Disclaimer: The characters and settings from Harry Potter all belong to JK Rowling. Any such that you do not recognize belong to me. This story is highly AU, with bits and pieces from the actual series incorporated in.

EDIT: Recently, I have gone through all of the chapters and done some editing. I can't be sure that I have fixed all spelling/grammatical errors. Some parts have been increased in length, and some have been shortened. The basic plot of this story has not changed, and to anyone who has been reading prior to now will not have necessarily missed anything new. However there has been a few name changes for some original characters (see author's note in the beginning of chapter 41 for exactly who). These changes still do not affect the plot.

Please enjoy this story and please, review.

Chapter 1

A cool breeze blew over the cliffs where Sirius Black sat. The former heir to the most powerful wizarding family in Britain sighed heavily as he watched the waves roll hundreds of feet below him. He shivered a bit, almost wishing he had had the foresight to bring a cloak. The young man's eyes narrowed as thoughts raced through his head. He was stuck in the middle of a war he—and every other sensible person in England—wished had never begun. Sirius almost damned his inability to sit back and let others fight. But Sirius was a noble, brave man. He could never really do something like that. Sirius was a fighter; he had gone into the Auror program the day after he had graduated. Even James had laughed at him, telling his friend to give himself a small vacation.

But Sirius knew too well the things of which Dark wizards were capable. He had seen it since he was a young child. And now, here he was, almost twenty-one years old and a high ranking member of the Order of the Phoenix and the Auror Department's rising star. Sirius had never felt as though he'd had a place in his family. When James and the others had become his family, Sirius had vowed to do all that he could to keep them safe. And then Harry had been born. Sirius loved that kid more than his own life. As the baby's godfather, it was Sirius's responsibility to protect him and his parents. Although Sirius loved Harry like his own son, he never wanted to have to take custody of the child.

A pop sounded from behind Sirius to his right, and, although Sirius would normally have leapt to defensive, he knew it was just James; he could feel it. The two shared a remarkable bond. Their friends loved to joke that it was really Lily who was the third wheel. The other man plopped down beside him, running a hand through his hopeless hair. "Hey, Padfoot," he said with a grin.

"Prongs," Sirius returned. The two men sat in comfortable silence for several minutes. James was clinging his jacket close to him. He never did like the cold much, Sirius mused.

"So, what are you doing up here," James asked.

Sirius drew in a deep breath. "Just thinking."

James raised a dark brow. "Care to share? You can tell me anything, you know."

Ever the smart ass, Sirius said cheekily, "What if I told you that Lily and I were having an affair?"

"Then I'd knock your lights out," James laughed.

Sirius gave a small smile. "It's Mother," he said bitterly.

James's jaw slacked. "Again," he cried. "Jesus Christ, does she ever give it up?" Sirius turned and stared pointedly at James with his dark eyes. "Right, dumb question."

"Very," Sirius said loftily. He let out a small snort. "She sent Narcissa this time."

James let out a low whistle. "That's low even for her." Sirius nodded. Usually, when his mother tried to get him to come back to the family, she sent Bellatrix. Bella was the eldest sister and his mother's favorite relative. Bella was harsh, haughty, and forceful. Narcissa, the youngest, tended to be more weepy. Narcissa wanted Sirius back in the family, but not to use in the war as the rest of them. Narcissa had a very set view of family, and Sirius leaving them disrupted it greatly.

The Blacks were deeply involved with Lord Voldemort's dealings. Bella, her husband Rodolphus and his brother Rabastan, Regulus, and Narcissa's husband Lucius were all Death Eaters. Before his death the previous year, Sirius's father had made large financial contributions to the cause.

Although Andromeda considered herself neutral, Sirius was the only family member who had joined the other side of the war. And he was good at what he did. His family and the Dark Lord had noticed. Sirius had lost count long ago of all the times his life had been threatened. The Blacks were making more and more frequent attempts to bring him home. On her last visit, Bella had threatened to blast the Potters' home to the ground if he refused her. Sirius had just laughed and reminded her that their home was almost as old as the Black one and had just as many magical protections.

"Well," James said rising and brushing grass from his pants, "Lily demands that you join the family for dinner, and Harry hasn't stopped yelling Pafoo since the last time you were over, which was just this morning, mind you." James gave a longsuffering sigh. "You have successfully infiltrated my home, you realize?"

