Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything else aside from a few OC's and I doubt anyone wants them. JK Rowling in all of her great and malevolent glory does though.
A/N: No author's note at the end of this first chapter. This story will be placing the characters and their behaviors that I began developing in GOF into a universe very similar to the canon OOTP one. That being said, I think we all know of a few main differences between my version and canon.
Also, a few reviewers complained that I borrowed from both canon and the movies in the writing of part one of this series. I explained this before in a few reviews, I will take some advantageous things from the movies if they fit better into my story. Nothing major, but then again it's all about the details, isn't it? Anyways, this is a Harry/Sirius centric chapter so enjoy.
Special thanks to my first ever Beta, chemprof (Take the time to read his stories if you haven't yet, you won't regret it).
Harry continued to look at the ceiling in his small room at the Dursley's residence, willing himself to get some sleep for the first time since his return from Hogwarts. Padfoot was in his giant dog bed off to the side, his large head resting atop his long legs as he watched his godson in concern.
It wasn't that Harry was particularly traumatized from the events of the year, even though many in his place would have been. It was just that his new habit of thinking about situations endlessly had his mind running continuously all day and every day since the headmaster had told him the prophecy. Of course, without the comforting presence of Hermione it had gotten so bad he couldn't even function any more. It had simply consumed him, and while Sirius wanted desperately to transform back to his human form, it wouldn't be possible based upon Harry's shaky record of magical detection on Privet Drive.
Finally giving up his struggle as a loss for the night Harry sat up in his bed and motioned to Padfoot to join him for a midnight snack. As the pair quietly skulked down the stairs Harry whispered, "I'm trying to sleep but my brain is running non-stop."
Sirius whined in his dog form as they walked into the kitchen. Judging by the huge pile of dishes by the sink, both Dudley and Vernon had already had their midnight 'snack' although Harry could only equate it to a feast by the appearance of things.
After getting a small bowl of crisps and a glass of water Harry grabbed some loose lunchmeat that had somehow survived the Dursley feeding frenzy. Handing Padfoot the meat he sighed as he settled into his usual seat at the table. After a few minutes of eating in silence Padfoot gave him a significant look and Harry sighed, "Professor Dumbledore told me something at the end of the year and we sort of had an argument about something. But that isn't what's bothering me; it's what he told me that's keeping me up at night. I'm working on it, I swear I am Sirius." Padfoot whined pitifully, in his own way showing his concern for Harry. Even in dog form he still felt a tremendous amount of guilt for Harry having spent any time in this house with these horrible excuses for people, let alone muggles.
After another six hours of sleepless existence for Harry the rest of the inhabitants of Number 4 joined him amongst the waking. Harry was gazing out of his window in the early sunlight of daybreak when he heard Dudley scream through his door, "Hey freak, my mum and dad want to talk to you."
Harry groaned as Padfoot growled, shaking his head at his godfather and soon to be guardian he quietly said, "Trust me it isn't worth it Sirius." Padfoot barked softly as he watched Harry leave the room, silently wondering how many times Harry had to deal with similar behavior growing up in this house.
Harry walked into the dining room and immediately his aunt, uncle, and cousin could see evidence of his insomniac ways. While he didn't have bags under his eyes, those vivid green eyes were blood shot and appeared almost pained to stay open at the moment.
After a moment Petunia sniffed, "Vernon and I have come to a decision. Seeing as how all of the food in the house has started disappearing at night we want you to buy your own food for the rest of your week here."
Harry eyed the three warily before he shrugged and turned back around, heading back to his room to grab Sirius to do some grocery shopping for the next few days.
Just as he entered his room Hedwig flew to the ledge outside of his window, looking rather put out, apparently having been deprived of her nightly hunt to make a delivery. Harry sluggishly walked over to the window and opened it allowing Hedwig to enter the room and take a roost on his arm. He blinked slowly as it registered that his faithful familiar was carrying more than one letter.
