Chapter 22 Meeting Padfoot
Disclaimer: This story is based on JK Rowling, no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Hallo again, I know it has been a long time since my last update but I honestly did not have any time. Anyone that has ever studied in the medical field will tell you it is brutal. My biggest excuse for not writing is one dreaded word: Anatomy. I just can't get it into my head and it is one of those annoying subjects that I have to pass or I'll get kicked out. So I apologize for making you wait so long but I really did not have a choice.
## All hail the wonderful Lady Knight Keladry for betaing this chapter ##
Harry appeared at his home and cautiously walked to the front door. He did not know what to expect. There was no reason he could think of for the Dursley's not getting him. In the other timeline, they despised him even more than in this time, but they had never failed to come and get him. He rang the bell, trying to be polite even though this was also his house. He did not want to surprise his relatives. Surprising Vernon could be quite hazardous to your health, especially if your name was Harry. He waited anxiously for someone to come to the door. He debated if it would be wise to ring the bell again. Eventually, Dudley came to the door; he looked really cautious and almost afraid. A bit of relief flooded over his face when he recognized Harry.
"Hi, cuz," he whispered. "I think it would be best if you sneak in. Daddy is in the funniest mood. He is acting really strange."
"Who is that Dudley?" a call came from deep in the house.
"No one, Mom, just some kids playing around," Dudley called back.
"What is going on?" Harry whispered, having a really bad feeling.
"Not here, let's go up to my room and then we can talk where he won't hear," Dudley whispered again.
Dudley silently snuck up the stairs. Harry smiled when he saw this; the Dudley of his other life would never be able to pull this off. It was a wonder how much good a few spells on Petunia had done her son. No spoiling equaled no mini-whale. Harry quickly followed his cousin up the stairs and silently closed the door behind him.
"What's up?" Harry asked anxiously, wondering what he had messed up in the timeline to have caused this.
"I don't know. Daddy suddenly developed an extreme anger management problem. He hit a colleague at work and broke his hand. He is now on suspension. That's why he couldn't come and get you. He was still in the hospital getting a cast. I asked mom how you would get home, but she did not seem to care either. I don't understand it; before I went away to Smeltings, everything was still fine. At Christmas, I started to notice that their moods were a bit off but I just thought it was because they missed me. They bought me like a million presents and spoiled me rotten. Now obviously, I did not complain but it was still strange. They have never treated me like this. When I got back from school this term, things were a lot worse. I'm like the angel that can do no wrong and they blame you for everything that is wrong in this world even though you were all the way in Scotland at that special school of yours. I'm really worried," Dudley finished his worried explanation.
"This doesn't sound good," Harry said to himself. "Where are your parents now?"
"Mom is in the kitchen preparing a mountain of food and Dad is in front of the telly being a grumpy bastard," Dudley answered with a frown.
"If I have to eat another one of mom's treats, I'll puke, again. She is feeding me as if I'm a small giant; she just says a growing boy needs his food. At the rate she is feeding me, I'm going to grow sideways and not up," Dudley complained.
Harry suppressed his laughter and only a snort came out.
"It's not funny; I have resorted to vomiting after meals just so that I won't burst from all the extra food."
"Wow that doesn't sound good," Harry said, now worried again.
"I know, but it is the only way; if I don't do it I feel sick the whole day."
Harry just shook his head, wondering why Petunia and Vernon had suddenly decided to turn into their old selves after all these years of behaving nicely.
"I would suggest you find some place else to stay, it's not safe to be here. If Dad sees you, he will break your neck, and I mean it literally. He is blaming you for everything he did wrong at work. Mom isn't any better either, she gets this weird frown when she hears your name."
"That doesn't sound good," Harry said again with a frown.
"Jump ship before they know you're here, I'm also trying to get away. So far, nothing's worked out but I just can't stay here all summer. I'm willing to do anything just to get away. I'll even attend summer school," Dudley said desperately.
"Can't you just go to one of your friends?" Harry asked while he was thinking that he would have to ask Master Li if he could stay with him or if he could go to Perenelle's early. He wanted to keep the wards intact but if not even Dudley wanted to stay here, he certainly did not want to either. The wards were not that important if he had to compare it with a hellish summer and possible bodily harm. Dudley's answer broke Harry out of his thoughts.
"I can't, she won't take that as an excuse, she says that she has spend the whole year away from me and she wants to make the most of our time together." Dudley looked as if that thought was causing him pain.