Standing, Sirius said, "Prongs, you can't blame Harry for loving me more, or me for being better than you."

"You better than me," James cried aghast.

Slyly, Sirius said, "Yeah, that's what Lily says too." Before James could jump him, Sirius Apparated to Godric's Hollow.

Sirius ran into the house a few seconds ahead of James and leaned heavily on the door in attempts to keep his friend from entering his own home. James began to bang loudly on the door and scream commands for Sirius to allow him entrance. Lily walked into the entryway, Harry balanced on her hip. She offered Sirius a very odd look, and he grinned widely back at her. "Why, good evening, Lily, my dear. And Harry!" The baby began to gurgle and reach for his godfather.

"What are you doing, Sirius," she asked, trying to arrange her face into a stern frown. Her eyes were shinning with amusement, completely negating the effect.

"Preventing James from getting his hands on me," Sirius answered calmly as James began to fling his body on the door, magic forgotten.

"And why," Lily asked slowly, "would he being trying to get a hold of you so desperately?" Sirius raised his brows in a silent answer. Lily sighed. "You didn't tell him that we were having an affair again, did you?"

"In so many words," Sirius replied.

Lily rolled her bright eyes. "Oh, why do I bother with either of you?"

"Because you love us, myself in a more platonic fashion and James because he fathered your child," Sirius provided as James rammed the door so hard he almost went flying. Deciding James was likely getting mad by now, Sirius leapt from the door and plucked Harry from Lily's arms and hid behind her.

James came plowing through the door, which amazingly did not break off its hinges, and stood fuming at Sirius. He almost made to lunge for him, but then he noticed that he would have to get through his wife and son to tackle his friend. Sirius peaked out from behind Lily. "You also can't blame Lily for being attracted to someone as devastatingly handsome as I am."

"Conceded much," Lily asked as she walked away and into the kitchen. Sirius looked like a deer caught in the headlights, but quickly held up Harry for James to see. "Food's ready, boys, so put your testosterone war on hiatus, James. Remember I sleep in your bed, not Sirius's."

"She just takes cat naps in my bed," Sirius added.

"Sirius!" Lily snapped from the other room. "I'll stop defending you."

"Yes, ma'am."

The front door of the Black Manor clicked shut. From her study, Walburga Black frowned as she poured over documents. Since the death of her husband nearly a year ago, she had taken upon herself the responsibility of handling the family's matters. She inwardly cursed her elder son. This was supposed to be his job. But no! He just had to listen to the fool of a headmaster of his. He just had to break away. Impudent Gryffindor! Her younger son Regulus might have been able to take up this task, but he was not as prepared for it as Sirius was. From the moment of his birth, Mrs. Black and her husband had prepped him to become head of the family. Regulus's lessons had never been as strict as his brother's.

Amazing how Regulus was so acceptable while Sirius had turned blood traitor. A soft knock sounded, and Walburga said sharply, "Enter." Her youngest niece, Narcissa, regally walked into the room. Narcissa was an acceptable girl. She had done her duty to her family by marrying a respectable man—a Malfoy at that—and bearing him a son. Narcissa was a perfect lady and a smart girl. Of course, she was no Sirius.

Again Walburga cursed the boy. Always she was comparing others, especially in the family, to him. Her son was brilliant, strong, courageous, loyal, passionate, and could be quite shrewd. He was probably the most handsome member of the family. He would have been the prefect head of the family. Well, except for the fact that he was a Gryffindor. But even that egregious flaw could be overlooked if he only he would apply himself properly.

"Well," Walburga asked impatiently. Narcissa shook her head.

"He will not come back to us, Aunt," she said sadly. "He is loyal to Dumbledore and his friends."

Had Walburga not been a lady, she would have growled. She stood from her desk and began to pace about the room. This was indeed becoming a great dilemma. If the boy kept this behavior up, he would likely be killed. The Dark Lord did not appreciate Sirius's efforts against him. When his takeover became final, Sirius would die. It was a waste of a nearly perfect specimen of a human.

They could not let it happen. It would be unfortunate indeed for the Black family to irreversibly loose such a treasure.

"Aunt Walburga," Narcissa asked, "what will we do?"

