrier and found himself in a worn and dusty room.
"Take care." He mouthed the words lowly in Blaise's ear as he grabbed one of her arms to help pull her out of the tunnel. "Wand out, but I want you to run if Lupin looks bad."
Blaise nodded, clamping her teeth against the question she so desperate wanted to ask. 'What about you?' She already knew the answer. He would fight to secure her retreat. They had to get Professor Lupin the Wolfsbane quickly so it didn't come to that. In single file they moved around the room along the wall so that they didn't make targets of themselves by being in the open center. The voices were suddenly louder.
"You have to believe me Moony." It could only have been Black's voice they heard. "I would never betray them. Lily. James. Harry. Never Moony! Never!"
"You were their secret keeper." Remus was shouting. "We all sat together and planned it. I was there when you accepted the responsibility! You killed them Sirius. You handed them straight over to the Dark Lord!"
Black's voice went wretched with pain. "I might as well have. It's my fault we switched. The perfect prank I thought. It's my fault, but I didn't turn them over. Give me the rat and I can prove it."
"You think this rat, this rat that's been passed through the Weasley family for years, is Peter? Peter died. You killed him Sirius."
Harry had heard enough and decided it was time to intervene before one of the two men decided words were no longer sufficient and spells were cast; not that he was sure if Black even had a wand though. Nodding at Blaise to come with him for the moment, Harry stepped into the next room and visually assessed the situation. Both men were tense and completely focused on each other, Scabbers the rat dangling by the tail and twisting futilely in Professor Lupin's grip. You could have cut the tension in the air with a knife. He pulled his own wand and leveled it partway between the two men.
"I think that's enough arguing for now." Harry spoke, causing both men to wheel and point wands at him; the one in Black's hand looked a bit like Hermione's. "Professor Lupin you need to take your Wolfsbane and then I say we discuss things calmly. There seems to be a lot more to this whole story than any one person knows and I think it's time to figure it out."
"Harry go back to the school." Professor Lupin was trying to keep an eye on them and Black as well. "This doesn't concern you."
"I think it does, Professor." Harry kept himself calm. "I heard your accusations and I also heard part of Black's story. I'd like to hear the rest and decide the truth for myself."
"He'll try and kill you!" The emotions exploded from their professor, the pull of the moon beginning to show itself. "He broke out of Azkaban to try and finish what his master started the night your parents died."
Harry took the Wolfsbane from Blaise and shoved it into Professor Lupin's free hand despite the fact that it sent his every nerve to screaming being so close to the emotional werewolf whose control seemed tenuous at best. "He hasn't tried to kill me yet despite having the opportunity. Now drink your Wolfsbane or it'll be you that we'll have to worry about killing us."
Remus gaped down at the goblet, his face going ashen. "You know?"
Harry nodded once. "Yeah. And it doesn't bother us one bit. Drink."
Taking a ragged breath Remus down the potion in a single gulp, shuddering in distaste and missing the look of concern that briefly flashed across Black's face. Harry and Blaise noted it though and shared a brief look, so far all their conclusions on Black not being a threat to them were holding true. It was time to listen to the man's story and discover what his agenda really was.
"Better now Professor?" Blaise asked.
Remus drew in a ragged breath, his voice sounding hoarse in reaction to the miniscule amount of silver that the potion had contained. "Yes, thank you. I'm safe to be around now, though I'm still not happy with you being here and taking such a risk."
Harry shrugged. "Severus asked us to deliver your potion to you since he couldn't. We're only carrying out our promise."
"Snivellus!" Black exploded. "You're on first name basis with that Death Eater!"
Harry pinned Black with a hard stare. "At the moment, you're not one to be pointing fingers. Severus has never given us reason to distrust him and has actually gone out of his way to help us. Now, can you calm down enough to tell us your side of the story or do we stun you and take you up to the school for the ministry to deal with you?"
Black took a deep breath, hope starting to shine in his eyes. "You're actually willing to hear me out?"