"I need a valid reason; I have even considered shoplifting and getting caught. Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get to spend some time away from home as punishment."
"Dudley, that is just the worst plan I have ever heard, I know things are looking bad, but I don't think that plan is a good one."
"I know, if it was any good, I would have done it already," Dudley said with a frown. "If only I knew what happened to them to change them so much."
"I don't know, but I think I have a way to get you out of here. I'll just have to go and find some things out," Harry said. Dudley looked at him with so much hope in his eyes that Harry felt really weird. In his other life, Dudley had been his enemy. In this one, he was pleading with Harry for help and giving him warnings.
"You did say you would do anything?" Harry asked to make sure. Dudley just nodded emphatically.
"I'll see what I can do," Harry said, walking to the window. He needed a moment to think. He needed to work out what went wrong. This was not supposed to happen. Something big had changed and he had no idea why it was happening.
It was pandemonium at the Ministry of Magic. Someone had escaped from Azkaban! Who could be powerful enough to do such a thing? Who was it? How could the people of the Wizarding World ever sleep securely at night again?
The ministry was abuzz with people spreading bits and pieces of the story and making everyone anxious with fear. Fudge tried to cover it up but the news spread too fast. He then turned the whole event into a media circus. He wanted everyone in the wizarding world to see how much effort he was putting into catching the criminal and keeping them safe. In a huge press conference, it was announced that the notorious mass murderer and Death Eater Sirius Black had escaped from Azkaban. Aurors were dispatched to all the public places, and warnings and wanted poster were distributed.
The Daily Prophet made a fortune with a three page exposé of the evil escapee. Mothers were overprotective over their kids and business owners were cursing because this would affect trade negatively. Even the Muggle minister was informed and the "pleasmen" were also looking for the criminal. An in-depth investigation was launched, but no one could figure out how the convict had managed to escape.
Harry snuck back down the stairs, and as he headed to the door, he heard the main report on the news. What he heard made him freeze him in place, his world turning upside-down.
Breaking news, mass murderer Sirius Black has escaped from prison. He is armed and dangerous…
Harry did not hear the rest, his head was spinning. "Sirius escaped a year early, how, why, when? How will this affect everything? Will Voldy come back a year early?"
"They should give him the chair when they get him." The grumbled remark came from inside the room. Harry's heart clenched together. "Where is Sirius? Is he safe?" came the worried thoughts.
He tried to focus again but his world just did not want to turn right side up. "What if I lose him again? What if things changed too much?"
Harry ran outside, not worrying about the noise anymore. He needed to get to Remus and tell him about Sirius. He berated himself, he should have told Remus that Sirius was innocent but he had not wanted to involve him too much. He knew that as a werewolf, Remus would not be able to do anything, but he needed to inform him now just in case.
He quickly ran over to master Li's house; he just hoped that Remus was there.
Sirius and Eleanor were sitting on his bed in his room. He could not stop staring at her; she was so beautiful just like her mother. They had spent a lot of time together since the day of their meeting. At first, they had been unable to say anything, they had just stared and cried and laughed. To anyone walking past the room, they would have seemed insane. Only after they had both calmed down did they begin to talk. Sirius told Eleanor about her mother, how they had met and how much he'd loved her. Eleanor told her father about herself and how she had lived before she met Harry. Sirius was outraged to learn about her mistreatment but he was also amazed that his other ward, his godson, had found and rescued his daughter. It was too amazing to comprehend. He could not wait to meet Harry.
While they were sitting like this, just absorbing each others company, they heard an anxious call for Remus downstairs. They quickly got up to go see what was going on.
"Harry, calm down! What is going on?" Remus asked the anxious boy that had just burst into the house.
Harry took a deep breath to calm himself, "Did you see the muggle news?"
"No," Remus answered bewilderedly, wondering what could possibly upset Harry so much.
"They say Sirius escaped," Harry said, wondering how he would explain to the wolf that Sirius was innocent and also how he knew this.
"Harry, calm down, there is something I need to tell you about that."
Harry looked at Remus, wondering what his pseudo-uncle knew.
"Harry, I know you have probably heard that he was your godfather and that he was a criminal, but he's not."
Harry's breath caught, Remus knew. He'd never imagined this when he was visualizing this discussion. "How did he find out?" He just stared blankly at Remus.
"Harry, he is innocent, and I broke him out of Azkaban."
"You what?" Harry asked, confused.