Walburga turned to her young niece. "Do not fret, my dear," she said with a sugary voice. "A solution will present itself. We will get my son back, and our family will be whole once again." Narcissa smiled. Neither of them mentioned Narcissa's older sister Andromeda. Her offense was far too great.

After a few seconds of silence, Walburga commanded, "Go and fetch me your sister. Together, we shall devise a plan." Narcissa bowed her head respectfully and left the study.

Walburga turned her attention to a small photograph of her two sons. They were young, Regulus only four, Sirius just a year older. They were in their best holiday robes. Regulus was looking about the room, but Sirius's cold, dark eyes remained fixed to the lens of the camera. He stood calm and lofty above his younger brother.

In another photograph, this one of all the children, the girls were all holding hands. Bella was her normal haughty self, Andromeda and Narcissa offering each other the smallest of smiles, Sirius kept looking off to the side as if awaiting a chance to escape, and Regulus was squirming with boredom, wanting to get back to his mother.

Walburga's dark eyes then turned to the large oil painting of her family. She and her husband were at the back, standing tall, regal and proud. Regulus's face was emotionless, as Walburga had taught him to keep it. Sirius, however, looked miserable. Well, Walburga admitted, miserable to her trained eyes. Anyone else might not have caught the look the heir was giving. She remembered how furious she had been when the painting had been delivered. She had screamed at him for hours. Regulus had kept a straight face, why couldn't he?

"Oh, my little Sirius," she said to herself. "Where did we go wrong with you?" Her eyes flittered over the one picture of her son of which she was proud. He was sixteen, just before he ran away to live with the blood traitor Potters, and dressed in his finest robes. He looked incredibly bored with what was going on around him, like he was above it all. That was the kind of attitude she had been trying to establish in him all his life. This was what was acceptable.

Walburga smiled. "It won't matter soon, my son. You'll be back with me."

"Rise, Bellatrix," the high, cold voice said.

Bellatrix Lestrange removed herself from the ground, standing tall and proud. Her dark robes flowed around her feet as she took a few steps closer to the high throne-like chair where the Dark Lord Voldemort sat. His red eyes blazed as he stared into her dark grey ones. Bella smiled at him in a manner no other dared. This was perhaps because no one else was so loyal to him. Bella had, from the moment she met the Dark Lord, been blinded by love and devotion towards him. He was her everything, in ways above and beyond any other in her life. She would do anything he ever asked of her and more. She desired only his pleasure, his touch, and his acceptance.

"You have something to report?"

"Unfortunately nothing of extreme importance, my Lord," she said regretfully. "My little cousin still refuses to return to us. My aunt sent my sister Narcissa to speak with him, but she was unsuccessful. Aunt Walburga is becoming very anxious about this situation. She wishes dearly to have him back with us, as a servant to you, my Lord."

Voldemort nodded slowly as the woman spoke. He stroked his wand, which Bella eyed warily. He could point it at her at any second, and Bella loved the Unforgivables, but not when they were being used upon her. And the Dark Lord's curse was more powerful than most. "Indeed that would be an asset," he said softly. "Sirius Black in my armies. Your cousin has shown exceptional skills, despite his young age."

Bella bowed her head. "Sirius is very bright, my Lord. He has always shown great potential."

"Yes," he hissed. "Dumbledore, I believe, relies greatly on the boy's powers and reputation."

Bella sneered. Indeed, her cousin had quite a reputation. When he had enrolled into the Auror program, people had laughed aloud. A Black as an Auror? It seemed the highest form of rubbish. However, Sirius, to those who knew him, had long ago proven his extreme dislike for Dark wizards and magic. The ferocity with which he threw himself into his training had shocked many, and he had climbed up the power ladder quickly. Now, having succeeded on numerous seemingly impossible missions, he was seen as a hero. He and James Potter were the young champions of this war. Everyone knew of their exploits although Sirius, as a more public figure, had a more flamboyant reputation than James. Yes, her dear cousin seemed to have a knack for success.

"I'm sure this does frustrate your aunt deeply," Voldemort continued. "To have spent such efforts on the boy only to have them thrown back in her face. A shame." Bella nodded in fierce agreement. Sirius had shamed them all with his choices. "Indeed something must be done about this. Bella," he barked. The dark woman stood straighter. "I don't care how you do it, but I want Sirius Black in my army."

"Yes, my Lord," Bella bowed low.

"Go," he commanded. "And do not fail me."