Harry and Blaise both nodded, Remus reluctantly agreeing after staring at the two of them for a long penetrating moment. In his hand Remus still held the rat, Scabbers, though it seemed to have lost the will to fight for the moment after having been given a firm shake by Remus who was tired of being scratched at.
Black took a deep breath, letting the air rush from his lungs as he ran a dirty hand through his stringy, long hair. "I was supposed to have been your Secret Keeper Harry, yours and your parents, but the night we went to cast the spell I started to feel uneasy—as if I was being followed. I persuaded Lily and James to switch to Peter thinking that it would be the perfect bluff and that Peter could easily slip away into hiding while I drew the Death Eaters off the trail."
For a moment Black had to pause, his emotions getting to be too much as he started pacing a short jerky path back and forth across the room. "I went to check on Peter that night, Halloween, but he was gone and there was no sign of struggle. I went to Godric's Hollow, but it was too late. I caught sight of the traitor slipping away from the ruins of the house and followed him."
"You didn't check the house?" Harry asked the question as much to clarify events as to give the convict a chance to settle himself. Harry was actually surprised the man appeared so sane after so many years trapped in Azkaban.
Black shook his head. "I was consumed with thoughts of revenge."
"You caught up to him." Blaise prompted the man this time; the fact was common knowledge from the news of that time.
"I did." Black inclined his head at Blaise, appearing quite the gentleman. "It had been a long chase, but I did. But Peter was waiting for me, it was a trap."
Anger swelled through Black again, a living and tangible thing. "We had trusted him! I had trusted him!" His voice trailed off. "If I hadn't encouraged them to switch they could still be alive."
It took Black a few deep breaths in which everyone stayed silent so he could collect himself before he could continue. "If I hadn't fallen for Peter's trap…he yelled there in front of all those witnesses that I had betrayed Lily and James and then everything was exploding, he had to have a wand hidden behind his back. I was dazed, trying to rise from where the explosion had thrown me when I saw Peter pull a knife, cut off a finger, and transform to disappear down the sewers. He had played us all so well, we had fallen for his pathetic bumbling when all the time he had been kissing up to the Dark Lord. He was the spy within our midst."
Remus let out a rough laugh. "And so somehow you break out of Azkaban after all these years with this far fetched tale to take revenge. How would you have even known what rat to look for much less believe it's this rat that has been spending years at Hogwarts under Albus' nose?"
Silently Black reached into the ragged robes covering his thin frame, pulling out a crumpled section torn from a newspaper. It was one of the articles that had run during the summer featuring the grief stricken Weasley's.
"The boy's shoulder." Black handed the clipping over, keeping a wary eye on their reactions. "Look at the paw."
Harry, Blaise, and Remus looked from the clipping to the dazed rat still hanging from Remus' hand.
"And the biggest piece they found was his finger." Blaise said, grabbing at the rat to examine its paw closer. "It's missing a toe. Is there any way to get absolute proof that this is Peter? It could be an unlikely coincidence."
"There is a spell." Remus spoke slowly. "If it is indeed Peter he'll be forced to transform back, if not there will be no harm done."
"Do it then." Harry commanded. "It's the easiest way to see if Black's telling the truth."
Remus turned his wand on the rat along with Black and they uttered the spell together as if they were still the best of friends used to doing everything together. The rat, which had begun to struggle again began to twist and contort until it grew into the shape of a quivering man. Immediately Remus grabbed onto him.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Well, it looks like Black was telling the truth."
Peter homed in on Harry. "Harry…Harry…you can't believe this…not you Harry. He betrayed them…Lily…James…"
"HOW DARE YOU!" Black roared. "How dare you speak to Harry after what you've done! I'll—"
Things looked ready to start spiraling downhill out of control so Harry stepped in once again, authority filling his voice. "Enough! Pettigrew, Black, we're taking you both up to Hogwarts for formal questioning. I don't think Black will try to escape, but you Pettigrew look to be facing some serious accusations and will be tied on the way back. Try and escape and you won't like the consequences."