"He is innocent and I broke him out of Azkaban. There is no need to be afraid, Harry. He is a good man, and he wants to meet you. "
Harry did not hear everything; he knew Sirius was innocent and a good man. He was more confused about what had happened to screw up the timeline like this. If Sirius could break out of prison earlier, then Voldy could be resurrected earlier and then everything would go to hell. He was not ready yet. His friends still needed to learn a lot, and he still needed to go after the Horcruxes. Things were not supposed to happen so fast.
"Cub?" Remus asked Harry, concerned. It seemed as if the boy had frozen up. He walked up to the boy and gave him a hug. While holding tight to the boy, he heard him mumbling about how evil butterflies were and that they were minions of Fate and that he wanted a word or two with the bitch. Remus wondered what was going through the boy's head. He was acting really strange. Just as he released the frantic boy, Sirius and Eleanor came down the stairs, looking curious about what had happened. Harry turned around when he heard the steps. He stared at Sirius with wide eyes, he'd never thought it would be so weird and painful to see this man again.
"Sirius," he whispered with tears in his eyes. Then before he even realized what he was doing, he was holding the man in a vice-like grip, holding on as if for dear life, crying his heart out. All thoughts of how strange his behavior was were disregarded. He had waited eleven years to see his godfather again. He had missed him so much, but along with that feeling, he was also feeling very guilty. He felt guilty for killing him the first time, he felt guilty for leaving him in Azkaban all this time. He felt guilty for not telling Remus, and he felt guilty that he was worrying about the damn timeline when he finally had Padfoot back.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," he whispered over and over again.
Sirius looked bewilderedly over at Remus. "What is going on?" he mouthed so that the boy that was clinging to him did not hear.
"That is little Harry, and I think he is glad to see you," Remus answered, a bit confused about Harry's behavior. Sirius smiled and hugged the boy back while wondering why the boy was apologizing. Eleanor smiled at her father and uncle from the door. She did not go into the room, worried that Harry's emotions would be too strong for her to handle at this moment.
"Fred, George, Ron!" the call came up the stairs. "Go de-gnome the garden."
Ron frowned when he heard his mother's call. He had barely been back for a day and already he had to do chores. He was not used to being back home yet. Sure he had missed his mother while school was still on, but now that he was back home, he missed his friends. He missed Harry's guidance, his joking around with Neville, and he even missed Hermione and her constant flow of information. At school, they were inseparable and unstoppable. He was amazed at how well he had done in his first year with the help of his friends. He held no illusions that he would have done this well without Hermione and Harry's help. He realized that Harry did a lot to encourage him and Neville. The dark-haired boy just seemed to know all their insecurities and had a way of dispelling them without any apparent effort. He still felt a bit inferior to his friends at times but those moments were becoming less and less as he discovered his strengths and role in the group. He felt wanted and like a true friend, he was not just the sidekick of the great Harry Potter, he was a member of the now notorious 'Dream Team'. He still did not really like the name but the other students seemed to like to refer to them as such. In a way, it was nice to be part of something that his brothers had not had first. He was starting to build a name for himself, finding his place at Hogwarts apart from the image of his brothers. He was also relieved that he was not the first Weasley to fail. In the beginning of the year, he had been so afraid that he would let the family down. Every one of his brothers was/had been popular and successful. He did not want to be known as the dumb Weasley, or the one that had a free ride on the back of Harry Potter. He was proud of his achievements, and he knew he had worked hard to get the results he got. He wondered what adventures they would get up to in the next year.
"Ronald Weasley, come down this instant!" his mother yelled again, forcefully pulling him from of his musings. "I'm coming, Mom!" he called back as he ran down the stairs. When he got down, his saw his twin brothers already waiting for him.
"So nice of you to join us, Ronnykins." Fred said with a grin.
Ron gave a shudder; the twins were extra dangerous after the 'helpful' advice that Harry had given them. Knowledge was power indeed and their use of this power was explosive, literally. Ron was really glad that Harry had not removed the magical trace on the twins' wands. If they could have done wand magic, they would have been impossible. As it was, they were already exploiting a loophole to make potions. No wand required. Rule number one: when being near the twins, do not touch or eat anything they offer you. He understood that, to them, it was innocent fun and he admitted to laughing at a few of their tricks but generally he preferred to stay in his natural human form without wings, feathers or enlarged appendages.
"Don't worry, Ronny; we don't have anything planned for you today," George said with a smile. Ron just shook his head in disbelief.
"Well we have only been back a day, most of our stuff needs a bit of time to simmer," Fred said.