Opening the first letter he immediately recognized that it was from Dumbledore of all people. Sighing heavily he broke the headmaster's seal on the letter and read:
Dear Mr. Potter,
Given the state of our relationship following our last discussion I realize I must earn the right to call you by your Christian name once again. That being said, you may feel free to inform your canine companion that I acted as proxy on his behalf and successfully secured his official adoption of you.
Your friends Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger are already present at Sirius's ancestral home and I believe your godfather successfully managed to tweak the arrangements enough to place your room next to theirs. The rest of Mr. Weasley's family is also staying in the house for the remainder of the summer for security concerns. It should please you to know that I have added additional guards to Ms. Granger's house and also placed some significant wards on the residence.
On to school matters, congratulations on your very good marks for the past year, your parents would have been very proud. In fact, Ms. Granger approached me while I was in headquarters yesterday and questioned me as to a waiver for your person into fifth year Arithmancy. While I regret such a waiver is against school by-laws, I can suggest you take the examination for credit at the end of the year. Many students take similar routes with independent study.
Book lists and prefect badges, if awarded should be in the mail the second week of August if no unforeseen difficulties occur. I pray you are well and if you have an opportunity while I am at headquarters I would very much like the chance to talk and clear the air between us.
Harry shrugged as he finished reading the letter; it brought many issues that while important he didn't feel like worrying about at the moment. The second letter Harry reasoned would have to be from Hermione considering he hadn't gotten a reply to the letter he had sent her from a few days earlier.
Are you sleeping better than you were when you wrote me your first letter? If you aren't I suggest you try a cup of hot chamomile right before you go to bed, it has always worked for me when I couldn't sleep back at home after a long year in the comfortable beds at Hogwarts. If you can't sleep for another reason, well we'll talk when you get here in a few days.
I heard that Sirius successfully adopted you! I'm so happy for both of you. If you could see me right now you'd be laughing at the little happy dance I'm doing for you. Ron's been less of a prat so far this summer, but he refuses to revise his notes to prepare for our OWLs at the end of the next year. But, from what the headmaster tells me, that won't be a problem for you. I'm so proud of you by the way.
On to other news, the Order won't let any of us that are still attending Hogwarts listen in on any of their meetings, but the strangest thing happened after a meeting. Professor Snape actually gave the two of us a compliment, of course Ron was referred to as the other Gryffindor, but that's not as horrid as he normally is. Maybe potions this next year won't be as bad. I hope so, because potions are so important for a lot of careers.
I'm missing you terribly, and Professor Lupin's girlfriend, Tonks has been teasing me mercilessly about being your girlfriend. When you get here we might have to play a prank on her. I also have a surprise for you, but you'll have to wait until you get here to find that out.
I love you,
Harry managed a small but genuine smile at Hermione's letter before he turned to Padfoot and said, "I've just been informed by our housemates that we need to shop for our own groceries. I imagine we can get a small cooler and get enough food for the rest of the week to fit in it. Dog food for you I imagine?"
If a dog could give someone an indignant look, Padfoot did so in spades as Harry laughed, "Right then, no dog food. Lunch meat should be acceptable though, right." Padfoot merely nodded as he stretched out his long legs.
After digging around for a reasonable set of clothes Harry scampered over to the bathroom and managed to take a quick shower, which seemed to invigorate him enough to get through his one errand for the day. Padfoot followed him right out the front door at Number 4, the slowly rising sun enough indication that the local grocery store wouldn't be open quite yet.
As they began to head down Privet Drive Harry glanced around and could see a few people grabbing the morning paper from their paper boxes. However, unlike in previous years a few of the neighbors smiled at him warmly and even waved. After a moment it became apparent that someone had been clearing his sullied reputation within the small community.
While Harry had no concrete explanations as to how this happened, the self satisfied smirk he caught Mrs. Figg sporting one evening as she walked past was definitely a big hint in her direction.
It had been a very warm start to the summer in Great Britain and most everyone Harry had seen were wearing shorts and as little as decently possible beyond that. Needless to say, the skinny raven haired young man with a large black dog walking by his side still managed to gain attention that they wouldn't have in a less sterile environment.