A hissing came from the floor, distracting them all.
"If he changesss can I eat him Ssspeaker?"
With surprising strength, or perhaps just slippery movement, Pettigrew used the distraction to twist free from Remus' grasp. "No, I won't go—I can't."
Pettigrew's body shrank to a rat faster than he had become a human, it was almost as if his body found the rat form to be more natural, and Harry reacted. In his mind Pettigrew had just admitted his guilt by transforming and he no longer had to stay his hand. In two quick steps Harry had moved forward and stooped to scoop up the fleeing rat as the last of Peter's human limbs disappeared, his dagger flashing in his hand to bite through the furry little throat. Death was near immediate and Harry quickly dropped the furry form to the floorboards.
"No." Harry hissed back to his snake as the dead rat turned back into an equally dead man, not bothering to wonder how she had managed to get out here. "Hisss tassste would not be sssweet."
"You—" Both Remus and Black were staring at Harry in shock.
"Yes I can speak to snakes."
Looking faint Remus sank to a chair. "That's surprising too, but I can't believe you just killed him. You killed Peter."
Harry shrugged, the damage was done. "I warned him."
Blaise glanced between the shocked men and Harry. "What are we doing with the body?"
"We can't take him to the castle now." Harry tapped his foot as he thought. "We'll have to clear Black some other way. Burning would create too much of a smell."
"How about the forest?" Blaise's calm in discussion the disposal of Peter's body shocked the two men further. "We can maul the body up and leave it to be found."
Harry shook his head. "Too much of a chance that they'll blame Professor Lupin, especially at this time of the month. What about those spider things we saw in the forest. They like flesh."
Blaise shuddered, remembering that run in. "Only if we dump him from the sky so we don't have to get too close ourselves."
Harry nodded. "Done. We'll grab brooms from the Quidditch field when we leave."
"You can't be serious?" Remus asked in disbelief. "You killed him and now you're going to just calmly dispose of the body and make it as if nothing ever happened."
Black was surprisingly silent on the entire matter, a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes now that he had gotten over his shock.
Harry faced Remus without flinching. "What's done is done. I do not love killing, but I have been taught not to hesitate if that is what's necessary. I'm not an innocent child, Professor, and neither is Blaise. Now we have a body to dispose of and Black needs to make plans to lay low until we can find a way to prove his story since Pettigrew inconvenienced us by disobeying."
"There are caves around here I can stay in." Black spoke up. "People are always willing to feed a stray and I can keep looking for proof around here."
Harry looked consideringly at Black. "No, too risky."
"I don't have anywhere else." Black admitted. "My face is too well known in both worlds and I can't run around as a grim in the muggle world. I refuse to go to the pound again."
"You'll come to my home." Harry had made his decision. "You as well Professor, should you wish to catch up. You will have to make it there on your own, but we can shelter you once you arrive if you pass my father's inspection."
Remus made a strangled sound and everyone turned to look at him. Black realized what was happening immediately despite the fact that it had been many years since he last saw the transformation.
"Get out of here." Black whispered. "He's changing. The Wolfsbane should let him keep him mind, but I won't risk your safety on chance. I'll keep him busy if he's not safe to be around. Go."
"You should come with us." Harry pointed out as he levitated Pettigrew's corpse and floated it to the door as he grabbed up Malandra so she wasn't left behind. "One animagus isn't much against a werewolf."
Black smiled and shoved Harry towards the trap door behind Blaise. "I wouldn't be much of a godfather if I didn't at least try. Don't come back here. Send word through Remus if we need to talk before you leave the school, but I accept your offer. I'll see you sometime this summer."
The trap door swung closed after Black's last words, saving Harry from answering.
"Let's dump this body and get to bed." Blaise put a hand on Harry's shoulder. "We probably should grab Granger on our way back too, just in case."
… … … … …
Harry and Blaise idly scanned the crowd as they prepared to board the Hogwarts express for the trip home and sure enough spotted Professor Lupin standing next to a huge black dog. The two groups inclined their heads at each other in acknowledgement but didn't meet up.