"So never fear, tomorrow we'll be back in business," said George with glee.
"Someone murder me," Ron murmured with an exaggerated sigh.
The twins started to giggle maniacally.
Ron walked outside to get away from the twin maniacs; unfortunately, they followed him. They had to get rid if the vermin in the garden and he knew if they procrastinated any more, his mother would start one of her really loud reprimands. He stopped and looked around the garden.
"Silly buggers," Fred said as he saw some of the gnomes running toward them. "They always come out to watch when we start throwing them," George said as he picked one up and hurled it over the fence.
"I wonder why they do it?" Ron said, for the first time wondering at the significance of the gnomes' behavior.
"Dunno, they're not really very intelligent," Fred said as he threw another one. "Stop slacking and start working, Ronny.
Ron just nodded and started to help but something in the back of his mind was bothering him. He just did not know what it was.
It was time again to try and break the bonds that were suppressing them. For weeks now they had been preparing, gathering feathers to harness the magic in the air. For years they had been fighting the powerful Crusty Picklechunks, a sorcerer that had been trying to enslave them. But all their efforts were hampered by the fact that they could not use any magic if the wind was not blowing.
They had tried numerous ways to draw magic when the wind was not blowing but the closest thing to success was using the giants' force when they threw them out of the garden. It was dangerous, but it was the only way to try and win their freedom. All of their bravest warriors ran up to the giants in hopes of gathering the magic they needed for survival.
Most of them could not remember a time when they were free. Some of the tribe elders told stories of the olden times when Crusty Picklechunks had not yet risen. It was unclear how he rose to power but it was rumored that he'd discovered a device to artificially create the wind and so he had an unlimited supply of magic. He used this power to its fullest and quickly bent it to his will. Some of the weaker clansmen had flocked to his side in hopes of sharing his power. The minions of Crusty Picklechunks had betrayed their clan and enforced his rules. But the warriors of the clan would not stand for this travesty and so the war had begun. Many warriors had tried and failed to find the device. Crusty Picklechunks stopped them each time. Many of the clan had started to lose hope and over the years, more people submitted to his cruel reign. But the warriors would not give up, someday, they would free their people.
They were finally done with de-gnoming the garden and Fred and George quickly went up to their room to check on their potions. Ron decided it would be safer to stay outside. Besides, there was a smaller chance of running into his mom and getting more chores if he just stayed outside. The behavior of the gnomes was bugging him. He had never before bothered to think about it. He usually just threw them as quickly and as far as he could to get it over and done with so that he could go back to playing or flying. But after all the time he had spent with Harry and Hermione, he had learned to analyze his surroundings. He couldn't just ignore this weird behavior. He needed to find out what was going on. He quickly looked around to make sure no one saw him and silently drew his wand. He slowly crept to the perimeter of the garden fence, making sure that nobody followed him. He could just imagine how his brothers would mock him if they found out he was tracing the gnomes to discover the secret behind their behavior. They would think him insane to pay the little buggers any attention.
"Chieftain, one of the giants is approaching the camp." One of the warrior scouts reported. The battle against Crusty Picklechunks was once again unsuccessful. They just could not gather enough magic to defeat him.
"We should evacuate to the underground tunnels. It is not safe here in the open," the leader of the can ordered.
"My Lord, I have a plan that could possibly help win us the war," one of the advisors said.
The chief looked impatiently at the warrior that had spoken. They had to evacuate before the giant got to them, and there was no time to make war strategies now.
"We can speak of it after we are safe. We should retreat before the giant gets here or Crusty Picklechunks launches another attack, it is not safe here.
"But, My Lord, if we could capture the giant and train it, we would have the upper hand in this war. It could be taught how to make wind. We could free our people if we succeed in this plan," the advisor quickly explained.
"This is insane!" one of the war mages spoke up. "We have no way of succeeding in this. It would be suicide to try." Most of the warriors agreed.
"The giant is away from the others so if we act quickly we can capture it before the other giants see us and try to stop us," the advisor answered.
"What makes you think that the giants are even trainable? If it got away, it would call the others and they would exterminate us. I know you want to try and find a way to defeat Crusty Picklechunks, but this is not the way. Time is almost up, we should go underground immediately."
The chieftain watched his warriors, mages and advisors argue. He would have to make a decision quickly. This could be they best chance to gain freedom, but was the risk too great?
Once Harry had calmed down, Eleanor entered the room. She sat down beside Harry, who was sitting in her father's lap on the couch. She took his hand and gave it a little squeeze. Then she whispered in his ear, making sure her dad could not hear, "I'm sorry."