After wandering around the neighborhood until it was around 10 am Harry finally managed to reach the local grocery store. Taking care to tie Padfoot to a post and have his fake tags clearly visible, Harry entered the store just as the automatic doors opened just like magic.
At the checkout lines one girl, perhaps around twenty, and an older woman smiled and waved at Harry as he entered. After grabbing one of the baskets near the entrance Harry immediately set off to do his own grocery shopping for the first time in his life.
In a way Harry's present activity was the exact polar opposite of what he felt compelled to be doing at that very moment. Being a mere nobody in the muggle world, his entrance into the wizarding world had created two different Harry Potters in his mind. One was expected to be an overwhelming failure in his life, the consequence of having two parents that had apparently given him up. The other was expected to be the savior of this small but precious little world, failure never straying into his vocabulary as he was looked upon as a hero for an event he really had no recollection of. The first few years of his schooling at Hogwarts had proven that he could exist in such a dichotomy, even if he wasn't terribly happy about it.
After picking out a small but passable foam cooler, Harry began to pick up the bare essentials, content in the belief that Molly Weasley would quickly cover any losses he might endure over the course of the week. After grabbing a small loaf of bread he grabbed enough lunchmeat to cover both his and Padfoot's needs for the next few days. Spotting a gallon of water he checked for its fit in the cooler before adding it as his final purchase in his basket.
Pulling out the small wad of bills he had in his wallet, Harry did some quick math pulling the twenty pound note out of the wad before placing them back in the billfold. Walking up to the younger woman he slowly began to pile the various things from his basket before he asked, "Where do you have your smallest bags of ice?"
The girl smiled warmly, almost a little too warmly as she replied, "They're just outside the entrance. How big of a bag would you like?"
Harry ran a hand through his hair, still not completely accustomed to being offered a choice in anything as he replied, "Your smallest bag should be fine thanks."
The woman nodded as she rang everything up before she said the amount which the twenty pound note covered with ease. After taking his change and placing it in his wallet he took the cooler from his bag and walked outside to grab his bag of ice. With a wry grin he managed to barely fit the bag of ice in the cooler, thus ensuring it wouldn't all melt before he made it back to Number 4.
The walk back to Privet drive was much more direct in order to preserve all of the lunch meat they had purchased. Walking straight through the front door Harry ran up to his room, starting to sweat from the beginnings of the mid day heat that was hitting the area.
Opening the cooler Harry took enough ice to fill the one glass the Dursleys had allotted him for his one week stay. With some creative ice manipulation Harry managed to get the lunch meat firmly ensconced in the cooler before closing it to preserve the precious quantities it protected. Harry unscrewed the cap from his jug of water and poured some of its contents into his glass before taking a big swig. Ice water was a luxury he had not expected to have during his week with the Dursleys.
After he finished his water Harry reapplied his stick of muggle deodorant; while at Hogwarts there were personal hygiene charms that could deal with such a situation. As he finished Harry began to think of something productive he could do the rest of his stay at Privet Drive.
The prophecy wasn't the kind of thing he could waste any more energy fretting over, OWL review could hold until he saw Hermione, and doing his summer assignments was much the same. After some long thought Harry decided he would start running if he got too stir crazy, he was already in pretty good shape following the tournament and a spot of running couldn't hurt.
With his first true smile since he had arrived in Surrey Harry actually thought he might manage some sleep tonight.
That night Harry did manage to sleep for the first time in four days, and when he awoke the next morning he felt refreshed and content o have his focus drawn away from more pressing matters. As far as he was concerned, denial was his word for the week and he would use it whenever things would get to be too much.
After making himself a ham sandwich for breakfast Harry turned to Padfoot, who had also managed to sleep through the night, before he said, "Up for a run today Paddy?"
The whining bark that answered him was enough to make Harry laugh, "You are one lazy dog you know that? I think you're worse than Crookshanks, and that's saying something."