All plans were already in place, directions and questions having been passed through Remus as he went to the Shrieking Shack for his transformations in order to avoid suspicious activity. It would be a week or so, perhaps longer, before Remus and Sirius showed up at the Manor though. The two men intended for Sirius to be spotted in a few far away places to make it look like Black had skipped out of England before doubling back. Briefly, as the long train ride began Harry reflected back on the rest of that night.
He and Blaise had swiftly run through the tunnel with their burden, a sense of urgency filling them even though they thought Remus would be fine. After emerging from the tunnel they had stopped long enough to levitate Hermione next to Peter's corpse and sneak across the grounds to the Quidditch field. Still levitation the two, Harry and Blaise had grabbed up two of the sturdier school brooms and soared out over the Forbidden Forest. Once over the spider's web they had dumped Peter's body into the mass of clicking pinchers below and headed back to replace the brooms. To further cover their tracks they had gone back to where they had stunned Hermione, thankfully there was no sign of a furry Remus, and woke her up so that she never knew she had been moved. They had consoled her and walked her back to the castle as if no time had passed, gently hinting that she would do better not to say anything or she could face some serious charges—like attempted to interfere with Ministry law and abuse of time-travel—and could face serious consequences from the Headmaster for being out after curfew during such tense times with Black on the loose. She had never questioned what they were doing out once she had these thoughts to occupy her mind.
Severus had been waiting up for them, the party looked to have would down just before they had gotten back and they suspected that Severus had forced the issue when they hadn't returned. Severus had just looked them over to make sure they were fine, nodded once, and said he would speak to them in the morning. They had dutifully reported in and then spent the rest of the morning in preparation to leave. Blaise caught Harry's eye and he knew she had been thinking along the same lines.
"Chess?" He offered, knowing that it was going to be a long ride home.
"Sure." She grinned back. "We can play exploding snap later when the twins come by too."
After that time seemed to pass quickly until they were pulling up into Platform 9 ¾ at King's Cross Station.
"Almost home." Blaise whispered happily as they stepped off the train, but Harry felt himself tense and an uneasy feeling filled his gut.
Out of habit Harry had scanned the crowded station, immediately picking out Trevor, Vasile, and Nara—but not his father. His eyes swept over the rest of the station, not allowing himself to stop with just the small, familiar group and he noticed six more guards in the immediate area. Harry had no doubt that there would also be more out in the station proper and possibly even the parking lot. There was never the need for this much man power to pick them up, not unless something had gone seriously bad.
"Something's wrong." He whispered urgently to Blaise as he grabbed hold of her arm. "Too many guards around and my dad's not here."
Harry's feet quickened as he pushed through the crowd, Blaise pulled along in his wake.
"What's wrong?" Dread had taken a hold of Harry and the questions nearly fled from his lips, uncaring if anyone nearby was taking the opportunity to listen. "What's happened? Where's my dad?"
Trevor shook his head and Harry could easily read the deep sorrow hidden in the eyes of his father's second in command. "Not here Harry. Wait until we're home or at least the car."
"Where's my dad?" Harry couldn't—wouldn't—let the question drop.
"Harry, please—" Trevor's voice was wretched and Harry whirled on Vasile.
Harry made it a demand, knowing that the Dagger would have to answer him even if Trevor commanded otherwise. A pained look crossed Vasile's face despite the fact that only a few days ago he had been volunteering to go to Hogwarts and fetch Harry.
"He—" Vasile took a deep breath, knowing he had to say it. "Manuel's in a coma."
Harry's eyes shuttered and he briefly swayed but managed to stay upright, barely feeling as Blaise's hand gripped his arm in a hard hold as a little moan escaped her. In that instant Harry's whole world had changed, duty had fallen heavily upon his young shoulders. He knew what was required of him now. That still didn't stop the small whispered plea from escaping.
Posted On: June 24, 2008