Harry frowned at her. She gave a weak smile. "I know you have all these plans and that you need to be in control, but I could not wait, I had to tell Remus."
Harry did not know if he should be grateful or angry with her. If anyone deserved to have some happiness, it was her. Who was he to keep the girl away from her father just because it did not fit into his plans? He would just have to accept that some things were not in his control. Anyway he had never realized he'd missed Sirius so much.
He smiled at Eleanor to reassure her that he was not angry with her. Now if only he could think up an explanation for his weird behavior. For now, it did not seem as if his godfather minded his death grip of a hug. Actually, it seemed as if he enjoyed it.
"So what is all the whispering about?" Remus asked with a smile.
The two teens just shook their heads and smiled.
"Harry and Elly sitting in a tree…" Sirius started to sing.
"Dad!" Eleanor protested. Harry just laughed. "Sorry, Paddy, but I'm still in the girls are icky stage."
"Now, why don't I believe you?" Remus asked with a wicked grin.
"Probably because you didn't outright screamed eew," Sirius added with a grin, bumping Harry off his lap. Harry was caught totally by surprise and almost fell onto Eleanor.
Harry grimaced at the two men from his place on the floor. "Dream on." He then got up and found a new seat away from his foolishly grinning godfather. "Anyway, there is something else I need your help with." Now that he was over the shock of finding Sirius, he remembered that he had promised to help bust Dudley out.
"What's up, Cub?" Remus asked worriedly.
"We need to find a way to rescue my cousin from the evil clutches of my aunt."
The two adults stared in confusion at him.
"Well, they are acting really weird and they did not come to get me at the station. When I got home, Dudley warned me to escape while I could and that my uncle would kill me if he saw me. He also pleaded with me to find a way to rescue him."
Remus growled as he heard someone had dared to threaten his cub.
"Wow, Moony, calm down," Harry said.
"Harry, how can you possibly be so calm?" Sirius asked in surprise. "They threaten your life and you're all casual about it."
"You're getting off topic; I'm not the one that needs a rescue. I got out before they even knew I was there but I am worried about Dudley. If we don't get him out soon, the poor guy will either gain a hundred pounds or develop bulimia."
The two adults once again stared at him with confusion.
Harry just shook his head and explained everything more thoroughly.
Would you mind if I started my apprenticeship early? Although I stated that I needed to remain with my relatives to maintain the protective wards, recent events have made this impossible. Furthermore, would it be a terrible imposition if I brought three more people with me? I know this is terribly rude to ask but I'm in a bit of a bind and I can't see any other solution. I feel, however, that before you agree, you should know that one of these people is a muggle, another is a werewolf and the last one is a wanted criminal so I would understand if you and Nicolas refused this request.
"Oh, Harry, what have you gotten yourself into this time?" the six hundred year old lady wondered with a smile. She would gladly invite these extra guests; she knew the explanation for this would be fascinating like everything else that was connected to the green-eyed boy. But still, she wondered how a muggle, a werewolf and a criminal fit into the life of the Boy-Who-Lived. Nicolas would not mind either, he had never bothered with Ministry policy so housing a dark creature and a criminal would not faze him at all. Actually she thought he would appreciate the excitement. Life could get boring after a few centuries.
For those that are confused about Dudley's behaviour in this chapter, here is my explanation. Dudley grew up in a totally different environment from the one in the other timeline, and this had a huge influence on his behavior. He is not the spoiled brat he used to be. Unfortunately, his parents turned back into their mean selves the moment Harry was not there to put a spell on them daily. Unfortunately, Dudley is not used to his "normal" parents so he is confused and afraid of their "new" behavior.
As for Harry, he is just too absentminded to think of just reapplying the spell, he just got back and he has an anxious Dudley to deal with, warning him that his life is in danger. He does not have time to thing "oh crap I forgot the spell" he only think "how will I get out of here". Anyway Dudley would have a problem again when Harry went away to Perenelle's so it is just easier to get him out now. Anyway I think it will be fun to expose Dudley to a bit of magic.
Also the name of "the evil gnome sorcerer" I got from a silly name generator. I thought it was hilarious to give the bad guy such a silly name. Anyway he is a little creature the size of a potato and I just could not take him too seriously. Not when Voldy and the Vampire Lord are there to compare his "evilness" to lol.
Thank you for all the wonderful reviews !!!!!!