Padfoot eyed Harry balefully before finally getting out of his bed and stretching in a way that only a long legged dog could. Sirius was well aware that he had been a little less energetic in his animagus form than he used to be, but it wasn't like he was getting any younger and missing sleep for a few days caught up to him faster than it used to.
Changing into a pair of shorts and a cut off t-shirt emblazoned with the symbol for Gryffindor house, Harry laced up his trainers and gave Padfoot a good rub on the head before they quietly exited his room and the house. After Harry affixed the long leash to Padfoot's collar the pair took off at jog for parts unknown into the early morning summer heat.
After a lengthy jog that Harry figured was around five miles the pair entered the nearby Surrey Park for a drink of water and perhaps to mess around with Dudley and his gang. After successfully being hydrated Harry crouched down and as he rubbed Padfoot he noticed Dudley and his friends across the park picking on some kids that looked to be a couple of years younger. Both shared a glance over at the bullies and decided it was time to strike back in some small measure.
Harry was no longer the malnourished and abused boy that he had been in his formative years, in fact a casual observer would call him wiry and athletic; a stark contrast to the mostly overweight and cumbersome bullies consisting of Big D and his gang.
Harry walked into sight just as the gang finished their harassment of a girl probably 13-years-old, as tears streamed down her face. Harry quietly but in a menacing voice said, "I suggest you leave her alone, unless you want me to strip the skin clean off your bones."
A few of the tamer members of the gang actually took an involuntary step backwards simply at the tone of Harry's voice. Incidentally, they were also the smartest members of the gang, Big D included.
Piers Polkiss, a scrawny rat faced kid only second to Dudley on the food chain snarled, "Stuff it Potter, or we'll see just how well they teach the kids at St. Brutus' how to bleed."
Harry rolled his eyes and let loose a long suffering sigh and dryly said, "Wow that was a long sentence for you Piers. You better rest up for a bit while someone else does the rest of the talking."
Two of the newer beefy members of the gang cracked their knuckles menacingly at Harry as the younger girl and her two friends, boys around the same age, finally managed to shake off their surprise that someone had actually rescued them as they scampered off into another part of the park.
Dudley finally gathered his limited wits and said, "I've had it already with your stupid freakishness this summer. I think it's time we taught you a lesson, about respecting your betters."
Harry merely shook his head as Dudley waved his hand, and in a move eerily reminiscent of a campy action movie, the two nearest 'henchman' began to approach him looking menacing. Just as the first one was about to throw a punch Padfoot came bounding between them and growled threateningly at the two boys. Seeing as how Padfoot struck a very mean looking dog when he wanted to, the two teens whimpered and turned tail as fast as they could move. Calling it running would have been far too cruel to people who actually did run on occasion.
With two of their gang already running for the hills the rest showed their true loyalties leaving Dudley and Piers remaining. The odd feeling that if they did choose to fight it would have to be with even numbers had clearly unsettled the two remaining bullies and they couldn't string any sounds aside from the occasional 'erm' or 'um'.
Finally, Harry took pity on them and said, "If you leave now, we won't kick your sorry arses. I'm sure that's a promise you never make to all of the little kids you bully every day."
A moment later Dudley and Piers were scampering away from the park, suddenly thankful that someone had shown them the mercy they refused to others so many times before. As Harry watched the pair that had caused him so much pain growing up, the pair that had cost him any chance at making friends; or creating a world free of the bigotry and cruelty of his aunt and uncle, they were now beneath him in a way they would never understand.
Taking the high road might not have been easy, but it gave him such a stunningly simple but powerful insight into his very being that he wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Feeling lighter than he had in years, in fact lighter than he had ever felt in his life he said, "That's it, isn't it? That's the power in turning the other cheek." If Harry's thoughts were filled with wonder, Sirius' were filled with wonder of a different kind.
It's true Sirius wasn't exactly following Harry's blindingly bright moment of clarity, in fact with the added boost of being in his animal form he was still in the throes of the flight or fight response that he had spent much of the last two years in as he was a fugitive of the law. In a way it was almost a comforting companion for him, it was predictable and unlike so many other things in his life, had yet to let him down. He had spent nearly half of his life fighting to have what he did at the moment, and in a way it left him feeling empty in a way that he had never expected.
If he had a time turner powerful enough to go back to and ask his past self one question, it would be:
"Where the hell did you go wrong you buggered up fool?"
He, James, Remus, Lily, and if you put a wand to his head even Peter all had such bright hopes for the future and what had come from them?
James and Lily dead long before they should have been, Remus forced to turn favors for his other school friends to keep steady room and board, he was in Azkaban as much for his own blinding anger as for Pettigrew's duplicity, and Peter the little rat spent far too many years in his form and now finally he would be paying for his part in the ultimate betrayal.
In fact, the only thing positive that actually came from the Marauders was Harry, and after only a few days with the Dursleys he had a vague idea of the pain and loveless environment that his godson had been forced to grow up in.
So Sirius had asked himself over the last few days, if he could have spared himself the pain of the last fourteen years, would he? Then the answer would be staring him right in the face, the face of James with Lily's eyes was all the answer, all the reason he ever needed to soldier on. He would see his true family again, but not before he watched Harry grow into the remarkable young man his parents would have wanted.
Feeling his heart slow from the excitement of the past few minutes a happy bark greeted Harry as the pair walked back to Number 4, one day closer to being free of the horrid people for another year.
Whether it had come from the terrified mouth of Dudley or if the Dursley family as a whole finally understood just why it was a terribly poor idea to needlessly berate and anger a pair of wizards, Harry had found it rather amusing initially that he had cowed the Dursleys. Not with magic but with one simple action, forgiveness, even if it wasn't deserved.
The days quickly passed as Harry and Sirius continued their daily routine of running, even when it rained heavily the next to last day at Number 4. A day in the rain was really much preferable to another day stuck to the confines of the Dursleys residence.
Finally, it was the morning of their escape from the Dursleys, it was July 10th and Harry had to wonder once again how his summer breaks seemed to grow shorter each year.
After finishing the remaining bread and lunch meat Harry walked to the bathroom, which was empty because the Dursleys had left ridiculously early in an attempt to avoid the freakish business that was certain to take place for the day. Any strange people seen could always be blamed on burglars, door to door salesman, or even Jehovah's witnesses.
After a nice long and hot shower Harry dressed quickly, his trunk packed and prepared to be shrunk by the escort that was to arrive at 11 am. Harry walked into the kitchen to see if his relatives had left him some sort of a note, and had to visibly restrain himself from laughing at the sight of the modified padlock on the refrigerator. By appearances, Petunia had gotten wise to the midnight snack habits of Vernon and Dudley.
With both Harry and Sirius sitting in the den, a knock on the front door at exactly 11 had the pair grabbing all of their stuff and shuffling to the front door. Pulling the door open revealed an average sized man, carrying a briefcase of some sort. Harry almost wanted to scream in frustration, of all the times for a traveling salesman to knock on the door.
His mental struggle was halted when the man said in a high pitched voice, "Wotcher Mr. Potter and mutt, we come bearing your get out of jail free cards."
Harry managed a quick grin as Padfoot growled with indignation. Remembering the protocol described in a letter from Dumbledore he asked the agreed upon password question, "Who do you represent?"
The man quickly replied, "The order of the magical turkey."
Harry chuckled and nodded, "Just don't let Fawkes catch you calling him that."
The man merely smiled as he pulled out a wand and shrunk Harry's trunk with a casual wave of his wand before he stood aside to reveal a black car of decent size. The man said, "We have a safe FLOO connection we'll be driving the two of you to. Mad-Eye wanted to fly all of the way to headquarters on brooms, but fortunately more sane minds carried the day."
After pocketing Harry's trunk in a pocket the man escorted the pair to the car before opening the door and said, "We have a patrol of people riding brooms under invisibility cloaks. So just relax and we should be to the safe house in about a half of an hour."
Harry settled into the back seat of the spacious car, and Padfoot curled up in the seat next to him as Harry noticed the driver of the car was a tall man of color, with a shaved head and stud earring in one ear. Harry leaned forward and introduced himself, "I'm Harry Potter, pleased to meet you."
The man grinned into the mirror and replied in a booming baritone voice, "Kingsley Shacklebolt at your service. That gentleman you were talking to was Tonks; we're both aurors with the ministry and order members to boot."
Harry's face became horrified. "That's Remus' girlfriend?"
Kingsley laughed as Tonks, still in man form in the passengers seat bristled, "Well Tonks is a very talented metamorphagus."
Harry frowned, "I thought that a metamorphagus could only change small things though."
Tonks decided to jump in, "There haven't been many full metamophagi for a few centuries. Those partial metamorphs can only change things like hair and eye color. A full metamorph can alter anything but body size."
Harry nodded and then grinned, "Well you have a nice beard Tonks. I'll be sure to tell Remus as much when we get to headquarters."
Tonks scrunched up her face as her hair became spiky and a bubblegum pink color, her face shifting into a feminine one, complete with cute button nose. She turned around and smirked, "So, I'm guessing word of my verbal harassment of your Hermione has made its way back to you?"
Harry merely smirked in response, making it very clear that the teasing had just started, at least for his part in the little war. Tonks brayed a laugh before turning her attention back to the road ahead, making her own mental plans to escalate the teasing into a full blown prank war for the rest of the summer.
Padfoot sat on his seat, with his ears perked as he began planning his own series of pranks on both couples, after all he couldn't be seen to show any favoritism. A small but persistent part of Harry simply screamed at him. All of this teasing and banter was distracting him from his main purpose now that the prophecy's contents had been divulged. But for today at least, the voice had been once again quashed down in blissful denial, maybe tomorrow it would rear its ugly head and try to take charge of his life once again.
Harry's silence wasn't remarked upon by those in the car, although Sirius certainly knew the pensive look on his godson's face and the ill tidings it meant. Harry hadn't disclosed what news Dumbledore had told him to put him in such a mood as of yet, but even if he had to hex it out of Dumbledore himself Sirius would know before Harry's birthday in three weeks.
Finally, they pulled into the drive of a modest house in a neighborhood Harry had no idea of its location. Tonks subtly flicked her wand as they approached the house, the faint click of something unlocking her only sign of success. Kingsley and Tonks ushered the pair into the house where Sirius finally transformed back into his human form, feeling a little sore but overall no worse for the wear.
Working his jaw he said, "Well not that I mind being in my form for that long, but it's a bugger talking again after being quiet for a week."
Tonks smiled sweetly at Sirius, "Don't strain yourself on our account."
Harry grinned as Kingsley watched on like a disapproving parent, before he finally said, "For crying out loud Tonks, give them the special FLOO powder so we can get on with this."
Tonks stuck her tongue out at Kingsley before she reached into a pocket and pulled out four small pouches. Sirius reached for one only to have his hand slapped before she explained, "Harry, this is single destination FLOO powder. It's been charmed to take you to only one place so when you drop it at your feet you don't need to call a destination out. Think of it as speed dial for FLOO for lack of a better muggle comparison."
Harry nodded as he took the offered pouch wordlessly and waited for someone else to go first, just in case something happened to the first one through.
Sirius grinned roguishly as he stepped over to the fireplace. He smirked at Tonks before he blew her a raspberry and tossed his pouch down at his feet, a brilliant flash of emerald fire followed as he was whisked to headquarters to start the summer in earnest.
Harry sighed heavily as he was next to stop into the FLOO grate, he was slightly bolstered by the fact that as a cat animagus FLOO travel should be easier as he tossed his own pouch down at his feet. A flash of emerald flames enveloped him as the uncomfortable sensation of FLOO travel assaulted his senses.
The next thing he knew he was staggering out of a fireplace and a face full of brown hair filled his eyes. As he breathed in Hermione's comforting scent he closed his eyes, feeling more at home than he ever had before.